Records that Sound Best on the Right Import Pressing

Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Pictures at an Exhibition

xxxxx

  • Outstanding sound throughout for this ELP Classic Live Album, earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • Tubey Magical and exceptionally spacious, with a massive bottom end and plenty of Rock and Roll energy
  • Listen to that GIGANTIC organ that plays the fanfare opening of the work – you can thank the brilliant engineering of Eddie Offord for getting that sound on tape
  • “…it teased the brain with its mix of melody and heavy rock, and for anyone with some musical knowledge, serious or casual, it was a sufficiently bold use of Mussorgsky’s original to stimulate hours of delightful listening.”

This British Island LP has real weight and heft, so when Emerson lays into the organ it’ll rattle your walls! As we said previously, it “has that big, fat, rich, smooth sound that we love here at Better Records. It’s warm and full, not thick and sludgy. It’s on the opposite end of the transistory spectrum.”

Listen to that GIGANTIC organ that plays the fanfare opening of the work. Honestly, I have not EVER heard a rock album with an organ sound that stretched from wall to wall and sounds like it’s seventy five feet tall. No, I take that back. The first ELP album has an organ that sounds about that big, but that’s a studio album. How did they manage to get that kind of organ sound in a live setting without actually having to build one inside the concert hall?

The domestic copies are a bad joke as you no doubt have guessed. You might think that you could just pick up any old Brit pressing to get Hot Stamper sound, but you’d be wrong. We’ve played a bunch of Original Brit Island pressings over the years that looked just like this one but sure didn’t sound as good.

Many of them are thick, dull, smeary, veiled, congested and/or just plain lifeless. This one, on the other hand, sounds JUST RIGHT. (more…)

Basia – Time and Tide

xxxxx

  • This outstanding pressing of Time and Tide boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is rich and Tubey Magical, yet transparent and spacious in the way that only the best vintage pressings ever are
  • Allmusic: “This is sophisticated pop music that sounds ideal for playing in any number of upholstered locations — a black-tie cocktail party, a fashion-show runway, the back seat of a limousine. Basia’s lightly accented voice adds an exotic flavor to the Euro-disco style of the music.”

(more…)

The Who – Who Are You

xxxxx

  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – you’ll have a hard time finding a copy that sounds remotely as good as this one does
  • This copy has the Glyn Johns BIG, BOLD sound we demand from this famous producer/engineer
  • The title song sounds great on this killer copy — the dynamic power of the recording comes through loud and clear

*NOTE: On side one, a mark makes 8 light ticks near the end of Track 4, Sister Disco.

Big, tubey and rockin’, this copy has The Who sound we know from Who’s Next so well. Huge and pacious, with lovely three-dimensional depth, the sound has that patented Live in the Studio quality that Johns’ practically trademarked. Breathy vocals and great life and presence to every instrument, this is the way to hear it!

Forget the domestic pressings, forget the DD Labs half-speed, forget whatever lame reissues have come or will come down the pike — if you want to hear this album right, a Hot Stamper British pressing is the only way to go.

This copy has the Glyn Johns Who Sound we demand from one of the most famous producer/artist collaborations in the history of rock music. (Johns’ work with the Stones is even more legendary I would argue.)

This is certainly not the equal of the beyond brilliant Who’s Next — what is? It’s an undisputed Masterpiece — but the best songs here are certainly in that league. The title track is one I used to demo my system with twenty years ago and, with a copy like this, would be happy to again. (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Piano Concerto #1 / Richter/ Karajan

xxx

  • Incredible Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides and reasonably quiet DG vinyl make this one powerful Demo Disc set
  • Without a doubt some of THE BEST SOUND we have ever heard for this recording!
  • The huge space of a real concert hall seemingly transported right into your listening room
  • Richter is magnificent – our favorite performance of the Tchaikovsky First bar none

This reasonably quiet White Hot Stamper DG pressing has without a doubt some of THE BEST SOUND we have ever heard for this recording! Dynamically, Powerfully Hot, with the huge space of a real concert hall seemingly transported right into your listening room. With this copy, all you need do is close your eyes and your speakers will disappear, replaced by Karajan and the VSO at the height of their glorious powers.

On both sides the piano is weighty, solid and powerful. Once the needle has dropped you will quickly forget about the sound and simply find yourself in the presence of some of the greatest musicians of their generation.

Audio Myths Exploded

Yes, both the originals and the reissues can be good on this record. Don’t buy into that audiophile canard that “original equals better.”

Two Stunning Sides

Really, really BIG and really, really CLEAR like no other copy we played. It’s nothing less than phenomenal! Lively, present and real, with sweet strings and a big bottom end.

The piano is clearly present and solid. The heavy compression of most copies is much less of a problem here; the levels stay correct right through to the big finish (which is really really big).

If you have the transparency in your system to be able to hear it (we didn’t even three years ago), listen for how clearly both the left and right hand can be heard at the piano. It’s shocking how big and clear these sides are, yet still as rich and as solid as any we played. That’s what we call White Hot Stamper sound.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

The pizzicato playing of the strings early in the piece are a great test. Transients, transparency and spaciousness will vary dramatically in these three areas on every pressing you play. This one excelled in every one of these areas. A true Demo Disc.

THE Tchaicovsky First Piano Concerto Recording

Since this is our favorite performance of the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto of all time. Even the copies with minor shortcomings in the sound are so good that we quickly find ourselves ignoring them and being lost instead in the performance. (more…)

The Yardbirds – Roger The Engineer

  • A stunning copy with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two and a solid Double Plus (A++) side one – exceptionally quiet import vinyl too
  • Here are the full-bodied mids, punchy lows and clear, open, extended highs that let this Psych Classic by the band come alive
  • Over, Under, Sideways, Down – the big hit off the album – sounds great here in MONO
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… the Yardbirds’ best individual studio album, offering some of their very best psychedelia.”

This is one of the few Mono albums that really justifies the claims made for the superiority of mono in general. Just listen to the vocals on side one: they’re right up front and centered the way they should be on any good pop song. On the stereo version, they’re off to the left and way down in level. They have no power over there! It robs the song of its focus.

Even worse, the stereo remaster by Edsel has no bass. It’s a joke next to the mono. It’s doubtful we would ever buy one again. What a waste of good import vinyl.

Edsel did a great remastering job of the mono mix here. What do we hear on this pressing that’s different from most of the early pressings? A smoother, sweeter, lower distortion midrange and top end. And really punchy solid super low distortion bass. The transparency of this pressing is clearly superior to anything we have ever played. (more…)

Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Tarkus

xxxxx

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this copy is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other copy of Tarkus you’ve heard
  • This early British pressing with the Island Pink Rim label is guaranteed to rock like no other copy you’ve ever played
  • Eddie Offord’s trademark Tubey Magic, energy, resolution, whomp factor and dynamics are all over this phenomenal recording
  • “More accomplished than the trio’s first album, but not quite as polished as Brain Salad Surgery, Tarkus is nevertheless a must-have.”

This killer copy features some of the more intense prog rock sound to hit our table in quite some time. This is a true Demo Disc LP, one of the most dynamic and powerful rock recordings ever made.

The organ captured here by Eddie Offord (of Yes engineering fame, we’re his biggest fans) and then transferred so well onto our Hot Stamper pressings will rattle the foundation of your house if you’re not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. It’s big Bombastic Prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels it actually does rock your world.

Unlike most British pressings of the first album, the Brits here really ROCK, with greater dynamic contrasts and seriously prodigious bass, some of the best ever committed to vinyl. This music needs real whomp down below and lots of jump factor to work its magic. These Brits are super-low distortion, with an open, sweet sound, especially up top, but they still manage to convey the awesome power of the music, no mean feat. (more…)

Cat Stevens Teaser & Tea on CD – So, How Do They Sound, Anyway?

xxxxx

This letter from our good customer Gary references the Hot Stampers he bought from us and subsequently played for a CD-only audiophile friend with a megabuck stereo. This is his story, followed by my commentary about the sound of Cat Stevens’ music on disc.

The Cat Stevens Hot Stampers are just amazing. The dynamic range is almost shocking on my rig. It’s like a car with the ability to go from 0 to 60 in 2 seconds… It is so cool to turn up the music really loud and still converse with people if you want. The quiet is dead quiet. That is the sign of a good record.

I had a visitor from Chicago with more money in his system than most houses, no vinyl. He is now looking into it. Teaser busted him. I think I might have cried when I heard Father and Son on Tillerman, just beautiful. Thanks and keep up the good work.

Gary, I have a long history of challenging audiophiles who hold that the CDs of those albums do them justice sonically. Prove it I say. The difference between the good LP pressings and the best CDs is NIGHT AND DAY. Anyone playing the CDs of those albums is in the presence of a pale shadow of what’s really on that tape. (more…)

John Renbourn – The Hermit

xxxxx

  • Renbourn’s 1976 solo album makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • These British sides have the vintage analog sound we love – rich and natural, with plenty of Tubey Magic and studio space
  • Renbourn’s brilliant guitar stylings illustrate this collection of originals, classics, and variations with consummate skill and artistry
  • “John Renbourn’s first post-Pentangle (or nearly post-Pentangle) solo album… is one of his most beautiful recordings, and also among his most spare guitar instrumentals The mood of much – though not all – of Hermit is one of serious introspection, as Renbourn stays generally within a classical guitar mode.”

(more…)

Supertramp – Indelibly Stamped – Reviewed in 2010

More Supertramp

xxxxx

This is a British Original pressing with the best sound I have ever heard for this album. It’s sweeter, smoother, more delicate and more tonally correct overall than any American copy I have ever heard.

After doing the shootout with some other domestic copies, I put this record in the pile to be cleaned, and today I played it. Like many British pressings of British Rock albums, there is a whole layer of grunge and distortion that has been removed. A veil has been lifted, and you hear into the music in a way that was never before possible. There is no question this record is made from the master tape and the domestic pressings are made from dubs.

This is only the 2nd British copy I have ever seen (in clean condition anyway). My experience with British mastering is that it is all over the map, just like American mastering. Other British copies probably do not sound like this one, but I have no way of being sure.

I thought my last Hot Stamper copy was better sounding than this one, but that was only true for the track Potter, which on this Brit copy sounds a bit tame. Everything else is better here. It’s easy to make a mistake like that when you’re only comparing one song. (more…)

Cream / Wheels of Fire and its Glaring Lack of Bass

See all of our Eric Clapton and Cream albums in stock

 

xxx

It’s EXCEPTIONALLY difficult to find even decent sounding copies of this album. We’ve played SCORES of original domestic copies, original imports, and all kinds of reissues — trust me, most of them would make you cringe.

When you get a good copy, this music is AWESOME! For ’60s power trio hard rock, you just can’t do much better than the studio material.

White Room, Sitting On Top Of The World, Politician, Born Under A Bad Sign — this is the very essence of Classic Blues Rock. Unfortunately, the typical copy barely hints at the potential of this recording, and the audiophile pressings are even worse.

The DCC Gold CDs are especially bad in our opinion; they sound nothing like the good pressings we’ve played over the years.

Where’s The Bass?

Most early pressings you find these days are thrashed beyond belief. We used to pick up every clean Plum & Gold label copy we’d find back in he day, but no more. We gave up. The Cream magic was just plain missing from the early domestic pressings. The problem is simple: a glaring lack of bass.

Let’s think about that. Cream is a power trio. The music absolutely demands a solid, weighty bottom end. Sacrifice the bass and the sound is just too lean to rock.

We can sum up the sound of the whomp-less copies in a word: fatiguing. As is always the case, some copies sound better than others, but none could give us the kind of bass that we were hoping for. (more…)