Records that Sound Good in Both Mono and Stereo

Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow

More Jefferson Aircraft

More Surrealistic Pillow

xxxxx
xxxxx
xxxxx

  • This outstanding stereo copy of the band’s sophomore release boasts solid Double Plus (A++) from first note to last
  • It’s the rare copy of this ’60s Psych Classic that has this kind of freedom from distortion, as well as clarity, openness, and spaciousness
  • An incredibly difficult album to find with audiophile sound, but this copy has the goods and will beat whatever you throw at it
  • 5 stars: “Every song is a perfectly cut diamond … a groundbreaking piece of folk-rock-based psychedelia that hit — literally — like a shot heard round the world…”

Check out the breathy vocals on Today — now THAT is what we call the magic of vintage analog!

This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Sonny Rollins & Coleman Hawkins – Sonny Meets Hawk – Great in Stereo

More Sonny Rollins

More Coleman Hawkins

Sonny Meets Hawk

xxxxx

This is a TOP SHELF pressing, one of the most exciting jazz records we’ve heard in some time! We dropped the needle on side one of this RCA stereo pressing and were FLOORED. After evaluating it completely and awarding it our top grade of A+++, we flipped and were blown away to find that side two was every bit as good. And to top it all off, the vinyl plays quietly throughout. 

Think about this — due to the nature of our business we play tons of jazz vinyl every week, multiple pressings of multiple albums. And this record completely knocked us out.

If you’re a fan of classic jazz and superb sound, wouldn’t you like to hear what this one does on your system? (more…)

Sonny Rollins & Coleman Hawkins – Sonny Meets Hawk – Great in Mono

More Sonny Rollins

More Coleman Hawkins

Sonny Meets Hawk

WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC! It is ridiculously tough to find copies of this album with good sound and quiet surfaces, but this pressing is a MONSTER. We’re generally not big fans of Mono recordings, but for this music it is really doing the job. It gives you mindblowing presence to the brass and real weight to the bottom end. 

Side one is KILLER. I don’t know what you could do to this music to make it sound any better than it does here. It’s super transparent with BIG TIME immediacy. The brass is rich and full with lots of breath, and the bass is DEEP and TIGHT. Listen to how silky sweet the top end sounds; the cymbals are Right On The Money.

Side two is excellent as well, but lacks a slight degree of extension up top. The presence and immediacy are EXCELLENT. (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie – Our Mono Shootout Winner from 2009

More Ella Fitzgerald

More Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the  Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Folks, this record came as a SHOCK — the first and ONLY mono pressing we have ever played that not only was competitive with the best stereo copies, but actually bettered them in some ways. Some IMPORTANT ways I might add. We’ve only played a handful of mono pressings of Clap Hands over the years, and for good reason — they’re exceedingly mediocre. On almost every one we’ve ever played Ella was distant, dull and lifeless. Feh! Who wants to play a record the sounds like that?

(Side two is pretty much what you would expect from a good mono, A to A+, better than average but hardly competitive with the best, or with this side one for that matter.)

What’s So Special About This Mono Side One Anyway? (more…)

Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’

More Bob Dylan

More The Times They Are A-Changin’

xxxxx
xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This 360 Label Original Columbia Mono LP, complete with the rare lyric sheet, has two LOVELY sounding sides that rate A++ or better. I was actually a big fan of the Sundazed Mono, but this has more of that Tubey Magic, richness, and overall naturalness that you find on old records, qualities that seem to be sorely lacking on even the best 180 gram remasterings. MoFi also did this record and ruined it in the process (shocker!).  (more…)

Benny Carter – Jazz Giant – Amazing in Mono

More Benny Carter

More Jazz Giant

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame

This Contemporary Yellow Label Mono LP has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND! If you like the sound of Contemporary Records, you won’t find a better example than this! Midrange magic doesn’t get anymore magical. I don’t care who remasters this record, I don’t think they can do it as well as it was done in 1958.    

I haven’t heard the new 45 RPM version, but I seriously doubt that it sounds like this.

 

Dave Brubeck Quartet Time Further Out – What to Listen For

More Dave Brubeck

More Time Further Out

xxxxx

The best copies such as this one demonstrate the big-as-life Fred Plaut Columbia Sound at its best (better than even Time Out in our opinion). These vintage recordings are full-bodied, spacious, three-dimensional, rich, sweet and warm in the best tradition of an All Tube Analog recording. If you want to hear big drums in a big room these Brubeck recordings will show you that sound better than practically any record we know of. The Engineering tab below has much more on that subject. 

The one standout track on this album for audiophiles is surely Unsquare Dance, what with its uncannily real sounding handclaps in 7/4. The copies that did the best job of reproducing that “flesh on flesh” sound of actual human hands clapping scored very well in our shootout.

More to Listen For

For starters listen for a fat snare and rich piano on the first track of side one. When you hear that, assuming you do, you should know you are in for a treat. Our best copies captured those two sounds brilliantly.

On the second track the clarity of the brushed snare is key to how resolving and transparent any copy is. The rich, smooth sound of Desmond’s sax balanced against the clarity of the brushes will help you make sure that the overall sound is tonally correct from top to bottom. (more…)

Ella Fitzgerald – Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie – Our Favorite Female Vocal Album of All Time

More Ella Fitzgerald

More Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the  Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

The first “Triple Triple” MONO copy to ever hit the site — A+++ from start to finish. Our knockout mono pressing here was fuller, more natural and more involving than any copy we heard in our shootout. with immediacy to put Ella practically in the room with you, it’s her performance that really comes to life. It’s our single Favorite Female Vocal album here at Better Records, one that gets better with each passing year.

Check out what the lucky owner of this copy had to say about it.

PR Writes

As you probably know, I own superb copies of the stereo. They both fade into pastel in comparison with this mono. (more…)

What We Listen For – Timbre, Richness, Tubey Magic and Freedom from Artificiality

More of Our Favorite Contemporary Jazz Recordings

More Barney Kessel

 

xxxxx

This Home Audio Exercise entry was inspired by the wonderful qualities of the Contemporary recording you see pictured, qualities brought to our attention while doing a shootout of various pressings of the album in early 2009. 

We addressed a number of issues in our commentary: first and foremost what we were listening for on the album (and what we were hearing). A bit of mono versus stereo (in this case both can be good). This is followed by some Audiophile Equipment bashing.

We highly recommend you make every effort to find yourself a copy of this album and use it to test your own equipment. The right pressing can be both a great Demo Disc and a great Test Disc. (more…)

Spirit – Sundazed Mono Reviewed

More Spirit

More Spirit – Spirit

xxxxx

Sonic Grade: D

Another Sundazed record reviewed and found wanting.

As usual, the Sundazed only hints at the real sound of the recording. We recommended it back at the day; it’s tonally correct, so for fifteen bucks you are getting your fifteen bucks worth and probably not a dime’s more. We just cannot take this kind of sound seriously these days. Once you’ve heard the real thing, this pressing just won’t do.

This is the band’s Masterpiece as well as a Desert Island Disc for yours truly.

What qualifies a record to be a Masterpiece needs no explanation. We will make every effort to limit the list to one entry per artist or group, although some exceptions have already occurred to me, so that rule will no doubt be broken from time to time. As Ralph Waldo Emerson so memorably wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…”

For a record to come to my Desert Island Disc, such a record: 1) must have at some time during my fifty years as a music lover and audio enthusiast been played enthusiastically, fanatically even, causing me to feel what Leonard Bernstein called “the joy of music”; 2) my sixty year old self must currently respect the album, and; 3) I must think I will want to listen to the music fairly often and well into the future (not knowing how long I may be stranded there).

How many records meet the Desert Island Disc criteria? Certainly many more than you can see when you click on the link, but new titles will be added as time permits. (more…)