Top Artists – Buffalo Springfield

Buffalo Springfield – Again – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame

This original Plum and Tan Atco label Hot Stamper pressing has TWO AMAZING SIDES and fairly quiet vinyl. A Double Plus (A++) Sound and Mint Minus vinyl makes the copy the Black Swan of this shootout, that’s for sure.

You have never heard a better pressing of what many consider to be Buffalo Springfield’s Masterpiece, Buffalo Springfield Again. We guarantee this copy will blow your mind or your money back! Only one side of one copy had better sound, and that one was noticeably noisier, so we crowning this one King of the Buffalo Springfield Again Shootout for 2007.

This album, like all of Buffalo Springfield’s recordings, has always been a tough nut to crack. We’ve never even attempted a shootout for the first album or Last Time Around, although I do know Hot Stampers for both. Watch for them in the coming months. [Since done, multiple times.]

So many copies of Again sound so bad and play so noisy that most audiophile record lovers probably had written it off many years ago as a lost cause.

Quiet Vinyl? Uh…, Not So Much

Even with all the latest cleaning techniques, including our $6500 record cleaning machine, most copies of this record do not make the Mint Minus cutoff. Parts of the album will be noisier, and even Mint Minus Minus is tough. Some of our expensive Hot Stamper pressings even have sections in the EX++ range, but the sound so good we are charging good money for them anyway. Like an original Cream or Doors record, quiet vinyl is not in the cards.

All Things Considered

Within the limitations of the recording, there are still copies that are surprisingly DYNAMIC and TRANSPARENT. Listen to all that space around the guitars and voices — who knew it was there?

Listen also especially to the vocal harmonies — you can separate out all the parts much more clearly on these Hot Stamper pressings. You can really hear precisely who’s in there and what part they are playing in the vocal arrangement. I can’t remember ever hearing it sound so clear. The best copies really let you hear into the music.

The bass is also much better defined and note-like. On most copies the sound is lean, and what little bass there is sounds like a smeary blob underneath the vocals. With the better pressings you can follow every note, which is important if for no other reason than the fact that many of the arrangements are fairly simple, so losing the sound of one instrument is losing a lot of what the song has to offer.

Midrange Magic? Check.

Extracting all the midrange magic from a legendary album and Desert Island Disc like this should be the goal of every right-thinking audiophile. Who cares what’s on the TAS Superdisc List? I want to play the music that I love, not because it sounds good, but because I love it. And if the only way to find good sounding clean copies of typically poorly-mastered, beat-to-death records like this is to go through a big pile of them, well then, I guess that’s what we will have to do. The last Hot Stamper listing for this album went up in April of 2006. Here it is almost a year and a half later and we finally have enough good clean copies to shoot out. (You folks who don’t live in big cities with lots of used record stores are really out of luck when it comes to albums like these. I must look at twenty for every one I buy.)

Buffalo Springfield – Listening for Tubey Magic Down Low

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On even the best copies there’s a bit too much Tubey Magic in the bass I regret to say. Tubbiness and bloat were par for the course. This may explain why so many copies have rolled off bass; the engineer cut the bass because he heard how tubby it was and figured no bass is better than bad bass. 

Which is just not true. Cutting the bass leans out and “modernizes” the sound, making the voices sound thin and dry. This pretty much ruins everything on this album just the way it ruins everything in practically every modern recording I hear. Having your bass under control on the playback side isn’t easy — in fact it’s probably the hardest thing to achieve in audio — but it can be done, and with good bass control the slightly wooly bass is just part of the sound you learn to accept.

It doesn’t actually interfere much with your enjoyment of the music, mostly because all the other instruments and voices sounds so magical. (more…)

Buffalo Springfield – Last Time Around

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fam

It’s really shocking how good this album can sound on the right pressings. When you get hold of one and know how to clean it right, some of these pressings are a damn sight better than the vast majority of audiophiles think! And the music, of course, is CLASSIC. The best side one and the best side two in our last shootout, unfortunately, were less than impressive on their flipsides. We’ve paired them up to give you the best sound we can find for the entire album! And if you want to hear exactly what you’re paying for, just turn either copy over and prepare to be underwhelmed.

(Alternatively, of course, you could leave the playing of bad-sounding pressings to the professionals.) (more…)

You Too Can Get an Old Buffalo Springfield Record to Sound This Good

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Not long ago we found a White Hot Stamper pressing of Last Time Around that really blew our minds. We were surprised to hear some of the breathiest, silkiest vocals we’ve ever heard on ANY Buffalo Springfield album, with startling presence and immediacy to boot! This side two had BY FAR the most energy and life of any side of any copy we’ve ever played. Man, does it ROCK.

Even as recently as 2010 we would not have expected to find that kind of sound on a vintage ’60s pop/rock album. We know better now.

When you get hold of the right copy and know how to clean it and play it right, these vintage pressings (well, the White Hot ones anyway) are a damn sight better than the vast majority of audiophiles think they are. How is such apparently never-before-possible sound being heard now, 45 years after the record came out? Our answer can be found below. 

Tubey Magical Midrange

 The kind of MIDRANGE MAGIC on this pressing let us hear into the music in a way we (and you too I’m guessing) never imagined was possible. (more…)