Top Artists – The Beatles (Individually and Collectively)

The music is great, but how’s the sound? We weigh in with our two cents worth.

Letter of the Week – Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,   

I never thought, not even for a second, that in my life I’d EVER buy a record for $300. Never Ever! But here I am. Most records I’d come across in my life were from used/antique stores, and so they were warped, brittle, noisy, or out of tune (a fact I didn’t notice until I graduated from a music college). But your Beatles “Revolver” and “Sgt. Pepper” – music I’ve known my ENTIRE LIFE- sound like new as a Hot Stampers.

I appreciate the fact these records, although expensive, are sold simply on the basis of quality. In a increasingly fake, plastic “if this one doesn’t just return it for another broken one” world, you sell a product that is singular and unique. And completely worth every penny. I appreciate the fact you evaluate the record’s sound (i.e. mastering) as a musician would – focusing on tonal correctness – prizing the record’s ability to accurately reproduce a recording of how instruments actually sound in real life. On its face, it seems so simple, yet it is of utmost importance. Thanks! (more…)

The Beatles – Please Please Me – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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

We shot out over two dozen copies of Please Please Me — German, British, and American pressings of various vintages. The best German copies such as this one stood head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. However, we did manage to find some wonderful Brit and domestic copies which will be making it to the site very soon.

This German Beatles album has DEMO DISC SOUND and some of the best pop music ever recorded! We LOVE this album here at Better Records. (more…)

Letter of the Week – White Album

White Album

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently: 

Hey Tom,  

I’ve not written in a while and wanted to share a few thoughts. Upper most in my mind is a new perspective on The Beatles’ White Album. I’ve long been a proponent of a particular school of thought regarding this particular record. You may have heard it before. It goes like this: “If one removed all of the filler from this record, it would make one pretty killer Beatles single LP”. I now must confess this is a fallacious argument, as it is most certainly based on having only heard the common Capital orange and black label pressings. I now stand corrected and happily enlightened.  (more…)

Letter of the Week – “No one doubted your records after this listening session.”

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

Yesterday, I attended an audio event in Verona, NJ, where I had purchased my stereo.

I spent my time in the “analogue” room. This room had the flagship equipment (Vandersteen 7 speakers, Aesthetix Jupiter series amps, pre-amps, phono stage, Clearaudio’s Goldfinger Statement cartridge, etc).

I listened for a while, hearing all the issues with almost every record they played. I then asked the store’s “turntable guru” to play some of the records I brought with me.

They thumbed through my boxes and asked me what the difference was between my two copies of Abbey Road. When I explained the superior side X on either copy, the audience found this concept amusing, based on their positive laughter. Any doubters would soon become believers.

They played Abbey Road’s side 2 (3+ side, of course). While “Here Comes The Sun” was playing, Garth had his eyes closed. At the track’s conclusion, he exclaimed “Outstanding!”, and the record played on.

Next, we listened to ELP’s “Lucky Man”. Garth said it was the best he had ever heard.

I do not really know Garth, but I suspect he does not easily offer up such compliments in a room full of people. Others in the room, including the store’s turntable guru, were all very impressed. Several folks approached me, all pointing out parts of the music that blew them away.

There were comments about some folks hearing that Better Records was a scam, and others saying that you are the real deal. The discussion ended with “Hearing is believing”. No one doubted your records after this listening session.

I scored points with these important folks, thanks to your records. I provided the source material to allow their equipment to shine.

Any doubt these folks had about your company was put to rest. All that listened were very impressed, and I thought you’d want to know.

Craig D. (more…)

The Beatles – Rubber Soul – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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

MASTER TAPE SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! We just finished a huge shootout for this record — British, German, and domestic pressings — and this Parlophone British import pressing is THE ALL-TIME CHAMPION FOR BOTH SIDES! No other copy came close.

We’ve NEVER heard a Beatles record with A+++ sound on both sides. Beyond that, both sides play quietly, Mint Minus. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Please Please Me and Unplugged

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently: 

Hey Tom, 

In the fall of 2007 I ordered my first Hot Stamper from you, Please Please Me. Since then I have bought several more Hot Stampers from you, and occasionally you or Todd have written me asking how I like them. I have always replied saying I haven’t listened to them yet, because I’m waiting to buy a good enough turntable to do them justice. 

Good news: I now have a very good turntable. Even better news: I have now listened to the first few Hot Stampers, and the combination of my new turntable and your Hot Stampers is heavenly. The records are so good I cannot concentrate on anything else while they are playing, I just have to listen, and I want them to go on for ever. The detail and clarity are breathtaking and it’s difficult to believe the sound can be really that good, but it is. It’s like the musicians are there in the room, it’s amazing. For example, Please Please Me and McCartney’s Unplugged are stunning, but in truth all the ones I’ve listened to so far are stunning. I’m really looking forward to listening to the rest.

Please keep on finding those Hot Stampers. (more…)

The Beatles – Please Please Me – Which Is More 3-Dimensional, Mono or Twin Track?

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With all due respect to Sir George Martin, we’ve played a number of mono pressings of this album in the past twenty or so years and have never been particularly impressed with any of them. The monos jam all the voices and instruments together in the middle, stacking them one in front of the other, and lots of musical information gets mashed together and simply disappears in the congestion. 

But is Twin Track stereo any better? Yes, when you do it the way Norman Smith did on Please Please Me.

Twin Track stereo (which is actually not very much like two-track stereo, I’m sure Wikipedia must have a listing for it if you’re interested) is like two mono tracks running simultaneously. It allows the completely separate voices to occupy one channel and the completely separate instruments to occupy another with no leakage between them.

On some stereos it may seem as though the musicians and the singers are not playing together the way they would if one were hearing them in mono. They are in fact recorded on two separate mono tracks, the instruments appearing in the left channel and the singers in the right, separated as much as is physically possible.

Stuck in their individual stereo speakers, so far apart from one another, the members of the band don’t even seem to be playing together in the same room.

That’s on some stereos, and by some stereos I mean stereos that need improvement. Here’s why. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Sgt. Pepper

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

My younger brother came over for dinner a few years ago. As usual, he asked to have a listening session. He is a dedicated Beatles fan and he prefers to listen to them in mono.

After warming up the system, I played a stereo copy of side two on Sgt. Pepper I purchased from Better Records that was graded A+++. We listened to the first cut and he asked that I play it again. Then again. Then again.

After listening to the rest of the side, we were interrupted by my wife calling us to dinner. He told me he couldn’t make small talk at dinner so please let him lie on the couch and excuse him from the meal. We ate dinner without him.

After the meal, I approached him on the couch and he said he had to go home. He said he was stunned by the sound and that it had put him in a mesmerized state where he needed to be alone so he could contemplate what it had done to him.

This is a true story. To this day, he refers to the wondrous sound he heard that night every time we get together. And no, now I don’t ever play that recording for him before dinner.

Phil R.

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Mobile Fidelity and the Limited Edition Pressing

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Many audiophiles are still operating under the misapprehension that Mobile Fidelity, what with their strict ’quality control’, managed to eliminate pressing variations of the kind we discuss endlessly on the site. 

Such is simply not the case, and it’s child’s play to demonstrate how false this way of thinking is, assuming you have these four things: good cleaning fluids and a machine, multiple copies of the same record, a reasonably revealing stereo, and two working ears (I guess that’s actually five things, my bad). With all five the reality of pressing variations for ALL pressings is both obvious and incontrovertible.

The raison d’être of the Limited Edition Audiophile Record is to take the guesswork out of buying the Best Sounding Pressing money can buy.

But it just doesn’t work that way. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our entire website is based on the proposition that nothing of the sort is true. If paying more money for an audiophile pressing guaranteed the buyer better sound, 80% of what we do around here would be a waste of time. Everybody knows what the audiophile pressings are, and there would be nothing for us to do but find them and throw them up on the website for you to buy. Why even bother to play them if they all sound so good?

I was guilty of the same Bad Audiophile Thinking myself in 1982. I remember buying the UHQR of Sgt. Pepper and thinking how amazing it sounded and how lucky I was to have the world’s best version of Sgt. Pepper.

If I were to play that record now it would be positively painful. All I would hear would be the famous MoFi 10K Boost on the top end (the one that MoFi lovers never seem to notice), and the flabby Half-Speed mastered bass (ditto). Having heard really good copies of Sgt. Pepper, like the wonderful Hot Stampers we put on the site from time to time, now the MoFi UHQR sounds so phony to me that I wouldn’t be able to sit through it with a gun to my head. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Let It Be

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

They say the first time is the best………………….I have now purchased and enjoy well over 50 Hot Stampers. My first one a few years ago was The Beatles Let It Be. I was very skeptical to be honest, but there was a money back guarantee, so I went for it. It was $250, I think. It was an A+ on Side 1 and A+++ on Side 2.

It arrived and I put on my serious listening ears, put on Get Back on Side 2 (A+++) and dropped the needle. Instantly, I was like a dog hearing a new sound for the first time. My head was cocked a little and I was trying to fathom exactly what I was hearing. I was hearing presence, breathing, clarity in voices before they started playing and I literally sat there with what I am sure was a dazed looked on my face, with open mouth and all. I could not believe it. Everything jumped out of my B&W’s. The sound was something that no CD could duplicate, no matter how clean the CD sounded. I have an all tube, all analog system and I sat there in amazement. I played The Long and Winding Road next and the instruments literally had me teared up from how it much jumped out at me.

Well, I was hooked and I have since bought a lot of Hot Stampers and I enjoy them all. Along with some of my Japanese vinyl, there are by far the most treasured LPs in my entire collection. You can bet when friends come over, we choose records from the Hot Stamper stack. I really have a ball watching the look on their face when they hear it for the first time.

As I once wrote, I appreciate the fact that Better Records provides a service. They go out and buy numerous copies of an LP. Then some of them sit and listen to them all to narrow down to the best of the best. I have no problem paying their price, as I know they have a definite cost involved and the end result is a phenomenal sounding LP. they provide a great service to us audio nuts.

I buy very, very few records elsewhere, mainly some import copies but by and large, Better Records are the best. Keep up the great work.

Bryan S.

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