Top Artists – The Byrds

The Byrds – Untitled

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

WOW! The best pressing to ever hit the site, and it’s Triple Plus (A+++) on ALL FOUR SIDES. The overall sound is really rich, full-bodied, and open with impressive transparency and presence. Features a 16 minute Eight Miles High on the live disc that just kills — especially on a lively copy like this.

On the better copies songs like Chestnut Mare reveal a huge soundstage with delicate guitars, sweet vocals, and lively drums. Most of the pressings we’ve played over the years were nothing to get worked up about, but the sound here is wonderful. It’s exceptionally musical and natural with a nice, fat, tubey quality to the guitars and real strength and definition down low. (more…)

The Byrds – Fifth Dimension – The Red Labels Can Rock (More Accurately, Some of Them Can)

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

There was not another Red Label that could hold a candle to this copy in our recent shootout, and no 360 label copy could either. It’s the exception that proves the rule.

Does it have 100% of the Tubey Magic of the best 360 Label copies? Maybe not, but it has quite a healthy dose, and it does so many things so much better than any of the tube-mastered originals we played that it was simply no contest. There was nothing that communicated the music remotely as well as this Red Label copy did. (more…)

The Byrds – Turn! Turn! Turn! – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This Columbia 360 label pressing has AMAZING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES and the vinyl is about as quiet as any of these 360 Label pressings can be found!

It took us a long time, but we pulled together enough clean copies for a big shootout, and these two great sides were head and shoulders above the competition. The sound is natural, lifelike and realistic with serious immediacy and plenty of rock and roll energy. (more…)

The Byrds – Younger Than Yesterday

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

It ain’t easy to find great sounding copies of this album on decent vinyl, but we managed to get a hold of a hot one here. White Hot in fact. Not only that, but the vinyl’s pretty darn quiet! The sound is very tubey with excellent transparency and serious immediacy.

Most Byrds’ records are far from audiophile demo discs. However, what the best originals and ’70s reissues give you is relatively good sound.

This album will never sound as good as Abbey Road. Keeping that rather obvious point in mind, as I listened to this copy the thought that went through my mind is that this tape had been mastered about as well as it could be.

It’s tonally correct from top to bottom; the frequency extremes are there; and the vocals have a silky, sweet quality to them (when they haven’t been bounced down too many times of course).

Recommended Tracks (more…)

The Byrds – Younger Than Yesterday – Sundazed Mono Debunked

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Sonic Grade: D

We can’t recommend this title. It’s thin, flat and dead in the midrange, with little of the magic of the originals. I suppose if you can’t find anything better, it will do in a pinch… 

The Byrds – Mr. Tambourine Man – A Sundazed Heavy Vinyl Winner!

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Sonic Grade: B

This is probably the best of all the new [2006] Sundazed mono reissues. I never thought I would hear a Sundazed record with this kind of richness and sweetness. It reminds me of a good 360 pressing, and that has virtually never happened before. Side one is a tad better than side two, which is slightly brighter than it should be. But both sides are exceptionally good considering the modern mastering. 

This album also has my favorite Byrds song of all time: I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better. (Notice that Gene Clark’s vocals all sound better than Roger McGuinn’s. For some reason they tend to brighten up his vocals, and the last thing you ever want to do with a Byrds recording is make it brighter. But having said that, almost all the reissues are too bright compared to these good originals.)

The Byrds – The Sweetheart Of The Rodeo

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

Two stunning sides — a Red Label side one and a 360 side two! The instruments here have more texture, the bass has more weight and the soundfield has more depth than on any other sides we played in our shootout. Pull together enough copies and you might find one this good, but based on our experience you’ll face some pretty long odds finding any that can compete with this.

We’ve been trying to find good sounding copies of this great album for ages, but that is no easy task. For one thing, it’s not an easy album to find in clean condition, and for another, most copies we do find just don’t sound all that good. We had a big shootout this week and were thrilled to finally hear what a serious pressing can do. The sound on side two is natural, realistic and lifelike with excellent presence and tons of energy. (more…)

The Byrds – Ballad of Easy Rider

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

The first White Hot copy of this great Byrds album — 4 stars on Allmusic — to EVER hit the site, and it’s a killer Triple Triple copy! Anyone who has played the typical copy of this album is probably familiar with the dull, lifeless, opaque sound that plagues most pressings. We collect these in bulk (natch) and it’s disappointing how mediocre most copies sound. (more…)

The Byrds in Mono – How Do They Sound?

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None of the mono pressings of The Byrds’ albums that we’ve played in shootouts over the course of the last ten years or so has ever impressed us much, none that I can recall anyway.

Congested and compressed, with no real top, who in his right mind could possibly tolerate that kind of sound on modern equipment?

Although, to be fair, we’ve stopped buying them, so there may actually be a good copy or two out there in used record land that we haven’t heard. In our defense, who really has the time to play records with so little potential for good sound? (more…)

The Byrds Mr. Tambourine Man – What to Listen For

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

Want to hear what the best copies of Mr. Tambourine Man can do? Play Chimes of Freedom, one of the best sounding tracks on side two, if not THE best. Listen to how breathy Jim (later Roger) McGuinn’s vocals are. Byrds records almost never sound like that.

I Knew I’d Want You is another one that sounds amazingly Tubey Magical on the best pressings.

Years ago we wrote that the 360 Label original pressings were the only ones with the rich, warm sound of tubes:

Looking for Tubey Magic? The best 360 pressings are the only way to go, and even those are often lacking. (Forget most red label copies; they have nice qualities but tubey magic is not among them.) But the best pressings of The Byrds’ albums — those with truly Hot Stampers — are swimming in it.

This time around we found a Red Label reissue with lovely Tubey Magic. It did not win our shootout — this copy did — but it was very rich and tubey. I had no idea it was a reissue when grading it, because it sure didn’t fit with my idea of what a reissue would sound like. Fortunately I can’t see the labels of the records that I’m grading, which helps make the admittedly subjective evaluation of records somewhat more objective than might otherwise be the case. (more…)