Top Artists – AC/DC

Letter of the Week – “It really beats the pants off of my George Marino remaster…”

More of the Music of AC/DC

More Letters Comparing Hot Stamper LPs to their Heavy Vinyl Counterparts

More Audiophile Records Mastered by George Marino

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

Hey Tom,  

I’ve been spending time this week listening to the seven records that arrived from you last week, and have been having a fabulous time doing it. So I thought I’d write to say THANKS – you guys really know how to pick ‘em!

Top honors in the batch definitely goes to the AC/DC Back in Black Hot Stamper. Wow, does it ever ROCK! And it’s not even the best one you had – which makes me wonder just how amazing the best copies sound. It really beats the pants off of my George Marino remaster, to say nothing of my old Canadian pressing.

The sheer energy that leaps off the vinyl is incredible. To me, this record supports again the hypothesis that I first tested when I bought my Joni Mitchell Hot Stamper from you last fall: That I don’t have to wait until I manage to put together a really topnotch stereo system before I can enjoy at least some of what Hot Stampers have to offer.

Obviously, as my system gets better I imagine I’ll enjoy them even more; but even with my current budget-ish system, recently much improved with Aurios and an EAR 834p (both recommended by you – thank you!), the Back in Black Hot Stamper shines. There’s truly nothing finer than listening to a record that sounds that good!

Anyway, all in all, it’s a pleasure purchasing from you, so thanks again. I’ll be back for more once my budget allows.

Martin H.

Martin,

Happy to help! We’re convinced that the better your system sounds, the bigger the difference will be between our Hot Stampers and everything else out there in record land.

Sometimes the difference is so great that even a modest system makes glaringly obvious just how much better a Hot Stamper pressing is than anything being pressed these days on modern Heavy Vinyl, famous mastering engineer or no famous mastering engineer.

Regarding the importance of energy in the pressings we audition, this commentary on Zuma may be of some interest.

Here Are More of Our Favorite Records for Testing Energy 


FURTHER READING

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There is an abundance of audiophile collector hype surrounding the hundreds of Heavy Vinyl pressings currently in print. I read a lot about how wonderful their sound is, but when I actually play them, I rarely find them to be any better than mediocre, and many of them are awful.

Music Matters made this garbage remaster. Did anyone notice how awful it sounded? I could list a hundred more that range from bad to worse — and I have! Take your pick: there are more than 150 entries in our Heavy Vinyl Disasters section, each one worse sounding than the next.

Audiophiles seem to have approached these records naively instead of skeptically.

(But wait a minute. Who am I to talk? I did the same thing when I first got into audio and record collecting in the Seventies.)

How could so many be fooled so badly? Surely some of these people have good enough equipment to allow them to hear how bad these records sound.

Maybe not this guy, or the “In Groove” guy, but there has to be at least some group of audiophiles out there, however small their number might be, with decent equipment and two working ears, right? (Excluding our customers of course, they have to know what is going on to spend the kind of money they spend on our records. And then write us all those enthusiastic letters.)

AC/DC – Let There Be Rock

More AC/DC

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of AC/DC

  • Once again the phenomenally talented Robert Ludwig gets the Rock and Roll Power from the tape onto the vinyl like no one else can
  • For Those About To Rock has wall to wall sound and in-the-room presence like you will not believe
  • “AC/DC are the real thing, perhaps the purest major practitioners of hot and snotty rock since Led Zeppelin lumbered off the boards. Other groups, from Van Halen to REO Speedwagon, may base their music on similar elements, but they inevitably emerge from the studio sounding cleaned up and rather too eager for AOR airplay. AC/DC, from the start, have always left the rough edges in. The rough edges are the point, much as they were part of the point of, say, Little Richard in the Fifties or the Rolling Stones in the mid-Sixties.” – Rolling Stone
  • If you’re a fan of these hard-rockin’ Ausssies, this classic from 1981 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1981 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

From the moment the title track began, we knew we were in for a real treat. The transparency and clarity are shocking — we heard texture on the guitars and room around the drums that simply weren’t to be found elsewhere, plus tons of echo and ambience. The vocals simply could not be any better — they’re breathy and full-bodied with loads of texture.

The bottom end is Right On The Money — big, beefy, and rock-solid.

You probably never thought you’d ever use an AC/DC LP as a Demo Disc, but this copy will have you reconsidering that notion — it’s ALIVE with Rock and Roll Power Chords like nothing you have ever heard.

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AC/DC – For Those About To Rock

  • Once again Robert Ludwig delivers the Rock and Roll Power – incredibly big, bold and full-bodied with a massive bottom end
  • For Those About To Rock has wall to wall sound and in-the-room presence like you will not believe
  • “AC/DC are the real thing, perhaps the purest major practitioners of hot and snotty rock since Led Zeppelin lumbered off the boards. Other groups, from Van Halen to REO Speedwagon, may base their music on similar elements, but they inevitably emerge from the studio sounding cleaned up and rather too eager for AOR airplay. AC/DC, from the start, have always left the rough edges in. The rough edges are the point, much as they were part of the point of, say, Little Richard in the Fifties or the Rolling Stones in the mid-Sixties.” – Rolling Stone

From the moment the title track began, we knew we were in for a real treat. The transparency and clarity are shocking — we heard texture on the guitars and room around the drums that simply weren’t to be found elsewhere, plus tons of echo and ambience. The vocals simply could not be any better — they’re breathy and full-bodied with loads of texture.

The bottom end is Right On The Money — big, beefy, and rock-solid.

You probably never thought you’d ever use an AC/DC LP as a Demo Disc, but this copy will have you reconsidering that notion — it’s ALIVE with Rock and Roll Power Chords like nothing you have ever heard. (more…)

AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of AC/DC

  • You’ll find KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides of this stunning copy of the band’s 1976 release
  • We learned something in this shootout about the Australian pressings that surprised us and may be of interest to you
  • These sides have plenty going on down low, real meat on the bones, all the life and energy you could ask for – pretty much everything that the average copy was lacking
  • 5 stars: “… it captured the seething malevolence of Bon Scott, the sense that he reveled in doing bad things, encouraged by the maniacal riffs of Angus and Malcolm Young who provided him with their most brutish rock & roll yet.”

Here’s what we wrote about the last Australian pressing we had on the site:

“This is a SUPER RARE Minty looking EMI Australian Import LP. We dropped the needle on this one and heard EXACTLY what we were looking for: loud grungy guitars; tight, punchy bass; and vocals so front and center the boys are practically in the room with you. There is NO QUESTION this bad boy is made from the original master tape. You can be sure the domestic pressings aren’t. The heavy vinyl pressing is no doubt made from a dub since almost everything made these days is.”

Well, folks, it’s not exactly a We Was Wrong situation, but we didn’t realize that master tape or not, the best domestic pressings rock harder and just plain sound better than the best Australian copies. The typical domestic copy sucks, but when you get hold of a seriously Hot one they are KILLER.

The better Aussie pressings give you incredible Master Tape clarity, but I’m more interested in hearing a copy that rocks my socks off with the kind of ballsy power you know these guys project when they play live. I can’t tell you if it’s a case of having better mastering equipment or better mastering engineers here in the States — we can’t know that stuff, we can only guess at it — but I can tell you with certainly that this blows the doors off most other pressings.

If you love this band as much as we do here at Better Records — Back in Black being a Top 100 Title — and have the kind of system a record like this demands, we ask only one small favor: please give your neighbors a heads up so they can be prepared for the sonic assault that is to come. And one more thing: For those about to rock, we salute you. (more…)

AC/DC – The Razor’s Edge

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Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of AC/DC

  • With plenty of punchy low end, the music comes to life on this pressing like you’ve never heard before
  • Run-of-the-mill used copies have been running us a hundred bucks and up lately, thanks to the resurgence in interest in vinyl, with demand showing no sign of cooling off anytime soon
  • “Arguably the Australian headbangers’ strongest album in over half a decade, The Razor’s Edge is quintessential AC/DC — rowdy, abrasive, unapologetically fun metal full of blistering power chords, memorable hooks, and testosterone-driven lyrics.”

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Letter of the Week – “Just curious as to why you never point out a Bob Ludwig “RL” pressing?”

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

Hey Tom, 

I am an avid vinyl cat and have been all of my life. I am super curious about your vinyl. I have a pretty good ear myself for top-shelf LP’s but I am just curious as to why you never point out a Bob Ludwig “RL” pressing? Or maybe you have and I just have not noticed?

Thanks so much for a response and much respect for what you are doing and selling…

Dana

Dana, we explained it here, in a little commentary we like to call The Book of Hot Stampers.

We give out no stamper numbers, no information about cutting engineers as a rule, although we do break that rule from time to time. Here is an excerpt of a listing for Rock of Ages from way back when:

What We Thought We Knew

In 2006 we put up a copy with with what we implied were Hot Stampers (before we were using the term regularly) on at least one side:

Side One sounds tonally right on the money! This is as good as it gets… Robert Ludwig mastered all of the originals of these albums, but some of them have bad vinyl and don’t sound correct.

I only played side one of the album, so I can’t speak for the other sides, but what I heard was sound about as good as I think this album can have.

There are some truths along with some half-truths in the above comments, and let’s just say we would be quite a bit more careful in our language were we writing about that copy today.

One side is no indication whatsoever as to the quality of the other three, and without the kind of cleaning technologies we have available to us today, I wouldn’t want to make a “definitive” sonic assessment for any of them.

When you play uncleaned or poorly cleaned records you’re hearing a lot of garbage that has nothing to do with the sound of the actual vinyl. (Note that we are joking above: there is no such thing as a definitive sonic assessment of a record, from us or anybody else.)

Ludwig cut many bad sounding records. Roxy Music Avalon original domestic pressings are RL and are made from dubs — and sound like it.  Same with Dire Straits’ Alchemy. Some RL Houses of the Holy sound amazing and some only decent.  It’s the nature of the beast. (more…)

AC/DC – Back In Black

More AC/DC

  • With Double Plus (A++) sonic grades or close to them on both sides, this Back in Black ROCKS like nothing you’ve heard 
  • Side one plays exceptionally well for a Robert Ludwig original, which is absolutely the only way to go on the album
  • Top 100, and if you turn it up good and loud, one of the biggest, boldest, hardest rockin’ records ever made
  • 5 stars: “… tawdry celebration of sex is what made AC/DC different from all other metal bands — there was no sword & sorcery, no darkness, just a rowdy party, and they never held a bigger, better party than they did on Back in Black.”

You probably never thought you’d ever use an AC/DC LP as a Demo Disc, but this copy will have you reconsidering that notion — it’s ALIVE with Rock and Roll Power Chords like nothing you have ever heard.

For Riff Rock you just can’t do much better than Back In Black. AMG gives it 5 stars and rightfully so. Musically it’s got everything you’d want from this genre of heavy rock — a tight, punchy rhythm section; raging guitar riffs; and deliciously decadent lyrics screamed to perfection.

What took us by surprise was how amazing this music sounds on the right copy. You’ve probably heard these songs a million times, but we bet you haven’t heard them sound like this. This is the kind of record that you’ll want to keep turning up. The louder you play it, the better it gets — but only if you’ve got a pressing that rocks like this one.

The transparency and clarity are shocking — we heard texture on the guitars and room around the drums that simply weren’t to be found on most copies, plus tons of lovely analog reverb and natural studio ambience.

And of course the bottom end is big, beefy, and rock-solid, just the way we like it. I ask you, what album from 1980 sounds better than Back in Black? (more…)

AC/DC / Back In Black – None Rocks Harder

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If you love HUGE drums, meaty guitars, and monster riffs as much as we do, you’re going to freak out over the MASTER TAPE SOUND ON BOTH SIDES. Moments after dropping the needle we heard a prominent low octave to the intro bells that we hadn’t noticed on other copies. We kept our fingers crossed and waited for the band to kick in, hoping for some serious bottom end power. And man oh man, it was there all right! I am pleased to report that the whomp factor on this copy was nothing short of MASSIVE.

I ask you, what album from 1980 sounds better than Back in Black?

Hell’s Bells has HUGE sound and shocking presence. The transparency and clarity are shocking — we heard texture on the guitars and room around the drums that simply weren’t to be found elsewhere, plus tons of echo and ambience. The vocals simply could not be any better — they’re breathy and full-bodied with loads of texture. The bottom end is Right On The Money — big, beefy, and rock-solid. You probably never thought you’d ever use an AC/DC LP as a Demo Disc, but this side one will have you reconsidering that notion — it’s ALIVE!

Imagine our delight when it turned out that side two was just as good! Everything you could ask for from this music is here, and it won’t take you very long to realize that for yourself when you play You Shook Me All Night Long. The energy, presence, immediacy and tonality are all SUPERB. I don’t think you could find a better sounding side two no matter what you did!

This link will take you to all the titles we have available in the None Rocks Harder series .

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CDs that Sound Nothing Like Their Vinyl Counterparts

I made the mistake of buying both Back in Black and Sticky Fingers on CD to listen to in the car, and both are a disaster — no bass, no rock weight, with boosted upper mids, no doubt a misguided attempt to provide “clarity.”

I couldn’t get three songs into either of them.

If this is what the digital lovers of the world think those albums actually sound like, they are living in some kind of parallel universe.

The best pressings on vinyl sound nothing like them. In fact the best pressings sound so good they are on our Top 100. Rest assured that you don’t get to be on our Top 100 with anemic, upper midrangy sound.

Reviews and Commentaries for Sticky Fingers

More AC/DC

Our Current Rock & Pop Top 100 List

AC/DC – High Voltage

  • A KILLER sounding import copy of AC/DC’s original Australian debut album with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • These sides are doing just about everything right — big, full-bodied, lively and dynamic with tight punchy bass and wonderfully rich and present vocals
  • “As debut album titles go, AC/DC’s High Voltage supplied a perfect encapsulation of the band’s electrifying brand of rock & roll. So perfect, in fact, they actually used it twice: for their first album proper, the Australian-only version of High Voltage, released in February 1975; and for the better-known international debut from mid-1976, which was essentially a collection of highlights from the former and its late-1975 successor, TNT.”

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