Top Artists – Antonio Carlos Jobim

Direct to Discs on Crystal Clear – What Was I Thinking?

Hot Stamper Pressings of Direct-to-Disc Recordings

Reviews and Commentaries for Direct to Disc Recordings

These are just some of the recordings on Crystal Clear that we’ve auditioned over the years and found wanting.

Without going into specifics — who would bother to take the time? — we’ll just say these albums suffer from poor musical performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place in your collection.  

The Big Picture from a Lifelong Audiophile

You may have seen this text in another listing, but it bears repeating. There is nothing new under the sun, and that is especially true when it comes to bad sounding audiophile records. The world is full of them.

Hey, the records being marketed to audiophiles these days may have second- and third-rate sound, but at least now they have good music

That’s progress, right?

These two titles are the kind of crap we newbie audiophiles used to put up with back in the ’70s before we had anything resembling a clue.

They clearly belong on our list of Bad Audiophile Records

You might be asking: What Kind of Audio Fool Was I? to buy a couple of dumbass records like these.

Yes, I was foolish enough to buy records like these and expect them to have good music, or at least good sound. Of course they had neither. Practically none of these kinds of records ever did. Sheffield and a few others made some good ones, but most Crystal Clears were crap.

As clueless as I was, even back in the day I could tell that I had just thrown my money away on these two lipsticked-pigs in a poke.

But I was an audiophile, and I wanted to believe. These special super-hi-fidelity records were being made for me, for special people like me, because I had expensive equipment and regular records would just never be good enough to play on my special equipment, right?

To say I was wrong to think about audio that way is obviously an understatement. Over the course of the last forty years, I (and to be fair, my friends and my staff) have been wrong about a great deal when it comes to records and audio.

You can read more about many of the things we got wrong under the heading: Live and Learn.

Thank goodness Audio Progress is real and anyone who goes about it the right way can achieve it.

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Jobim and Ramone – These Strings Are a Tough Test

jobimthecomposerMore of the Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim

Reviews and Commentaries for Antonio Carlos Jobim

Credit engineer Phil Ramone for correctly capturing the sound of every instrument here: the guitars, piano, flutes, strings, drums, percussion instruments — everything has the natural timbre of the real thing. I used to think this recording erred on the bright side, but not the Hot Stamper copies. They are tonally Right On The Money.

When the balance lacks lower midrange the sound gets lean, which causes the strings to seem brighter than they really are, a not uncommon problem with some of the pressings we heard.

We had quite a batch of these to play, including imports, originals, reissues (all stereo), and one lone mono, which was so ridiculously bad sounding we tossed it right out of the competition and into the trade pile.

For those of you playing along at home, we are not going to be much help to you here in finding your own Hot Stampers. Every version had strengths and weaknesses and all are represented in the three listings we are putting up today.

The sound of this side one blew our minds — no other copy could touch it. So open and airy, yet with real weight to the piano and a clear and strong bass line, this copy did EVERYTHING right. The strings are very much part of the ensemble on this album, and getting good string tone, with just the right rosiny texture, the least amount of smear, freedom from shrillness or hardness — this is not easy to do. On the strings, this copy KILLED.

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Herbie Mann and Joao Gilberto – Herbie Mann and Joao Gilberto With Carlos Jobim

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  • This wonderful compilation makes its Hot Stamper debut here with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • It’s big, lively, clear and present, with the kind of Tubey Magical richness we flip out for here at Better Records
  • A difficult record to find with audiophile playing surfaces – we go years without seeing a clean copy in stereo
  • “The two make an effective team, with Gilberto’s sometimes sentimental, sometimes impressionistic works effectively supported by Mann’s lithe flute solos.”

This record has the potential to sound its best on the right early pressing. Here are hundreds of others:

Records that Sound Best on the Right Early Pressing

This record sounds best in stereo, not mono. Here are hundreds of others we prefer in stereo:

Mono or Stereo? Stereo!

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Stan Getz / Luiz Bonfa – Jazz Samba Encore!

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  • This superb collaboration debuts with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish and ’60s vinyl that’s about as quiet as any we can find
  • Smooth, full-bodied and Tubey Magical, the brilliant Ray Hall engineered this Demo Disc using an All Tube chain back in 1963, and it’s glorious to hear that sound reproduced on modern hi-rez equipment
  • 4 stars: ” Getz relies mostly upon native Brazilians for his backing. Thus, the soft-focused grooves are considerably more attuned to what was actually coming out of Brazil at the time… Two bona fide giants, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfá (who gets co-billing), provide the guitars and all of the material, and Maria Toledo contributes an occasional throaty vocal.”

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Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto / Getz-Gilberto – Japanese Pressing

Sonic Grade: C

This is a Minty looking Verve Japanese Import LP. It’s not competitive with the best domestic pressings, but you could definitely do worse. Trying to find domestic copies that aren’t trashed is virtually impossible, so if you’re a click and pop counter, this copy may be the ticket! Stan Getz is a truly great tenor saxophonist, the cool school’s most popular player. This LP is all the evidence you need. Side 1 has those wonderfully relaxed Brazilian tempos and the smooth sax stylings of Stan Getz.

Side two for me is even more magical. Getz fires up and lets loose some of his most emotionally intense playing. These sad, poetic songs are about feeling more than anything else and Getz communicates that so completely you don’t have to speak Portugese to know what Jobim is saying. Call it cool jazz with feeling.

Antonio Carlos Jobim – Wave

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  • The first copy to hit the site in NINE years and with KILLER sound to boot; both sides earned Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • Both of these sides are incredibly full-bodied, natural and present with tight punchy bass and lots of space around all of the players
  • I love the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and this is one of his best albums; it belongs in any serious Latin Jazz record collection.
  • “When Creed Taylor left Verve/MGM for his own label under the auspices of A&M, he quickly signed Antonio Carlos Jobim and they picked up right where they left off with this stunningly seductive record, possibly Jobim’s best.” – All Music

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Gilberto & Jobim – Gilberto & Jobim

  • A superb sounding copy with Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish; exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both of these sides are clean, clear and open with lovely breathy vocals, plenty of Tubey Magic, and less of the grit and grain the plagues the average copy
  • “The back cover of this Capitol LP claims “Here’s the album that started it all,” and to an extent that is true. A year before Stan Getz first met up with Charlie Byrd to launch bossa nova in the United States, Joao Gilberto (with backing by an orchestra led by Antonio Carlos Jobim) recorded a dozen bossa nova performances, including “One Note Samba,” “Meditation,” “Corcovado” and even “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover.” – All Music, 4 1/2 Stars

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Astrud Gilberto – The Astrud Gilberto Album

  • With seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides or close to them, this Van Gelder mastered copy was one of the best we played in our shootout (but the vinyl is iffy at best)
  • The sound here has real texture to the strings and breath to the vocals, key elements if this music is going to work
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The Astrud Gilberto Album was at least as good as Getz/Gilberto (despite what jazz fans say), for several reasons. Gilberto sounded beautiful on a range of material, from the sentimental “Dindi” to the playful “Agua de Beber,” and as long as intelligent musicians were playing to her strengths (as they do here), the results were splendid.”

If you can tolerate the slightly noisier surfaces of this pressing you are in for some amazing music and sound. If for any reason you are not happy with the sound or condition of the album,we are of course happy to take it back for a full refund including the domestic return postage.


This is an early stereo LP – the monos may be five times more common, but every last one we played was awful!

Check out this list of top jazz players:

Astrud Gilberto – vocals
Antônio Carlos Jobim – vocals, guitar (track 2)
João Gilberto – guitar
Joe Mondragon – bass
Bud Shank – alto sax, flute
João Donato – piano
Stu Williamson – trumpet
Milt Bernhart – trombone
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Frank Sinatra – Dindi, or, The Man Is a Genius

sinatjobim_1311_1_1226514510

More of the Music of Frank Sinatra

More of the Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim

If you like romantic music you would be hard pressed to find a better album than this one. The song Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars perfectly encapsulates the mood of the album.

Our favorite track here is Dindi. Sinatra is the king of lost loves, and the song Dindi offers him another opportunity for regret. Nobody does it better than Frank. It’s a cliche to say he wears his heart on his sleeve, but the man made a career out of it. If the cliche fits…

Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim – Must Own Romantic Music

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This Reprise original tri-color label stereo LP has EXCELLENT SOUND on both sides. This, in my opinion, is the best sounding Sinatra record on Reprise. It’s so rich, sweet, and tubey magical you would think it was prime Capitol period Sinatra but it’s not — it just sounds that way. 

The sound is amazingly rich, warm, and sweet — that’s old tube mastering for you. Of course, that also means that it’s a bit smeary and the bass is pretty tubby. Still, what you’re involved with a record like this for is Sinatra’s voice and Jobim’s guitar and both sound WONDERFUL. Side one is a bit more open and transparent than side two, so it earned an extra half-plus.

If you like romantic music, you will be hard pressed to find a better album than this one. The song Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars perfectly encapsulates the mood of this album. My favorite track here is Dindi. Sinatra is the king of lost loves, and the song Dindi offers him another opportunity for regret. Nobody does it better than Frank. It’s a cliche to say he wears his heart on his sleeve, but the man made a career out of it. If the cliche fits…

The Rhino 180 gram LP mastered by Kevin Gray is a passable, but this is the real thing. There is a richness, a sweetness and a naturalness here that you virtually never find on modern remasterings.