Top Artists – Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen – Born In The U.S.A. – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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EXCELLENT SOUND and QUIET VINYL for BOTH SIDES of this ’80s classic from The Boss. Side one, at A+++, was the best we heard in our entire shootout! It’s tough to find great sounding copies of this album — or any Springsteen album for that matter — but this one is a HUGE step up, with the kind of clarity and fullness the typical pressing barely hints at.

We’re not the world’s biggest Springsteen fans here at Better Records (as you may have gathered by now) but when this sound is this good we can certainly get down and rock with The Boss.

So many copies left us cold with a flat, dry sound. If you’re bored by the first chorus of the title song, that’s a bad sign, and that was exactly our experience with most of the pressings that hit the table. When we threw this one on, things changed considerably. Bruce was really screaming, the drums were really pounding, and before we knew it we were really rockin’ out and enjoying the music.

Side one gives you a very strong bottom end with more PUNCH than we found anywhere else. The top end is open and extended with a silky quality — dramatically better than the gritty, grainy, edgy sound we heard up top on copy after copy. The vocals sound wonderful with plenty of presence and texture, and the soundfield has some actual depth. Many copies we played had a slightly smeary quality, but not this one — the clarity is superb and you can clearly hear transients on just about all the instruments. The transparency and energy go far beyond what you could hope to hear on a typical copy.

Side two is very good as well but not quite as exceptional. The bottom end has lots of weight and there’s good energy all around, but the vocals could use a little more presence. Our ultimate sides also opened up a bit more, but I think you’ll find this side a step up over whatever you’ve been playing up to now. Drop the needle on Dancing In The Dark for some of the best sound on the side. (more…)

Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on The Edge Of Town

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  • This KILLER pressing boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The piano was solid and weighty, and there’s a fair amount of Tubey Magic considering the troubled history of the project
  • The background vocals absolutely jump out of the speakers on this copy – track after track, the life and energy get bigger and better
  • Forget whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the size and energy of this classic from 1978, this is the only way to go
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Springsteen presented these hard truths in hard rock settings, the tracks paced by powerful drumming and searing guitar solos.”

It’s not easy to find good sound on this record — or any Springsteen album, for that matter — but copies like this prove that this is a MUCH better recording than we ever gave it credit for. It’s a rare pressing that can bring this passionate, emotionally charged music to life, but the open, spacious soundstage and full-bodied tonality here are up to the challenge. (more…)

Bruce Springsteen – The River

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  • A superb pressing of The River with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all FOUR sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The best sounding Springsteen album we have ever played – it’s open, spacious, full-bodied, Tubey Magical and rockin’ like no other Springsteen album we know of – go figure!
  • 5 stars: “Springsteen rises to his own challenges as a songwriter, penning a set of tunes that are heartfelt and literate but unpretentious while rocking hard, and the E Street Band were never used to better advantage, capturing the taut, swaggering force of their live shows in the studio with superb accuracy… [Springsteen] rarely made an album as compelling as this, or one that rewards repeat listening as well.”

(more…)

Bruce Springsteen – The Wild, The Innocent… – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

White Hot Stamper sound on both sides of this original copy, much better sound than we ever expected to hear. Side one here was the richest, clearest, biggest and most energetic of any side one we played. Side two is nearly as good, but such a big jump over all the rest that it easily earns its Three Pluses. Side one is doing it all. Nothing came close.

Side two is more often than not notably worse sounding than side one. There is a certain stamper that’s quite common and not as good sounding on that side. A shootout winning copy such as this will never have that stamper (as far as we can tell; who knows what we may hear in the future?).

It’s not easy to find good sound on this record — or any Springsteen album, for that matter — but the better copies prove that this is a perfectly fine recording for what it is. Full and solid, this copy has the kind of energy and power to really communicate the passion and excitement of the music.

What are the criteria by which a record like this should be judged? Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, presence, frequency extension, transparency, whomp factor, Tubey Magic, texture (also known as freedom from smear), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, and on and on down through the list.

Yes, we listen for all these things. This copy was doing more of them right than any other. (more…)

Bruce Springsteen – The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle

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  • An incredible sounding copy and the best to hit the site in many years — Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout
  • These sides are As Good As It Gets — clean, clear and full-bodied with lots of energy and lovely breathy vocals 
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl – Mint Minus to Minus Minus Minus – they don’t come quieter in our experience
  • 5 Stars: “He would later make different albums, but he never made a better one. The truth is, The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle is one of the greatest albums in the history of rock & roll.”

It’s not easy to find good sound on this record — or any Springsteen album, for that matter — but the better copies prove that this is a perfectly fine recording for what it is. Full and solid, the best pressings have the kind of energy and power to really communicate the passion and excitement of the music. (more…)

Bruce Springsteen – Nebraska

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  • With two Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, – just shy of our Shootout Winner – we guarantee you’ve never heard Nebraska sound as good as it does here – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • There’s more space, richness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others we’ve played, but please take the time to read about the recording of the album so you know what to expect from the sound
  • 5 stars: “[A] recording artist’s demos of new songs often come off better than the more polished versions later worked up in a studio. But Bruce Springsteen was the first person to act on that theory, when he opted to release the demo versions of his latest songs, recorded with only acoustic or electric guitar, harmonica, and vocals, as his sixth album, Nebraska”

This famously compromised recording certainly has its limitations, but here is a copy that shows what Bruce recorded on four-track cassette tape in the best possible light. (more…)

Bruce Springsteen – Darkness on The Edge Of Town – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

MASTER TAPE SOUND ON SIDE ONE! The soundfield is HUGE, the vocals CLEAR and PRESENT, with energy and dynamics that are nothing less than off the charts. We didn’t hear another copy in our shootout that could touch this side one, and no copy sounded better on ANY side. That’s what we mean by Master Tape Sound — the sound is so transparent, lively and real that you feel like you are listening to the final two track mix being played back, not some mass-produced Columbia vinyl.   

But that’s exactly what this is: Mass Produced Vinyl, no more, no less. Mastered at The Mastering Lab, sometimes these pressings — against all odds one might be inclined to think — come out the way they should, sounding gloriously alive and powerful. They come out Hot, White Hot in this case. Play this copy; you won’t believe how well recorded this album is, especially if all you’ve ever had to judge it by is an average Columbia LP, CBS Half-Speed or CD. (more…)

Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel of Love

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  • An incredible sounding copy with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • On the better pressings you get something approaching the warmth and unforced clarity of analog we audiophiles crave
  • Some of Bruce’s best material is here: the title track and One Step Up are two of our favorites  
  • “Bruce Springsteen followed the most popular album of his career, Born in the U.S.A., with [a] low-key, anguished effort, Tunnel of Love.”

As is the case for the Bob Clearmountain mix of Born in the USA, the sound is not exactly vintage analog at its best, but at least on vinyl you get some warmth and unforced clarity. After all, this is 1987, not 1967 and not even 1977. That said, the copies that earned the better grades were big and rich, with plenty of studio space and nicely present vocals.

Mostly what they do well is that they fill out the sound and take the edge off of it without losing musical information, dynamics or energy. Not many copies managed that feat but this one did. (more…)

Bruce Springsteen – Darkness On The Edge Of Town – Cleaner and Clearer than You Might Think

More Bruce Springsteen

More Darkness On The Edge Of Town

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We used to say that Springsteen recordings from this era always suffered from some grit and grain. With the better cleaning technologies we employ now, and dramatically better playback quality as well, much of that gritty, grainy sound is simply no longer a problem. That change and the others like it come under the general heading of Revolutionary Changes in Audio. It’s what real Progress in Audio is all about. 

It’s not easy to find good sound on this record — or any Springsteen album, for that matter — but the better copies prove that this is a much better recording than we ever gave it credit for. Full and solid with a big, punchy bottom end, this pressing has the kind of energy and power to really communicate the passion and excitement of the music. (more…)

Bruce Springsteen – Born In The U.S.A.


Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017

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  • An amazing copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and Double Plus (A++) on the first
  • Big, present and lively, with good weight to the bottom end, this is clearly the right sound for this music
  • Take our word for it – you’ll have a devil of a time finding a copy that sounds as good as this one
  • Relatively quiet vinyl, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • 5 stars: “… where Springsteen remembered that he was a rock & roll star, which is how a vastly increased public was happy to treat him.”

See all of our Bruce Springsteen albums in stock

We would be foolish to make claims for “audiophile quality” sound on Springsteen’s albums — they are what they are. The simple claim we make for our Hot Stampers is that the best of them sound as good as the album can sound, and we back that up with a 100% Money Back guarantee. (more…)