Top Artists – Cannonball Adderley

Cannonball Adderley / In the Land of Hi-Fi – A Very Good Speakers Corner Reissue

More of the Music of Cannonball Adderley

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Cannonball Adderley

Sonic Grade: B?

A fairly good Speakers Corner jazz album (we’re guessing). Years ago we wrote the following:

“Outstanding! Top recommendation!”

Hard to know what we would think of this pressing today, but for the thirty bucks you might pay for it, it’s probably worth a listen. 


FURTHER READING

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Reviews and Commentaries for Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl

Here are some of our reviews and commentaries concerning the many Heavy Vinyl pressings we’ve played over the years, well over 200 at this stage of the game. Feel free to pick your poison.

Heavy Vinyl Commentaries

Heavy Vinyl Disasters

Heavy Vinyl Mediocrities

Heavy Vinyl Winners

And finally,

A Confession

One final note of honesty. Even as recently as the early 2000s we were still somewhat impressed with many of the better Heavy Vinyl pressings. If we had never made the progress we’ve worked so hard to make over the course of the last twenty plus years, perhaps we would find more merit in the Heavy Vinyl reissues so many audiophiles seem to prefer.

We’ll never know of course; that’s a bell that can be unrung. We did the work, we can’t undo it, and the system that resulted from it is merciless in revealing the truth — that these newer pressings are second-rate at best and much more often than not third-rate or worse.

Setting higher standards — no, being able to set higher standards — in our minds is a clear mark of progress. We know that many of our customers see things the same way.

MoFi Misses The Mark by a M I L E with Kind Of Blue

Reviews and Commentaries for Kind of Blue

Hot Stampers of Miles’s Albums Available Now

One of our good customers, Robert Brook, writes a blog which he calls

A GUIDE FOR THE BUDDING ANALOG AUDIOPHILE

Below is a link to the review he wrote recently for one of our favorite records, Kind of Blue. (To be clear, we love the album, just not the MoFi pressing of it.)

MoFi Misses The Mark by a M I L E w/ Kind Of Blue

One of our other good customers had this to say about the Mobile Fidelity pressing:

Last night I listened to my 2015 Mobile Fidelity 45 RPM pressing.

I couldn’t get through the first cut.

Closed, muffled and flat as a pancake. No life or energy whatsoever.

I agreed and added my two cents:

My notes for their pressing read:

  • Thick, dark, flat.
  • Lacks air, space, presence.
  • Not a bad sound but it’s not right.

Later I added:

Having listened to the record more extensively, I see now I was being much too kind.

A longer review will be coming soon I hope. I think I may know why some audiophiles like the sound of this record, and will be exploring that notion in a future commentary.

The last line about the MoFi not having “a bad sound but it’s not right” reminded me of of the mistakes I made in my original review of Santana’s first album on MoFi:

Santana on MoFi – We Owe You an Apology

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Kind of Blue – Don’t Tell This Guy the MoFi Is a Joke

Reviews and Commentaries for Kind of Blue

Hot Stamper Pressing of Miles’s Albums Available Now

The MoFi of KOB may be a joke, but don’t bother telling this guy, who appears to be rather new to this whole “reviewing” thing.

He has a record store in Phoenix and a youtube channel called The “In” Groove, wherein he proffers advice to audiophiles about records. Unsurprisingly, he tends to favor audiophile pressings. No doubt he sells lots of them in his store.

To quote the man himself, “I do a review of the best sounding copy’s [sic] of Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue. What are the copy’s [sic] you should own?”

Obviously, literacy is not his strong suit, so writing about records is out, replaced by endless talking about records on these insufferable content-light videos. Everything of interest this gentleman has to say could be written on the back of a napkin and read in the span of the average TV commercial, but that would require stringing together lots of words and arranging them so that they make some kind of sense. It’s so much easier to chat about vinyl while seated in front of some very expensive and no doubt awful sounding (judging by the results of this “shootout”) McIntosh electronics. (I am on record as being opposed to this approach to audio, and have been proselytizing for the benefits of low power amps for more than twenty years.)

Regardless of what he thinks he is doing, in no way does this fellow actually review the best sounding copies, because he’s too inexperienced and ill-informed to even bother with the ’70s Red Label reissue pressings, some versions of which happen to be among the best pressings we’ve heard, a subject we discuss here.

Our Kind of Blue Obsession

KOB is an album we have been obsessed with for a very long time, along with a great many others.

To see a small sampling of other youtube reviewers who seem to know very little about records but are nonetheless comfortable giving out advice “on the copy’s [sic] you should own,” click here.

You may heard that many of these guys who were supposedly devotees of the purest of analog pressings by the purest of audiophile labels got the shock of their lives recently.

Going all the way back to our early days in the record business in 1987, I can honestly say we never bought into the Master Tape Hype of the typical audiophile record, preferring to remain skeptical of facts we had no way to confirm.

And now it turns out the facts weren’t actually facts at all. They were lies.

We advise everyone, Hot Stamper customers and skeptics alike, that the best way to judge records is not to read about them, but to play them.

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Miles Davis – In June of 2005 Our First Hot Stamper of Kind of Blue Went Up

Hot Stampers of Miles’s Albums Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for Kind of Blue

This Columbia Red Label LP has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND!

Call me crazy, but I DON’T THINK YOU CAN CUT A BETTER SOUNDING KIND OF BLUE THAN THIS ONE!

I’m fully aware of how outrageous a statement that is, considering the fact that this is a ’70s Red Label reissue. But I’ve long known of amazing sounding Kind Of Blue reissues.

Having played dozens of different pressings of this record over the years, I think I know this recording about as well as anyone. The tube mastered original Six Eye Stereo copies have wonderful, lush, sweet sound. I’ve heard many of them. The 360s from the ’60s often split the difference — less tubey magical, but cleaner and more correct.

But my point here is simply this: you can cut this record DIFFERENTLY, but you can’t cut it any BETTER.

If you cut it with tubes it will bring out some qualities not as evident on this pressing. But there will be loses as well. It’s a matter of trade-offs. There is no copy that will satisfy everyone, just as there is no speaker or amplifier that will satisfy everyone.

So what do you get on this copy? Zero distortion. Zero compression. 100% transparency. Amazing transients. The deepest, cleanest, most note-like bass with no smearing, veiling or added warmth. The sense that you are hearing every instrument sound exactly the way it really does sound.

You could almost say this pressing sounds like a master tape, not a record at all. Now don’t get me wrong. I love tubey colorations. I say so all over this site. And if I had to choose one pressing of this record to take to a desert island, I don’t know which one it would be. But there is no way that the qualities of this record exist on those early, tubey cuttings. They simply didn’t have the technology. The technology they did have is wonderful in its own way. And this record is wonderful in its own, very different, way.

$150 is a lot of money for a record that any jazz record dealer would be embarrassed to charge more than $20 for. But jazz record dealers don’t know anything about sound. They know about collectability. They know about price guides. They know their market — jazz collectors — and I know mine: audiophiles. This record has unimpeachable audiophile credentials. It has the sound in the grooves like you have never heard before.

And of course it beats the pants off of the Classic reissue, as good as that one is. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money for this album — widely considered the greatest jazz album of all time — then the Classic should do the job just fine.

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Miles Davis / Kind of Blue – How Smeary Is Miles’ Trumpet on Your Copy?

Reviews and Commentaries for Kind of Blue

Hot Stampers of Miles’s Albums Available Now

Listen to the trumpet at the start of Freddie Freeloader. Most copies do not fully convey the transient information of Miles’ horn, causing it to have an easily recognizable quality we talk about all the time on the site: smear.

No two pressings will have precisely the same amount of smear on his trumpet, so look for the least smeary copy that does everything else right too.

Meaning simply that smear is important, but not all-important.

Here are more recordings that are good for testing smear.

If you click on the above link, you will see that we regularly talk about smeary pianos, smeary brass instruments, smeary violins and smeary Classic Records classical reissues. Nobody else seems bothered by smear, and one of our many theories about the stereo shortcomings of reviewers and audiophiles in general is that their systems are fairly smeary, so a little extra smear is mostly inaudible to them. I had a smeary system for my first twenty or more years in audio, so I know whereof I speak.

Our present system has virtually no smear. Any smear we hear on a record means that the smear is on the record, not in our system.

Any system with vintage tubes — whatever their pros and cons — will have at least some smear. We got rid of our tube equipment a long time ago.

Back to our listening tests:

On track one, side two, the drums in the right channel are key to evaluating the sound of the better copies. The snare should sound solid and fat — like a real snare — and if there is space in the recording on your copy you will have no trouble hearing the room around the kit.

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Miles Davis / Kind of Blue – An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

Hot Stamper Pressings of Kind of Blue Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for Kind of Blue

Hot Stampers of Miles’s Albums Available Now

Kind of Blue is an album we admit to being obsessed with — just look at the number of commentaries we’ve written about it.

Some highlights include:

Kind of Blue checks a lot of boxes for us here at Better Records.

  1. It’s a Core Jazz Title, one that belongs in any serious audiophile’s record collection
  2. It’s a Jazz Masterpiece
  3. It’s a Personal Favorite
  4. It was recorded by one of the greats, Fred Plaut
  5. It was produced by another one of the greats, Teo Macero
  6. It was recorded at Columbia’s famed 30th Street Studio
  7. And some of the greatest jazz artists of their day played on it:

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Miles Davis – Kind of Blue on the 6 Eye Label in Stereo

More on Kind of Blue

Hot Stampers of Miles’s Albums Available Now

  • With superb Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER on both sides, this vintage Columbia 6-Eye Stereo pressing has Demo Disc sound – sound that’s guaranteed to make you want to take all of your remastered pressings and dump them off at the Goodwill
  • After auditioning a Hot Stamper Kind of Blue like this one — a pressing that captures the sound of this amazing group like nothing you have ever heard — you may be motivated to add a hearty “Good riddance to bad audiophile rubbish!”
  • KOB is the embodiment of the big-as-life, spacious and timbrally accurate 30th Street Studio Sound Fred Plaut was justly famous for
  • Space, clarity, transparency, and in-the-room immediacy are some of the qualities to be found on this pressing
  • It’s guaranteed to beat any copy you’ve ever played, and if you have the new MoFi pressing, please, please, please order this copy so that you can hear just how screwy the sound of the remaster is
  • 5 stars: “KOB isn’t merely an artistic highlight for Miles Davis, it’s an album that towers above its peers, a record generally considered as the definitive jazz album, a universally acknowledged standard of excellence.”
  • If you’re a fan of the jazz Davis, Adderley and Coltrane were playing circa 1959, this album belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1959 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

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Cannonball Adderley – A Forgotten Jazz Classic

More Cannonball Adderley

Yet Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound

  • An exceptionally rare and amazing sounding early stereo pressing (that’s the mono you see pictured btw) – it boasts Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last 
  • These originals are by far the best way to go, in stereo of course, putting Cannonball’s breathy, melodic sax right between your speakers, with the rest of the band – including Sergio Mendes on keys – spread out around him
  • Truly an undiscovered gem in the Adderley catalog – the audiophiles here at Better Records were digging both the music and especially the superb sound
  • Another top quality recording from the superbly talented Ray Fowler, the house engineer for Riverside and the man behind many of the best Thelonious Monk and Cannonball Adderley recordings done for that great jazz label
  • A Jazz Classic from 1963 that should appeal to any fan of Bossa Nova music
  • The complete list of titles from 1963 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

I think I first heard this album on the original pressing about ten years ago. Of course I liked it immediately; samba jazz and pop are two of my favorite styles of music, from Getz Au Go Go to Astrud Gilbert, on to Antonio Carlos Jobim and ending with the bottled-sunshine Pure Pop of Sergio Mendes and Brazil ’66.

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1962 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy will do the trick. (more…)

Cannonball Adderley / Somethin’ Else – Setting the Record for Straight Ahead Jazz

More Breakthrough Pressing Discoveries

More Hot Stamper Pressings on Blue Note

The music here is amazing — as I’m sure most of you know, this is as much a showcase for Miles Davis as it is for Cannonball himself — but the good news for audiophiles is that it’s also one of the BEST SOUNDING BLUE NOTE ALBUMS we know of!

When you hear it on a copy like this, it’s just about As Good As It Gets.

Setting the Record for Straight Ahead Jazz

After doing this shootout in 2015 I would like to amend the above remarks for being much too conservative. The current consensus here at Better Records is that this album deserves to hold three — count ’em, three — somewhat related titles:

One, The Best Sounding Blue Note record we have ever played.

Two, The Best Sounding Jazz Record we have ever played.

Three, Rudy Van Gelder’s Best Engineering (based on the copies we played).

Our shootout winners had more energy, presence, dynamics and three-dimensional studio space than any jazz recording we have ever heard. The sound was as BIG and BOLD as anything in our audio experience.

Add to that a perfectly balanced mix, with tonality that’s correct from top to bottom for every instrument in the soundfield and you may begin to see why we feel that the best copies of this album set a standard that no other jazz record we’re aware of can meet.

Have we played every Blue Note, every RVG recording, every jazz record? We would never say such a thing (nor should anyone else).

However, in our defense, who could possibly claim to have critically evaluated the sound of more jazz records than we have?

There are multitudes of music experts in the world of jazz. For jazz sound quality the numbers must surely be orders of magnitude smaller, and here is where we’re sure we have more than a few critically valuable advantages: better playback equipment, better record cleaning, stacks of copies of the same title, a scientifically blinded approach and, most importantly of all, a single minded purpose. All our efforts are in service to only one end, to find the ultimate in analog sound. (Naturally we leave the sound of CDs and other digital formats to others.)

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Cannonball Adderley – What I Mean

More Cannonball Adderley

  • With outstanding presence, clarity, space and right on the money timbral accuracy, this pressing is guaranteed to be one of the best sounding jazz records you’ve heard in a long, long time
  • This is surely the best sound we have ever heard for this exceptional Golden Age ’60s recording, and that is really saying something
  • 4 stars: “This two-LP set combines two fine sessions from 1961. The great altoist is heard with his quintet in 1961 (featuring cornetist Nat Adderley, Victor Feldman on vibes and piano and guest pianist Wynton Kelly) and in a quartet date with pianist Bill Evans.”

Sides one and two of this double LP were originally issued as The Cannonball Adderley Quintet Plus, while sides three and four were originally released as Know What I Mean?

All four sides boast excellent mastering and very good sound. The cymbals have that just right “tap” followed by an open and sweet “shimmer.”

The piano and sax, the heart of the music of course, are rendered as accurately as can be expected.

As good as the OJC sounds, and it can sound very good indeed, this Milestone reissue from the decade before is even better. It has more of a “vintage analog pressing” sound, the kind you would expect to hear on a recording from 1962. (more…)