Top Artists – Crosby, Still, Nash and (sometimes) Young

Music Does the Driving

More Crosby, Stills and Nash

More CrosbyMore Stills / More Nash / More Young

csny

Of course it’s easy to argue that finding good sound on an album with two or more members of Crosby, Stills, Nash or Young, in any configuration, has never been easy.

It’s the rare copy of either of the first two albums that’s even listenable, and the CSN album from 1977 doesn’t sound nearly as good as any of the first three Crosby/Nash albums. Which simply means that the “good” sound of our Hot Stamper copies is far better than what most audiophiles own of any of these guys in combination.

Their solo albums are a different story altogether. The first solo albums by David Crosby (1971), Stephen Stills (1970) and Graham Nash (1971) are three of my favorite records of all time; each is a brilliant recording, each contains powerful, compelling music (the Nash album especially). Two made our Top 100. (more…)

Crosby, Stills & Nash on Nautilus – The Most Bloated, Ill-Defined, Overblown Bass in the Sad, Sordid History of Half-Speed Mastering

More Crosby, Stills and Nash

More CrosbyMore Stills / More Nash / More Young

xxxxx

Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and a Half-Speed Mastered Disaster if there ever was one.

An audiophile record dealer (of course; who else?) once raved to me about Crosby Stills and Nash on Nautilus. I said “What are you talking about? That version sucks!” He replied “No, it’s great. Helplessly Hoping sounds amazing.” 

Now one thing I know about the Nautilus is that although it is wonderfully transparent in the midrange, it may very well take the cake for the most bloated, out of control bass in the history of Half Speed mastering. What song on that album has almost no bass, just lovely voices in the midrange? You guessed it. Helplessly Hoping.

The Nautilus got one track right, and ruined the rest. Using that track for comparison will fool you, and when it comes time to play a side of the album, you will quickly hear what a disaster it is.

Or maybe you won’t. Who else harps on bad Half-Speed Mastered bass outside of those of us who write for this blog? I don’t recall ever reading a word about it. This does not reflect well on the bass response of the modern audiophile stereo.


Some Relevant Commentaries

A Technological Fix for a Non-Existent Problem (more…)

Money Can Buy You Happiness, You Just Have to Spend It Right

Letters and Commentaries for Deja Vu

More CrosbyMore Stills / More Nash / More Young

crosbdejav_1119401224

A testimonial from a customer for his Hot Stamper Deja Vu discusses what it takes to get good sound from your stereo. (Hint: it’s a good sounding record.) An excerpt.

Tom:

I received my Deja Vu 2 Pack yesterday. Even though I have not yet listened to all of the mother load that I got on Marathon week – I had to take a listen to this tonight.

Whew – Mother of God!

I have never heard even a semi-decent copy of this album before on either LP or CD – although the music is outstanding and chock full of memories for anyone my age. This white hot stamper is transcendental nirvana. Tom was not kidding when he said master tape sound. The vocals and instrumentals were so alive it was unbelievable. Some of the songs were so good that I just tilted my head back and opened my mouth real wide and just zoned out. Crosby’s vocal on Almost Cut My Hair is masterful. I took your advice and played it twice at even louder volumes. Yikes – better than acapulco gold. Neil Young’s Country Girl was so huge – a vast wall of sound with every single voice and instrument standing out.

This album is even better than I ever thought it was. I was just not prepared to hear how it really sounds after all that crap I had been listening to for 30 years.

I have come to a conclusion – no matter whether I had the best $50,000 amps in the world or a $29,000 phono supply or the $150,000 Wilson Alexandria speakers or all that other incredible stuff that audiophiles lust for – not one of those items can make a shit record sound anything but like a shit record. There is no overcoming the original source material that you play on your stereo system.

Buying a hot stamper for what can seem like a lot of money – especially if you want a whole lot of them – is really a bargain for those who have invested in a super audio system (with analog capability of course). It is true that the better your system is the more you will get out of hot stampers – but at some point in the process it is more effective to spend available resources on the LPs rather than on more better mega equipment. I just don’t believe an additional $20,000 spent on a better amplifier can deliver as much as $20,000 spent on Super or White Hot Stampers played with my current amplifier. Additionally, I do believe that even a modest analogue system will sound fabulous when you have master tape sound coming out of it.

Bless Tom and all the folks at Better Records. My system enjoyment quotient has increased dramatically this year since I have been buying the good stuff to play on it. Keep up the good work.

Regards,
John

John,

So glad to hear you loved that Deja Vu as much as your enthusiastic letter indicates you did. When we come across a copy as good as the one we sent you it is indeed a cause for celebration here at Better Records: We know someone is very likely going to have their mind blown, and soon. Obviously in this case it was you!

As far as megabuck equipment is concerned, we discussed the subject in a commentary entitled Money Can’t Buy You (Audio) Happiness in which we noted that a certain reviewer’s very, very expensive equipment does not seem to be helping him tell the difference between good sounding records and bad. From our perspective, there’s little difference in the sound of the Heavy Vinyl pressings he seems to like so much from Classic, Sundazed, Speakers Corner and the like. To us almost all of them leave a lot to be desired.

Play Them? Why?

We actually created a section called the Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to point out the many shortcomings — and, to be fair, the occasional strengths — of these pressings. It’s hard for us to get motivated to play any of these records. The vast majority are barely even mediocre and oftentimes they’re downright awful, so what’s the point?

John brings up a related point: No matter how expensive your equipment, you just can’t make your stereo sound good unless you are playing a good sounding record. Placing a Sundazed or Classic record on a $100,000 turntable is — to our way of thinking — audio insanity. If that turntable is any good, it’s simply going to make even more obvious the shortcomings that exist in the mastering of these two famously badly-mastered label’s records.

If, on the other hand, it’s hiding those flaws, that’s strong evidence that someone may very well have figuratively flushed a hundred grand down the toilet. (more…)

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – So Far

More Crosby / More Stills / More Nash / More Young

xxxxx

  • This stunning copy offers exceptionally good Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on the first side and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • The two tracks exclusive to this album, Ohio and Find the Cost of Freedom, are amazingly well recorded – both have Demo Disc quality sound on this killer side one
  • Huge, rich and energetic, this pressing brings the gorgeous harmonies of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to life like nothing you have ever heard
  • If you’ve made the mistake of buying any Heavy Vinyl pressing containing any of these songs, this record will show you just exactly what you’ve been missing

When you get hold of a pressing as good as this one, the sound is so correct it makes a mockery of the phony EQ and just plain bad mastering and pressing of the Heavy Vinyl and Half-Speed Mastered versions.

The MoFi and the Classic 200g LP are both clearly wrong in important ways. This record will make it clear exactly what’s wrong with them, assuming you have the critical listening skills to recognize the differences. If you are on this site chances are very good you do.

Once you hear this copy you will never be able to enjoy those audiophile pressings again, of that we are quite confident. (more…)

Crosby, Stills and Nash – CSN

More Crosby

More Stills

More Nash

xxxxx

  • This vintage pressing of CSN’s “comeback” album earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades for its sound
  • The sound is big and rich, the vocals breathy and immediate, and you will not believe all the space and ambience – which of course are all qualities that Heavy Vinyl records have far too little of, and the main reason we have lost all respect for them
  • Includes CSN classics Dark Star, Just A Song Before I Go and Fair Game
  • 4 stars: “It has held up remarkably well, both as a memento of its time, and as a thoroughly enjoyable musical work.”

(more…)

Crosby Stills & Nash / Self-Titled – Classic Records Reviewed

More Crosby, Stills and Nash

xxxxx

Sonic Grade: B-

Nice enough I suppose, but where’s the Midrange Magic?

The Classic 180g version was a revelation when it came out years ago. Bernie actually cut it pretty darn right. However, his mastering chain cannot compete with the one used on the best original pressings.

The evidence for this is overwhelming. There simply is no Bernie-Grundman-cut record that is the equal of the best pressings not cut on his current chain that I have heard over the years. (His old cutting system, the one that cut Stardust and Blue and much of the Contemporary catalog, was KILLER. Wonder what happened to it?)

Having said that, the Classic version gets you 70-75% of the way there and gives you quiet vinyl to boot, so it must be appreciated for what it is: a very good reissue, maybe even the best one Classic ever made. But not the real thing. Not even close. (more…)

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young / 4 Way Street

More Crosby

More Stills

More Nash

More Young

xxxxx

  • This outstanding pressing boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all FOUR sides – hard to find this one quiet nowadays, so fans should take note than not many unscratched copies are going to make it to the site
  • The “naked” sound of the real thing – the real voices and the real guitars and the real everything else, in a way that would never happen again
  • Bill Halverson worked his magic, but only the best pressings let his genius shine the way it does here
  • 4 1/2 stars: “4 Way Street, released in April of 1971: a live double-LP set, chock-full of superb music distilled down from a bunch of nights on that tour that more than fulfilled the promise of the group.”
  • Rolling Stone raves that “Crosby, Stills. Nash, and Young are all performers of unquestionable talent, and mostly because they stay out of each others’ way, 4 Way Street must surely be their best album to date.”

If you want to hear Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young rock out live in your listening room, this copy will let you do it. It’s not easy to find good sound on even one side of this album, let alone all four! (more…)

VTA Adjustment on Crosby Stills and Nash – Using the Classic Records Heavy Vinyl LP

More Crosby, Stills and Nash

More VTA Adjustment

xxxxx

This commentary from way back when (2005!) describes how to go about adjusting your VTA for 200 gram vinyl, using the CSN track Helplessly Hoping from the first album.

Helplessly Hoping is a wonderful song with plenty of energy in the midrange and upper midrange area which is difficult to get right. Just today (4/25/05) I was playing around with VTA, having recently installed a new Dynavector DV-20x on my playgrading table (a real sweetheart, by the way), and this song showed me EXACTLY how to get the VTA right.

VTA is all about balance. The reason this song is so good for adjusting VTA is that the guitar at the opening is a little smooth and the harmony vocals that come in after the intro can be a little bright. Finding the balance between these two elements is key to getting the VTA adjusted properly. (more…)

Crosby, Stills and Nash – Daylight Again

Hot Stampers of Crosby, Stills and Nash

Commentaries and Letters for Crosby, Stills, Nash and (sometimes) Young

xxxxx

  • This outstanding copy of Daylight Again (the last good record these guys would ever make) earned solid Double Plus (A++) sonic grades – relatively quiet vinyl too
  • This is the embodiment of the Classic CSN sound we love – rich, full-bodied, warm, punchy, dynamic and clear 
  • Steven Barncard, one of our favorite recording engineers, no doubt deserves most of the credit
  • Allmusic on Wasted on the Way and Southern Cross: “Both were extracted as singles and became among the best-known tracks not only on Daylight Again, but also in the post-’60s CSN canon.”

(more…)

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Deja Vu

xxxxx

  • A stunning Shootout Winning copy that is guaranteed to blow your mind – Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two
  • The sound is HUGE — lively, present and rich in a way that nothing you’ve heard can compete with
  • One of our all time favorite albums at Better Records and one that almost never sounds THIS good
  • 5 stars: “…this variety made Déjà Vu a rich musical banquet for the most serious and personal listeners, while mass audiences reveled in the glorious harmonies and the thundering electric guitars…”

If you play this copy at serious levels and have the kind of full range system that’s both loud and clean like live music, we guarantee you will be nothing less than gobsmacked at the size and power of the music on this album, the band’s inarguable masterpiece.

Both sides here are super high-resolution, tonally perfect, Tubey Magical and ALIVE. The vocals are silky and sweet with very little strain or grain (a very common problem in the loudest choruses). The highs are extended, the bass is deep and punchy, and the overall clarity is breathtaking.

Just listen to the guitars during the solos — you can really hear the sound of the pick hitting the strings. The rhythm guitars sound meaty and chunky like the best sounding copies of Zuma and After The Gold Rush. (more…)