Top Artists – David Bowie

Letter of the Week – “People let me tell you…it’s sent a chill up and down my spine…”

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More of the Music of David Bowie

More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters

Hey Tom, 

Just got my Super Hot Stampers of Remain In Light and Station To Station;. I was very much looking forward to the arrival of theses LPs…I was not disappointed. Verily, I was completely floored!

First, my apologies. I have been reading your website for over two years, gleaning information to help me find Hot Stampers, or at least good sounding records. I had not made a purchase until this past week. I was starting to feel guilty; you have given me so much great direction and guidance over these years, and I had not supported you in the proper way.

So I made a modest purchase of these two records, to assuage my guilt and support your efforts. You will be getting much more business from this satisfied customer.

I have Remain In Light on LP, CD and even the FLAC file release. My new Hot Stamper truly puts these recordings to shame. No, really, TO SHAME! If this ever gets on the Better Records Testimonials: “People let me tell you…it’s sent a chill up and down my spine…”!

I really can’t believe how well balanced the sound is: great bottom end, mids are pronounced and the shrillness is GONE! No smear anymore! Breathtaking.

My copy of Station to Station is just as wonderful.

I’ve been convinced of “Hot Stamper” recording for quite some time now, thanks to Tom and the BR crew; I’ve found some great recordings after conducting my own modest shoot-outs. Found some real gems. But the best results that I have ever got, and there are only a few, have now been easily matched and outstripped by my first BR purchase!

Rob

Letter of the Week – “…this copy I got from you blows the sonics of my old press away.”

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

Hey Tom, 

I’ve been meaning to write to thank you for the magic you and your team create. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but it is mind blowing to hear the music that comes from even just Hot and Supers. I still haven’t crossed the Rubicon into Whites. 

I have been lucky enough to have vintage pressings passed down to me from family. And while I started hearing the difference as soon as I started cleaning those old presses vs. new “remastered” ones, this small sample from your team is incredible!

Abbey at Hot is incredible! Frankly I admired the album, now it’s one of my favorites! I’m not even a huge Beatles guy, haha (Thanks for that!)

Purple Rain at Super knocked out the vintage and remastered copies that I own.

Zep I is terrific (Weirdly on my system, “Good Times” is the least mind blowing, but “Dazed” and all of Side 2 is crazy!)

Perhaps the best sounding so far is “Ziggy,” like you said. I own a pristine vintage press passed down and this copy I got from you blows the sonics of my old press away.

Anyway, thanks again! (more…)

David Bowie – Let’s Dance

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  • It’s all here: huge amounts of rock solid bass, clear guitar transients, breathy, natural vocals, and jump out of the speakers presence and energy
  • A real Demo Disc at high volumes on the right system – Modern Love, China Girl and the title track are knockouts when you play them good and loud
  • Top 100 of course – Let’s Dance is one of the best sounding Bowie albums ever recorded – this superb pressing is proof!

Bowie is without question one of the all time great frontmen and producers. This is his last good album and a Must Own for audiophiles, especially if you have big dynamic speakers. Like we say, with this one you are in for a treat.

Hearing a top copy of Let’s Dance is truly a special experience; the damn thing is amazingly well recorded, especially considering it came along well after the Golden Age of Rock Recording (the ’60s and ’70s, don’t you know). The sound is analog at its best; rich, full and super-punchy.

I have never heard a CD in my life with this kind of Tubey Magical richness and sweetness. That medium never does justice to the sound of recordings like this one, in my experience anyway. People who exclusively play CDs have forgotten what that sound is; that’s why they can happily live without it. I sure can’t. At present, this sound is exclusively the domain of analog and likely to remain so well into the future.

In addition, the musicianship is Top Notch and then some. Omar Hakim’s drumming is powerful, energetic, and performed with military precision. The guy is out of his mind on this album.

The combination of Nile Rodgers and the Legendary Stevie Ray Vaughn on guitar makes for a tasty, intricate mix of subtle rhythm work and searing leads. Or is that soaring leads? Hey, on this album it’s both.

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David Bowie / Heroes – It Took Ages to Break the Sound Barrier (Because the Conventional Wisdom Turned Out to Be So Wrong))

Our intuition that the British originals would sound the best turned out to be incorrect.

In the audiophile record collecting world, intuitions have a bad track record, but more than a few audiophiles — many of whom are addicted to sharing their “record knowledge” on audiophile forums — seem to be unaware of this fact.

Taking a page from one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, we’ve opted to use a more scientific approach to discovering the best sounding record pressings, and we encourage you to do likewise. 

We pioneered the evidence-based approach to finding the best sounding pressings, and, like all good scientists, we shared it with everyone. Some in the audiophile community have taken it to heart, but most have chosen to put their faith in reviewers, forum posters, common sense and logic. None of these produce consistently good results, but those who use these methods are loathe to doubt them and only rarely if ever learn the error of their ways.

Once a decision has been made and a specific pressing acquired, you could call it door number three I suppose, cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias immediately kick in to justify the result, and soon enough the game is over. The prize has been won. It’s the best prize ever. It does everything right, everything you hoped for.

Behind door number three was not the best sounding copy of the record. You don’t have the best sounding pressing (well, you might, but if you did it would be entirely the result of chance, since you carried out no experiments), but as long as you think you do, and, like most audiophiles, you play records only for yourself, and purely for enjoyment, you have no way of  discovering where on the spectrum of worst to best your choice would sit. As long as you think you have the best, you have the best. How could there ever be any evidence offered to the contrary?

Making an effort to prove yourself wrong is surely the key to making progress in this hobby. Nothing will do more to improve the quality of your record collection, of that we are convinced.

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David Bowie / Low

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More Five Star Albums Available Now

  • This British pressing (not original by the way – this one is better!) plays about as quietly as any we can find, which makes it a very special pressing indeed
  • Huge amounts of studio space can be heard on this copy, along with the Tubey Magical richness only the best UK copies offer
  • 5 stars: “Though a handful of the vocal pieces on Low are accessible — “Sound and Vision” has a shimmering guitar hook, and “Be My Wife” subverts soul structure in a surprisingly catchy fashion — the record is defiantly experimental and dense with detail, providing a new direction for the avant-garde in rock & roll.”
  • If you’re a fan of the man, this is a Top Title from 1977 that belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1977 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

I’ve mentioned it on the site numerous times: I spent a good portion of the ’70s playing Art Rock records like Taking Tiger Mountain, Siren, Crime Of The Century, Deceptive Bends and scores of others. I remember being blown away when Low came out, and with this shootout we had a blast hearing just how good a killer Hot Stamper UK pressing can sound on the much more highly-evolved stereo system (equipment, room, set-up, tweaks, electricity, etc.) we have today.

It’s difficult to find a pressing that gets both sides of this album right, perhaps in part because the two sides are so different. Side one of this album features the more traditional (not really the right word, but it will have to do) Bowie rockers like Sound and Vision and Be My Wife, while side two sounds more like the instrumental synth music of Kraftwerk and Eno.

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David Bowie / Low – A Long Time Ago We Were Surprised to Hear a Domestic Pressing Beat Our Best British LPs

More of the Music of David Bowie

More Hot Stamper Pressings that Sound Better on the Right Reissue

This shootout listing was written sometime around 2008. 

We hadn’t discovered the right imports for this album yet, that would not happen for many more years, hence the error we made in thinking that some especially good sounding domestic copies could win a shootout.

Back then they could, but with the right pressings in the mix there is not a chance in the world that would happen now.

A classic case of Live and Learn.

Some domestic pressings do end up having low level Hot Stampers, but it’s rare. Our best Brits just kill ’em.

Our Old Hot Stamper Commentary

This is the first Hot Stamper copy of Low to ever hit our site, and it’s a darn good one — especially on side one, where all the “pop” songs are found. We just had a huge shootout for this album featuring all the copies we’ve picked up over the years, and this domestic (!) pressing shocked us by blowing away our Brit copies on side one.

If you aren’t interested in the instrumental Bowie/Eno synth-heavy soundscapes that fill side two, this is THE copy to own.

I’ve said it on the site numerous time, but I spent a good portion of the ’70s playing art-rock records like Taking Tiger Mountain, Crime Of The Century and Deceptive Bends. I remember being blown away when Low came out, and it was a blast to hear how good a Hot Stamper pressing can sound on a highly-evolved stereo system today. Side one of this album features the more traditional (not really the right word, but I digress) Bowie rockers like Sound and Vision and Be My Wife, while side two sounds more like the instrumental synth music of Kraftwerk or Eno. (more…)

David Bowie / Ziggy Stardust – MoFi Reviewed

More of the Music of David Bowie

Reviews and Commentaries for Ziggy Stardust

Sonic Grade: C-

The MoFi pressing is decent, probably better than the average domestic copy I suppose. The colorations and the limitations of their cutting system make it painful for me to listen to it though, especially the sloppy bass and dynamic compression.

You can do worse but you sure can do a whole lot better.

MoFi did two of the greatest Bowie albums of all time, Ziggy and Let’s Dance, and neither one can hold a candle to the real thing. If you want to settle for a pretty poor imitation of either or both of those albums, stick with your MoFi.

If you want to hear the kind of Demo Disc sound that Bowie’s records are capable of, try a Hot Stamper. (more…)

David Bowie – Scary Monsters

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  • An outstanding original UK pressing of Scary Monsters with Double Plus (A++) sound from on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Exceptionally present, real and resolving, this pressing is guaranteed to murder any remastering undertaken by anyone, past, present and future
  • 5 stars: “Reworking glam rock themes with avant-garde synth flourishes, and reversing the process as well, Bowie creates dense but accessible music throughout Scary Monsters.”

This original RCA pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds. (more…)

David Bowie – Space Oddity

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  • An outstanding copy of Bowie’s sophomore release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • The sound here is huge, full-bodied, punchy and relatively smooth throughout, with real space and ambience around the vocals and instruments
  • “Abandoning both the mod and Anthony Newley fascinations that marked his earlier recordings, Bowie delves into a lightly psychedelic folk-rock, exemplified by the album’s soaring title track. . .”

One of the reasons the song “Space Oddity” sounds so amazing is that it was produced by none other than Gus Dudgeon, the man behind all the best Elton John records. It has Paul Buckmaster doing the string arrangements as well. His work on Elton’s self-titled album is awe-inspiring; we know of none better. (more…)

David Bowie / Aladdin Sane

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More Records with Exceptionally Tubey Magical Sound


  • Outstanding sound throughout this vintage UK pressing of Bowie’s 1973 post-Ziggy classic, earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Remarkable richness, smoothness and warmth, something that all the best Ken Scott Tube Recordings are renowned for
  • Plenty of Bowie Classics: “Watch That Man,” “Aladdin Sane,” “Panic in Detroit,” “Cracked Actor,” “The Jean Genie,” “Lady Grinning Soul,” and more
  • Bowie encyclopedist Nicholas Pegg describes it as “one of the most urgent, compelling and essential” of his releases
  • Fun fact: Bowie “ruled the (British) album chart, accumulating an unprecedented 182 weeks on the list in 1973 with six different titles.”
  • If you’re a David Bowie fan, this has to be considered a Must Own Title of his from 1973.
  • The complete list of titles from 1973 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

THE BIG BOWIE SOUND for this wonderful follow-up to Ziggy Stardust! We just finished shooting out a number of import pressings of the album, and this import was one of the better copies we heard. This one’s got the kind of Tubey Magical Richness that takes these Glam Rockers to a whole new level. (more…)