Top Artists – Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Hot Stampers of Led Zeppelin and ELP Helped Some Audiophiles Hear What They’d Been Missing

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he played at a stereo show recently. You can read all about it here.

We carried on the conversation:

Tom,

Thank you and for sure I’d be more than happy to spread the word more and help out! Send me cards for sure. I’m def a Better Records disciple.

You should consider teaming up with a room at the show next time, I think worth your while. Time to break the grip of the Mofi Mafia at these shows.

All the best, Mike

Mike,

We went to some shows years ago and nothing came of it.

It may turn out that none of these people will ever want to pay good money for hot stampers. I wrote about it here:

“No one doubted your records after this listening session.”

Experience over many years has borne out this view, disappointing as it may be.

The audiophiles who go to shows for some reason don’t seem to be able to wrap their heads around the Hot Stamper concept.

Hard to imagine that none of them can afford our records. The money someone might pay for three wacky MoFis or three Analogue Productions disasters would probably get you one very good sounding Hot Stamper pressing. In my book, one good record that you might actually listen to and enjoy often is a lot better than any number of modern records that you will seldom play and more than likely simply file away on the shelf to collect dust.

I’m guessing. I don’t really know what people do with all these mediocre-at-best sounding reissues. I wrote about what I suspect happens to them here.

I Beg the Question

But this is purely an exercise in “begging the question.” I’m assuming things I do not know to be true, in order to make the very point I should have the burden of proving.

I need to provide evidence to back up my claim that these records don’t get played and enjoyed, but I have no evidence whatsoever that that is indeed the case.

It’s a naked expression of prejudice on my part, of assuming that what’s obviously true for me must be true for others. I don’t enjoy playing these Heavy Vinyl records, and I think that other audiophiles must be as disappointed by them as I am.

But Heavy Vinyl records are selling very well these days. Somebody must be buying them.

And they buy them even though, as our writer points out, they cannot begin to compete with a good vintage pressing.

(This happens to be something I have a lot of evidence for and can prove with ease. Practically every record on our site is a rebuttal to audiophile pressings from every era, made by every company in the remastering business. To find out how wrong these modern records are, all you need do is buy one of our Hot Stampers and play them head to head.)

Oh well. All we can do is keep trying to get the word out. And we thank you for your help showing audiophiles what they are missing. Because explaining doesn’t work. Only hearing works.

Best, TP

(more…)

Letter of the Week – “No one in that room will ever forget it.”

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

Hey Tom, 

Thanks again!

Got the White Hot ELP s/t Friday afternoon as I was leaving for a weekend at the Capital Audio Fest in Bethesda Maryland but had no time to listen to it at home so brought it and the Led Zep 2 White Hot I bought from you a year or so back with me to the show with the intention of playing it on some of the crazy systems being demo’ed at the show.

The majority of participants demo their systems with Mofi and other heavy vinyl reissues, rarely will you hear old vinyl.

Saturday night in the “main room” where VAC and Von Schweikert were partnering and demoing their million dollar system, there was a presentation by Greg Weaver (a friend of mine) and the theme was great sounding prog rock. After a few records – all reissues, Greg turns to the 30 or so of us and asked what we wanted to hear next. The guy behind me shouts out “Zep 2 Robert Ludwig hot mix!” and of course he didn’t have it but that was my opening and I took it – “I have it upstairs and happy to bring it down!” Greg of course said “sure!” so I ran up to my room and grabbed the Zep 2 AND the ELP I just got from you but never played.

The Zep 2 was a revelation to many – some people moved closer to take it all in, it was everything you would have expected and beyond, an unforgettable highlight for all! One guy had me pose with him holding the record after it was done, lol!

Greg was excited to see the ELP too and put it on next. He gave a little history about the band and its members and then dropped the needle.

All I can say it was a “Holy Shit!” moment for EVERYONE in the room. Maybe, no…without a doubt, the best record I and many there had ever heard in our lives, coming thru a million dollar system and utterly blowing our minds. What an INSANE sounding record!

No one in that room will ever forget it.

My complements to the chefs at Better Records for making this incredible experience possible!

Mike (more…)

Letter of the Week – “No one doubted your records after this listening session.”

Reviews and Commentaries for ELP’s Debut

Reviews and Commentaries for Abbey Road

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

Hey Tom, 

Yesterday, I attended an audio event in Verona, NJ, where I had purchased my stereo.

I spent my time in the “analogue” room. This room had the flagship equipment (Vandersteen 7 speakers, Aesthetix Jupiter series amps, pre-amps, phono stage, Clearaudio’s Goldfinger Statement cartridge, etc).

I listened for a while, hearing all the issues with almost every record they played. I then asked the store’s “turntable guru” to play some of the records I brought with me.

They thumbed through my boxes and asked me what the difference was between my two copies of Abbey Road. When I explained the superior side X on either copy, the audience found this concept amusing, based on their laughter. Any doubters would soon become believers.

They played Abbey Road‘s side 2 (3+ side, of course). While “Here Comes The Sun” was playing, Garth had his eyes closed. At the track’s conclusion, he exclaimed “Outstanding!”, and the record played on.

Next, we listened to ELP’s “Lucky Man“. Garth said it was the best he had ever heard.

I do not really know Garth, but I suspect he does not easily offer up such compliments in a room full of people. Others in the room, including the store’s turntable guru, were all very impressed. Several folks approached me, all pointing out parts of the music that blew them away.

There were comments about some folks hearing that Better Records was a scam, and others saying that you are the real deal. The discussion ended with “Hearing is believing”. No one doubted your records after this listening session.

I scored points with these important folks, thanks to your records. I provided the source material to allow their equipment to shine.

Any doubt these folks had about your company was put to rest. All that listened were very impressed, and I thought you’d want to know.

Craig D.

Craig,

Thanks for your letter!

I have to confess I am of two minds concerning this demonstration of the obviously superior sound of our best Hot Stamper pressings.

Allow me to make one cynical prediction.  None of those in the audience owns or will ever own one of our records. They like good sound all right, they certainly will tell you as much, but they just can’t wrap their heads around spending the kind of money it takes to get the kinds of records you played them.

But they sure like that $17,500 cartridge and are dying to own one.

You can be sure that those folks, like audiophiles in general, have lots of Heavy Vinyl mediocrities and are just fine with that fact. I have never understood it, but I have seen it time and time again.

If you are serious about good sound, you need good records. You know that as well as anyone.

Now that they have heard it for themselves, they know it too, but what will they do with this knowledge? My guess is nothing.

(more…)

Listening in Depth to Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Debut

More Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Reviews and Commentaries for Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Debut

Folks, this is ANALOG at its Tubey Magical finest. You ain’t never gonna play a CD that sounds like this as long as you live. I don’t mean to rain on your parade but let’s face it, digital media are pretty much incapable of reproducing this kind of sound. There are nice sounding CDs in the world but there aren’t any that sound like this, not in my experience anyway. If you are thinking that someday a better digital system is going to come along and save you the trouble and expense of having to find and acquire these expensive original pressings, think again. Ain’t gonna happen. This is the kind of record that shows you what’s wrong with your BEST sounding CDs. (Let’s not even talk about the average ones in our collections; the less said the better.)

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

The Barbarian
Take a Pebble

Superb sound! Big, spacious and effortlessly alive!

Knife Edge

Again, some of the best sound to be found on any ELP album. We much prefer the tracks with vocals as opposed to the heavy keyboard ones. This is PROG at its best, right up there with Yes’s and King Crimson’s biggest and boldest musical statements. When it’s good, it’s REALLY GOOD. (Conversely, of course, when it’s bad, it’s pretty bad. Played Relayer lately?)

Side Two

The Three Fates: Clotho/Lachesis/Atropos

This is a super tough test for side two. It’s guaranteed to bring even the biggest and best systems to their knees. The organ is HUGE, so big and powerful it has a tendency to break up a bit in the loudest parts, either from groove damage or the inability of the cutting system to properly transfer the enormous amounts of bass that exist on the master tape onto the cutting acetate. You need plenty of amplifier cutting power and not every mastering chain had it.

Tank
Lucky Man

My favorite ELP track, sounding about as good as it gets. You need the right Cotillion copy for the ultimate sound; the better bass brings Palmer’s kick drum to life, not to mention the synthesizer solo.

Listen also to the electric guitar solo in the left channel. On the best copies it really comes to life and rocks out. If it lays back in the mix you do not have a Hot Stamper for side two, I can assure you of that!

By the way, this track is cut a bit low compared to the two that precede it. It needs click or two on the volume knob to work its magic. (more…)

Emerson, Lake & Palmer / Self-Titled – Out of This World Sound on Big Speakers at Loud Levels

More Emerson, Lake and Palmer

More Prog Rock

  • This vintage Island Pink Rim import pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally QUIET vinyl too
  • Spacious, rich and dynamic, with especially smooth, present vocals – this is what we love about Eddie Offord’s work here
  • ANALOG at its Tubey Magical finest – you’ll never play a CD that sounds this good as long as you live
  • Lucky Man and Take A Pebble on this copy have Demo Disc Quality Sound like you won’t believe
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Lively, ambitious, almost entirely successful debut album… [which] showcased the group at its least pretentious and most musicianly …there isn’t much excess, and there is a lot of impressive musicianship here.”

If you’ve got the system to play this one loud enough, with the low end weight and energy it requires, you are in for a treat. The organ that opens side two will rattle the foundation of your house if you’re not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. This is bombastic prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels, it actually will rock your world.

This UK Island pink rim import pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even 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. (more…)

Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Pictures at an Exhibition

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  • Outstanding sound throughout for this ELP Classic Live Album, earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • Tubey Magical and exceptionally spacious, with a massive bottom end and plenty of Rock and Roll energy
  • Listen to that GIGANTIC organ that plays the fanfare opening of the work – you can thank the brilliant engineering of Eddie Offord for getting that sound on tape
  • “…it teased the brain with its mix of melody and heavy rock, and for anyone with some musical knowledge, serious or casual, it was a sufficiently bold use of Mussorgsky’s original to stimulate hours of delightful listening.”

This British Island LP has real weight and heft, so when Emerson lays into the organ it’ll rattle your walls! As we said previously, it “has that big, fat, rich, smooth sound that we love here at Better Records. It’s warm and full, not thick and sludgy. It’s on the opposite end of the transistory spectrum.”

Listen to that GIGANTIC organ that plays the fanfare opening of the work. Honestly, I have not EVER heard a rock album with an organ sound that stretched from wall to wall and sounds like it’s seventy five feet tall. No, I take that back. The first ELP album has an organ that sounds about that big, but that’s a studio album. How did they manage to get that kind of organ sound in a live setting without actually having to build one inside the concert hall?

The domestic copies are a bad joke as you no doubt have guessed. You might think that you could just pick up any old Brit pressing to get Hot Stamper sound, but you’d be wrong. We’ve played a bunch of Original Brit Island pressings over the years that looked just like this one but sure didn’t sound as good.

Many of them are thick, dull, smeary, veiled, congested and/or just plain lifeless. This one, on the other hand, sounds JUST RIGHT. (more…)

Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Tarkus

More Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Records We Only Sell on Import Vinyl

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  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this copy is guaranteed to blow the doors off any other copy of Tarkus you’ve heard
  • This early British pressing with the Island Pink Rim label is guaranteed to rock like no other copy you’ve ever played
  • Eddie Offord’s trademark Tubey Magic, energy, resolution, whomp factor and dynamics are all over this phenomenal recording
  • “More accomplished than the trio’s first album, but not quite as polished as Brain Salad Surgery, Tarkus is nevertheless a must-have.”

This killer copy features some of the more intense prog rock sound to hit our table in quite some time. This is a true Demo Disc LP, one of the most dynamic and powerful rock recordings ever made.

The organ captured here by Eddie Offord (of Yes engineering fame, we’re his biggest fans) and then transferred so well onto our Hot Stamper pressings will rattle the foundation of your house if you’re not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. It’s big Bombastic Prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels it actually does rock your world.

Unlike most British pressings of the first album, the Brits here really ROCK, with greater dynamic contrasts and seriously prodigious bass, some of the best ever committed to vinyl. This music needs real whomp down below and lots of jump factor to work its magic. These Brits are super-low distortion, with an open, sweet sound, especially up top, but they still manage to convey the awesome power of the music, no mean feat. (more…)

Letter of the Week – ELP Tarkus and Hampton Hawes Vol 2: The Trio

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

Hey Tom, 

Just wanted to express my excitement with the ELP Tarkus and Hampton Hawes Trio Vol 2 LP’s! Wow!!! Great sound as described and played quieter than described, beyond near mint ! The ELP only had one moderate pop on the opening of “The Only Way” track 3 on side two. Otherwise dead quiet all through !!!!

I am beyond pleased!!! Looking forward to the next order coming in !!! Lastly, can you show me where you get those terrific rice paper inner sleeves? They are nice and thick ply!! Better than MFSL or Quality RP…!!!

Thanks again!

I will surely be doing business in the future with you and have your accurate descriptions locked in to what I prefer surface wise. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Trilogy

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

Hey Tom,   

Once again, you folks have proved that your albums are worth EVERY PENNY that you charge for them.

For years, I’ve had a couple of domestic pressings, and a “200 gram Anadisq” MOFI, of ELP’s Trilogy. Always thought the sound was pretty solid.

But I JUST finished spinning the British A+++ pressing I scored from you folks this past week, and OH MY. It absolutely CRUSHES all prior versions. It leaves the MOFI in the DUST. I mean, it’s not even close. Not subtle. Not “Well, if I listen closely, I think I MIGHT hear a difference….” NO. It’s utterly ridiculous. I’m hearing things I’ve never heard before. Orders of magnitude better.

THANK YOU, for your dedication to optimizing the quality of listening. SUCH a great album – and sound that finally is commensurate to the quality of the musicianship. 🙂

Steve

Steve,

So glad to hear it!

I was selling MoFi records when that pressing of Trilogy came out. What a murky piece of crap. The cutting system they were using was a joke, and the one they have now is not much better.

Thanks for your letter.

Best, TP

 

Letter of the Week – Wild Planet, Greatest Hits, The Cars and Emerson, Lake & Palmer

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

Hey Tom, 

Yesterday, I attended an audio event at Audio Connection, in Verona, NJ (where I purchased my stereo).

I played the B-52s, Wild Planet, “Party Out Of Bounds”, on their cost-no-object flagship system.
It was spectacular!  

I played other titles that were also spectacular, such as Sly And The Family Stone’s “Dance To The Music” and The Cars’ “Good Times Roll” (all purchased from your store).

A couple of other pressings were very good, but not as impressive (Cat Stevens’ WHS, for example). And my WHS of ELP’s “Take A Pebble” had a fair amount of sibilance (a song I had not previously played). But overall, a wonderfully musical experience.

Great job unearthing / identifying these gems! (more…)