Top Artists – Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac – A Demo Disc for Bass

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Another in our series of Demo Discs for Bass.

One of the special qualities this album has is AMAZINGLY well-defined, punchy, deep BASS — the kind you just never hear on most records (or most pressings of this album for that matter).

The bass is typically bloated on most copies of this album, something that is especially true for the MoFi. When you get a copy with note-like, properly balanced bass, the whole album works. Bass is the foundation of the music. When the bass is blubbery and ill-defined, the music itself sounds blurred. It loses its focus.

It’s also very dynamic and punchy. The kick drum sounds exactly right — there’s a room around it, just exactly as you would hear it if you were in the studio with the band! It took a copy like this to show us what an amazing pop recording it is.

So few copies we ran across in our shootout had that “jump out of the speakers” sound we knew was possible from our previous shootouts of the album. When finally one did, boy did it ever. What a knockout. Hot Stampers? They’re on fire!

If you have a big speaker system and have taken advantage of the audio revolutions we discuss throughout the site, this is the kind of record that can help you chart your progress. When a record like this blows everything you’ve ever heard out of the water, you are definitely on the right track! (more…)

Letter of the Week – Rumours

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

Hey Tom,   

Friend over recently, played Fleetwood Mac Rumours, 45RPM. He says that’s gonna be awful hard to beat. “With one arm tied behind my back! Watch this!”

Wow, that was more open….!

Your discovery is easily the most amazing thing of all the amazing things this audiophile has come across in 30 years of amazing things.

Keep at it, no one else can, we are counting on you.

 

Rumours – A Ten to Twenty Dollar Used Record? Yeah, We Know Already

 

Stampers Galore!

You would have to go through at least a dozen or more copies of Rumours to even hope to find one in a league with our best pressings. That’s a lot of record hunting, record cleaning and record playing!

If you know anything about this record, you know that the average domestic pressing of this album is quite average sounding; the good ones are few and far between.

And the stampers, as we’ve come to learn, aren’t the whole story. For one thing, there are at least 75 different side ones and 75 different side twos, all cut by Ken Perry at Capitol on the same three cutters from — we’re assuming, we weren’t there — the same tapes.

But of course they all sound different. Ken also cut the original English and Japanese pressings; his KP is in the dead wax for all to see. The two import KP copies that I heard were quite good, by the way. Not the best, but very good. He only cut the originals though, so practically every import copy you can find will be a reissue made from a dub, ugh.

A Ten to Twenty Dollar Used Record? Yeah, We Know Already

So if you’re the kind of person who likes to complain about us charging hundreds of dollars for a record that can be found in every used bin in town for under twenty, save yourself some typing: that’s the price we pay too.

And if the copy you paid fifteen bucks for sounds good enough, more power to you. Go with god as they say.

But if your copy doesn’t thrill you — and it’s unlikely that it does — then you have a lot of work ahead of you if you expect to find one that sounds like ours. We wish you well. We wish everybody who likes to do his own shootouts well.

We know the kind of time and energy it takes to find great records, probably better than anyone on the planet. If you have that kind of time and energy available to you, go for it. It takes us a staff of six and access to all the records in the record capitol of the world to pull it off, with thirty years experience doing it no less.

But it can be done, and you can do it. You just have to be willing to put in the time and effort. The records are cheap, right? Fifiteen bucks each, we know already. Thanks in advance for your letter.

A Good Customer Compares Our Hot Stamper of Rumours to His Original and the Nautilus Audiophile Pressing

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This week’s letter [from quite a few years ago] comes from our good customer Roger, who was blown away by our Hot Stamper pressing of Rumours. Roger did his usual thorough shootout of our Hot Stamper against his own pressings. The results? Another knockout for our Hot Stamper pressing!

Hi Tom,

Just a quick note on the Fleetwood Mac Rumors Hot Stamper I just bought. I have a Nautilus pressing and my original pressing I bought in college when it came out. I have never liked this record as much as Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac, perhaps partly because its sonics were somewhat inferior.

So I played the Nautilus and quickly remembered what a piece of sonic detritus this thing is. How can audiophile labels like Nautilus put out something that is as thin, bright, flat, and compresssed as this thing is? It obviously reinforces your point that most audiophiles are lemmings when it comes to audiophile records. If some audiophile guru said the Japanese pressing of Girl Scout Troup #657 singing the Girl Scout Theme Song was sonic nirvana, it would show up on every internet record website for $50 each.

Next up was my original pressing with an F16 matrix on side one, and man, what a relief after following the Nautilus disaster. In fact, I resisted buying a pricey hot stamper because I always felt my pressing to be pretty darned good, which it was. So I was shocked to hear just how much better the hot stamper was.

I played Dreams on side one and it took all of about 5 seconds of hearing the massive bass and startlingly dynamic cymbal crashes on this track to find the hot stamper worth every penny I paid for it. If the drum kit on Oh Daddy doesn’t get your pants flapping, time for a new stereo. Voices were eerily present, guitars had great detail, pianos had weight just like in real life (we have a piano in our house), and best of all, the highs were arrayed in space and were delicate and detailed.

Since the Nautilus is too thin to make a good frisbee and would probably fetch big bucks on ebay I will stuff it back on my shelf forever, unless I need a good laugh, and add the HS Rumors to my favorite recordings.

Roger


Roger, thanks as always for the insightful review. The sad fact of the matter is that the Nautilus Digitally Remastered Half Speed — Yes, you heard that right — is actually better than the average reissue, and probably better in most ways than the average grainy domestic original, which is pretty much unbearably edgy and gritty, especially if it hasn’t been cleaned right.
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Fleetwood Mac – Tusk – On Japanese Vinyl

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More Tusk

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

FOUR EXCELLENT SOUNDING SIDES ON QUIET JAPANESE VINYL! This Captiol-mastered, Japanese-pressed LP has excellent sound on the first two sides and SUPERB sound on sides three and four. I doubt you’ve ever heard the title track rock like this! 

We dug up a few Japanese copies of Tusk that were mastered at Capitol. Because they were made from the real tapes, these don’t have the typical smeary subgen sound associated with Japanese pressings. We found that the best Japanese copies could hold their own with the best domestics on sides one and two, and could win outright on sides three and four.

Four Amazing Sides

Side one is RICH, WARM, and SWEET. The top end is lovely — silky sweet with lots of extension. The vocals are full-bodied with lots of breath and ambience. Detail lovers will freak out over the hi-res sound on this side.

Side two is big, bold, and full of life! Storms sounds particularly good — clean, clear, and very present.

The real magic here begins at the edge of side three. The moment the needle hits the grooves, you’ll be blown away by the AMAZING CLARITY and PRESENCE. The bass is deep, tight, and full-bodied. The vocals are silky sweet and the electric guitars have tons of meaty texture. The highs are delicate, the bottom end is superb, and the drums are clean and crisp, but not overly so. The overall sound is open, spacious, and super transparent – you can easily pick out each vocal line. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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More Rumours

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

This Hot Stamper Rumours has FREAKISHLY GOOD SOUND! It’s been YEARS since we even tried to find Hot Stamper copies of this album — with over 75 sets of stamper numbers for each side, it’s an extremely taxing project — even for us!  (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Future Games

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  • An awesome pressing with Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades on both sides, just shy of our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too! 
  • The sound is HUGE on this early pressing – it’s also wonderfully sweet and spacious, two qualities that are key to the best sounding copies of Future Games
  • Fleetwood Mac practically invented Space Rock, which reached its apotheosis in 1973 on Mystery to Me, my personal favorite by the band
  • A criminally underrated Fleetwood Mac album which is unlike anything you’ve heard, and a Better Records favorite for more than 40 years 

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Fleetwood Mac – Future Games – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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More Future Games

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

Finally, SUPERB SOUNDING STAMPERS have been discovered for this wonderful Fleetwood Mac album, a personal favorite from 1971! We can GUARANTEE you have never heard one that sounds like this, because practically every copy we’ve ever played sounded like an old cassette. Unless you have a very special copy — domestic, not Brit, more about that later — and know how to clean it right, the pressing you own of Future Games will have virtually no top end, no real ambience, and no presence to speak of.

The band will sound like it’s playing somewhere near the back wall of your listening room, maybe even behind it. In other words dead as a doornail. This is exactly how the album sounded for the first thirty years or so that I was listening to it. 

Not long ago I ran across a copy that blew my mind and I’ve been digging them up in preparation for this shootout ever since. Of course the stereo has gotten quite a bit better of late, which helped the album immensely; check out our Revolutionary Changes in Audio commentary for the latest improvements.  (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac

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More Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac

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

We won’t be surprised if you don’t have this one in your collection. Let’s face it, who in his right mind would keep throwing good money after bad, buying up one bad sounding copy after another in the hopes that someday one of them would sound good?

We would! Why shouldn’t we? We get paid good money to do that kind of dirty work, and beyond the money, we get the THRILL of being the first to play these wonderful records, full of the music we love. (Not too many Hot Stamper shootouts get done for bands and albums we don’t like. Who could get motivated enough to sit through copy after copy of some Audiophile Bullshit LP?) 

Here’s a record that we almost never have on the site — a stunning White Hot Stamper copy of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac — some of the hardest hitting Blues Rock ever made or ever to be made!

We Love the Early Fleetwood Mac

This is the band back in the day when they were playing their unique brand of Blues Rock, with Peter Green leading the band, about as far from Rumours as you can get. If you like British Blues Rock, I don’t think any other band can hold a candle to the Mac back then. Clapton may have been considered a god but I think Green is the better guitar player.

AGAIG Sound

Side two is As Good As It Gets — Triple Plus (A+++). The pluck of the guitar transients aren’t smeary and dull for once. There’s real extension up top, a big help to the cymbals, and the voice sounds tonally correct with just the right presence, placing Green front and center but still keeping the band in the mix. Like a good vintage Brit record, the sound is smooth, rich and full. This is ANALOG baby; they don’t make ’em like this anymore because they don’t know how. (more…)

Fleetwood Mac – Mystery To Me – Whomp Factor on “Why”

More Fleetwood Mac

More Mystery To Me

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

That bass drum tells you a lot about your deep bass reproduction, but we prize a little something called whomp here at Better Records every bit as much. It’s the WEIGHT and POWER you sense happening down below that translates into whomp factor. (This is the frequency area that screens and small dynamic drivers have the most trouble with. You need to be able to move lots of air under, say, 200 cycles to give the music a sense of real power down below. Few systems I’ve run into over the last thirty years can really pull it off.) 

That bass drum tells you a lot about your deep bass reproduction, but we prize a little something called whomp here at Better Records every bit as much. It’s the WEIGHT and POWER you sense happening down below that translates into whomp factor.

“Why”

Speaking of the song “Why,” I have to confess that it’s my favorite Fleetwood Mac song of all time. Considering how many great songs this band has recorded over the last thirty plus years, that’s really saying something. (“Need Your Love So Bad” off Pious Bird is right up there with it.) (more…)