Top Artists – Gino Vannelli

Gino Vannelli / Brother to Brother – A Half-Speed Mastered Disaster

More of the Music of Gino Vannelli

More of Our Favorite Titles from 1978

Sonic Grade: F

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

Wooly bass, sucked-out mids, compressed to death, this record is one of the worst of the A&M Half-Speed series, and that is saying a lot.

We’ve played at least a dozen titles from this series and only one of them was any good.

The regular A&M pressings with the right stampers just kill it.

This pressing is every bit as bad.


Gino Vannelli, Big Speakers and The Amazing ARC SP3A-1 Preamp

Advice on Making Audio Progress 

Unsolicited Audio Advice

Storm at Sunup used to be my favorite Gino Vannelli album. I played it all the time back in the ’70s. It was one of a handful of recordings that made me want to pursue audiophile equipment in the hope that higher quality playback would allow the album to sound even bigger and more exciting.

It was pretty damn big and exciting already, but I wanted more. 

Right around that time I got my first audiophile tube preamp, the Audio Research SP3A-1, which replaced a Crown IC-150. As you can imagine, especially if you know the IC-150 at all well, playing this album through that state-of-the-art tube preamp was a revelation.

From then on there was no looking back. I started spending all my money on better and better equipment and more and more records. That was forty plus years ago and I haven’t stopped yet.

This is also the kind of recording that caused me to pursue Big Stereo Systems driving Big Speakers. You need a lot of piston area to bring the dynamics of this recording to life, and to get the size of all the instruments to match their real life counterparts.

For that you need big speakers in big cabinets, the kind I’ve been listening to for more than forty years. (My last small speaker was given the boot around 1974 or so.) To tell you the truth, the Big Sound is the only sound that I can enjoy. Anything less is just not for me.

You will see this text in a lot of the records we review and sell:

This is a BIG SPEAKER recording. It requires a pair of speakers that can move air with authority below 250 cycles and play at loud levels. If you don’t own speakers that can do that, this record will never really sound the way it should.

It demands to be played LOUD. It simply cannot come to life the way the producers, engineers and artists involved intended for it to if you play it at moderate levels.


Gino Vannelli on MoFi – What Was I Thinking?

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Gino Vannelli

Sonic Grade: F

At the time of our last shootout in 2014, I still had the MoFi pressing of Powerful People in my personal, very small (at that point) record collection. Almost all the best sounding records from my collection had long ago been sold off, going to good homes that I can only assume would play them more than I had in the last ten years. If it’s a record you see on our site, chances are good I have listened to it until I’d practically turned blue in the face.

But I had kept my Powerful People half-speed these 30+ years because the domestic pressings I’d played were just too damn midrangy to enjoy. At least the MoFi had bass, top end and didn’t sound squawky or hard on the vocals.

Well, let me tell you, played against the best domestic pressings, the MoFi is laughable. (In that respect it shares much with the current crop of audiophile reissues.) It’s unbelievably compressed, a problem that is easily heard on the biggest, most exciting parts of the tracks. They never get remotely as big or as loud on the MoFi as they do on the lowly A&M originals.

It’s also sucked out in the midrange, like most MoFis, and, like most MoFis and half-speeds in general, the bass is not well-defined, punchy, nor does it go very deep.

There is also the issue of the MoFi 10k boost on the top end — it’s clearly audible and as bothersome as ever.

In summation, like most of the better audiophile records — from long ago as well as those being produced today — the most you can hope for from these reissues is that they can fix a few problems you might be saddled with on the particular pressing you own. But if you work at it, the “right” plain old record, properly cleaned and played, will show you sound that the audiophile edition can barely begin to reproduce.

Having auditioned by the thousands the kinds of records you see on the site, the reality of this truth is irrefutable to us now, and has been for a very long time. Our customers know exactly what we are talking about; they’ve heard it for themselves.


The ARC SP3A-1 Tube Preamp – A Giant Leap Forward for Me, Circa 1976

Our Current Playback System

Advice on Making Audio Progress

Here’s a stereo blast from the past.

In the commentary below I talk about buying the amazing Audio Research SP3A-1 and what a difference it made in the ability of my system to reproduce music.

You could call my old Crown system BTM (Before Tubey Magic) and my new Audio Research-based system WTM (With Tubey Magic), if you wanted to be cute about it.

We talk a lot about Tubey Magic on the site and on this blog. This preamp is the very definition of that sound.

I was running Crown gear at the time, the DC-300 amp and the IC-150 preamp, so you can imagine that this tube preamp was a real game changer for me. The improvement in the sound was far greater than anything I could have imagined.

(Now we provide the same effect to the audiophiles of the world through our Hot Stamper pressings. Better sound than you can imagine. It’s practically our credo.)

As an uninformed, credulous audiophile with far-too-little experience in the world of audio, I soon found myself in one audio cult after another. Eventually I had sharpened my critical listening skills to the point where I could hear for myself what was better and what was worse, but it took more than twenty more years to do it. (You may be able to get there faster than I did, but don’t bet the farm on it.)

Recently I came across an old picture of me at the control center to my system, dating from the late ’70s or thereabouts. Sure enough there’s the ARC preamp. Brings back fond memories to this day!  But I sure wouldn’t want to go back to that sound. The changes to my stereo systems from that day to the present would number in the many, many hundreds.


Gino Vannelli / Powerful People – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

More Gino Vannelli

This original pressing has some of the best sound we heard all day in our shootout.

Few copies were as BIG and BOLD as this, and that is unquestionably our sound. 

Overall this copy is far richer and fuller than most, and that’s a big deal on Powerful People, an album which is almost always pure midrange — no bottom, no top, just midrange. Until we did this shootout I wasn’t sure we would ever find a copy with any real bass or top end. For that very reason we had more than once abandoned this project in past years.

Then, a few months back I came across a cheap CD of the album in my local record store and started playing the hell out of it in my car. I had completely forgotten how good the music was, but it all came rushing back to me — once I had cut the CD’s treble and boosted the bass so that it sounded rich and smooth like the MoFi vinyl. Soon enough I knew we had to do the shootout, and fortunately for all involved the best copies of the album sounded amazingly good, much better than I remember and a whole lot better than the seriously flawed MoFi I used to play. (more…)

Gino Vannelli / Storm At Sunup – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More Gino Vannelli

This White Hot Stamper side one was CLEARLY the best sound we heard in our ENTIRE shootout. No other copy had any side that sounded as BIG and BOLD as this. It’s richer and fuller, and that’s a big deal on Storm at Sunup, which is almost always pure midrange — no bottom, no top, just midrange. Until we played this copy I wasn’t sure there was EVER going to be any bass or top end. Thank goodness this side one came along, otherwise we would have been tempted to junk the whole project. (more…)

Gino Vannelli / Brother to Brother – A Desert Island Disc

More of the Music of Gino Vannelli

More of Our Favorite Titles from 1978

I love this album! It’s very pop, beautifully arranged, the kind of popular music they just don’t make anymore. Four stars in my book!

Gino doesn’t get a lot of respect, but he has plenty of talent and his music still holds up today.

We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know better, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” with an accent on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. Brother to Brother is a good example of a record many audiophiles may not know well but would be well advised to get to know better.