Heart’s Little Queen has long been a favorite Test Disc. It works especially well as a test for something we here at Better Records like to call Whomp — the energy found at the low end of the frequency spectrum. Some call it slam, we prefer whomp.
The commentary is here to help guide you as you make changes to your system, insuring that you end up with more whomp without sacrificing equally important qualities found in the midrange and top end of your system.
Reality Check Parts One and Two
Take the song Love Alive.
The beginning section is chock full of lovely and quite subtle details (such as the autoharp and tabla) that seem to lose their magic on most systems. The autoharp is rich and chimey, and the tabla has some real low end extension. The recorders and flutes that join them are breathy and sweet, while the acoustic guitars heard throughout display all the tubey-magical harmonic richness found on our favorite Hot Stamper recordings, from the Eagles first album to Teaser and the Firecat. These qualities easily get lost in the sauce if you’re listening to the average copy, or the typical audiophile stereo. That’s Part One of the test — the opening.(more…)
One of the best sounding copies of this quintessential Heart album to ever hit the site – Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on BOTH sides
Punchy and present, open and transparent, with real weight and power to the low end, nothing else in our shootout could compare to this bad boy
There is so much more LIFE to this recording than I ever thought possible, and only the best pressings let that energy come through
A Better Records Top 100 album, 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic: “Aggressive yet melodic rockers like ‘Sing Child,’ ‘White Lightning & Wine,’ and the rock radio staples ‘Magic Man’ and ‘Crazy on You’ led to the tag ‘the female Led Zeppelin.'”
Not many records have this kind of big, rockin’ sound, that’s for sure! Punchy and present, open and transparent, with real weight and power to the low end. If you’re an audiophile who loves classic rock, you just haven’t lived until you’ve heard side one of this album on a Hot Stamper pressing.
We’re pretty fond of these ladies here at Better Records. Their second album, Little Queen, has been a favorite test disc around here for years. When Heart is at their best, the music is wonderful. If you’re lucky enough to own the right pressing, this band can ROCK with the best of them.
What A Hot Copy Gets You
For one thing, the music just JUMPS out of the speakers. There is so much more LIFE to this recording than I ever thought possible, and only the best pressings let that energy come through. In a nutshell, those are the ones that earn the name Hot Stamper.(more…)
You’ll find insanely good Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side of this Heart rocker and superb Double Plus (A++) sound on the second – quiet vinyl too
Straight On is the killer track on this 1978 release, and with Triple Plus (A+++) sound you can be sure it will rock your world on this pressing
The sound is RICH and WARM without sacrificing clarity and punch, this is classic ’70s ANALOG at its best
Turn it up and hear the wonderful, grungy texture to the guitars and a big fat snare keeping the beat
“…the more resounding punch of Straight On went all the way to number 15 as the album’s first single. With the vocals and guitar work sounding fuller and more focused, the band seems to be rather comfortable once again.”
Like the best copies of Dreamboat Annie and Little Queen, this is classic ’70s ANALOG at its best. The sound is RICH and WARM without sacrificing clarity and punch.(more…)
This is a Classic Rock Demo Disc to beat practically anything you could throw at it. Love Alive and Barracuda on this copy will deliver the full Rock and Roll Power of your system. If you’ve got The Big Sound, this is the record that will truly show it off.
Even though our graphic scale only goes to three pluses, you’ll know the Four Plus sound on this side one the moment you hear it.
You get HUGE meaty guitars, BIG bass, a smooth top end, full-bodied vocals, incredible rock energy and dynamics, loads of richness and incredible transparency.
There are plenty of commentaries that discuss the sound of this recording and what it can really do when you get hold of a good pressing… and have the system that can play it… and turn up the volume good and loud. We proudly present here a copy with the kind of Big Sound that we think backs up every claim we make.(more…)
No slam, no real weight and no deep deep bass, just that 30-plus-cycles stuff and barely any of that, mostly 40 and up if you’re lucky, and BLUBBERY.
Our good customer Roger wrote to tell me how much better he liked our $100 Hot Stamper of Little Queen compared to his CBS Mastersound Half-Speed Mastered LP.
As you can see from our old commentary I used to actually think the Mastersound pressing was pretty good, with better extension on the top to help overcome this album’s typically dull, thick, opaque sound.
But that’s before I discovered the Hot Stampers, which fix EVERYTHING and turn this album into a real Demo Disc.(more…)
MASTER TAPE SOUND and QUIET VINYL on BOTH SIDES! If you’re an audiophile who loves classic rock, you just haven’t lived until you’ve heard Magic Man and Crazy On You on a Hot Stamper pressing, and they don’t get ANY hotter than this copy! We play dozens upon dozens of these every year, and based on that experience this Hot Stamper will be virtually unbeatable for EITHER side.(more…)
This is a Minty looking Nautilus Half-Speed Mastered LP with SURPRISINGLY GOOD SOUND on side two. I think I finally figured out why people like these half-speed mastered records so much. If you get one like this, it’s great! The mids and highs are transparent, sweet, open, and tonally correct. There’s none of that MOFI 10k top end boost here! Listen critically to the vocals — there’s almost no phony hi-fi-ish quality to the midrange, the kind you hear on so many half-speed mastered records.
Flip the record over to side one and there they are, plain as day: audiophile BS vocals. That makes this a Hot Stamper on side two and a pretty much run-of-the-mill stamper for side one.
Both sides actually have pretty good bass (for a half-speed), so maybe that’s being a bit too harsh. More accurately one could say both sides are better than average, with side two actually being pretty much right on the money.(more…)
Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Little Queen.
One of the little tricks I used toward the end of my marathon Little Queen tweaking session from a few years back (which lasted more than six hours one Saturday evening, leaving me euphoric but exhausted) was to listen to the ending of Barracuda.
In-Depth Track Commentary
One of the little tricks I used toward the end of my marathon Little Queen tweaking session from a few years back (which lasted more than six hours one Saturday evening, leaving me euphoric but exhausted) was to listen to the ending of Barracuda. Some of the big guitar chords at the end of the song are louder than others, and the more the differences in level among them can be heard, the better the stereo and the room must be doing.
You can’t make the guitarist play some of the notes at the end louder than others, you can only reveal the fact that he indeed must have. This is what is meant by FIDELITY, the higher the better.(more…)
One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:
Hope you don’t mind me E-mailing you with comments on my recent purchase of Dreamboat Annie but I’m busting to tell somebody. Now for the comments.
I am stunned. I had one “run of the mill” copy and one of the Nautilus albums which I thought was pretty good. It’s good if you never hear a Hot Stamper. The Hot Stamper just blew them both away. I read the description of the HS on your site and every word was spot on. The energy, the bass, the clarity was all there. I still can’t get over it. Near the end of Magic Man the synthesizer goes down to a very low octave and just drags you with it and keeps you there. It’s amazing.
It’s hard to understand why these people on the audio forums mock and degrade you guys. I guess they are afraid to spend a little money and see what a Hot Stamper sounds like. I have a feeling even if they knew how good the HS was they still would not buy one simply because it’s more money than they are willing to part with. So to justify not buying one they put the Hot Stamper down. It’s just my opinion. They sure don’t know what they’re missing.
Only bad thing about you guys is once you hear how good a record can sound the rest of your collection kind of takes a back seat to the HS. Oh well, I can’t stop now.
One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:
I put on side one of my A+++/A+++ “Dreamboat Annie.”
I’ve found my new Demo Disc.
The drums are from another world. Cranked to the halfway mark on my preamp, I feel the drums and bass in my chest like they’re right here in my living room.
The guitar solo on “Magic Man” is intoxicating — especially the twisting interplay when the second guitar comes in. And when the synthesizer comes in and slides down the scale to hit that low note, I swear the hair on the back of my neck stood up!(more…)