Top Artists – Laurindo Almeida

Direct to Discs on Crystal Clear – What Was I Thinking?

Hot Stamper Pressings of Direct-to-Disc Recordings

Reviews and Commentaries for Direct to Disc Recordings

These are just some of the recordings on Crystal Clear that we’ve auditioned over the years and found wanting.

Without going into specifics — who would bother to take the time? — we’ll just say these albums suffer from poor musical performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place in your collection.  

The Big Picture from a Lifelong Audiophile

You may have seen this text in another listing, but it bears repeating. There is nothing new under the sun, and that is especially true when it comes to bad sounding audiophile records. The world is full of them.

Hey, the records being marketed to audiophiles these days may have second- and third-rate sound, but at least now they have good music

That’s progress, right?

These two titles are the kind of crap we newbie audiophiles used to put up with back in the ’70s before we had anything resembling a clue.

They clearly belong on our list of Bad Audiophile Records

You might be asking: What Kind of Audio Fool Was I? to buy a couple of dumbass records like these.

Yes, I was foolish enough to buy records like these and expect them to have good music, or at least good sound. Of course they had neither. Practically none of these kinds of records ever did. Sheffield and a few others made some good ones, but most Crystal Clears were crap.

As clueless as I was, even back in the day I could tell that I had just thrown my money away on these two lipsticked-pigs in a poke.

But I was an audiophile, and I wanted to believe. These special super-hi-fidelity records were being made for me, for special people like me, because I had expensive equipment and regular records would just never be good enough to play on my special equipment, right?

To say I was wrong to think about audio that way is obviously an understatement. Over the course of the last forty years, I (and to be fair, my friends and my staff) have been wrong about a great deal when it comes to records and audio.

You can read more about many of the things we got wrong under the heading: Live and Learn.

Thank goodness Audio Progress is real and anyone who goes about it the right way can achieve it.

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The L.A. 4 – Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte (33 RPM)

More L.A. 4

More Audiophile Records

  • An East Wind 33 RPM Japanese import pressing with seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • One of the better sounding versions with all 7 tracks we’ve played, particularly on the first side
  • Lee Herschberg recorded these sessions direct to disc – he’s the guy behind the most amazing piano trio recording I have ever heard, a little album called The Three
  • This side one gives you the richness, clarity, presence and resolution few copies can touch, and side two is not far behind in all those areas
  • This 33 RPM version features all seven of the original tracks – “C’est What” and “Corcovado” were omitted from the shorter 45 RPM pressing
  • And it was a solid step up sonically from a lot of the Direct to Disc pressings we had on hand, which is exactly what happened when they mastered The Three at 45 RPM from the backup tapes – pretty wild, don’t you think?

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The L.A. 4 – Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte (45 RPM)

More L.A. 4

More Audiophile Records

  • An INSANELY GOOD East Wind 45 RPM Japanese import pressing with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Lee Herschberg recorded these sessions direct to disc — he’s the guy behind the most amazing piano trio recording I have ever heard, a little album called The Three
  • Transparency: absolute freedom from smear and distortion; clarity; presence; frequency extension high and low; correct tonality — everything you want in an audiophile recording is here!
  • This 45 RPM version is shorter than the original album, with five of the original’s seven tracks, and of course is not technically a direct disc – these 45s are made from the session tapes
  • And it sounded better than any of the Direct to Disc pressings we had on hand, which is exactly what happened when they mastered The Three at 45 RPM from the backup tapes — pretty wild, don’t you think?

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Laurindo Almeida and The Bossa Nova All Stars – It’s A Bossa Nova World

More Laurindo Almeida

More Bossa Nova Recordings

  • This superb bossa-nova classic finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last on this original Capitol stereo pressing
  • Here is the Tubey Magical richness, size and space that only the best vintage pressings are capable of conveying to the critical listener
  • The brilliance of this All Tube Chain recording from Capitol in their heyday makes all the hard work you’ve put into your system pay off

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Laurindo Almeida – Virtuoso Guitar

More Laurindo Almeida

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Guitar

  • Virtuoso Guitar finally returns to the site with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last
  • Some of the most tubey, warm acoustic guitar sound you could ever ask for – this is the sound of real analog
  • It has the kind of sound I prefer, with none of the razor sharpness that you get on some direct to disc recordings
  • This is one of the best Almeida albums I know of and probably the best Crystal Clear title (which I know isn’t saying much)

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Bud Shank – Brazilliance Vol. 2

  • Shank’s 1962 collaboration with Laurindo Almeida arrives with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Another superb Rickard Bock production from the early ’60s, with huge amounts of studio space and Tubey Magic to die for
  • The combination of Shank’s sax and flute with Almeida’s Brazilan folk-influenced guitar creates a delightful and unique fusion of bossa nova-influenced jazz
  • These two would go on to form the L.A. 4, but we much prefer their earlier work on this album
  • 4 stars: “…once again combining Brazilian rhythms and folk melodies with cool bop improvising… highly recommended.”
  • If you’re a fan of Bud’s, this vintage record from 1962 belongs in your collection.

This World Pacific 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 musicians, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Laurindo Almeida / Virtuoso Guitar – It Is, Or Can Be, An Awesome Direct to Disc

More Direct-to-Disc Recordings

Reviews and Commentaries for Direct to Disc Recordings

This recording has very little processing or EQ boost, and the studio is somewhat dead sounding (all too common in the late ’70s). That combination can mean only one thing: If you don’t play this record loud, it will not sound right. The famous Sheffield S9 is exactly the same way. It sounds dead and dull until you turn it up good and loud. When you do, lookout — it really comes alive. The best pressings can sound shockingly like live music, something one just does not hear all that often, even when one plays records all day long as we do.

The snare drum on this copy represents one of the most realistic and dynamic sounding snares I have ever heard. Talk about jumping out of the speakers! If you have plenty of large, fast, powerful dynamic drivers like we do, you are in for a real treat. Track one, side one — lookout!

What to Listen For

What typically separates the killer copies from the merely good ones are two qualities that we often look for in the records we play: transparency and lack of smear. Transparency allows you to hear into the recording, reproducing the ambience and subtle musical cues and details that are the hallmark of high-resolution analog. (more…)

June Christy – June’s Got Rhythm

More June Christy

More Pop and Jazz Vocals

This Super Hot Stamper original stereo Capitol LP from 1958 has SUPERB SOUND on both sides and some of the best June Christy music we’ve ever had the pleasure to play. Just listen to the piano on Gypsy In My Soul; it’s rich, warm and full-bodied. You’ll never hear an RVG recording with a piano that sounds like that. On side two drop the needle on Easy Living to get a taste of some of Capitol’s luscious Tubey Magical midrange.

Musically this album is right up there with the best we know, the creme de la creme of female vocal recordings, albums on the level of Clap Hands and Something Cool and Lady in Satin.

Backed by an intimate combo of star jazzmen, June swings a set of fresh songs in an eventful album that sings out to the whole world that she has, indeed, got rhythm.

For an album of warm, breathy, intimate female vocals, it really doesn’t get much better than this.

What to Listen For

We had the best luck with copies that were warm and rich yet clear, and not too dry or harsh when June decides to really belt it out. Practically no copies did not have at least some grit, dryness or harshness on June’s vocals at some point. (more…)

Unquestionably the Best Sammy Davis Jr. Album We’ve Ever Played

davissammy_1501_298Sammy Davis, Jr. Albums We’ve Reviewed

A Pop & Jazz Vocal Album that Belongs in Any Audiophile Record Collection

One of the most emotionally rich and sublimely enjoyable collections of romantic ballads ever recorded.

Our Hot Stamper pressings are guaranteed to demolish the DCC CD (should you have one laying around, an admittedly unlikely proposition to be sure).

The sound is rich, warm and natural beyond expectation — assuming you’ve suffered through other of Sammy’s recordings from the ’60s, as we have, finding little of merit in the sound. On most of them, at some point in the first track the phony vocal EQ and heavy reverb dashed whatever hopes we might have had for the sound. Soon enough the record would be consigned to the trade-in pile, perhaps to find a home where bad sound is not a deal-breaker (which means pretty much everywhere). For us audiophiles, at least most of the time, it has to be.
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