Top Artists – Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison / Greatest Hits – Mono? Original? What’s the Best Way to Go?

Records that Sound Their Best on the Right Reissue

Hot Stamper Pressings that Sound Their Best on the Right Reissue

If you think that buying original pressings of an album like this one is the way to find the best sound, you are sorely mistaken. The originals and most reissues on the Monument label are rarely any better than dreadful sounding.

The monos sound bad and the originals sound bad, which means that all the conventional wisdom of record collectors and audiophiles alike has failed to produce the desired result: a good sounding pressing of the album. What’s a mother to do? 

Well, you could do what we did: try them all! If you keep at it long enough eventually you will run into the right pressing, and then you can focus on getting a large enough batch which will allow you to find one that sounds great and plays quietly.

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The Law of Large Numbers Can Help You Find Better Records

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Roy Orbison

Presenting another entry in our series of Big Picture observations concerning records and audio.

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

Hey Tom,   

I’m going out of my frigging mind on this White Hot stamper of Roy Orbison Greatest Hits. What a piece of shit is my DCC test pressing.

Naz,

I used to like the DCC vinyl too.

Then my stereo got a lot better, which I write about under the heading Progress in Audio.

Eventually it became obvious to me what was wrong with practically all of the Heavy Vinyl pressings that were put out by that label.

The good ones can be found in this group, along with other Heavy Vinyl pressings we liked or used to like.

The bad ones can be found in this group.

And those in the middle end up in this group.

Audio and record collecting (they go hand in hand) are hard. If you think either one is easy you are very likely not doing it right,, but what makes our twin hobbies compelling enough to keep us involved over the course of a lifetime is one simple fact, which is this: Although we know so little at the start, and we have so much to learn, the journey itself into the world of music and sound turns out to be both addictive and a great deal of fun.

Every listing in this section is about knowing now what I didn’t know then, and there is enough of that material to fill its own blog if I would simply take the time to write it all down.

Every album shootout we do is a chance to learn something new about records. When you do them all day, every day, you learn things that no one else could possibly know who hasn’t done the work of comparing thousands of pressings with thousands of other pressings.

The Law of large numbers[1] tells us that in the world of records, more is better. We’ve taken that law and turned it into a business.

It’s the only way to find Better Records.

Not the records that you think are better.

No, truly better records are the records that proved themselves to be better empirically, by employing rigorous scientific methodologies that we have laid in detail for anyone to read and follow.

Being willing to make lots of mistakes is part of our secret, and we admit to making a lot of them

Knowing what I know now, and having the system currently that I’ve put together over the course of the last twenty years or so, I guarantee you the DCC Gold CD is dramatically better sounding than their vinyl release. They almost always are.

Steve Hoffmann brilliantly mastered many classic albums for DCC. I much prefer the DCC’s CDs to their records.

DCC’s CDs did not have to fight their way through Kevin Gray’s opaque, airless, low-resolution cutting system, a subject we have discussed on the blog in some depth here.


[1] Wikipedia on the Law of large numbers:

In probability theory, the law of large numbers (LLN) is a theorem that describes the result of performing the same experiment a large number of times. According to the law, the average of the results obtained from a large number of trials should be close to the expected value and tends to become closer to the expected value as more trials are performed.[1]

The LLN is important because it guarantees stable long-term results for the averages of some random events.[1][2] For example, while a casino may lose money in a single spin of the roulette wheel, its earnings will tend towards a predictable percentage over a large number of spins. Any winning streak by a player will eventually be overcome by the parameters of the game. Importantly, the law only applies (as the name indicates) when a large number of observations is considered. There is no principle that a small number of observations will coincide with the expected value or that a streak of one value will immediately be “balanced” by the others (see the gambler’s fallacy).


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

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Roy Orbison – The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison

More Roy Orbison

Reviews and Commentaries for Roy Orbison

  • You’ve never heard Roy Orbison sound better than he does here
  • Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead on correct tonality – everything that we listen for in a great record is here
  • The phenomenally talented Bill Porter recorded many of Orbison’s classic songs from the early ’60s that are found on this compilation
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… no one conveys pain and longing more sublimely or succinctly than Roy Orbison. But his songs are also masterpieces of production: so technically precise that his deceptively simple tunes and lush melodies flow even more smoothly behind his desperate baritone croon and quivering falsetto.”

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The Traveling Wilburys – Learning the Record, Any Record

More of the Music of the Traveling Wilburys

More Helpful Advice on Doing Your Own Shootouts

Many of the pressings we played of Volume One suffered from too much compression and a phony hi-fi-ish quality on the vocals. We knew there had to be great copies out there somewhere, so we kept dropping the needle until we found a few good men. Here is what we had to say about a killer copy we ran into during that process.

We heard a lot of copies with a spitty, gritty top end, but this one is smooth like butter and sweet like candy. Side two is nearly as good but doesn’t have quiet the same energy factor. It’s still dramatically better than most copies out there.

Now that we’ve discovered these Hot Stampers, the sound is finally where we want it to be. Until this week, we were convinced that these songs sounded better on the radio. (That’s what tons of compression and FM bass boost will do for you.)

Learning the Record

For our recent shootout we had at our disposal a variety of pressings we thought would have the potential for Hot Stamper sound. We cleaned them carefully, then unplugged everything in the house we could, warmed up the system, Talisman’d it, found the right VTA for our Triplanar arm (by ear of course) and proceeded to spend the next hour or so playing copy after copy on side one, after which we repeated the process for side two.

If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that other pressings do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given copy reproduces those passages.

The process is simple enough. First, you go deep into the sound. There you find a critically important passage in the music, one which most copies struggle — or fail — to reproduce as well as the best. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.

It may be a lot of work but it sure ain’t rocket science, and we never pretended it was. Just the opposite: from day one we’ve explained how to go about finding the Hot Stampers in your own collection.

The problem is that unless your a crazy person who bought multiple copies of the same album there is no way to know if any given copy is truly Hot Stamper. Hot Stampers are not merely good sounding records. They are the copies that win shootouts. This is a fact that cannot be emphasized too strongly.

As your stereo and room improve, as you take advantage of new cleaning technologies, as you find new and interesting pressings to evaluate, you may even be inclined to start the shootout process all over again, to find the hidden gem, the killer copy that blows away what you thought was the best.

You can’t find it by looking at it. You have to clean it and play it, and always against other pressings of the same album. There is no other way.

For the more popular records on the site such as the Beatles titles we have easily done more than twenty, maybe even as many as thirty to forty shootouts.

And very likely learned something new from every one.

Roy Orbison – Roy Orbison’s Greatest Hits

More Roy Orbison

  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides of this Monument stereo pressing
  • The amazingly talented Bill Porter recorded many of Orbison’s classic songs from the early ’60s that are found on this compilation
  • Only a copy this good shows you how phenomenal these timeless songs can sound – rich, open, clear, solid and musical
  • Among monster hits, like “Crying,” “Only the Lonely,” and “Running Scared,” this album includes new releases “Love Star” and “Evergreen” as well

If you think that buying original pressings of an album like this one is the way to find the best sound, you are sorely mistaken. The originals and most reissues on the Monument label are mostly dreadful sounding.

The monos sound bad and the originals sound bad, which means that all the conventional wisdom of record collectors and audiophiles alike has failed to produce the desired result: a good-sounding pressing of the album. What’s a mother to do?

Well, you could do what we did: try them all! If you keep at it long enough eventually you will run into the right pressing, and then you can focus on getting a large enough batch which will allow you to find one that sounds great and plays quietly.

Or you could just buy this one. We already did all that other stuff and this is the pressing that resulted from our labors. (more…)

Roy Orbison – The Orbison Way

More Roy Orbison

Reviews and Commentaries for Roy Orbison

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Only the second copy to ever hit the site and boy is it KILLER — Triple Plus (A+++) or very close to it throughout. 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 Tubey Magical record for you.  (more…)

Roy Orbison – Orbisongs

More Roy Orbison

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  • Excellent sound throughout with Double Plus (A++) or BETTER on both sides
  • This superb pressing is especially Analog Sounding – lively, warm, with rich bass and breathy, clear vocals 
  • Features one of Orbison’s greatest legacies, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” in stereo no less, and it sounds amazing here
  • While this isn’t the quietest copy we’ve ever heard, it’s clearly one of the best sounding
  • “…every track is strong and showcases Orbison’s immense talent both as a vocalist and a songwriter of effective and poignant lyrics… if you are looking at Orbison at his best you need look no further.”

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The Traveling Wilburys – Volume One

More Roy Orbison

  • You’ll find very good Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this copy of the Wilbury’s debut album – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Proof that, when you put Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne in a recording studio together, something good is bound to happen
  • Certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, this album was Grammy nominated Album of the Year in 1989 
  • 4 1/2 stars: “There never was a supergroup more super than the Traveling Wilburys… It’s impossible to picture a supergroup with a stronger pedigree.”

It’s hard not to enjoy this music. Put Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne in a recording studio together and something good is bound to happen, right?

This album is proof that it did! (more…)

Roy Orbison / Sings Lonely and Blue on Classic Records Heavy Vinyl

More of the Music of Roy Orbison

Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

Can’t recommend this one. It’s too bright. The DCC LP of Orbison’s material is dramatically better [assuming you want a Heavy Vinyl pressing. I doubt I would care for the sound of it now but back in the day we recommended it].

I’ve had some discussions with some audiophiles who liked this album, and I’m frankly surprised that people find this kind of sound pleasing, but if you’re one of those people who likes bright records, this should do the trick! 

Roy Orbison / Crying – OK on Classic Records

More of the Music of Roy Orbison

Sonic Grade: C

Another Classic Records Rock and Pop LP reviewed.

Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in 2003 when this record came out, but here it is anyway. 

“This is actually a very good sounding record, unlike the first Orbison that Classic did. It’s also a better album.”

Track Listing:

1. Crying 
2. The Great Pretender 
3. Love Hurts 
4. She Wears My Ring 
5. Wedding Day 
6. Summer Song 
7. Dance 
8. Lana 
9. Loneliness 
10. Let’s Make a Memory 
11. Nite Life 
12. Running Scared


FURTHER READING

In these four words we can describe the sound of the average Classic Records pressing.

Not all of their records are as bad sounding as Houses of the Holy. We favorably review some of the better ones here.

We play mediocre-to-bad sounding pressings so that you don’t have to, a public service from your record loving friends at Better Records.

You can find this Classic pressing in our Hall of Shame, along with more than 350 others that — in our opinion — qualify as some of the worst sounding records ever made. (On some records in the Hall of Shame the sound is passable but the music is bad.  These are also records you can safely avoid.)

Note that most of the entries are audiophile remasterings of one kind or another. The reason for this is simple: we’ve gone through the too-often unpleasant experience of comparing them head to head with our best Hot Stamper pressings.

When you can hear them that way, up against an exceptionally good record, their flaws become that much more obvious and, frankly, that much more inexcusable.