Top Artists – Santana

Santana – Inner Secrets – Our Shootout Winner from 2011


A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

The sound went so far beyond our expectations, so far beyond even the White Hot Stamper pressing we discovered in this shootout, that we had to throw on another plus if the grading was to make any sense at all.

It’s a true Demo Disc in the world of rock records. It’s also one of those recordings that demands to be played LOUD. If you’ve got the the big room, big speakers, and plenty of power to drive them, you can have a LIVE ROCK AND ROLL CONCERT in your very own house. When Santana lets loose with some of those legendary monster power chords — which incidentally do get good and loud in the mix, unlike most rock records which suffer from compression and “safe” mixes — I like to say that there is no stereo system on the planet that can play loud enough for me. (Horns maybe, but I don’t like the sound of horns, so there you go.) (more…)

Santana – Borboletta


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

Top players include Stanley Clarke, Airto, Flora Purim and Michael Shrieve. 

This is definitely not an album of “hits”, nor is it trying to be one. The lengthy review in Rolling Stone explains it all, and is certainly worth a read if jazz-rock fusion is your thing. (more…)

Santana – Abraxas – Our Shootout Winner from 2011


A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

SABOR! This White Hot Stamper Abraxas has a KILLER A++ to A+++ SIDE ONE and a KNOCKOUT A+++ SIDE TWO! Just about everyone out there knows how good this music was, but I bet you didn’t know it could sound like this. The sound of the drums and percussion on this copy is OUT OF THE STRATOSPHERE.

You aren’t going to believe all the energy and presence — this thing is ALIVE, and the music jumps right out of the speakers. (more…)

Santana – Santana – Our Shootout Winner from 2009


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

Huge ENERGY, incredible DYNAMICS and amazing IMMEDIACY are what we found on this side two, and those three qualities are what made it the Side Two Winner of our shootout!

We just finished a big Santana shootout and this side two had us going like no other. It’s got that HUGE Santana sound that always gets us rocking along to the beat. The soundfield is big, wide, and open with a three-dimensional quality that lets you hear right INTO the music. The strong bottom end sets the perfect foundation for the mids and highs to really open up and do their thing. I can hear clearly that You Just Don’t Care on side two is recorded LIVE in the studio.

At the levels we were at it sure sounded live! (more…)

Santana – Moonflower


  • With incredible Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on ALL FOUR SIDES, this copy is As Good As It Gets – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • These sides are doing everything right — rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical with a big punchy bottom end
  • “Santana, which was renowned for its concert work dating back to Woodstock, did not release a live album in the U.S. until this one… Moonflower went Top Ten and sold a million copies, the first new Santana album to do that since 1972 and the last until Supernatural in 1999.” – All Music


Letter of the Week – Tea for the Tillerman and Santana

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

Hey Tom,   

I have listened to my copy the day it arrived. I’m not very good at describing the sound of an album, that’s why I love reading your commentaries, because it accurately describes what I actually hear.

The HS Tillerman is now my reference album where I test all improvements/adjustments I make in my system or my turntable. All the Hot Stamper copies I have bought from you really beat all other copies I have.

A good example is my Hot Stamper Santana.The instruments sound tonally right, distinctly separate from each other. There is no harshness on the top end and the bass is tight and defined.

I had five copies of the album before I got my HS copy, all are”360″ including a WLP copy. None of the five came close to the sound of my Hot Stamper. (more…)

Santana – Santana – MoFi Debunked

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Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

Santana is a record we admit to having liked a bit when it first came out. Since then we have changed our minds. As embarrassing as it may be, clearly We Was Wrong.

It’s just too damn compressed and lifeless. The Whomp Factor on this pressing is Zero. Since whomp is critical to the sound of Santana’s music, it’s Game Over for us. The review below is exactly what we wrote at the time the record came in. (more…)

Santana – Welcome

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  • Santana’s fifth studio album finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is big and rich, yet still wonderfully clean, clear and open with fantastic energy – you will not believe all the space and ambience here
  • An ambitious follow-up to Caravanserai, Welcome continued Carlos Santana’s foray into Jazz-Rock Fusion with music that remains powerful and intriguing even today
  • “Welcome was merely ahead of its time as a musical journey and is one of the more enduring recordings the band ever made. This is a record that pushes the envelope even today and is one of the most inspired recordings in the voluminous Santana oeuvre.” 


Santana – Santana – Listening in Depth

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For as you critically evaluate your copy of Santana’s brilliant first album.

First off, a 360 label doesn’t mean much on this record except the POTENTIAL for good sound. The badly mastered or pressed copies can be recognized easily: they are muddy and smeary. The recording itself has a bit of that too-many-tubes-in-the-signal-path quality to start with, so unless the record is mastered and pressed clearly and cleanly the whole presentation is likely to turn to mud. 

Santana’s first album came out of nowhere and rocked in a way that few had heard before. In that sense it has something in common with Led Zeppelin’s debut. That album took the blues and added heavy guitars. Santana took African and Latin rhythms and added his own heavy guitar sound. Each is a landmark recording in its own right.


Like Abraxas, when you play a Hot Stamper copy Santana’s first album very loud, soon enough you find yourself marvelling at the musicianship of the group — because the best Hot Stamper pressings, communicating every bit of the energy and clarity the recording has to offer, let you hear what a great band they were.

On badly mastered records, such as the run-of-the-mill domestic LP, or the audiophile pressings on MoFi and CBS, the music lacks the power of the real thing. I want to hear Santana ROCK. Most pressings don’t let me do that. Only the best do. (more…)

Santana’s Guitar Solos Soar on Inner Secrets

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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.

On side two the final guitar solo Santana takes on Well All Right gets LOUDER in the mix than any guitar solo on any rock record with which I am familiar. The sound gets louder after the first chorus, then louder still right before the second solo, and then the solo itself gets even louder until it seems to be as loud as live music. (Operative word: seems.)

Some copies get loud and some do not. Some stereos are dynamic and some are not. If you have the right stereo, set at the right volume, and THIS copy, you will hear something that not one out of one hundred audiophiles (or music lovers) have ever heard on a record — LIVE ROCK SOUND. (more…)