Top Artists – Stephen Stills

Buffalo Springfield – Again – Extracting the Midrange Magic


So many copies of this album sound so bad and play so poorly that most audiophiles have given up by now and written it off as a lost cause.

But we didn’t. We kept at it. Our main motivation? The music.

Extracting the midrange magic from a album like this should be the goal of every right-thinking audiophile. Who cares what’s on the TAS Super Disc List? I want to play the music that I love, not because it sounds good, but because I love it. And if the only way to find good sounding copies of typically poorly-mastered, beat-to-death records such as this one is to go through a big pile of them, well then, I guess that’s what we’ll have to do. (more…)

You Too Can Get an Old Buffalo Springfield Record to Sound This Good


Not long ago we found a White Hot Stamper pressing of Last Time Around that really blew our minds. We were surprised to hear some of the breathiest, silkiest vocals we’ve ever heard on ANY Buffalo Springfield album, with startling presence and immediacy to boot! Side two had BY FAR the most energy and life of any side of any copy we’ve ever played. Man, does it ROCK.

Even as recently as 2010 we would not have expected to find that kind of sound on a vintage ’60s pop/rock album. We know better now.

When you get hold of the right copy and know how to clean it and play it right, these vintage pressings (well, the White Hot ones anyway) are a damn sight better than the vast majority of audiophiles think they are. How is such apparently never-before-possible sound being heard now, 45 years after the record came out? Our answer can be found below. 

The kind of MIDRANGE MAGIC found on this pressing let us hear into the music in a way we (and you too I’m guessing) never imagined was possible.

Most copies have no bass, no real top, and are compressed so badly they sound more like cardboard than vinyl. But not this copy — it breaks the mold, revealing to the world (well, our world anyway, the world at Better Records) that those badly recorded Buffalo Springfield records from the ’60s weren’t so badly recorded after all. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Stephen Stills and Abraxas

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

Hey Tom, 

Received the LPs today from Stephen Stills and Santana. Definitely a very and unexpected high quality. I grew up with these LPs. Unfortunately these can no longer be played because of the tobacco of the joints that were left behind. (more…)

Bloomfield-Kooper-Stills – Super Session


  • With two nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Engineered by Roy Halee, the man behind one of the best sounding rock records of all time, the self-titled Blood, Sweat and Tears album, the oh-so-analog sound here is especially rich, dynamic and spacious
  • For fans of BS&T’s first album (and everybody else) Super Session is a Must Own – Season of the Witch is crazy good on this 360 LP
  • 4 1/2 stars: “This is one of those albums that seems to get better with age… This is a super session indeed.”


Buffalo Springfield – Retrospective – The Best Of…


  • With a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side one and a side two that’s close to it, this original pressing has the analog magic in its grooves
  • Big, full-bodied, clear and present, the Tubey Magical richness of the best pressings is a joy to hear on modern highly resolving equipment
  • Kind Woman and I Am A Child are just two of the best sounding songs – listen to all that space around the voices and instruments
  • And the Pysch stuff – On the Way Home, Broken Arrow and Expecting to Fly – is even more three-dimensional
  • 5 stars on Allmusic – this is Must Own Music from one of the most groundbreaking and accomplished groups of the late-’60s (even though they never cracked the Top 40 Album chart)


Buffalo Springfield – Again


  • You’ll find Double Plus (A++) Tubey Magical Analog sound from start to finish for Buffalo Springfield’s sophomore release
  • Consistently brilliant songwriting and production: Mr. Soul; A Child’s Claim To Fame; Expecting To Fly; Bluebird; Hung Upside Down; Sad Memory; Rock & Roll Woman; Broken Arrow and more!
  • The vinyl plays exceptionally quietly, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus – this is as quiet as Atco pressed them
  • A Desert Island Disc for yours truly – 5 Stars:”…this record stands as their greatest triumph… its classic status cannot be denied”

Listen to the vocal harmonies — you can separate out all the parts much more clearly on these Hot Stamper pressings. You can really hear precisely who’s in there and what part they are playing in the vocal arrangement. I can’t remember ever hearing it sound so clear. The best copies really let you hear into the music. (more…)

Stephen Stills – Manassas – Our Shootout Winner from 2009


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

Our first Hot Stamper shootout for Manassas produced a number of good sounding sides on the original pressings, but we held back our highest sonic grade because even the best of the best still had problems. Most copies we played were a disaster: grungy, veiled, no real top end, grainy, stuck in the speakers, tubby bass — these and other problems were all too common. When a double album sounds like this it makes for a very long day.

After playing four or five bad sounding copies we almost threw in the towel. Everyone kept asking me: Does this record ever sound good?

I said I thought it did, I thought I heard a good copy or two when we listened to them in our preliminary rounds, but hey, maybe I was wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time.

But then a copy like this one came along, and we got down to the serious business of going through them all, trying to find the few that had the qualities this one did.

What were we listening for exactly? An absence of all the bad qualities mentioned above would be the easiest answer. Once you find a copy without the nasty grit and the grain so many of them have you quickly start to key into the lovely ambience that the best copies have, you start to notice the tubey magic, the richness and sweetness, the extension up top, the kind of transparency that lets you hear into the soundfield and pick out all the players — pretty much the same kinds of things you’re always looking for in a Hot Stamper pressing, except in this case you just had to be willing to look a whole lot harder. (more…)

Stephen Stills – Stephen Stills – Our Shootout Winner from 2008


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

TWO YEARS LATER, Stephen Stills Hot Stampers are BACK! We’ve had an unbelievably hard time finding copies of this album that lived up to our expectations, prompting much of my crew to argue that it just could not be done. Folks, today is the day where the Doubting Thomases of Better Records are proven WRONG. We didn’t find copies that sounded just as good as I remembered — no, we found copies that went BEYOND what I had hoped for. To the CSN(Y) fans who visit our site, and I know there are lots of you, prepare to be BLOWN AWAY. You are going to freak out over this record!

It’s Been A Struggle To Bring You This Hot Stamper

Many copies of this album tend to be a bit aggressive, with a hard and unpleasant midrange. We’ve been trying to get this shootout going for ages, but it’s taken us a LONG time to find enough copies that had even a taste of the kind of sound we hoped for. I began to worry that I’d never again hear the kind of sound that I was certain I remembered loving back in the day.

Tubey Magical Analog Sound

They sure don’t record music that sounds like this anymore, and even if they did I doubt they could press a record that sounds this good.

Side one is amazingly rich and full-bodied. It’s also incredibly transparent, with lots of separation between the parts. That alone sets it apart from 9 out of 10 copies that we audition around here, which tend to be murky, thick, and veiled. The overall sound here is airy, open, and spacious, with TONS of ambience. Check out the sound of the big organ solo on Love The One You’re With — you can really hear the air moving through the instrument. That’s what a Hot Stamper is all about!

And that’s not even the half of it. Listen to all the texture to the strings, the warmth to the midrange, and the breath in the vocals. The bottom end is well-defined and has substantial weight to it, something you won’t hear on most copies. We’ll keep trying to find those Hot Deja Vu’s, but in the meantime, you CSN fans should consider tiding yourselves over with one of these Stephen Stills Hot Stampers. We guarantee you’ll love it, or your money back of course. (more…)

Bloomfield / Kooper / Stills – Super Session – A MoFi Winner

More Super Session


Sonic Grade: B

Another MoFi LP reviewed.

Super Session is one of the best-sounding MoFi pressings. The midrange sounds wonderful — silky sweet and transparent. Not having been cut by Stan Ricker, the top end doesn’t have that SR/2 boost. Overall it’s a very nice sounding record, and the music just can’t be beat. 

Stephen Stills – Bill Halverson’s Engineering Masterpiece?


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.

When all the elements are working together as they do here, the music on Steve Stills’ first album is postively AMAZING. Until I hear something better, I’m going to have to call this BILL HALVERSON‘s Engineering Masterpiece.* Yes, on the best copies it’s that good.

*We have now heard something even better, an album from earlier in the same year in fact, Deja Vu.

We’ve had an unbelievably hard time finding copies that lived up to our expectations, prompting much of my crew to argue that it just could not be done. We didn’t find copies that sounded just as good as I remembered — no, we found copies that went BEYOND what I had hoped for.

What to Listen For (WTLF)

Both sides are rich and full-bodied, as well as transparent, with lots of separation between the parts. Most copies tend to be murky, thick, and veiled. The overall sound here is airy, open, and spacious, with TONS of ambience. (more…)