There is an interesting story behind how I got my mitts on this particular Heavy Vinyl pressing.
Months ago [now years], a fellow contacted us to buy some of our Hot Stamper pressings. We sent him one or two, and he soon wrote back to say he was not happy with the sound. We exchanged emails with him for a while, trying to rectify the situation in the hopes that we could get him some records that he would be happy with.
In the middle of all this back and forth, we thought it would be worthwhile knowing what this gentleman thought was a good sounding record, seeing as how ours were not meeting his standards. Our discussion soon crossed over into Heavy Vinyl territory. We asked, “Were there any that he liked the sound of?” Why yes, there were.
You guessed it. The above-pictured album from Analogue Productions is one he recommended. (There was another he also said we should try, but after playing this one we decided against buying any more records he recommended, for reasons that will soon be evident.)
So we bought a copy. Soon enough we found ourselves playing our newly remastered Heavy Vinyl LP.
Right from the get-go, thick, murky, compressed, lifeless, ambience-free, dead-as-a-doornail sound was now coming out of my speakers. Like sludge from a sewer you might say. The stereo had sounded fine moments before. What the hell was happening?
I quickly grabbed a Super Hot copy of the album off the shelf and put it on the table.
Here was the energy, clarity, presence, space and more that had been missing mere moments ago while the Heavy Vinyl pressing played. Now, coming out my speakers was everything that makes a good vintage pressing such a joy to listen to.
I felt like turning it up and rocking out. The first song is Born to Be Wild. Who doesn’t love to blast Born to Be Wild?
What a difference. Night and Day. Maybe more!
If this Steppenwolf LP isn’t the perfect example of a Pass/Not-Yet record, I can’t imagine what would be.
As I was thinking about the turgid, compressed, veiled, overly smooth but not tonally incorrect sound coming out of my speakers, I thought back about the kinds of stereo systems that can produce that sound on command. They often look like the one you see below.
If this is your idea of good sound, you are in luck. You can buy your Limited Edition Heavy Vinyl audiophile pressings from Acoustic Sounds to your heart’s content. They’re sure a helluva lot cheaper than our records, and they apparently do a bang up job of giving you precisely the sound you’re looking for.
To finish up with our little story, to no one’s surprise we never could satisfy our new customer. We ended up refunding him all his money. It seems our records were expensive, and simply not much better than records he owned or could find cheaply enough. Ours might be even worse! Who the hell do we think we are? The nerve.
I also know he wasn’t playing them on an old console. He took great pains to tell me all about his fancy handmade tonearm, custom tube preamp and screen speakers. State of the Art stuff in his mind, no doubt about it.
But if your system is so ridiculously bad that an Analogue Productions Heavy Vinyl LP doesn’t call attention to its manifold shortcomings, doesn’t actually make your head hurt and your blood boil at the very idea that someone would charge money for such bad sound, you might want to think about scrapping your precious audiophile equipment and starting over.
Of course, this guy and the thousands of other audiophiles like him would never do such a thing. They are thoroughly invested in whatever approach to audio they have taken, and nobody can teach them anything.
They’re also the ones keeping hopelessly incompetent labels like Analogue Productions in business. They supported Classic Records before it went under, they support Mobile Fidelity to this day. They are the guys that buy Heavy Vinyl records and extoll their virtues on audiophile forums far and wide. Some even make youtube videos about this crap now and get tens of thousands of hits.
It’s sad, but there is nothing we can do but keep on doing what we are doing: finding good pressings for audiophiles who appreciate the difference.
Another way we can help is this.
Use the guide below when you do your shootouts for records, Heavy Vinyl and otherwise. Perhaps you will avoid the mistakes the above-mentioned gentleman made. We include them in practically every listening of every record we sell.
What We Listen For
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
And this blog is full of advice explaining practically everything there is to know about records, all of it gained using one approach and only one approach: by conducting experiments.
Letting go of theories that don’t produce good results is but one of the many steps you will end up taking on the long road to better sounding records. It’s a step you can take right now. Should you start on this journey, you may come to realize what a watershed moment it turned out to be.
We Can Help