Top Artists – The Beatles

The music is great, but how’s the sound? We weigh in with our two cents’ worth.

The Beatles – Revolver

More of The Beatles

More Revolver

  • Here is the space, energy, presence clarity and massive bottom end you had no idea were even possible on Revolver
  • 14 amazing tracks including Taxman; Eleanor Rigby; Here, There and Everywhere; Yellow Submarine; Good Day Sunshine; Got To Get You Into My Life and Tomorrow Never Knows (!)
  • 5 stars: “Even after Sgt. Pepper, Revolver stands as the ultimate modern pop album and it’s still as emulated as it was upon its original release.”
  • If you’re a fan of the Fab Four, and even if you’re not, this groundbreaking album from 1966 belongs in your collection
  • The complete list of titles from 1966 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here

Want to be blown away by Beatles sound you never imagined you would ever have the chance to experience for yourself? Drop the needle on Taxman on this very side one — that’s your ticket to ride, baby! We were knocked out by it and we guarantee you will be too. (more…)

The Beatles – With The Beatles

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  • Superb space and immediacy, rich and (relatively) smooth and oh-so-Tubey Magical lead and harmony vocals – this is exactly the right sound for With The Beatles
  • So many great songs: All My Loving, Please Mr. Postman, Til There Was You, You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me, Devil In Her Heart… fourteen in all
  • “It was clear that, even at this early stage, the Beatles were rapidly maturing and changing, turning into expert craftsmen and musical innovators.”
  • Far from the best album the band ever released, it’s still full of great songs and must be seen as a Classic from 1963 that should appeal to any fan of the early Beatles
  • The complete list of titles from 1963 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

This is a tough album to get to sound right, as long-time readers of our site surely know, but here are the sides that prove this album can sound very good indeed. Looking for the best sound? Try Till There Was You on side one and You Really Got A Hold On Me on the flipside. (more…)

What We Listen For: The Spirit and Enthusiasm of the Musicians

This discussion, brought about by a Hot Stamper shootout we conducted for Revolver quite a number of years ago (2007!), touches on many issues near and dear to us here at Better Records:

pressing variations,

system upgrades,

dead wax secrets,

and the quality we prize most in a recording: LIFE, or, if you prefer, energy.

More Records that Are Good for Testing Energy

At the end of the commentary we of course take the opportunity to bash the MoFi pressing of the album, a regular feature of our Beatles Hot Stamper shootouts. We’re not saying the MoFi Beatles records are bad; in the overall scheme of things they are mostly pretty decent. What we are saying is that, with our help, you can do a helluva lot better. Our help doesn’t come cheap, as anyone on our mailing list will tell you. You may have to pay a lot, but we think you get what you pay for, and we gladly back up that claim with a 100% money back guarantee for every Hot Stamper pressing we sell.

The Story of Revolver, Dateline October 2007

White Hot Stampers for Revolver are finally HERE! Let the celebrations begin! Seriously, this is a very special day for us here at Better Records. The Toughest Nut to Crack in the Beatles’ catalog has officially been cracked. Yowza!

Presenting the first TRULY AWESOME copy of Revolver to ever make it to the site. There’s a good reason why Hot Stamper shootouts for practically every other Beatles album have already been done, most of them many times over, and it is simply this: finding good sounding copies of Revolver is almost IMPOSSIBLE. The typical British Parlophone or Apple pressing, as well as every German, Japanese and domestic LP we’ve played in the last year or two just plain sucked. Where was the analog magic we heard in the albums before and after, the rapturously wonderful sound that’s all over our Hot Stamper Rubber Souls and Sgt. Peppers? How could Revolver go so horribly off the rails for no apparent reason? (more…)

The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night

  • With Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it throughout we guarantee you’ve never heard the 14 tracks of A Hard Day’s Night sound remotely as good as they do here – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are big, spacious and absolutely jumping out of the speakers, with relatively rich, smooth sound
  • This one gets the heart of the music right – the lad’s voices – and that’s what makes The Beatles FUN to listen to
  • 5 stars: “Decades after its original release, its punchy blend of propulsive rhythms, jangly guitars, and infectious, singalong melodies is remarkably fresh.”

Drop the needle on any song on either side to see why we went crazy over this one. The emotional quality of the boys’ performances really comes through on this copy. They aren’t just singing — they’re really BELTIN’ it out. Can you imagine what that sounds like on the title track? We didn’t have to imagine it, WE HEARD IT! (more…)

Letter of the Week – Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters

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

Hey Tom,   

I never thought, not even for a second, that in my life I’d EVER buy a record for $300. Never Ever! But here I am. Most records I’d come across in my life were from used/antique stores, and so they were warped, brittle, noisy, or out of tune (a fact I didn’t notice until I graduated from a music college). But your Beatles “Revolver” and “Sgt. Pepper” – music I’ve known my ENTIRE LIFE- sound like new as a Hot Stampers.

I appreciate the fact these records, although expensive, are sold simply on the basis of quality. In a increasingly fake, plastic “if this one doesn’t work just return it for another broken one” world, you sell a product that is singular and unique. And completely worth every penny. I appreciate the fact you evaluate the record’s sound (i.e. mastering) as a musician would – focusing on tonal correctness – prizing the record’s ability to accurately reproduce a recording of how instruments actually sound in real life. On its face, it seems so simple, yet it is of utmost importance. Thanks! (more…)

The Beatles / Please Please Me – Which Is More 3-Dimensional, Mono or Twin Track?

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More Reviews and Commentaries for Please Please Me

With all due respect to Sir George Martin, we’ve played a number of mono pressings of this album in the past twenty or so years and have never been particularly impressed with any of them. The monos jam all the voices and instruments together in the middle, stacking them one in front of the other, and lots of musical information gets mashed together and simply disappears in the congestion. 

But is Twin Track stereo any better? Yes, when you do it the way Norman Smith did on Please Please Me.

Twin Track stereo (which is actually not very much like two-track stereo, I’m sure Wikipedia must have a listing for it if you’re interested) is like two mono tracks running simultaneously. It allows the completely separate voices to occupy one channel and the completely separate instruments to occupy another with no leakage between them.

On some stereos it may seem as though the musicians and the singers are not playing together the way they would if one were hearing them in mono. They are in fact recorded on two separate mono tracks, the instruments appearing in the left channel and the singers in the right, separated as much as is physically possible.

Stuck in their individual stereo speakers, so far apart from one another, the members of the band don’t even seem to be playing together in the same room.

That’s on some stereos, and by some stereos I mean stereos that need improvement. Here’s why. (more…)

Letter of the Week – The White Album and Ingenue

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

  Hey Tom, 

Loving the recent records… the $900 White Album is blowing my mind… keep thinking I’m going to have to wipe Paul McCartney’s spit off my toes…

And the K. D. Lang… words fail for the sound here (not to mention the music) – it’s MASSIVE and lush.

Also, I’ll include the new AP Kind of Blue with this return for you to hear. I have been burning in a new phonostage, and my previous impressions were a bit rough and ready given that I was having to use a temporary phonostage at that time… so now I’d say that while yes there is more air in this issue/pressing than the claustrophobic and downright weird MoFi, this doesn’t sound natural; instruments (esp. horns) have no edge to them; piano and horn fade together in a single midi-like tone… see what you think and let me know.

Best,
C

C.,

Looking forward to hearing it. Nothing could be more wrong than the new MoFi Kind of Blue, but AP could certainly give it a run for its money in the weird Audiophile Remastering Race to the Bottom that is currently going on with the production of Heavy Vinyl LPs.

What you describe are the trademark sounds of bad mastering equipment, which is all that Analogue Productions has available to them it seems. I defy anyone to name one good record this company has ever released. I sure can’t.

As you may have read elsewhere on this blog:

As long as Analogue Productions is around, at least no one can say that Mobile Fidelity makes the worst sounding audiophile records in the history of the world. They are certainly some of the worst, but not so bad that they have never made a single good sounding record, which is the title that Chad Kassem holds (to the best of our knowledge. Obviously we have only played a small fraction of the records released by him. In our defense let me say that that small fraction was all we could take.)

Thanks for your letter. That White Album was indeed killer. For $900 it had better be!

(more…)

The Beatles / Let It Be – Listening In Depth

More of The Beatles

More Reviews and Commentaries for Let It Be

This is the first time we’ve discussed individual tracks on the album. Our recent shootout [now many years ago], in which we discovered a mind-boggling, rule-breaking side one, motivated us to sit down and explain what the best copies should do on each side of the album for the tracks we test with. Better late than never I suppose. 

These also happen to be ones that we can stand to hear over and over, dozens of times in fact, which becomes an important consideration when doing shootouts as we do for hours on end.

The Beatles: Rock Band

On the better pressings the natural rock n’ roll energy of a song such as Dig A Pony will blow your mind. There’s no studio wizardry, no heavy-handed mastering, no phony EQ — just the sound of the greatest pop/rock band of all time playing and singing their hearts out.

It’s the kind of thrill you really don’t get from the more psychedelic albums like Sgt. Pepper’s or Magical Mystery Tour. You have to go all the way back to Long Tall Sally and Roll Over Beethoven to find the Beatles consistently letting loose the way they do on Let It Be (or at least on the tracks that are more or less live, which make up about half the album).

Let’s quickly review, in general terms, some of the qualities we listen for in our record shootouts.

Select Track Commentary for Let It Be

Side One

Two of Us

Dig a Pony

On the heavy guitar intro for Dig a Pony, the sound should be full-bodied and Tubey Magical, with plenty of bass. If your copy is too lean, just forget it, it will never rock.

What blew our minds about the Shootout Winning side one we played recently was how outrageously big, open and transparent it was. As the song started up the studio space seemed to expand in every direction, creating more height, width and depth than we had ever experienced with this song before.

But there is no studio space; the song was recorded on Apple’s rooftop. The “space” has to be some combination of “air” from the live event and artificial reverb added live or later during mixing. Whatever it is, the copies with more resolution and transparency show you a lot more of “it” than run-of-the-mill pressings do (including the new Heavy Vinyl, which is so airless and compressed we gave it a grade of F and banished it to our Hall of Shame).

In addition, Ringo’s kit was dramatically more clear and present in the center of the soundfield just behind the vocal, raising the energy of the track to a level higher than we had any right to believe was possible. The way he attacks the hi-hat on this song is crazy good, and the engineering team of Glyn Johns and Alan Parsons really give it the snap it needs.

These are precisely the qualities that speed and transparency can contribute to the sound. If you have Old School vintage tube equipment, these are two of the qualities you are most likely living without. You only need play this one track on faster, better-resolving equipment to hear what you’ve been missing.

On the line after “All I want is you”, the energy of “Everything has got to be just like you want it to” should make it sound like The Beatles are shouting at the top of their lungs. If you have the right pressing they really get LOUD on that line. (more…)

The Story Behind A Collection of Beatles Oldies

The LOST Beatles Album | Cancelled By Apple – Should It Be Re-released?

My vote would be no. The new Beatles albums are awful sounding. Here are a couple of reviews:

The Beatles / Rubber Soul – How Does the Heavy Vinyl Sound?

Let It Be on Heavy Vinyl – The Gong Rings Once More

We have our own take on this album:

The Beatles / A Collection of Beatles Oldies – Listening in Depth

The Beatles / A Collection of Beatles Oldies – Sounds Great on the Original

And of course we sell great sounding Beatles albums and have written quite a bit about them:


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

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Letter of the Week – “No one doubted your records after this listening session.”

Reviews and Commentaries for ELP’s Debut

Reviews and Commentaries for Abbey Road

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

Hey Tom, 

Yesterday, I attended an audio event in Verona, NJ, where I had purchased my stereo.

I spent my time in the “analogue” room. This room had the flagship equipment (Vandersteen 7 speakers, Aesthetix Jupiter series amps, pre-amps, phono stage, Clearaudio’s Goldfinger Statement cartridge, etc).

I listened for a while, hearing all the issues with almost every record they played. I then asked the store’s “turntable guru” to play some of the records I brought with me.

They thumbed through my boxes and asked me what the difference was between my two copies of Abbey Road. When I explained the superior side X on either copy, the audience found this concept amusing, based on their laughter. Any doubters would soon become believers.

They played Abbey Road‘s side 2 (3+ side, of course). While “Here Comes The Sun” was playing, Garth had his eyes closed. At the track’s conclusion, he exclaimed “Outstanding!”, and the record played on.

Next, we listened to ELP’s “Lucky Man“. Garth said it was the best he had ever heard.

I do not really know Garth, but I suspect he does not easily offer up such compliments in a room full of people. Others in the room, including the store’s turntable guru, were all very impressed. Several folks approached me, all pointing out parts of the music that blew them away.

There were comments about some folks hearing that Better Records was a scam, and others saying that you are the real deal. The discussion ended with “Hearing is believing”. No one doubted your records after this listening session.

I scored points with these important folks, thanks to your records. I provided the source material to allow their equipment to shine.

Any doubt these folks had about your company was put to rest. All that listened were very impressed, and I thought you’d want to know.

Craig D.

Craig,

Thanks for your letter!

I have to confess I am of two minds concerning this demonstration of the obviously superior sound of our best Hot Stamper pressings.

Allow me to make one cynical prediction.  None of those in the audience owns or will ever own one of our records. They like good sound all right, they certainly will tell you as much, but they just can’t wrap their heads around spending the kind of money it takes to get the kinds of records you played them.

But they sure like that $17,500 cartridge and are dying to own one.

You can be sure that those folks, like audiophiles in general, have lots of Heavy Vinyl mediocrities and are just fine with that fact. I have never understood it, but I have seen it time and time again.

If you are serious about good sound, you need good records. You know that as well as anyone.

Now that they have heard it for themselves, they know it too, but what will they do with this knowledge? My guess is nothing.

(more…)