Top Artists – The Kinks

For the Best Kinks Sound, Stick with the Tri-Color Mono Pressings

More of the Music of The Kinks

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of The Kinks

This Pink and Green Reprise original MONO pressing is lively, balanced and vibrant, with a healthy dose of the Tubey Magical Richness The Kinks’ recordings need in order to sound the way we want them to, which is less irritatingly bright, thin and harsh.

“Tired of Waiting For You” is the big hit here, and like most Kinks albums from back in the day, they put the hit at the end of the side, so you had better make sure whatever copy you find has not been played much or it will be full of Inner Groove Distortion.

Inner Groove Distortion caused by the non-anti-skate-equipped turntables of the day is a chronic problem with rock and pop records from this era. We check all our records for Inner Groove Damage (IGD) as a matter of course when condition checking the surface quality of the vinyl.

The Poster Boy for Inner Groove Distortion is the song “Thank You” on this album from 1969. That record got played a lot back in the day, on the only turntables that we had available to us at the time, crappy ones.

My first “audiophile” table was the extremely plasticky Garrard 40B. I think I bought mine in 1973  and I probably paid about $69 for it. As I recall, this was their entry level model. If any table had been cheaper I would have bought it, which shows you what my starving-college-student budget must have been. Sounded just fine to me, though. What did I know about sound in 1973?

By 1976 I would have some of the best audiophile electronics in the world and the massive speakers you see below. That’s some head-spinning progress if you ask me. Once I had heard how good all my favorite albums were sounding, I got very motivated. For real progress to occur, you must let music do the driving.

The mystery is why it took me until 2007 to get my system, room, electricity and tweaks to a level advanced enough that the shortcomings of the Modern Heavy Vinyl Record became obvious.

Actually, it’s not really all that mysterious. Audio is hard. It took me decades to learn how to do it right, and if you work hard at it, you can expect it to take you decades too. [1]

Consider taking our Moderately Helpful Advice concerning the pressings that tend to win shootouts. In our experience, this record sounds best this way:

In Mono 

On the Right Early Pressing

[1] When I got started in audio in the early- to mid- ’70s, the following important elements of the modern stereo system did not exist:

  • Stand-alone phono stages.
  • Modern cabling and power cords.
  • Vibration controlling platforms for turntables and equipment.
  • Synchronous Drive Systems for turntable motors.
  • Carbon fiber mats for massive turntable platters.
  • Highly adjustable tonearms (for VTA, etc.) with extremely delicate adjustments and precision bearings.
  • Modern record cleaning machines and fluids.
  • And there wasn’t much in the way of innovative room treatments like the Hallographs we use.

A lot of things had to change in order for us to reproduce records at the level we needed to in order to do our record shootouts, and be confident about our findings, and we pursued every one of them about as far as time and money allowed. For a more complete discussion of these issues, please click here.


The Kinks – Kinks-Size

More of The Kinks

More Titles that Sound Best in Mono

  • Kinks-Size returns to the site with KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side two and excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on side one
  • This tri-color label MONO Reprise pressing is lively, balanced and vibrant, with a healthy does of the Tubey Magical Richness the Kinks’ recordings need in order to sound right
  • Surface issues are more often than not the nature of the beast with these early pressings – there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • “From the raw, slurred ‘Louie Louie’ to the pounding rave-up of ‘Come on Now,’ this record rocks, showing off the better sides of the group’s R&B output and early, formative, Beatles-influenced experiments as well.”


The Kinks – Lola Versus Powerman… – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

More of The Kinks

EXCELLENT SOUND ON BOTH SIDES, A+++ for the first and A++ for the second — I don’t remember ever hearing a better copy! This is the first copy to make it to the site in over three years, and there were only a small handful to hit the site before that. It’s hard to find clean early Kinks pressings, and it’s much tougher to find ones like this that actually sound good!

Now this obviously ain’t the best sounding album in the world, but this copy sure sounds better than the ones we played it against. The sound is lively, clean, transparent and natural. Most importantly, it sounds CORRECT. (more…)

The Kinks – Misfits

More of The Kinks

  • With seriously good Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides, this was one of the better copies we heard in our recent Misfits shootout
  • Quite a bit richer and tubier than most of what we auditioned, qualities that helped the acoustic-guitar-based tracks work their magic 
  • The big hit here was Rock and Roll Fantasy and it sounds every bit as good as you hope it would
  • 4 1/2 stars: “The Kinks became arena rockers with Sleepwalker, and its follow-up, Misfits, follows in the same vein, but it’s a considerable improvement on its predecessor…Misfits is a moving record that manages to convey deep emotions while rocking hard. The Kinks hadn’t made a record this good since Muswell Hillbillies.”


The Kinks – Face To Face

More of The Kinks


  • A very strong copy of this ’60s classic, one of the few to every make it to the site – they’re hard to find!
  • Both sides earned Double Plus (A++) grades, putting this pressing far ahead of the pack
  • It’s taken us ages to find this album with anything approaching smooth, full-bodied, musical sound
  • 5 big stars on Allmusic: “The Kink Kontroversy was a considerable leap forward in terms of quality, but it pales next to Face to Face, one of the finest collections of pop songs released during the ’60s.

Side two has four or five bubbles that make 4 or 5 light thumps under the music.

We’ve played plenty of copies of Face To Face over the years and most of them have left us cold. Let’s face it — The Kinks weren’t the most well-recorded band, so only the very best pressings of their albums can deliver sound that is both correct and audiophile-friendly. Not every album needs to be a hi-fi spectacular and that’s not what Kinks albums are about, but as audiophiles we can’t help but hope for copies that will bring the music to life without too many sonic limitations.

Most pressings are too thin, too grainy, and too gritty on the vocals. We’re willing to make some sonic sacrifices for music this good, but we can’t abide sound that leaves us wondering if the record on our table was previously played by someone with a bad needle. Of course, after hearing that same sound on so many copies, we recognized that the grit and grain were cut right on to the records.

Face To Face will never be a demo disc, but at least with our Hot Stampers is can finally sound mostly right. If you’re a Kinks fan, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s been worth the wait. (more…)

The Kinks – The Great Lost Kinks Album


  • An outstanding copy of the band’s 1973 release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • This one knocks it out of the park – it’s lively and rich, with plenty of deep punchy bass, a nicely extended top and a huge three-dimensional soundfield
  • If you enjoy the classic late ’60s Kinks albums such as Village Green, Arthur, and Lola, you are going to love this album
  • 4 1/2 stars: “An aptly titled collection; out of print for many years, there are even some Kinks cultists who have never been able to hear this ragtag but worthy collection of late-’60s and early-’70s outtakes and rarities… Kinks fans will find it quite worthwhile, and should be on the lookout for it…”


The Kinks – To The Bone

  • The Kinks’ 1994 live release makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound on this rare UK pressing is full-bodied and lively, with solid, present vocals, as well as excellent clarity all around
  • “… the bandmembers financed their acoustic greatest-hits record To the Bone themselves, releasing it on the U.K. independent label Grapevine. Naturally, Ray Davies’ songs work well in such a stripped-back setting… featuring a lovely version of “Waterloo Sunset,” possibly the most beautiful song of the rock & roll era.”


The Kinks – Kinda Kinks in Stereo

  • Very good Hot Stamper sound on both sides of this original STEREO copy of The Kinks’ sophomore release
  • There’s a healthy dose of the Tubey Magical Richness these recordings need in order to work on this copy
  • The monos win the shootouts but the better original stereo pressings can sound quite good on their own terms
  • “…this album showcased a much more sophisticated sound… it also put them right in the front of the British Invasion pack for seriousness and complexity, out in front of where the Beatles or almost any of the competition were in early 1965…”


The Kinks – Something Else

This Original Reprise Tri-Color Steamboat Label pressing is one of the best sounding Kinks records we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing here at Better Records. It sounds nothing like the typically dull and smeary domestic Kinks LPs we are used to hearing. The overall sound is lively, musical, and natural. Drop the needle on No Return for wonderful sound and music — it’s got a bit of a Jobim vibe. 

After dropping the needle on a wonderful sounding copy a few months back, we started pursuing these in the hopes of getting a proper shootout together. It didn’t happen easily or inexpensively — clean looking copies of this one go for as much as $50 in the local bins, and that’s obviously with no guarantee of good sound or quiet vinyl. We found a few good ones and a few stinkers, but this copy went beyond our expectations. It’s got punchy bass, great energy, and real texture to everything. Most copies tend to be too smooth and veiled, but this one passed our tests with flying colors.

Play David Watts or No Return on side one for the best sound, and Afternoon Tea or Waterloo Sunset on side two for the same. (more…)