Top Engineers – Dave Hassinger

Astrud Gilberto – The Astrud Gilberto Album

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The Astrud Gilberto Album

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

This Minty looking Verve LP has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND. It’s airy, open and spacious with a big wide soundfield and excellent clarity. The sound is smooth and sweet with wonderfully textured strings and a killer top end. Sonically this copy is Right On The Money (ROTM) and I can’t imagine it sounding a whole lot better than it does here. (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Aftermath

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  • This stunning copy earned shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to it on both sides
  • Lady Jane, Under My Thumb and Mother’s Little Helper are three of the best sounding tracks on side one – all are big, lively and solid here
  • Their first all-original album, 5 stars on Allmusic, and the earliest Must Own Stones album in our opinion
  • “The Rolling Stones finally delivered a set of all-original material with this LP, which also did much to define the group as the bad boys of rock & roll…”

This wonderful British pressing of Aftermath has two AMAZING sides, one of which is obviously more amazing than the other, but still, amazing considering just how bad the average copy of this album sounds. 

Until just recently it had been AGES since we’d found a copy of Aftermath with sound quality of this caliber to list on the site. It’s surprisingly clean, clear and smooth, with prodigious amounts of Tubey Magic, which is the kind of sound that lets you play the album at the appropriate volume — LOUD. (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Between The Buttons on Decca

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  • An excellent copy with Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – one of the better copies from our recent shootout
  • This is classic ’60s Stones sound, courtesy of Dave Hassinger, working in L.A. (RCA) and London (Olympic + Pye) 
  • If you’re looking for the ideal combination of Tubey Magical richness and transparency, this copy is one of the few that will show it to you
  • 5 Stars: “… one of their strongest, most eclectic LPs, with many fine songs that remain unknown to all but Stones devotees.”

This LP has the British track listing, so don’t pick this one up if you’re looking for great sounding versions of Let’s Spend The Night Together or Ruby Tuesday. A bummer, but the domestic copies sound AWFUL, so what can you do? (more…)

Dave Hassinger Is One of Our Favorite Engineers

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DAVE HASSINGER is one of our favorite recording and mixing engineers. Click on the link to find our in-stock Dave Hassinger engineered or produced albums, along with plenty of our famous commentaries. 

“‘Satisfaction’ was [mixed] on four tracks,” Hassinger recalls. “That was a big thing.” He adds:

“When I first arrived at RCA there were three tracks. When it went to four tracks we were all thinking. What are we going to do with the extra track?” (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Out of Our Heads – Mono or Stereo?

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On this London LP, even though it says the record is electronically re-processed stereo, the songs we heard on side one were dead mono.

So much for believing what you read on album covers. (more…)

Little Feat – The Last Record Album

Some sections on our site are hard to find. Here’s one with lots of cool records in it:

Forgotten Rock and Pop Classics

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Little Feat – The Last Record Album

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and a Forgotten Classic from 1975.

This White Hot Stamper pressing has the sound I’ve been trying to find on a pressing of The Last Record Album for more than thirty years. Finally, here it is! This was my first Little Feat album, purchased way back in 1975, and it’s still my favorite by the band. The recording is notable for having amazing bass; it goes REALLY deep in places (Long Distance Love) and it’s punchy and rich throughout the album.

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The problem has always been an overly smooth top end and a serious lack of presence. The good news is that if you clean enough copies with the advanced cleaning techniques we’ve developed (using an $8000 RCM helps) and you make enough improvements to your stereo, room, etc., with the right copy you can actually get this album to sound REALLY GOOD. This is one of those amazingly good copies, the best we have ever heard. It easily won our shootout on both sides. From start to finish it’s As Good As It Gets.

Side One

A+++ White Hot stamper sound! So transparent, big and open, with huge space and 3-dimensional like no other copy we played, without sacrificing any of the richness and bass that the best copies have. This one does it all.

Side Two

A+++, not quite as rich in the lower midrange as the side one we discuss above, but very high-rez (listen for the vocal reverb, not audible on most copies) and by far the best side two we played. See if you don’t hear the change in the lower mids we mention when switching sides.

The piano is key here. On track three it should sound rich and full and solid, yet percussive. Rarely does it sound right, which is what makes it a good test for side two.

Whose Fault Is It?

Most copies of this album are ridiculously dull and compressed. The band itself sounds bored, as if they don’t believe in their own songs. But it’s not their fault. Whose fault it is is never easy to fathom; bad mastering, bad tapes, bad vinyl, bad something else — whatever it is, that thick, lifeless sound turns this powerfully emotional music into a major snooze-fest. It’s positively criminal but it happens all the time. It’s the reason we have to go through a dozen copies to find one like this.

This one has the kind of super transparency that allows you to hear the space around all the instruments. Most copies have a bad case of ‘cardboard drums”; even the best copies have a bit of that sound. But when you have one of these high-rez copies spinning, the sound of the drums doesn’t call attention to itself. It may not be the BEST drum sound you ever heard, but it’s a GOOD drum sound, and in a lot of ways you could argue that it’s the RIGHT drum sound. It’s rich and fat, a perfect match for the sound of the album as a whole.

A True Test

Now if you have mini-monitors or screens, some of that sound won’t come through nearly as well as it might with another speaker, a big dynamic one for example. To our way of thinking, this is the kind of record that one should bring to one’s favorite stereo store to judge their equipment. They can play Famous Blue Raincoat; they do it all day long. But can they play The Last Record Album and have it sound musical and involving.

This is a much tougher test, one that most systems struggle to pass. (That’s what makes it a good test, right?) Leaner and cleaner — the kind of audiophile sound I hear everywhere I go — is simply not going to work on this album, or Zuma, or Bad Company, or the hundreds of other classic rock albums we put up on the site every year. There has to be meat on those bones. To switch metaphors in the middle of a stream, this album is about the cake, not the frosting.

Keep that in mind when they tell you at your local audio salon that the record you brought in is at fault, not their expensive and therefore “correct” equipment. I’ve been in enough of these places to know better. To mangle another old saying, if you know your records, their excuses should fall on deaf ears.

One of the Greats

Little Feat is one of the ten best rock bands in the history of the world. Their live album Waiting For Columbus is, in my opinion, the greatest live rock album ever recorded. If you don’t own a copy of it, buy that Little Feat album next.

Listening in Depth to Aftermath – The First in a String of Must Own Stones Albums

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Listening in Depth

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Lady Jane, Under My Thumb and Mother’s Little Helper are three of the best sounding tracks on side one — all three are lively and solid here. On side two Out of Time and I Am Waiting are especially well recorded.

DAVE HASSINGER rightly deserves the credit for the best sounding early Stones album — this one.

Although some songs sound amazing, not every track is well recorded. We just have to accept that the Stones are not The Beatles when it comes to the consistent quality of the earliest recordings. That said, a strong copy like this one paired with the great music on this album will certainly deliver a lot of pleasure to audiophile Stones fans.

Although some songs sound amazing, not every track is well recorded. We just have to accept that the Stones are not The Beatles when it comes to the consistent quality of the earliest recordings. That said, a strong copy like this one paired with the great music on this album will certainly deliver a lot of pleasure to audiophile Stones fans.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

Mothers Little Helper

Superb! On the best copies this track is so transparent you can feel the cool air of the studio.

Stupid Girl

Somewhat dark and compressed as a rule. (more…)