Top Engineers – Eddie Kramer

Jimi Hendrix – The Jimi Hendrix Concerts – Huge, Powerful Live Rock Sound

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The Jimi Hendrix Concerts

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

This live album, taken from concerts recorded from 1968 to 1970, is wonderful sounding on the best tracks. If you’re in the market for live Hendrix on a Hot Stamper, you’ll be hard pressed to do any better. The bass on this recording is huge, which is exactly what this kind of music needs most. At the levels we were playing this album it was really rockin’.

That’s the true test of a good live rock record — the louder you play it the better it sounds! (more…)

Donovan – The Hurdy Gurdy Man – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

The 1968 sound here is GLORIOUS — rich, sweet, Tubey Magical and very, very Analog.

Side one is where you will find The Hurdy Gurdy Man and it is crazy good sounding here. No wonder: Hurdy Gurdy was engineered by Eddie Kramer and produced by none other than John Paul Jones.

Donovan records tend to be hit or miss affairs, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that we could not find a bad track on either side of the album. Most are in fact quite wonderful. 

Both Yellow Label Epics and Orange Label Epics fared well in our shootout. (We could find no Blue/ Black later labels to play.) Finding any pressing with clean surfaces was another matter, but we managed to have a pretty healthy group with which to do our shootout.

Some of these tracks may remind you more than a little of Pentangle. Danny Thompson, that band’s amazingly talented and unusually well recorded double bassist, just happens to be the bass player on the album. Go figure. Tony Carr does most of the drumming as he has on many of Donovan’s albums from the period. Needless to say, the rhythm section is first rate. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – The Cry of Love

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The Cry of Love

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

With Eddie Kramer and Robert Ludwig on the payroll, doesn’t this record have to be spectacular?

Good, yes, but spectacular? Not really. Some copies just don’t rock, and those copies lose a huge number of points for that shortcoming on a Monster Rock record such as this. Some are leaned out, some have no real top end — as Murphy’s Law makes clear, if something can go wrong it will go wrong. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced

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Are You Experienced

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

STUNNING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! It is no easy task trying to find good copies of this album (or any Hendrix album, really). This one is absolutely killer. The bottom end is big and weighty, the top is open and transparent, and there’s plenty of rich, full tubey magic. It’s going to be incredibly hard to find a pressing that comes anywhere close to this one.

No matter what version you’ve been playing, we guarantee you’ll be blown away by the energy and punch on this one. 

Ready to go on a trip? You’ve come to the right place. While the sound is not Demo Quality on every track, the acid-drenched soundscapes created by Jimi and engineer Eddie Kramer are certainly going to be exciting to the kind of audiophile who still digs Classic Rock. Unfortunately, most copies are missing a lot of the magic — the space, the tubes, the ambience, the size, the weight. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Axis: Bold As Love

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Axis: Bold As Love

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

What a copy! Super rich and full-bodied with a wide, tall soundstage and plenty of punch, this is exactly the right sound for this music. It sure ain’t easy to find good-sounding Hendrix records, and most copies of Axis are positively painful. You need rich, full tonality and plenty of space up top if this album is going to work, and on those counts this copy certainly delivers! 

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience – War Heroes – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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War Heroes

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

Hendrix fans, we have a very special record for you, with one very special quality that sets it well apart from other Hendrix records you may have heard in the past: THE BEST HENDRIX SOUND EVER. Side two of this copy beats any studio release we’ve ever heard, any postmortem release, any release we’ve ever had on our turntable. We love Hendrix, but finding good sounding pressings of his most famous albums is practically impossible. (Note that no Hot Stamper listing exists for Are You Experienced just to cite one example.) 

But here’s one, a White Hot copy in fact, with the kind of sound you always dreamed Hendrix records could have. It’s right here on this side two, and side one is very nearly as good!

We played about half a dozen copies this week, split between domestics and Brit imports — and this bad boy absolutely MURDERED most of the competition. Drop the needle at the start of side two and prepare to be floored! You won’t believe the big-time presence, the mindblowing energy, or the massive WHOMP factor! This copy has some of the tightest bass we’ve ever heard for any Hendrix album, plus an unbelievable amount of tubey magic. The sound is WALL to WALL. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Hendrix In The West

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Hendrix In The West

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

We’re still surprised at how well recorded the album is, and a pressing like this allows you to really hear the live Jimi Guitar God Magic.

Rock and roll Legend EDDIE KRAMER, the man who engineered these live recordings, really knocked it out of the park. Drop the needle on Little Wing and you are going to be FLOORED. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland

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Electric Ladyland

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

Sides three and four of this bad boy are OFF THE CHARTS, earning our top grade of A+++. Side three manages to combine superb transparency and presence with rich Tubey Magic and a strong, rockin’ low end — not an easy balance to strike! The guitars here, obviously one of the main draws on a Hendrix album, sound phenomenal.

Side four is every bit as good, with tons of rockin’ energy and serious immediacy coupled with smooth, natural tonality. Again, most copies fail miserably at finding that balance. A+++, White Hot Stamper material all the way. Whew!

Sides one and two are excellent as well, clocking in at A++ to A+++ and A++ respectively. Side one is clear and full with a big, punchy low end and plenty of rock energy. Side two is generally the weakest side in terms of sound, and that’s true here as well, but at A++ this one blows away what we found on the typical pressings. Tubey Magical with a nice, solid low end, the music really comes across here. (more…)

Carly Simon – What to Listen For

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Carly Simon – Carly Simon

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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.

Too many copies we played erred on the hi-fi-ish side, with not enough warmth. The copies that sound incredibly clean and clear just didn’t do much for us; they weren’t able to convey the intimacy and emotion of the music.

I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience playing CDs of some of your old favorites. You keep wondering why you liked the music in the first place. Don’t blame the music. Blame those crappy CDs.  (more…)

David Bowie’s Young Americans – What to Listen For

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More Young Americans

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

The average RCA copy of this album is bright, grainy and hard to some degree, like most RCA pressings I come across. If you’ve been stuck with an average copy, you’re not going to believe how smooth and sweet the best ones sound. 

This is one of my favorite Bowie albums. Nobody seems to care about it anymore. They dismiss it as disco junk, but it actually has some of his best music on it. I especially like the song Win. David Sanborn’s saxophone sounds like it’s coming from 60 feet behind Bowie, a nice effect.

Both sides here are AGAIG — As Good As It Gets, Master Tape Sound. The overall sound is open, spacious, and transparent with lots of DEEP bass. You can easily pick out all the background vocals, and Bowie’s voice sounds just right. The strings have amazing amounts of texture — you can really hear the sound of the rosin on the bow. The highs are silky sweet and the bottom end is punchy and powerful. You won’t believe how superb the cymbal crashes sound — you’re right there in the room with these guys! (more…)