Top Engineers – Bob Clearmountain

Bruce Springsteen / Born In The U.S.A.

More of the Music of Bruce Springsteen

  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this gazillion-selling ’80s classic
  • We would be foolish to make claims for “audiophile” sound on Springsteen’s albums – they are what they are, but the best copies are head and shoulders above anything else you’ve heard
  • Some of The Boss’s biggest hits are here, including “Glory Days” and “Dancin’ in the Dark.”
  • 5 stars: “… where Springsteen remembered that he was a rock & roll star, which is how a vastly increased public was happy to treat him.”

It’s tough to find great sounding copies of this album — or any Springsteen album for that matter — but this one is a step up from most of the copies we played, with less distortion and more energy, two qualities that are not easy to come by on Born In The U.S.A.

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Bruce Springsteen / Born In The U.S.A. – We Make No Claims of Audiophile Quality Sound

More of the Music of Bruce Springsteen

We would be foolish to make claims for “audiophile quality” sound on Springsteen’s albums — they are what they are. The simple claim we make for our Hot Stampers is that the best of them sound as good as the album can sound, and we back that up with a 100% Money Back guarantee.

It’s tough to find great sounding copies of this album — or any Springsteen album for that matter — but this one is a HUGE step up, with the kind of clarity and fullness that most copies have in short supply.

If you’re bored by the first chorus of the title song, that’s a bad sign, and that was exactly our experience with most of the pressings that hit the table. When we threw this one on, things changed considerably. Bruce was really screaming, the drums were really pounding, and before we knew it we were really rockin’ out and enjoying the music.

Not many copies have this kind of full, solid lower midrange. When you hear the album this way, without the edgy, thin sound that plagues most pressings, it really works wonders for the music. The vocals and instruments are more real, and the improved low end lets the whole thing rock.

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David Bowie – Let’s Dance

More David Bowie

  • It’s all here: huge amounts of rock solid bass, clear guitar transients, breathy, natural vocals, and jump out of the speakers presence and energy
  • A real Demo Disc at high volumes on the right system – Modern Love, China Girl and the title track are knockouts when you play them good and loud
  • Top 100 of course – Let’s Dance is one of the best sounding Bowie albums ever recorded – this superb pressing is proof!

Bowie is without question one of the all time great frontmen and producers. This is his last good album and a Must Own for audiophiles, especially if you have big dynamic speakers. Like we say, with this one you are in for a treat.

Hearing a top copy of Let’s Dance is truly a special experience; the damn thing is amazingly well recorded, especially considering it came along well after the Golden Age of Rock Recording (the ’60s and ’70s, don’t you know). The sound is analog at its best; rich, full and super-punchy.

I have never heard a CD in my life with this kind of Tubey Magical richness and sweetness. That medium never does justice to the sound of recordings like this one, in my experience anyway. People who exclusively play CDs have forgotten what that sound is; that’s why they can happily live without it. I sure can’t. At present, this sound is exclusively the domain of analog and likely to remain so well into the future.

In addition, the musicianship is Top Notch and then some. Omar Hakim’s drumming is powerful, energetic, and performed with military precision. The guy is out of his mind on this album.

The combination of Nile Rodgers and the Legendary Stevie Ray Vaughn on guitar makes for a tasty, intricate mix of subtle rhythm work and searing leads. Or is that soaring leads? Hey, on this album it’s both.

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Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel of Love

More Bruce Springsteen

  • On the better pressings you get something approaching the warmth and unforced clarity of analog we audiophiles crave
  • Some of Bruce’s best material is here: the title track and One Step Up are two of our favorites  
  • “Bruce Springsteen followed the most popular album of his career, Born in the U.S.A., with [a] low-key, anguished effort, Tunnel of Love.”

As is the case for the Bob Clearmountain mix of Born in the USA, the sound is not exactly vintage analog at its best, but at least on vinyl you get more analog qualities than would otherwise be possible. This is 1987, not 1967 and not even 1977. That said, the copies that earned the better grades were big and rich, with plenty of studio space and nicely present vocals.

Mostly what they do well is that they fill out the sound and take the edge off of it without losing musical information, dynamics or energy. Not many copies managed that feat but this one did. (more…)

Bryan Ferry / Boys And Girls – Our Shootout Winner from Way Back

More Bryan Ferry

More Roxy Music

This domestic pressing has STUNNINGLY GOOD SOUND on side two! It’s the best we’ve ever heard the album — super high-resolution transparency coupled with amazing immediacy. And talk about energy — the sound here positively JUMPS out of the speakers!

This side two blew our minds with its distortion-free sound, transparency and its punchy, note-like bass. The recording space is wall to wall HUGE, with amazing depth and three-dimensionality that’s only hinted at by most of the pressings we played. It’s meaty and punchy down low and there’s plenty of extension up top.  (more…)

Bryan Ferry – Boys and Girls

More Bryan Ferry

More Roxy Music

  • You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this classic Ferry album from 1985 
  • This copy was super big, full and lively with plenty of presence and bottom end weight
  • On this record, bigger bass and punchier drums make all the difference in the world
  • “Instead of ragged rock explosions, emotional extremes, and all that made his ’70s work so compelling in and out of Roxy, Ferry here is the suave, debonair if secretly moody and melancholic lover, with music to match…”

Excellent sound and quiet vinyl on both sides! If you’ve spent any time with this album, you will be blown away by how great both sides of this copy sound.

Key Listening Test

The song Valentine, the second track on side two, is a key test for that side. Note how processed Ferry’s vocals are; on the best copies they will sound somewhat bright. The test is the background singers; they should sound tonally correct and silky sweet. If Ferry sounds correct, they will sound dull, and so will the rest of the side. That processed sound on his vocal is on the tape. Trying to “fix” it will ruin everything. (more…)