Top Engineers – Eddie Kramer

Led Zeppelin / Houses of the Holy – Listening in Depth

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More Key Tracks for Critical Listening

You really get an understanding of just how much of a production genius Jimmy Page was when you listen to a copy of Houses with the kind of resolution and transparency found on our best copies.

To take just one example, listen to how clearly the multi-tracked guitars can be heard in the different layers and areas of the soundstage. On some songs you will have no trouble picking out three, four and even more guitars playing, each with its own unique character. The clarity of the better copies allows you to recognize — perhaps for the first time — the special contribution each makes to the finished song.

In-Depth Track Commentary

Side One

The Song Remains the Same
The Rain Song

Check out the guitars — the sound should be warm, sweet and delicate. There are some dead quiet passages in this song that are almost always going to have some surface noise. Most copies start out a bit noisy but almost always get quieter as the music goes along.

Over the Hills and Far Away

This is a great test track for side one. It starts with lovely acoustic guitars before the Monster Zep Rock Chords come crashing in. If both parts of the song sound correct and balanced, you more than likely have a winner. And the bigger the dynamic contrast between the parts the better.

Turn your volume up good and high in order to get the full effect, then stand back and let the boys have at it.

The Crunge (more…)

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

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More Live Recordings of Interest

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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…)

Joe Cocker – Mad Dogs And Englishmen

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  • A superb copy of Mad Dogs and Englishmen with all four sides earning nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) grades or BETTER – just shy of our Shootout Winner
  • The sound is rich and tubey, with driving energy and the top end and clarity that was simply missing from far too many of the copies we had to work through in order to find this one
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Unlike a lot of other “coffee table”-type rock releases of the era, such as Woodstock and The Concert for Bangladesh, people actually listened to Mad Dogs & Englishmen — most of its content was exciting, and its sound, a veritable definition of big-band rock with three dozen players working behind the singer, was unique.”

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Led Zeppelin / Led Zeppelin III – Always wanted to have a “clean” original? Here’s your chance.

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More Hot Stamper Pressings that Sound Their Best on the Right Reissue

We should have said “here was your chance” since this pressing sold very quickly. Over the years most Plum and Orange pressings were disposed of on ebay for the benefit of collectors and those audiophiles who might be ill-informed enough to think that early British pressings would have the best sound for Led Zeppelin III. (This is a record we know very well.)

They do not. They can, however, sound quite good in some cases with the proper cleaning. Not Shootout Winning Good: we actually have a section for those killer copies, this one.

Not even Double Plus (A++) good, which sounds like something from the novel 1984 but is in fact a Very Good grade and guaranteed to trounce any and all copies of the album you have ever heard.

No, the best Zeppelin album we have played to date with the early label in this case earned a grade of Single Plus to Double Plus, which we describe as “[a] wonderful sounding side with many impressive qualities, notably better than a Single Plus copy. A big step up from the typical pressing.”

NOTE: We do not even offer Single Plus copies on the site anymore. Although their faults would be less obvious to anyone who went through the shootout process with the album, such faults are too bothersome to us precisely because we did go through that process.

Once you know what is right, it’s very easy to spot what is wrong. This is the foundational principle of our Hot Stampers. Hot Stampers are not simply good sounding records. They are records that have gone through a shootout.

It is also our story with regard to most of the Heavy Vinyl pressings we have played over the last twenty five years, the worst of which can be found here. We see very little evidence that we got any of that wrong. (more…)

Carly Simon – Self-Titled

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  • An outstanding original Elektra LP with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • Can you believe that the producer and engineer of Carly’s debut is none other than Eddie Kramer!?
  • That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be is the killer track here and it sounds wonderful on this copy
  • This pressing really brought this Big Production to life and allowed so many elements to work in harmony.
  • It’s a good example of what a truly Hot Stamper is supposed to do – let the music work as music

The richness and the sweetness of the midrange on the best copies are exactly what you’d be looking for on this heavily-produced pop album, and this copy gives you that sound like no other copy you’ve ever heard.

Credit must go to Eddie Kramer, legendary producer and engineer for the likes of Hendrix and Zeppelin. He knows how to get good sound all right, although Female Singer Songwriter albums in his catalog are fairly light on the ground. (Richard Perry became the go-to guy for those productions as the ’70s wore on.) This may in fact be the only one Eddie ever did. But he knows Big Production Rock, and that’s what most of this album is about. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Hendrix In The West

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  • Hendrix in the West finally returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • This is a fun live album with stellar performances by Jimi – the best of his many posthumous releases
  • The awesome version of Little Wing is just killer on this copy – it’s Jimi’s best performance of the song
  • 4 stars: “. . . it’s a hodge-podge, made of live tracks largely from 1969 and 1970. But it’s a bunch of great live tracks, including some real rarities. . . In the West is a great sampling of Hendrix’s late-period live material (and his sense of humor) making its long awaited appearance.”

We’re still surprised at how well recorded the album is. It takes a pressing like this to really show you the live Jimi Hendrix magic Eddie Kramer got onto tape. Drop the needle on Little Wing and you are going to be FLOORED.

The size and space here are really something, miles beyond most. The resolution and clarity of the open live sound of this copy bring out all the instrumental textures and details of the recording like few we played. More importantly, the extended top keeps the highs from getting hard or harsh the way they do on so many pressings we’ve played.

As these performances are culled from different concerts the sound varies a bit from track to track, but every track on here sounds good and the best tracks sound amazing. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – War Heroes

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  • You’ll find superb Double Plus (A++) from first note to last on this Hendrix classic – exceptionally quite vinyl for the most part too
  • The material here is unusually well-recorded – the sound is competitive with – maybe even better than – Hendrix’s “real” albums
  • Features top-tier Hendrix rarities such as Izabella, Highway Chile, Bleeding Heart and Stepping Stone
  • “One of the few consistent compilations of unreleased Hendrix.” — Allmusic

Drop the needle at the start of either side and prepare to be floored. You won’t believe the big-time presence, the mindblowing energy, or the massive WHOMP factor. Here’s a copy with the kind of big, three-dimensional sound we wish we heard on more Hendrix records. You’ll know what I’m talking about as soon as the needle hits the groove.

The vocals are full-bodied and present with lots of body and breath. The bottom end is tight and punchy with more weight than we heard on other copies. You could play a good-sized stack of copies and you’d probably still not find one as open, spacious, and transparent as either of these sides.

The guitar — obviously a key element of any Hendrix recording — absolutely FLIES out of the speakers here. The bottom end is strong and solid, and the overall sound is big, rich and open.

Bridge of Sighs

Note that the guitar sound on the first track of side two appears to have acted as the template for Robin Trower’s sound throughout his career. We love Robin Trower — wish we could find more copies of Bridge of Sighs that sound good — but his guitar sound was all over this album years before it was on any of his own.

It’s beyond difficult for us to find killer copies of Jimi’s first three or four albums, so I advise you Hendrix fans to give this one a chance. It’s the real deal. (more…)

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin III

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Letters and Commentaries for Led Zeppelin III

  • Outstanding sound throughout with each side earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Huge, Tubey Magical and lively, with solid weight down low and lots of space around all the instruments, this copy is guaranteed to rock like nothing you have ever heard
  • Since I’ve Been Loving You, Gallows Pole, Tangerine and That’s the Way are just a few of the tracks that have truly Demo Disc sound
  • “On their first two albums, Led Zeppelin unleashed a relentless barrage of heavy blues and rockabilly riffs, but Led Zeppelin III provided the band with the necessary room to grow musically. While there are still a handful of metallic rockers, III is built on a folky, acoustic foundation that gives the music extra depth.”

Drop the needle on Since I’ve Been Loving You and turn it up good and loud. Robert Plant will be right there between your speakers, and your jaw will be on the floor!

Cue up Tangerine on side two for a taste of rich, sweet, Tubey Magical Analog Sound. The acoustic guitars are lush and delicate, the bass is deep and well-defined, and the vocals are completely natural and free from bad mastering or phony EQ. (more…)

Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced

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  • This one will blow you away with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side one mated with an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two — exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound is dramatically bigger, cleaner, livelier and more present than you’ll hear on any other copy
  • Stunning sound for Purple Haze, Hey Joe, The Wind Cries Mary, Fire and Foxy Lady
  • No matter what version you’ve been playing, we guarantee you’ll be blown away by the energy and punch on this import
  • 5 stars: “One of the most stunning debuts in rock history, and one of the definitive albums of the psychedelic era.”

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. Good luck finding this kind of sound for Are You Experienced on your own — it took us DECADES! (more…)

Humble Pie – What Other Live Rock Record Sounds This Good?

Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound…

And One We Also Just Added to Our Rock & Pop Top 100 List

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One of the best — if not THE best — rock concert albums we have ever heard. Can you imagine if Frampton Comes Alive sounded like this? If you want to hear some smokin’ Peter Frampton guitar work from the days when he was with the band, this album captures that sound better than any of their studio releases, and far better than FCA on even the best copies.

Grungy guitars that jump out of the speakers, prodigious amounts of punchy deep bass, dynamic vocals and drum work — the best pressings of Rockin’ The Fillmore have more firepower than any live recording we’ve ever heard.

Who knew? 

We didn’t, of course, until not that many years ago (2014 maybe?). But we are in the business of finding these things out. We get paid by our customers to find them the best sounding pressings in the world. It’s our job and we take it very seriously.

Did any audiophile reviewers ever play the album and report on its amazing sound? Not that we are aware of.  Do they have the kind of playback systems — the big rooms, the big speakers, the freedom from compression and artificiality — that are required to get the most from a recording such as this one?

Doubtful. Unlikely in the extreme even. They don’t know how good a record like this can sound because they aren’t able to play it the way it needs to be played.

And when was the last time you read a review of a record that hadn’t just been reissued on Heavy Vinyl? There was a time when audiophile reviewers wrote about exceptionally good sounding vintage pressings they had come across. Harry Pearson comes immediately to mind, but there were many others following his lead. Now they it seems none of them can be bothered. More’s the pity.

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