Top Engineers – Eddie Offord

Today’s Heavy Vinyl Mediocrity Is… Fragile

yes__fragi_myth_1304118647

The Analogue Productions 180g reissue shown here is mastered by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Grey, two guys I respect, but the results of their latest collaboration leave much to be desired. The overall sound is lean. This is especially noticeable on the too thin-sounding guitars and vocals. Believe me, it’s no fun to play a Yes album with thin guitars and vocals.

Also, there’s a noticeable lack of ambience throughout the record. What comes to mind when I hear a record that sounds like this is the dreaded R word: Reissue. I find it hard to believe they had the actual two-track original master tape to work with. The sound is just too anemic to have come from the real tape. If they did have the real tape, then they really botched the job.
(more…)

Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Emerson, Lake & Palmer

xxxxx

  • This vintage Island Pink Rim import pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish – exceptionally QUIET vinyl too
  • Spacious, rich and dynamic, with especially smooth, present vocals – this is what we love about Eddie Offord’s work here
  • ANALOG at its Tubey Magical finest – you’ll never play a CD that sounds this good as long as you live
  • Lucky Man and Take A Pebble on this copy have Demo Disc Quality Sound like you won’t believe
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Lively, ambitious, almost entirely successful debut album… [which] showcased the group at its least pretentious and most musicianly …there isn’t much excess, and there is a lot of impressive musicianship here.”

If you’ve got the system to play this one loud enough, with the low end weight and energy it requires, you are in for a treat. The organ that opens side two will rattle the foundation of your house if you’re not careful. This music really needs that kind of megawatt reproduction to make sense. This is bombastic prog that wants desperately to rock your world. At moderate levels it just sounds overblown and silly. At loud levels, it actually will rock your world.

This UK Island pink rim import pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Yes, We’re Getting Awfully Close To The Edge…

Are Your Planets Aligned?

A word of caution: Even our Hottest Stamper copies can sound problematical unless your system is firing on all cylinders. Your electricity has got to be cooking, you’ve got to be using the right room treatments, and ideally you should be using a demagnetizer such as the Talisman on the record itself, your cables (power, interconnect and speaker) as well as the individual drivers of your speakers.

This is a record that’s going to demand a lot from the listener, and we want to make sure that you’re up to the challenge. If you don’t mind putting in a little hard work, here’s a record that will reward you many times over, and probably teach you a thing or two about tweaking your gear in the process.

We’d started and abandoned this shootout multiple times in the previous decade; the typical sounding copy was just too painful to listen to, and the better pressings weren’t doing what we had hoped they would. Where was the Tubey Magical analog sound with the HUGE whomp factor that we’d been hearing on the best copies of Fragile and The Yes Album? We just could not find that sound on Close to the Edge.

As futile as our previous attempts were, we decided in 2008 that we would take another stab at it. After all, there had been quite a few changes around here that had the stereo working really well —  the addition of the Odyssey Record Cleaning Machine and Walker Enzyme solution to our cleaning process, the Talisman Magnetic Optimizer, the third pair of Hallographs we added years back, tons of smaller tweaks, and a few other tricks that we’re going to have to leave hidden up our sleeves for now.

The Planets Align

Think about it: This is a highly COMPLEX recording, with HUGE organs, light-speed changes, lots of multi-tracking, and what amounts to an OVERLOAD of musical information. Can you imagine how irritating that would sound on a third-rate copy? We didn’t have to imagine it — we lived through it! (more…)

The Yes Album – What a Recording!

xxxxx
xxxxx

 

  • Plenty of Prog Rock Power is on display here – Eddie Offord’s engineering is Hard To Fault throughout 
  • A Top 100 Album and the band’s best sounding record – quiet too, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • “It was the addition of Steve Howe’s guitar pyrotechnics that finally allowed Yes to find their true identity. The Yes Album is a giant leap forward.” 

At its best, this album is a Big Speaker Prog-Rock opus with tremendous power and dynamic range, but it takes a special pressing like this one to really bring it to life. 

These guys — and by that I mean this particular iteration of the band, the actual players that were involved in the making of this album — came together for the first time and created the sound of Yes on this very album, rather aptly titled when you think about it.

With the amazing EDDIE OFFORD at the board, as well as the best batch of songs ever to appear on a single Yes album, they produced both their sonic and musical masterpiece — good news for audiophiles with Big Speakers!

Drop the needle on this bad boy and you will find yourself on a Yes journey the likes of which you have never known. And that’s what I’m in this audiophile game for. The Heavy Vinyl crowd can have their dead-as-a-doornail, wake-me-when-it’s-over pressings that play quietly. I couldn’t sit through one with a gun to my head. (more…)

Yes – Fragile – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

MASTER TAPE SOUND! We doubt you’ve heard too many rock records that sound as AMAZING as this one. It’s dynamic, punchy and powerful, with the kind of super-low distortion sound that lets you really crank the levels, the louder the BETTER! How many Yes records will let you do that? THIS ONE WILL! That’s what you get for your $750 — the kind of sound that will blow your mind.

Side one here has ALL the qualities we look for in a Hot Stamper Fragile. It’s smooth and sweet with virtually no smearing up top or distortion on the piano. There’s lots of meaty, punchy bass that really propels the music far beyond the typical pressing. The overall sound is airy, open, spacious, and super transparent.

As hard as it is to find a Fragile with two WHITE hot sides, we’ve done it. This side two is AS AMAZING as the stunning side one. The bass is deep, rich, and well-defined. The highs are silky and delicate, and the bottom end has lots of WHOMP — check out that punchy kick drum! It’s a super transparent side two — just listen to all that echo and ambience around the vocals.

This Is The Master Tape

I don’t think it gets any better than this! I would guess that not many audiophiles have a rock record that sounds this good in their collections (excluding those of you who have managed to acquire some of our best Hot Stampers; those audiophiles own the real thing and the real thing just can’t be beat.) (more…)

Yes – Fragile

xxxxx

  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound and exceptionally quiet vinyl on both sides – Roundabout and Long Distance Runaround are guaranteed to blow your mind
  • Thanks to Eddie Offord’s superb engineering, this is some of the best High Production Value Rock Music ever recorded    
  • AMG 5 stars, a founding member of our Top 100, and the second of the band’s three Must Own Prog Rock Masterpieces*
  • “Fragile was Yes’ breakthrough album… it also marked the point where all of the elements of the music (and more) that would define their success for more than a decade fell into place fully formed.”

*The other two, of course, being The Yes Album (earlier in 1971) and Close to the Edge (1972).

We doubt you’ve heard too many (if any) rock records that sound as AMAZING as this one. It’s dynamic, punchy and powerful, with the kind of super-low distortion sound that lets you really crank the levels, the louder the better. How many Yes records will let you do that? This one will. That’s what you get for your money — the kind of sound that can blow your mind over and over again for as long as you live, or at least as long as your hearing holds out. (more…)

Yes – Fragile – An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

xxxxx

FRAGILE is an album we admit to being obsessed with — just look at the number of commentaries we’ve written about it.

We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands — maybe a bit too much time on your hands — please feel free to check out our commentaries. Below you can find a letter one of our good customers wrote about his Hot Stamper pressing.

Our good customer Franklin wrote us a nice letter to let us us how much he loved his Fragile Hot Stamper. He’s so right: that was one AMAZING sounding record!

Just listened to the Yes album Fragile. FANTASTIC!!!!! I didn’t know Yes LPs could sound like this. Any Yes LPs I’ve ever heard were harsh sounding and after a couple of minutes my ears would start to hurt. Thanks!

Regards,
Franklin

Thanks, Franklin, for your enthusiastic letter. Is this the same famously “compromised” recording that MF complained about while extolling the virtues of the mediocre Analogue Productions LP? Now you and I both know two things: how wrong they are, and how amazing this record can really sound — when you’re lucky enough to have a truly Hot Stamper like the very one you played. (more…)

Yes – Close To The Edge – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

xxxxx

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

The toughest nut to crack in the entire Yes catalog! We’ve been trying for years to bring you Hot Stamper copies of this one, but it is hasn’t been easy. Here’s the copy that proved to us just how much this album can cook if your stereo is up to it and you’ve got the right pressing.

We went through Imports, Plain Ol’ Domestics, White Label Promos and what have you, and no other copy had two sides this strong.

Before I even get into the sound of this copy, I want to issue a word of caution. Even our Hottest Stamper copies can sound problematical unless your system is firing on all cylinders. Your electricity has got to be cooking, you’ve got to be using the right room treatments, and you should ideally be using a demagnetizer such as the Talisman on the record AND your cables. This is a record that’s going to demand a lot from the listener, and we want to make sure that you’re up to the challenge. If you don’t mind putting in a little hard work, here’s a record that will reward you many times over, and probably teach you a thing or two about tweaking your gear in the process.

The Sound We’ve Been Searching For

We’ve started and abandoned this shootout multiple times in the last few years, because the typical sounding copy is just painful to listen to, and the better pressings weren’t what we had hoped for. Where was the tubey magical analog sound with the HUGE whomp factor that we’ve heard on the best copies of Fragile and The Yes Album?

Folks, when we played this copy in the evening, when the electricity around here is really cookin’, the sound of this copy was INCREDIBLE ON BOTH SIDES. Everything we had hoped for from this album was finally happening — three-dimensionality, tubey electric guitars, punchiness to the bottom, silkiness to the top, and amazing amounts of energy. It never quite reached the ultimate heights of the top copies of Fragile of The Yes Album, but it sure sounds good when you get it to sound right.

Let’s think about it. This is a COMPLEX recording, with HUGE organs, light-speed changes, lots of multitracking, and just an overload of information. Can you imagine how irritating that can sound on a third-rate copy with your stereo having any issues at all? We didn’t have to imagine it — we lived through it!

But that’s exactly what made playing this album last night so rewarding. We had finally gotten the sound we had been searching for from Close To The Edge, and it was anything but easy. The toughest peaks to climb are the ones you feel best about standing on top of once you’ve made it, and I have no doubt that many of you will be able to get there, just as we did, as long as you’re willing to work for it. Are you up to the task? (more…)

John Lennon – Imagine

xxx

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

This is the highest rated copy of Imagine to ever hit the site! As crazy as that sounds, it’s true — these are next to impossible to find, they tend to cost big bucks when you do track them down, they’re almost always noisy, and they very rarely sound very good. If it wasn’t ridiculously difficult to find Hot Stamper pressings of Imagine, it certainly would not have taken us until 2015 to offer one.

This is the highest rated copy of Imagine to ever hit the site! As crazy as that sounds, it’s true — these are next to impossible to find, they tend to cost big bucks when you do track them down, they’re almost always noisy, and they very rarely sound very good. If it wasn’t ridiculously difficult to find Hot Stamper pressings of Imagine, it certainly would not have taken us until 2015 to offer one.

Both sides here are excellent. capturing the essence of what Lennon and Phil Spector (and let’s not forget Yoko, who also gets a producer credit here) were going for. The sound is big, lively and very open — most copies aren’t nearly this transparent. It’s also very rich and full-bodied (especially on side one) with excellent presence. The bottom end is solid and punchy and Lennon’s vocals sound natural and clear throughout. (more…)

Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Pictures at an Exhibition – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

More Emerson, Lake and Palmer

More Pictures at an Exhibition

xxxxx

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

This Minty looking original Island British Import LP has some of the best sound we have ever heard for this album. This copy KILLED a bunch of other Brit imports we played it against. It wasn’t even close. This pressing was so much more TRANSPARENT — you could hear into the crowd in a way that no other copy managed to let you do. When the band started playing the sound was much more clear and present than the other Brit copies we played.  (more…)