Top Engineers – Lewis Layton

Sibelius – Violin Concerto / Heifetz / Hendl

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  • With solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides, this copy of the Sibelius Violin Concerto boasts outstanding Living Stereo sonics from 1961 and a fiery performance from Heifetz
  • It’s some of the best sound we have ever heard for the work, right up there with the Ricci on Decca/London
  • The grading is conservative at Two Pluses; it might’ve actually deserved more
  • The nothing less than breathtaking performance by Heifetz may raise this one to the rank of First Among Equals for those of you who prize immediacy and energy in your violin recordings
  • If you have one of our killer Hot Stampers of the Beethoven or Tchaikovsky violin concertos, you know exactly the sound I am talking about
  • “In the easier and looser concerto forms invented by Mendelssohn and Schumann I have not met a more original, a more masterly, and a more exhilarating work than the Sibelius violin concerto.”

Early Shaded Dog pressings of Heifetz’s records are known to have rarely survived in audiophile playing condition. Top quality early pressings in clean condition come our way at most once a year, which means shootouts for them get done infrequently. There are literally thousands of clean, vintage classical pressing sitting in our stockroom waiting for a few more copies to come our way so that we can finally do a shootout.

This copy plays quite well for a Shaded Dog. Side one plays Mint Minus Minus all the way through, with a little extra tickiness creeping in at the very end of the side.

Side two I am happy to report plays even quieter. It starts out Mint Minus Minus, but roughly three quarters of an inch into the side it begins to play more in the range of Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus, and does so for the remainder of the side.

It’s practically impossible to hear that kind of string sound on any recording made in the last thirty years (and this of course includes practically everything pressed on Heavy Vinyl). It may be a lost art but as long as we have these wonderful vintage pressings to play it’s an art that is not being lost on us. (more…)

Who Can’t Hear Differences in Sound from Side to Side on Most Records?

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Audiophile Reissues of the Reiner/CSO Recording

Both the Chesky and Classic reissue pressings of LSC 2446 are just plain terrible. Embarrassingly the latter is found on the TAS List.

There is a newly remastered 33 RPM pressing of the album garnering rave reviews in the audiophile press. We didn’t like it either.

Please note that in many of the reviews for the new pressing, the original vinyl used for comparison is a Shaded Dog pressing. In our experience almost no Shaded Dog pressings are competitive with the later White Dog pressings, and many of them are just plain awful, as we have noted previously on the site.

The “original is better” premise of most reviewers renders the work they do practically worthless, especially to those of us who take the time to play a wide variety of pressings and judge them on the merits of their sound, not the color of their labels.
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Saint-Saens / Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso / Friedman

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  • A nearly White Hot side two with the complete Saint-Saens work
  • Side two has explosive dynamics and near-perfect violin reproduction
  • Side one has the first movement of the Paganini Concerto No. 1
  • A Mohr/Layton Living Stereo Shaded Dog pressing from 1962

Side Two – Paganini – 2nd / 3rd Movements / Saint-Saens – Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso 

A++ to A+++, nearly White Hot. Big and lively, and so involving. Huge space, great dynamics, so immediate and engrossing. 

It’s one of the best sounding violin-led orchestral recordings we have played in recent memory, and we’ve played them by the hundreds and hundreds. (Practice makes perfect as they say.)

Side two of this copy easily puts most of the TAS Super Discs to shame. I would venture to say that there’s a very good chance that you have NEVER heard a violin-led orchestral recording as good as this one (that is, unless you own some of our White Hot Stamper violin records).

Side One – Paganini – Concerto No. 1 – First Movement (more…)

Sibelius / Violin Concerto / Heifetz – Classic Records Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

Classic remastered this title in the ’90s — of course they did, it’s clearly one of the better Heifetz recordings.

As expected, their version was awful, as bad as LSC 1903, 1992, 2129 and others too numerous to list.  

It’s both aggressive and lacking in texture at the same time, the worst of both worlds. Bernie’s cutting system is what I would call Low Resolution — the harmonics and subtleties of the sound simply disappear. If you have the Classic, do your own shootout. We guarantee any Hot Stamper pressing will murder theirs.

Chopin – Piano Concerto No. 2 – Rubinstein / Wallenstein

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The original version of LSC 2265 as pictured is known as The Rubinstein Story. It comes with a deluxe gatefold cover and a lovely illustrated booklet tucked into an inner flap with biographical information about Rubinstein and commentary about the music of Chopin.

Of course we Hot Stamper aficionados want to know how it sounds, and the good news here is that side one is WONDERFUL. We awarded it the Super Hot grade of A++. The piano just sounds more REAL on this side than it does on the later pressing we played. It’s clear, solid and present, and the tonality is perfection.

Those of you who know your shaded dogs no doubt have had a few problems with your Rubinstein pressings in the past being too midrangy and forward, a sound that Rubinstein supposedly insisted on for his records. Not so on this side one I am happy to report. The sound is overflowing with Tubey Magic.

Ah, but side two is much more like the typical Rubinstein record, and in this case that means a letdown, with a too-hard sounding piano, the result of an upper-midrange boost. It’s spacious and the vinyl is quiet but the piano does not sound like it does on side one, oh well. One good side is pretty hard to find so consider this one a minor victory.

Morton Gould and His Orchestra – Love Walked In – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More Love Walked In

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This Super Hot Stamper (or better!) Living Stereo Shaded Dog pressing has SUPERB TUBEY MAGICAL Golden Age sound the likes of which you will not believe. (If you’ve bought some of our best Hot Stamper Living Stereo recordings then you will have no trouble believing it I’m sure.) 

Side two displays some of the richest, most three-dimensional orchestral sound we have heard in quite some time. The fifth track is especially notable for a pizzicato arrangement that makes it a DEMO DISC track to beat them all. Plucked strings simply do not sound any better!

The legendary RCA engineer Lewis Layton deserves all the kudos here. The string tone is perfection on side two, Living Stereo Magic at its best! (more…)