Top Engineers – Mike Stone

Queen – A Day At the Races

More Queen

Hot Stamper Albums with Huge Choruses


  • This UK import copy of the band’s fifth studio album has outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Forget the domestic pressings — they may be cut at Sterling, but they never sound like these shockingly good British LPs
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness, vocal presence, and performance energy on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true if you made the mistake of buying whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently on the market
  • Problems in the vinyl is sometimes the nature of the beast with these early pressings – there simply is no way around it if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • “A Day at the Races is a bit tighter than its predecessor… its sleek, streamlined finish is the biggest indication that Queen has entered a new phase, where they’re globe-conquering titans instead of underdogs on the make.”

(more…)

America – Homecoming

More America

More Hippie Folk Rock

  • An outstanding copy of America’s second album, boasting Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Some of the most tubey, warm acoustic guitar reproduction you could ever ask for – this is the sound of real analog!
  • AMG raves; “The songs here are tighter and more forthright… The sound quality is clear and bright; the colorful arrangements, while still acoustic guitar-based, feature more electric guitar and keyboards. The performance quality is more assured, among the most urgently committed the group would ever put on vinyl. This top-flight album is a very rewarding listen.”

Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings).

The guitars on this record are a true test of stereo reproduction quality. Most of the pressings of this record do not get the guitars to sound right. And when the guitars are perfection, the voices and all the other instruments tend to be right as well.

Let’s face it: they just don’t know how to make acoustic guitars sound like this anymore. You have to go back to 49 year old records like this one to find that sound. (more…)

Queen – We Made a Major Discovery in 2007

More of the Music of Queen

Hot Stamper Albums with Huge Choruses

This EMI import LP has TWO SUPERB DEMO DISC QUALITY SIDES! Each received an A+++, making this BY FAR THE BEST SINGLE COPY we have ever heard. This copy set a new standard for the sound of this album; we’ve never heard anything like it! 

Side two made possible a major discovery regarding this recording. Through the first two songs on this side, the sound on the whole is very consistent – fairly dark and somewhat compressed (like most Queen records now that I think of it).

Then we listened to “It’s Late” with dropped jaws. It’s like a completely different album! It’s got high-end extension that can even be heard on the bad copies. Can you imagine having to be the mastering engineer for this album? The problems seem far too varied and complex to be fixed in the mastering. Then you hear a track like this and realize that the cutting equipment they were using must have been great. The sound is awesome.

No other record in our shootout received an A+++. In our last shootout of this record there were just too many problems with the recording itself, and now those problems seem to have been fixed. We can’t be sure there isn’t a copy out there that tops this one — The Black Swan effect — so top honors are being happily given out now.

Believe us when we say that you have never heard a News Of The World that comes close to our A+++ copy here, or your money back.

To say that this amazing sounding copy is rare is an unbelievable understatement. If this record is as meaningful for you as it is for me, I think you will quickly appreciate that it’s worth every penny of its price. All you have to do is drop the needle. All questions will be answered and all mysteries revealed.

Owning this White Hot Stamper is a PRIVILEGE that affords the listener insight into Queen that simply is not possible any other way. The emotional power of these songs is communicated so completely through this copy that the experience will be like hearing it for the first time.

Queen – Sheer Heart Attack

More Queen

Hot Stamper Albums with Huge Choruses

  • Queen’s killer 1974 release finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • This copy rocks like crazy with serious weight down low, huge size and space, and plenty of driving energy
  • 4 1/2 stars: “. . . this sense of scale, combined with the heavy guitars, pop hooks, and theatrical style, marks the true unveiling of Queen, making Sheer Heart Attack the moment where they truly came into their own.”

(more…)

Journey – Escape

More Journey


  • This outstanding copy of the band’s 1981 release boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • This copy was big and bold, with huge choruses that really come alive – just the way we like our Journey albums to sound
  • A #1 album jam-packed with hits: Don’t Stop Believin’, Stone in Love, Who’s Crying Now and Open Arms
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Outside of the singles, there is a certain electricity that circulates through the rest of the album. The songs are timeless, and as a whole, they have a way of rekindling the innocence of youthful romance and the rebelliousness of growing up, built from heartfelt songwriting and sturdy musicianship.””

We’ve been trying to find good sound on Journey records for close to a decade, and finally we have something to show for all that work — killer sound on their only Number One album, with monster jams like Don’t Stop Believin’, Stone in Love, Who’s Crying Now — the first three tracks on side one! — and the big closer for side two, Open Arms.

Most greatest hits albums don’t have this many classic rockers. Not sure how we’ll fare with the rest of their catalog, but this one is a good place to start if you’re a fan of the band.

The vocals on Who’s Crying Now are sweet and breathy like no copy you’ve heard. Texture without grit — now that’s hard to do on a Journey album. (Or Queen, see below.) (more…)

Queen – A Night at the Opera

More Queen

Hot Stamper Albums with Huge Choruses

  • This stunning copy of Queen’s Masterpiece boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Both sides are exceptionally quiet – this is some of the best sound and quietest vinyl we have ever heard for the album
  • HUGE with WHOMP like nothing you have ever heard – finally, the code has been cracked (but the right British pressings are sure hard to find)
  • 5 stars: “But the appeal of A Night at the Opera is in its detailed, meticulous productions. It’s prog rock with a sense of humor as well as dynamics, and Queen never bettered their approach anywhere else.”

Although we wish it were not the case, for some reason it’s unusually difficult to find good-sounding Queen albums, which is why you rarely see most of their better titles on the site. (News of the World and The Game are exceptions to that rule; they’re much easier to find with good sound, especially The Game.)

Not to worry. We’ve done our homework (which simply involves finding, cleaning and playing a big stack of British pressings from different eras) and found you the copy that has all of the Queen Magic you heard in your head (and only in your head) while Bohemian Rhapsody was playing on the radio.

Here’s the pressing that finally can let you hear that BIG, BOLD sound in your very own listening room. You can even play it for your audiophile friends now. (more…)

Queen / A Night at the Opera – A DCC Disaster

Sonic Grade: F

This DCC pressing is a disaster, one of the worst releases that Kevin Gray ever cut.

Murky, opaque and compressed: yes, we can agree it has never been an especially good sounding record on anything but the most difficult to find UK pressings [and we know exactly which ones those are now, which only makes this record sound even worse in comparison], but does it deserve this kind of mastering disrespect?

Isn’t the idea to try and FIX what is wrong, rather than to make it worse?

At collector prices no less. Don’t waste your money.

In summary, please count us as one of the outlets not singing this record’s praises, which is why you can find it in our Hall of Shame, along with more than 350 others that — in our opinion — qualify as some of the worst sounding records ever made.

Note that most of the entries are audiophile remasterings of one kind or another. The reason for this is simple: we’ve gone through the all-too-often unpleasant experience of comparing them head to head with our best Hot Stamper pressings.

When you can hear them that way, up against an exceptionally good record, their flaws become that much more obvious and, frankly, that much more inexcusable.