Top Engineers – Ron Nevison

What Do You Hear on the Best Hot Stamper Pressings of Quadrophenia?

More of the Music of The Who

A Member of the Prestigious “None Rocks Harder” Club

They just plain ROCKED HARDER than the other copies we played. Yes, they’re bigger. Yes, they have more weight and whomp down low. Yes, they are smoother and more natural up top.

But what really sets them apart is their tremendous ENERGY. The music explodes out of the speakers and comes to life on the best copies of Quadrophenia like few records you have ever heard. When we find that kind of power and energy on a record, all other things being equal, we have a name for them: White Hot Stampers.

It’s what you’re paying for — and what you get — for the kind of money we charge.

Dynamics and Energy

The sine qua non of rock records is that they rock. The rock records that earn the highest grades here at Better Records are usually the ones that have the most energy and power. Transparency, Presence, Clarity, Tubey Magic, Sweetness and other favorites of the audiophile community are very important qualities in a record, but all of them pale in comparison to raw power when it comes to rock and roll.

For us a transparent, sweet, lifeless record is just no fun, hence our disdain for Heavy Vinyl, which in our experience almost always lacks energy, along with lots of other things of course.

We like the Big Speaker sound.

This means the sound must be dynamic, immediate and full-range. Small speakers, screens and their ilk can do some nice things, but they can’t move air very well, so for us they fail to convey the true sense of the power, the “liveness”, of a recording the way dynamic drivers can (assuming of course the drivers are big enough and you have enough of them).

Room treatments play a vitally important role here of course. Untreated or poorly treated listening rooms constantly fight the speakers’ efforts to play louder without distortion. The room is the bottleneck, yet because the problem is not correctly identified, nothing is done to solve it. (I was heavily into audio for twenty years before I figured this out.)

Some of us have done our homework and take pride in what we’ve managed to accomplish. We’ve been challenging ourselves and our systems with records like Zep II and Aqualung and Quadrophenia for thirty years. We know how good those records can sound on systems that have what it takes to play them at good loud levels.

If you’re not going to play this Hard Rockin’ Record good and loud, better to save your money for the kinds of records that sound fine at moderate levels. This is not one of them.


RECORDS THAT ARE GOOD FOR TESTING

More Records in the None Rocks Harder Club

More Records that Sound Best on Big Speakers at Loud Levels

Records that Are Good for Testing Bass and Whomp 

Records that Are Good for Testing Bass Definition 

Records that Are Good for Testing Energy 

Bad Company / Straight Shooter – We Was Wrong

In late 2009 we had just finished a shootout for this hard-rockin’ album, our first since January of ’08, and what we were hearing this time around BLEW OUR MINDS. This record got a whole lot better over the course of the last twenty months or so. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the drum sound on this record is the right up there with the most present, punchy and realistic I have ever heard on record. 

I saw a friend’s band play recently in a small club and remember thinking how amazingly punchy the snare sounded (the sound coming from the live instrument itself and the club’s speakers) and this record has that kind of drum sound!.

There’s nothing like live music — everybody knows that — but good copies of this album get you a whole lot closer than I ever expected to get.

It’s a classic case of We Was Wrong. Last time around we wrote “I don’t think you’ll ever find a copy of this album that qualifies as a True Demo Disc, but make no mistake: on the right pressing there’s magic in the grooves.”

We was wrong: It is a true Demo Disc. (On our system anyway. Our stereo is all about playing records like this, and playing them at good loud levels as nature — and the artists — intended.) We revamped our Top 100 List in 2011 and this sucker is now on it, right next to its older brother, the first Bad Company album.

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The Who – Quadrophenia

More of The Who

A Member of the Prestigious “None Rocks Harder” Club

  • If you want to hear this music EXPLODE out of the speakers and come to life the way The Who wanted you to hear it. this record will do the trick
  • The sound here is so BIG, rich, and powerful it will surely make you rethink the recording itself
  • 5 stars: “Some of Townshend’s most direct, heartfelt writing is contained here, and production-wise it’s a tour de force, with some of the most imaginative use of synthesizers on a rock record.”
  • If you’re a fan of the band, this title from 1973 is clearly one of their best, and one of their best sounding
  • The complete list of titles from 1973 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

We recently removed this title from our Top 100 List because it has become so difficult to get hold of clean UK copies nowadays. Who’s Next is even more difficult, but for some reason we left that one on the list, go figure.

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Ron Nevison Is One of Our Favorite Engineers

Ron Nevison is one of our favorite engineers. He recorded Bad Company’s debut, a Top 100 album for us, as well as Straight Shooter. In 1973 he engineered Quadrophenia, taking the reins away from Glyn Johns after his success with the amazing Who’s Next.

1977 saw him working on the sprawling mess that turned into Physical Graffiti.

Engineering

Bad Company was one of RON NEVISON’S early engineering jobs. The year before (1973) he had been behind the board at Ronnie Lane’s Mobile Studio for Quadrophenia, one of the best sounding Who albums we know of and a longtime member of our Top 100 (as is this album). He also knocked it out of the park on Bad Company’s follow-up release, 1975’s Straight Shooter.

More Ron Nevison

More of Our Favorite Engineers

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Bad Company – Self-Titled

More Bad Company

More Rock Classics

  • This vintage UK Island pressing of Bad Company’s ’70s classic debut boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • Both sides are huge, present, punchy, lively, and solid as a rock – this is some of engineer Ron Nevison’s cleanest work
  • Here you will find none of the glossy artificiality you might hear on so many of the rock records we sell — there’s nothing wrong with that sound, mind you, but this recording captures much more of what the real instruments sound like in the studio
  • A member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Top 100, and a Must Own Classic Rock title from 1974
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Bad Company’s 1974 self-titled release stands as one of the most important and accomplished debut hard rock albums from the ’70s … it was one of the most successful steps in the continuing evolution of rock & roll.”
  • If you’re a Classic Rock fan, then Bad Company’s killer debut album from 1974 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1974 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of them will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG, and it will probably be VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can  be sure we have a nice cover for you.   

Now on to the good news!

This one’s got what you’re looking for from this kind of Classic Rock album — clarity, punchy bass, big drums, and lots of energy. The guitars sound right: grungy and distorted with loads of tubey richness.

You’re going to want to play this one good and loud to let it REALLY ROCK!

And, if you’re playing it good and loud, you’ll feel like you’re in the room with the boys as they kick out the jams. Ready For Love sounds great here — shocking clarity, tons of ambience, and silky sweet highs. The overall sound on both sides is lively, full-bodied, and transparent with Tubey Magical guitars and good weight to the bottom end. (more…)

Bad Company – Straight Shooter

More Bad Company

  • This outstanding pressing of Straight Shooter boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from first note to last
  • If you’re playing this one good and loud you’ll feel like you’re in the room with the boys as they kick out these classic riff-driven jams
  • Take it from us, it is not easy to find a copy that’s as right as this one, with the weight, balance and energy this music needs to rock
  • 4 stars: “Vocalist and songwriter Paul Rodgers wrote two acoustic-based rock ballads that would live on forever in the annals of great rock history: ‘Shooting Star’ and the Grammy-winning ‘Feel Like Makin’ Love.'”

The sophomore jinx is nowhere to be found on this album. In fact, you could make a pretty good case that this is actually a better album than their debut. The best pressings of this Bad Company classic have ROCK ENERGY that cannot be beat. (more…)

Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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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. 

Zep fans, rejoice — PHYSICAL GRAFFITI HOT STAMPERS ARE HERE! We thought this day might never come. As you probably know by now, most copies of this album just plain suck!

After making some improvements in our evaluation process (minor tweaks to the room and the stereo, plus some new steps in our cleaning process) and — let’s face it — some seriously good luck, we’ve finally been able to track down a few killer copies of Zep’s monster double album.

If you’ve been waiting for The Ultimate Kashmir Experience, today is your lucky day.

Though we’ve known forever that many of you were eager for them, we just weren’t sure we’d ever have Hot Stampers for Physical Graffiti. There are a number of factors at play here. First off, you’ve gotta have a whole lot of copies around to do a shootout, and clean copies of this album sure ain’t cheap. When we’re doing a shootout for a title like The Stranger, Toto IV, or even Rumours, we can afford to pick up any nice-looking copy we see without breaking the bank. Not so with this one — minty copies don’t come cheap, and most of them sound so bad that it ain’t worth the risk. (more…)

Bad Company – Run With The Pack (2013)

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SUPERB SOUND on Hot Stamper 2-pack! This is not an easy album to find with audiophile sound, and since our best sides were less impressive on their flipsides, we paired up these two copies to give you incredible sound for the album from first note to last.

Side two of the second record is the real deal, with BIG, RICH and ROCKIN’ White Hot Stamper sound. Side one of the first record is nearly as good (A++ to A+++), boasting exceptional transparency, excellent balance and something we didn’t hear on most copies: ENERGY. (more…)

Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti on Classic Records

More Led Zeppelin

More Physical Graffiti

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Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

Tonally correct, which is one thing you can’t say for most of the Zeps in this series, that’s for sure. Those of you with crappy domestic copies, crappy imported reissues and crappy CDs, which is pretty much all there is of this recording, will not know what you’re missing.

Compare this title to some of the better Classic Zep releases and I expect you will notice that hearing into the midrange is a more difficult proposition on these songs, with reduced ambience and space around the voices and instruments.

What is lost in these newly remastered recordings? Lots of things, but the most obvious and bothersome is TRANSPARENCY. (more…)

The Who – Quadrophenia – What to Listen For

More The Who

More Quadrophenia

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Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

On the best copies the energy factor is OFF THE CHARTS. The highs are silky sweet, the bottom end is meaty, the drums are punchy and the vocals are present and tonally correct. The piano has real weight, the synths float breathily in the air, and there’s wonderful three-dimensional depth to the soundfield. 

There’s a POWER to the sound that the average copy only hints at. The crashing guitar chords that are the hallmark of The Who Sound often lack the weight of the real thing; they don’t punch you in the gut the way Townsend no doubt wanted them to.

Moon’s drums need to blast away like cannons. This is the quintessential Who sound. Everybody who’s ever seen them live knows it. I saw them back in the day when Moon was still behind his kit and it’s a sound I’ll never forget. 

Most copies don’t have nearly this much Tubey Magic — you aren’t going to believe all the richness, sweetness, and warmth here. The clarity and transparency are superb in their own right, and the impressive dynamic range really allows this copy to communicate the explosive energy of The Who at their peak.. (more…)