Top Studios and Concert Halls – Columbia 30th Street Studios

Miles Davis – Miles In The Sky

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Miles In The Sky

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

WONDERFUL SOUND on both sides of this Columbia 360 Label pressing! We just finished a big shootout for this wonderful Miles Davis album and this copy was dramatically better sounding than most. Both sides have excellent bass, correct sounding brass, wonderful transparency and loads of tubey magic. The music is wonderful, Miles with his classic ’60s quintet (Hancock, Shorter, Carter, Williams) with the addition of George Benson on one song.

Miles is backed by his classic ’60s crew — Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter & Tony Williams. (more…)

Gerry Mulligan Quartet – What Is There To Say?

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What Is There To Say?

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Six Eye stereo LP put every other copy we played to shame on side one with shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound. Side two earned a Double Plus (A++) grade for its explosive dynamics and rich, full-bodied, Tubey Magical sax sound. Tubier, more transparent, more dynamic, with that “jumpin’ out of the speakers’ quality that only The Real Thing ever has. Hard to imagine any reissue, vintage or otherwise, can hold a candle to the sound of this amazing record. 

Recorded at Columbia’s 30th Street studios, here is a record that sounds like Kind of Blue, Ah Um and Time Out, for the simple reason that all were recorded in the same studio using the same equipment and perhaps even the same engineers. (more…)

Duke Ellington & Count Basie – The Count Meets the Duke

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Huge amounts of three-dimensional space and ambience, and rich Tubey Magic by the boatload – this 30th Street recording shows just how good Columbia’s engineers were back then. Quiet throughout – good luck finding a Six Eye Stereo pressing this nice on your own, they sure don’t grow on trees.

What the best sides of this wonderful collaboration between two jazz giants have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes back in 1961
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments of this large group of players having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
  • No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above

Production and Engineering

Teo Macero was the producer, Fred Plaut or Ray Moore were probably the engineers for these sessions — we cannot find the credits to know one way or the other — in Columbia’s glorious sounding 30th Street Studio. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording. (more…)

Miles Davis – Someday My Prince Will Come

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  • A KILLER copy of this Davis classic, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish. 
  • Our Hot Stamper Six Eye Stereo pressing here is Tubey Magical, full-bodied and high-rez, not to mention uncannily present – Miles is in the room with you
  • Another engineering triumph for Fred Plaut at Columbia’s legendary 30th Street Studios – the man is a genius
  • Musically this is one of our very favorite Miles Davis albums – the sound is Demo Disc Quality on the copies that sound the way this one does

We’ve found Red Label copies in the past that sound pretty darn good but this Six-Eye was a HUGE step up in class over the reissues this time around. It was not even close. This one is doing it all, with in-the-room presence, massive amounts of energy, clear, note-like bass and a rich, breathy quality to Miles’s horn that is simply not to be found on most pressings, be they originals, reissues, on Heavy Vinyl, at 45 RPM or what have you. (more…)

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um – Our Shootout Winner from 2018

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This freakishly good 360 beat our best 6 Eye Stereo original, not to mention every other pressing in our shootout as well – darn quiet too. Another amazing 30th Street Studio recording by the legendary Fred Plaut – if you like Kind of Blue, here’s another album with that sound (same year, same studio, same engineer).

This is one of the better sounding copies from our most recent shootout. We were lucky enough to acquire a few clean LPs over the course of the last year, and this was far and away better than most copies. (more…)

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This Columbia Six Eye pressing is THE BEST COPY OF THIS ALBUM WE’VE EVER HEARD! We were lucky enough to acquire a few clean copies over the last few months, and this was the best sounding of them all. It’s got that tubey magical late-’50s jazz sound: the brass is incredibly full-bodied, the bottom end has real weight, and the overall sound is amazingly rich and warm. Clean early pressings of this album go for big bucks in stores and on eBay these days with no guarantee whatsover of good sound. This one isn’t cheap either but at least you know that it’s going to sound wonderful. (more…)

Michel Legrand – Legrand Jazz

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

This album is more common in mono than stereo, but we found the sound of the mono pressing we played seriously wanting. It’s dramatically smaller and more squawky and crude than even the worst of the stereo pressings we played. 

We had a copy we liked years ago but that was years ago. We don’t have that copy anymore and we don’t have a stereo that sounds the way our old one did either. Here are some other records that we don’t think sound very good in MONO. (more…)

Dave Brubeck – Countdown – Time In Outer Space

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

Clean and Clear, Yet Rich and Sweet. This copy managed to find the perfect balance of these attributes.

You want that rare copy that keeps what is good about a Tubey Magical analog recording from The Golden Age of Jazz while managing to avoid the pitfalls so common to them: smear, lack of top end extension, opacity and blubber. To be sure, the fault is not with the recording (I guess; again, not having heard the master tape) but with the typically mediocre pressing. 

Bad vinyl, bad mastering, who knows why so many copies sound so thick, dull and veiled?

Full-bodied sound, open and spacious, bursting with life and energy — these are the hallmarks of our Truly Hot Stampers. If your stereo is cookin’ these days this record will be an unparalleled Sonic Treat. We guarantee that no heavy vinyl pressing, of this or any other album, has the kind of analog magic found here. (more…)

Dave Brubeck – Countdown – Time In Outer Space

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  • A KILLER 6-Eye original stereo pressing of this wonderful recording, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side and Double Plus (A++) sound on the second
  • Both sides are incredibly Tubey Magical as befits a Brubeck recording from 1962 produced by Teo Macero
  • Superb 1962 All Tube sound courtesy of the extraordinary engineering skills of Fred Plaut
  • 4 Stars: “One of Dave Brubeck’s more adventurous albums… Highly recommended along with Brubeck’s other Time recordings.”

Need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings? These vintage Brubeck recordings are overflowing with it. Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead-on correct tonality — everything that we listen for in a great record is here.

Getting The Balance Right

Clean and clear yet rich and sweet, this copy managed to find the perfect balance of these attributes so essential to the sound of vintage jazz recordings. You want to find that rare copy that keeps what is good about a Tubey Magical analog recording from The Golden Age of Jazz while managing to avoid the pitfalls so common to them: smear, lack of top end extension, opacity and blubber. (more…)

In the Market for New Speakers?

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See How Well They Handle the Energy of Far More Drums

The drum solo Joe Morello lets loose on Far More Drums is one of the best on record. I was playing that very song recently and it occurred to me that it is practically impossible for a screen or panel speaker of any nature to reproduce the sound of those drums properly, regardless of how many subs you have.

Most of the music is not in the deeper bass anyway. It’s the whack of instruments whose energy is in the lower midrange and midrange that a screen speaker will struggle with, while a good large-driver dynamic speaker seems to handle the energy in that range with ease.

This is precisely the right album to take with you next time you head to your local stereo store to audition speakers. It will help clarify the issues. Screen speakers do many things well, but drums are not one of them in my experience.

If drums are important to you, do yourself a favor and buy a dynamic speaker, the bigger the better. (more…)