We Was Wrong

Heart – Little Queen – CBS Half-Speed Debunked

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Sonic Grade: D

No slam, no real weight and no deep deep bass, just that 30-plus-cycles stuff and barely any of that, mostly 40 and up if you’re lucky, and BLUBBERY.

Our good customer Roger wrote to tell me how much better he liked our $100 Hot Stamper of Little Queen compared to his CBS Mastersound Half-Speed Mastered LP.

As you can see from our old commentary I used to actually think the Mastersound pressing was pretty good, with better extension on the top to help overcome this album’s typically dull, thick, opaque sound.

But that’s before I discovered the Hot Stampers, which fix EVERYTHING and turn this album into a real Demo Disc. (more…)

Bread – Manna – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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

Presented for your listening pleasure, an original pressing of Manna, Bread’s third album, with Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides. Side one rocks with the best of them — yes, Bread can rock; just play Let Your Love Go to see what I mean.

Side two boasts sweet and rich 1971 ANALOG sound, a credit to engineer ARMIN STEINER (who was also one of the engineers on Spirit’s first album, assisted on Ram and has more than a hundred other engineering credits).

That big rich bottom end and the volume of space that surrounds all the instruments and singers are the purest and most delightful form of Audiophile Candy of which we know.

The acoustic guitars? To die for. Talk about Tubey Magical Analog, this copy will show you just what’s missing from modern remastered records (and modern music generally). Whatever became of that sound?

This record put Bread’s heavily Beatles-inflected Pure Pop back on the charts after their the single from their previous album, On The Waters, made it to Number One, that song of course being Make It With You. “If”, the big hit off this album, went to number five, but we like it every bit as much as that earlier chart topper. Both represent the perfect melding of consummate songcraft and pure emotion.

We used to think that only the Best of Bread album could get those two songs to sound as luscious and Tubey Magical as they do when they’re playing in our heads, but it seems we were wrong — the latter sounds positively amazing on the best copies of Manna, and this is a VERY good copy indeed: A++ on both sides. (more…)

Sonny Rollins – Rollins (2 LPs) – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

[We used to like this record a whole lot more than we do now. Based on what we heard last time we played it, I would not recommend it.]

This Prestige Two-Fer Double LP boasts EXCELLENT SOUND, right up there with some the best sounding copies we’ve played. Three sides out of four sounded surprisingly good, which is three good sides more than the average copy can claim. Oddly enough, the stampers are identical. Sample to sample variation? Fresh off the stamper transparency? Who’s to say? I can’t explain it, but I know a better record when I play one. This copy is clearly more transparent, no pun intended. It’s also been through our extensive cleaning process, which as you can imagine helps the sound immeasurably.  (more…)

Little Feat – Waiting for Columbus – A Passable (!) MoFi

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Sonic Grade: C

Another Mobile Fidelity Pressing reviewed. Our Audiophile Scorecard has plenty more where this one came from

This is actually a pretty good sounding record, all things considered. We put this one through our cleaning process and gave it a listen. Although our Hot Stamper copies do sound better, they’re also quite a bit more expensive. This copy had the best sound we heard out of the three or four we played, which makes it a Hot Stamper I suppose, but we are instead just calling it a Very Good Sounding Copy.

Waiting for Columbus is one of the greatest live rock and roll albums ever made, containing performances by one of the greatest rock and roll bands to ever play. If you only buy one Little Feat album in your lifetime, make it this one.

We spent years trying to get shootouts together for this album, but kept running into the fact that in a head to head shootout the right MoFi pressing — sloppy bass and all — was hard to beat.

This is no longer the case, courtesy of that same old laundry list you have no doubt seen on the site countless times: better equipment, tweaks, record cleaning, room treatments, etcetera, etcetera. Now the shortcomings of the MoFi are clear for all to see, and the strengths of the best non-half-speed mastered pressings are too, which simply means that playing the MoFi now would be an excruciating experience. All I can hear is what it does wrong. I was so much happier with it when I didn’t know better. (more…)

Sonny Rollins Quintet – Rollins Plays For Bird – Live and Learn

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Rollins Plays For Bird

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Previously we had written:

“This is one of the BEST Sonny Rollins records around! Nobody seems to know anything about it but let me tell you, this is Rollins at his BEST. The sound is also EXCELLENT.”

Recently we played the OJC pictured here and did not care for the sound in the least, too thin and lacking in the Tubey Magic of the earlier pressings.

Live and learn! (more…)

Prokofiev / Symphonic Suite of Waltzes / Schweiger – Cisco Reviewed

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Symphonic Suite of Waltzes / Gypsy Fantasy / Schweiger

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Sonic Grade: B-

We haven’t played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let’s call it a “B-” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back when this record came out, but here it is anyway.  

“Another superb choice from Cisco. These shorter pieces really come to life here. The sound has more hall than the Mozart title they did and every bit the lifelike tonality and transparency.”

[UPDATE: None of Cisco’s records turned out to be transparent in the least, so that’s a big red flag right there. The music is quite good, so if you don’t pay much you won’t get hurt too badly by the mediocre sound.] (more…)

Emerson Lake & Palmer – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

[Much of this commentary is somewhat outdated. We prefer the best UK Island pressings overall, although the bass on the top domestic copies is still hard to beat.]

TWO SUPERB SIDES! We just finished a MAJOR shootout for this great album, and this Top Copy is going to make an AMAZING Demo Disc for the Lucky Man who takes it home! If you’ve got the system to play this one loud enough, with the bass power this album demands, 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. It’s big 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. 

The sound is as BIG, as BOLD, and as DYNAMIC as recorded rock music gets. The presence and immediacy are off the charts! The highs are silky sweet and the bottom end is strong and solid. You’re going to have a hard time finding another copy so open, spacious, and transparent. Side one rates A++, beating all but the very best Pink Label Brit copies, and side two is As Good As It Gets (beating all comers for whomp factor). (more…)

The Doors – The Doors – Rating the DCC LP

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The Doors – The Doors

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Sonic Grade: B

We used to like the Doors First album on DCC back when it came out in the late ’90s; it sure beat the MoFi and every other pressing I had around, including the original gold label Elektra pressings. But much water has gone under that bridge. There have been countless audio revolutions, as well as the improved record cleaning technologies we tout at every turn. Without them old records just sound like old records, and the DCC pressing will be better. 

But with them, and lots of other changes, the right original stomps all over the DCC.

Hey, We Was Wrong, and we’re not too proud to admit it. If you have the DCC and want to know what you’re missing, a Hot Stamper is the ticket.

It will cost you a fair bit more than the DCC, but the difference in sound should more than justify the difference in price if this is an album that is important to you.  (more…)

Tchaikovsky / Symphonies 4-5-6 / Mravinsky (4 LPs) – Reviewed in 2009

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Sonic Grade: C  

This is a Deutsche Grammophon 4 LP Box Set. I used to really like the sound of this set back in the day, as you will see from the rave review below from 2009.

It’s been a while since I found the sound to be worthy of a Hot Stamper shootout, and now, in 2017, having just played some of the discs against some very good German and British reissues, I now realize the records in the set are clearly made from dub tapes. They badly lack presence, space, transparency and clarity, all hallmarks of sub-generation master tapes.  (more…)

Jethro Tull – This Was

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This Was

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

Guaranteed to MURDER any Pink Label Island original you have ever heard – these are the Hot Stampers. 

Folks, this is the best copy we are going to have on the site for a very long time. It took years and hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to get this shootout going and this killer copy is the result. (more…)