The Doobie Bros. – Takin’ It To The Streets – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

SUPERB SOUND on this A++ / A+++ White Hot Stamper — who in his right mind thought this record could sound this good? Not us! We’ve been buying pressings for years with virtually nothing to show for it; that’s why you haven’t seen a Hot Stamper hit the site since 2007. The typical copy of this album has no real top or bottom; that’s what separates the men from the boys on Takin’ It to the Streets. That shrunken, flat, two-dimensional, lifeless, compressed, midrangy sound you’re so used to hearing on Doobies Brothers albums (to this day I still haven’t found a good Minute by Minute!) is the rule, and this pressing the exception.  

Why go to all the trouble? Because we love the album! This is the first album featuring Michael McDonald’s infusion of white soul, and that is the Doobie Brothers sound we love here at Better Records.

But the average copy of this record is such a letdown, it’s hard to imagine many audiophiles taking it seriously over the years. They should; the band cooks on practically every track, and the songwriting is some of their best, with top tracks like Losin’ End and It Keeps You Runnin’.

What do the Hot Stampers give you? The Big Sound for starters — wall to wall, lots of depth, all that sort of thing. Next: transparency — you hear into the soundfield, with space and air around all the instruments. Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t back there somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them. Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — a White Hot Stamper.

Side one earned an A++ and side two received top A+++ honors. Both sides are lively, rich, full-bodied, natural, and transparent. Side two has a wonderful three-dimesional quality and some of the tightest, punchiest bass we’ve ever heard on this album, hence the extra plus. (more…)

Ry Cooder – Jazz – MoFi Debunked

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Sonic Grade: D

As you probably know, the MoFi of Jazz goes for big bucks nowadays — $500 and up. Is it worth it? 

Are you kidding? It’s a nice record as far as it goes, but it suffers from the same shortcomings as just about every Mobile Fidelity pressing we take the time to play these days (with some obvious exceptions of course). We have a test pressing, and knowing that the MoFi is the standard against which many audiophiles would prefer to judge our Hot Stampers, we listened to it first before going about our comparison test.

Our MoFi copy is actually tonally correct, which was a bit of a surprise. (Yours of course could very well be otherwise.) Right away we could hear exactly what people like about it, the same thing that audiophiles have always liked about half-speeds: their amazing transparency. Jazz on MoFi has zero-distortion, utterly clear, spacious, see-through sound.

But listen past that and what do you hear. Don’t those guitars seem to have that MoFi Tea-for-the-Tillerman-like quality you hate: all pluck and no body, all detail and no substance? Nothing has any weight. Nothing has any solidity. Nothing has any real life. It’s pretty, but it ain’t right. It’s the kind of sound that shouts out to the world “Hey, look at me, I’m an audiophile record! See how I sound? Clear and sparkling clean.” (more…)

Ry Cooder – Boomer’s Story – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This is a QUIET Reprise Tan Label LP with a good side one and a GREAT side two. It’s not the best copy we’ve ever heard but it’s a step up from most of what’s out there. Side two is very natural and incredibly clean. The presence is wonderful, the top end is sweet, and the transparency is top-notch. Side one is similar but a bit smooth for our tastes.

We’re big Ry Cooder fans here at Better Records, and this is one of our favorites. Make sure to check out the lovely reading of Dark End Of The Street that opens side two. (more…)

Sergio Mendes – Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – MoFi Debunked

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Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked. 

So spitty and thin! Why, in God’s name, why? (more…)

Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow – We Found a Good Sounding Orange Label Pressing

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Surrealistic Pillow


This QUIET orange label (!) pressing has surprisingly good sound, some of the best sound we have ever heard for that more-often-than-not dismal second label in fact. It actually beat a few of our black label originals, with more tubey magic and less distortion and harshness than we expect from these later pressings.  (more…)

Queen – Hot Space

Our White Hot Shootout Winner for 2017


  • Triple Plus (A+++) on side one, Double Plus (A++) on side two, this copy took top honors in our recent shootout
  • The best copies – like this one – have plenty of bass and are smoother and fuller than the others
  • Disco, funk, rhythm and blues, dance and pop music all found their way onto this 1982 release
  • The monster hit Under Pressure with none other than Mr David Bowie closes out side two


Willie Nelson – Always On My Mind – Our Shootout Winner from 2007

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Always On My Mind


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

AMAZING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! We just finished a big shootout for this wonderful album, and this Columbia pressing was second to none. Side one has MASTER TAPE SOUND — super dynamic and OFF THE CHARTS presence and transparency!

Fans of Stardust are going to go crazy over this one. It’s another solid album full of Wille belting out heartfelt renditions of standards. Once again, he’s backed by a top-notch backing band of industry session masters. The arrangements are splendid — just drop the needle on Bridge Over Troubled Water to hear these guys doing what they do best. (more…)

The Byrds – Turn! Turn! Turn! – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

This Columbia 360 label pressing has AMAZING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES and the vinyl is about as quiet as any of these 360 Label pressings can be found!

It took us a long time, but we pulled together enough clean copies for a big shootout, and these two great sides were head and shoulders above the competition. The sound is natural, lifelike and realistic with serious immediacy and plenty of rock and roll energy. (more…)

Sly and The Family Stone – Fresh

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

Both sides here had exceptionally good bass, and that earned it a lot of points in our shootout. The sound is punchy and full-bodied with excellent clarity. It’s also smooth, in the best tradition of analog from the early ’70s. This is the right sound for the music, no question about it.   (more…)