audiophile vinyl

Schubert / Symphony No. 9 “The Great” / Krips / LSO – Our Shootout Winner from 2013

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame

Krips’ 1958 recording for Decca (from Kingsway Hall, with the legendary Kenneth Wilkinson behind the board) is here brought to life on a quiet and wonderful World of the Great Classics reissue from 1976. This copy was one of the best we played, showing us depth and transparency that was only hinted at on most pressings, regardless of age.

The strings are so, so rich and sweet — this pressing is yet another wonderful example of what the much-lauded Decca recording engineers of the day were able to capture on analog tape all those years ago. The ’50s master has been transferred brilliantly using “modern” cutting equipment (from 1976, not the low-rez junk they’re forced to make do with these days), giving you, the listener, sound that only the best of both worlds can offer.  (more…)

James Taylor – Mud Slide Slim – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

Side two here has STUNNING MASTER TAPE SOUND, and side one is not far behind. Side two is open and transparent with shocking clarity. All of the little details that are missing from the average copy really come through here — the sound of the room around the guitars, the transients of the hand percussion, and the weight of the piano, to name a few. The acoustic guitar sound is Right On The Money and the vocals sound amazing. The bottom end on this copy just can’t be beat — we’ve never heard another copy of Mud Slide Slim with such deep, note-like bass. The highs are silky sweet and there’s real three-dimensionality to the soundfield.

I don’t think you could find a better sounding side two no matter how hard you tried. We had dozens of Green Label originals and WE couldn’t! (We don’t bother with the Palm Tree label anymore, although they can be very good on the best copies.)

We give it A+++; it deserves every one of those pluses and then some. Without a doubt this is the best sound we have EVER heard for Mud Slide.

But what REALLY sets this one apart is how much IT ROCKS. The energy on this pressing has to be heard to be believed. Forget all that detail and soundstaging stuff and just focus on how this band is playing the HELL out of that first track, which arguably is the best song on the album. When you hear it sound like this there is no argument. (more…)

The Pentangle – Pentangling – Our Shootout Winner from 2012

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

STUNNING BRITISH FOLK SOUND! If you’re a fan of this kind of music, you will be bowled over by the sound on this Transatlantic pressing. The sound is full of that good ol’ British tubey analog magic that you just won’t find on any CD ever made. The top end is extended and silky sweet, and the soundfield is big and open. The title track is DEMO DISC QUALITY.

The sound is full of that good ol’ British tubey analog magic that you just won’t find on any CD ever made. The top end is extended and silky sweet, and the soundfield big and open.

When I was selling audio equipment back in the ’70s this was one of our Demo Discs. The song Pentangling has beautifully recorded drums and string bass. Also the vocals are excellent. The first track, I’ve Got A Feeling, is lovely as well.

The true foundation of the music is provided by two legendary guitar heavyweights, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. With Jacqui McShee’s almost unbearably sweet vocals soaring above them, this album presents the classic 1969 lineup at its best, with superior sonics to boot. (more…)

Love and Forever Changes – Dreck from Sundazed

 

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Sonic Grade: F

Two Hall of Shame titles, and another two Sundazed records debunked.

We got hold of a minty original pressing of the first Love album back around 2007, so in preparation for the commentary I pulled one of the Sundazed pressings off the shelf, (Forever Changes, the only one we ever bothered to sell), cracked it open and threw it on the turntable. 

Gag, what a piece of crap. When I had auditioned them all those years ago (2002) it was — I’m not kidding — the best of the bunch. (more…)

Love – Revisited

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

Two incredible Triple Plus (A+++) sides! We had a chance to shootout a handful of copies recently and didn’t hear any other copies that could compete with this Elektra Original Pressing. We are HUGE fans of Love and this copy will show you why. Both sides are lively and full-bodied and the bottom end is KILLER throughout. In short, it’s EXACTLY the sound you want for this music. Give it a chance and you’ll hear for yourself!

Compared to some other copies, this one had more impact, more power and more energy. The vocals are full-bodied and rich with excellent presence. Most copies we heard were pretty blurry down low, but you can actually make sense of the bass on this one. (more…)

Love – Love – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

You’d never know it from those dull Sundazed reissues, but the right pressings of Love’s albums are full of Tubey Magic! With Bruce Botnick at the controls you can expect a meaty bottom end and BIG rock sound, and this recording really delivers on both counts, and this copy captures all of the magic. Big speaker guys (like yours truly) are going to get a LOT out of this copy.

he sound is excellent throughout — surprisingly transparent, with lots of texture to the voices and guitars. The clarity is nothing less than STUNNING. Overall, the sound is warm, sweet, rich, and full-bodied with super low distortion. The bottom end is about As Good As It Gets for hard rock –if your front end is up to the task this record is going to give you WHOMP like you wouldn’t believe!

My Little Red Book sounds PHENOMENAL here — you just can’t rock much harder than that! My notes say “PERFECTION” and that pretty much sums it up! The power of rock n’ roll is alive and well on this copy. It’s doing EVERYTHING right.

Both sides play between Mint Minus and Mint Minus Minus overall, which still makes this a relatively quiet original pressing. This is raw ’60s hard rock, not polite classical music, and a few ticks and pops shouldn’t scare you away.

The Moody Blues – Seventh Sojourn – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

This Super Hot Stamper side two was among THE BEST sounding side twos we’ve played. We did not find any copy with better sound on side two, and because no side of any copy really blew our minds, we did not award our Triple Plus grade to either side of any of them.

We had a bunch of British and Dutch imports to play, and we did hear some good sound, just not the kind of good sound we’ve heard on earlier albums. If you like this album we’re pretty sure you will have a hard time finding a copy that sounds even remotely this good. Most of them are much much worse. Dreadful in fact. (more…)

Joe Walsh – But Seriously, Folks…

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  • This solo effort boasts Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • A hard album to find with sound like this AND quiet surfaces, but here one is@
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness and presence on this copy than others you’ve heard, and that’s especially true for whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently being foisted on an undiscerning record buying public
  • 4 1/2 stars: “As far as studio albums go, But Seriously Folks is Joe Walsh’s most insightful and melodic… The album’s introspective outlook glides through rejuvenation (‘Tomorrow,’ ‘Over and Over’), recapturing the simple pleasures of the past (‘Indian Summer’), mid-career indecision, and a melancholy instrumental.”

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Weather Report – Heavy Weather – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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

TWO AMAZING SIDES ON QUIET VINYL, including an A+++ side one! The sound was positively jumping out of the speakers and dynamic as all get out. The grit, grain and grunge of the typical pressing was nowhere to be found on EITHER side of this copy, and that alone puts it in a very special league. Drop the needle on either side and get ready for some of the most dynamic, wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling jam-packed sound ever committed to vinyl.

As we noted on previous Hot Stamper listings of Heavy Weather, we’ve discovered that the key to the hot sounding pressings is a fairly simple one: the copies with high frequency extension and the tremendous energy that results from it are consistently the best sounding. You may have read elsewhere on the site that what separates many of the best Columbia LPs from their competition is an open, extended top end. For some reason, Columbia, more than any other label, seems to have a bad habit of making slightly dull records. Slightly dull does not work on this album. (more…)

Edmundo Ros – Ros On Broadway – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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

Edmundo Ros and his orchestra don’t command much respect these days from the general record buying public. As for audiophiles, it’s doubtful that many even know who he or they is/are. But we at Better Records are going to change that, starting with this very record, because it’s one of the best sounding records we have ever heard. Stampers just do not get any HOTTER than these! 

From the perspective of a level playing field, I cannot think of a single rock record that sounds as BIG and DYNAMIC, nor one that is as spacious and clear, as is the side two of this London Blueback. As good as the best German pressings of Dark Side of the Moon may be, shockingly good in fact, this recording is clearly more exciting and lifelike, with instrumental timbres that are uncannily accurate.

Over the years we’ve played a lot of Edmundo Ros records on London — you name it, Blueback, Whiteback, Phase 4 — but I sure never heard one sound like this until we did this shootout! (more…)