audiophile vinyl

Sonny Rollins & Coleman Hawkins – Sonny Meets Hawk – Great in Stereo

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Sonny Meets Hawk

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This is a TOP SHELF pressing, one of the most exciting jazz records we’ve heard in some time! We dropped the needle on side one of this RCA stereo pressing and were FLOORED. After evaluating it completely and awarding it our top grade of A+++, we flipped and were blown away to find that side two was every bit as good. And to top it all off, the vinyl plays quietly throughout. 

Think about this — due to the nature of our business we play tons of jazz vinyl every week, multiple pressings of multiple albums. And this record completely knocked us out.

If you’re a fan of classic jazz and superb sound, wouldn’t you like to hear what this one does on your system? (more…)

Sonny Rollins & Coleman Hawkins – Sonny Meets Hawk – Great in Mono

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Sonny Meets Hawk

WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC! It is ridiculously tough to find copies of this album with good sound and quiet surfaces, but this pressing is a MONSTER. We’re generally not big fans of Mono recordings, but for this music it is really doing the job. It gives you mindblowing presence to the brass and real weight to the bottom end. 

Side one is KILLER. I don’t know what you could do to this music to make it sound any better than it does here. It’s super transparent with BIG TIME immediacy. The brass is rich and full with lots of breath, and the bass is DEEP and TIGHT. Listen to how silky sweet the top end sounds; the cymbals are Right On The Money.

Side two is excellent as well, but lacks a slight degree of extension up top. The presence and immediacy are EXCELLENT. (more…)

The Dave Brubeck Quartet – Time Changes – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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

Side one is solid and warm. Note that the sax and piano are lively and present on track three, one of the better sounding tracks and one we used to test with in our shootout.

On side two of many copies the orchestra sounded dry, and sometimes aggressive when loud, but on this copy the sound stayed smooth and full. Note how breathy Desmond’s sax is.

  • This 360 copy has Super Hot sound on side one – big, solid and warm
  • Super Hot on side two – richer and tubier than most
  • More superb sound from the legendary CBS 30th street studios in New York
  • The fourth entry in Brubeck’s time signature series of classic jazz albums 

Fred Plaut, Engineer Extraordinaire

Frederick “Fred” Plaut was a recording engineer and amateur photographer. He was employed by Columbia Records during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, eventually becoming the label’s chief engineer. (more…)

Grofe / Grand Canyon Suite / Bernstein

More of the music of Leonard Bernstein

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

This Minty Columbia Grey label Stereo LP is one of the most amazing copies ever! You will be hard pressed to find a better sounding Grand Canyon suite. Bernstein’s Columbia recordings usually leave much to be desired. This is a notable exception. The normal Columbia shrillness is gone, replaced by sweet and liquid sound. I wish more of his records sounded like this one: I’d be picking them up left and right.

Mendelssohn / Violin Concerto in E Minor / Rybar – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

More of the music of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

Violin Concerto in E Minor / Rybar

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

This Whitehall budget reissue stereo pressing has SUPERB Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides and a performance by Peter Rybar that can hold its own against any you may have heard.   

This recording easily beats most vintage Shaded Dogs, Mercurys and London records we’ve ever played here at Better Records, and it was released on vinyl by a relatively obscure budget label that most audiophiles have never even heard of and would probably not want to be caught dead with.

Which is a good reason to judge records by playing them, not reading about them, on the net or in magazines. The sound of this record is so wonderful that, had it been a rare Shaded Dog, Merc or London it would have sold for something approaching twice the money we are asking here. In my experience relatively few of those recordings are as good as this one.

Whitehall

The best Whitehall records can be superb but finding them on quiet vinyl is next to impossible. This copy plays Mint Minus Minus which is about as quiet as any we have heard.

Side One

A++ Super Hot Stamper sound, rich and Tubey Magical, smooth and lovely in all respects, with a tonally correct violin that’s neither bright nor edgy. We love the sound here.

Side Two

A++, with an especially rich sounding orchestra. Love those lower strings.

The Hebrides Overture, the coupling work at the end of this side, is not quite as good. We called it A+ to A++. It gets a bit congested when loud.

Horace Silver Quintet – The Tokyo Blues

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  • Stunning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish making this the best copy to hit the site in years
  • Both sides here are rich, Tubey Magical and present with a huge three-dimensional soundstage and tons of bottom end weight
  • “Silver’s Tokyo-influenced compositions fit right in with the subtle cross-cultural but very American hard bop he’d been doing all along… [his] compositions have a light, airy feel, with plenty of space, and no one used that space better at these sessions than Cook, whose tenor sax lines are simply wonderful, adding a sturdy, reliable brightness.” – All Music, 4 Stars

This Blue Note LP has PHENOMENAL Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout We’ve played quite a few of these over the years, and both sides here are as good as we’ve ever heard. It is an excellent recording, but it’s NOT easy to find a properly-mastered copy. Both sides here are out of this world, with the kind of of space and musicality this music demands! (more…)

David Bowie – Aladdin Sane – Our Shootout Winner from 2008

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

THE BIG BOWIE SOUND for this wonderful follow-up to Ziggy Stardust! We just finished shooting out a number of imports and domestic pressings of this album, and this British Orange Label pressing was THE KING — on both sides! This one’s got the kind of “meat on the bones” sound that takes these great glam-rock songs to a whole new level! You won’t believe how dynamic the sound is!

This copy’s got it all — textured vocals, big time WHOMP to the bottom end, off-the-charts energy, tight bass, depth to the soundfield, and so much more. I’ve never heard this album sound any better and I don’t expect to anytime soon. The overall sound is clean, clear, open, spacious, and incredibly transparent. Sometimes the vocals are mixed a little far back, but at times Bowie will be IN THE ROOM with you. (more…)

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – War Heroes – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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War Heroes

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

Hendrix fans, we have a very special record for you, with one very special quality that sets it well apart from other Hendrix records you may have heard in the past: THE BEST HENDRIX SOUND EVER. Side two of this copy beats any studio release we’ve ever heard, any postmortem release, any release we’ve ever had on our turntable. We love Hendrix, but finding good sounding pressings of his most famous albums is practically impossible. (Note that no Hot Stamper listing exists for Are You Experienced just to cite one example.) 

But here’s one, a White Hot copy in fact, with the kind of sound you always dreamed Hendrix records could have. It’s right here on this side two, and side one is very nearly as good!

We played about half a dozen copies this week, split between domestics and Brit imports — and this bad boy absolutely MURDERED most of the competition. Drop the needle at the start of side two and prepare to be floored! You won’t believe the big-time presence, the mindblowing energy, or the massive WHOMP factor! This copy has some of the tightest bass we’ve ever heard for any Hendrix album, plus an unbelievable amount of tubey magic. The sound is WALL to WALL. (more…)

Art Pepper – Meets The Rhythm Section – Our Shootout Winner from 2009

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Meets The Rhythm Section


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

This LP has AMAZING SOUND on both sides with each rating A+++ or something very close to it. This one has all the tubey magic of the best black label originals, without their bad vinyl and bloated bass. I get black label original Contemporary pressings in all the time, but few of them are mastered right and most never make it to the site. Some are pure muck. Some have bloated bass that is hard to believe. Don’t buy into that record collecting slash audiophile canard that Original Equals Better. It’s BS. 

Records just don’t work that way, and anyone with two good ears, two good speakers and a decent-sized record collection should know better.

(The fact that relatively few audiophiles or record collectors understand these things is a sad commentary on the state of reproduction in the home. But that’s another story for another day.) (more…)

Supertramp Crime of the Century on MoFi – We Was Wrong, It Can Sound Great

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This MoFi Crime of the Century has two superb sounding sides. I have to admit I was DEAD WRONG about MoFi’s Crime of the Century — on this pressing, anyway. But I can tell you that this is one of the few I have ever played that sounded right to me.

It’s not that MoFi couldn’t cut a record that’s tonally correct. It’s just that most of they time they didn’t. This time they did. 

I’ve been telling people for years that the MOoFi was junk, and that they should get rid of their copy and replace it with a tonally correct version, easily done since there is a very good sounding Speakers Corner 180g reissue currently in print which does not suffer from the ridiculously boosted top end and bloated bass that characterizes the typical MoFi COTC pressing. (more…)