breakthrough_pressings

Jeff Beck – Truth

More Jeff Beck

More Rod Stewart

  • An excellent reissue LP with Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them from start to finish – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Easily – and by a wide margin – the best sounding record Jeff Beck ever made – thanks Ken Scott!
  • This pressing embodies the Big Rock Sound that we go crazy for here at Better Records (particularly on side two)
  • Really fun music – it’s a blast to hear Rod Stewart fronting such a heavy rock band
  • 5 stars: “…almost as groundbreaking and influential a record as the first Beatles, Rolling Stones, or Who albums.”

Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in clean shape. Most of them will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG, and it will probably be VG+. If you are picky about your covers please let us know in advance so that we can be sure we have a nice cover for you.


This is a SHOCKINGLY good sounding pressing of Truth, Beck’s As-Heavy-As-I-Can-Make-It Rock debut, the kind of record that would define Classic Rock for the next forty plus years.

The soundstage is absolutely HUGE, while the presence and transparency of this copy go way beyond most pressings. Great rock and roll energy too of course — without that you have nothing on this album.

Note how spacious, big, full-bodied and DYNAMIC both sides are. That’s why they’re Super Hot. I am pleased to report that the whomp factor on these sides was nothing short of MASSIVE. With tons of bass these sides have what it takes to make the music ROCK. (more…)

Paul McCartney / Wings at the Speed of Sound – In 2016 We Had to Raise the Bar

More of the Music of Paul McCartney

More of the Music of The Beatles

More Breakthrough Pressing Discoveries Like This One

Okay, we are not too proud to admit it. We Was Wrong about Wings at the Speed of Sound as a recording.

Yes, that kind of thing happens when you regularly play thousands and thousands of records year after year. The right pressing can show you that your understanding of a given recording was, shall we say, incomplete.

The great thing about our business is that, whenever we have new data that serves to corrects a previously mistaken judgment, the result is that we are then able to offer even better sounding pressings to our customers.

That way everybody wins. We’ve never pretended to know it all, and there’s no reason to start now.

Back to Wings at the Speed of Sound. Previously we had written:

I can’t even begin to convey to you what a rough shootout this was. Copy after copy bored us to tears and most of them were too noisy. It was one of those shootouts that almost defeated us, but we persevered and managed to find a few Hot Stampers. They didn’t do miracles and turn Speed Of Sound into a stunning Demo Disc, but they sounded musical, correct and enjoyable, and that seems to be all you can ask for on this album. 

This is not true. We played a copy that earned our very special grade of Four Pluses (on one side, two sides would have been too much to ask for) because it showed us an At the Speed of Sound that we had no idea could possibly exist, this after having played dozens of imports and domestic pressings over the previous twenty years or so.

It was DRAMATICALLY bigger and more transparent, with no sacrifice in richness or smoothness. Here was a Wings at the Speed of Sound we had no idea could possibly exist, simply because we had never managed to clean and play a copy with the right stampers that could show us the kind of sound that must be on the master tape.

Before we did this shootout, we had no idea how high to set the bar. Which leads us to:

This Key Takeaway 

In that respect we were in exactly the same place as every record loving audiophile on the face of the Earth.

How good can the record sound? How high is up?

We discussed this all-too-common mystery [1] in a listing we wrote for an amazing sounding copy of Heart’s Little Queen album we discovered many years ago, linked here.

In our old listing, we noted: Now that we know what stampers to look for, future pressings are likely to be very, very good sounding, if everything goes the way we hope it will.

[Things did go our way, with plenty of Shootout Winning White Hot copies having been found since we made that breakthrough all the way back in 2016. The right stampers are about five times more rare than the wrong ones, but they can be found. You just have to know what to look for.] 


[1]  What is the synonym of mystery?

Mirriam-Webster answers:

“Some common synonyms of mystery are enigma, problem, puzzle, and riddle.
While all these words mean “something which baffles or perplexes,” mystery applies to what cannot be fully understood by reason or less strictly to whatever resists or defies explanation.”

Welcome to the mysterious world of records!

We had written about the subject many years ago under the heading: Graham Nash’s Wild Tales and Their Mysteries Many and Deep. A relevant excerpt from that commentary:

What hurts so many pressings of this album is a lifeless, compressed quality and a lack of presence.

Were the stampers a bit worn for those copies, or was it bad vinyl that couldn’t hold the energy of the stamper, or perhaps some stampers just weren’t cut right?

These are mysteries, and they are mysteries that will always be mysteries, if for no other reason than that the number of production variables hopelessly intertwined at the moment of creation can never be teased apart no matter how hard one tries.

As we never get tired of saying, thinking is really not much help with regard to finding better sounding records.

Not surprisingly, we’ve found that cleaning them and playing them seems to work the best.

Those two things work the best because nothing else works at all.


The Pretenders / Why Are We Guessing (Again)?

More of the Music of The Pretenders

Reviews and Commentaries for The Pretenders

German Pressings? Why Not British?

We discovered that only the best German pressings convey the energy and enthusiasm of the band while avoiding the grunge, flatness and hardness that make the typical pressing all but unlistenable at loud volumes.

Isn’t this a British band that just happens to be led by an American? And wasn’t the album produced by the clearly British Chris Thomas and recorded at George Martin’s AIR studios in London? How is it possible that the best German pressings consistently sound better than the best British pressings?

Your guess is as good as mine. And, if you stop to think about it, who in his right mind would think that any answer they might give to such a question is anything other than a guess?

But that’s not the half of it. It’s not simply the fact that the Germans seem to be the only ones able to work their magic on this title. Most German pressings are not nearly as good sounding as this one. It is only this specific German pressing that does everything right. It has won every shootout for the last five years if that tells you anything.

What to Listen For

In the chorus of Time the Avenger, the better copies do not get as harmonically distorted, edgy and hard as most. The best really “bloom,” but they are few and far between.

A Top Pretenders Title

This is where Chrissie Hynde matured into a top class songwriter; every track is good and many are brilliant. With Robbie McIntosh having joined the band, this is first and foremost a guitar rock record; his jangly, grungy riffs drive every song. Great songs and great guitar work — what more do you need in a rock record?

Think of Middle of the Road — everything that’s good about this band on this album is there in that song: it’s uptempo, with a driving beat, a rock solid rhythm section and a beautifully distorted guitar out front and high up in the mix.

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The Three / Self-Titled (45 RPM) – Our Four Plus Copy from 2013

More Breakthrough Pressing Discoveries

Hot Stamper Pressings of The Three Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for The Three

We had six (yes, six!) of these 45 RPM pressings (and five Inner City’s and a couple of Eastwind 33’s — it was a big shootout), and this side one had the most ENERGY of any of them. This is a quality no one seems to be writing about, other than us of course, but what could possibly be more important? On this record, it took the performances of the players to a level beyond all expectations.

More background on our Four Plus (A++++) pressings.

Folks, you are looking at the BEST SOUNDING RECORD we have ever played here at Better Records, and the good news for you dear reader, whether you’re a true believer, a skeptic, or fall somewhere in between, is that it can be yours. There was a time when a record like this would go directly into my collection. If I wanted to impress someone, audiophile or otherwise, with the You-Are-There illusion that only Big Speakers in a dedicated room playing a LIVE recording can create, this would be the clear choice, possibly the only choice. There is simply nothing like it on vinyl in my experience. (more…)

Pink Floyd – Way Back in 2007 We Discovered the Hottest Stampers of Them All

Reviews and Commentaries for Meddle

Reviews and Commentaries for Pink Floyd

More Breakthrough Pressing Discoveries

Want to find your own shootout winner? Scroll to the bottom to see our advice on doing just that.

This review from 2007 describes our experience of having stumbled upon the right stampers for Meddle. To this day, only precisely these stampers have won the many shootouts we’ve done for the album over the ensuing years, perhaps as many as a dozen shootouts or more. These stampers are also very hard to find, which is why you have not seen a copy of Meddle hit the site in a while.

To see more albums with one set of stampers that consistently win shootouts, click here.

This Harvest Green Label British Import pressing has a side one that goes FAR beyond anything we’ve ever heard for this album. We had no choice but to award this side one the very rare A with FOUR pluses A++++. We’ve never given any side of any other Pink Floyd record such a high grade, so you can be sure that you’ve never heard them sound this amazing!

We’ve been buying up every clean copy we can find with good stampers since we found our last White Hot Meddle back in March. Unfortunately, most of them left us a bit cold. Most copies just don’t have the kind of magic that we know is on the tape. Beyond that, many of them are too noisy to sell — even the minty looking ones. 

The Best Side One Ever

Side one here is OFF THE CHARTS, OUT OF THIS WORLD, DEMO DISC QUALITY. Everything you’ve ever wanted in a Pink Floyd album is here in generous quantities — transparency, breathy vocals, HUGE bass, warmth, richness, ambience, and depth to the soundfield. A copy like this allows you to hear INTO the music in a way that would never be possible with a lesser pressing. The presence and immediacy are staggering, and the bass is going to blow your mind. There’s TONS of life and energy, and the highs are silky beyond belief. This is tubey magical analog at its best, folks — it’s an A++++ side without doubt. (more…)

The Police – Reggatta de Blanc

More Sting and The Police

  • A vintage A&M British import pressing with INCREDIBLE Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Much of the stuff we manage to acquire from overseas is in less-than-audiophile playing condition – these were popular records in their day, and they got played plenty, so the clean condition of this pressing came as a very pleasant surprise
  • Sting’s pulsing bass lines and the massive assault of Copeland’s kick really come to life here – you won’t believe how BIG and powerful the bass is on this record
  • Along with Ghost in the Machine, we think this album captures The Police at their songwriting and performing peak
  • “Reggatta de Blanc stands the test of time as one of the greatest albums of the post-punk and new wave era, improving in almost every way upon The Police’s debut album.”

This A&M LP has a very PUNCHY LOW-END, the kind you need to drive this rhythmically charged music.

Though it lacks some of the midrange “prettiness” of the half-speed, it’s obvious that this copy presents the music much more correctly.

This is Reggae-Rock; it needs good tight bass and plenty of it to propel the music and keep the rhythm on pace, and half-speed mastered records never get the bass to sound deep, solid and punchy the way full-speed-mastered records do.

This and Ghost In The Machine are my two favorite Police albums. Reggatta, like Ghost, is consistently good from start to finish. It also has the distinction of being the only Police album that has a real Guitar Solo, heard on the song “It’s Alright For You.” With a seriously blistering guitar break that really kicks the song into high gear, you have to wonder why Andy Summers chose to play that way so rarely.

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Derek and the Dominos – Layla

More Eric Clapton

More Reviews and Commentaries for Eric Clapton

  • Some of our favorite Clapton songs are here: Bell Bottom Blues, Tell The Truth, Little Wing, Layla and Have You Ever Loved A Woman?
  • One of the most difficult albums to find audiophile sound for, but a lot easier for us now that we know what pressings can actually sound good
  • Clapton’s greatest album: “But what really makes Layla such a powerful record is that Clapton, ignoring the traditions that occasionally painted him into a corner, simply tears through these songs with burning, intense emotion.”

Outstanding sound for all four sides of this classic album. Unless you plan on playing a very big pile of copies you will be hard-pressed to find a copy with sound like this. (more…)

Rachmaninoff / De Falla – Rhapsody On A Theme Of Paganini / Nights In The Gardens Of Spain

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)

More Classical Recordings in Living Stereo

  • You’ll find STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) Living Stereo sound throughout this vintage (but not original) RCA pressing of these wonderful classical compositions
  • The rich, textured sheen of the strings the RCA engineers achieved in the ’50s and ’60s is a joy to hear throughout these pieces
  • This is something the Heavy Vinyl crowd will never experience, because that sound just does not exist on modern remastered records the way it does on these vintage pressings
  • The Tubey Magical richness is off the charts on this copy – if you want to know what kind of sound wins shootouts around these parts, this pressing will show you
  • To see more of the best orchestral recordings with top quality sound we’ve done shootouts for, click here
  • If you’re a fan of Rachmaninoff and/or Rubinstein, this Living Stereo from 1960 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1960 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.

Until we heard the right later pressings, we had always been disappointed with this TAS List recording, wondering what all the fuss was about. The original Shaded Dog pressings we had played left a lot to be desired. Like many of the old records we audition, it badly lacked both highs and lows, our definition of boxy sound.

Well, now we know. The early Shaded Dog pressings have consistently worse sound than the reissues we are offering here.

We never offered the record in Hot Stamper form because we didn’t think the sound of the originals was all that impressive, TAS List or no TAS List.

Mystery solved, and truly Hot Stampers have now been made available to the discriminating audiophile.

Harry’s list, as was so often the case, did not provide the information needed to find the pressing that captured all the qualities of the recording the way this one does.

Did Harry have a good later pressing? Did he have an original and simply liked it more than we did? We’ll never know.

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Charles Mingus – Pre Bird

More Charles Mingus

More Jazz Recordings

  • You’ll find INSANELY GOOD Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout this original Mercury Stereo LP, only the second time this pressing has made it to the site
  • We used to think the early Limelight pressing was impossible to beat, but this killer original Mercury showed us just how wrong we were – it takes the recording to another level
  • This copy sounds like a big room full of musicians (25 in all!) playing live, which is exactly what it was
  • The Tubey Magical richness of this 1960 recording (released in 1961, and again in 1965 as Mingus Revisited) is breathtaking – no modern record can touch it
  • Two tracks are contrapuntal arrangements of two swing era pieces, whereby “Take the “A” Train” (left channel) is paired with a simultaneous “Exactly Like You” (right channel), and likewise “Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me” with “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart”.

The best copies recreate a live studio space the size of which you will not believe (assuming your room can do a good job of recreating their room). The sound is tonally correct, Tubey Magical and above all natural. The timbre of each and every instrument is right and it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to hear it -so high-resolution too.

If you love ’50s and ’60s jazz you cannot go wrong here. Mingus was a genius and the original music on this record is just one more album’s worth of proof of the undeniability of that fact.

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King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King

  • KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides of this original Island Sunray pressing
  • We had a wide variety of Islands (Pink and Sunray) and UK Polydor pressings, and if you want to know which of them sounds the best all you have to do is buy this LP!
  • At good loud levels the horns blasting away on “21st Century Schizoid Man” are guaranteed to blow your mind on this copy
  • 5 Stars: “The group’s definitive album, and one of the most daring debut albums ever …. it blew all of the progressive/psychedelic competition out of the running, although it was almost too good for the band’s own good — it took King Crimson nearly four years to come up with a record as strong or concise.”
  • We’ve recently compiled a list of records we think every audiophile should get to know better, along the lines of “the 1001 records you need to hear before you die,” but with less of an accent on morbidity and more on the joy these amazing audiophile-quality recordings can bring to your life. In the Court of the Crimson King is a good example of a record many audiophiles may not know well but should.

Over the many years of doing shootouts for this album, we’ve listened to a lot of different pressings. Right from the start we could hear that no domestic pressing was, or was likely to ever be, remotely competitive with the best Brits.

Most later reissues — domestic or import — were as flat and lifeless as a cassette, although we admit that some were clearly better than others.

The MoFi pressing is one of their best. Unfortunately we have little tolerance for the dynamic compression, overall lifelessness and wonky bass heard on practically every record they ever remastered. One of the reasons your MoFi might not sound wrong to you is that it isn’t really “wrong.” It’s doing most things right, and it probably will beat whatever you can find to throw at it.

But it’s lacking some important qualities, and a listen to one of our Hot Stampers will allow you to hear exactly what you’re not getting when you play an audiophile pressing of In The Court Of The Crimson King, even one as good as MoFi’s.

Side by side the comparison will surely be striking. How much energy, size and power and passion is missing from the record you own? There’s only one way to find out, and it’s by playing a better copy of the album. This one will do nicely!

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