crosbdejav

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young / Deja Vu – The Joe Gastwirt CD Is a Dead-On-Arrival Abomination

Letters and Commentaries for Deja Vu

More CrosbyMore Stills / More Nash / More Young

crosbdejavu

A classic case of Live and Learn. More than a decade ago we wrote:

If you bought the Classic Record and you can’t tell what’s wrong with it, this may not be the right hobby for you. I highly recommend you buy the Joe Gastwirt mastered CD and either play it on your system or take it to a hi-fi store in your area. It’s tonally correct and undistorted. The Classic version is neither. Now when a stupid $15 CD is correct in a way that a $40 LP is not, something is very very wrong.

The part where we said this may not be the right hobby for you if you like Classic’s godawful remastering of Deja Vu is still true, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish in the audio hobby. If you’re not too picky about sound quality and just want to play new records, perhaps because old records are hard to find and often noisy, then fine, the Classic should get that job done for you.

We of course want nothing to do with it because we want to play good sounding vinyl, and the Classic is definitely not good sounding by any stretch of the imagination.

No, the problem we see above is that we were recommending the currently available CD. Yes, it’s mostly tonally correct and not distorted, but it has as bad a case of dead-as-a-doornail sound as any badly remastered CD I have ever heard. There is no top, there is no space, there is no life, there is no immediacy, there is no Tubey Magic — in short there is almost nothing left of what makes the best copies of Deja Vu so good. We’ve known this for about five years [since the early 2000s in fact], we just never got around to correcting the record.

And it’s not the fault of digital. There is an earlier CD, not cut by Joe Gastwirt, that sounds amazingly good. I own a few of them and pick them up whenever I see them. And Gastwirt’s version of the first Crosby, Stills and Nash album is every bit as bad. If I see Joe Gastwirt’s name on a CD I put it back where I found it.

(more…)

Money Can Buy You Happiness, You Just Have to Spend It Right

Letters and Commentaries for Deja Vu

More CrosbyMore Stills / More Nash / More Young

crosbdejav_1119401224

A testimonial from a customer for his Hot Stamper Deja Vu discusses what it takes to get good sound from your stereo. (Hint: it’s a good sounding record.) An excerpt.

Tom:

I received my Deja Vu 2 Pack yesterday. Even though I have not yet listened to all of the mother load that I got on Marathon week – I had to take a listen to this tonight.

Whew – Mother of God!

I have never heard even a semi-decent copy of this album before on either LP or CD – although the music is outstanding and chock full of memories for anyone my age. This white hot stamper is transcendental nirvana. Tom was not kidding when he said master tape sound. The vocals and instrumentals were so alive it was unbelievable. Some of the songs were so good that I just tilted my head back and opened my mouth real wide and just zoned out. Crosby’s vocal on Almost Cut My Hair is masterful. I took your advice and played it twice at even louder volumes. Yikes – better than acapulco gold. Neil Young’s Country Girl was so huge – a vast wall of sound with every single voice and instrument standing out.

This album is even better than I ever thought it was. I was just not prepared to hear how it really sounds after all that crap I had been listening to for 30 years.

I have come to a conclusion – no matter whether I had the best $50,000 amps in the world or a $29,000 phono supply or the $150,000 Wilson Alexandria speakers or all that other incredible stuff that audiophiles lust for – not one of those items can make a shit record sound anything but like a shit record. There is no overcoming the original source material that you play on your stereo system.

Buying a hot stamper for what can seem like a lot of money – especially if you want a whole lot of them – is really a bargain for those who have invested in a super audio system (with analog capability of course). It is true that the better your system is the more you will get out of hot stampers – but at some point in the process it is more effective to spend available resources on the LPs rather than on more better mega equipment. I just don’t believe an additional $20,000 spent on a better amplifier can deliver as much as $20,000 spent on Super or White Hot Stampers played with my current amplifier. Additionally, I do believe that even a modest analogue system will sound fabulous when you have master tape sound coming out of it.

Bless Tom and all the folks at Better Records. My system enjoyment quotient has increased dramatically this year since I have been buying the good stuff to play on it. Keep up the good work.

Regards,
John

John,

So glad to hear you loved that Deja Vu as much as your enthusiastic letter indicates you did. When we come across a copy as good as the one we sent you it is indeed a cause for celebration here at Better Records: We know someone is very likely going to have their mind blown, and soon. Obviously in this case it was you!

As far as megabuck equipment is concerned, we discussed the subject in a commentary entitled Money Can’t Buy You (Audio) Happiness in which we noted that a certain reviewer’s very, very expensive equipment does not seem to be helping him tell the difference between good sounding records and bad. From our perspective, there’s little difference in the sound of the Heavy Vinyl pressings he seems to like so much from Classic, Sundazed, Speakers Corner and the like. To us almost all of them leave a lot to be desired.

Play Them? Why?

We actually created a section called the Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to point out the many shortcomings — and, to be fair, the occasional strengths — of these pressings. It’s hard for us to get motivated to play any of these records. The vast majority are barely even mediocre and oftentimes they’re downright awful, so what’s the point?

John brings up a related point: No matter how expensive your equipment, you just can’t make your stereo sound good unless you are playing a good sounding record. Placing a Sundazed or Classic record on a $100,000 turntable is — to our way of thinking — audio insanity. If that turntable is any good, it’s simply going to make even more obvious the shortcomings that exist in the mastering of these two famously badly-mastered label’s records.

If, on the other hand, it’s hiding those flaws, that’s strong evidence that someone may very well have figuratively flushed a hundred grand down the toilet. (more…)

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Deja Vu

Letters and Commentaries for Deja Vu

More CrosbyMore Stills / More Nash / More Young

  • A stunning Shootout Winning copy that is guaranteed to blow your mind – Triple Plus (A+++) sound on side one and an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side two
  • The sound is HUGE — lively, present and rich in a way that nothing you’ve heard can compete with
  • One of our all time favorite albums at Better Records and one that almost never sounds THIS good
  • 5 stars: “…this variety made Déjà Vu a rich musical banquet for the most serious and personal listeners, while mass audiences reveled in the glorious harmonies and the thundering electric guitars…”

If you play this copy at serious levels and have the kind of full range system that’s both loud and clean like live music, we guarantee you will be nothing less than gobsmacked at the size and power of the music on this album, the band’s inarguable masterpiece.

Both sides here are super high-resolution, tonally perfect, Tubey Magical and ALIVE. The vocals are silky and sweet with very little strain or grain (a very common problem in the loudest choruses). The highs are extended, the bass is deep and punchy, and the overall clarity is breathtaking.

Just listen to the guitars during the solos — you can really hear the sound of the pick hitting the strings. The rhythm guitars sound meaty and chunky like the best sounding copies of Zuma and After The Gold Rush. (more…)

Listening in Depth to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s Masterpiece: Deja Vu

Hot Stampers of Deja Vu

Letters and Commentaries for Deja Vu

DEJA VU is an album we admit to being obsessed with — just look at the number of commentaries we’ve written about it.

Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Deja Vu. Here are some albums on our site you can buy with similar Track by Track breakdowns.

(more…)

Letter of the Week – “I almost fell off my listening chair.”

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,   

I wanted to thank you and the crew at Better Records for fulfilling my dreams when it comes to your Super hot stampers and, of course, the mind blowing White hot stampers. Two White hot stampers with A+++ sound on all sides come to mind.

I received the Frank Sinatra and Count Basie Live at the Sands about a week ago, and the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Deja Vu a couple of days ago. Not in a million years did I ever think a record could have a truly master tape sound. And man, these two White hot stamper have it in spades.

On the Frank Sinatra and Count Basie Live at the Sands, from the moment I dropped the needle on side four or any other side, I almost fell off my listening chair. The presence and immediacy is so staggering on this Lp its as if Frank Sinatra rose from the dead and he transforms into a living, breathing person in my listening room. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Deja Vu

One of our good customers had this to say about a Hot Stamper pressing he purchased recently:

  Hey Tom,   

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing on the Crosby Still, Nash & Young Deja Vu White Hot stamper A+++ on both sides and absolutely dead quiet. I think It’s a bargain at $800.00. It absolutely trashes my Mofi version into bits and pieces. I don’t even want to mention the Classic records version because it’s painful to listen to. I’m writing up this record today and the Frank Sinatra and Count Basie Live at the Sands tomorrow. (more…)

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young / Deja Vu – In 2016 We Learned We Were Wrong about their Masterpiece

crosbdejavu

There are two areas in which we would like to amend some of the previous comments we’ve made about Deja Vu. The first has to do with early pressings. Many years ago we wrote the following:

As we noted in previous commentary, the originals are uniformly awful. Want some inside info on stampers to avoid, free of charge? C and D are pretty bad news most of the time.

Although that’s still true — Deja Vu is a very difficult album to find with good sound no matter what stampers you have — we now know that there are very good sounding copies, Shootout Winning copies in fact, with early stampers.

That’s area number one. Area number two is part of this old piece of advice.

If you bought the Classic Record and you can’t tell what’s wrong with it, this may not be the right hobby for you. I highly recommend you buy the Joe Gastwirt mastered CD and either play it on your system or take it to a hi-fi store in your area. It’s tonally correct and undistorted. The Classic version is neither. Now when a stupid $15 CD is correct in a way that a $40 LP is not, something is very very wrong.

The part where we said this may not be the right hobby for you if you like Classic’s godawful remastering of Deja Vu is still true, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish in the audio hobby. If you’re not too picky about sound quality and just want to play new records, perhaps because old records are hard to find and often noisy, then fine, the Classic should get that job done for you. We of course want nothing to do with it because we want good sounding vinyl, and the Classic is definitely not good sounding by any stretch of the imagination.

No, the problem we see above is that we were recommending the currently available CD. Yes, it’s mostly tonally correct and not distorted, but it has as bad a case of dead-as-a-doornail sound as any badly remastered CD I have ever heard. There is no top, there is no space, there is no life, there is no immediacy, there is no Tubey Magic — in short there is almost nothing left of what makes the best copies of Deja Vu so good. We’ve known this for about five years, just never got around to correcting the record.

(more…)

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Deja Vu – Our Four Plus Side Two from 2016

Hot Stampers of Deja Vu

Letters and Commentaries for Deja Vu

xxxxx

We award this copy’s side two our very special Four Plus A++++ grade, which is strictly limited to pressings (really, individual sides of pressings) that take a recording to a level never experienced by us before, a level we had no idea could even exist. We estimate that less than one per cent of the Hot Stamper pressings we come across in our shootouts earn this grade. You can’t get much more rare than that.

This FOUR PLUS (A++++) side two boasts insane energy, size and power. Deja Vu is one of our all time favorite albums at Better Records and one that almost never sounds THIS good.

If you play this copy good and loud, and have the kind of full range system that plays loud and clean like live music, we guarantee you will be nothing less than gobsmacked at the size and power of the sound.

Just listen to the guitars during the solos — you can really hear the sound of the pick hitting the strings. The rhythm guitars sound meaty and chunky like the best sounding copies of Zuma and After The Gold Rush. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Deja Vu “Tom was not kidding when he said master tape sound… This White Hot Stamper is transcendental nirvana.”

Hot Stampers of Deja Vu

Letters and Commentaries for Deja Vu

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,   

I received my Deja Vu 2 Pack yesterday. Even though I have not yet listened to all of the mother load that I got on Marathon week – I had to take a listen to this tonight. Whew – Mother of God!

I have never heard even a semi-decent copy of this album before on either LP or CD – although the music is outstanding and chock full of memories for anyone my age. This White Hot Stamper is transcendental nirvana. Tom was not kidding when he said master tape sound. The vocals and instrumentals were so alive it was unbelievable. Some of the songs were so good that I just tilted my head back and opened my mouth real wide and just zoned out. Crosby’s vocal on Almost Cut My Hair is masterful. I took your advice and played it twice at even louder volumes. Yikes – better than acapulco gold. Neil Young’s Country Girl was so huge – a vast wall of sound with every single voice and instrument standing out. This album is even better than I ever thought it was. I was just not prepared to hear how it really sounds after all that crap I had been listening to for 30 years.

I have come to a conclusion – no matter whether I had the best $50,000 amps in the world or a $29,000 phono supply or the $150,000 Wilson Alexandria speakers or all that other incredible stuff that audiophiles lust for – not one of those items can make a shit record sound anything but like a shit record. There is no overcoming the original source material that you play on your stereo system.

Buying a Hot Stamper for what can seem like a lot of money – especially if you want a whole lot of them – is really a bargain for those who have invested in a super audio system (with analog capability of course). It is true that the better your system is the more you will get out of Hot Stampers – but at some point in the process it is more effective to spend available resources on the LPs rather than on more better mega equipment. I just don’t believe an additional $20,000 spent on a better amplifier can deliver as much as $20,000 spent on Super or White Hot Stampers played with my current amplifier. Additionally, I do believe that even a modest analogue system will sound fabulous when you have master tape sound coming out of it.

Bless Tom and all the folks at Better Records. My system enjoyment quotient has increased dramatically this year since I have been buying the good stuff to play on it. Keep up the good work. 

John R.

Letter of the Week – My Aim Is True, Led Zeppelin II, The Original Soundtrack, Deja Vu and Chicago Transit Authority

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

Story for you — last Saturday evening, a designer of a new world-famous tonearm, the owner of an elite high-end audio salon in California and I met for dinner with a well-known reviewer for one of the big audiophile rags, then went back to one of their houses to listen to records I had been asked to bring. About 90% of the two dozen records I had selected were White Hot Stamper versions of classic rock staples.

For the next three hours, I spun disc after disc, to their delight. Particular faves included Elvis Costello’s “My Aim Is True,” LedZeppelin II, 10CC’s “The Original Soundtrack,” CSNY’s “Deja Vu,” and Chicago’s first LP.

Bill (more…)