hot stamper vinyl

Lee Ritenour – Rit – Reviewed in 2010

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

This very nice Nautilus Half-Speed Mastered LP has SURPRISINGLY GOOD SOUND and plays pretty quiet, mostly Mint Minus. We played this against the 180g Discovery reissue that Doug Sax remastered and it SMOKED it. What a piece of muddy trash that Discovery pressing is. 

Members of both Toto and Chicago play on this album, so fans of either should get a kick out of this music. 

AMG Review

Lee Ritenour has long been the perfect studio musician, one who can melt into the background without making any impact. While he possesses impressive technique, Ritenour has mostly played instrumental pop throughout his career, sometimes with a Brazilian flavor. His few jazz efforts have found him essentially imitating Wes Montgomery, but despite that he has been consistently popular since the mid-’70s. After touring with Sergio Mendes’ Brasil ’77 in 1973, Ritenour became a very busy studio guitarist in Los Angeles, taking time off for occasional tours with his groups and in the mid-’90s with Bob James in Fourplay. He also recorded many albums as a leader.

Muddy Waters – Folk Singer – Classic Records Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: C+

Kills that muddy MOFI, which I must confess I used to like. Things have changed, that’s for sure. The Mobile Fidelity is thick and fat sounding, like most of their awful Anadisq releases, with much less transparency than this Classic.

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers. 

 

 

Muddy Waters – Folk Singer – Another Muddy MoFi

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked. 

The MoFi is thick, fat and murky, with much less transparency than the Classic release (which is no award winner either).

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers. 

 

 

Kansas – Leftoverture – CBS Half-Speed Debunked

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Pressing and another Audiophile Record debunked.

Way too bright and thin. What were they thinking?

It’s the sound that most audiophiles are fooled by to this day! Brighter and more detailed is rarely better. Most of the time it’s just brighter. Not many half-speed mastered audiophile records are dull. They’re bright because the audiophiles who bought them preferred that sound. I did. Hopefully we’ve all learned our lesson, expensive and painful as it may have been. 

The average copy of this record is so bright, thin, aggressive and transistory it will peel the paint in your living room and leave your ears bleeding.

Unmusicality

The best copies get rid of a problem that quickly becomes irritating as you play track after track: a certain “squaky, pinched” sound to the guitars. Bad copies of the album have that sound through and through, along with excessive amounts of grain and grunge. The guitars are very prominent in the mix on practically every song here, so when the guitars sound sour, the track as a whole does too.

These mastering and pressing problems make the overall sound simply UNMUSICAL. The way we found that out was simple. We cleaned and played lots of copies, and every once in a while we heard one that allowed the music to breathe, open up, sound balanced, make sense even.

Those copies showed us a Leftoverture we didn’t know existed and gave us a goal to shoot for with all the other copies we played. After hearing such a truly killer copy we often go back and downgrade the ratings for the copies we thought were the best. Such is the way with these shootouts. (more…)

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II – MoFi Debunked

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

This pressing has to be one of the worst audiophile remastering jobs in the history of the world. There is NOT ONE aspect of the sound that isn’t wrong. Not one! The highs are boosted, the upper midrange is boosted, the mid-bass is boosted, the low bass is missing — what part of the frequency spectrum is even close to correct on this pressing? The answer: none.

If you’re in the market for a Hot Stamper pressing of Led Zeppelin II, there is very little chance that we can help you; the good copies are all but impossible to find. However, if you would like another Led Zeppelin title with Hot Stampers, we might have something of interest. (more…)

Dave Brubeck – A Cut Above – An Awful Direct to Disc Recording (with synths!)

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Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame pressing.

This Direct Disk Labs Double LP is an exceptionally WELL-RECORDED Direct-to-Disc. The bass is punchy, the piano sounds tonally Right On The Money (ROTM) and the overall sound is lively and immediate. It’s one of the better sounding Direct-to-Discs we’ve played lately.

The music goes nowhere however, hence the grade.  

Stockhausen / Noda – Zyklus & Eclogue on Direct to Disc (Reviewed in 2011)

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

This RCA 45 RPM Direct-to-Disc fulfills the promise of both the direct to disc recording medium AND the 45 RPM cutting speed so much in vogue these days. As with the Virtuoso Guitar record we listed today, the sound is simply SUPERB — open, dynamic and distortion free. This is a real DEMO DISC, no doubt about it.

I’ve known this record had top quality sound for decades; we started way back in 1987 selling these kinds of audiophile pressings and this one was clearly a Top Title even back then. I’m happy to say that, unlike most of the audiophile pressings we used to sell, this title has actually gotten BETTER with time. 

Side One

A++ or Better — it’s so good who can say for sure what the grade is? We get one of these in about every six to twelve months, and in that time many changes to the stereo and room have been made, so comparisons with previous pressings get tricky.

Here’s what we can say: this record is DYNAMIC, with huge amounts of space and real TRANSIENTS. It’s about as much like Live Music as any record you are likely to own. Play this one for your CD loving friends and watch their jaws drop.

Side Two

A++ or better again. We’re not that crazy about the flute on this side but the percussion is SUPERB.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Zyklus

Side Two

Eclogue

Little Feat – Time Loves A Hero – Another Bad Nautilus Pressing

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Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame pressing. After playing a killer Hot Stamper pressing of the album a few years back we wrote the following: 

If you own the Nautilus Half-Speed, a record we actually liked years ago even when we had long since forsworn those kinds of pressings, you are really in for a treat. THIS is what the band sounds like in the REAL world, not the phony audiophile world that so many seem to get stuck in.

Just listen to how punchy the drums are, a perfect example of what proper mastering does well and Half-Speed mastering does poorly. When you listen to a top quality Hot Stamper pressing you feel that you are hearing this music EXACTLY the way Little Feat wanted it to be heard. I just don’t get that vibe from the half-speed. It sounds like someone messed with it, and of course someone did. That’s how they get those audiophile records to sound the way they do. For some reason some audiophiles like their records to sound pretty and lifeless with blurry bass. That is not our sound here at Better Records.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Hi Roller
Time Loves a Hero
Rocket in My Pocket
Day at the Dog Races

Side Two

Old Folks’ Boogie
Red Steamliner
New Delhi Freight Train
Keepin’ up With the Joneses
Missin’ You

 

Peter Gabriel – Direct Disk Labs Half Speed Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: D

Another Half Speed Mastered Record that belongs in our Hall of Shame.

The Direct Disk Labs half-speed here is thick, compressed and lifeless, though fairly rich. You could do worse I suppose, but too much of the life of the music will be lost when playing their poorly remastered pressing.  Did they have a good British tape to work with? It doesn’t sound like it.

Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy – Classic Records Reviwed

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

We can describe the sound in two words: ridiculously bright. Honestly, what more need be said? 

Over the years we have done many Led Zeppelin shootouts, often including the Classic Heavy Vinyl Pressings for comparison purposes. After all, these Classic LPs are what many — perhaps most — audiophiles consider superior to other pressings.

We sure don’t, but everybody else seems to. You will find very few critics of the Classic Zep LPs outside of those who write for this very website, and even we used to recommend three of the Zep titles on Classic: Led Zeppelin I, IV and Presence.

Wrong on all counts.

Since then we’ve made it a point to create debunking commentaries for some of the Classic Zeps, a public service of Better Records. We don’t actually like any of them now, although the first album is still by far the best of the bunch.