white hot stampers

The Tubey Magical Top Ten

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The Tubey Magic Top Ten

You don’t need tube equipment to hear the prodigious amounts of Tubey Magic that exist on this recording. For those of you who’ve experienced top quality analog pressings of Meddle or Dark Side of the Moon, or practically any jazz album on Contemporary, whether played through tubes or transistors, that’s the luscious sound of Tubey Magic, and it is all over Tumbleweed Connection

Ranked strictly in terms of Tubey Magic I would have to put this album on our list of Most Tubey Magical Rock Recordings of All Time, right up there with, in no particular order:

  • Sgt. Pepper (1967),
  • Meddle (1971),
  • Dark Side of the Moon (1973),
  • Dire Straits (1977, and clearly the outlier in this group),
  • The Eagles (1972),
  • Tommy (1969),
  • The Doors (1967),
  • Ziggy Stardust (1972),
  • A Space in Time (1970)

This has to be one of the best sounding rock records of all time — certainly worthy of a Top Ten spot on our Top 100 list. Engineered by Robin Geoffrey Cable at Trident, there is no other Elton John recording that is as big and powerful as Tumbleweed.

Dave Brubeck – Time In from 1966

More Dave Brubeck

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  • You’ll find excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides of this pressing of Time In, the last album recorded in Brubeck’s “Time” series
  • This 360 Stereo pressing boasts the clean, clear, solid, lively piano sound we love about Brubeck’s records from this era
  • The best vintage pressings of Brubeck’s Columbia albums from the ’50 through the ’60s are exceptionally natural, with unerringly correct sound from top to bottom
  • 4 stars: “The last of pianist and composer Dave Brubeck’s “Time” recordings, and one of his most musically adventurous. Though it is seldom celebrated as such, this is one of Brubeck’s finest moments on Columbia.”

This vintage Columbia 360 stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing any sign of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the audience at the live show, this is the record for you. It’s what Live Jazz Recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “Where should everything be on the ‘stage?'”

Hot Stamper Pressings of Wish You Were Here Available Now

Letters and Commentaries for Wish You Were Here

One of our good customers had some questions about the Hot Stamper pressing he had purchased:

  Hey Tom, 

Hope you are fine! Please let me ask for a bit of help/advice. It may seem to be a stupid question, but it is essential to me to get clarity about my room and treatments.

It is about Wish you were here, the song on side two of the album. Got the white hot and it is sounding phenomenal.

Now my questions: It is about 1) the „huuhh“ followed by the 2) harrumph and the following 3) two tunings of the guitar.

1) Until yesterday the „huuhh“ was coming out between the loudspeaker, with small changes in the room treatment it is now coming from right, which sounds good. The accoustik guitar intro came before and comes after the changes from between the speakers. So my question: Should the „huuhh“ come from the middle or from the right. When coming from right the sound in general sounds more dynamic to me.

Hans,

Let me tell you what I can say without going back into the studio to play the record. These are some things that are generally true.

You are probably correct I am guessing. The reason for that is that the guitar is miked but not the vocal, meaning the vocal may be displaced in the soundstage due to phase issues. It is off-axis to the mic, and therefore “out somewhere,” not where the guitar is, because only the guitar is directionally miked.

2) The harrumph comes from the right side, right?

3) The two guitar tunings: first comes from the upper middle of the stage, the second comes from the right upper side, correct? Especially those two guitar tunings are in my opinion extremely fragile to changes, really minor changes in room acoustic and speaker placement, I would say half of a cm or so are enough for changes where they come from.

Would be great, if you can give me some input here. All in all, if half a year ago somebody would have told me my stereo sounds like it does now, I would have told him, that’s impossible. Now, I want even more, and the more I do, the more I am convinced that the room with the treatments together with speaker placement are the critical point.

All of this gets at the same questions – where should everything be on the “stage?”

The danger is making these judgments with one record is that you never want to optimize one record, only to find out it sounds good but others you own don’t. Here is an old commentary about that:

In 2005, I Fell Into a Common Audiophile Trap

This one is a tough test too:

The Blood, Sweat and Tears Turn Up Your Volume Test

So the best thing to do is get all your hardest test records out and start playing them and making notes as you make changes to your system.

You are correct that speaker placement is very important. Room treatments too. I would add electricity to that list.

I said so in my review of the 45 RPM Tillerman:

Recently I was able to borrow a copy of the new 45 cutting from a customer who had rather liked it. I would have never spent my own money to hear a record put out on the Analogue Productions label, a label that has an unmitigated string of failures to its name. But for free? Count me in!

The offer of the new 45 could not have been more fortuitous. I had just spent a number of weeks playing a White Hot Stamper Pink Label original UK pressing in an attempt to get our new Playback Studio sounding right.

We had a lot of problems. We needed to work on electrical issues. We needed to work on our room treatments. We needed to work on speaker placement.

We initially thought the room was doing everything right, because our Go To setup disc, Bob and Ray, sounded super spacious and clear, bigger and more lively than we’d ever heard it. That’s what a 12 foot high ceiling can do for a large group of musicians playing live in a huge studio, in 1959, on an All Tube Chain Living Stereo recording. The sound just soared.

But Cat Stevens wasn’t sounding right, and if Cat Stevens isn’t sounding right, we knew we had a Very Big Problem. Some stereos play some kinds of records well and others not so well. Our stereo has to play every kind of record well because we sell every kind of record there is. You name the kind of music, we probably sell it. And if we offer it for sale, we had to have played it and liked the sound, because no record makes it to our site without being auditioned and found to have excellent sound.

And as for your stereo being so much better than you thought it could ever be, I wrote about that twenty years ago!

The Myth of Diminishing Returns in Audio

Hope all this helps. Feel free to email me anytime.

Best, TP


FURTHER READING

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Ella Fitzgerald / Like Someone In Love

  • With two Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sides, this stereo pressing simply could not be beat
  • Ella’s voice is noticeably breathier, fuller, more relaxed and more musical here than it is onthe other copies we played
  • An album that is beyond difficult to find with decent surfaces and undamaged inner grooves – most copies we get in are just trashed
  • “Most of the songs are veteran standards, Stan Getz’s warm tenor helps out on four tunes, and her voice was so strong and appealing during this era that all of her recordings from the mid- to late ’50s are enjoyable and easily recommended.”

Take it from an Ella fan, you can’t go wrong with this one, assuming you can put up with some ticky vinyl. This is about as quiet as we can find them. Like Someone in Love is five times rarer than Clap Hands, and twice as likely to be noisy.

The sound is rich and full-bodied in the best tradition of a classic vintage jazz vocal album. You could easily demonstrate your stereo with a record this good, but what you would really be demonstrating is music that the listener probably hasn’t heard, and that’s the best reason to demonstrate a stereo!

The space is huge and the sound so rich. The vocals have dramatically less hardness and the orchestra — especially on side two — is not brash for once.

Prodigious amounts of Tubey Magic as well, which is key to the best sounding copies. The sound needs weight, warmth and tubes or you might as well be playing a CD. (more…)

Emmylou Harris – Luxury Liner

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More Country Rock

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  • Luxury Liner makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • This copy is full-bodied and natural, with a nicely extended top end, plenty of space around the instruments and vocals, and few of the problems that plagued many pressings we played
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Luxury Liner ranks as Emmylou Harris’ best-selling solo record to date, and it’s one of her most engaging efforts as well; her Hot Band is in peak form, and the songs are even more far afield than usual”

The sound that Emmylou and her producers were going for here is clean, detailed and low distortion, which is exactly what the best pressings like this one deliver. What really sets the good copies apart, though, is a natural, relaxed quality in the midrange. Emmylou sounds like a real person, with none of the too-clean, too-modern, tube-free sound that ruins many of the pressings of her records.  (more…)

Bach / Organ Music – Karl Richter

More of the music of J.S. Bach (1685-1750)

Hot Stamper Decca and London Pressings Available Now

  • With two Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning sides, this copy of Richter’s 1956 recording of Bach Organ Music form simply could not be beat – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Some audiophiles buy organ records to show off their subwoofers, and records like this can do that, but records this good have musical qualities far beyond simple demonstrations of bass reproduction – with this pressing you can feel the cool air in the hall!
  • With this pressing you can feel the cool air in the hall, something no Telarc or audiophile organ record can offer in our experience
  • We’ve played plenty of them, and it is our opinion that the more modern the recording, the worse it sounds, especially if it’s on an audiophile label — those are the worst!
  • Karl Richter understands this music and makes it come alive in a way I’ve never heard any other musician manage to do – the Decca engineers are of course a big help too

For those of you who think technology marches on — which of course it does in some ways — this 1956 recording (finally released in stereo in 1960) shows that they could capture the authentic sound of the real instrument with the equipment of the day. Maybe they could even capture it better back in those days. I certainly can’t think of a better organ record than this, and musically I don’t think there are too many organists in Richter’s class. (more…)

Arlo Guthrie – Alice’s Restaurant

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  • This superb original stereo pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides of Arlo Guthrie’s classic debut – unusually quiet vinyl too
  • These rare, original Tri-Color Reprise pressings are practically impossible to find with surfaces this quiet, but we found this one, don’t ask me how
  • The 18 minute plus title song sounds wonderful here – natural, Tubey Magical, and tonally correct, as befits any top quality vintage pressing, especially one with Lee Herschberg handling the engineering duties
  • 4 stars: “… provide[s] an insight into his uniformly outstanding — yet astoundingly overlooked — early sides on Warner Bros.”

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Milt Jackson with Oscar Peterson – Ain’t But a Few of Us Left

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A Top Pablo Recording

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  • An outstanding Pablo pressing, boasting Double Plus (A++) sound throughout and playing about as quietly as these LPs ever do
  • Both sides here are rich and full-bodied with tons of energy and a nice extended top end – this is the sound of ANALOG, and Pablo knew how to get it on tape and from there on to vinyl
  • “The music is unsurprising but still quite enjoyable and virtuosic as Bags and Co. perform blues, standards and ballads with their usual swing and bop-based creativity. Highlights include the title cut, “Stuffy,” “What Am I Here For” and a vibes-piano duo version of “A Time for Love.”” – 4 Stars

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Roy Orbison – The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison

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Reviews and Commentaries for Roy Orbison

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  • You’ve never heard Roy Orbison sound better than he does here
  • Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead on correct tonality – everything that we listen for in a great record is here
  • The phenomenally talented Bill Porter recorded many of Orbison’s classic songs from the early ’60s that are found on this compilation
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… no one conveys pain and longing more sublimely or succinctly than Roy Orbison. But his songs are also masterpieces of production: so technically precise that his deceptively simple tunes and lush melodies flow even more smoothly behind his desperate baritone croon and quivering falsetto.”

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Letter of the Week – “It is a raucous chaos of undigestible noise.”

More Rolling Stones

Reviews and Commentaries for Some Girls

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

  Hey Tom, 

I have recently purchased from you great copies of Aftermath, Beggars Banquet and Sticky Fingers, so I think is have some idea of how Stones records should sound when they are great. This copy of SOME GIRLS is virtually unlistenable. It is harsh, hard-sound, unmusical. It is a raucous chaos of undigestible noise. I don’t know if you personally play graded it, but someone in your group seriously missed the boat. I am returning it. 

Dear Sir,

I played that Triple Plus Shootout Winning copy myself. I like to think I know the album well, and I had never heard it sound so good in my life. It was really quite shocking to hear the record sound open and free from distortion, literally for the first time. Obviously we were hearing it differently.

But it is a very different recording from the three Stones albums you mention.

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