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Commentary Overview

Audio Commentary  >  Start Here  >  Commentary Overview

We discuss practically anything that concerns recordings or their reproduction here for those who  want to collect better sounding records and hear them at their best.

For further reading, be sure to check out our On The Record blog.

 

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Dave Brubeck Trio Featuring Gerry Mulligan - Compadres

What to Listen For - The Audience

  (Item #: brubecompa_wtlf) 
by Columbia Records



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album, or any live album for that matter.

As is the case with most live albums, the sound of the crowd tells you a lot about the recording, and on this copy the crowd sounded exceptionally clear and natural.

More Dave Brubeck / More Gerry Mulligan


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In the Market for New Speakers?

See How Well They Handle the Fat Snare on Dreams

  (Item #: fleetrumou_speakers) 
by Warner Brothers LP



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

What do the best copies of Rumours have that the also-rans don't? Lots and lots of qualities, far too many to mention here, but there is one you should pay special attention to: the sound of the snare. When the snare is fat and solid and present, with a good "slap" to the sound, you have a copy with weight, presence, transparency, energy -- all the stuff we ADORE about the sound of the best copies.

More Rumours


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Ambrosia - Life Beyond L.A.

Which Stampers Sound the Best?

  (Item #: ambrolifeb_stampers) 
by Warner Brothers LP



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning music and recordings.

There's a unique story behind this title, which goes something like this. I recount it because it's a classic and hopefully instructive case of Live and Learn.

More Ambrosia


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Little Feat - Dixie Chicken

How Does the MoFi Sound?

  (Item #: littldixie_mobile_fidelity) 
by Mobile Fidelity



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning music and recordings.

How does the MoFi pressing sound? We have no idea; we've never bothered to order one. This is an album about rhythm. Half-Speed mastered records have sloppy bass and consequently lack rhythmic drive. Why would anyone want to half-speed master an album by Little Feat, one of the most rhythmically accomplished bands in rock and roll history?

The obvious answer is not that it's a good idea, but, if that is the only idea you have, because you are in the half-speed mastering business, then half-speed master is precisely what you are going to do. Good idea or bad idea, what do you care? As the old saying goes, if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

More Little Feat


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MoFi Half-Speed Mastering

A Technological Fix for a Non-Existent Problem

  (Item #: jacksnight_half_speed_bash) 
by Mobile Fidelity



We do a lot of MoFi bashing here at Better Records, and for good reason: most of their pressings are just plain awful. We are shocked and frankly dismayed to find that the modern day audiophile still flocks to this label with the expectation of a higher quality LP, seemingly unaware that although the vinyl may be quiet, the mastering -- the sound of the music as opposed to the sound of the record’s surfaces -- typically leaves much to be desired.

Hence the commentary below, prompted by a letter from our good friend Roger, who owned the MoFi Night and Day and who had also purchased a Hot Stamper from us, which we are happy to say he found much more to his liking.


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Stan Getz - Getz Au Go Go

Live and Learn

  (Item #: getz_getza_live_and_learn) 
by Verve LP



A classic case of Live and Learn. Many years ago we had written:

Of course, you would never know this is a good recording by playing the average domestic copy. This Japanese LP is one of the few pressings that can show you that this wonderful smoky night club jazz LP really can have Demo Disc sound.

Ridiculous, right? Well, at the time we believed it. Now our understanding is quite a bit more sophisticated, in the sense that the Japanese pressing is clearly better than most originals, not all of them.
More Stan Getz


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Fleetwood Mac - Greatest Hits

What to Listen For - Punchy Drums

  (Item #: fleetgreat_wtlf) 
by Columbia Records



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

Many pressings are compressed, murky, veiled and recessed, especially the early ones. To find one that is transparent, clear, present and punchy is no mean feat.

On either side listen for the drums to punch through the mix.

More Fleetwood Mac


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Jethro Tull - Stand Up

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: jethrstand_obsess) 
by Island Records



STAND UP is an album we admit to being obsessed with -- just look at the number of commentaries we've written about it.

We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands -- maybe a bit too much time on your hands -- please feel free to check out our commentaries.

This link will take you to all of our other JETHRO TULL albums.


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Linda Ronstadt - Heart Like a Wheel

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: ronstheart_obsess) 
by Capitol Records



HEART LIKE A WHEEL is an album we admit to being obsessed with -- just look at the number of commentaries we've written about it!

We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands -- maybe a bit too much time on your hands -- please feel free to check out our commentaries.

This link will take you to all of our other LINDA RONSTADT albums.


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Jimi Hendrix - The Jimi Hendrix Concerts

Huge, Powerful Live Rock Sound

  (Item #: hendrjimih_2012) 
by Reprise LP



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This live album, taken from concerts recorded from 1968 to 1970, is wonderful sounding on the best tracks. If you're in the market for live Hendrix on a Hot Stamper, you'll be hard pressed to do any better. The bass on this recording is huge, which is exactly what this kind of music needs most. At the levels we were playing this album it was really rockin'.

More Jimi Hendrix


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Dvorak / Violin Concerto / Accardo / Davis

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: dvoravioli_accardo_2015) 
by Philips LP



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

Top quality sound on BOTH sides of this lovely Philps recording from 1980 -- yes, it was still possible to record classical music properly in 1980, though not many labels managed to pull it off. (Londons from this era are especially opaque and airless. We find them as irritating and frustrating as most of the Heavy Vinyl releases being foisted on the audiophile public today.)

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak


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Steely Dan - Katy Lied

Live and Learn

  (Item #: steelkatyl_jpn) 
by MCA Records



And to think I used to swear by this pressing -- specifically the 2000 Yen reissue, not the 1500 Yen original -- another example of just how Wrong you can be.

We happily admit to our mistakes because we know that all this audio stuff and especially the search for Hot Stampers is a matter of trial and error. We do the trials; that’s how we avoid the kinds of errors most audiophiles and audiophile record dealers make when it comes to finding the best sounding records. Of course, being human we can’t help but make our share of mistakes. The difference is that we learn from them. We report the facts to the best of our ability every time out.

See more of our Steely Dan albums in stock


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Dopey Record Theories Part 2

Putting More Bad Ideas to the Test

  (Item #: book_2) 
by Columbia Records



A well know audiophile reviewer once wrote the following, which I quote:

But just because you find a “360 Sound” label doesn't mean you have an “original” pressing. -1A is an original. Then -1B, etc. Past a certain number it goes to -1AA, etc. There's great variability to the sound of these different pressings with -1A being best, of course.

Of course!
More Dopey Record Theories


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Phil Collins - Face Value

Whomp Factor

  (Item #: collifacev_whomp) 
by Atlantic LP



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

Until we heard some of the better copies we were simply not able to appreciate just how important good bass definition and serious weight down low are to the sound of this record. When the bass is wooly or thin, as it is on so many copies -- not clear, not deep, not full enough -- it throws the rest of the mix off. When the bass is huge and powerful the music itself becomes huge and powerful.

More Phil Collins and Genesis


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Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti

Breaking Down the Engineers

  (Item #: ledzephysi_engineers) 
by Swan Song



Four engineers worked on the various sessions for the tracks which would become Physical Graffiti. The songs for this sprawling double album were recorded over the course of five years (1970-1974) although the bulk of the work was done by Ron Nevison in January and February of 1974.

For a complete breakdown of who recorded what, see below.

More Physical Graffiti


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Which Album by The Who Has the Best Sound?

We Think It's Tommy

  (Item #: who__tommy_sounds_best) 
by Track Original Black Label



I don't know of another Who album with such consistently good sound -- song to song, not copy to copy, of course. Just about every song on here can sound wonderful on the right pressing. If you're lucky enough to get a Hot Stamper copy, you're going to be blown away by the Tubey Magical Guitars, the rock-solid bottom end, the jumpin'-out-of-the-speakers presence and dynamics, and the silky vocals and top end. Usually the best we can give you for The Who is "Big and Rockin," but on Tommy, we can give you '60s analog magic like you will rarely hear in the decades to follow.

Acoustic guitar reproduction is key to this recording, and on the best copies the harmonic coherency, the richness, the body and the phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard in every strum.

More Tommy


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Peter Gabriel

Commentary and Overview

  (Item #: allpeter_gabriel) 



I’m a huge PETER GABRIEL fan, having grown up with every one of the first five studio albums practically as they were released.

The first is an operatic extravaganza, with everything-but-the-kitchen-sink production, a sound PG would never return to for some reason. Maybe he needed to get it out of his system?

Hot Stamper Peter Gabriel Albums in Stock


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A Frequently Asked Question

How different will a Hot Stamper sound on my system?

  (Item #: hot_stampers_faq_3) 



That's a tough question, because it involves two things I can't know: how good your stereo is, and how critically you listen to it. Really, the only way to find out is to try a record or two and see if the sound quality justifies the price to you. Which is why we offer a 100% money back guarantee: the record has to perform to your satisfaction or we give you all your money back.
Straight Answers to Your Hot Stamper Questions


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A Frequently Asked Question

How can common records possibly be worth these prices?

  (Item #: hot_stampers_faq_2) 



We freely admit that we paid south of twenty bucks each at local stores for most of the records on our site. We pay what the stores charge, and most rock records are priced from five to twenty bucks.

Unfortunately the cost of the records you see on the site is only a small part of the cost of that finished "product." The reality of our business is that it costs almost as much to find a Carly Simon or Gino Vannelli Hot Stamper that sells for a hundred dollars as it does to find a Neil Young or Yes Hot Stamper that sells for five times that.

Straight Answers to Your Hot Stamper Questions


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A Frequently Asked Question

Are Hot Stamper pressings quiet?

  (Item #: hot_stampers_faq_1) 



They're about as quiet as vintage LPs ever are. Some surface noise is always going to be audible on an old record. We believe we sell the quietest vintage pressings in the world, but they are certainly not silent. Lately we've been adding this text to our listings to clarify our position on surface noise:

Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any original pressing will play, and since only the right originals have any hope of sounding amazing on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Straight Answers to Your Hot Stamper Questions


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