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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

Stick with Stereo on This One

  (Item #: brubecompa_mono) 
by Columbia Classical



Stick with stereo on this album. The Mono pressings -- at least the ones we've played -- aren't worth anybody's time (scratch that: any audiophile's time). The mono is dramatically smaller, more recessed and more lifeless than even the worst of the stereo pressings we played.

Here are more records we don't think sound very good in MONO.

Here are some titles that have the potential to sound amazing in MONO.

More Dave Brubeck / More Gerry Mulligan


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Barbra Streisand - Guilty

Bab's Best and Most Underrated (By Too Many Audiophiles Anyway)

  (Item #: streiguilt_masterpiece) 
by Columbia Records



This ain't no zombie audiophile BS, the kind of sleep-inducing reverb-drenched trash that passes for "female vocals" in bad audio showrooms around the globe. (Paging Diana Krall.) This is Barbra and The Bee Gees at the peak of their Pop Powers. It just doesn't get any better.

This is THE BEST ALBUM Babs ever made, and you can take that to the bank. It's also one of the best sounding, if not THE best sounding of her later Monster Pop Productions. Can't say for sure as I haven't played all that many. Her first album is a true Demo Disc as well, but that one's all about the Tubey Magical '60s Columbia era, the Golden Age of Natural Sound, a world away from Guilty and its layers and layers of tracks. Having said that, there are multi-tracks and then there are multi-tracks.

More Barbra Streisand


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Perez Prado - Pops and Prado

A Killer Bob Simpson Recording

  (Item #: pradopopsa_2016) 
by RCA LP



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

A wonderful copy with a White Hot Stamper side two - unbelievably Tubey Magical and spacious. Side one was Super Hot and maybe a bit better - the top is extended, and the reverb is positively luscious. This is vintage analog at its best -- the magic really comes through on this pressing. Credit for the Demo Disc sound of this one must go to the amazing Bob Simpson, working in glorious Webster Hall.

BOB SIMPSON won the Grammy for engineering Belafonte at Carnegie Hall you may recall.



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The Doors - L.A. Woman

Rhino Heavy Vinyl Reviewed

  (Item #: doorslawom_rhino) 
by Rhino



Sonic Grade: B

The pressing we auditioned from the Doors Box Set was surprisingly good. It's rich and smooth with an extended top end -- tonally correct in other words -- and there's lots of bass. This is all to the good. For the thirty bucks you might pay for it you're getting a very good record, assuming yours sounds like ours, something we should really not be assuming, but we do it anyway as there is no other way to write about records other than to describe the sound of the ones we actually have on hand to play.

See all of our Doors albums in stock


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Transparency

and that Wonderful Feeling of Being There

  (Item #: youngafter_transparent) 
by Warner Brothers LP


Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

For our review of the new Heavy Vinyl After the Gold Rush we wrote:

Cleverly the engineers responsible for this remaster have managed to reproduce the sound of a dead studio on a record that wasn't recorded in one.

This pressing has no real space or ambience. Now the album sounds like it was recorded in a heavily baffled studio, but we know that's not what happened, because the originals of After the Gold Rush, like most of Neil's other albums from the era, are clear, open and spacious.

In other words, they are TRANSPARENT.

More Audio Advice


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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - So Far

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: crosbsofar_depth) 
by Atlantic LP



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of So Far.

For example, on Find the Cost of Freedom the best copies have DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND. You could say everything that needs to be said about the beauty of analog with this one track alone. It's not even two minutes long, but it's two really wonderful minutes of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young at the height of their powers. The voices should sound as sweet and as silky as any CSN three part (four part?) harmony you have ever heard. This song rivals Helplessly Hoping for vocal blend.

More Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young


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Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps

Just How Good Is a Second Tier Neil Young Album?

  (Item #: youngrustn_wtlf) 
by Reprise LP



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

AMG raves about this album, giving it 5 big stars. (For those of you keeping score at home, that's half a star MORE than they gave Harvest.) We like the album just fine, but I doubt we would want to go quite that far. Sure, these are great songs, but give us After The Gold Rush, Zuma or Harvest (all Top 100 titles, Hot Stampers of which are sometimes in stock) over this one any day.

Still, a second tier Neil Young album (by our standards) usually will beat a first tier album from just about anybody else making records in 1979.

More Neil Young


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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. Who is his right mind would 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 that it was a bad idea. But, if you're Mobile Fidelity, and that's the only idea you've ever had because you are in the half-speed mastering business, then what else can you do? As the old saying goes, to 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.
More Joe Jackson


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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.


  more Info











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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Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

Dubby Da-Vida

  (Item #: ironbinaga_original) 
by Atco LP


The craziest thing we learned in our shootout is that something close to half of all the yellow label, authentic, non-record-club Atco copies we played had clearly been mastered from a dub tape on side two, the side with In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

We're guessing that at some point after 1968, when it came time to recut the record, the cutting master for side two was either damaged or couldn't be found. Not a problem the label says to itself, we have a safety tape we can copy and use for side two.

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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.

More Katy Lied


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