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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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Ken Scott

One of Our Favorite Engineers

  (Item #: allkenscott) 
by An Engineering Legend



KEN SCOTT is one of our favorite record engineers and producers. Click on the link to find the albums on our site that Ken worked on, along with plenty of our commentaries about the sound of his recordings.

See more entries in our Favorite Engineers series


  more Info











Beethoven / ’Kreutzer’ Sonata

Putting Your System to the (Violin and Piano) Test

  (Item #: beethkreut_2577_wtlf) 
by RCA LP



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating this kind of recording.

Do you want a recording that is going to put your system to the test? Well this is that record! That violin is REAL. As you compare equipment or tweak your system, you will hear the sound of that violin change and it should be obvious when it's better and when it's worse.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Dylan Thomas - Under Milk Wood

Our First Testimonial for a Record We've Never Heard

  (Item #: thomaunder_letter) 



This week’s testimonial letter comes from our good customer Michael L. in England.

He had just ordered some fairly expensive White Hot Stamper copies of jazz classics that we raved about: Kind of Blue, Miles Davis In Person - Friday Night and Somethin' Else.

Knowing that he's been collecting both originals and audiophile reissues for decades, I dropped him a note asking him to "make sure to play our Hot Stampers against all your originals! We welcome the comparison."

What follows is his enthusiastic reply.


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Hot Stamper

Bob and Ray
Throw A Stereo Spectacular

  (Item #: bobanthrow_setup) 
by RCA LP


  • Nearly Super Hot on both sides - amazing clarity, presence and energy throughout
  • Our Favorite Test Track of All Time is here, in big, bold, energetic sound
  • This group of superb Living Stereo recordings is a True TAS List Super Disc
  • Possibly the best LSP album ever made - Bob and Ray are hilarious and the music is great fun
See all of our Living Stereo albums in stock


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Led Zeppelin III

Proof that Jimmy Page Was a Brilliant Producer

  (Item #: ledze3_page) 
by Atlantic LP



The startling resolution and transparency found on the best copies of Zep III let you hear every element in the huge soundfield that Jimmy Page designed for his recordings. They allow you to appreciate every carefully placed instrument and the remarkable sonic detail to be discovered as each track unfolds.

The size, space, energy and clarity of the hottest Hot Stamper copies are surely what make possible a more profound appreciation of the singular effort that went into these recordings. Along with the kind of Master Tape Sound found on the best pressings comes a deeper appreciation of the remarkable skills of one of rock's true production geniuses, Jimmy Page.

More Led Zeppelin


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Andy Johns

One of Our Favorite Engineers

  (Item #: allandyjohns) 
by An Engineering Legend



ANDY JOHNS is one of our favorite recording and mixing engineers. Click on the link to find our in-stock Andy Johns engineered or produced albums, along with plenty of our famous commentaries.

See more entries in our Favorite Engineers series


  more Info











Roxy Music - Country Life

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: roxymcount_2015) 
by Island Records



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

Many of the best songs Ferry ever wrote and Roxy ever played are on this album. Musically it's right up there with the first album and Siren, both early '70s Art Rock landmarks.

In our experience the right British original Sunray (Pink Rim) Island pressing will always win the shootout if you have a good pile of copies to play. There are some bad sounding Island LPs out there, so don’t assume the Sunray is the answer. It’s potentially the right answer. Without at least five copies in hand you won't know for sure whether the copy you like is truly a Hot Stamper or not-that-hot-of-a-stamper.

More Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry


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Steely Dan - Can’t Buy A Thrill

A Classic Case of Live and Learn

  (Item #: steelcantb_wrong) 
by ABC LP



Years ago - starting with our first shootout in 2007 for the album as a matter of fact - we had put this warning in our listings:

One thing to note: this isn't Aja, Pretzel Logic or Gaucho (their three best sounding recordings). We doubt you'll be using a copy of Can't Buy A Thrill to demo your stereo.

We happily admit now that we got Can't Buy a Thrill all wrong. It's actually a very good sounding record - rich, smooth, natural, with an especially unprocessed sound. In that regard it is superior to most of their catalog; better than Countdown to Ecstacy, Katy Lied, Royal Scam and maybe even Gaucho. You could easily use the album to demo your stereo.
More Can't Buy a Thrill


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Frank Sinatra - Sings Days of Wine and Roses & more

Judging Books and Covers

  (Item #: sinatdayso_2016) 
by Reprise LP



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

Presented with the less-than-captivating cover and title of Days of Wine and Roses, we were put off by our first impression; that of a budget thrown-together compilation, brought even lower by the fairly generic shot of Old Blue Eyes on the cover. We didn't think an album that looked like this could possibly contain the swinging (or deeply emotional, both are fine with us) Sinatra music we've grown to love from his best Capitol- and Reprise-era releases.

More Frank Sinatra


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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Deja Vu

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: crosbdejav_obsess) 
by Atlantic LP



DEJA VU 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 Crosby, Stills, Nash or Young albums.


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Steely Dan - Katy Lied

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: steelkatyl_debunk) 
by Mobile Fidelity



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

By the time I was avidly collecting Mobile Fidelity records in the late '70s this title had already gone out of print, one of the first to do so. My guess is that even the cloth-eared audiophiles at MoFi knew when they had a turkey on their hands and mercilessly put this one out to pasture. Yes, the sound is so bad that even MoFi could hear it.

Compressed and lifeless as the screen speakers so popular at the time, it's hard to imagine any version sounding worse than this one.

More Katy Lied


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The Beatles - Please Please Me

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: beatlpleas_obsess) 
by EMI Parlophone Import LP



PLEASE PLEASE ME 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 BEATLES albums.


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The Concert Sinatra

Yes, It Took Us Ten Years to Do Two Shootouts for This Album

  (Item #: sinatconce_2017) 
by Reprise LP



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

If you're looking for quiet vinyl and good sound on this title I don't think we will have anything for you for the foreseeable future. But of course you never know, we could luck into some killer copies on any one of our regular record hunting days. It's pure luck to find any early stereo copy in good shape, let alone one that has the right stampers, the right sound and good surfaces. Each of our last two shootouts took us five years to make happen if that tells you anything.

See all of our Frank Sinatra albums in stock


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The Byrds - Fifth Dimension

The Red Labels Can Rock

(More Accurately, Some of Them Can)

  (Item #: byrdsfifth_2014) 
by Columbia Records



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

There was not another Red Label that could hold a candle to this copy in our recent shootout, and no 360 label copy could either. It's the exception that proves the rule.

Does it have 100% of the Tubey Magic of the best 360 Label copies? Maybe not, but it has quite a healthy dose, and it does so many things so much better than any of the tube-mastered originals we played that it was simply no contest. There was nothing that communicated the music remotely as well as this Red Label copy did.

More of The Byrds


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Turntable Set Up Advice

Using Court and Spark

  (Item #: mitchcourt_setup) 
by Asylum Records



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

There are loud vocal choruses on many tracks, and more often than not at their loudest they sound like they are either breaking up or threatening to do so. I always assumed it was compressor or board overload, which is easily heard on Down to You. On the best copies there is no breakup -- the voices get loud and they sound clean throughout.

More Joni Mitchell


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Led Zeppelin - IV

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: ledze4_depth) 
by Atlantic LP



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

We always have a great time doing Zep IV shootouts. It's one of those all-too-rare cases where amazing music and amazing sonics coexist on the same slab of vinyl. You just need to find the right slab, a proposition that turns out to be much harder than it sounds.

You probably know by now just how tough it is to find audiophile quality sonics on this album. Far too many copies just leave us cold, but the best pressings, whether British or domestic, are so good, and so much fun at the loud volumes we employ, that it ends up being worth all the time, trouble and expense it takes to wade through the vinyl dreck to find them.

More Led Zeppelin


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Henry Mancini - Our Man In Hollywood

Making More Progress in Audio

  (Item #: manciourma_vta) 
by RCA LP



The story of our recent shootout is what real Progress in Audio is all about.

In our previous listings we noted:

This is one of those odd records in which the variation in sound quality from track to track is dramatic. Take the first two tracks on side one -- they suck. They sound like your average LSP Mancini album, the kind I have suffered through far too many times. And that means bad bad bad.

See all of our Henry Mancini albums in stock


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Why Didn't Those @!#&/?% Record Companies Produce More Hot Stampers?

  (Item #: santasanta_press) 



A while back we received a letter from a good customer of ours lamenting how rare Hot Stamper pressings are.

Why were so many copies produced without HOT STAMPER sound when it was obviously possible is beyond me and quite frankly upsets me. But that is the way it is.

Our answer can be found below.

See all of our Santana albums in stock


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Richard & Linda Thompson - Shoot Out The Lights

A Four Men with Beards Heavy Vinyl Winner

  (Item #: thompshoot_heavy_vinyl) 
by Four Men with Beards



Sonic Grade: B

Hey, this is a surprisingly good sounding pressing! Our Hot Stampers are clearly bigger and more lively, but for a Heavy Vinyl reissue this pressing is quite respectable.

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

More Richard Thompson


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Cat Stevens Catch Bull at Four

Congestion? What Congestion?

  (Item #: stevecatch_progress) 
by A&M LP



The story of our latest shootout is what real Progress in Audio is all about. Many copies were gritty, some were congested in the louder sections, some never got big, some were thin and lacking the lovely analog richness of the best -- we heard plenty of copies whose faults were obvious when played against two top sides such as these.

Speaking of congestion, it had previously been our experience that every copy of the record had at least some congestion in the loudest parts, typically the later parts of songs where Cat is singing at the top of his lungs, the acoustic guitars are strumming like crazy, and big drums are pounding away are jumping out of both speakers.

More Catch Bull at Four


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