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Super Hot Stamper

Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin IV

  (Item #: ledze4_1710) 

Our Price: $299.99

  • A Hard Rockin' Zep IV with excellent Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides
  • Dramatically fuller and smoother than most, making it possible to get the volume up good and high where it belongs
  • Here they are: Black Dog, Rock & Roll, Stairway, When the Levee Breaks, and more, all sounding better than you've ever heard them before
  • 5 stars: "Encompassing heavy metal, folk, pure rock & roll, and blues, Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album is a monolithic record, defining not only Led Zeppelin but the sound and style of '70s hard rock."
See all of our Led Zeppelin albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Led Zeppelin II
Led Zeppelin II

  (Item #: ledze2_1710_2) 

Our Price: $1,199.99

  • A stunning Triple Triple (A+++) pressing that is absolutely guaranteed to rock your world like no other
  • This is freakishly good sound - we created a Top Ten list just to put this album on it
  • With clean copies selling for up to $1000+ on ebay, we're having to pay a fortune for the album these days
  • A relatively clean copy without any Inner Groove Distortion; Mint Minus Minus on both sides
See all of our Led Zeppelin albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin I

  (Item #: ledze1_1710) 

Our Price: $299.99

  • An impressive copy of Zep's debut, rating Double Plus (A++) on both sides - this pressing will be very hard to beat
  • Arguably the biggest, clearest and most Tubey Magical album Zeppelin ever recorded, thanks to the engineering genius of Mr Glyn Johns
  • Just look at the track list - the lucky buyer of this copy will be hearing each of those songs come to life like never before
  • 5 stars: "Taking the heavy, distorted electric blues of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Cream to an extreme, Zeppelin created a majestic, powerful brand of guitar rock constructed around simple, memorable riffs and lumbering rhythms."
See all of our Led Zeppelin albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Phil Manzanera
Diamond Head

  (Item #: manzadiamo_1709) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Two stunning sides - Demo Disc quality sound barely begins to describe the size and power of this recording
  • Side two earned our top grade of Triple Plus (A+++) and side one rated a solid Double Plus (A++)
  • This album is an amazing SONIC BLOCKBUSTER, with sound that will positively leap out of your speakers.
  • A shockingly well-recorded album from the ultra-talented Rhett Davies - this is his Engineering Masterpiece
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Super Hot Stamper

The Mahavishnu Orchestra
Birds of Fire

  (Item #: mahavbirds_1709_1) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • This British Import copy has excellent Double Plus (A++) sound throughout- it's so smooth and natural you can just turn up your volume and let it rock
  • The overall sounds here is big and bold with excellent bass - it's as powerful and captivating as the music itself
  • Relatively quiet vinyl throughout -- Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • Clearly one of the All Time Greats in the world of Jazz/Rock, as well as the band's Masterpiece - 5 stars on Allmusic
See all of our Mahavishnu Orchestra albums in stock


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Fleetwood Mac - Mystery To Me

Whomp Factor on "Why"

  (Item #: fleetmyste_wtlf) 



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.

There is an amazing bass drum on this album that plays on selective tracks, most notably the song "Why", and it will shake the foundation and knock your knick-knacks right off their shelves if you've got the woofers (and the room) to play it right. I was using this record to demo my system in the mid-'70s. I had a pair of Fulton Js and they could really pump out the low end this record needs.

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Super Hot Stamper

Fleetwood Mac
Mystery To Me

  (Item #: fleetmyste_1708_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Outstanding sound throughout with side one earning a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sonic grade with side two close behind
  • A JOY to listen to, with breathy vocals, textured string arrangements, and the kind of rich, warm sound that's the hallmark of ANALOG
  • Some of their best songwriting - this is TP's personal favorite Fleetwood Mac Album of All Time, to this very day
  • "... the amazing and almost telepathic drums and bass of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie give this effort more panache and muscle than was represented on this effort's predecessor, Bare Trees."
See all of our Fleetwood Mac albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Bad Company
Bad Company

  (Item #: badcobadco_1708_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • A truly exceptional copy of Bad Co's '70s classic debut with Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • Both sides have killer sound - HUGE, present, punchy, lively, and Tubey Magical
  • A member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Top 100, and a Must Own Classic Rock title from 1974
  • 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic: "... one of the most important and accomplished debut hard rock albums from the '70s."
See all of our Bad Company albums in stock


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Queen - The Game

What to Listen For

  (Item #: queengame_wtlf) 



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.

The best sounding side ones were rarely as good as the best sounding side twos.

Even the good side ones tended to have a trace of harmonic distortion and compression that is simply nowhere to be found on the good side twos. How and why this is we have no idea. Since every copy had the same sonic issues we discounted it in our grading. Only the better copies bring the hits on side one to life and give them the size and power we know they can have.

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Queen - The Game

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: queengame_2011) 



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

Two SUPERB SIDES with side one beating all comers to achieve White Hot Stamper status! Throughout this copy you get solid bass, tubey magic, breathy vocals and BIG BOLD sound!

But watch out: this side one kicks it up to a whole 'nother level, with BIGGER energy, BIGGER bass and even more PRESENT and breathy vocals from Mr. Mercury. This is without a doubt some of the best sound we have ever heard for Queen, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

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Jethro Tull - Stand Up

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: jethrstand_obsess) 



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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Hot Stamper

Santana
Santana (III)

  (Item #: santasant3_1701x) 

Our Price: $79.99

  • This Must Own Santana Classic (their third in as many years) has two Hot Stamper sides on reasonably quiet vinyl
  • The 3 big hits show the band at their best: No One To Depend On, Everybody's Everything and Everything's Coming Our Way
  • Plenty of vintage Tubey Magic on this recording - this is some of the best sound the band achieved in the studio
  • 4 1/2 stars on Allmusic: "It's an album that has aged extremely well due to its spare production (by Carlos and the band) and its live sound. This is essential Santana, a record that deserves to be reconsidered in light of its lasting abundance and vision."
See all of our Santana albums in stock


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The Who - Who’s Next

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: who__whosn_obsess) 



WHO'S NEXT 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.

Who Albums with Hot Stampers

Who Albums We've Reviewed



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White Hot Stamper

Santana
Inner Secrets

  (Item #: santainner_1707) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • Triple Plus (A+++) on the first side and close (A++ to A+++) on the second, a monster from start to finish
  • This sleeper in the Santana canon boasts some of the best sound they ever recorded - a shockingly good Demo Disc
  • The guitars have plenty of bite, and no matter how loud they get, they never seem to strain
  • When the background vocals come in, they are wall to wall and sweet as honey, with no trace of grain or edge
See all of our Santana albums in stock


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The Eagles - One Of These Nights

What to Listen For

  (Item #: eagleoneof_wtlf) 



What to Listen For you ask?

That's easy: Soaring Guitar Solos and Huge Choruses.

If you have an exceptionally good sounding copy of the album, One Of These Nights is the kind of record that can really come alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

More by The Eagles


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Super Hot Stamper

David Bowie
Let's Dance

  (Item #: bowieletsd_1705) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • Two excellent sides each rating a Double Plus (A++) deliver seriously good sound for Bowie's fun '80s classic
  • We love the sound on the better copies -- really big, clear and rich with powerful dynamics
  • Modern Love, China Girl and the title track all sound fantastic here
  • A Top 100 title and a real Demo Disc on a Big Rock System
  • Let's Dance is one of the best sounding Bowie albums ever recorded -- this Hot Stamper pressing is proof!
See all of our David Bowie albums in stock


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Santana / Santana

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: santasant1_obsess) 



SANTANA 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.

Santana Albums with Hot Stampers

Santana Albums We've Reviewed



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Richard & Linda Thompson - Shoot Out The Lights

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: thompshoot_obsess) 



SHOOT OUT THE LIGHTS is an album we admit to being obsessed with -- just look at the number of commentaries we've written about it.

I've seen Richard Thompson on a number of occasions over the years, and as loud as my stereo will play, which is pretty darn loud, I've never been able to make his guitar solos 20 dB louder than everything else, because they're simply not on the record that way. That's why live music can't be reproduced faithfully in the home: the dynamic contrasts are much too great for the typical listener, or his stereo.

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XTC - English Settlement

What to Listen For

  (Item #: xtc__engli_wtlf_2017) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF).

For Big Production Rock Albums like English Settlement there are some obvious problem areas that are often heard on at least one or two sides of practically any copy of this four sided album.

With so many heavily-produced instruments crammed into the soundfield, if the overall sound is at all veiled, recessed or smeared -- problems common to 90+% of the records we play in our shootouts -- the mix quickly becomes opaque, forcing the listener to work too hard to separate out the elements of interest.

A Big Speaker Record if ever there was one.


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Caldera - Carnavalito!

Turn Up the Volume

  (Item #: caldeskyis_loud_2014) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

Carnavalito is a track that really comes ALIVE when you Crank Up the Volume. I played it FULL BLAST on two different occasions for audiophile friends of mine just to show them what happens when a Big Speaker Stereo meets a Large Scale Recording with absolutely AMAZING audiophile quality sound -- BIG and BOLD, wall to wall and then some!

It’s my favorite track not only for the album as a whole but for the band’s entire recorded output. It just doesn’t get any better than this if you have the system for it.

See all pressings of Sky Islands in stock


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Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: costemyaim_obsess) 



MY AIM IS TRUE 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 ELVIS COSTELLO albums.


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Led Zeppelin - IV

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: ledze4_depth) 



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.

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Ambrosia - Ambrosia

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: ambroambro_obsess) 



AMBROSIA is an album we admit to being obsessed with -- just look at the number of commentaries we've written about it. It's also part of our extensive Listening in Depth series. There is no question that this band, their producers and their engineers sweated every detail of this remarkable recording. They went the distance. In the end they brought in Alan Parsons to mix it, and Doug Sax to master it. The result is a masterpiece, an album that stands above all others.
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Led Zeppelin - IV

With This Copy You Better Be Ready to Rock

  (Item #: ledze4_2012) 



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.

We did a massive shootout in 2012 for Zep's beloved fourth album and this British pressing earned a nearly perfect score with some of the BIGGEST, BOLDEST, HARDEST Rockin' sound we have ever heard on the album. Without a doubt this is the best sounding IV side two we've ever played, with the biggest bottom of them all.

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Laurindo Almeida - Virtuoso Guitar

An Awesome Direct to Disc Copy

  (Item #: almeivirtu_2011) 



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

Virtuoso Guitar is yet another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This White Hot Crystal Clear 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. We had a big pile of these pressings to play through. When we came upon this one halfway through our shootout, it was so big, so clear, so dynamic, so energetic, so extended on the top and bottom, we almost could not believe what we were hearing especially compared to the others copies we played.


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Chicago and The Hottest Stampers

Are You a Thrillseeker Too?

  (Item #: chicachica7_thrill) 



When it comes to sound, I'm a Thrillseeker. I want to hear it LOUDER and BETTER, with more ENERGY and EXCITEMENT, and the reason I spent so many hundreds, even thousands, of hours working on my stereo is that that kind of sound doesn't happen by accident. You have to work your ass off to get it. And spend a lot of money. And dig through a lot of dusty record bins buying LPs until you find one that sounds the way you want it to.

I don't play records to drink wine and smoke cigars. I play records to ROCK. Whether the music is rock, jazz or classical, I want to feel the power of the music just as you would feel it at the live event. To me that means big speakers and loud levels. We played Chicago VII as loud as we could...

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Fleetwood Mac - Mystery To Me

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: fleetmyste_2011) 



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.

Here it is, folks -- the best sounding copy of Mystery To Me to ever hit our site. This copy positively DOES IT ALL -- it's super open and spacious with tons of energy and incredible presence. The bottom end is just KILLER and there's dramatically more richness and fullness than you get on most copies out there.

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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: ledze2_loud) 


It's official: we're inaugurating a Top Ten Best Sounding Rock / Pop Album List, and the first member to be inducted is none other than our old favorite, Led Zeppelin II.

It's also yet another in a very long line of records that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume. We're convinced Zep II has to be the hardest rocking album of all time. The best copies -- often with the same stampers as the not-as-good copies by the way -- have a LIFE and a POWER to them that simply cannot be found on other records.

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Humble Pie - Performance - Rockin' The Fillmore

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: humblperfo_2015) 



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

One of the best -- if not THE best -- rock concert albums we have ever heard. Can you imagine if Frampton Comes Alive sounded like this? If you want to hear some smokin’ Peter Frampton guitar work from the days when he was with Humble Pie this album captures that sound better than any of their studio releases, and far better than Comes Alive on even the best copies.

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More Peter Frampton


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Heart - Dreamboat Annie

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: heartdream_2012) 



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.

MASTER TAPE SOUND and QUIET VINYL on BOTH SIDES! If you're an audiophile who loves classic rock, you just haven't lived until you've heard Magic Man and Crazy On You on a Hot Stamper pressing, and they don't get ANY hotter than this copy! We play dozens upon dozens of these every year, and based on that experience this Hot Stamper will be virtually unbeatable for EITHER side.

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Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: youngrustn_2010) 



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

A great (A++) side one backed with an AMAZING (A+++) side two, this is without a doubt one of the very best sounding copies of Rust Never Sleeps we have ever had the privilege of playing here at Better Records. Side two simply cannot be beat. Drop the needle on Powderfinger to hear the Crazy Horse sound at its best -- the raging guitars, the big meaty bottom end, and the kind of immediacy that puts Neil Young and his band of misfits right in your listening room.

Tubey Magic in 1979? Yes, analog was still alive and well then -- both sides of this copy prove it. The disastrously synthesized '80s were on their way but thankfully they hadn't gotten here yet.

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Phil Manzanera - Diamond Head

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: manzadiamo_2010) 



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 White Hot Stamper English Import has the BIGGEST, BOLDEST SOUND we have ever heard for this album! If this copy doesn't wake up your stereo nothing ever will.

Like its brother, 801 Live, this album is an amazing SONIC BLOCKBUSTER, with sound that positively leaps out of the speakers.

More Phil Manzanera and Roxy Music


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Led Zeppelin - Presence

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: ledzeprese_2012) 



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.

A STUNNING side two (where Nobody's Fault But Mine can be found, one of the best Zep rockers of all time and the best reason to own this album), with MASSIVE room-filling size and rock ENERGY like you will not believe. How did they manage to get such rock and roll power into these grooves, the way they did on Zep II and IV? We can't even imagine, but it's there all right.

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Led Zeppelin - In Through The Out Door

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: ledzeinthr_2008) 



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.

SUPERB A+++ SOUND! We play dozens of these each year, and almost never find one that sounds amazing and plays this quietly. When a copy sounds this good, the music REALLY works -- we had fun with this one. It's rich, full-bodied, and ALIVE like you wouldn't believe.

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Ambrosia - Ambrosia

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: ambroambro_2010) 



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.

Here's another INSANELY GOOD pressing of my all-time favorite album, which is every bit as good sonically as it is musically! Side two in particular (A+++, As Good As It Gets!) has DEMO DISC quality sound with the kind of SONIC ENERGY that not one out of a hundred titles can lay claim to.

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Heart - Little Queen

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: heartlittl_2015) 



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 is a Classic Rock Demo Disc to beat practically anything you could throw at it. Love Alive and Barracuda on this copy will deliver the full Rock and Roll Power of your system. If you've got The Big Sound, this is the record that will truly show it off.

Even though our graphic scale only goes to three pluses, you'll know the Four Plus sound on this side one the moment you hear it.

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801 - 801 Live

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: 801__live_2007) 



The best Island copies of this album ROCK HARDER than practically any record we've ever played. If you have the system for it, this one will bring a Live Art Rock concert right into your living room!

It's right at the top of the list of my Favorite Albums -- a Desert Island Disc if ever there was one. I stumbled across it more thirty years ago and I've loved it ever since. It all started when a college buddy played me the wildly original Tomorrow Never Knows from the album and asked me to name the tune. Eno's take is so different from The Beatles version that I confess it took me an embarrassingly long while to catch on.

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Peter Frampton - Wind of Change

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: frampwindo_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and Frampton's debut MASTERPIECE.

Hot Stampers for one of our favorite Classic Rock records have finally made it to the site! This British original is the very definition of TUBEY MAGIC. The sound is so rich and sweet it will make you want to take all your CDs and dump them in the trash (if you haven’t done so already).

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Weather Report - Heavy Weather

Finding the Rare Pressing with an Actual Top End

  (Item #: weathheavy_top_end) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

It has been our experience that the copies with high frequency extension and the clarity, space and percussive energy that results from it are consistently the best sounding. You may have read elsewhere on the site that what separates many of the best Columbia LPs from their competition is an open, extended top end. For some reason Columbia, more than most labels, had a habit of making slightly dull records. Dull does not work for this album.

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Billy Joel - Songs in the Attic

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: joel_songs_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

You know how you can tell when you have a Hot Stamper? It's the side you play through to the end. When the sound is right you want to hear more. Since the opening track of this record is one of the keys to knowing whether it's mastered and pressed properly, once you get past the sibilance hurdle on track one, the next step is to find out how the challenges presented by the rest of the tracks are handled on any given LP. Some advice follows.

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Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds of Fire

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: mahavbirds_rocks_harder) 



What do you hear on the best Hot Stampers of Birds of Fire?

They just plain ROCK HARDER than the other copies we played.

But what really sets them apart is the tremendous ENERGY they contain in their grooves. The music EXPLODES out of the speakers and comes to life on the best copies of Birds of Fire like nothing you have ever heard.

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Big Speakers, Loud Levels and More Power to the Orchestra

  (Item #: mussopictu_6177) 



The darker brass instruments like tubas, trombones and french horns are superb here. Other Golden Age recordings of the work, as enjoyable as they may be in other respects, do not recreate the full weight of the brass, probably because of compression, limiting, tube smear, or some combination of the three.

The brass on this record has a power like no other. It's also tonally correct. It's not agressive. It's not irritating. It's just immediate and powerful the way the real thing is when you hear it live. That's what really caught my ear when I first played Ansermet's recording.

More Pictures at an Exhibition


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Neil Young's Guitar Masterpiece

Danger Bird

  (Item #: youngzuma_danger_bird) 



Listen to the way Danger Bird opens. Each instrument, one by one, slowly, deliberately, one could almost say haltingly, feeds into the mix, until the churning guitars give way to Neil's spare vocal -- fatalistic, doomed, already resigned to some fate he barely understands.

Even though the song has just begun, you sense that Neil feels a weight and a darkness bearing down on him, that it's ongoing, that it's already started, that somehow you're coming into it in the middle, well after the weight of it has begun to crush and perhaps even kill him. He knows the story of Danger Bird all too well.

See more of our Neil Young albums


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Esquivel and Other Vintage Recordings

What to Listen For

  (Item #: esquiinfin_2015) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your vintage '50s and '60s All Tube recordings.

Folks, I can tell you right now most original LSP pressings, of this or any other Living Stereo Popular title, do not begin to recreate the Studio Wizardry found on this album. The sound rivals the best Chet Atkins albums and Bob and Rays in all their delicious three-dimensional Cinerama staging.

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Bonnie Raitt - Nick Of Time

What to Listen For

  (Item #: raittnicko_wtlf) 



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

One of the biggest problems we ran into over and over again with this album is a lack of top end. The sound gets a bit smooth and some of the ambience and spaciousness of the studio disappears. (This, to a much stronger degree, is the problem from which the DCC suffers.)

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Blood, Sweat & Tears - Child is Father to the Man

What to Listen For

  (Item #: bloodchild_wtlf) 



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

Have you ever played the first BS&T album? The average copy is a headache-inducing MESS. It will never be a Demo Disc, but that certainly doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable.

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The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: rollistick_depth) 



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

A QUICK TEST: The best copies have texture and real dynamics in the brass. The bad copies are smeared, grainy and unpleasant when the brass comes in. Toss those bad ones and start shooting out the good ones. Believe me, if you find a good one it will be worth all the work.

And don't forget to Turn Up Your Volume.

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Heart - Dreamboat Annie

What to Listen For

  (Item #: heartdream_wtlf) 



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

On the best copies the music just JUMPS out of the speakers. There is so much more LIFE to this recording than I ever thought possible, and only the best pressings let that energy come through. In a nutshell those are the ones that earn the name Hot Stamper.

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Roxy Music - Avalon

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: roxymavalo_depth) 



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

The best British original Super DeLuxe pressings of Avalon are sweet and silky, big and lively, with the kind of sound that drives us audiophiles wild -- which of course it the main reason this album was on Extra Heavy Rotation at most stereo stores back in the day.

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The Turn Up Your Volume Test

Almost Cut My Hair

  (Item #: crosbdejav_volume_2014) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

The only time Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young actually sound like a real rock and roll band is on the track Almost Cut My Hair. According to Stephen Barncard, one of the engineers on Deja Vu, the track was actually recorded live in the studio. Boy, it sure sounds like it. The amount of energy the band generates on this one song exceeds the energy of the entire first album put together.

More on Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's 1970 Masterpiece, Deja Vu


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The Eagles - Hotel California

Rockin' Out to Victim of Love

  (Item #: eaglehotel_wtlf) 



Victim of Love is yet another one of our favorite tracks that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

It's the sound of this five piece tearing it up LIVE IN THE STUDIO. It's also the track where the DCC just falls apart for us. Where did the rock and roll energy go? The DCC makes it sound like the band just doesn't care, which was certainly not our experience when were playing any of the killer Hot Stampers we came across. Just the reverse was true; we had them turned up full blast and they ROCKED.

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Lincoln Mayorga and Distinguished Colleagues

Implore You to Turn Up Your Volume

  (Item #: mayorlinco_loud_2014) 



S9 is hands down the best example of a recording that truly comes to life when you Turn Up Your Volume.

There's not much ambience to be found in their somewhat dead sounding studio, and very little high frequency boost to any instrument in the soundfield, which means at moderate levels this record sounds flat and lifeless. (You could say it has that in common with most Heavy Vinyl pressings these days, if you wanted to take a cheap shot at those records, which, to be honest, I don't mind doing. They suck; why pretend otherwise?)

See all of our Direct to Disc recordings in stock


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Perez Prado (and Better Records)

Implore You to Turn Up the Volume

  (Item #: pradoprez_volume) 



Another in the long list of recordings that sounds its best when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Tube smear is common to most pressings from the late '50s, and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least amount of smear, or none, yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich. Full sound is especially critical to the horns: any blare, leanness or squawk ruins much of the fun, certainly at the loud levels the record should be playing at.

More Living Stereo


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The Band - Rock Of Ages

Turn Up Your Volume, Now It Rocks!

  (Item #: band_rocko_volume) 



Yet another record that really comes to life when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Most copies of this album do not have a boosted bottom or top, which means that at normal listening levels -- depending on how you define that term -- they can sound pretty flat. This is one album that needs to be turned up, obviously not to the levels of a live rock concert, but up about as loud as you can until you can get the bass and the highs to come out. We found ourselves adding more and more level in order to get the sound to come to life, and it was playing pretty loud before the sound was right.

See all of our The Band albums in stock


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Steeleye Span - Commoners Crown

We Love Dynamic Choruses, and These Are Amazing!

  (Item #: steelcommo_listen) 



Yet another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This is one of the rare pop/rock albums that actually has actual, measurable, serious dynamic contrasts in its levels as it moves from the verses to the choruses of many songs . The second track on side two, Demon Lover, is a perfect example. Not only are the choruses noticeably louder than the verses, but later on in the song the choruses get REALLY LOUD, louder than the choruses of 99 out of 100 rock/pop records we audition. It sometimes takes a record like this to open your ears to how compressed practically everything else you own is.

More Steeleye Span


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Richard & Linda Thompson - Shoot Out The Lights

Loud Versus Live

  (Item #: thompshoot_loud) 



Yet another recording that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

I've seen Richard Thompson on a number of occasions over the years, and as loud as my stereo will play, which is pretty darn loud, I've never been able to make his guitar solos 20 dB louder than everything else, because they're simply not on the record that way. That's why live music can't be reproduced faithfully in the home: the dynamic contrasts are much too great for the typical listener, or his stereo.

Having said that, when you actually do turn this record up, way up, you get the feeling of hearing live music, and that's not easy to do.

More Richard Thompson


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Herbie Hancock - Takin’ Off

A Cisco Record We Recommend

  (Item #: hancotakin_84109) 



Sonic Grade: B-

The sound is SUPERB overall, with correct tonal balance and plenty of life. I was WAY TOO HARD on this album when it first came in. It’s playing right now and really swinging!

I just learned the secret to getting this one to sound right, and I am happy to share it with you. TURN IT UP!. When you get some volume going, the musicians really come to life on this album. It may sound crazy, but you need to play this one as loud as you would play your average rock record.

More Herbie Hancock


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My Aim Is True Can Really Rock

If You Have the Speaker System to Play It

  (Item #: costemyaim_volume) 



Another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

There is a line in the Hot Stamper commentary below concerning driving punk rock bass. Man, this record lives or dies by your ability to reproduce the powerful bottom end that propels this music. Pardon me for cueing up a broken record again, and with all due respect to the things they do well -- they must do something well, right? People keep buying them -- small speakers and screens are not going to cut it on My Aim Is True. This is precisely the kind of album they don’t do well.

More Big Speaker Recordings


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Letter of the Week

... going through all my Hot Stampers and taking it all in ...

  (Item #: hallograph_testimonial_1) 



This week’s letter comes from our good friend Franklin who was having some serious sound problems that were driving him crazy after moving his speakers from the long wall (not a good idea) to the short one (much better as a rule).

He already had one pair of Hallographs, which had helped his room problems quite a bit. We rely on three pair, and the second and third pair were a big improvement over the first, so we recommended another to Franklin, which, by the sound of this letter, seems to have worked miracles!

More on The Stereo


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Nirvana - Nevermind

Stretching Back to 2001

  (Item #: nirvanever_0308) 



DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND on side two! It’s got the big, uber-punchy, hard rockin’ attitude we demand from a Nevermind Hot Stamper. Side one is no slouch either folks, with A++ sound! Only one other copy had better sound for side one -- THIS ONE ROCKS!

Side two on this Nevermind has MASTER TAPE SOUND. We found the most amazing clarity and transparency on this copy. You will find the sound so rich and full-bodied that at times you'd swear it was tube mastered! Check out the presence to the vocals on side one. The WHOMP factor is out of control all over this pressing.


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The Dynamic Energy of Neil Young and His Crazy Horse Pals

They're LIVE in the Studio

  (Item #: youngzuma_listen) 



Another in our series of Random Thoughts and observations on recording-related issues.

Hot Stampers are all about finding those rare and very special pressings that manage to represent the master tape at its best.

Notice I did not say ACCURATELY represent the master tape, because the master tape may have faults that need to be corrected, and the only way to do that is in the mastering phase. I can tell you without fear of contradiction that fidelity to the master tape should never be, and rarely is, the goal of the mastering engineer.

More Neil Young


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The Turn Up Your Volume Test

Who’s Next

  (Item #: who__whosn_loud) 



Yet another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Now if you like to play records at 70 db, little of the following discussion will make much sense. There are some dumb ideas floating out there in Audiophile land, but playing music at quiet levels surely has to be one of the dumbest.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock albums by The Who


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The Turn Up Your Volume Test

Bonnie Raitt's Home Plate

  (Item #: raitthomep_loud) 



Another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This is a classic case of a record that really starts to work when the levels are up. It’s so free from distortion and phony processing it wants to be played loud, and that’s the level this music works at. It’s the level it was no doubt mixed at, and that mix sounds pretty flat at moderate levels. If you want to hear the real rockin’ Bonnie Raitt you gots to turn it up!

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