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Super Hot Stamper

Nat "King" Cole
Love Is The Thing

  (Item #: cole_lovei_1712) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • A lovely copy of this audiophile favorite, with Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides to rival the best pop vocal recordings we know of
  • Nat himself sounds especially immediate and real, and the strings are much less of a problem here than they are on most pressings
  • We have never heard the man sound better than he does on the best copies of this album
  • Allmusic raves: "Nat King Cole's collaborations with Gordon Jenkins rank among the finest from either artist or arranger. 1957's Love Is the Thing remains the epitome of the pair's undeniable compatibility, and it topped the album charts for eight weeks."
See all of our Nat "King" Cole albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

The Who
Live At Leeds

  (Item #: who__livea_1711) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • A hard-rockin' copy - this British Track pressing boasts huge and powerful Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • The recording is huge and lively with startling dynamics and in-the-room-presence like nothing you've heard
  • The drums are so solid, punchy and present they put to shame 99 out of 100 rock records you've ever played
  • 5 stars in Allmusic - a Rolling Stone readers' poll in 2012 ranked it the best live album of all time!
  • Cited as the best live rock recording of all time by The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, the BBC Q magazine, and Rolling Stone. In 2003, it was ranked number 170 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
See all of our Who albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Roxy Music
For Your Pleasure

  (Item #: roxymforyo_1711_2) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • With a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side two and a side one that's close to it, this vintage UK pressing has the Glam Rock sound you want
  • Roxy and their engineers and producers manage to capture a keyboard sound on their first two albums few bands in the history of the world can lay claim to
  • John Punter and Chris Thomas (The Beatles, Badfinger, Dark Side of the Moon) work their production magic, creating an enormous, 3-Dimensional soundstage to rival anything around
  • 5 Stars: "...another extraordinary record from Roxy Music, one that demonstrates even more clearly than the debut how avant-garde ideas can flourish in a pop setting."
More Roxy Music / More Bryan Fe

 
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Super Hot Stamper

Sonny Rollins
Way Out West

  (Item #: rolliwayou_1711_1) 

Our Price: $179.99

  • An excellent copy, earning Double Plus (A++) grades, or close to it, on both sides
  • This stereo pressing has superb 1957 Contemporary sound on hard-to-find quiet vinyl - true Mint Minus throughout!
  • One of our favorite Rollins records, this copy will show you everything we love about the recording
  • 5 Stars: "The timeless Way out West established Sonny Rollins as jazz's top tenor saxophonist"
See all of our Sonny Rollins albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Joan Baez
Diamonds and Rust

  (Item #: baez_diamo_1709s) 

Our Price: $179.99
Sale Price: $149.00 (You save $30.99 / 17%)


  • With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side two and a seriously good Double Plus side one, this copy will be hard to beat
  • If all you know are the originals you will be surprised at just how rich, natural and Tubey Magical the sound here can be
  • Guaranteed to handily beat the Nautilus Half-Speed as well as the TAS List-approved MoFi (which is awful by the way)
  • Five Stars: "...the real hit was the title track, a self-penned masterpiece and... her finest moment as a songwriter..."
See all of our Joan Baez albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

The Rolling Stones
Goats Head Soup

  (Item #: rolligoats_1711) 

Our Price: $179.99

  • With nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound, or close to it, from first note to last, this copy will show you the real Goat's Head Soup
  • We guarantee the sound is dramatically bigger, richer, fuller, and livelier than any pressing you have ever heard
  • Who knew the record could sound this good? Certainly not us! We had no luck with this album for years
  • "This may not be as downright funky, freaky, and fantastic as Exile, yet the extra layer of gloss brings out the enunciated lyrics, added strings, wah-wah guitars, explicit sex, and violence, making it all seem trippily decadent..."
See all of our Rolling Stones albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Jethro Tull
This Was

  (Item #: jethrthisw_1711) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • With outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides and fairly quiet UK surfaces this is a great copy - at any price
  • We've had only a handful of copies up since 2013 - it's that tough to find
  • Guaranteed to soundly trounce any Pink Label Island original you have ever heard - these are the Hot Stampers
  • Melody Maker thoroughly recommended the album in 1968 for being "full of excitement and emotion" and described the band as a blues ensemble "influenced by jazz music" capable of setting "the audience on fire". Wikipedia
See all of our Jethro Tull albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

David Bowie
Low

  (Item #: bowielow_1711) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • One of the better copies from our most recent shootout -- Double Plus (A++) or BETTER throughout
  • Both sides here are excellent -- big, rich and full with a huge bottom end and lots of energy
  • These British pressings (not originals by the way) play about as records from the era - Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • 5 stars on Allmusic for this groundbreaking album recorded with Eno -- "Low is a dense, challenging album that confirmed his place at rock's cutting edge..."
More David Bowie / More Brian Eno


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Super Hot Stamper

Linda Ronstadt
The Stone Poneys Feat. Linda Ronstadt

  (Item #: ronststone_1710) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our shootout for these later pressings
  • Much more folk than pop, for the most part the sound here is tubey, rich and sweet
  • The originals from 1967 have never impressed us much - re-released when HLAW hit big, it features three great Linda solos
  • "It doesn't have "Different Drum," but the first Stone Poneys album is their folkiest and best, dominated by close harmonies and strong original material by the group's guitarists, Bob Kimmel and Ken Edwards."
See all of our Linda Ronstadt albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Art Pepper
Meets The Rhythm Section

  (Item #: peppemeets_1710) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides - one of the better copies to hit the site recently
  • The stereo sound is full-bodied, with wonderful immediacy to Pepper's breathy sax and none of the bloated bass and murky mids of the originals
  • This Yellow Label pressing plays about as quiet as we can find them, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • Many consider this Five Star album to be the best record Art Pepper ever made "... a diamond of recorded jazz history."
More Art Pepper / More Red Garland


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Super Hot Stamper

Poco
Poco

  (Item #: poco_poco_1709) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side two and a seriously good Double Plus (A++) side one, this copy will be very hard to beat
  • This copy will show you the size, the space, the depth, the Tubey Magic - it has the freedom to get good and loud the right way
  • There are two Must Own Poco releases, including the first album - we think this is clearly the more interesting of the two
  • 4 stars in the AMG: "These songs represent the group's blend of country and rock at its finest and brightest."
See all of our Poco albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

The Byrds
Fifth Dimension

  (Item #: byrdsfifth_1703x) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • An excellent copy with Double Plus (A++) grades from beginning to end - this is the right sound for this music
  • Both sides are full-bodied, clean, clear and open with wonderful Sixties Folk Rock energy to spare
  • Many of their classics are here: Eight Miles High, Hey Joe, 5D (Fifth Dimension), Wild Mountain Thyme, Mr. Spaceman and more
  • Allmusic gives it 4 1/2 stars and credits the original material as "some of the first and best psychedelic rock."
More Byrds / More David Crosby


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Beethoven / Kreutzer and Spring Sonatas / Rubinstein

Shaded Dogs Vs. Red Seals

  (Item #: beethkreut_shaded_dogs) 



The Shaded Dog original RCA pressings are the best, right?

Not in our experience. We think that's just another Record Myth.

In this listing for one of our Hot Stamper 2-packs we compare the sound of the originals (which tend to be crude, veiled, recessed and a bit smeary) with the reissues, which can be awful or wonderful depending on which side of which copy you are playing.

More recordings featuring the violin


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Sly & The Family Stone - Stand

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: slyanstand_2017) 



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

Finally, a Triple Plus (A+++) copy of Sly’s classic Stand album from 1969, one of the few times that this album has EVER sounded the way it is supposed to! Man, most copies of this album just plain suck -- sonically of course.

Both sides here have lively punchy drums; a big soundfield, front to back and side to side; tonally correct vocals (which obviously are key and sound edgy and thin on most copies), and real resolution to the sound overall. Also just as importantly you lose the sibilance most copies suffer from and the smear on the horns goes away, thank goodness.

More Sly and the Family Stone


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Verdi / Rossini / Overtures and Intermezzos / Solti

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: varioover_1119_2016) 



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

This White Hot Stamper Plum Victrola pressing has GORGEOUS Tubey Magical Analog sound the likes of which you may have never heard. Yes, it's that good! Recorded in England by Decca in 1959, with Solti at the helm of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the music herein was originally released on the album Venice, LSC 2313, with a lovely die-cut cover. Six years later, still clearly in the Golden Age of Tubes, it was reissued on Victrola, and it would be hard to imagine it sounding any better than it does here. (We keep a noisy Venice as a ref but it sure doesn't sound like this pressing.)

More Living Stereo


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Super Hot Stamper

Paganini / Violin Concertos 1 & 2 / Menuhin / Erede

  (Item #: paganvioli_emi_1701s) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • Both sides earned excellent grades of Double Plus (A+++) or close to it - this is wonderful sounding recording of the works
  • One of the truly great virtuoso/romantic violin concertos, here with superb 1961 EMI Golden Age Analog Sound
  • The sound is simply bigger, more transparent, less distorted, and more three-dimensional than most
  • The best balance of orchestra and soloist we know of, with sound comparable to many of the great concerto recordings
See more of Niccolò Paganini's music in stock


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Gilbert and Sullivan / Pirates of Penzance

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: gilbepirat_lon_2009) 



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

EXCELLENT sound on EVERY side, with side three earning our coveted White Hot Stamper sonic grade, which means it is truly a Demo Disc. On virtually every side it has the kind of rich, sweet Decca/London sound over which we audiophiles have been known to drool. It's nothing short of AMAZING on the White Hot side -- so lively, rich and HUGE. This is a Top London pressing in every way.

And it just so happens that such superb sonics are found on a lowly budget reissue, the Jubilee London label, pressed in Holland no less! Thank goodness we don't judge records either by their labels, their country of manufacture or their pressing era.


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Traffic - Mr. Fantasy

Where's the Bass?

  (Item #: traffmrfan_pink) 



This Pink Label Original Island pressing has amazingly sweet, open, extended and transparent mids and highs. It has two major shortcomings: a lack of bass, and a fair amount of surface noise. If you can add a few dB around 50 cycles and can put up with some surface noise and scratches, you are guaranteed to hear some wonderful sound in the best tubey Island tradition.

Side two sounds better than side one; it has more bass and therefore is more tonally correct.

More Traffic


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Dopey Record Theories Part 2

Putting More Bad Ideas to the Test

  (Item #: book_2) 



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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White Hot Stamper

Shorty Rogers Big Band
Jazz Waltz

  (Item #: rogerjazzw_1606x) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Triple Triple -- both sides earned our top A+++ grade with crazy good West Coast Jazz sound
  • The overall sound is sweet, airy and huge - the brass just jumps out of the soundfield
  • Engineered by the great Bones Howe, who got the most out of these swingin' Big Band waltzes
  • This Discovery reissue from 1981 positively murders every original we've ever played and proves that to know what a record sounds like you really have to play it
See all of our Shorty Rogers albums in stock


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Poco - Poco

Are the Original Pressings the Best Sounding?

  (Item #: poco_poco_original) 



I've been a fan of this album since it came out in 1970, but I never thought that the original pressings were especially good sounding.

Turns out I was right -- the original Yellow Label Epic pressings leave much to be desired, so much so that we simply do not bother to pick them up anymore. Based on the results of this shootout I would say it's very unlikely we would offer you anything but a later label copy as a Hot Stamper. Ah, but which one? That's always the rub, isn't it? They all sound different, and most are nothing special.

See all of our Poco albums in stock


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The Beach Boys - Surfer Girl

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: beachsurfe_2016) 



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

If you've ever played an original pressing of the album you know what a sonic mess it is. There may be some good sounding copies out there but we've never heard one and remain skeptical in the extreme as to the possibility. Ever heard a top quality early Beatles Capitol pressing? Me neither.

More Beach Boys


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Frank Zappa & The Mothers - Freak Out!

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: zappafreak_2010) 



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

No Demo Disc by any stretch, this Hot Stamper beat the pants off of what appears to be a true first pressing that we just happened to have on hand. Most pressings of this double album are just awful, if you can even find one that's clean enough to bother playing. Our copy here earned grades of A Plus on sides one, two and four, and a grade of A Double Plus on side three. No copy in our shootout earned a higher grade than A++, for the simple reason that we just can't find enough clean original copies with which to do a definitve shootout.

More Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention


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Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 / Monteux

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: tchaisymph6_1009_2011) 



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

This remastered Victrola version of the original Living Stereo pressing (LSC 1901) is guaranteed to KILL any and all originals -- Shaded Dogs, White Dogs, Red Seals -- you name it, this pressing will beat the pants off of it, guaranteed. I've played many copies of the earlier RCAs and I have surely never heard one sound like this, with so much LIFE and CLARITY. Where is all the old cutter head distortion, congestion and frequency limiting? It's sure not here!

See more entries in our Originals vs. Reissues series


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Tchaikovsky / 1812 Overture / Alwyn

Not Recommended Original

  (Item #: tchai1812_6038) 



This very nice looking London Blueback original LP with Little Sign of Play (LSOP) contains the famous Alwyn conducted performance of the 1812 Overture.

The sound leaves much to be desired; at best it would be likely to earn about a "C" grade, as the average classical record is not very good sounding and not even worth the bother to play it.

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)


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The Beatles - With the Beatles

The Early Pressings Are the Best, Right?

  (Item #: beatlwitht_myth) 



Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

So many Parlophone copies would have you think With The Beatles is a gritty, edgy, crude recording -- especially if you made the mistake of buying an early pressing. The early pressings are consistently grittier, edgier and more crude than the later pressings we played.

So much for the old canard that Original Always Equals Better. When it comes to With The Beatles it just ain't so, and it doesn't take a State-of-the-Art system or pair of golden ears to hear it.

More With the Beatles


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Grieg / Peer Gynt / Fjeldstad / LSO

Our Shootout Winner from 2005

  (Item #: griegpeerg_sts_2005) 



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

This is overall the best sounding pressing of the Fjeldstad / LSO we have ever played, with BETTER than Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides. For those of you who know your Londons, when you see the label on this LP you will no doubt be shocked: This is the last pressing in the world that one would expect to sound good.

Of course we here at Better Records don't give a sh*t about any such conventional wisdom / collector bias. We like audiophile quality sound and we don't give a damn where we find it. Up against the competition this copy was superb in practically every way, excelling with orchestral size, weight and energy like virtually no other.

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Illinois Jacquet - How High The Moon

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: jacquehowhi_2011) 



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

This Prestige Two-Fer Jazz Double LP has three great sides, including a DEMO DISC side one! The album combines material from four different Illinois Jacquet albums (Bottoms Up, The King, The Soul Explosion, and The Blues; That's Me!). The sound is AMAZING and Jacquet plays beautifully. He's one of the creators of the big soulful tenor sax sound. I don't know of anyone who does it better.

More Illinois Jacquet


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Leonard Bernstein - West Side Story

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: bernswests_2015) 



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

SUPERB sound can be found on these two Columbia stereo pressings of the Broadway Cast recording. This is a huge, spacious, natural, exciting All-Tube Golden Age recording that impressed us no end here at Better Records.

We heard an amazing sounding copy many years ago, and the only reason we haven't done the shootout since then is that we just couldn't find enough clean copies with which to do it. To be clear, we're not talking quiet vinyl, we're talking about not beat-to-death, not all-scractched-up vinyl. People loved this music and they played the hell out of it.

More of the music of (or music conducted or performed by) Leonard Bernstein


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Schubert / The Trout Quintet / Curzon / Vienna Octet

Original Versus Reissue

  (Item #: schubtrout_6090_2013) 



This unusual 2-pack combines two very different pressings from very different eras to create a complete performance of The "Trout" Quintet with SUPERB Super Hot Stamper (or better) on both sides. One pressing, the one shown, is from the early '60s; the other is from 1982. How could an imported budget late reissue beat a superb Golden Age pressing on any side you ask? Well, the answer to that question is provided by the records we will send you.
More of the music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828)


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Roxy Music - For Your Pleasure

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: roxymforyo_2017) 



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

This album is a MASTERPIECE of Art Rock, Glam Rock and Bent Rock all rolled into one. Spacious, dynamic, present, with HUGE MEATY BASS and tons of energy, the sound is every bit as good as the music. (At least on this copy it is. That's precisely what Hot Stampers are all about.)

More Roxy Music / More Bryan Ferry


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Bill Evans - Sunday at the Village Vanguard

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: evanssunda_2016) 



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

Huge space; clear, highly resolving cymbal harmonics that extend all the way into space; lively energy; bass that's deep and note-like -- I just don't know how you can make this live piano trio music sound any better than it does here!

The best sounding Bill Evans record we have ever played? Probably. it's safe to say that at the very least it's as good as any we've critically evaluated on our current system.

More Bill Evans


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Grieg / Peer Gynt Suites / Fiedler (LSC 2125)

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: griegpeerg_2125_2008) 



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

Red Seal pressing with EXCELLENT SOUND!

Fiedler is wonderful here, which is to be expected. What's unusual about this Red Seal is how good the sound is. It's extremely transparent and tonally correct. It sounds to me like a flat transfer. Some tubey colorations would be nice, especially in the louder passages. The sound also lacks a bit of weight in the bottom end. But these faults are mostly made up for by the tremendous clarity and freedom from distortion that this pressing has. I doubt if the Shaded Dog has those qualities.

More Living Stereo


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The Byrds - Fifth Dimension

The Red Labels Can Rock

(More Accurately, Some of Them Can)

  (Item #: byrdsfifth_2014) 



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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Poco - Poco

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: poco_poco_2016) 



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

Poco's second album is an unusual blend of country-rock, with some long, jazzy instrumental breaks that center around Rusty Young's pedal steel, which doesn't sound like any pedal steel guitar you've ever heard. It's played with a wah-wah pedal and, if that wasn't enough, the resulting sound is sent through a Leslie organ speaker.

We know it sounds crazy, but it really works. There is nothing else like it on record, nothing that we've ever heard anyway.

More Poco


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John Coltrane - John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: coltrjohnc_2016) 



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

An outstanding copy of this classic Jazz Vocal album, with superb sound throughout. The sound is huge and spacious with richness and Tubey Magic like nothing you've heard. I defy you to find a Male Vocal record produced in the last thirty years that can hold a candle to this one sonically or musically. A wonderful collaboration between a horn player and a singer, perhaps the greatest of all time.

More John Coltrane / More Johnny Hartman


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Jethro Tull - Benefit

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: jethrbenef_2016) 



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

WHOA! The best copy of Benefit to hit the site in OVER EIGHT YEARS! The sound is big, rich, tubey and solid with excellent transparency

See all Jethro Tull albums in stock


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Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 (Pathetique) / Monteux

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: tchaisymph6_2012) 



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

Presenting a first for Better Records: a White Hot Stamper copy of this CORRECTLY remastered version of LSC 1901, which just happens to be a recording from the earliest days of stereo, 1955! It's guaranteed to KILL any and all original Shaded Dogs, as well as the more common reissues; White Dogs, Red Seals, Gold Seals, Victrolas, Classic Heavy Vinyl, you name it, this pressing will beat the pants off of it and in the process show you precisely what is wrong with each and every one of them.

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)


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Chicago - Chicago II

360 Original or Red Label Reissue?

  (Item #: chicachica2_360_vs_red) 



Both can be good. I did the shootout (TP) and often tried to guess the label for the copy I was hearing, for fun more than anything else. I have to admit that my batting average was not much better than chance.

The 360s tend to be a little fuller and smearier, but plenty of red label copies sound that way and some 360s don't, so trying to match the sound to the label was even more pointless than usual.

When comparing pressings in a shootout it's too late for the label to have any predictive value. We've already bought the records, cleaned them all up and now just want to know what they actually sound like -- not which ones might be the best, but which ones are the best.

More Chicago


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Jethro Tull - This Was

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: jethrthisw_2016) 



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

Guaranteed to MURDER any Pink Label Island original you have ever heard - these are the Hot Stampers.

Folks, this is the best copy we are going to have on the site for a very long time. It took years and hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to get this shootout going and this killer copy is the result.

See all of our Jethro Tull albums in stock


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Creedence Clearwater Revival - Cosmo's Factory

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: creedcosmo_2015) 



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

Clean copies of the album are rare enough as it is; good sounding clean copies are as rare for this title as for practically any we offer.

Fortunately we've made some strides of late finding the "right' pressings for this band, and with better cleaning technologies we are finding that the better copies such as this one are sounding the way we want our Creedence records to sound.

More Creedence Clearwater


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Brahms & Dvorak / Hungarian & Slavonic Dances / Reiner

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: brahmhunga_15009_2010) 



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

GOOD SOUND and QUIET VINYL on both sides of this British Stereo Treasury pressing -- this one beat out some of our Blueback pressings! This one gives you more extension both up top and down low than the typical pressings. It's not the most impressive record in the world, but it's a nice step up from most copies out there and the vinyl is quiet.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Tchaikovsky / Excerpts from The Nutcracker / Reiner / CSO

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: tchainutcr_2328_2013) 



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

This RCA reissue pressing of LSC 2328 has some of the BEST SOUND we have ever heard for The Nutcracker, and we've played them by the dozens, on the greatest Golden Age labels of all time, including the likes of Mercury, RCA and London. In a somewhat (but not too) surprising turn of events, the reissue pressing we are offering here beat all the originals and early reissues we could throw at it. Finally, this legendary Mohr/Layton production can be heard in its full glory!

If you like your Nutcracker exciting and dynamic, this is the copy for you.

More Tchaikovsky


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Cream - Wheels Of Fire

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: creamwheel_2007) 



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

It wasn’t easy, but we’ve cracked one of the toughest nuts around -- WHITE HOT STAMPERS FOR WHEELS OF FIRE! Sides one, two, and three on this RSO British LP have SUPERB SOUND AND QUIET VINYL! We’ve never heard White Room sound nearly as amazing as it does here -- you aren’t going to believe all the WHOMP!

More Eric Clapton and Cream


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Art Pepper - Meets The Rhythm Section

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: peppemeets_2009) 



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

This LP has AMAZING SOUND on both sides with each rating A+++ or something very close to it. This one has all the tubey magic of the best black label originals, without their bad vinyl and bloated bass. I get black label original Contemporary pressings in all the time, but few of them are mastered right and most never make it to the site. Some are pure muck. Some have bloated bass that is hard to believe. Don’t buy into that record collecting slash audiophile canard that Original Equals Better. It's BS.

More Art Pepper


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Miles Davis - Workin’ And Steamin’

Our Shootout Winning Mono from 2010

  (Item #: davisworki_2010) 



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

To the Jazz Fans of the World, we here present one of the BEST sounding jazz recordings we have ever had the PRIVILEGE to place on a turntable. I cannot ever recall hearing a better sounding Rudy Van Gelder recording, and I have a theory as to why this tape is as good as it is: it's MONO. It also sounds like it's recorded completely LIVE in the studio, direct to one track you might say. As good a recording as Kind of Blue is, I think the best parts of this album are more immediate and more real than anything on KOB.

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Roxy Music - Roxy Music

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: roxymroxym_2011) 



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

The legendary first Roxy Music album returns to the site in tip top White Hot Stamper form, boasting no less than an incredible A+++ White Hot Side Two coupled with a superb A++ Super Hot Side One! Folks, it doesn't get much better than this!

In considering both music and sound, this is arguably the best record the band ever made. Siren, Avalon and Country Life are all musically sublime, but the first album has the kind of dynamic, energetic, POWERFUL sound that their other records simply never show us. And we've played them by the dozens, so there's a pretty good chance we will never find copies with the abundant richness and power we found here.

More Roxy Music


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Pink Floyd - Meddle

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: pinkfmeddl_2012) 



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

Side two is where the 20+ minute prog epic Echoes is found, and the sound of it on this copy is MINDBLOWINGLY GOOD. If you're the kind of guy who will get a thrill from hearing Pink Floyd bangin' out one of their heaviest psych jams with top quality sonics, this copy will completely knock you out. And side one is no slouch either -- it sounds amazing as well! Drop the needle on ’One of These Days’ and listen to how HUGE the soundfield is, it’s big, wide and deep so you can really hear into the music.

More Meddle


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Linda Ronstadt - Heart Like A Wheel

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: ronstheart_2011) 



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

This original Capitol Orange Label LP has TWO SUPERB sides, with side two earning our top grade of A+++ for its White Hot sound! And side one was nearly as good at A++ to A+++. These are the highest grades we are awarding to any copy on the site, folks. It doesn't get any better. The sound is uncharacteristically smooth, sweet, clear and Tubey Magical, light years from the grungy grit and grain that plagues most copies of Heart Like a Wheel.

Things are different since our last big shootout back in 2009. We learned a lot about the record and have added plenty of new commentary to back it up. If you're a fan check it out.

More Heart Like a Wheel


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Super Hot Stamper

Shorty Rogers Big Band
Jazz Waltz

  (Item #: rogerjazzw_1609) 

Our Price: $69.99

  • Killer sound for this fun Big Band music, with Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides - open and clear, with solid bass throughout
  • This is swingin' West Coast jazz at its best. Of course, the arrangements are done in waltz time, but that doesn't keep them from swingin'
  • Engineered by the great Bones Howe, a man who knows Tubey Magic like practically no one else in the world
  • 4 Stars on Allmusic - this Discovery reissue from 1981 positively murders every original we've played
See all of our Shorty Rogers albums in stock


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John Coltrane - Lush Life

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: coltrlushl_2016) 



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

We've been searching for years trying to find just what kind of Lush Life pressing -- what era, what label, what stampers, mono or stereo, import or domestic -- had the potential for good sound.

No, scratch that. We should have said excellent sound. Exceptional sound. We've played plenty of copies that sounded pretty good, even very good, but exceptional? A pressing of that caliber had eluded us -- until 2016.

More John Coltrane


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Mel Torme - Swings Shubert Alley

The Original Pressings Are the Best, Right?

  (Item #: tormeswing_original) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing. Don't buy into that record collecting / audiophile canard that the originals have better sound.

The original Verve stereo pressing -- true, we only had the one, so take it for what it's worth -- was dry, lean and evinced very little of the Tubey Magic that VAL VALENTIN managed to get on the master tape.

More Mel Torme


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The Yardbirds - Roger The Engineer

Original Pressing Debunked in 2008

  (Item #: yardbroger_original) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing. Don't buy into that record collecting / audiophile canard that the originals are always better sounding.

The original British pressing -- true, we only had the one, so take it for what it's worth -- was a poor imitation of what was surely on the master tape, as revealed by the Edsel reissues. Maybe you have a good sounding one, can't say you don't. But we would be very unlikely to spend much money on an original import pressing after hearing this one. And the domestic records we've played were clearly made from dub tapes, so they're a bust too.

More Yardbirds


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Ray Charles - The Genius After Hours

Top Quality Remastering Was Possible in 1985

  (Item #: charlthege_remastering) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on records.

Proof positive that there is nothing wrong with remastering vintage recordings if you know what you're doing. These sessions from 1956 (left off of an album that Allmusic liked a whole lot less than this one) were remastered in 1985 and the sound -- on the better copies mind you -- is correct from top to bottom.

More Ray Charles


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Shorty Rogers Big Band - Jazz Waltz

Leave the Originals for the Jazz Collectors

  (Item #: rogerjazzw_2014) 



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

The original Reprise pressing, whether in mono or stereo, has never sounded very good to us. The mono is quite a bit worse than the stereo - no surprise there - but both must be considered poor reflections of the master tape.

We sold one many years ago, describing it this way: "Beautiful Original with decent sound -- rich, smooth and sweet."

More Shorty Rogers


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Linda Ronstadt - The Stone Poneys Featuring Linda Ronstadt

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: ronststone_2015) 



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

White Hot on side one, and by far the best sound we heard in our shootout for these 1975 pressings.The originals from 1967 have never impressed us. Much more folk than pop, for the most part the sound here is tubey, rich and sweet. Re-released when HLAW hit big, this album features three great Linda solos.

More Linda Ronstadt


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Joan Baez - Diamonds and Rust

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: baez_diamo_2014) 



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

The last shootout for this record took place in 2007. It's remembered as not an especially happy affair. We can confidently report that this time around things are sounding a lot better than we expected, with rich, smooth, natural analog sound on the better copies. This is undoubtedly the result of our much better cleaning regimen and the many improvements to the system and room we have made over so many years.

More Joan Baez


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Beethoven, Bach, Schubert / Trios / Heifetz, Primrose, Piatigorsky

On the Red Seal Label?

  (Item #: beethtrios_reissue) 



So often when we do these shootouts involving original pressings up against their reissue counterparts, it's the reissues that sound rich, warm and tubey, and the originals that sound dry and boxy. If you haven't noticed that in your own critical listening, play this record against any shaded dog that you own and see which one is more Tubey Magical.

If you have your VTA set right, you might be shocked to find it's this one. Don't get us wrong; lots of these later RCA pressings are awful: thin, often with no top end at all. Flat transfers perhaps? Who is to say?

More Living Stereo


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Delibes / Coppelia & Sylvia / Ansermet

London Vs. Decca, Again

  (Item #: delibcoppe_decca) 



Once again, the right Decca reissue blows the doors off the original we played. This has lately become a pattern, but keep in mind it's a pattern that's reliable less than half the time, if memory is any guide. Many of the Decca reissues we've played over the last few years have failed badly in a head to head with their earlier-mastered and -pressed counterparts. But the ones that beat all comers are the ones that stick in our minds and show up on our site. Clearly a case of confirmation bias, but at least we know something about our own biases.
More of the music of Leo Delibes (1836-1891)


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Count Basie - Basie Plays Hefti

Original Versus Reissue

  (Item #: basieplays_versus) 



The original pressings are the best, right?

Not in our experience. It's (probably) just another Record Myth.

Basie was recording like a madman back in the late '50s and even all through the '60s. In 1958, the year of this release, he put out seven (7!) albums on the Roulette label. We've played quite a number of them over the years and found relatively few with audiophile quality sound.

Including the original Roulette pressing of this very title. We've only heard a few, and had only one for our shootout, but it was awful enough to make us swear off buying more, especially considering the prices vintage jazz albums are going for these days.

More Count Basie


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Oliver Nelson - The Blues and the Abstract Truth

Mastering Better Than The Master

  (Item #: nelsoblues_rvg) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts concerning the sound of old records.

For those of you who are still holding on to the idea that the original pressings are better, our Hot Stamper LPs may come as quite a surprise. Yes, we can all agree that Rudy Van Gelder recorded it, brilliantly as a matter of fact. Shouldn't he be the most natural choice to transfer the tape to disc, knowing, as we must assume he does, exactly what needs fixing and what needs to be left alone?

More Oliver Nelson


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Joan Baez - Diamonds and Rust

The Half-Speed that Beats Most Originals

  (Item #: baez_diamo_nautilus) 



Sonic Grade: B+

One of the best Half Speed Mastered Records we have ever played.

In our recent shootout we were shocked -- shocked -- to hear how good our old copy of Diamonds and Rust on Nautilus sounded head to head against the best first pressings. Hard to believe, but it actually beat practically every one. If I hadn't heard it with my own two ears I wouldn't have believed it.

More Joan Baez


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Massenet / Le Cid / Martinon

This Blueback Was Awful

  (Item #: masselecid_6058) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing. Don't buy into that record collecting / audiophile canard that the originals are always better.

The original Blueback pressing -- true, we only had the one, so take it for what it's worth -- was a complete disaster: shrill, with no top or bottom to speak of.

See more of Massenet's music


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Bloomfield / Kooper / Stills - Super Session

All Things Are Never Equal

  (Item #: bloomsuper_equal) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning (usually old) records.

Can the Red Label reissues sound any good?

Why yes, they can, and here's why. Every once in a while, when it comes time to stamp out some more copies of slow but still-selling records, "back catalog" as they are known in the trade, someone has to go into the vault and find a tape with which to master. Maybe that person finds a real master tape. Or maybe that person finds a master tape and makes a really high quality dub of it to master from.

More Al Kooper / More Stephen Stills


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Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 (Pathetique) / Monteux

Shaded Dog Originals Suck

  (Item #: tchaisymph6_1901) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing.

We've played at least three Shaded Dogs of LSC 1901 since 2011 and all three were AWFUL. A recent reissue showed us the light.

The size and scope of this recording is enormous, with the orchestral sections clearly staged wide and deep. Where is the old tube smear and compression and opacity? It must not be on the tape, because I hear no trace of it.

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)


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Barbra Streisand - Je M'Appelle Barbra

'60s 360 Vs. '70s Red

  (Item #: streijemap_fame) 



For Barbra Streisand's early albums the original pressings on the 360 label have just got to be better, right?

Nope. It’s just another Record Myth. The best of the 360 pressings in our shootout did well, just not as well.

Our good later label pressings had all the richness and Tubey Magic of the 360s -- one really couldn't tell which pressing was on the turntable by the sound -- but had a bit more space, clarity and freedom from artificiality.

More Barbra Streisand


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Bill Evans - Moon Beams

OJC versus Riverside

  (Item #: evansmoonb_wtlf) 



The original Riverside pressings are the best, right?

Not in our experience. We think that's just another Record Myth.

Some of you may have discovered that the original Bill Evans records on Riverside are mostly awful sounding -- I can't recall ever hearing a good one -- so we are not the least bit worried that this OJC won't beat the pants off of the original, as well as any other reissue you may have, and even the new Analogue Productions 45.

More Bill Evans


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Testing New Paradigms and Old

  (Item #: paradigms) 



It is our strongly held belief that if your equipment (regardless of cost) or your critical listening skills do not allow you to hear the kinds of sonic differences among pressings we describe, then whether you are just getting started in audio or are a self-identified audio expert writing for the most prestigious magazines and websites, you still have a very long way to go in this hobby.

Purveyors of the old paradigms -- original is better, money buys good sound -- may eventually find their approach to records and equipment unsatisfactory (when it isn't just plain wrong), but they will only do so if they start to rely more on empirical findings and less on convenient theories and received wisdom.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Rubber Soul


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Rossini / Overtures / Maag / PCO

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: rossiovert_fame) 



The London and Decca original pressings are the best, right?

Not in our experience. We think that's just another Record Myth.

This Stereo Treasury pressing of Maag's 1958 recording is shockingly good in many ways. It sure doesn't sound like a budget reissue. If anything it sounds more original than the originals we played against it!

More of the music of Ottorino Rossini (1879-1936)


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Liszt, Enesco, Smetana / Rhapsodies - Stokowski

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: lisztrhaps_2471) 



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

This RCA Living Stereo White Dog LP has SUPERB SOUND!

I'm a big fan of this title. The string tone is rich and dark and just wonderful. If you want an exciting record with outstanding Living Stereo sound -- dynamic, with strings to die for, and an energetic performance, this is the one! Don't let the White Dog fool you. I doubt if the average Shaded Dog is any better. This record sounds just right to me. Listen to how clear and correct the triangle is.

See all of our Living Stereo albums in stock


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Heavy Vinyl Reviews

Obvious Differences Don't Seem to Register

  (Item #: rimskscheh_reviews) 



There is a newly remastered 33 RPM pressing of the album which has garnered rave reviews in the audiophile press. We have played it and will report our findings at the appropriate time.

Have you noticed that in many of the reviews for the new pressing, the original used for comparison is a Shaded Dog? In our experience almost no Shaded Dog pressings are competitive with the better White Dog pressings, and many of them are just plain awful, as we have mentioned previously on the site. At best one out of three would qualify to be offered as a Hot Stamper; most simply would not make the cut.

More of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)


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Miles Davis - Kind of Blue

White Hot on the '70s Red Label? Can You Really Be Serious?

  (Item #: daviskindo_wtlf) 



When it comes to Miles Davis' jazz classic Kind of Blue, the 6-eye originals are of course the best sounding, right?

Nope. It’s just another Record Myth. Based on scores of pressings it has been our experience that the best sound for this album is found on standard domestic Red Label pressings from the '70s. I'm fully aware of how outrageous a statement that may seem to those who believe that original pressings are always superior, but we've long known of top of the heap, can't be beat Kind Of Blue reissues, going on more than twenty years now.

More Miles Davis


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Supertramp - Crisis? What Crisis?

Another Question: Original Is Better?

  (Item #: supercrisi_wtlf) 



This is an older listing that illustrates how We Was Wrong when we thought the best domestic copies were not competitive with the A&M Half-Speed or better British pressings.

We touch on other much-loved themes in this commentary, such as the myth that the original pressing is going to be better than a reissue or later stamper. On this album that is definitely not the case.

More Crisis? What Crisis?


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Brahms Violin Concerto

Is the 1s Pressing Always the Best?

  (Item #: brahmvioli_1903_myth) 



This early Shaded Dog pressing of a 1958 recording has surprisingly good Super Hot stamper sound on side two. On the second side the sound opens up and is very sweet, with the violin becoming much more present and clear. The whole of side two is transparent with an extended top. Usually the earliest Living Stereo titles suffer from a lack of top end extension, but not this one.

Maybe the 1S is that way. For some reason audiophiles tend to think that the earliest cuttings are the best, but that's just another Record Myth in our experience, easily refuted if you've played hundreds of these Living Stereo pressings and noted which stampers sound the best and which do not.

More recordings featuring the violin


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Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

The Earliest Stampers Sound the Best, Right?

  (Item #: john_goodb_myth) 



Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

We had a White Hot stamper listing a while back with these comments featured prominently in the description:

This is BY FAR the best sounding Goodbye Yellow Brick Road to ever hit the site, and BY FAR the best sounding copy we have ever played here at Better Records. And for those of you who think that the early stampers must be the best, note that this killer copy had no side with a stamper under three. How about them apples? As we like to say, screw all that Platonic thinking; we find the empirical approach of playing the records works a whole lot better, thank you very much.

More Goodbye Yellow Brick Road


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Tchaikovsky / Piano Concerto #1 / Richter / Karajan

Another Audio Myth Explodes

  (Item #: tchaipiano_myth) 



The original Large Tulip early pressings are the best on this record, right?

Nope. It’s just another Record Myth, as explained in the commentary for our recent Hot Stamper 2-pack. That pair of pressings was all the proof we required to back up our contention that either label can be the best on this classic DG recording. Original is better? Again, not so much. Original can be better fits more with our experience.

See all pressings of Tchaikovsky's music in stock


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Judy Collins - Who Knows Where The Time Goes

The Gold Labels Are the Best, Right?

  (Item #: colliwhokn_original) 



Nope. It’s just another one of them pesky Record Myths.

As often happens in these shootouts, the copy that's supposed to be the most Tubey Magical and "Real" -- most audiophiles would nominate the Gold Label original as their first choice on both counts -- turns out, counterintuitively, to be somewhat flat, lean and "modern" sounding. We were as surprised as anyone (even though we shouldn't be by now). We're fans of early label Elektra pressings as a rule; on this title they usually left us wanting more.

More Judy Collins


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Benny Carter on Contemporary

Tube Versus Transistor Tradeoffs

  (Item #: carteswing_original) 



In some ways yes, in some ways no, and we are happy to lay it all out for you based on the critical listening we undertook recently. Here's how we weighed the tradeoffs in the sound of the originals versus that of the reissues, with VTA advice to follow.

This superb sounding ORIGINAL Black Label Contemporary pressing of Benny Carter's swingin’ jazz quartet is the very definition of a top jazz stereo recording from the late '50s mastered through an all tube chain.
More Benny Carter


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Art Pepper + Eleven

The Originals Are Better, Right?

  (Item #: peppemoder_original) 



Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

We used to get the original Contemporary pressings in all the time, but so few are mastered right practically none ever make it to the site. Some are pure muck; others have bass that's so bloated it's hard to tell if it's electric or acoustic. And where's the presence? We dropped the needle on a few Black Label copies of this title and were entirely underwhelmed.

More Art Pepper


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Jethro Tull - Stand Up

Is The Pink Label Always The Hot Ticket?

  (Item #: jethrstand_pink) 



Well, it certainly can be, but sometimes it isn't, and failing to appreciate that possibility is a classic case of misundertanding a crucially important fact or two about records. Audiophile analog devotees would do well to keep these facts in mind, especially considering the prices original British pressings are fetching these days.

Simply put: Since no two records sound alike, it follow that the right label doesn't guarantee the right sound. A recent shootout illustrated both of these Truths.

More Stand Up


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Black, Green, Yellow...

Which Color Sounds the Best?

  (Item #: contemporary) 



Our Hot Stamper commentary from a recent shootout we did for the wonderful Helen Humes album Songs I Like to Sing discusses the sonic characteristics we find most commonly associated with the various Contemporary labels, to wit.

This Contemporary Black Label Original LP has that classic tube-mastered sound -- warmer, smoother, and sweeter than the later pressings, with more breath of life. Overall the sound is well-balanced and tonally correct from top to bottom, which is rare for a black label Contemporary, as they are usually dull and bass-heavy.

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The Fab Four on Parlophone

The Original Beatles Pressings Are the Best, Right?

  (Item #: beatles_myth) 



Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

Back in 2005 we compared the MFSL pressing of Help to a British Parlophone LP and were -- mistakenly, as you may have already surmised -- impressed by the MoFi.

More of The Beatles


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How to Find a Hot Stamper Deja Vu

Hint: Ignore Conventional Wisdom

  (Item #: crosbdejav_conventionalwisdom) 



A testimonial from a customer for his Hot Stamper Deja Vu provides a forum for the discussion of just what are the higher fidelity pressings.

Never make the mistake of confusing Better Sounding pressing with More Original pressing; they have nothing -- and I mean nothing -- to do with each other. It’s just another Record Collecting Canard. The audio world is full of them.

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


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