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The Pretenders - Learning to Crawl

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: pretelearn_2013) 



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

This copy has real rock and roll energy in its grooves, a quality which earned it serious points here at Better Records. With Robbie McIntosh having joined the band, this is first and foremost a ROCK GUITAR record; his jangly, grungy riffs drive every song.

Think of Middle of the Road -- everything that's good about this band on this album is there in the song: it's uptempo, with a driving beat and guitars well up in the mix. Only the best pressings convey the energy and enthusiasm of the band while avoiding the grunge, flatness and hardness that make the typical pressing all but unlistenable at loud volumes.

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Tchaikovsky / Swan Lake / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: tchaiswanl_2204_2012) 



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

This London Small Red Label "Whiteback" (it's white inside the box, not on the back but you get what I mean) UK Import 2 LP Set put every other recording we had of Swan Lake to shame. This is the one folks, assuming you want a nearly complete performance of the work. (We will have some single LP highlight pressings coming to the site down the road. The Fistoulari on London can be especially good on the right pressing.)

The performance here by Ansermet and the Suisse Romande I rank second to none.

See more of Tchaikovsky's music


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Prokofiev / Scythian Suite & The Prodigal Son - Ansermet

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: prokoscyth_6538_2006) 



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

This is a London Whiteback LP with SUPERB SOUND on both sides. It's immediate, dynamic, very low distortion, spacious, and relatively sweet. The bass deserves special mention here. You rarely hear recordings from the '50s and early '60s, the kind of LPs that were mastered with tubes of course, having this kind of truly deep punchy bass. As this album was recorded in '67 and mastered relatively soon thereafter, the cutting equipment capable of inscribing deep bass onto a slab of vinyl was widely available. For this piece of music it's almost mandatory to get good solid low end.

More of the music of Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)


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Paganini & Wieniawski / Concerto No.1 & Con. No. 2 - Rabin

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: paganconce_2010x) 



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

WONDERFUL MUSIC AND SOUND ON SIDE ONE, plus quiet vinyl! This copy gives you precisely the right balance of clarity and sweetness we were looking for in the sound of the violin. Beyond that, the orchestra also sounds amazing here -- so RICH and FULL-BODIED. We found the sound of this side one Hard To Fault and I bet you will too. In fact, I guarantee it -- or your money back! This record puts most of the TAS Super Discs to shame, and it's on a budget reissue label. Hey Harry, how about them apples!?

More recordings featuring the violin


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Paganini / Violin Concerto 1 & 2 / Ricci (LL 1215)

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: paganconce_2010) 



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

This is one of the MOST AMAZING VIOLIN RECORDINGS in the history of the world. For sheer violin virtuosity it doesn't get any better than this. Ricci and London in the early '50s cannot be beat! This is a true Demo Disc with music of the highest caliber, and I'm betting whoever takes this one home will be THRILLED.

Both sides are dynamic, full-bodied, lively and sweet. This is a vintage London mono recording of the '50s and consequently has some limitations in terms of bandwidth and of course soundstage, but the luscious midrange more than makes up for both. The violin is REAL in a way that few other recordings manage to make it.

More recordings featuring the violin


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Mendelssohn and Bruch / Violin Concertos / Ricci / Gamba

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: mendevioli_6010_2011) 



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

One of the great London violin concerto records. With a Super Hot Stamper copy such as this one, the Mendelssohn here has DEMO QUALITY SOUND!

In Ruggiero Ricci's hands both works are nothing short of magical (although the Bruch never sounds especially good in our experience). If you want to know why people drool over Golden Age recordings, listen to the violin on side one. If you're not careful you may find yourself drooling too.

More London Classical Records


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Mendelssohn / Scotch Symphony / Maag

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: mendescotc_6191_2011) 



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

Both sides of this record have that classic Decca chocolatey, rich, sweet sound. It''s not for everybody, it''s probably not the sound one would hear in a concert hall, but we love it and so do many audiophiles.

The performance here by Maag is legendary and definitive. The sound is perfectly suited for this music, with massed strings to die for. This is classic Tubey Magical Decca orchestral sound. If you want immediacy, buy a Mercury. If you want luscious, rich string tone, this London should be right up your alley.

More of the music of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)


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Bernard Herrmann - The Mysterious Film World Of...

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: herrmmyste_2014) 



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

An OUTSTANDING RECORDING -- with a huge three-dimensional stage, open, clear, extended up top and down low -- the sound on this White Hot Side One is nothing short of AMAZING. And side two isn't far behind!

Side one boasts some wonderful material from Mysterious Island and Jason and the Argonauts. Who else but Herrmann could have orchestrated such phantasmagorical goings on?

See all our Bernard Herrmann pressings in stock


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Bernard Herrmann - The Fantasy Film World of...

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: herrmfanta_2008) 



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

Two AMAZING SOUNDING DEMO DISC LPS for the price of one! We’ve mated the HOTTEST SIDE ONE of one copy with the HOTTEST SIDE TWO of another to produce the best sounding complete Fantasy Film World we have ever heard. A+++ sound, with the kind of orchestral power that few recordings in the history of the world can lay claim to. There's a reason this record is on the TAS Superdisc list -- if any LP should be called a Superdisc, this one should. (With Phase Four sound you might even call it a Super-Duper-Disc.)

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Bernard Herrmann - Conducts Psycho and Other Film Scores

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: herrmcondu_2010) 



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

This very nice looking London Phase 4 LP has SUPERB SOUND for some of these pieces. Especially noteworthy is the ’Psycho Narrative For Orchestra’, at 14 minutes the longest piece here. Written purely for string orchestra, the tonality is Right On The Money (ROTM), with cellos that growl like the real thing.

In fact, so much of this sounds so good, and is such a brilliant showcase for one of the great orchestral colorists, Bernard Herrmann, that you’ll be asking yourself why more classical music doesn’t sound like this.

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Glazounov / The Seasons / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: glazueaso_6509_2014) 



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

This London Whiteback LP (CS 6509) has a Super Hot Side Two, flowing with Decca / London richness and sweetness. As we've said on the site many times, the London pressings with catalog numbers that start with 6400 and 6500 are some of the best recordings we've ever played.

Side two gives you that sound. There are two lovely Concert Waltzes that complete the program and they are just wonderful here, with quiet vinyl to boot.

More of the Best Recordings Made in Victoria Hall


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Edmundo Ros - Ros On Broadway

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: ros__onbro_2009) 



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

Edmundo Ros and his orchestra don't command much respect these days from the general record buying public. As for audiophiles, it's doubtful that many even know who he or they is/are. But we at Better Records are going to change that, starting with this very record, because it's one of the best sounding records we have ever heard. Stampers just do not get any HOTTER than these!

From the perspective of a level playing field, I cannot think of a single rock record that sounds as BIG and DYNAMIC, nor one that is as spacious and clear, as is the side two of this London Blueback. As good as the best German pressings of Dark Side of the Moon may be, shockingly good in fact, this recording is clearly more exciting and lifelike, with instrumental timbres that are uncannily accurate.


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Edmundo Ros - Latin Hits I Missed

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: ros__latin_2011) 



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

It's unfortunate that Edmundo Ros and his orchestra command so little respect these days from the general record buying public. As for audiophiles, it's doubtful that many even know who he or they is/are. We at Better Records are doing our best to change all that, continuing with this, the second Ros title we've managed to find with amazing sound and music since the first one went up in 2013. It's one of the liveliest, best sounding Phase 4 titles we have heard in quite a while. Stampers simply do not get much hotter than these.

More Phase 4


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The Rolling Stones - Aftermath

Surprisingly Good Domestic Pressings Do Exist

  (Item #: rolliafter_2015) 



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

We've paired up a Double Plus (A++) copy for each side to create this Super Hot 2-pack, which is the only way we were able to find good sound for the whole album. Paint It Black is missing from the Brit version, but it's here and it sounds wonderful.

A big surprise -- domestic Super Hot Stamper sound for Aftermath! We didn't even know it was possible, but on a lark we pulled a big stack of these out of the back and played them against our best imports. We were blown away when the best domestic copies held their own and delivered some seriously good early Stones sound!

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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin

Classic Records Reviewed and Recommended

  (Item #: ledze1_classic) 



Sonic Grade: B

Another Classic Records Heavy Vinyl LP reviewed.

Considering how bad (or at best mediocre) the average copy of the first Zep album sounds, let's give credit where credit is due and say that Bernie's remastered version on Heavy Vinyl is darn good (assuming you get a good one, something of course that neither I nor you should assume).

It's without a doubt the best of all the Classic Zeppelin titles, most of which we found none too pleasing to the ear.

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Stravinsky / The Rite of Spring / Solti

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: stravriteo_6885_2008) 



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

This is an amazing recording, DEMO QUALITY SOUND, far better than the Decca heavy vinyl reissue that came out in the 2000s.

This record is extremely dynamic; full of ambience; tonally correct; with tons of deep bass. Because it's a more modern recording, it doesn't have the tubey magic of some Golden Age originals, but it compensates for that shortcoming by being less distorted and "clean". Some people may consider that more accurate. I don't know if that is in fact the case, to be honest with you.

More of the music of Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)


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Mike Auldridge - Dobro

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: auldrddobro_2013) 



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

This is practically the only Bluegrass album we can honestly say we enjoy listening to. The sound is superb, with lots of picked instruments of every description, but what really sets this one apart is that the music is relaxed, not frenetic, drawing you in, not pushing you away. This is a great album, folks, one that belongs in your collection. If you're a fan of Chet Atkins this is probably a Must Own, and we are big fans of Chet here at Better Records.

More Mike Auldridge


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Chet Atkins - The Atkins - Travis Traveling Show

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: atkinatkin_2011) 



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

Somewhat better than Hot Stamper sound for this Chet Atkins record from 1974, recorded at the legendary (especially for audiophiles who appreciate naturalness) Nashville RCA Studios. There's plenty of Tubey Magic on both sides of this pressing, just a bit more than ideal in fact, as it can get a little thick at times. But the sound of these two pickers pickin' away is positively JUMPIN' out of the speakers, with that live-in-the-studio sound we love here at Better Records. We grade both sides A+ to A++. The sound was essentially the same on both sides, the differences not worth mentioning.

The music is just as fun and entertaining as you would expect from these two Old Pros.


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Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne / Boston Pops / Fiedler

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: offengaite_2267_2008) 



12s Hot stampers. The best sounding copy I’ve ever heard.

Jim Mitchell is famous for pointing out that many of the RCA's that were recorded for a second time a few years later are inferior to their earlier counterparts. This record is no exception. LSC 1817 is an amazing record. This record is merely good, with depth, soundstaging, nice string tone, etc., but not the kind of sonic fireworks to be found on the 1954 2-track recording that RCA first did of this work. A very good Sabre Dance as a bonus, check it out! It's the lead off track on Destination Stereo (LSC 2307) for good reason: it sounds great.

More of the music of Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)


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Various / Heart of the Piano Concerto - Rubinstein

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: varioheart_2495_2008) 



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

This is an EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD SOUNDING Shaded Dog pressing with fairly quiet vinyl. What''s surprising about this is how transparent and low distortion it is. Just as with Destination Stereo (LSC 2307), the excerpts here frequently sound better than they do on the original complete performances. Rubenstein's piano is solid and clear sounding, which is rarely the case, especially for his Beethoven concertos. Those almost never sound good, but the excerpt here for Concerto #3 is excellent.

More Living Stereo


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Grieg & Liszt / Piano Concertos / Rubinstein

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: griegpiano_2011) 



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

The strings are RICH in the best Living Stereo tradition, but unlike so many classical pressings we play, the tubey magical string tone comes with virtually no tube smear. The textures and overtones are fully intact. This side may in fact be pretty much as good as it gets; we don't have enough copies to know just how good the recording can be, but it can't be too much better than this, because this side puts most Golden Age classical recordings to shame.

More of the music of Franz Liszt (1811-1886)


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David Bowie - The Man Who Sold The World

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: bowiemanwh_2015) 



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

The sound is rich and full, just the way the Brits like it. The heavy compression that both Bowie and Scott favor works its magic at every turn, adding fatness and richness and lovely harmonics to the guitars and the drums.

See all of our David Bowie albums in stock


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John Lee Hooker - House of the Blues

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: hookehouse_2013) 



This 1959 Black Label (Unbreakable!) original deep groove Chess mono LP has some seriously good Super Hot Stamper sound on side one, earning a sonic grade of At Least A++. My notes for the sound of the third track read "very real". You get the feeling that whatever John Lee Hooker played and sang on that day in 1959 ended up on this record sounding just the way he performed it, live to one-track.

You may have noticed that records like this rarely make it to the site. Many don't sound good, and the ones that do usually have surfaces that most audiophiles would find unacceptable. This record barely made the cut condition-wise. If it didn't sound so good on side one we wouldn't have bothered with it. But it did -- it sounds great, so if you can tolerate some authentic Chess surfaces from 1959, you will get to hear what John Lee Hooker really sounded like on the day he sang these songs.


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Ella Fitzgerald - Let No Man Write My Epitaph

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: fitzgletno_2006) 



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

This very nice looking Verve T Label original Mono LP with the early pink cover has lovely sound. Ella’s voice is present, smooth and sweet. Since this recording is comprised of voice and piano only, the loss of stereo information presents no problem for the listener. Ella and her accompanist are dead center and tonally correct. Most Verve Ella records are a disaster sonically; this is one of the rare exceptions.

More Ella Fitzgerald


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Dave Brubeck - Bossa Nova USA

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: brubebossa_2015) 



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

Who knew? Not us and not anybody else it seems. We are not aware that any of the audiophile cognoscenti have ever taken this recording seriously, but that just goes to show how uninformed -- or perhaps more likely underinformed -- they've always been.

Gems such as this sit undiscovered even after thousands of pages of audiophile record reviews have been written. Then, along come a handful of guys in Thousand Oaks, California many years later, 52 to be exact, and reveal to the world a heretofore all but unknown yet nonetheless amazing Brubeck record.

See all of our Dave Brubeck albums in stock


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Jimmy Smith - Bashin'

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: smithbashi_2012) 



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

Bashin' is back after a two and a half year hiatus, and it's back with a vengence -- both sides here are Super Hot, with some of the best sound we have ever heard for the album. In the past we've complained about "Rudy Van Gelder’s somewhat over the top echo-drenched brass", but on a copy such as this there is nothing to complain about! All that reverb on the brass sounds RIGHT. If you have a top quality front end (and the system that goes with it), this recording will be amazingly spacious, three-dimensional, transparent, dynamic, and open.

More Jimmy Smith


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Barney Kessel - Vol. 3: To Swing Or Not To Swing

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: kessetoswi_2017) 



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

This Early Contemporary Yellow Label Mono LP sure has AMAZING SOUND!

Man, this music is a blast when it sounds this good. I don’t think there’s a whole lot you could do to make this music sound any better! It’s one of the best early mono Contemporary LP I’ve ever played. It's so tubey magical and Kessel's guitar sound is out of this world.

See all of our Barney Kessel albums in stock


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Barney Kessel - Music to Listen to Barney Kessel By

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: kessemusic_2017) 



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

This Triple Triple (A+++) mono pressing blew everything else out of the water - nothing could touch it! How can you beat a Roy DuNann recording of five reeds, piano, guitar and a rhythm section that includes Shelly Manne and Red Mitchell? The timbre of the instruments is so spot-on it makes all the hard work and money you've put into your stereo more than pay off.

The Demo Disc sound on this copy is really something to hear - all tube, live-to-two-track direct from the Contemporary studio.

More Barney Kessel


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Benny Carter - Meets Oscar Peterson

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: cartemeets_2007) 



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

This Minty looking Pablo Promo LP, engineered by Allen Sides, is one of the TOP PABLO titles for both sound and music. Top Recommendation.

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Esquivel - 4 Corners Of The World

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: esquifourc_2011) 



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

This RCA Living Stereo LP has an A+ to A++ side two. The sound is three-dimensional and transparent, but could use a bit more top. This album tends to have a bit of variation from track to track, but this one gets more right than most. Side one, unfortunately, is not quite up to Hot Stamper status.

More Exotica


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Falla / Three-Cornered Hat / Argenta (CS 6050)

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: fallathree_6050_2010) 



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

Falla's Three-Cornered Hat is positively WONDERFUL on this copy (A++), and the Sinfonia Sevillana by Turina on side two is every bit as good! The second suite on side one is particularly lovely -- check out how rich and full the sound is. Side two has a HUGE soundstage, as wide as they come. The sound is very rich and full of audiophile colors -- this is the kind of record that you're going to love playing for your audio pals!

More of the music of Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)


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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

The Amazing Sounding Mono Copy We Played in 2005

  (Item #: cartejazzg_2005) 



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

This Contemporary Yellow Label Mono LP has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND! If you like the sound of Contemporary Records, you won’t find a better example than this! Midrange magic doesn’t get anymore magical. I don’t care who remasters this record, I don't think they can do it as well as it was done in 1958.

I haven't heard the new 45 RPM version, but I seriously doubt that it sounds like this. It wouldn't be done on vintage tube cutting equipment, and that sound is the sound we love here at Better Records.

More Benny Carter


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Britten - Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra - Ozawa

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: brittyoung_2009) 



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

The sound of this White Hot Stamper side two is SUPER TRANSPARENT -- you can hear all the way to the back of the hall and then some! There’s so much ambience on this pressing it forced us to reevaluate the other copies in light of the sound we were discovering here.

As if that wasn’t enought, it had energy and immediacy we simply did not expect to hear. The sound is big and bold during the loud passages, but sweet and delicate when, for example, the woodwinds are spotlighted in the composition. It’s the best sounding Young Person’s Guide I have ever heard.


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Britten - The Suites for Cello / Rostropovich

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: brittsuite_6617_2011) 



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

This solo Cello recording on London from 1970 has Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides, with a cello that might not be realistically portrayed, but is certainly portrayed POWERFULLY.

Honestly, we kid you not, the cello occupies all the space between the speakers, which, being about seven feet apart, makes for a cello that's seven feet wide!


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Britten / Debussy / Schumann / Cello Sonatas / Rostropovich

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: brittsonat_6237_2011) 



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

Both sides of this promo London Blueback pressing of piano and cello music have SUPERB sound. If you're a fan of the cello, the piano, or chamber works in general, you will have a hard time finding a better sounding recording than this.

Notice especially that there is practically no smear on the piano -- the notes are clear, with their transients fully intact, something one rarely hears anywhere but in the live setting. The tonality of the piano is also correct from top to bottom.

But the real surprise here is how unusually natural the cello sounds -- more like the real instrument and less like the typical recording of it.

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Ella Fitzgerald - Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: fitzgclaph_2017) 



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

The first "Triple Triple" MONO copy to ever hit the site -- A+++ from start to finish. Our knockout mono pressing here was fuller, more natural and more involving than any copy we heard in our shootout. Presence and immediacy to put Ella practically in the room with you - it's her performance that really comes to life. Our single Favorite Female Vocal album here at Better Records, one that gets better with each passing year.

Check out what the lucky owner of this copy had to say about it.

See all of our Ella Fitzgerald albums in stock


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Ken Scott

One of Our Favorite Engineers

  (Item #: allkenscott) 



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

See more entries in our Favorite Engineers series


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Hot Stampers of After the Gold Rush

People Just Love 'Em

  (Item #: youngafter_letters) 



From time to time our customers like to tell us just how much they are enjoying our Hot Stamper pressings, and we here at Better Records love to read the LETTERS they write. We've reprinted a few below.

An excerpt: "I don't always agree with everyone else on which record pressings sound best, but this record knocked my socks off."

After the Gold Rush


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Beethoven / ’Kreutzer’ Sonata

Putting Your System to the (Violin and Piano) Test

  (Item #: beethkreut_2577_wtlf) 



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

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

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Franck / Piano Quintette & Brahms / Heifetz, Piatigorsky et al.

Reviewed in 2013

  (Item #: francpiano_2739_2013) 



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

A stellar reading of the Franck from this formidable group. Side one of this Shaded Dog is Super Hot: rich, smooth and sweet. The piano is exceptionally well-recorded, with real weight. The Brahms is very good if you can reverse your polarity.

See all pressings of Franck's music in stock
See all pressings of Brahms' music in stock


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Brahms / Sonatas #2 & 3 / Rubinstein and Szeryng

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: brahmsonat_2619_2010) 



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

3S/ 4S RCA Shaded Dog. The sound is actually quite decent when you INVERT the ABSOLUTE PHASE. If you cannot or will not do that, this record will not sound good -- it's somewhat hard and bright. It will never be a Top Shaded Dog but it is a good one with the absolute phase inverted.

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Joe Walsh - The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: walshsmoke_2010) 



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

MASTER TAPE SOUND on side one of 1973 classic, an album the All Music Guide calls "a superb album by anyone's standards". We had no idea this album could sound so good until we stumbled upon a clean copy recently a threw it on the table. We couldn't believe how rich and punchy it sounded, after hearing dozens of dry, thin, lifeless copies over the years.

More Joe Walsh


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Frank Zappa / Captain Beefheart - Bongo Fury

Our Shootout Winning Copy from 2006

  (Item #: zappabongo_2006) 



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

This Minty looking Discreet LP has STUNNINGLY GOOD SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! It’s very transparent and full-bodied from top to bottom. The bass is meaty and punchy, and the top end is wonderfully extended. You can hear lots of ambience the cymbals and hi-hats. It doesn't sound like there's anything between you and the music. I can't remember ever hearing this record sound so good.

More Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention


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Frank Zappa - Burnt Weeny Sandwich

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: zappaburnt_2016) 



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

The better copies such as this one had a healthy dose of the Tubey Magical richness found on the better analog recordings from the late '60s and '70s (1970 in this case). One of Frank Zappa’s more interesting releases, with a combination of groundbreaking live and studio material, like Chunga's and Weasils.

See all of our Frank Zappa albums in stock


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Frank Zappa - Apostrophe (')

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: zappaapost_2015) 



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

An incredible copy of Zappa's legendary Apostrophe, one of his most commercially successful albums and, more importantly to folks like us, one of his best sounding. We've been picking up copies for years in hopes that we could find one with the kind of sound we've heard on the best copies of Waka/Jawaka and Hot Rats, but it's taken us until 2015 to get one up on the site.

See all of our Frank Zappa albums in stock


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ZZ Top - Deguello

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: zztopdegue_2015) 



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

A killer Top Copy, Double Plus (A++) for the first side and Triple Plus (A+++) for the second. Up there with the very best ZZ Top sound we've ever heard or expect to hear. Most copies aren't BIG, punchy, lively and present like this one is.

See all of our ZZ Top albums in stock


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Bill Withers - Still Bill

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: withestill_2014) 



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

Incredibly Hot Sound for this amazing soulful album! This killer Sussex pressing has a side one that just can not be beat. It positively massacred the other copies we put up against it with superb presence, top-notch clarity, full-bodied vocals and serios energy. We gave side one an A+++, our top grade, and side two is close behind at A++. I don't think you could find a better sounding Bill Withers album no matter what you do. I wish there were more '70s soul albums that sounded like this!


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Hugo Winterhalter - Goes Latin

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: wintegoesl_2014) 



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

1959 Tubey Magical Living Stereo sound like you will not believe! Both sides are nearly White Hot, with shocking amounts of space and depth. This is RCA's approach to Exotica, with the added benefit of Living Stereo strings. Gorgeous harmonically rich percussion - the tambourine is to die for

More Living Stereo


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Ella Fitzgerald - Whisper Not

Our Shootout Winner from 2006

  (Item #: fitzgwhisp_2006) 



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

THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST ELLA FITZGERALD RECORDS I’ve heard in a very long time! I’m telling you, this is Ella at her best! Having just played a lovely sounding copy of Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie, an album that tends to err on the bright side, I now realize that this album has the opposite problem -- it's a little bit smoother in places than it should be. Of course that's a much more tolerable problem than the reverse.

More Ella Fitzgerald


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Pepper Adams - Urban Dreams

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: adamsurban_2009) 



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

This is a Palo Alto Jazz LP engineered by Rudy Van Gelder and a fun record! Everybody needs a good baritone sax jazz album in their collection and this fits the bill nicely. Excellent sound as well.

This album also features Jimmy Rowles on piano, George Mraz on bass and Billy Hart on drums.

More recordings by Rudy Van Gelder


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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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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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Bud Shank And the Sax Section

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: shankandth_2010) 



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

A True Demo Disc of the highest order! The sound of multiple saxes playing these lively arrangements is audiophile magic to these ears. We played a ton of copies and none of them had two sides like this! You aren't going to believe how open, lively and tubey magical the sound is throughout.

Both sides here are SUPER HOT. It must have something very close to 100% of the sound the engineer recorded, because it is just out of this world. The engineer in question? None other than Bruce Botnick, the man behind Sergio Mendes' first album, The Doors, Love and countless others, a true wizard in the studio if ever there was one.

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Thelonious Monk - Monk's Dream

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: monk_monksd_2013) 



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

Full, rich, spacious, BIG and PRESENT, with almost no smear. This is Classic Columbia 360 Label sound from their legendary 30th Street studios.

You may notice that very few Monk records go up on the site. We do occasionally find copies with Hot Stampers, but most of those sell directly to our best customers. We hope to be putting more up as time goes on. However, finding clean Monk with good sound is not as easy as it sounds (unless you are willing to pay the big bucks). We do have this one to offer, for those of you who prize adventurous jazz.

See all of our Thelonious Monk albums in stock


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Thelonious Monk - Monk's Blues

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: monk_monksb_2013) 



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

WONDERFUL BIG BAND MUSIC, DEMO QUALITY SOUND, and QUIET VINYL! I wish more Blue Note records had this kind of sound -- natural, full-bodied, and sweet up top. The bass here is well-defined with real weight and lots of punch. Monk’s piano sounds correct from the highest notes all the way down to the lower register, and the sax sounds JUST RIGHT -- totally free of the "RVG squawk" we often hear on old Blue Notes. The clarity and transparency are superb throughout.

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Little Feat - Waiting for Columbus

MoFi Reviewed

  (Item #: littlwaiti_mofi) 



Sonic Grade: C

Another Mobile Fidelity Pressing reviewed. Our Audiophile Scorecard has plenty more where this one came from.

This is actually a pretty good sounding record, all things considered. We put this one through our cleaning process and gave it a listen. Although our Hot Stamper copies do sound better, they’re also quite a bit more expensive. This copy had the best sound we heard out of the three or four we played, which makes it a Hot Stamper I suppose, but we are instead just calling it a Very Good Sounding Copy.

More Little Feat


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Beethoven / Violin Concerto in D / Heifetz

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: beethvioli_1992_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

It is an airless fraud, a cheap fake reproduction that's incapable of fooling anyone with two good ears, a properly set up stereo and a decent collection of Golden Age violin concertos.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Dylan Thomas - Under Milk Wood

Our First Testimonial for a Record We've Never Heard

  (Item #: thomaunder_letter) 



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

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

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

What follows is his enthusiastic reply.


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Hot Stamper

Bob and Ray
Throw A Stereo Spectacular

  (Item #: bobanthrow_setup) 


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


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Walton & Bloch / Cello Concerto and Schelomo / Piatigorsky

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: waltocello_2109_2011) 



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

This Super Hot Stamper RCA original White Dog pressing has a SUPERB side two. Piatigorsky's cello sounds rich and resonant with virtually no trace of smear. All the subtleties of the bowing can be clearly heard, just as they would be in concert (assuming you sprang for the good seats). The recording venue is spacious and open. Above all the sound is relaxed and NATURAL.

If only side one sounded this good...


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Lalo / Symphonie Espagnole / Szeryng / Hendl

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: lalo_symph_1064_2011) 



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

This is an AMAZING sounding early Plum Victrola pressing, one of the BEST SOUNDING Victrolas we have ever heard -- when (and only when) you have a copy that sounds as good as this one does. This is by far the best side two we played, out of the three copies we had on hand, earning our top sonic grade of A+++. This pressing on side two ranks right up there with the best of the hundreds of Shaded Dogs we've played. I haven't had a Shaded Dog of this title to audition in a long time, but I sure don't remember it sounding like this.

More Living Stereo


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Various / Witches' Brew / Gibson

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: variowitch_2225_2007) 



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

DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND, of a sort. As I've said elsewhere on the site, this is not my idea of natural tonality.

As for the music, I have long held that the Danse Macabre on this album is the best ever. I probably still agree with that, but so much of the material on this record is amazingly good that that's actually kind of a left-handed compliment. The entire side 2 is outstanding from start to finish.

More of the music of Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881)


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Winds In Hi-Fi / Fennell / EWE

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: variowinds_90173_2010) 



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

DEMONSTRATION QUALITY. Famous TAS list LP! Superb sound; Mercury knows how to capture the bite of the brass. Fennel made a number of band music recordings for Mercury. He's a master of this sort of sweet and lyrical Wind Music.

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs.

More of our best Orchestral Recordings


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Marty Robbins - Hawaii's Calling Me

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: robbihawai_2015) 



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

Hearing this kind of Tubey Magical, tonally correct, rich, sweet, spacious sound is nothing less than a THRILL. The Analog sound of this pressing makes a mockery of even the most advanced digital playback systems, including the ones that haven't been invented yet. I'd love to play this for Neil Young so he can see what he's up against. Good Luck, Neil, you're going to need it.

More Marty Robbins


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Led Zeppelin - Coda

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: ledzecode_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.

TWO GREAT SIDES and QUIET VINYL on this Swan Song pressing, one of the few good sounding copies we've ever played. We just sat down with the dozen-plus copies of Coda that made it through our preliminary round and only found a few that were worth writing home around. Most copies are too dry, grainy, and/or dull to get excited about, but this one is a MONSTER. The best material on here -- We're Gonna Groove, Poor Tom, and the great live take of I Can't Quit You Baby, just to name a few of our favorites -- sounds darn good.

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Ten Years After - Cricklewood Green

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: tenyecrick_2010) 



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

This very nice looking original Deram British Import LP has that good old Heavy British Rock sound. It’s lively if a bit crude, but that’s pretty much the way these bands were recorded. The sound varies quite a bit from track to track, with some sounding noticeably better than others. Not much new there.

’Me and My Baby’ is a particularly great sounding song here. It sounds like it was recorded live in the studio, and it probably was!

More Ten Years After


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Spooky Tooth - Spooky Two

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: spookspook_2009) 



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

This very nice looking Island Sunray British Import LP has AMAZING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES (with caveats!). Side one is super rich and full of tubey magic. It can be ever so slightly grainy and strained but when the sound is this good who cares!? Andy Johns is the man behind the console here, which explains why the album is so well recorded. If you’re a fan of Black Sabbath you’ll find much to like here; this is psych rock at its best.


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Renaissance - Renaissance

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: renairenai_2012) 



Prog fans take note: this is one AMAZING sounding recording.

And why shouldn't it be? It's engineered by ANDY JOHNS (Led Zeppelin II and many more) and produced by Paul Samwell-Smith (Cat Stevens!), so its audiophile credentials are more than in order. Some of the best recordings we have ever heard involved one of these guys, and on this one you get them both. That's almost too much production talent for one album.

More Prog Rock


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Chopin / Various Works / Badura-Skoda

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: chopbadur_2011) 



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

TWO SUPER HOT SIDES for this collection of solo piano works by one of the instrument's foremost composers. Big, clear and solid on both sides, this is superb music performed and captured with honesty.

If you can handle a bit of noise, this is an excellent way to hear some of the finest piano music ever written, beautifully laid out on a big soundstage.

More of the music of Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)


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Chopin - Scherzo #2 - Auer

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: chopischer_2008) 



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

This is an IMMACULATE RCA Direct-to-Disc LP with SUPERB SOUND! This recording is every bit as good as the famous RCA Beethoven Direct Disc and ten times as rare. You will have a very hard time finding a better sounding solo piano recording.

More of the music of Chopin


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Chopin / In Stereophonic Sound / Reubart

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: chopiinste_2012) 



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

This is SUPERB piano recording, with some of the most natural solo piano reproduction we have ever heard. The sound here is so clear and distortion-free you will think you are playing a direct to disc recording, or perhaps a master tape.

More of the music of Chopin


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Chopin and Delibes / Les Sylphides / Maag / PCO

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: chopilessy_2005) 



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

A dynamic and excellent pressing. This record has lovely string tone. Lots of tubey magic. Not one of the rarest Londons, but certainly one of the most enjoyable.

[This is a very old commentary so take it for what it's worth.]

More of the music of Frederic Chopin


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Chopin / The Mazurkas / Rubinstein/ 3 LP Box Set

Reviewed in 2004

  (Item #: chopimazur_6177_2004) 



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

There’s some wonderful music and wonderful sound in here. The stamper should be the same with better vinyl. Side 2, Cuts 3, 4 & 5 are gorgeous! This music has so much soul, and shows Rubinstein at his greatest. Brailowsky on Columbia is also fabulous. You can't go wrong with either one. A beautiful set that belongs in your collection. Chopin's music is sublime, as anyone who saw The Pianist knows full well.

I had the opportunity to hear Lincoln Mayorga himself perform these works from memory in a church not far from here. I am no expert on these works but I thought he played them about as well as they could be played.


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Art Garfunkel - Breakaway

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: garfubreak_2016) 



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

Both sides are transparent, open, and spacious, with dramatically more life and energy than the typical pressing. The bottom end on this copy is surprisingly meaty as well, with far more punch than most of the pressings we played.

The keyboards are full and rich, the guitars ring just right. This copy is killer in practically every way. You will be hard-pressed to imagine it sounding much better than it does here.

More Art Garfunkel


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Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Safe as Milk

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: captasafea_2007) 



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

This very nice looking Buddha reissue LP is not an audiophile recording, but of course it was never meant to be one. It reminds me quite a bit of Frank Zappa’s first album ’Freak Out.’ This copy sounds as good as any copy we’ve ever played.

And it was produced by Richard Perry way back in '67!

More Captain Beefheart


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Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: stillsteph_2008) 



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

TWO YEARS LATER, Stephen Stills Hot Stampers are BACK! We’ve had an unbelievably hard time finding copies of this album that lived up to our expectations, prompting much of my crew to argue that it just could not be done. Folks, today is the day where the Doubting Thomases of Better Records are proven WRONG. We didn’t find copies that sounded just as good as I remembered -- no, we found copies that went BEYOND what I had hoped for. To the CSN(Y) fans who visit our site, and I know there are lots of you, prepare to be BLOWN AWAY. You are going to freak out over this record!



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The Rolling Stones - Goats Head Soup

Live and Learn, A Lesson from 2011

  (Item #: rolligoats_2011) 



This is a classic case of Live and Learn.

We would agree with very little of what we had to say about Goat's Head Soup as a recording when we wrote about it back in 2011 -- and for the previous 35+ years since I first played a domestic original.

Having done a big shootout for the album in 2016 we now know there most certainly are great sounding pressings to be found, because we found some. The data are in, and now we know just how wrong we were. In our defense, let me just ask one question: Did anybody else know this record was well recorded? I can find no evidence to support anyone having ever taken such a contrarian position.

More Rolling Stones


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Led Zeppelin III

Proof that Jimmy Page Was a Brilliant Producer

  (Item #: ledze3_page) 



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

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

More Led Zeppelin


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Led Zeppelin - III

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: ledze3_classic_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

Ridiculously bright and harsh, we are proud to say this was one of the Classic Zep releases that we never carried on the site (along with II and Houses, both of which stink).

More Led Zeppelin


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Andy Johns

One of Our Favorite Engineers

  (Item #: allandyjohns) 



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

See more entries in our Favorite Engineers series


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Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: brubetimeo_2011) 



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

STUNNING A+++ SOUND AND QUIET VINYL ON BOTH SIDES! Breathtakingly spacious and transparent, this copy has the big three-dimensional soundstage that makes this record such a joy to listen to. The piano has weight and heft, the drums are big and dynamic, and everything is relaxed and sweet -- in short, this copy does everything we want it to.

More Dave Brubeck


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Dave Brubeck - Time Changes

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: brubetimec_2010) 



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

Side one is solid and warm. Note that the sax and piano are lively and present on track three, one of the better sounding tracks and one we used to test with in our shootout.

On side two of many copies the orchestra sounded dry, and sometimes aggressive when loud, but on this copy the sound stayed smooth and full. Note how breathy Desmond's sax is.

See all of our Dave Brubeck albums in stock


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Stravinsky - Le Sacre du Printemps - Solti

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: stravlesac_speakers_corner) 



Sonic Grade: B

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca.

Years ago we wrote the following: "Wow! What a performance! What dynamic full bodied sound! To be fair, I pulled out my original London, one of those awful mid-'70s English pressings that are never quiet, and yes, some of the ambience on the original is missing here on the new version, but everything else seems right: dynamics, tonality, the frequency extremes (including some pretty awesome deep bass)."

Can't be sure we would still feel that way but I'm guessing this is a good record if you can pick one up at a cheap price.

More of the music of Igor Stravinsky


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Walton - Violin Concerto -- Chung / Previn

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: waltovioli_6601_2011) 



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

A Near Mint 1973 Decca British Import LP. This album also contains the Stravinsky Concerto on side two.

The Walton sounds quite good; the Stravinsky is a bit Hi-Fi-ish for my taste. Love that cover!

More Andre Previn


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Ruggiero Ricci / Solo Recital

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: riccisolor_6193_2011) 



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

EXCELLENT SOUND and quiet vinyl on both sides of this London LP featuring the great Ruggiero Ricci performing solo violin pieces! Side two in particular has a sweet, clear top end that really shows you the detail in the violin. Side one is transparent and tonally correct but a bit dark, without all the clarity and sweetness of side two. Still, a very good side at A+ to A++.

Violin sonatas by Stravinsky, Bartok, Prokofiev and Hindemith.

More Classical Music on London


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Hindemith / Symphony in B Flat / Fennell

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: hindesymph_2010) 



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

This Mercury RFR pressing contains Hindemith's Symphony In B Flat, Schoenberg's Theme And Variations Opus 43a and Stravinsky's Symphonies Of Wind Instruments. All three pieces sound quite good here, and we've rated both sides between A+ and A++ overall. The sound is very dynamic and spacious throughout in the best Mercury tradition. Mercury was also known for its top quality performances of landmark 20th century works such as these, and here, as expected, Fennell and his venerable Eastman Wind Ensemble do not disappoint.

More Orchestral Recordings


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Milstein / Master pieces / Susskind

Reviewed in 2013

  (Item #: variomaste_2013) 



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

This is a RARE and WONDERFUL SOUNDING original Capitol pressing of Milstein playing pieces for violin and orchestra by Mozart, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Saint-Saens and others. The recording of the Mozart Rondo on side one boasts DEMO DISC quality sound. Side one is amazingly rich, sweet and tubey magical. The violin is tonally correct, with the kind of immediacy few violin records (in our experience) manage to capture as well, while still retaining the correct size of the instrument.

See all of our pressings with Nathan Milstein performing


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Stravinsky - Petrushka - Ansermet

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: stravpetru_speakers_corner) 



Sonic Grade: B

One of the better Speakers Corner Deccas. We haven't played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let's call it a "B" with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the '90s when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

"One of the best of the Deccas. Superb sound. Ansermet''s performance here is definitive."

More of the music of Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)


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Stravinsky / Song of the Nightingale / Ansermet

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: stravsongo_6138_2007) 



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

"Song of the Nightingale" is far more enjoyable in Ansermet's hands than in Reiner's or Dorati's. The sound is significantly better on this pressing than on the Stereo Treasury, the RCA, and the Mercury versions. Once past the obvious saturation that opens this recording, the sound is perfection! The percussion leaps off of this LP like it does with a good Direct To Disc recording. The strength of this LP is "Song of the Nightingale".

The "Pulcinella Suite", also featured on this record, never sounds as good as "Song of the Nightingale". But what does?



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James Taylor - Sweet Baby James

Our Shootout Winner for 2008

  (Item #: taylosweet_2008) 



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

It took three days, sixty seven copies, and multiple rounds, but SWEET BABY JAMES HOT STAMPERS ARE BACK! Both sides of this bad boy are DEMO QUALITY and ABSOLUTELY STUNNING. Add in the fact that the vinyl is unusually quiet, and you’ve got one heck of a copy here!

More James Taylor


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Schumann & Grieg / Piano Concertos / Previn / LSO

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: griegpiano_6840_2008) 



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

This is an EXCELLENT SOUNDING London pressing of the famous TAS list LP. I've never heard a quieter copy. Usually these are noisy as hell and this one plays dead quiet most of the time, and Mint Minus the rest. HP was right: the Grieg here has the best sound. The piano is amazingly well recorded; the sound is rich and powerful. The orchestra sounds better on the Grieg as well; it's slightly more compressed and leaner on the Schumann side.


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Santana - Borboletta

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: santaborbo_2016) 



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

Top players include Stanley Clarke, Airto, Flora Purim and Michael Shrieve.

This is definitely not an album of "hits", nor is it trying to be one. The lengthy review in Rolling Stone explains it all, and is certainly worth a read if jazz-rock fusion is your thing.

More Santana


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John Klemmer - Straight from the Heart

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: klemmstrai_2010) 



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

This White Hot Stamper Nautilus Direct-to-Disc recording is an AMAZING Demo Disc, and what’s more, it’s actually REAL JAZZ -- a remarkably unusual combination in the Audiophile World, in my experience anyway. This copy takes the sound of this recording -- and the music along with it -- to another level. YOU WON'T BELIEVE how good this record sounds.

More John Klemmer


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The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta

Nautilus Debunked

  (Item #: policzenya_nautilus) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Half Speed debunked.

And to think we used to actually like the sound of the Nautilus pressing! It suffers from all the same shortcomings other Nautilus and similar half-speeds suffer from: the kind of pretty but lifeless and oh-so-boring sound that we describe in listing after listing. (More bad Nautilus pressings are discussed below.)

More Police and Sting


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The Police - Ghost in the Machine

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: policghost_2009) 



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

Ghost In The Machine is a VERY tough album to get to sound right, but this pressing absolutely NAILED IT on side one. I’m talking about A+++, As Good As It Gets, Master Tape Quality Sound -- and you Police fanatics are going to flip when you hear it. We’ve been scooping up copies with various stampers that have shown promise in the past, but unfortunately most of them we played did nothing for us.

More Police and Sting


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The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: policzenya_2016) 



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

The first White Hot copy to hit the site in almost TEN YEARS! And it's a monster, with both sides earning our Top Grade of Triple Plus (A+++). The sound is dramatically bigger, present and livelier than the average pressing.

More Police and Sting


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The Brilliant Recorded Legacy of David Crosby / Stephen Stills / Graham Nash / Neil Young

  (Item #: allcsny) 



Recordings featuring the work of David Crosby

Recordings featuring the work of Stephen Stills

Recordings featuring the work of Graham Nash

Recordings featuring the work of Neil Young

Some of our favorite engineers worked on the albums of these four men, principally Bill Halverson, as well as...


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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - So Far

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: crosbsofar_2007) 



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

This Hot Stamper copy has SUPERB SOUND ON SIDE TWO -- the best we’ve ever heard. It sounds like it was made from the MASTER TAPE, and believe me, not many of them do. This LP killed any and all of the competition during this shootout; no other copy earned Three Pluses on Side Two. The sound is BIG and BOLD as it gets -- it practically LEAPS out of the speakers. That's what we call Hot Stamper sound. No other copy did that, on side two anyway. Side one has the highly-coveted unreleased material, so this copy, with "only" an excellent side one, is being priced somewhat more competitively and represents real value for money.

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The Yardbirds - Roger The Engineer

Our Mono Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: yardbroger_2012) 



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

This is one of the few Mono mix albums that really justifies the claims made for the superiority of mono mixes in general. Just listen to the vocals on side one: they're right up front and centered the way they should be in any good pop song. On the stereo version, they're off to the left and down in level. They have no power over there! It robs the song of its focus.

More Yardbirds


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Walter Wanderley - Rain Forest

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: wanderainf_2015) 



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

Spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. White Hot on side one where the big hit Summer Samba can be found. A huge seller in its day, both the sound and the music are crazy fun. A Classic 1966 Rudy Van Gelder All Tube Analog recording with Demo Disc sound.

More Exotica


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