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1960

A Great Year for Top Quality Recordings of Timeless Music

  (Item #: 1960) 



When you look closely at all the great records that were released that year -- some of which can even be purchased in Hot Stamper form on this very site -- you may come to agree with us that 1960 was a wonderful year for music.

Click HERE to see the records currently on the site that were recorded or released in 1960.

And HERE to see the records from 1960 that we've reviewed, a substantially larger group as you can imagine, more than 80 at the time of this writing.


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TAS List Thoughts on Albeniz

Where on The List Is This Record?

  (Item #: albeniberi_tas) 



Another nail in the coffin for HP’s TAS List. The fact that questionable entries such as Reiner’s Pines of Rome make the cut, and an amazing recording such as this doesn’t, should tell you everything you need to know concerning the value of such an incomplete list.

This is truly DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! Records simply do not get any more spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet.

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909)


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The Ames Brothers with Esquivel - Hello Amigos

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: amesbhello_2014) 



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

This copy is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. This is vintage analog at its best, so rich and relaxed you'll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to "improve" upon it.

This recording is the very definition of The Sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, nor will any CD ever be able to capture what is in the grooves of this pressing.

1960 - It Was a Very Good Year


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Chet Atkins - The Other Chet Atkins

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: atkinother_2015) 



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

A stunning Double Plus (A++) side one backed with a Triple Plus (A+++) side two. Rich and tubey with clarity and punch. Chet plays all acoustic on this amazing Living Stereo recording from 1960. Bill Porter All Tube engineering and a TAS Super Disc.

More Chet Atkins


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Chet Atkins - Workshop

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: atkinworks_2010) 



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

DEMO QUALITY SOUND! That is, if what you're demonstrating is Living Stereo magic at its best. Certainly this is no sonic blockbuster. It's not trying to be. It's just more of that rich, sweet Bill Porter tubey magic from Nashville. Has there ever been a CD that sounds like this? If there is, I sure haven't heard it.

More Chet Atkins


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JS Bach / Suite #2 / Janigro

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: bach_suite_2007) 



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

This is a 1S/ 1S Indianapolis pressing with A1 metal mothers from 1960 with sweet sound! Perfectly fitting for these Baroque pieces recorded in Italy.

More of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach


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Joan Baez - Joan Baez

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: baez_joanb_2014) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame from 1960.

This former member of the TAS list is the kind of recording that has everything going for it: Golden Age equipment in a live acoustic with a simple arrangement for voice and guitar (or two).

The purity and complete freedom from distortion allow the listener to imagine himself, to borrow a phrase, in the Living Presence of the performer. With a record this good it takes no effort whatsoever to suspend disbelief and imagine Joan and her guitar directly in front of you, a command performance if you will.

More Joan Baez


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Beethoven / The Emperor Concerto / Backhaus

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: beethemper_6156_2010) 



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

Another top London, recorded with more of a mid-hall approach, and smooth sound that reminds me much more of a live concert than most records. This is a demo quality disc, if what you are demonstrating is the kind of realistic piano sound and natural, relaxed presentation found in the concert hall. These may not be qualities that all audiophiles appreciate, but we sure as hell do.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Kreutzer and Spring Sonatas / Rubinstein

Shaded Dogs Vs. Red Seals

  (Item #: beethkreut_2377) 



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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Beethoven / Kreutzer & Spring Sonatas / Rubinstein

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: beethkreut_2377_2010) 



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

This Red Seal may be a reissue, but the sound is absolutely STUNNING on side two. The immediacy of the violin was simply in a league of its own, leaving all others in the dust. Add to that some of the sweetest, richest, most "rosiny" violin tone we've had the good fortune to hear, tonality that is as close to perfection as imaginable, and you have yourself one helluva great sounding work for piano and violin. The performances are extraordinary as well, as you might imagine from the likes of Szeryng and Rubinstein.

More recordings featuring the violin


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Beethoven / Concerto No. 3 / Hendl / Graffman

Reviewed in 2014

  (Item #: beethpiano_2396_2014) 



This rare RCA Shaded Dog has SUPERB SOUND as well as a top performance. Super Hot Stampers for both sides means that this pressing has the real Living Stereo magic in spades. Unlike most of the RCA concerto recordings (Rubinstein's come immediately to mind in this regard), the brilliant soloist featured here is not overly spotlighted, hence the more credible "concert hall" sound. The piano is part of the orchestra, allowing all the contributions of the musicians to be heard clearly, with each of the orchestral sections laid out beautifully across an especially huge and deep Orchestra Hall stage.
More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Symphony #6 (Pastoral) / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: beethsym6_6160_2016) 



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

In our opinion this is the best sounding Beethoven 6th Symphony ever recorded. It is the most beautiful of them all, and has long been my personal favorite of the nine Beethoven composed.

Ansermet's performance is clearly definitive to my ear as well. The gorgeous hall the Suisse Romande recorded in was possibly the best recording venue of its day, possibly of all time; more amazing sounding recordings were made there than any other hall we know of. There is a richness to the sound that exceeds all others, yet clarity and transparency are not sacrificed in the least.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Symphony No. 9 / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: beethsymp9_2016) 



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

The is the best recording of the Beethoven 9th Symphony we have ever played here at Better Records

Ansermet's performance is clearly definitive to my ear as well. The gorgeous hall the Suisse Romande recorded in was possibly the best recording venue of its day, possibly of all time; more amazing sounding recordings were made there than any other hall we know of.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Jesse Belvin - Mr. Easy

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: belvimreas_2016) 



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

Zero distortion. zero smear, huge amounts of space and breathy rich vocals - what's not to like? Marty Paich and Art Pepper lend a hand, and with Al Schmitt behind the board the sound is 1960 Living Stereo Tubey Magic at its finest.

More Living Stereo


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Tony Bennett - Alone Together

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: bennealone_2013) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame from 1960.

TWO EXCELLENT SIDES for this Six-Eye pressing, including a near-White Hot A++ to A+++ side two! This album has Bennett singing a collection of ballads, and when you hear it with this kind of transparency and immediacy it REALLY works. He's one of our favorite singers, so it's a real treat to find a copy with this kind of sound.

More Popular Vocal recordings


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Berlioz / Symphonie Fantastique / Monteux / Vienna Phil

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: berlisymph_2362_2014) 



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

Gorgeous Golden Age Tubey Magical strings, lovely hall acoustics. The size and power of a large orchestra in Living Stereo sound. One of our favorite performances of Berlioz's masterwork.

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Bizet / Carmen / Gould

Our Shootout Winner from 2006

  (Item #: bizetcarme_2437_2006) 



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

DEMO QUALITY SOUND, if what you're demonstrating is the three dimensional quality of Living Stereo recordings. Amazing depth and width can be heard on this record. And the music is sublime.

I confess I somewhat misjudged this title. Yes, the opening is compressed, which led me to think that the entire record was compressed, but that's not true. In some ways it's quite dynamic. The quiet portions are very quiet; in a couple of places there are just horns playing off in the deep distance, followed by some flutes, and they sound very natural, just as you would hear them in a concert hall.

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1975)


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Bizet & Saint-Saens / Carmen Fantasie / Ricci - Gamba

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: bizetcarme_6165) 



This London Whiteback LP has DEMO DISC sound like you will not believe, especially on side two, which earned our coveted A Triple Plus rating. The sound is warm, sweet and transparent; in short, absolutely GORGEOUS. We call it AGAIG -- As Good As It Gets!

As this is one of the Greatest Violin Showpiece Albums of All Time, it is certainly a record that belongs in every right-thinking audiophle's collection. (If you're on our site and taking the time to read this, that probably means you.) Ruggiero Ricci is superb throughout.

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1975)


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Bizet / Carmen Fantaisie, etc. - Ricci / Gamba

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: bizetcarme_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: C

Speakers Corner remastered this title back in the '90s and did a decent enough job; I would guess my grade would be about a "C". We carried it and recommended it at the time. I doubt if I would have very many kind things to say about it now. We've played an enormous number of superb classical records in the last five years or so and the bar is dramatically higher than it used to be.

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1975)


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Bizet & Saint-Saens / Carmen Fantasie

This Is Why You Must Do Shootouts

  (Item #: bizetcarme_wtlf) 



Ricci’s playing of the Bizet-Sarasate Carmen Fantasie is OUT OF THIS WORLD. There is no greater performance on record in my opinion, and few works that have as much Audiophile Appeal. Which is why I've had a copy of this record in my own collection for about fifteen years marked "My Demo Disc". But this copy KILLED it. How could that be?

It just goes to show: No matter how good a particular copy of a record may sound to you, when you clean and play enough of them you will almost always find one that's better, and often surprisingly better. Shootouts are the only way to find these kinds of records. Nothing else works.

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1975)


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Brahms / Hungarian Dances / Dvorak / Slavonic Dances

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: brahmhunga_6198_2011) 



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

The London pressing of this music used to be on the TAS List but appears to have been dropped at some point over the years. Not that I would notice what comes and goes on HP's list, as I do not hold it in as high a regard as most audiophiles I have met over the years. For some reason there were those who tended to think it definitive or consistent. I can assure you it is neither.

The Brahms here (side one) is nothing special on this copy, but the Dvorak is SUPERB, sounding much better than the other Bluebacks we played and the Stereo Treasury copies as well. With Reiner at the helm both sides are lively and fun.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms / Sonata in D Minor / Laredo

  (Item #: brahmsonat_2414) 



DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND for this incredibly rare Living Stereo violin record.

This is the first copy I''ve ever seen. Side one, the Brahms Sonata, has very good sound and is played beautifully. When I dropped the needle on side two I went "Wow!"

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms / Trio & Beethoven / Sonata for Horn and Piano

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: brahmtrioi_2420_2013) 



This is an exceptionally good sounding chamber record on the RCA White Dog label, especially on side two, which earned a sonic grade of A++ to A+++. Side two has the Beethoven work for horn and piano, and it sounds about as real and natural as a chamber recording can. Side one is not quite up to the same sonic standards, but is quite good nevertheless, earning a very respectable grade of A+ to A++.

This title is so rare I had literally never seen one in my 25+ years as a dealer in audiophile-oriented recordings. The other bit of good news is that the vinyl is unusually quiet, playing as it does mostly Mint Minus. How many early RCA pressings can make such a claim? No more than five per cent I would think, if that.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)


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The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Brubeck And Rushing

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: brubebrube_2010) 



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

This Minty looking Columbia Six Eye Demo LP has SUPERB SOUND and some of the quietest Six Eye vinyl I’ve ever heard. If you’re a fan of either Dave Brubeck or Jimmy Rushing you can’t do better than this album. The sound is as close to perfection as I can imagine. I think it would be practically impossible to find a better copy than this.

See all of our Dave Brubeck albums in stock


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Johnny Cash - Now, There Was A Song

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: cash_nowth) 



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

This very nice looking original Columbia Stereo 360 Label LP has that authentic early Johnny Cash sound. We put this through our cleaning process and took a listen. The EQ on his vocals is a little bit brighter than we like but overall the album has LOTS OF TUBEY MAGIC!

"This is an outstanding album of covers of old country songs, from the familiar (Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams, George Jones) to lesser-known gems. " AMG

More Johnny Cash


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Chabrier / Orchestral Music / Ansermet

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: chabrespan_JB10_2011) 



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

This Super Hot Stamper Decca reissue pressing has superb sound on both sides, with some of the loveliest orchestral music reproduction we’ve ever heard.

On both sides it is very RICH and TUBEY. Some might even say that it's too "Tubey Magical", but of course that's a matter of taste. If you like the dry sterility of the modern Heavy Vinyl pressing, perhaps this is not the right record for you. Or maybe this is EXACTLY the record you need, the one that can show you what real vintage Golden Age Glorious Analog is all about.

See more of our spectacular orchestral recordings in stock


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Chabrier / Orchestral Music / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: chabrorche_2009) 



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

This side one has some of the loveliest classical music reproduction we’ve heard around here in ages. Man, this has it all going on: it’s super clean and clear, tonally correct from top to bottom, and it has the full weight of the orchestra down low. The string tone is so sweet and silky I have to say it’s AGAIG -- As Good As It Gets. We've only heard one other copy that was worth the coveted Three Pluses on side one that this LP earned. If you want a classical record to TEST your system, if you want a classical record to DEMO your system, you will have a hard time finding a better pressing than this one for both.

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894)


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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 / The Chopin Scherzos / Rubinstein

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: chopischer_2368_2012) 



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

This is an original RCA Living Stereo (LSC 2368) Shaded Dog from 1960 with EXCELLENT SOUND. Side one was at least A++; without more copies it would be hard to know if it could get much better, and clean copies of a title like this do not come our way very often. These solo piano showpieces are performed with consumate skill and deep feeling by the legendary Arthur Rubinstein.

The strengths of this particular LP are not hard to hear: reasonably good vinyl and super-transparent mids and highs. Like most of Rubinstein's records on RCA, there is not enough weight to the piano, but at least on this pressing the smear, compression and congestion common to practically every original is nowhere to be found.

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Classic Records

First Three Classical Releases
Debunked

  (Item #: classic_180_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame Pressings, Every One

I’m reminded of the nonsense I read in TAS and elsewhere in the mid-’90s regarding the reputed superiority of the Classic Records Living Stereo reissues. After playing their first three titles: 1806, 1817 and 2222 (if memory serves), I could find no resemblance between the reviews I read and the actual sound of the records I played. The sound was, in a word, awful. To this day I consider them to be the Single Worst Reissue Series in the History of the World.


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Miles Davis - Sketches of Spain

Mono Shootout Winner in 2008

  (Item #: davissketc_2008) 



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

This Mono Six Eye Columbia original pressing is the WINNER and [not-at-all] CURRENT CHAMPION of our Sketches of Spain shootouts. This record always sounded so thin and aggressive, with Miles’ horn always somewhat pinched and sour, but now it sounds wonderful. Who knew this record could sound so good?

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

More Miles Davis


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Miles Davis - Sketches of Spain

Our Shootout Winner in 2016

  (Item #: davissketc_2016) 



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

The first White Hot copy to hit the site in nearly EIGHT years! Both sides were stunning, knocking us out and earning our top Triple Plus (A+++) grade.

When you get a Hot Stamper like this one the sound is truly MAGICAL. (AMG has that dead right in their review.) Tons of ambience, tubey magic all over the place; let's face it, this is one of those famous Columbia recordings that shows just how good the Columbia engineers were back then. The sound is lively but never strained. Davis's horn has breath and bite just like the real thing. What more can you ask for?

More Miles Davis


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Debussy / Images Pour Orchestre / Munch

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: debusimage_2282_2006) 



A Living Stereo record from the Golden Age of Classical Recordings, in this case 1960.

DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! Iberia on side two sounds exceptionally good. It's also a better performace than the famous Reiner. Munch understands this music perfectly.

This recording has an extremely open, extended top end. If you can add a few dB around 50 cycles, you will have the best of both worlds.

More of the music of Claude Debussy


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Debussy & Ravel / String Quartet - Julliard String Quartet

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: debusquart_2413) 



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

Near Mint SUPER RARE Demonstration Copy Shaded Dog of this Debussy and Ravel string quartet recording.

I haven't seen a clean one of these in probably close to ten years. This record looks like it has been played very little.

The sound is also very natural. Not bright or close miked -- much more the way it would actually be heard in a smaller more intimate setting.

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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Duke Ellington - The Nutcracker Suite

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: ellinnutcr_2015) 



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

This Columbia Six-Eye Stereo pressing has an A+++ side one backed by a very good side two! This is a WONDERFUL album featuring Duke and his orchestra doing a jazzy interpretation of the famous Nutcracker Suite, and on a copy like this the sound is SUPERB! We pulled together enough copies to have a big shootout for this album and this copy took home top honors for side one.

More Duke Ellington


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Esquivel and Other Vintage Recordings

What to Listen For

  (Item #: esquiinfin_2015) 



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

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

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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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Ella Fitzgerald - Mack the Knife - Ella in Berlin

Not Recommended for Sound

  (Item #: fitzgmackt_ss) 



This Verve Stereo LP features Ella with the Paul Smith Quartet live in Berlin. The sound is poor however.

"This LP is a classic. Ella Fitzgerald is heard at the peak of her powers during a Berlin concert that is famous for her unique version of "Mack the Knife"; when she forgot the words in mid-performance, she substituted spontaneous and remarkable lyrics of her own... in one form or another, this music (which also includes a hot version of "How High the Moon") is essential for all serious jazz collections." - AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

More Ella Fitzgerald


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Gershwin / Concerto In F & Rhapsody In Blue / Kostelanetz

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: gershconce_8286_2015) 



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

This early Columbia 360 Label pressing has Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides. Exceptionally rich and Tubey Magical from start to finish. The sound on this vintage pressing is natural and above all musical. Both works are performed with consummate skill and attention to detail, the result magnificent.

More of the music of George Gershwin


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Grieg / Piano Concerto - Curzon / Boult

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: griegpiano_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 Deccas -- superb sound and music that belongs in your life!"

This performance also includes Franck's "Variations Symphoniques" and Litolff''s "Scherzo from Concerto Symphonique, Op. 102".

More of the music of Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)


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Coleman Hawkins - At Ease With Coleman Hawkins

Our OJC Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: hawkiateas_2016) 



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

This 1960 Saxophone Ballad session has to be seen as yet another recording triumph for Rudy Van Gelder. The best pressings of these OJC reissues from 1989 sound like the vintage jazz albums they emulate, and sometimes they even beat the originals at their own Tubey Magical game. They can be every bit as rich, sweet and spacious as their earlier-pressed brethren in our experience.

In the case of At Ease with Coleman Hawkins, we simply have never seen an original copy clean enough to buy, so we have no reference for what an original would sound like.

More Coleman Hawkins


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The Hi-Lo's - All Over The Place

Reviewed in 2014

  (Item #: hilosallov_2014) 



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

Side two is nearly White Hot, with rich, natural vocal reproduction. This is the glorious sound of Columbia's All Tube chain in 1960. Marty Paich (the genius) is back conducting the orchestra for this set of standards.

More Popular Vocals


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Hindemith / Symphony in B Flat / Fennell

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: hindesymph_90143_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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Helen Humes - ’Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: humestaint_2013) 



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

This EXCEPTIONALLY QUIET Contemporary Recording has wonderful sound on both sides. It’s got SHOCKINGLY DYNAMIC VOCALS -- just listen to Miss Humes really belting it out on a great reading of Stardust! The sound is really rich and full with a BIG punchy bottom end. The clarity and transparency are superb, and you can really hear the leading edge transients on the various horns (Carter on trumpet, Rosolino on trombone).

You Can Depend On Me, the opening track, has an exceptionally weighty piano; it's as if Andre Previn himself were pounding on a baby grand right there in your living room!

More Contemporary jazz


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Ibert / Divertissement / Martinon

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: ibertdiver_2011) 



This London LP has a very good A+ to A++ side two. Lively and not too bright with nice space and clarity, the Jeux D'Enfants is very enjoyable. Le Rouet D'Omphale (the Spinning Wheel) which follows is even better! Natural and dynamic with rich strings, the tonality is wonderfully balanced.

Performed with the Paris Conservatory Orchestra under Jean Martinon, this record also features Bizet's Jeux D'Enfants and Saint-Saens' Danse Macabre and Le Rouet D'Omphale.

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens


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Khachaturian / Masquerade Suite / Kondrashin (LSC 2398)

  (Item #: khachmasqu_0910) 



A distinguished member of our Hall of Fame.

DEMO DISC SOUND for this TAS List Shaded Dog, with each side earning an A++ grade and playing relatively quietly!

This is a BIG one folks, as most of you probably know already. It is not easy to find copies of this album with excellent sound and fairly quiet surfaces on both sides, and if you don't believe me than I encourage you to try. The violin is so sweet and full of rosiny texture here. The whole string section is full of Living Stereo magic. The soundstage is wide and deep, the overall sound rich and warm. The midrange is nothing short of magical.

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Peggy Lee - Latin ala Lee!

S&P (Reviewed in the '00s)

  (Item #: lee_latin_SandP_reviewed) 



Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the 2003 when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

The Record of the Year for 2003. I know how crazy that sounds, but it's true! If you don't have a smile on your face fifteen seconds after playing track one, you better check your pulse, cuz, as the famous song has it: Jack, You Dead. Amazingly good sound, courtesy of a fabulous and painstakingly difficult remix by the mastering guru himself, Steve Hoffman. This is popular music for the previous generation -- but why should we be denied these long forgotten treasures?

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Liszt / The Music of Franz Liszt / Fiedler

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: lisztmusic_2442_2010) 



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

The rich, textured, rosin-on-the-bow lower strings on this record are to die for. Find me a modern record that sounds like this and I will eat it, and by "modern record" we hasten to include both modern recordings and modern remasterings of older recordings. NO ONE alive today can make a record that sound even remotely like this.

To call it a lost art is to understand something that few vinyl-loving audiophiles appear to have grasped since the advent of the Modern Reissue, which is simply this: they don't sound as good.

More of Franz Liszt's music in stock


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Los Admiradores - Bongos / Flutes / Guitars

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: losadbongo_2015) 



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

First things first: one of the main bongo players is none other than Ray Barretto himself. You jazz guys out there will know exactly who that is, a man whose reputation for brilliant rhythmic contributions to some of the great jazz classic albums of the '60s is beyond dispute. One listen to Midnight Blue will do the trick. The man had a gift. And he is here joined by two other top players.

And of course the guitarist has to be the incomparable Tony Mottola, the man behind one of our favorite jazz guitar records of all time: Warm, Wild and Wonderful.

More Exotica


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Mahler / Songs of a Wayfarer / Munch

Reviewed in 2004

  (Item #: mahlesongs_2371) 



A Living Stereo record from the Golden Age of Classical Recordings, in this case 1960.

Excellent sound.

See more of the music of Gustav Mahler


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Mahler / Symphony #4 / Reiner

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: mahlesym4_2364) 



A Living Stereo record from the Golden Age of Classical Recordings, in this case 1960.

This Mahler work is very accessible and enjoyable. Lovely, smooth, sweet string tone. This, along with the 1st Symphony, are my favorites.

Comparing the Classic Reissue with the white dog above reveals that Bernie Grundman got the tonal balance right (not a common occurrence), but the magic of the RCA string tone has mysteriously been replaced by the thick, glossy strings you might expect on a Phillips record. Or, the same effect could probably be achieved if you were to buy a Crown amplifier and hook it up to your speakers. I had a Crown DC-300A in 1973 and I don't want it back.


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Henry Mancini - The Blues and The Beat

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: manciblues_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame from 1960.

If you like your large group recordings to have huge three-dimensional space and depth, look no further. This is vintage RCA Living Stereo at its best - transparent, Tubey Magical, big and bold. Let's give credit where credit is due, to the amazing AL SCHMITT.

We know his work well; he happens to have engineered many albums with SUPERB SOUND: Aja, Hatari, Breezin', Late for the Sky, Toto IV, as well as some we can't stand (the entire Diana Krall digital-echo-drenched catalog comes to mind).

More Henry Mancini


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Shelly Manne & His Men - At The Blackhawk Vol. 1

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: manneatthe_0411) 



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

WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC! This Contemporary Yellow Label LP is West Coast Jazz at its best! The sound is SUPERB -- airy, open, and spacious with an STUNNINGLY GOOD bottom end. You won’t believe how ALIVE the bass sounds -- the depth and definition are OUT OF THIS WORLD! Each instrument here sounds just right -- weighty, percussive piano; punchy drums; and lovely leading edge transients on the brass. Contemporary got live nightclub jazz sound down to a T here.

More Shelly Manne


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Shelly Manne & His Men - At The Blackhawk Vol. 2

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: manneblack) 



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

WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC! This Contemporary Yellow Label LP is West Coast Jazz at its best! The sound is SUPERB -- airy, open, and spacious with an STUNNINGLY GOOD bottom end. You won’t believe how ALIVE the bass sounds -- the depth and definition are OUT OF THIS WORLD! Each instrument here sounds just right -- weighty, percussive piano; punchy drums; and lovely leading edge transients on the brass. Contemporary got live nightclub jazz sound down to a T here.

More Shelly Manne


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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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Mendelssohn / Violin Concerto in E Minor / Rybar

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: mendevioli_wh_2011) 



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

This Whitehall budget reissue stereo pressing has SUPERB Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides and a performance by Peter Rybar that can hold its own against any you may have heard.

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


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Charles Mingus - Mingus Revisited

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: mingurevis_2015) 



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

This copy sounds like a big room full of musicians (25 in all!) playing live, which it surely was. The Tubey Magical richness of this 1960 recording is breathtaking - no modern record can touch it. Allmusic gives it 4 stars and we think it's maybe even a better than that.

On both sides the best sound can be heard starting with the second track, but on side one the first track was very spacious and had a fuller sounding piano than practically any other we played.

See all of our Charles Mingus albums in stock


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Wes Montgomery - While We’re Young

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: montgwhile_fame) 



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

This Minty Milestone Two-Fer Promo Double LP set features material from two Wes Montgomery albums: The Incredible Jazz Guitar and So Much Guitar.

There's a reason Steve Hoffman chose So Much Guitar to do on Gold CD. It's a superb recording, and it sounds great here.

More Wes Montgomery


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Mozart / Clarinet Concerto / Maag

(Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: mozarclari_decca) 



Sonic Grade: B?

A fairly good Speakers Corner Decca reissue.

Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the '90 when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

"One of the best of the Deccas. I raved about this one years ago when it came out. If I had to pick a record to demonstrate how wonderful Decca recordings are, musically and sonically, this would be an easy choice."

More Mozart


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Mozart / Notturno in D Major For 4 Orchestras / Maag

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: mozarnottu_6133_0311) 



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

This London title has long been a favorite of ours here at Better Records, and this Blueback copy does not disappoint (except in the area of condition, see the notes below). Side one, much like the amazing Mozart record we listed today, is spacious and three-dimensional like you will not believe. I would rank it in the Top Five Per Cent of all classical recordings in respect of those qualities. You can hear into the soundstage on this pressing like few recordings you own, we guarantee it.

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Gerry Mulligan - The Concert Jazz Band

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: mulliconce_2016) 



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

If you've never heard a good All Tube Recording of the baritone sax, buy this record -- it will blow your mind!

Huge amounts of ambience fill out the space the extends from wall to wall (and all the way to the back wall of the studio), leaving plenty of room around each of the players.

More Gerry Mulligan


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Mussorgsky on Vinyl

Three that Didn't Make the Grade

  (Item #: Mussorgsky) 



These are just some of the recordings of the music of Mussorgsky that we've auditioned and found wanting. Without going into specifics we'll just say these albums suffer from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place on our site, in your collection, and may even belong in our Hall of Shame.

A Free Service provided to the Audiophile Public, courtesy of Better Records.

Hot Stamper Pressings of Mussorgsky's Music

Pressings of Mussorgsky's Music We've Reviewed



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Paganini / Caprices / Ricci

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: pagancapri_6163_2011) 



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

This London White Hot Stamper pressing has DEMO QUALITY SOUND on side two! Sound of this calibre is nothing less than SHOCKING. If you like the sound of solo violin -- and who doesn't -- you will have a VERY hard time finding a better sounding recording of it than this. That's assuming you can get your Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA) dead on the money, not something every audiophile can manage. If you can, lookout -- you are in for a sonic treat.

More of the music of Niccolò Paganini


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Art Pepper - Gettin’ Together

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: peppegetti_2011) 



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

TWO GREAT SIDES on VERY QUIET vinyl, including an As Good As It Gets A+++ side two! This album, and this copy in particular, deliver some serious Art Pepper Contemporary Magic. We're big fans of Pepper and this label, and we love the sound Roy DuNann was able to get out of these guys. On the best pressings, such as this one, there's just nothing between you and the music! You will have a very hard time finding a much better sounding jazz record than side two of this copy -- anywhere.

More Art Pepper


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Art Pepper - ...The Way It Was

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: peppeitwas_2010) 



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

This Contemporary Yellow Label LP has WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC ON BOTH SIDES! It’s airy, open, and spacious with superb clarity and an extended top end. The beautiful reading of Autumn Leaves on side two is DEMO DISC QUALITY!

More Art Pepper


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Elvis Presley - Elvis Is Back!

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: preslelvis_2015) 



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

What a great Elvis album. Fever is the killer jam on the first side and the material throughout is of very high quality.

Finding clean real Elvis records -- not those crappy compilations and vault-leftovers, but real Elvis albums from his golden period when he was the true King of Pop (sorry Michael) -- has never been a walk in the park. We do the best we can.

More Elvis Presley


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Prokofiev / Concerto #2 / Leibowitz / PSO

A Top Performance

  (Item #: prokoconce_2465) 



This is a very nice looking RCA Living Stereo Shaded Dog LP. Some parts sound better than others but the real reason to buy this record is the performance. Frager is amazing here; he won awards for his performance of this piece in international competitions. The record also features Haydn - Sonata No. 35. The record is a member of HP's TAS list.
More of the music of Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)


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Jim Reeves - The Intimate Jim Reeves

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: reeveintim_2013) 



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

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music found here are enchanting. If you're looking to demonstrate just how good 1963 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy may be just the record for you.

All the copies we played were stereo. We've had very poor luck with mono pressings of Living Stereo recordings and tend to avoid them.

Produced by Chet Atkins in Nashville, 1960, with Bill Porter engineering. This is superb countrypolitan pop by the man who practically invented it.

More Living Stereo


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Respighi / Pines of Rome / Reiner

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: respipines_2436_2006) 



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

This Minty looking RCA Red Seal pressing has EXCELLENT SOUND. We did a big shootout today with a number of pressings, all of which have their strengths and weaknessess. The Shaded Dogs tend to have more weight to them, but are never cut as cleanly and usually lack top end extension. The Red Seals and White Dogs are lower distortion and have better highs but tend to lack weight down at the bottom.

1960 - It Was a Very Good Year


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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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MS 6069

A Columbia Record We Can't Recommend

  (Item #: rimsk_6069) 



Another recording that we auditioned and found wanting. Without going into too many specifics, we'll just say the album suffers from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore deserves a place in our Hall of Shame.

The performance here is far too slow to be taken seriously.

A Free Service provided to the Audiophile Public, courtesy of Better Records.

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


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Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade - Reiner

Chesky Records Debunked

  (Item #: rimskscheh_chesky) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Pressing.

Chesky is one of the WORST AUDIOPHILE LABELS in the history of the world. Their recordings are so artificial and "wrong" that they defy understanding. That some audiophiles actually buy into this junk sound is equal parts astonishing and depressing. Their own records are a joke, and their remasterings of the RCA Living Stereo catalog are an abomination. If there is a more CLUELESS audiophile label on the planet, I don't know who it could be, and I don't want to find out.

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


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Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: rimskscheh_classic_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

In 2009 or 2010, during our testing of the TT Weights turntable products, the record I played again and again -- close to a hundred times over the course of two days -- was a wonderful White Dog pressing of LSC 2446. The sound was glorious, some of the best reproduction of large orchestra I have ever heard.

See more of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov 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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Schubert / Death and the Maiden / Julliard String Quartet

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: schubdeath_2378_2015) 



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

Wow! One of the RAREST and most sought after RCA Shaded Dog pressings (LSC 2378) in BEAUTIFUL CONDITION with SUPERB SOUND (on side two anyway). This Demo Copy has a side two with the kind of richness and sweetness lacking on many of the RCA chamber recordings we've played in the past, and in fact is lacking somewhat on side one of this very record!

Side two, which has the third and fourth movement of Death and the Maiden, is wonderful here, earning a sonic grade of A++. It's very transparent, with real "rosin on the bow" resolution and naturalness.

More Living Stereo


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Shostakovich / Cello Sonata / Shafran

Reviewed in 2004

  (Item #: shostcello_2553) 



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

Fabulous! A beautiful record!

Performed by Daniel Shafran, Cellist, and Lydia Pecherskaya, Pianist. This performance also includes Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata.

More Living Stereo


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Sibelius / Violin Concerto / Heifetz

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: sibelvioli_2435_2011) 



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

This TAS List Shaded Dog has AMAZINGLY NATURAL violin tone, especially on side two, which earned a seriously good grade of A++. This side two will show you exactly what Living Stereo Magic is all about. The violin is very well recorded, and with a side two as good as this one you hear just how big and rich it can sound.

More of the music of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)


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Horace Silver - Horace-Scope

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: silvehorac_2015) 



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

The really good RVG pressings (often on the later labels) sound shockingly close to live music -- uncompressed, present, full of energy, with the instruments clearly located on a wide and often deep soundstage, surrounded by the natural space and cool air of his New Jersey studio. As our stereo has improved, and we've found better pressings and learned how to clean them better, his "you-are-there" live jazz sound has come to impress us more and more.

More Horace Silver


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Frank Sinatra - All The Way

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: sinatallth_2016) 



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

This vintage '60s Capitol pressing was our clear winner, with Triple Plus sound on both sides. It has the all the Tubey Magic one could ask for, allowing Sinatra's rich baritone to work its magic on every phrase. As you can well imagine, finding clean, scratch-free '60s Sinatra records like this one, in stereo no less, is no walk in the park.

This group of singles and B-sides was recorded from 1957 to 1960 - it contain some of Sinatra's better known songs arranged by Nelson Riddle.

More Frank Sinatra


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Frank Sinatra - Nice and Easy

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: sinatnicea_2013) 



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

It's been a long time coming but we're pretty sure whoever takes this bad boy home will agree that it's been worth the wait. Here's the first White Hot Stamper of The Chairman's classic Nice 'n' Easy to ever hit the site! This killer pressing has an A+++ side one, an A++ side two, and unusually quiet vinyl throughout. Take this one home and play it against the MoFi pressing for a good laugh -- this thing will positively SMOKE whatever other version you might have in your collection, guaranteed.

More Frank Sinatra


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Frank Sinatra - Nice and Easy

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: sinatnicea_mofi_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

A piece of garbage that gets Frank's voice completely wrong, thinning it out and boosting at it the top of his range. No one else besides MoFi ever managed to make Frank Sinatra's voice sound this way, so what are the chances that they're right and everybody else is wrong? Slim? None? Put us down for "none."

More Frank Sinatra


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Sousa / Sound Off! / Fennell / EWE

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: sousasound_90264_2010) 



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

This Mercury pressing is EXCELLENT ON BOTH SIDES, way better than the copies we played it against. It has a GIGANTIC soundfield -- spacious and three-dimensional, deep and wide. The clarity is excellent and there's a ton of energy. Those of you with tubes in your system are likely to get the most out of this music.

Many of you are likely to recognize The Liberty Bell on side two -- it's the Monty Python theme song!

More of our best Orchestral Recordings


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Stravinsky / The Firebird / Dorati

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: stravfireb_90226_2015) 



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

White Hot Front Row Center sound on side one - amazingly lifelike. One listen to either side and you'll know this is one of the Top Mercury Titles of All Time. Dorati breathes life into the work as only he can. This is the first time the Mercury Firebird has ever made it to the site, and this copy is killer.

More of Stravinsky's music


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Stravinsky / The Firebird / Dorati

One Thing We Learned in Our 2016 Shootout

  (Item #: stravfireb_90226_learn) 



Another entry in our Thinking About Hot Stampers series.

For our recent shootout of The Firebird we had three minty, potentially hot copies of the Mercury with Dorati, as well as our noisy ref. (We have a noisy reference copy for just about every major title by now. We -- meaning me and the rat in my pocket -- have been doing these shootouts for a very long time. After thirty years in the record business, we have accumulated a World Class collection of records too noisy to sell.

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


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Stravinsky / The Firebird / Dorati

Classic Records 45 RPM Debunked

  (Item #: stravfireb_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: C-

A customer alerted me to a review Wayne Garcia wrote about various VPI platters and the rim drive, and this is what I wrote back to him:

Steve, after starting to read Wayne's take on the platters, I came across this:

That mind-blowing epiphany that I hadn't quite reached with the Rim Drive/Super Platter happened within seconds after I lowered the stylus onto the "Infernal Dance" episode of Stravinsky's Firebird (45 rpm single-sided Classic Records reissue of the incomparable Dorati/LSO Mercury Living Presence recording).
See more of Stravinsky's music


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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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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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Tchaikovsky / Violin Concerto / Szeryng - Munch

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: tchaivioli_1037_2010) 



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

This plum label original Victrola pressing is comparable if not actually better than most pressings of the rare Shaded Dog it's reissuing, LSC 2363. The violin tone is lovely on side one, but the orchestra is not what it should be, hence the grade of A Plus.

Side two has Tartini's Devil's Trill which takes up about half the side and has the best sound here, earning a grade of A+ to A++. Szeryng is excellent throughout.

More Tchaikovsky


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Tchaikovsky / Violin Concerto / Szeryng - Munch

Not Recommended

  (Item #: tchaivioli_2363_2005) 



1S/ 1S Shaded Dog.

The violin is very immediate sounding on this recording, maybe too much so. The sound of the orchestra is where this record falls short.

It's congested, thin and shrill in places. The right copy of Heifetz's performance on LSC 1992 is overall a much better record. Some may prefer Szeryng's way with this famous piece, which is a matter of taste of course. If you're listening for just the performance and the sound of the violin, you may find this record to be more acceptable.

More Living Stereo


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Various Composers / Ballet Music From The Opera / Fistoulari

VICS 1206 - Reviewed in 2013

  (Item #: varioballe_1206_2013) 



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

Better than Super Hot Stamper sound on side one of this lovely Victrola reissue from 1960, one of the best in the entire series. Pay attention to the brass -- yes, it may have some tubey smear, but listen to how HUGE and POWERFUL it is! Drop the needle on the first side and watch (or listen) as the sound comes jumping out of your speakers. Modern records can't do that.

These Decca-derived recordings are highly sought after, and with good reason. It's hard to imagine a more wonderful audiophile disc, both in terms of the programme and the quality of the sound.

More Living Stereo


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Various Composers / Ballet Music From The Opera / Fistoulari

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: varioballe_2400_2011) 



This Super Rare, Highly Collectible copy of LSC 2400 has vintage RCA Golden Age sound, for better and for worse. Even though the album was recorded by Decca, it's got a heavy dose of Living Stereo Tubey Magic. There will never be a reissue of this record that even remotely captures the richness of the sound here.

And the hall is HUGE -- so spacious and three-dimensional it's almost shocking, especially if you've been playing the kind of dry, multi-miked modern recordings that the '70s ushered in for London and RCA. (EMI is super spacious but much of that space is weird, coming from out of phase back channels folded in to the stereo mix. And often so mid-hall and distant. Not our sound, sorry.)

More Living Stereo


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Various Composers / Ballet Music From The Opera / Fistoulari

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: varioballe_2400_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

Classic Records ruined this album, as one would have expected. Their version is dramatically more aggressive, shrill and harsh than the Shaded Dogs we've played, with almost none of the sweetness, richness and ambience that the best RCA pressings have in such abundance. In fact their pressing is just plain awful, like most of the classical recordings they remastered, and should be avoided at any price.

More Living Stereo


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Everything But the Beer / Fiedler Conducts a Boston Pops Concert

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: varioevery_6082_2012) 



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

This VERY RARE 2 LP Shaded Dog pressing has Super Hot Stamper sound. Much of what's good about Golden Age recordings is heard here, with side one for example having the sound of a HUGE hall and that Three-Dimensional quality that the best vintage recordings are able to convey so well.

We constantly knock Heavy Vinyl here at Better Records for the simple reason that we play vintage recordings such as this by the score every month and can hear what they do so well. Unfortunately the huge hall and the 3-D soundstaging they effortlessly reproduce cannot be found on any Heavy Vinyl pressing we know of.

See more recordings conducted by Arthur Fiedler


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Festival of Russian Music / Reiner

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: variofesti_1068_2008) 



Excellent sound, more mid-hall than some other RCAs. This is the Victrola version of the Shaded Dog of Festival. Some of these pieces are amazing in Reiner''s hands, Marche Slave, for example. Russland and Ludmilla is also superb here. The sound is quite dynamic and powerful with very little distortion or noticeable compression. Reiner is excellent on music like this!

It should go without saying that this kills the Classic Records pressing.

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


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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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Verdi, Rossini, et al. / Venice - Solti

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: varioovert_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

Classic Records remastered LSC 2313 (VICS 1119) and even the people that like the sound of Classic's Heavy Vinyl complain about it, so you can imagine what we think. What a piece of garbage. Smeary and shrill, it gives no indication of the beauty that is on the tape.

More Living Stereo


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Rabin / The Magic Bow / Slatkin

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: variorabin_bow_2010) 



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

This original Capitol Michael Rabin record is ONE OF THE VERY BEST VIOLIN RECORDINGS we have ever played here at Better Records. The sound is OUT OF THIS WORLD! The immediacy of the violin tone is unbelievable -- Rabin is in the room with you throughout the entirety of the record in a way that few recordings in our experience could hope to equal.

More recordings featuring the violin


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The Royal Ballet - Gala Performances - Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2005

  (Item #: varioroyal_6065) 



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

This is a QUIET RCA Soria Shaded Dog Box Set with some of the BEST SOUND I HAVE EVER HEARD for this music on Disc One. This is truly DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND if what you are demonstrating is not the merely Hi-Fi, but the relaxed beauty and naturalness of what many consider to be the finest example of Living Stereo Magic brought to the greatest performances of ballet music ever committed to tape.

More Living Stereo


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Guonod / Borodin / The World of Ballet Vol. 2 / Gibson / Ansermet

  (Item #: varioworld_fame) 



A distinguished member of our Unconventional Hall of Fame.

This British pressed Decca compilation has SUPERB RCA Golden Age sound on side one and something very close to it on side two. Even though the album was recorded by Decca, it's got a heavy dose of Living Stereo Tubey Magic coursing through its vinyl veins. It is my belief that there will never be a modern reissue of this recording that could even begin to capture the beauty of the sound found on this LP. Both sides have Demo Disc qualities.

See more entries in our Classical Commentary series


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