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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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London Orchestral Records from the '70s

And the Problem of Opacity

  (Item #: straualsos_6978) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning records.

The average copy of this 1976 recording has that dry, multi-miked modern sound that the '70s ushered in for many of the major labels, notably London and RCA. How many Solti records are not ridiculously thick and opaque? One out of ten? If that. We're very wary of records recorded in the '70s; we've been burned too many times.

And to tell you the truth we are not all that thrilled with most of what passes for good sound on Mehta's London output either. If you have a high-resolution system these recordings, like those on Classic Heavy Vinyl we constantly criticize, leave a lot to be desired.

More orchestral music conducted by Georg Solti


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Paganini / Violin Concertos 1 & 2

Expensive Heavy Vinyl Trash

  (Item #: paganvioli_outrage) 



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

Had I paid good money to buy this pressing in the hopes of hearing the supremely talented Yehudi Menuhin of 1961 tear it up on Paganini's legendary first two concertos, I can tell you one thing: I would be pissed.

Where is the outrage in the audiophile community over this kind of trash? I have yet to see it. I suspect I will grow quite a bit older and quite a bit greyer before anyone else notices just how bad this record sounds. I hope I'm proven wrong.

More of the music of Niccolò Paganini


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Offenbach & Chopin / Gaite Parisienne & Les Sylphides

Reverse Your Polarity

  (Item #: offengaite_rd_2016) 



This is one of the pressings we’ve discovered with Reversed Polarity.

Amazing in every way! The top end of this record is clear, clean and correct. No other copy sounded like this one on the first side. When you hear all the percussion instruments -- the tambourines, triangles, wood blocks and what-have-you -- you know instantly that they sound RIGHT.

The overall sound is very different from many of the other recordings of the work that we have offered in the past. Rather than smooth, rich and sweet, the sound here is big and bold and clear like nothing we have ever played.

More of the music of Jacques Offenbach


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Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 (Pathetique) / Monteux

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: tchaisymph6_debunked) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

It's been quite a while since I played the Classic pressing, but I remember it as none-too-impressive, playing into my natural prejudice against early Living Stereo recordings and Classic Records themselves.

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


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Ravel & Dukas / Bolero & Sorcerer’s Apprentice / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: ravelboler_6367_2014) 



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

We are rarely able to find quality recordings (or performances) of either Bolero or The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, so this pressing comes as an especially welcome addition to the classical offerings on the site.

The sound is clear, with wonderful depth to the stage. As a rule, the classic '50s and '60s recordings of Ansermet and the Suisse Romande in Victoria Hall are as big and rich as any you may have encountered. These recordings strike us as the ideal blend of clarity and richness, with depth and spaciousness that will put to shame 98% of the classical recordings ever made.

More of the music of Maurice Ravel


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Beethoven / Symphony #4 / Monteux

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: beethsymph4_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: C

Another Classic Records LP debunked.

It's been quite a while since I played the Classic pressing, but I remember it as none-too-impressive, playing into my natural prejudice against early Living Stereo recordings and Classic Records themselves.

More music by Ludwig van Beethoven


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Ben Webster - And ’Sweets’ Edison

Classic Records Repress - Reviewed in the '90s

  (Item #: webstandsw_classic) 



Sonic Grade: B?

Probably a fairly good Classic Records jazz album. Both the music and sound are excellent.

The right Columbia pressing will kill it, but it's probably a fairly good value if you can get one for the 30 bucks we used to charge.


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Brahms, Handel, Chopin - Lincoln Mayorga, Pianist

Reverse Your Polarity!

  (Item #: variobrahm_mayorga) 



This IMMACULATE Sheffield Direct-to-Disc LP with Very Little Sign Of Play (VLSOP) is one of the best Sheffields. Lincoln Mayorga is an accomplished classical pianist: this is arguably his best work. (I had a chance to see him perform at a recital of Chopin's works early in 2010 and he played superbly -- for close to two hours without the aid of sheet music I might add.)

You might want to try reversing the phase when playing this LP; it definitely helps the sound, a subject we discuss below.

See more of our Direct to Disc recordings


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A Classic of Classic Rock - The Heart and Soul of Better Records

  (Item #: claptclapt_classic_rock) 



We had a WHITE HOT STAMPER pressing a few years back which sounded a whole lot better than I ever thought the album could sound. Man, what a revelation to hear an old favorite sound so amazingly spacious and sweet.

I've been playing this album since 1970, the year it came out. Back then my collection was made up of albums by The Beatles, The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby Stills and Nash, America, Rod Stewart, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Chicago, James Taylor, Spirit, The Band, Loggins and Messina, Blind Faith, Bread, The Who ... this was the music of my youth, and although many other artists and styles of music have been added to the playlist in the ensuing decades, Classic Rock still makes up a substantial portion of the music I play and enjoy today.

More Eric Clapton


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Art Pepper + Eleven - Modern Jazz Classics

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: peppemoder_fame) 



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

On a great copy such as this one, you can really pick out each of the musicians and follow them throughout the course of each song. When you're able to appreciate everyone's contributions, you can really get a better sense of how much work went into making this album. It's nothing short of epic!

This is one DYNAMIC jazz record -- drop the needle on any track and prepare yourself to be very impressed. The sound is full-bodied and energetic with tight bass, breathy brass, and lots of ambience.

More Art Pepper


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Prokofiev / Peter & The Wolf / Rossi

How Does the Narrator Sound?

  (Item #: prokopeter_van_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate ANY version of Peter and the Wolf.

The narrator for this piece almost always sounds like he's in a sound booth, of varying sound quality to be sure. (Bernstein's narration is one of the worst in this respect, sounding more like Aqualung than Lennie.)

Somehow Boris Karloff sounds like he is on stage with the orchestra here. He's either been recorded on stage, or precisely the right amount and kind of reverb has been added to his voice to match the sound of the hall.

See more of the music of Sergei Prokofiev


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Liszt, Enesco, Smetana / Rhapsodies - Stokowski

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: lisztrhaps_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

The lower strings are wonderful on the original -- wall to wall, with that rosiny texture we love. I wrote at the time -- this is twenty or so years ago -- that the Classic pressing took that rich, dark sound and brightened it up, naturally ruining it in the process. Cellos and double basses just don't sound like that. On the best pressings of LSC 2471 their timbre is Right On The Money. Of course, that's is the real thing, not some audiophile rebutchering.

Now if you're a Classic Records fan, and you like that brighter, more detailed, more aggressive sound, the original is probably not the record for you.


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Mussorgsky - The Power of the Orchestra

Chesky Debunked

  (Item #: mussopower_chesky_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame Pressing

So lifeless, compressed and thin. It’s clean and transparent, I’ll give it that, which is no doubt why so many audiophiles have been fooled into thinking it actually sounds better than the original. But of course there is no original; there are thousands of them, and they all sound different.

The Hot Stamper commentary below is for a pair of records that proves our case in the clearest possible way. We sold a two pack of Hot Stamper pressings, one with a good side one and one with a good side two. Why? Because the other sides were terrible! If you have a bad original, perhaps the Chesky will be better. Our advice is not to own a bad original, or this poorly-mastered Chesky reissue, but instead we advise that you make the effort to find a good original, or two or three, as many as it takes to get two good sides.

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Mussorgsky / The Power of the Orchestra / Leibowitz

Awesome In Mono

  (Item #: mussopower_mono) 



A distinguished member of our Unconventional Hall of Fame.

This is the kind of record that the mono cartridge owners of the world worship. And for good reason. But you don't need to have a mono cartridge to hear how good -- in fact, how much BETTER -- this copy sounds than most of the stereo pressings out there.

I found out about mono classical records one day when I got a mono copy of The Power Of The Orchestra, VCS 2659. It sounded better than any stereo recording of that work I had ever heard. All the instruments were so much more solid sounding, so palpable, so free from distortion, that it made me recognize for the first time what the mono record lovers of the world were talking about.

More Pictures at an Exhibition


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Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: mussopictu_debunked) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

The shrillness, the hardness, the sourness, the loss of texture to the strings, the phony boosted deep bass -- this is the kind of sound that makes my skin crawl. After a minute or two I’ve had it. And the performance is dreadful as well.

HP put this on his TAS List? Yes he did!

More Pictures at an Exhibition


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Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition / Muti

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: mussopictu_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

The MoFi mastering here is a joke. All that phony boosted top end makes the strings sound funny and causes mischief in virtually every other part of the orchestra as well. Not surprisingly, those boosted highs are missing from the real EMIs.

More Pictures at an Exhibition


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Frank Sinatra - The Voice

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: sinatthevo_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

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

There is a boatload of TUBEY MAGIC to be heard on the original pressings, due no doubt to the fact that they are mastered with tube equipment, but not much on this Classic repress.

More Frank Sinatra


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Illinois Jacquet - Illinois Jacquet

Classic Records - Reviewed in the '90s

  (Item #: jacquillin_17033_classic) 



Sonic Grade: C or Better

My guess is this is still a fairly good Classic Records jazz album. Years ago we wrote the following:

"This is actually one of the best Classic Jazz albums they released back in the '90s. Both the music and sound are excellent. Jacquet is one of the creators of the big soulful tenor sax sound. I don't know of anyone who does it better."

We can't be sure that we would still feel the same way. My guess is that this is still a good record if you can get one for the 30 bucks we used to charge.

More Illinois Jacquet


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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. If you're not doing shootouts (or buying the winners of shootouts from us) you simply don't have top quality copies in your collection, except in the rare instances where you just got lucky. In the world of records luck can only take you so far. The rest of the journey requires effort.

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JS Bach and Liszt / Organ Music / Richter

  (Item #: bach_organ_6172) 



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

This is a Minty looking London Red Label LP with Virtually No Sign Of Play (VNSOP).

You can feel the cool air in the hall! Some audiophiles buy organ records to show off their subwoofers. Records like this can do that but records this good have musical qualities far beyond simple demonstrations of bass reproduction. Karl Richter understands this music perfectly and makes it come alive in a way I've never heard any other musician.

More of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach


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JS Bach / Organ Music / Richter

  (Item #: bach_organ_6173) 



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

This London Whiteback pressing of CS 6173 has SUPERB SOUND! Like its brother, CS 6172, recorded by Richter in 1954, probably on the same day, the sound of this early stereo 2 mic recording is amazingly spacious and rich.

Here's what I said about 6172; You can feel the cool air in the hall! Some audiophiles buy organ records to show off their subwoofers. Records like this can do that but records this good have musical qualities far beyond simple demonstrations of bass reproduction. Karl Richter understands this music perfectly and makes it come alive in a way I've never heard any other musician manage to do.

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JS Bach / Virgil Fox -The Fox Touch, Volume 1

  (Item #: bach_thefo_fame) 



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

Are we changing our tune about Audiophile records? Not in the least; we love the ones that sound right. The fact that so few of them do is not our fault.

The methods used to make any given record are of absolutely no interest to us. We clean and play the pressings that we have on hand and judge the sound and music according to a single standard that we set for all such recordings. Organ records, in this case, get judged against other organ records. If you've been an audiophile for forty years as I have you've heard plenty of organ records; practically every audiophile label on the planet produced at least one, and most made more than one. Some of the major labels made them by the dozen in the '50s and '60s, and many of those can sound quite wonderful.


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Schubert / The Trout Quintet / Curzon

Live Sound Versus Chesky sound

  (Item #: schubtrout_6090_wtlf) 



What I hear on this pressing is sound that is absolutely free from any top end boost, much the way live music is. There’s plenty of tape hiss and air; the highs aren’t rolled off, they’re just not boosted the way they normally are in a recording.

A few years back I had a chance to see a piano trio play locally; they even perform a piece by Schubert. The one thing I noticed immediately during their live performance was how smooth and natural the top end was. I was no more than ten feet from the performers in a fairly reverberant room, and yet the sound I heard was the opposite of what passes in some circles for Hi-Fidelity.

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Genesis - Nursery Cryme

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: genesnurse_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

The Classic Heavy Vinyl pressing is a smeary lifeless mess next to one of our Hot Stamper pressings.

More Genesis


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Cannonball Adderley - Somethin’ Else

Classic Records Reviewed

  (Item #: addersomet_classic) 



Sonic Grade: C

Another Classic Records LP reviewed.

There are certainly some incredible sounding original pressings of this album out there, but who has the resources it takes to find one? Most of the original Blue Notes we come across these days turn out to have mediocre sound, and many of them have severely damaged inner grooves. Even the mintiest looking copies often turn out to be too noisy for most audiophiles, Blue Note vinyl being what it is.

This is of course why the hacks at Classic Records did so well for themselves [until they went under] hawking remastered versions of classic albums pressed on new, quieter vinyl.

More Cannonball Adderley


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Prokofiev / Love for Three Oranges Suite / Dorati

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: prokolovef_90006) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

Dreadful sound. The Mercury series on Classic is a disaster.

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


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Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: ledzephysi_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

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

Tonally correct, which is one thing you can't say for most of the Zeps in this series, that's for sure. Those of you with crappy domestic copies, crappy imported reissues and crappy CDs, which is pretty much all there is of this recording, will not know what you're missing. Compare this title to some of the better Classic Zep releases and I expect you will notice that hearing into the midrange is a more difficult proposition on these songs, with reduced ambience and space around the voices and instruments.

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Classical Music on Vinyl

An Overview

  (Item #: classical_benefits) 



We often mention the benefits to be gained from regularly listening to classical music. Once a week would make a good rule of thumb for playing a classical record or two I should think.

We all love our rock, jazz, folk and the rest, but there is something about classical music that has the power to restore a certain balance in your musical life that, for whatever reason, cannot be accomplished through other music. Perhaps it grounds your listening experience in something less immediately gratifying, something that grows deeper and more enriching over time. Once the effect has taken hold, the changes in one's mood are easy to recognize.

More of the Best Recordings Made in Victoria Hall


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Prokofiev / Symphonies No. 1 & 7

Seventies EMI Classical LPs and Vintage Tube Playback

  (Item #: prokosym1_emi) 



What to listen for on this album? That's easy: The all-too-common '70s EMI harshness and shrillness. We could never understand why audiophiles revered EMI as a label the way they did back the day. I chalk it up -- as I do most of the mistaken judgments audiophiles tend to make about the sound of records, my own included to the limitations of the equipment, bad rooms and poor record cleaning.
See all pressings of Prokofiev's music in stock


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Setup Discs, Part Two

Dialing in the Anti-Skate

  (Item #: bizetcarme_setup) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

This is a superb Demonstration disc, but it is also an excellent Test disc. The sound of the best copies is rich, full-bodied, incredibly spacious, and exceptionally extended up top. There is a prodigious amount of musical information spread across the soundstage, much of it difficult to reproduce. Musicians are banging on so many different percussive devices (often at the back of the stage, exactly where they should be) that getting each one's sonic character to clearly come through is a challenge -- and when you've met it, a thrill.

If you've done your homework with VTA, Azimuth, Anti-Skate and Tracking Weight, this is the record that will make clear just how much you've accomplished.

More of the music of Georges Bizet


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Gilbert and Sullivan / Pirates of Penzance

  (Item #: gilbepirat_lon_fame) 



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

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

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

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Tchaikovsky / 1812 Overture, Op. 49 / Kunzel

Telarc Debunked

  (Item #: tchai1812_telarc) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing.

If you want an amazingly dynamic 1812 with huge amounts of deep bass for the firing of the cannon you can't do much better than this (or its UHQR brother).

But if you want rich, sweet and tonally correct brass and strings you had best look elsewhere. I've never liked the sound of this record and I'm guessing if I heard a copy today I would like it even less. Who thinks live classical music actually sounds like this?

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

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The Who - Tommy

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: who__tommy_classic) 



Sonic Grade: C

Another Classic Records LP debunked.

The Classic Tommy is bass shy. It could have had amazing bass, like their Who's Next, but it doesn't. Why, I have no idea. The overall sound is thin, so thin that we immediately knew there was no point in carrying it (back in the bad old days when we carried Heavy Vinyl). The only Classic Who record we ever carried was Who's Next; the rest of them vary from mediocre to dreadful.

More Tommy


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The Who - Who By Numbers

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: who__whoby_classic) 



Sonic Grade: C

Another Classic Records LP reviewed.

It's not just bass that separates the Real Thing from the Classic Reissue. It's WEIGHT, fullness, the part of the frequency range from the lower midrange to the upper bass, that area that spans roughly 150 to 600 cycles. It's what makes Daltry's voice sound full and rich, not thin and modern. It's what makes the drums solid and fat the way Johns intended. The good copies of Who's Next and Quadrophenia have plenty of muscle in this area, and so do the imports we played.

See more of our in-stock copies of The Who's albums


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Saint-Saens - Carnival of the Animals

180g Klavier Debunked

  (Item #: saintcarni_debunk_2015) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing.

Yet another murky, smeary Audiophile Piece of Trash from the mastering lathe of the formerly brilliant Doug Sax. He used to cut the best sounding records in the world. Then he started working for AP and to my knowledge hasn't cut a good sounding record since.

For those of us who remember his consistently superb work in the '70s, we sadly note that he passed away in 2015. I was honored to have met him a few years back at a Chopin concert performed by Lincoln Mayorga.

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens


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Gershwin / An American In Paris & Rhapsody In Blue / Bernstein

What To Listen For

  (Item #: gershrhaps_6091_wtlf) 



This original Six Eye LP has the smooth brass and full-bodied strings that allow this wonderful music to astound the listener.

Smooth and solid, not brash or blary, what really impressed about the sound here was how full it was, yet it was never thick or murky. Instead it was transparent in the lower mids and below, and that sound was just glorious after listening to too many thin and brash pressings. The piano is solid, rich, high-rez and very percussive -- there is no tubey Old School smear to be heard, and that too was a surprise.

More of the music of George Gershwin


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Bernard Herrmann / Citizen Kane & Other Classic Film Scores

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: herrmcitiz_fame) 



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

The Citizen Kane Suite on this album is to die for -- a real desert island disc for me. (The CD by the way is actually quite good. I have it in the car and play it often.)

The Concerto Macabre for Piano and Orchestra (from "Hangover Square") is superbly well recorded and a brilliant piece of music as well.

More of the music of Bernard Herrmann


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Bruch / Scottish Fantasy / Heifetz

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: bruchscott_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

It should go without saying that a good original pressing kills the Classic reissue, and the Classic version is one of the better Classics. Still, it's no match for the real thing, not even close. The Classic is airless, smeary and low-rez, which means that all the subtleties of the music and the performance will be much more difficult to appreciate. For $30 it's not a bad record.

More of the music of Max Bruch


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JS Bach / Suite #2 / Janigro

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: bach_suite) 



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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Led Zeppelin - III

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: ledzeIII_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).

See more of our Led Zeppelin albums in stock


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Ravel / Concerto in G / Munch

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: ravelconce_fame) 



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

This is a wonderful sounding performance of Ravel's Piano Concerto, originally available on Shaded Dog (LSC 2271) and overflowing with Tubey Magical Living Stereo sound from 1958. The Victrola here is from 1964, and may or may not sound better than the average original RCA pressing. LSC 2271 is not a record we run into every day, so comparisons would be speculative to say the least.

What we can tell you is that our Victrola here is big, spacious, transparent and clear, with dead-on tonality throughout.

More of the music of Maurice Ravel


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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.

See all the music of Rimsky-Korsakov in stock


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Stephen Stills - Manassas

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: stillmanas_debunk_2015) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

This pressing is a disaster. Can you imagine ADDING the kind of grungy, gritty sound that Bernie is famous for to a recording with those problems already? It was a match made in hell. Back in the day when I was selling lots of Classic Heavy Vinyl (the horror, the horror) that was one of the titles I refused to have anything to do with.

More Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young


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Albeniz / Suite Espanola / De Burgos

What to Listen For

  (Item #: albensuite_wtlf) 



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

Wow, is this record ever DYNAMIC! I would put it in the top 2 or 3 percent of the most dynamic recordings we have played over the course of the last twenty five years. It also has tons of DEPTH. The brass is at the far back of the stage, just exactly where they would be placed in the concert hall, which greatly adds to the realism of the recording.

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz


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Liszt / The Music of Franz Liszt / Fiedler

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: lisztmusic_2442_fame) 



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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Satie, Ravel, Debussy, Faure / The Impressionists / Herrmann

  (Item #: varioimpre_fame) 



Presenting an exceptionally rare and very good sounding Decca Phase IV pressing (with the textured cover, ooh!), the first to ever hit the site. We have been on the lookout for this album for years and somehow cannot find any clean copies, other than this one of course.

Not to worry; this one will do nicely. Three of the six works here have SUPERB better than Super Hot Stamper sound. We went through them one by one and were rather surprised that the sound quality varied so much from track to track. One might conclude from the variation in the sound that the album must be a compilation -- so many of Herrmann's albums are -- but that is not the case, assuming the liner notes are to be believed.

See all of our Bernard Herrmann albums in stock


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Tchaikovsky / Violin Concerto / Heifetz / Reiner

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: tchaivioli_classic_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

The Classic is both aggessive and lacking in rosiny string texture at the same time, the worst of both worlds. Bernie's cutting system is what I would call Low Resolution -- the harmonics and subtleties of the sound simply never make it to the vinyl.

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky


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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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Philips Classical Recordings

Must They All Be So Thick, Dull and Opaque?

  (Item #: phillips) 


Most Philips records are much too thick, dull and opaque to be taken seriously, by us anyway. In this respect they have many sonic attributes in common with Londons from the '70s and '80s.

Dropping the needle on the Ravel Piano Concertos with Haas, however, was a wonderful surprise. It's big and spacious throughout, with no trace of smear on a piano that is solid and clear. This is a difficult combination to achieve in our experience, the kind of sound we tend to rave about. It sounds right, and when the sound is as right as it is here, the wonderful piano music of Ravel can truly work its magic.

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