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Graham Nash's Wild Tales

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: nash_wildt_2015) 



This is a Forgotten Classic from Graham Nash.

Like the man's first album, no one pays much attention to this music nowadays, but Better Records is trying to remedy that situation by making available to the audiophile public numerous copies of this album, every one of which is guaranteed to turn you into a fan. This is not new music, but it may be new music to you, so "discovering" it will be every bit as much fun for you in 2016 as it was for me in 1973.

More Graham Nash


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Tchaikovsky / 1812 Overture / Kunzel

Telarc UHQR Debunked

  (Item #: tchai1812_UHQR) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing.

This is what we had to say about the UHQR back in 2005 or so:

Having played this record all the way through, I have to comment on some of its sonic qualities. It's about the most dynamic recording I've ever heard. This was the promise of digital, which was never really delivered. On this record, that promise has been fulfilled. The performance is also one of the best on record. It's certainly the most energetic I can remember.

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


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Billie Holiday - Lady In Satin

Classic Records Repress Reviewed

  (Item #: holidladyi_classic) 



Sonic Grade: C-

Another Classic Records LP reviewed.

It's been quite a while since I played the Classic pressing, but I remember it as nothing special, tonally fine but low-rez and lacking both space and warmth. The C Minus means it's slightly worse than the average copy you might chance to play.

Records made for audiophiles are rarely any good, so rarely in fact that we are positively shocked when such a record is even halfway decent. After playing so many bad audiophile records for so many years it's practically a truism here at Better Records.

More Billie Holiday


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Alberta Hunter - Amtrak Blues

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: hunteamtra_2014) 



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

Absolutely amazing sound - Alberta is uncannily present and real on this copy. This is High Fidelity Top Quality Uncolored Studio Sound like few records you've heard.

And the crazy thing about Amtrak Blues is that it was recorded in 1980 (when Alberta was 83), not a decade we've come to expect good sound from. But this is no ordinary recording. Behind the album is none other than legendary Columbia engineer FRANK LAICO.


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A Classic of Classic Rock

The Heart and Soul of Better Records

  (Item #: claptericc_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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David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name...

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: crosbifico_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: C-

Another Classic Records LP reviewed.

What do you get with Hot Stampers compared to the Classic Heavy Vinyl reissue? Dramatically more warmth, sweetness, delicacy, transparency, space, energy, size, naturalness (no boost on the top end or the bottom, a notable failing of the Classic); in other words, the kind of difference you almost ALWAYS get comparing the best vintage pressings with their modern remastered counterparts, in our experience anyway. The Classic is a nice record, a Hot Stamper is a MAGICAL one.

More Crosby, Stills, Nash or Young


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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 (1819-1880)


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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.

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


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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 (1875-1937)


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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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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.

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


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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 of the music of Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881)


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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.

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


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JS Bach and Liszt / Organ Music / Richter

Reviewed in 2007

  (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

Reviewed in 2010

  (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 a given record are of no interest whatsoever 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.

More of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)


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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.

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


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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.

More Led Zeppelin


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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.

If you had vintage tube equipment back in the '70s -- McIntosh, Marantz, etc. (I myself had an Audio Research SP3-A1 and a D-75a, later a D-76a) -- the flaws heard on most copies of this record wouldn't be nearly as offensive as they are to those of us playing them on the much more revealing systems that are possible today.

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?

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


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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.

More by The Who


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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).

More Led Zeppelin


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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.

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


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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.

See more entries in our Classical Commentary series


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Ravel / Rachmaninoff / The Reiner Sound / Reiner

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: ravelreine_2183_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

There is simply an amazing amount of TOP END on this original pressing. Rarely do I hear Golden Age recordings with this kind of ENERGY and extension up top. This is of course one of the reasons the Classic reissue is such a disaster. With all that top end energy, Bernie's gritty cutting system and penchant for boosted upper midrange frequencies positively guarantees that the Classic Reiner Sound will be all but unplayable on a proper system.

More of the music of Maurice Ravel


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Chopin / Fantasy - Impromptu, more / Philippe Entremont

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: chopifanta_1410) 



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

The subtitle of the album reads Philippe Entremont Plays Best-Loved Piano Pieces.

After hearing this one as well as another exceptionally good sounding copy, we would like to amend that to Philippe Entremont Plays the Hell Out of These Best-Loved Piano Pieces.

Truly this is an undiscovered gem from Columbia in 1966.

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


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Jimi Hendrix - Axis: Bold As Love

Classic Records Mono Debunked

  (Item #: hendraxis_classic_debunked) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

One of the worst things the dummies at Classic ever did. Flat and dry with no tubey magic whatsoever. It positively screams "CHEAP REISSUE."

More Jimi Hendrix


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Holst, Steinberg and The Planets

A Shootout Years in the Making

  (Item #: holst_2014) 



In July of 2005 we noted on the site that Hot Stampers for this album were discovered, and interested parties should watch the site for killer copies in the coming months. Obviously we didn’t know at the time that the number of coming months would be THIRTY TWO. That's how long it would be before we could offer our loyal customers truly Hot Stampers, but hey, good things come to those who wait, right?
More of Gustav Holst's music


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Stravinsky - The Song of the Nightingale

Thoughts on the TAS Super Disc List

  (Item #: stravsongo_tas) 



Some thoughts on The Absolute Sound’s Super Disc List and one of its more famous members: Stravinsky’s Song Of the Nightingale with Reiner.
More of the music of Igor Stravinsky


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Mozart / Quintet - Piano + Winds & Trio

  (Item #: mozarquint_6109_vta) 



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

This is a handy record for VTA setup as well. Listen for fullness and solidity, especially in the piano, although a rich, full sounding clarinet is a joy here as well.

More Mozart


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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin

Classic Records Reviewed and Recommended

  (Item #: ledzeI_classic) 



Sonic Grade: B

Another Classic Records Heavy Vinyl LP reviewed.

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

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

More Led Zeppelin


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Graham Nash - Songs for Beginners

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: nash_songs_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

Another Classic Records LP debunked.

I've listened to Nash's first solo outing countless times over the last thirty years, even more than Crosby, Stills and Nash's first album. As I was listening to the Classic pressing I recall thinking "Wow, I don't remember that sound being there; this version is so much better I can hear things I never heard before!" Well, owners of this album (all five of you) will certainly hear things you never heard before, because some of the tracks on this album have been remixed and some of the instruments re-recorded! How about them apples!

More Graham Nash


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Rachmaninoff & Liszt / Favorite Classics for Piano / Pennario

  (Item #: rachmfavor_1408) 



White Hot Stamper sound on side two of this solo piano recording. It's big, rich and above all REAL sounding, with natural studio space. The legendary soloist Leonard Pennario is presented here at the height of his powers. Superb choice of material, from Clair De Lune to Liebestraum to the Hungarian Rhapsody No . 2.

On the rare Stereo pressing of course -- we want to hear all that studio space reproduced, just as your two ears would have heard it (more or less).

More of Franz Liszt's music in stock


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Brahms Violin Concerto

Is the 1s Pressing Always the Best?

  (Item #: brahmvioli_1903_myth) 



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

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

More recordings featuring the violin


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Classic Pop Vocal

  (Item #: BR_popvocal) 


Classic Pop Vocal albums

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My-Fi Versus Hi-Fi

  (Item #: fidelity) 


We went wild recently over a marvelous copy of the Ted Heath record you see pictured. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound was positively uncanny. This was vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you'll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve upon it.

This is our kind of sound. It's also important to keep in mind that our stereo seemed to love the record. (Stereos do that.) Let's talk about why that might be the case.

Our system is fast, accurate and uncolored. We like to think of our speakers as the audiophile equivalent of studio monitors, showing us exactly what is on the record, with nothing added and (hopefully) nothing taken away.


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Led Zeppelin - II

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: ledzeII_classic_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

An absolute DISASTER -- ridiculously bright, ridiculously crude, in short, a completely unlistenable piece of garbage.

Over the years we have done many Led Zeppelin shootouts, often including the Classic Heavy Vinyl Pressings as a "reference". After all, the Classic pressings are considered by many -- if not most -- audiophiles to be superior to other pressings. If you don't believe me go to the forums and read for yourself.

More Led Zeppelin


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Loggins & Messina's Early Albums

Listening in Depth to Their Classic Yacht Rockers

  (Item #: loggi_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your Loggins and Messina albums. (For those in need of some good sounding L&M vinyl, click on the link below to see what we have available and why we think at least some of their records belong in your collection.)
More Loggins and Messina


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Rimsky-Korsakov - The Tale of Tsar Saltan

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: rimsktaleo_speakerscorner) 



Sonic Grade: C

We cracked open the Speakers Corner pressing shown here in order to see how it would fare up against a pair of wonderful sounding Londons we were in the process of shooting out a while ago. Here's what we heard in our head to head comparison.

The soundstage, never much of a concern to us at here at Better Records but nevertheless instructive in this case, shrinks roughly 25% with the new pressing; depth and ambience are reduced about the same amount. But what really bothered me was this: The sound was just so VAGUE.

See more of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov in stock


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Five Star Classics

  (Item #: BR_fivestar) 


Hot Stamper copies of albums that received Allmusic's top 5 Star rating

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Jethro Tull - Aqualung

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: jethraqual_classic_debunked) 



Sonic Grade: D

Another Classic Records LP debunked.

By the time the guitars at the end of the title track fade out you will be ready to take your heavy vinyl Classic and ceremoniously drop it in a trashcan. (Actually, the best use for it is to demonstrate to your skeptical audiophile friends that no heavy vinyl pressing can begin to compete with a Hot Stamper from Better Records. Not in a million years.)

More Jethro Tull


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Table / Arm / Cartridge Set-up Advice

  (Item #: set-up) 



Click here for advice on how to go about adjusting tracking weight, VTA, azimuth and the like.

This link will take you to more advice for improving the sound of your playback.



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Records We've Played Vs. Records We've Heard

What's the Difference?

  (Item #: playing_vs_hearing) 



Please note that we should, but often don't, make a vitally important distinction between two words we tend to use interchangeably on the site. There is a difference between the sound of records that we've played and the sound that we've heard.

The stereo, the listening room, our cleaning technologies and who knows what else are all undergoing constant changes. This means that we may have played a better pressing in the past but couldn't hear it sound as good as it does now. The regular improvements we make in all areas of playback make sonic comparisons over time all but meaningless.

See all of our large orchestral recordings in stock


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Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA)

A Few Moments of Experimentation Can Really Pay Off

  (Item #: paganvioli_vta) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically adjust your Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA).

Experimenting with the VTA for this record in preparation for a shootout we found a precise point where it all came together, far exceeding whatever expectations for the recording we had at the time. Correct VTA revealed what to our ears now sounded like a gloriously real violin floating in the room, a huge concert space surrounding it, an effect that we audiophiles know and appreciate for the magical experience it can be.

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Tchaikovsky / Piano Concerto #1 / Richter / Karajan

Another Audio Myth Explodes

  (Item #: tchaipiano_myth) 



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

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

See all pressings of Tchaikovsky's music in stock


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Paganini / Violin Concertos 1 & 2

Fenn Music Debunked

  (Item #: paganvioli_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing.

Not long ago we managed to get hold of the Heavy Vinyl pressing from Fenn Music in Germany. A well known record dealer on the web (you may recognize the style) had this to say about it:

Stunning Reissue Of EMI ASD 440 Recorded In Stereo In 1961. This Recording Featuring The Royal Philharmonic Conducted By Alberto Erede Provides Convincing Proof, If Any Were Needed, That Menuhin Was One Of The Great Violinists Of The 20th Century.
More of the music of Niccolò Paganini


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Sibelius / Finlandia / Mackerras

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: sibelfinla_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

Classic Records, as expected, ruined this album. Their version is dramatically more smeared and low-rez than our good pressings, 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 anything other than a nominal price.

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


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Sibelius, Liszt, Dukas et al. / Bernard Herrmann Conducts

London Phase 4 Debunked

  (Item #: sibelberna_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing.

While preparing for a Finlandia shootout recently we happened to drop the needle on this album, a 1977 Phase 4 recording made in Kingsway Hall and engineered by Arthur Lilley. We could hardly believe how bad it sounded. The multi-miking is the worst I have ever heard! We like lots of Phase 4 recordings -- especially those of Bernard Herrmann -- but this is definitely not one of them.

More of the music of Bernard Herrmann


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The Fantasy Worlds of BH and HP

Decca Vs. London

  (Item #: herrmfanta_decca) 



There’s a reason this record is on the TAS List of Super Discs -- if any LP should be called a Super Disc, this one should. (With Phase Four sound you might even call it a Super-Duper-Disc.)

But Harry is, not atypically, rather misinformed about the catalog number and country of manufacture. He exclusively admits the Decca pressing to his list, and that is clearly contrary to our experience in general as well as our findings for this shootout . The best Decca pressing we played rated no better than a B+ for either side. That’s five -- count them, five -- sonic grades lower than the A Triple Plus sides of our best London copy.

More Bernard Herrmann


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Holst - The Planets

Testing with Mars and Saturn

  (Item #: holstplane_emi_wtlf) 



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

Mars on the first side and Saturn on the second present serious challenges for any vinyl pressings you may own. Generally speaking, the White Hot copies tend to have a bit more top end extension, and/or more lower end weight. Let's get to the specifics of the two movements we feel are the best test for The Planets as a whole.

More of Gustav Holst's music


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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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Debussy - Iberia (Images Pour Orchestra)

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: debusiberi_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

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

The Classic of LSC 2222 is all but unlistenable on a highly resolving system. The opacity, transient smear and loss of harmonic information and ambience found on Classic's pressing drives us right up the wall. Who can sit through a record that sounds like that? Way back in 1994, long before we had anything like the system we do now, we were disparaging the "Classic Records Sound" in our catalogs.

More of the music of Claude Debussy


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Schubert / The Trout Quintet / Curzon / Vienna Octet

Original Versus Reissue

  (Item #: schubtrout_6090_0813) 



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

Side one of this London Whiteback pressing is dark and opaque, with a serious lack of both top end and clarity. Side two however is GORGEOUS: so big, rich, clear and lively, it earned a sonic grade of A++ to A+++! In our shootouts the one reviewing the records (in this case me) never knows which pressing is being critiqued. Imagine my surprise when the late London handily beat the early one.

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The Music of Leonard Bernstein

Hot Stampers Revealed

  (Item #: bernsmusic_stampers) 



Looking to pick up a Hot Stamper locally on your own? Easy -- all the best Decca and London copies (UK pressed only of course) are 1L on both sides. I suppose it's only fair to point out that all the worst copies are 1L on both sides, the reason being that all the copies are 1L on both sides, regardless of how they sound. And here you thought we were actually trying to be helpful.

But we are being helpful. We're being honest with you. Stamper numbers are often misleading. They're misleading in the same way that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. The numbers only tell a part of the story, and more often than not they tell the wrong part of the story.

More from our Thinking About Hot Stampers series


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Various Artists - Witches’ Brew on Classic

Whose Idea of an Audiophile Record Is This?

  (Item #: variowitch_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

I've long held that the Classic Records Heavy Vinyl remaster (scandalously it's on the TAS List of Super Discs) is nothing less than a crime against music lovers and audiophiles of every stripe. Boosting the bass and highs and adding transistory harshness is the last thing in the world Witches' Brew needed.

At the risk of insulting some of you out there, if you think the Classic Records version of this album sounds good, your system must be very dull and bass shy, or you must like really hi-fi-ish sound.

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Sibelius / Violin Concerto / Heifetz

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: sibelvioli_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked. Classic remastered this title in the '90s -- it's one of the better Heifetz recordings. As expected, their version was awful, as bad as LSC 1903, 1992, 2129 and others too numerous to list.

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


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JS Bach / Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin / Martzy

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: bach_sonat_1012) 



This Minty British "Sitting Angel" pressing has Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, reproducing accurately the sound of a solo violin in what sounds to us like a fairly lively and resonant rehearsal hall. Perhaps accurately is not the right word, since obviously none of us have ever set foot in whatever room the music was recorded in. "Realistic" might be a better choice in that regard, since the sound is believable for what we would expect that room might have contributed to the sound we hear on the pressing in hand.

Interestingly, the sound on side two is a tad better than side one -- the violin is more present and warm, the room less resonant (in a good way).

More of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach


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Grieg / Peer Gynt / Fjeldstad / LSO

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: griegpeerg_2012_reviewed) 



Sonic Grade: C+

The Fjeldstad has long been one of our favorite performances of Peer Gynt here at Better Records.

This record is handy for VTA set-up as well, a subject discussed below in our listing from 2010.

See more of our in-stock pressings of Grieg's music


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Tchaikovsky / 1812 Overture / Reiner (LSC 2241)

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: tchai1812o_2241_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

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

HP put the Shaded Dog pressing (the only way it comes; there is no RCA reissue to my knowledge) on his TAS List of Super Discs, and with good reason: it's wonderful!

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


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Matthew Sweet - 100% Fun

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: sweet100pe_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked. Our Zoo label pressing MURDERED the Classic heavy vinyl reissue. It’s no contest. This is not the easiest record to reproduce, but if you have a big dynamic system, it will really ROCK.

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The Brahms Violin Concerto

Unplug or Suffer the Consequences!

  (Item #: brahmvioli_test) 



The massed strings here, such as those found at the opening, are close miked and immediate in the "Mercury recording style." Your electricity better be good when you play this record, because it presents a test many of you will have trouble passing at even moderate levels.

We've often encouraged our readers and customers to go about unplugging things in their homes in order to test the effect of clean electricity on their playback systems. The opening of this record is a perfect example of the kind of material with which everyone should be testing in order to hear these changes. I'd be very surprised if the strings on this record don't sound noticeably better after you've unplugged a few things in your house, and the more the better.

See more commentaries as well as our in stock recordings featuring the violin


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Ravel, Saint-Saens et al. / Tzigane, Havanaise / Kyung-Wha Chung

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: raveltziga_7073_0512) 



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

This 1979 London original English pressing of violin showpieces has Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, which came as a bit of a shock to us after playing side one, which is as congested and opaque as one would expect from such a late London recording. Side two is fabulous -- full-bodied, rich and sweet. Even though it may have been recorded in 1977, the engineer is Kenneth Wilkinson, and the hall is Kingsway -- not many bad recordings can be attributed to either.

More of the music of Maurice Ravel


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Brahms / Violin Concerto / Heifetz / Reiner

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: brahmvioli_1903_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

The Classic reissue of LSC 1903 is a disaster: shrill, smeary and unmusical.

The best Heifetz records on Classic were, if memory serves, LSC 2734 (Glazunov), LSC 2603 (Bruch) and LSC 2769 (Rozsa). They aren't nearly as offensive as the others. If you can pick one up for ten or twenty bucks, you might get your money's worth depending, I suppose, on how critically you listen to your classical records.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Bruch / Scottish Fantasy / Heifetz

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: bruchscott_2603_0412) 



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

WHITE HOT Stamper sound for the Bruch side of this original RCA Shaded Dog, one of the best Heifetz concerto titles of all time. (I'm trying to think of a Heifetz title that sounds better and coming up blank.)

This was our shootout winner on side two, beating all comers, earning our highest grade, the full Three Pluses (our blue ribbon, gold medal, and best in show all wrapped into one). The sound is nothing short of DEMO DISC QUALITY.

More of the music of Max Bruch


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JS Bach / Glenn Gould Plays Bach / Gould

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: bach_parti_0112) 



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

This 3 LP set on the early White Arrows 360 Label has three sides that earned sonic grades of Super Hot or better, with two sides being White Hot and pretty darn amazing for an old Columbia pressing (Columbia being an egregiously bad label when it comes to the sound of their classical records).

This set is highly regarded in classical circles and does not sit in the used record bins for cheap, even in reissue form, which limits our ability to find them and try them. On top of that there are six sides to play for every copy, so if is very unlikely we will be able to find a better copy for you down the road than this one anytime soon. The surfaces are about Mint Minus Minus, not bad for a solo piano record but not exactly quiet either.


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The Who - Who’s Next

Classic Records Reviewed

  (Item #: who__whosn_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: B-

At one time we did not recommend this record but now we do! Without going into the sordid details, let''s just say this record sounds pretty good. The acoustic guitars are especially sweet and silky for a modern reissue. The sound is better than most of the pressings of Who's Next I've ever played. Clearly this is is one of the better Classic Records rock records. (It's the only Who record they've done that we carried. The others are awful.)

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


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The Who - The Who Sell Out

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: who__whose_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame Pressing

Not our idea of good sound. The only Classic Who record we ever carried was Who's Next, which is actually pretty good -- we gave it a B. (I suspect it would earn a lower grade now; we had lower standards for Heavy Vinyl back then.)

More by The Who


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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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Muddy Waters - Folk Singer

Classic Records Reviewed

  (Item #: waterfolks_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: C+

Kills that muddy MOFI, which I must confess I used to like. Things have changed, that's for sure. The MOFI is thick and fat sounding, with much less transparency than this Classic.

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

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Neil Young - Greatest Hits

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: younggreat_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

MF loved it, we of course hated it, so what else is new? If you think this record sounds good, one thing is certain: you don't own many good sounding Neil Young records! You might not own any, but don't feel bad; not many audiophiles do, if the experience of my audiophile friends is any guide.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Neil Young's albums


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