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801 - 801 Live

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: 801__live_2007) 



The best Island copies of this album ROCK HARDER than practically any record we've ever played. If you have the system for it, this one will bring a Live Art Rock concert right into your living room!

It's right at the top of the list of my Favorite Albums -- a Desert Island Disc if ever there was one. I stumbled across it more thirty years ago and I've loved it ever since. It all started when a college buddy played me the wildly original Tomorrow Never Knows from the album and asked me to name the tune. Eno's take is so different from The Beatles version that I confess it took me an embarrassingly long while to catch on.

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Cannonball Adderley - Somethin’ Else

Rudy Van Gelder Outdoes Himself

  (Item #: addersomet_setting_the_record) 



After doing this shootout, the current consensus here at Better Records is that this album deserves to hold three -- count 'em, three -- somewhat related titles:

One, The Best Sounding Blue Note record we have ever played.

Two, The Best Sounding Jazz Record we have ever played.

Three, Rudy Van Gelder's Best Engineering (based on the copies we played).

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Airto - Fingers

Truly a Desert Island Disc

  (Item #: airtofinge_obsess) 



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

Fingers is one of our all time favorite records, a Desert Island disc to be sure. I've been playing this album for more than thirty years and it just keeps getting better and better. Truthfully it's the only Airto record I like. I can't stand Dafos, and most of the other Airto titles leave me cold. I think a lot of the credit for the brilliance of this album has to go to the Fattoruso brothers, who play keyboards, drums, and take part in the large vocal groupings that sing along with Airto.

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Ambrosia - Ambrosia

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: ambroambro_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Here's another INSANELY GOOD pressing of my all-time favorite album, which is every bit as good sonically as it is musically! Side two in particular (A+++, As Good As It Gets!) has DEMO DISC quality sound with the kind of SONIC ENERGY that not one out of a hundred titles can lay claim to.

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Ambrosia - Ambrosia

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: ambroambro_obsess) 



AMBROSIA is an album we admit to being obsessed with -- just look at the number of commentaries we've written about it. It's also part of our extensive Listening in Depth series. There is no question that this band, their producers and their engineers sweated every detail of this remarkable recording. They went the distance. In the end they brought in Alan Parsons to mix it, and Doug Sax to master it. The result is a masterpiece, an album that stands above all others.
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America - America

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: ameriameri_2009) 



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

TUBEY MAGICAL practically MASTER TAPE SOUND on side one! A good sounding copy of this album is a real treat; a superb sounding copy like this one is an EXPERIENCE! We’ve been playing this album for years but I cannot recall a copy with a more extended top end than the ones here. The transparency is off the charts. Side one is natural, relaxed, musical, sweet, tonally correct from top to bottom and overflowing with Tubey Magic.

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The Band - The Band

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: band_band_2011) 



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

Holy mother of god, this is one KNOCKOUT copy of The Band's self-titled masterpiece! Both sides earned our top grade of A+++ and beat the pants off every other copy -- including quite a few RL-mastered originals -- in the shootout. On top of that, both sides play between Mint Minus and Mint Minus Minus, which is pretty dan quiet for this album. We love this music, but most copies out there have flimsy sound, trashed vinyl, or both. Here's the exceedingly rare copy that does just about everything right WITHOUT the typical crackly campfire surface noise!

More by The Band


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The Band - The Band

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: band_band_depth_) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of The Band's second album.

The best copies have no trace of phony sound from top to bottom. They're raw and real in a way that makes most pop records sound processed and wrong. Our best Hot Stampers have plenty of the qualities we look for in The Band. Energy, presence, transparency, Tubey Magic... you name it -- you will find it there. The biggest strength of this recording is its wonderful, natural midrange. And tons of bass.

See all of our albums by The Band in stock


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The Band - Music From Big Pink

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: band_music_2012) 



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

This Capitol pressing has some of the best sound we've ever heard for this album! It’s beyond frustrating to try to find great sound for Big Pink -- most copies tend to be an absolute nightmare. The sound is rich, warm, sweet, and full-bodied with exceptional clarity and transparency. There's tons of ambience and you can really hear the sound of the room around the drums. The sound of the organ is AMAZING!

More by The Band


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The Beatles - Abbey Road

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: beatlabbey_depth) 



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

Those of you who follow the site (or do your own shootouts) know that it’s much tougher to find great copies of Abbey Road than it is for MMT or Please Please Me. Most of the copies we’ve played just aren’t good enough to put on the site. For whatever reasons -- probably because this recording is so complicated and required so many tracks -- Abbey Road is arguably the toughest nut to crack in the Beatles' catalog.

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The Beatles - Please Please Me

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: beatlpleas_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series, this time for The Beatles' amazing debut from 1963, Please Please Me.

The first Beatles record is nothing short of amazing. It captures more of the live sound of these four guys playing together as a rock and roll band than any record they ever made afterwards. (Let It Be gets some of that live quality too and makes a great bookend for the group.)

More Please Please Me


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The Beatles - The White Album

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: beatlwhite_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with plenty of What to Listen For (WTLF) tips.

It's exceedingly difficult to find audiophile quality sound on The White Album. The Beatles were breaking apart, often recording independently of each other, with their own favorite engineers as enablers, and George Martin nowhere to be found most of the time. They were also experimenting more and more with sound itself, which resulted in wonderful songs and interesting effects. However, these new approaches and added complexity often result in a loss of sonic "purity."

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Bernstein / The Music of Leonard Bernstein / Rogers

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: bernsmusic_2012) 



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

This London Phase 4 British import has some of the most SPECTACULAR sound I have ever heard reproduced from disc. The sound is so BIG and BOLD that it handily puts to shame 95% or more of all the Golden Age Shaded Dogs, London Bluebacks, Mercury Living Presence's, EMI's and Decca's we've ever played. If we had a Classical Top 100 list, this record would belong in a Top Ten taken from it, right near the top judging by what I heard when I played it.

More of the music of Leonard Bernstein


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

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: bizetcarme_6165) 



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

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

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1875)


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Blind Faith - Blind Faith

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: blindblind_2010) 



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

This early British pressing SLAUGHTERED all the other pressings we played it against! It's the Blind Faith you’ve been waiting for: Tubey Magical, Transparent, full of Life and Energy -- dear friends, it’s all here! And the vinyl is some of the quietest we've ever heard for this album.

Sick of buying one harsh, thin, distorted, murky LP after another in a vain attempt to find a copy that reminds you of why you LOVED this record so much when it came out back in 1969?

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Blondie - Parallel Lines

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: blondparal_2016) 



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

Can this kind of music get any better? This album is a MASTERPIECE of Pure Pop, ranking right up there with The Cars first album. I can't think of many albums from the era with the perfect blend of writing, production and musicianship Blondie achieved with Parallel Lines.

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Blood, Sweat and Tears

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: bloodblood_2016) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

In my opinion this is the BEST SOUNDING rock record ever made. Played on a BIG SPEAKER SYSTEM, a top Hot Stamper pressing is nothing less than a thrill, the ultimate Demo Disc.

Credit must go to the amazing engineering skills of ROY HALEE. He may not be very consistent (Graceland, Still Crazy After All These Years) but on this album he knocked it out of the park. With the right copy playing on the right stereo, the album has the potential to sound like LIVE MUSIC.

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Blood, Sweat & Tears - Child is Father to the Man

What to Listen For

  (Item #: bloodchild_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the first Blood Sweat and Tears album.

Have you ever played the first BS&T album? The average copy is a headache-inducing MESS. It will never be a Demo Disc, but that certainly doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable.

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Bob and Ray - Throw a Stereo Spectacular

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: bobanthrow_2010) 



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

It's been nearly two years but the waiting is over -- we've found another copy of the famous Bob and Ray on Living Stereo with DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! Without a doubt this is the best sound I have ever heard for side one of this album. The sound here is so amazing I'm willing to go out on a limb and make the following recklessly bold statement. Buck Dance on this pressing has the most extended, natural and harmonically correct high frequencies I have ever heard from my speakers (or anyone else's for that matter).

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David Bowie - David Live

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: bowiedavid_2010) 



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

The best copies have Live Rock and Roll Energy like you will not believe. The band is ON FIRE. These are the A List players of the day and they gell like a band that's been together for years. The sonic treats include multiple horn players (David Sanborn KILLS on almost every track, and the baritone sax and oboe are rendered beautifully ) and multiple percussionists, all-male chorus background vocals, the seering fuzzed-out guitar leads of Earl Slick, piano and Mellotron by Mike Garson, the amazing Herbie Flowers on bass -- the list goes on.

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David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust

Our Shootout Winning Copy from 2011

  (Item #: bowieziggy_2011) 



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

Is this one of the Greatest Rock Albums of All Time? Unquestionably. It's the pinnacle of Glam Rock. Every track is superb; not a moment is less than stellar from beginning to end.

Is it Bowie's Masterpiece? Absolutely. No other Bowie record ranks higher in my book. No other Bowie record would command a similar price, regardless of its sonic merits.

Is it amazingly well recorded? You better believe it. This is not just Bowie's masterpiece; it's Ken Scott's as well. For BIG, BOLD, wall to wall, floor to ceiling sound, look no further.

More Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars


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Brewer & Shipley - Down In L.A.

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: brewedowni_2013) 



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

One of the BEST copies we've played in many years, close to five I would guess. Brewer and Shipley's first and only release for A&M has long been a Desert Island disc in my world. I consider it one of the top debuts of all time, although it's doubtful many will agree with me about that since I have yet to meet anyone who has ever even heard of this album, let alone felt as passionate as I do about it.

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Brewer & Shipley - Tarkio

Do All the Robert Ludwig Mastered Copies Have Hot Stampers?

  (Item #: brewetarki_RL) 



Even though all the original Pink Label pressings are mastered by Robert Ludwig, they have a marked tendency to be dull, thick and opaque. The sound is just too smooth. The best copies however have the top end and the transparency to let you hear all the guitar and vocal harmonics, surrounded by the large acoustic of the studio.

This time around we discovered something new: one specific stamper that seemed to be the only one with the potential for an extended top end. This special stamper did not always fare well; some copies with it were mediocre. We have always found this to be the way with the "right" stampers; they often let us down and sometimes they really let us down hard.

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Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: brubetimeo_2011) 



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

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

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Buffalo Springfield - Again

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: buffaagain_2007) 



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

This original Plum and Tan Atco label Hot Stamper pressing has TWO AMAZING SIDES and fairly quiet vinyl. A Double Plus (A++) Sound and Mint Minus vinyl makes the copy the Black Swan of this shootout, that’s for sure.

You have never heard a better pressing of what many consider to be Buffalo Springfield's Masterpiece, Buffalo Springfield Again. We guarantee this copy will blow your mind or your money back! Only one side of one copy had better sound, and that one was noticeably noisier, so we crowning this one King of the Buffalo Springfield Again Shootout for 2007.

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Buffalo Springfield - Again

Extracting the Midrange Magic

  (Item #: buffaagain_wtlf) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts concerning music and recordings.

So many copies of this album sound so bad and play so poorly that most audiophiles have by now written it off as a lost cause. But we didn't. We kept at it, and our main motivation was the music.

Extracting the midrange magic from a album like this should be the goal of every right-thinking audiophile. Who cares what's on the TAS Super Disc List? I want to play the music that I love, not because it sounds good, but because I love it. And if the only way to find good sounding copies of typically poorly-mastered, beat-to-death records such as this one is to go through a big pile of them, well then, I guess that's what we'll have to do.

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Buffalo Springfield - Last Time Around

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: buffalastt_2013) 



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

It's really shocking how good this album can sound on the right pressings. When you get hold of one and know how to clean it right, some of these pressings are a damn sight better than the vast majority of audiophiles think! And the music, of course, is CLASSIC. The best side one and the best side two in our last shootout, unfortunately, were less than impressive on their flipsides. We've paired them up to give you the best sound we can find for the entire album! And if you want to hear exactly what you're paying for, just turn either copy over and prepare to be underwhelmed.

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Kenny Burrell - Midnight Blue

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: burremidni_2007) 



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

Both sides have that Midnight Blue magic -- superb transparency, plenty of deep bass, silky highs, and TONS of energy. The sound of the congas on this copy is wonderful -- so punchy with clearly audible transients and so much ambience, it sounded to us like Ray Barretto was right there in the room with us, over by the left speaker. The ultimate copies have a degree of clarity that can BLOW YOU AWAY.

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Caldera - Carnavalito!

Turn Up the Volume

  (Item #: caldeskyis_loud_2014) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

Carnavalito is a track that really comes ALIVE when you Crank Up the Volume. I played it FULL BLAST on two different occasions for audiophile friends of mine just to show them what happens when a Big Speaker Stereo meets a Large Scale Recording with absolutely AMAZING audiophile quality sound -- BIG and BOLD, wall to wall and then some!

It’s my favorite track not only for the album as a whole but for the band’s entire recorded output. It just doesn’t get any better than this if you have the system for it.

See all pressings of Sky Islands in stock


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Captain Beefheart - Clear Spot

A Desert Island Disc

  (Item #: captaclear_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and the Captain's MASTERPIECE of bent rock.

Side one earned an A++ grade for its powerful energy and exceptional fullness and richness. When we flipped this copy over we were surprised to find that it was even BETTER, with all of the above qualities and more: the punchiest, tightest, most note-like bass; more presence in the vocals and guitars; and the most clarity sacrificing the tubey magical richness the best copies have to offer. Folks, this is without a doubt the best copy we have ever put on the site.

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The Cars - Candy-O

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: cars_candy_depth) 



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

This is one of our favorite recordings -- a former member of our Top 100 -- for one very simple reason: it's got Big Rock Sound in spades! Drop the needle on Let's Go and check out the sound of the big floor tom. When the drummer bangs on that thing, you will FEEL it! It's similar to the effect of being in the room with live musicians -- the difference between just hearing music and also feeling it. That's what you get from a Hot Stamper copy.

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The Cars - The Cars

Ramping Up the Horsepower Like Crazy

  (Item #: cars_cars_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 classic first Cars album.

The best copies must have one absolutely essential quality if this groundbreaking New Wave album is to come to life -- a huge, spacious soundstage.

More of The Cars


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Chabrier / Orchestral Music / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: chabrorche_2009) 



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

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

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


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June Christy - Something Cool

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: chrissomet_2016) 



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

We are HUGE fans of this album at Better Records, but it's taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble!

The presence and immediacy here are staggering. Get the volume just right and June will be standing between your speakers and putting on the performance of a lifetime. This is one of our three or four favorite female vocal albums (along with Clap Hands, Julie Is her Name and not many others!) and this amazingly good copy will show you why -- the sound and music are As Good As It Gets.

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John Coltrane - Giant Steps

Live and Learn

  (Item #: coltrgiant_learn) 



A classic case of Live and Learn. Previously we had written:

The extension on both ends of the frequency spectrum is what really sets the best copies apart from the pack. All the top end and that deep bottom and simply not to be found on most copies, and never on even the best originals in our experience. The cutters back then just couldn't cut it.

Now, having heard some amazing originals, we know that the vintage mastering equipment of the day was perfectly capable of getting all the top, all the bottom, and tons of Tubey Magic besides onto the vinyl.

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Elvis Costello Arrayed His Forces

and Produced His Single Best Sounding Record

  (Item #: costearmed_best) 



We consider Armed Forces to be one of the best sounding rock records ever made, and a top copy is proof enough to back up our claim. The best copies are extremely transparent and silky sounding, but with unbelievably punchy, rock solid bass and drums.

The sound of the rhythm section of this album ranks up there with the very best ever recorded. Beyond that, the musical chops of this band at this time rank with the very best in the history of rock. Steve, Bruce and Pete rarely get the credit they deserve for being one of the tightest, liveliest backing bands ever to walk into a studio or on to a stage.

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Elvis Costello - My Aim Is True

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: costemyaim_obsess) 



MY AIM IS TRUE is an album we admit to being obsessed with -- just look at the number of commentaries we've written about it.

We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands -- maybe a bit too much time on your hands -- please feel free to check out our commentaries.

This link will take you to all of our other ELVIS COSTELLO albums.


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My Aim Is True Can Really Rock

If You Have the Speaker System to Play It

  (Item #: costemyaim_volume) 



Another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

There is a line in the Hot Stamper commentary below concerning driving punk rock bass. Man, this record lives or dies by your ability to reproduce the powerful bottom end that propels this music. Pardon me for cueing up a broken record again, and with all due respect to the things they do well -- they must do something well, right? People keep buying them -- small speakers and screens are not going to cut it on My Aim Is True. This is precisely the kind of album they don’t do well.

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Elvis Costello - Trust

The Best Sounding Record of 1981?

  (Item #: costetrust_1981) 



With the right full-range big speaker system, one that can really move air from the midrange down, either side of Trust may end up becoming one of your favorite DEMO DISCS. The overall clarity and transparency of the best British pressings are superb, allowing you to appreciate subtleties in the top end even when the bass and drums are really POUNDING. Play Whisper to a Scream on side two for some of the best pounding on the album. If that song doesn't get your blood pumping, you need a bypass to unblock a few arteries, stat.

Is Trust the best sounding album from 1981? It gets my vote.

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Crack The Sky - Crack The Sky

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: crackcrack_2010) 



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

This White Hot Stamper pressing of the first and best album by the legendary-but-now-mostly-forgotten American Prog band Crack The Sky shows just how amazingly well recorded their debut really was.

This is Big Production rock that pulls out all the stops and then some, with a massive Beatlesque string section, horns, synths, backward guitars and every other kind of studio effect that they could work out.

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Marshall Crenshaw - Mary Jean & 9 Others

A Desert Island Disc

  (Item #: crensmaryj_fame) 



This is my favorite roots rock record of all time, bar none. I love this album. It starts off with the driving This Is Easy and never lets up until the very last song which is a beautiful ballad, "They Never Will Know."

The All Music Guide had this to say about MC's first 3 albums: "...an irresistible combination of masterful pop and vibrant, timeless rock & roll." They weren't that impressed with this album.

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Crosby Stills & Nash - Crosby Stills & Nash

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: crosbcrosb_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Crosby, Stills & Nash's first album.

Although millions of copies of this album were sold, so few were mastered and pressed well, and so many mastered and pressed poorly, that few copies actually make it to the site as Hot Stampers. We wish that were not the case -- we love the album -- but the copies we know to have the potential for Hot Stamper sound are just not sitting around in the record bins these days.

More Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young


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Crosby Stills & Nash - Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

Critical Listening Exercise (WTLF)

  (Item #: crosbcrosb_test) 



This commentary from an older Hot Stamper listing for CSN’s debut makes note of some specific qualities in the recording that are a good test for midrange transparency and naturalness.

What’s magical about Crosby, Stills, Nash (& Young)?

Their voices of course. It’s not a trick question. They revolutionized rock music with their genius for harmony. Any good pressing must sound correct on their voices or it has no value whatsoever. A CSN record with bad midrange -- like most of them -- is a worthless record.

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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Deja Vu

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: crosbdejav_obsess) 



DEJA VU is an album we admit to being obsessed with -- just look at the number of commentaries we've written about it.

We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands -- maybe a bit too much time on your hands -- please feel free to check out our commentaries.

This link will take you to all of our other Crosby, Stills, Nash or Young albums.


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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Deja Vu

Latest Developments

  (Item #: crosbdejav_wrong_2016) 



There are two areas in which we would like to amend some of the previous comments we've made about Deja Vu. The first has to do with early pressings. Many years ago we wrote the following:

As we noted in previous commentary, the originals are uniformly awful. Want some inside info on stampers to avoid, free of charge? C and D are pretty bad news most of the time.

Although that's still true -- Deja Vu is a very difficult album to find with good sound no matter what stampers you have -- we now know that there are very good sounding copies, Shootout Winning copies in fact, with early stampers.

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


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Miles Davis - Kind of Blue

Our First KOB Hot Stamper - June 2005

  (Item #: daviskindo_2005) 



This Columbia Red Label LP has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND!

Call me crazy, but I DON’T THINK YOU CAN CUT A BETTER SOUNDING KIND OF BLUE THAN THIS ONE!

I’m fully aware of how outrageous a statement that is, considering the fact that this is a '70s Red Label reissue. But I've long known of amazing sounding Kind Of Blue reissues.

Having played dozens of different pressings of this record over the years, I think I know this recording about as well as anyone. The tube mastered original Six Eye Stereo copies have wonderful, lush, sweet sound. I've heard many of them. The 360s from the '60s often split the difference -- less tubey magical, but cleaner and more correct.

More Miles Davis


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Debussy - La Mer - Munch

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: debuslamer_1041_2011) 



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

This late label Victrola pressing (VICS 1041) has EXCEPTIONALLY rich and sweet sound and a superb performance from Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony.

The richness of the strings, a signature sound for RCA in the Living Stereo era, is displayed here beautifully for fans of the classical Golden Age. It's practically impossible to hear that kind of string sound on any recording made in the last thirty years. It may be a lost art but as long as we have these wonderful pressings and the turntables to play them it is an art that will never be lost to us.

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The Dixie Dregs - Dregs of the Earth

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: dixiedregs_2012) 



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

If you want to hear what happens when five virtuoso instrumentalists manage to combine their talent for Jazz, Rock, Classical and Country (thanks god there aren't any vocals) into a potent mix that defies classification and breaks all the rules, this is the one. It reminds me of Ellington's famous line that there are only two kinds of music: good music and bad music. This is the kind of music you may have trouble describing, but one thing's for sure -- it's good. In fact it's really good.

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The Doors - The Soft Parade

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: doorssoftp_2007) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This incredibly rare, exceptionally quiet Elektra Gold Label LP sounds AMAZING, As Good As It Gets (AGAIG)! The sound is BIG, RICH, and FULL-BODIED, exactly the way it should be. As good as the Hot Stamper Big Red E Label copies can be, and that's very good indeed, the right first pressing is still The King. It just can't be beat.

More of The Doors


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The Doors - The Soft Parade

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: doorssoftp_depth) 



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

Our latest shootout (4/2014) included a minty Gold Label pressing, which did reasonably well, but not great, on side one. Side two however was OFF THE CHARTS and won the shootout on that side handily. The fact that side one wasn't a knockout is yet more evidence that individual pressings with the same label -- even the "right" label -- vary dramatically in sound.

More of The Doors


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The Doors - Waiting For The Sun

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: doorswaiti_listen) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Waiting For The Sun.

My favorite of the first three Doors album, this one is imbued with more mystery and lyricism than any previous effort. The album shows them maturing as a band, smoking large amounts of pot and preparing for the wild ride of their next opus, the ambitious Soft Parade. Actually, as I listen to this album it reminds me more and more of that one. Now that it sounds as good as The Soft Parade I find I've gained a new respect for Waiting for the Sun.

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Eagles - Eagles

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: eagleeagle_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy or copies of The Eagles amazingly well recorded first album.

The Eagles first album is without a doubt Glyn Johns' masterpiece -- rock records just don't sound any better! It's exactly the kind of record that makes virtually ANY Audiophile Record pale in comparison. EVERYTHING you could ask for as an audiophile is all here and more.

More of the Eagles' first album


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Eagles - On The Border

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: eagleonthe_2008) 



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

TWO STUNNING SIDES on this British SYL pressing. You Never Cry Like A Lover and The Best Of My Love have SUPERB Glyn Johns Demo Disc Sound. The LIFE and ENERGY of this copy are going to knock you out of your seat! Most copies left us with a headache, but this one had us begging for more!

More Eagles' albums


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Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: electnewwo_2008) 



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

Even though I am not the world's biggest ELO fan, I am a HUGE fan of this album, which is why I’m so happy to have finally found one with AMAZING SOUND, on both sides! The British originals are the only ones that can convey the sweet TUBEY MAGIC of the British Master Tapes. The string tone on the average domestic copy is shrill and smeary; too little of the critically important texture remains after the master tapes have been dubbed and the copies sent to America for mastering.

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Eno - Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: eno__takin_2011) 



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

This is Eno's Masterpiece as well as a Desert Island Disc for yours truly. On the right pressing this is a Twisted Pop Demo Disc like nothing you have ever heard. If you have a big speaker and the kind of high quality playback that is capable of unraveling the most complicated musical creations, with all the weight and power of live music, this is the record that will make all your audio effort and expense worthwhile.

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Bryan Ferry - The Bride Stripped Bare

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: ferrybride_2013) 



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

It's been years since I last played this album, and I'm happy, ecstatic even, to report that it sounds far better than I remember it sounding. In the old days I recall it as somewhat dry, flat and transistory. Now it's BIG and BOLD, revealing a band that's on fire in the studio.

This White Hot side two had by far the most energy of any side we played, showing us just what a monster rocker this album can be when it's mastered and pressed right. The reviews were mixed when the album was released in 1978 but time has been kind to it -- after hearing the killer copies I would rank it up at the top with the best of Ferry's and Roxy's work.

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Bryan Ferry - In Your Mind

A Real Puzzler

  (Item #: ferryinyou) 



This British original pressing caused me a great deal of consternation. I’ve always been a big fan of this album -- so much so that I even have the CD of it in my car -- and I was under the impression that the sound was quite good. But playing a few British originals like this one caused me to have my doubts. The sound was aggressive and hard. I suspected the absolute phase might be reversed, and sure enough it was. But even after correcting for the improper phase the sound is not what I would have hoped for. It's a bit "grungy" and lacks the extreme highs that would sweeten the overall presentation.
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Ella Fitzgerald - Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie

Our Mono Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: fitzgclaph_2009) 



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

Folks, this record came as a SHOCK -- the first and ONLY mono pressing we have ever played that not only was competitive with the best stereo copies, but actually bettered them in some ways. Some IMPORTANT ways I might add. We’ve only played a handful of mono pressings of Clap Hands over the years, and for good reason -- they’re exceedingly mediocre. On almost every one we’ve ever played Ella was distant, dull and lifeless. Feh! Who wants to play a record the sounds like that?

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Ella Fitzgerald - Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: fitzgclaph_2017) 



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

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

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

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Flack / Hathaway - Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: flackrober_2013) 



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

This White Hot Atlantic 2-pack has an AMAZING A+++ SIDE ONE backed with an EXCELLENT A++ SIDE TWO! These soulful duets are WONDERFUL SOUNDING when you get a Hot Copy. There's tubey magic, sweetness and spaciousness all over this recording, more on some songs than others of course, but when it all comes together like it does on Where Is The Love you won't believe how good this record can sound!

More Soul, R&B and Blues


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The Fleetwood Mac You Don't Know

Kiln House

  (Item #: fleetkilnh_know) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame, a Forgotten Classic, and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Kiln House is one of the all-time great Fleetwood Mac albums. It’s the first they recorded after Peter Green left. With Green gone Jeremy Spencer’s influence came to the fore. He was apparently quite a fan of Buddy Holly. His songs are straightforward and unerringly melodic.

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Fleetwood Mac - Mystery To Me

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: fleetmyste_2011) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Here it is, folks -- the best sounding copy of Mystery To Me to ever hit our site. This copy positively DOES IT ALL -- it's super open and spacious with tons of energy and incredible presence. The bottom end is just KILLER and there's dramatically more richness and fullness than you get on most copies out there.

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Fleetwood Mac - Mystery To Me

Whomp Factor on "Why"

  (Item #: fleetmyste_wtlf) 



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

There is an amazing bass drum on this album that plays on selective tracks, most notably the song "Why", and it will shake the foundation and knock your knick-knacks right off their shelves if you've got the woofers (and the room) to play it right. I was using this record to demo my system in the mid-'70s. I had a pair of Fulton Js and they could really pump out the low end this record needs.

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Peter Frampton - Where I Should Be

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: frampwhere) 



One of my personal Records to Die For. This album presents a more mature Peter Frampton doing some of the most consistently inspired material of his career, including R&B covers like May I Baby and You Don’t Know Like I Know, with horn charts that really cook — in other words, a great album.
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Peter Frampton - Wind of Change

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: frampwindo_2016) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and Frampton's debut MASTERPIECE.

Hot Stampers for one of our favorite Classic Rock records have finally made it to the site! This British original is the very definition of TUBEY MAGIC. The sound is so rich and sweet it will make you want to take all your CDs and dump them in the trash (if you haven’t done so already).

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Genesis - A Trick Of The Tail

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: genesatric_2014) 



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

GENESIS AT LAST! We've been trying to find Hot Stamper copies of this album for years, but it is BEYOND DIFFICULT to find copies of this album that sound great and play quietly. Here's an amazing Trick Of the Tail that absolutely blows the typical pressing out of the water!The sound is BIG, BOLD and OPEN, breaking free from the grainy and cloudly qualities that screw up the average copy.

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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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Stan Getz - Getz Au Go Go

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: getz_getza_2011) 



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

This WHITE Hot Stamper Stan Getz record has the kind of LIVE JAZZ CLUB SOUND that audiophiles like us (you and me) dream of. More importantly, this ain’t no Jazz at Some Pawnshop -- this is THE REAL THING. Stan Getz, Gary Burton, Kenny Burrell and the lovely Astrud Gilberto, the living embodiment of Cool Jazz, are coming to a listening room near you (assuming you have two hundred and fifty bucks you're not doing anything else with).

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Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto - Getz-Gilberto

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: getz_getzg_2012) 



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

We have been trying to find great sound (on reasonable surfaces) for this album for YEARS -- I kid you not -- but this 2-pack is the first Hot Stamper version to ever hit the site. We have fired up this shootout multiple times since 2006 and been left empty-handed each and every time until the last go-around. We have sunk an insane amount of dough into trying to get a few killer copies because we love the music so much, but we just haven't had much to show for it. If you love this Brazilian-flavored cool jazz as much as we do, you might want to snap this one up because who knows when or if we'll find another one.

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Grieg / Peer Gynt / Gruner-Hegge / Oslo Phil.

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: griegpeerg_rca_2013) 



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

As much as I like Fjeldstad's Peer Gynt on Decca/London with the LSO, I have to say that Odd Gruner-Hegge (love that first name!) and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra turn in the better of the two performances. To these ears theirs is more lyrical; it flows more naturally both within and between the individual movements.

The Oslo Phil also gives me more of a sense that they are feeling the joy in the playing of these works; I do not get quite the same feeling from the LSO.

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


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Vince Guaraldi - Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus

Keeping the Players Together

  (Item #: guarajazzi_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises, here discussing the importance of transparency, ambience and resolution.

The arrangement of the players is straightforward, with the bass hard left, drums hard right (with leakage well to the left on the cymbals, but that's another story), and Guaraldi on piano in the center. (The first track of side two reverses this arrangement; why I have no idea.)

Here's the crazy thing about this recording: The best copies really connect up the space each of the players is in. I heard it during the shootout, and I can't recall if it actually happened more than once or twice, but I know I heard it. They are all live, they are all on the same soundstage, but on most copies you would hardly know it.

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Hall and Oates - Abandoned Luncheonette

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: hallaaband_2008) 



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

If you’re looking for a big production pop record that jumps out of your speakers, is full of TUBEY MAGIC, and has consistently good music, look no further. Until I picked up one of these nice originals, I had no idea how good this record could sound. For an early '70s multi-track pop recording this is about as good as it gets (AGAIG as we like to say). It's rich, sweet, open, natural, smooth most of the time -- in short, it's got all the stuff we audiophiles LOVE.

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Donny Hathaway - Live

  (Item #: hathalive_fame) 



A distinguished member of our Unconventional Hall of Fame.

This live recording has YOU ARE THERE sound! It's so natural, rich and transparent, what is there to fault? The soundstage is wide and deep. Your speakers disappear and the music just flows into the room. It just does not get any better.

I've been playing this record regularly since I first heard it back in the mid-'90s and it never gets old. If I could take only one soul album to my desert island, it would be this one, no doubt about it.

See all of our Donny Hathaway albums in stock


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Heart - Little Queen

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: heartlittl_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

This is a Classic Rock Demo Disc to beat practically anything you could throw at it. Love Alive and Barracuda on this copy will deliver the full Rock and Roll Power of your system. If you've got The Big Sound, this is the record that will truly show it off.

Even though our graphic scale only goes to three pluses, you'll know the Four Plus sound on this side one the moment you hear it.

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Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: hendrareyo_2014) 



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

STUNNING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! It is no easy task trying to find good copies of this album (or any Hendrix album, really). This one is absolutely killer. The bottom end is big and weighty, the top is open and transparent, and there's plenty of rich, full tubey magic. It's going to be incredibly hard to find a pressing that comes anywhere close to this one.

No matter what version you've been playing, we guarantee you'll be blown away by the energy and punch on this one.

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Bernard Herrmann / Citizen Kane & Other Classic Film Scores

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: herrmcitiz_2013) 



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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Holst / The Planets / Previn / LSO

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: holstplane_emi_2013) 



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

This Beyond White Hot Stamper Planets has Out Of This World sound on side two, where it earned a Four Plus sonic grade for its MINDBLOWING orchestral power, especially from the brass section, a subject we discuss at length below.

This is some of the best sound I have ever heard coming out of my two speakers, if not THE best. Side two of this very copy takes the recording to a level we had no idea was possible. Out of the fifty or so copies of The Planets we've played in the last decade or so, this is without a doubt the best side two of them all.

More of the music of Gustav Holst


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It’s A Beautiful Day - It’s A Beautiful Day

  (Item #: itsabitsab_0312) 



This Super Hot Stamper Red Label pressing gives you most of the 360 Label's rich, Tubey Magical sound, and that's saying a lot; most red label pressings of this record are absolute junk. In fact, about half of the side ones are in MONO -- how about that! Who knew, right?

Going through our clean 360 label pressings (which aren't cut quite as loud by the way so watch out when doing your own shootouts), we found one that was better and one that was worse. Others were just too noisy. This red label pressing was BY FAR THE BEST of the red label reissues, with A++ sound on both sides that frankly took us by surprise. As we so often say, Who knew? Now that we've heard red labels that sound this good we are on the hunt! They can be found, and they're usually not in trashed condition the way the 360s are.

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Michael Jackson - Thriller

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: jacksthril_2010) 



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

A KILLER THRILLER, with an A+++ side one that's going to knock you out! That gives you TOP SHELF SOUND for songs including Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' and the title track, which are going to BLOW YOU AWAY! So many copies of Thriller out there just don't deliver, but this side one does almost everything right.

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Jethro Tull - Stand Up

Notes from 2009

  (Item #: jethrstand_2009) 



A distinguished member of our Better Records Hall of Fame.

Our last shootout for Stand Up was over a year ago, early in 2008. By some good fortune we have been able to find a number of fairly clean early British pressings, with both Pink and Sunray labels, as well as some very good sounding domestics. (Yes, they are out there. Few and far between and probably not the ones you would think to buy but out there nonetheless. Buy enough of them and clean them right and you will find some too.)

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Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: jethrthick_2012) 



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

This A++++ Beyond White Hot Stamper copy of Thick As A Brick has the best side one we have ever heard! This copy is operating at A WHOLE NOTHER LEVEL.

Side one has HUGE, room-filling, hi-definition sound, with levels of Tubey Magic one would simply never expect to hear coming from a run-of-the-mill domestic Reprise pressing such as this. But here they are; there's no denying the transparency, size and rock and roll energy of this mind-boggling side one. It's truly a Demo Disc of the highest order.

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Antonio Carlos Jobim - The Composer of...

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: jobimcompo_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.The sound is huge and spacious, with instruments popping out all over the place.

Credit engineer PHIL RAMONE for correctly capturing the sound of every instrument here: the guitars, piano, flutes, strings, drums, percussion instruments -- everything has the natural timbre of the real thing. I used to think this recording erred on the bright side, but not the Hot Stamper copies. They are tonally Right On The Money.

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Elton John - Elton John

Live and Learn

  (Item #: john_elton_learn) 



A classic case of Live and Learn. Scroll down to read what we learned from our recent shootout. To illustrate how the game is played we’ve copied some of the previous commentary into this listing to show the change in our understanding from 2004 to today.

Folks, if you’re looking for Classic Rock that appeals to adults with sophisticated tastes forty plus years after it was made, this is the album for you.

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Elton John - Honky Chateau

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: john_honky_2007) 



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

This British Import Honky Chateau is THE BEST SOUNDING COPY WE’VE EVER HEARD -- BY FAR! We just finished a big shootout for this wonderful album, and this copy took top honors with MASTER TAPE SOUND!

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Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection

Elton's Masterpiece

  (Item #: john_tumbl_2012) 



The best copies of this album are so good they belong on the list of the Ten Best Sounding Rock Records of All Time, how about that!

This copy really delivers on the sound side — you get stunning immediacy, big-time presence, tons of depth to the soundfield, full-bodied vocals, amazing transparency, and BOATLOADS of Tubey Magic. Elton John fans, today is your lucky day. The vocals are full and present, with not a trace of the phony EQ that plagues the typical pressing. The entire mix is stunningly high-res, with no attendant sacrifice in richness or Tubey Magic.

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Jules and the Polar Bears - Fenetiks

Such a Great Album

  (Item #: julesfenet) 



This is a real Desert Island Disc for me. I’m a giant fan of this band, which never got the public acclaim they deserved although they were critics' darlings from day one. If you like adventurous pop this should be right up your alley. If you're the kind of person that was into the Talking Heads in the '70s, this band is just as original and compelling.

"Shear's songwriting is top-notch ranging from the pure pop of 'Good Reason' to the beautiful ballad 'Real Enough to Love.'" -- AMG

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Jules and the Polar Bears - Got No Breeding

A Long Forgotten Classic

  (Item #: julesgotno_promo) 



We dropped the needle on this one and heard EXCELLENT SOUND, which is not always what you hear when you play the average copy of this album.

And the music is GREAT. I’m a giant fan of this band, which never got the public acclaim they deserved although they were critic's darlings from day one. If you like adventurous pop, this should be right up your alley. If you're the kind of person that was into the Talking Heads in the '70s, this band is every bit as original and compelling.

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Carole King - Tapestry

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: king_tapes_2016) 



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

Please note that we do not have a graphic for our chart to indicate the Four Plus grade, since we award it so rarely. Our rating system usually only goes to three pluses, but this side one was so amazing we had to give it a fourth!

This White Hot pressing gives you TRULY KILLER SOUND for this classic album! It's not easy to find great sound for Tapestry. Most pressings are either dull and veiled, or hard and edgy in the midrange -- not exactly the kind of sound we're after.

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King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: kingcinthe_2007) 



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

This Minty looking VERY QUIET Polydor British Import LP has an AMAZING SIDE ONE -- it’s so TRANSPARENT, open and DYNAMIC! The vocals are Right On The Money here, and the breathy quality of the flute really is amazing, especially during the rich and sweet "I Talk to the Wind." The play between the flute and drums, with some keyboards for cohesiveness, through the end of the song is absolutely breathtaking. For a notoriously bass-shy recording, the bottom end is pretty good.

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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin I

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: ledze1_2007) 



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

YOU WON’T BELIEVE HOW HARD THIS ZEP I ROCKS! It’s exceedingly tough to find great copies of this album, which is why you’ve never seen a Hot Stamper copy on the site before. We went through more than two dozen copies looking for The Real Sound, and this copy’s got it big time... ON BOTH SIDES!

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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: ledze2_2017) 



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

This pressing just knocked us out from beginning to end -- this is the Zep II sound you want.

At least 80% of the copies we buy these days -- for many hundreds of dollars each I might add -- go right back to the seller. The biggest problem we run into besides obvious scratches that play and worn out grooves is easy to spot: just play the song Thank You at the end of side one. Most of the time there is inner groove damage so bad that the track becomes virtually unlistenable.

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Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: ledze2_loud) 


It's official: we're inaugurating a Top Ten Best Sounding Rock / Pop Album List, and the first member to be inducted is none other than our old favorite, Led Zeppelin II.

It's also yet another in a very long line of records that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume. We're convinced Zep II has to be the hardest rocking album of all time. The best copies -- often with the same stampers as the not-as-good copies by the way -- have a LIFE and a POWER to them that simply cannot be found on other records.

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Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: ledzehouse_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Led Zeppelin's momentous 1973 release, Houses of the Holy.

You really get an understanding of just how much of a production genius Jimmy Page was when you listen to a copy of Houses with the kind of resolution and transparency found on our best copies. To take just one example, just listen to how clearly the multi-tracked guitars can be heard in the different layers and areas of the soundstage. On some songs you will have no trouble picking out three, four and even more guitars playing, each with its own unique character.

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Level 42 - World Machine

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: levelworld_2014) 



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

This White Hot Stamper British Polydor original pressing of Level 42's BEST ALBUM makes a mockery of most of what's out there -- who knew the sound could be this good? Punchy bass, breathy vocals, snappy drums; it's all here and it reallyl comes JUMPIN' out of the speakers on this pressing.

World Machine has been a personal favorite of mine since I first played it way back in 1985. Of course in 1985 I had only a domestic pressing, and if you want to hear what happens when you use a dub of the British master tape and then brighten the hell out of it in the mastering process, I heartily recommend you find yourself a copy.

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Liszt / Piano Concertos No. 1 and 2 / Kondrashin / Richter

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: lisztpiano_2012) 



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

DEMO QUALITY SOUND of the highest order. Side two here sounds more like live music than practically any record we have ever played. I would put it in the top one percent of the top one percent of the greatest classical recordings to come our way in the twenty five years we have been in business. You can check the math, but I think that it would work out to be better than all but one out of ten thousand records, no doubt a bit of a stretch but hey, that's the way I felt when it was playing so I'm sticking with those crazy one-in-a-million odds.

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


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Liszt / Piano Concertos No. 1 and 2 / Richter

Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: lisztpiano_2016) 



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

This A++++ Beyond White Hot Stamper 2-pack has sound that must be experienced to be believed! The finest Liszt 1st & 2nd Concertos we know of for performance and unquestionably for sound when they sound like this. More like LIVE MUSIC than any classical recording I have played in longer than I care to remember - both sides are so big, rich and transparent we guarantee you have never heard a better piano concerto.

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


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Little Feat - Hoy-Hoy

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: littlhoyho_2011) 



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

This Warner Brothers Double LP is one of the all time TOP Little Feat albums and a longtime personal favorite. Three out of the four sides here are White Hot, as good as it gets -- A+++, and the fourth is just a half plus behind at A++1/2. It's been a very long time since a double album made it to our site with grades like these -- 11 1/2 pluses out of 12!

And side three was so good I noted that it might as well be A++++ -- no other side of the ten copies we played could touch it, not even the three other ones here. Teenage Nervous Breakdown (Live) is a real Demo Disc Quality track.

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Little Feat - The Last Record Album

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: littllastr_2012) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and a Forgotten Classic from 1975.

This White Hot Stamper pressing has the sound I've been trying to find on a pressing of The Last Record Album for more than thirty years. Finally, here it is! This was my first Little Feat album, purchased way back in 1975, and it's still my favorite by the band. The recording is notable for having amazing bass; it goes REALLY deep in places (Long Distance Love) and it's punchy and rich throughout the album.

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Little Feat - Waiting for Columbus

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: littlwaiti_2009) 



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

This German import pressing of Waiting for Columbus is much better sounding than the typical Mastering Lab-mastered copy.

This German pressing is similar to one that came from my own personal collection, accidentally discovered way back in the early '80s as I recall. It KILLED my domestic original, and got some things right that even my treasured Mobile Fidelity pressing couldn't. We have been meaning to do a shootout for this album for at least the last five years, but kept running into the fact that in a head to head shootout the right MoFi pressing -- sloppy bass and all -- was hard to beat.

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Loggins & Messina - Loggins & Messina

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: loggiloggi_2009) 



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

I'm a giant fan of the band, not only for their music, but also because their recordings are so good.

What we have here is the perfect example of a top quality analog studio pop recording. It's RICH, SWEET, and DYNAMIC, with the kind of sound that has practically disappeared from the face of the earth. Not to worry though; it can still be found on these wonderful Hot Stamper pressings from the '70s that we put so much time and effort into around here. Why shouldn't we? This is where the BEST SOUND is.

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