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JS Bach / Glenn Gould Plays Bach / Gould

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: bach_parti_2012) 



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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Ella Fitzgerald - The Johnny Mercer Song Book

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: fitzgsings_mercer_2017) 



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

The huge, rich orchestral sound captured so beautifully by Val Valentin is always one of the many highlights to be found on the songbook series. By the time this album came out in 1964 Ella had already recorded 18 LPs worth of songbooks - this was the last, going out on a high note. Some of the Mercer Classics here are Too Marvelous For Words, Day In - Day Out, Laura, Skylark, Midnight Sun, I Remember You.

See all of our Ella Fitzgerald albums in stock


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Beethoven / Violin Concerto / Heifetz

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: beethvioli_1992_2017) 



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

The reproduction of the violin here is superb -- harmonically rich, natural, clean, clear, resolving. What sets the truly killer pressings apart is the depth, width and three-dimensional quality of the sound, as well as the fact that they become less congested in the louder passages and don't get shrill or blary. The best copies display a Tubey Magical richness -- especially evident in the basses and celli -- that is to die for.

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


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Ella & Basie - On the Sunny Side of the Street

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: fitzgonthe_2018) 



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

Take it from an Ella fan, you can't go wrong with this one. On the best pressings, the sound is rich and full-bodied in the best tradition of a classic vintage jazz vocal album with big band backup. You could easily demonstrate your stereo with a good copy, but what you would really be demonstrating is music that the listener probably isn't familiar with, and that's the best reason to put on an old record.

More Ella Fitzgerald / More Count Basie


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Hampton Hawes - The Green Leaves of Summer

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: hawesgreen_2018) 



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

This Contemporary Yellow Label LP has wonderful Contemporary All Tube sound, courtesy of the amazing engineering of Howard Holzer. The piano is right -- weighty and percussive with a full-bodied tone. The bass definition is superb. The clarity and transparency here are nothing short of breathtaking.

See all of our Hampton Hawes albums in stock


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Beethoven / Haydn / The Heifetz - Piatigorsky Concerts

  (Item #: beethheife_2770_2010) 



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

This is a lovely sounding Red Seal pressing of cello and violin, with smooth, natural, tonally correct sound and correctly sized instruments, something you don't much on recordings of Heifetz, which tend to have huge violins and small orchestras. In these chamber works perhaps the engineers had an easier time of getting it right. The sound is transparent, spacious and three-dimensional in the best Living Stereo tradition.

If you love the sound of the violin and cello, played by virtuosos of the highest order, this is the record for you!

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


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Glazounov & Mozart / Violin Concertos / Heifetz/ Hendl

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: glazoconce_2734_2011) 



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

Hot Stamper sound on side one of this Shaded Dog pressing, and even better sound on side two for these two important works of the basic repertoire.

The presentation of the violin on side one is present, one could even say immediate. It's not quite as tubey magical as the better Heifetz pressings I have played, so we are keeping the grade at a fairly modest A+. Those with "tubier" systems may find it complements your sound better than it does mine.

More recordings featuring the violin


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Prokofiev / The Love for Three Oranges / Remoortel (32 16 0344)
Hot Stamper!
  (Item #: prokolove_for_three_oranges_2011) 



Love For Three Oranges on side one sounds quite good here -- spacious and lively. With a click or two of treble it would sound even better! The Scythian Suite on side two is excellent as well, particularly during quieter passages. Very spacious and three-dimensional, with a wide extended top end, but it gets a bit congested when it needs to get loud. I MUCH prefer this version to the famous Mercury 90006 recording of both works.


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Prokofiev / Violin Con. #1 & Lalo / Symphonie Espagnole - Milstein

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: prokovioli_milstein_2008) 



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

This fairly nice Milstein record has exquisite violin tone and of course the performance is magical. These comments only apply to the Lalo on side two. (Side one never sounds good on this album.)

See all of our pressings with Nathan Milstein performing


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Prokofiev / Symphony #5 / Martinon (LSC 2272)

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: prokosym_5_2010) 



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

This rare Shaded Dog pressing has an absolutely AMAZING side two. It's transparent, with sweet (yes, for the Prokofiev 5th!), smooth and rich strings. Listen to how natural the woodwinds sound on this side

Side two here is the fluke, since most of the time this record sounds terrible. But now we know how well engineered it really is. We have the copy right here to prove it!

See more pressings of Prokofiev's music in stock


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Schubert / Symphony No. 9 "The Great" / Krips / LSO

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: schubsym9_decca_2013) 



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

Krips' 1958 recording for Decca (from Kingsway Hall, with the legendary Kenneth Wilkinson behind the board) is here brought to life on a quiet and wonderful World of the Great Classics reissue from 1976. This copy was one of the best we played, showing us depth and transparency that was only hinted at on most pressings, regardless of age.

More of the music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828)


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Schubert / Symphony No. 9 "The Great" / Krips / LSO

The Early London Pressings Are Awful

  (Item #: schubsym9_2061_shame) 



Sonic Grade: F

Presenting another member of our Hall of Shame.

What was most striking about this shootout was how poorly the original London Bluebacks fared when going head to head with the best vintage reissues. In fact, they were so obviously inferior I doubt we would have even needed another pressing to know that they would not possibly be competitive.

The two we had were crude, flat, full of harmonic distortion, and both had clearly restricted frequency extremes. I remember liking the Blueback pressings I played ten or twenty years ago.

More of the music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828)


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Paganini / Concerto No. 1 / Rabin / Goossens

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: paganconce_2011) 



This is a rare and very nice looking Capitol LP with Very Little Sign of Play (VLSOP). The violin sounds rich and sweet, although the orchestral sound is a bit old school.
More of the music of Niccolò Paganini


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Liszt, Enesco, Smetana / Rhapsodies - Stokowski

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: lisztrhaps_2471_2010) 



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

This RCA Living Stereo White Dog LP has SUPERB SOUND!

I'm a big fan of this title. The string tone is rich and dark and just wonderful. If you want an exciting record with outstanding Living Stereo sound -- dynamic, with strings to die for, and an energetic performance, this is the one! Don't let the White Dog fool you. I doubt if the average Shaded Dog is any better. This record sounds just right to me. Listen to how clear and correct the triangle is.

See all of our Living Stereo albums in stock


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Vivaldi / 4 Bassoon Concertos / Walt

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: vivalfourb_2353_2011) 



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

This rare and mostly quiet Shaded Dog pressing has SUPERB sound on side one, earning a sonic grade of A++. To our surprise side two was even better; we called it A++ to A+++. It was surely one of the best sounding records we played in our classical shootouts that day. This is Golden Age Living Stereo sound at its Tubey Magical best.

More of the music of Antonio Vivaldi


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Milstein / Encores / Pommers

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: variomilst_2009) 



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

This original Rainbow Label Capitol pressing has D1 / D1 stampers (!) and the shrink still on the cover -- now how rare is that!? Copies in this condition regularly fetch $300-400 on ebay these days, some as much as $450, and it's highly unlikely that any of those sound as good as this one. (Unless those sellers use the same advanced cleaning fluids and techniques we do and have access to an $8000 record cleaning machine that is.)

The sound is SUPERB, especially on side two, which we rated A Double Plus. Side two had a bit more presence and transparency than side one and that, along with quieter vniyl, kicked the grade up a notch. The third work on side two, a piece by Fritz Kreisler, is one of the highlights of the entire album.

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Andre Previn & His Pals - West Side Story

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: previwests_2016) 



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

This superb sounding Black Label Stereo Contemporary pressing has close to Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on side two. Side one earned a Double Plus, which makes this by far the best copy to ever hit the site and a great way to hear this classic piano trio swingin' in 1959. This is yet another Demo Disc for Contemporary, more brilliant work from house engineer Roy Dunann.

More Andre Previn / More Shelly Manne


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Simon & Garfunkel - Wednesday Morning, 3 AM

The Right 360 Pressing Is King

  (Item #: simonwedne_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

We played a big stack of copies recently and ran into all kinds of problems. Some were dull, some were spitty, many were smeared, and far too many were gritty.

The later pressings didn't solve any of these problems. In fact, none of the Red Label copies we've ever played sounded good enough on either side to merit a Hot Stamper grade. If you want good sound for this album, 360 stereo pressings seem to be the only way to go. The mono pressings we played were painfully bad.

More Simon and Garfunkel


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Crowded House - Woodface

A Simply Vinyl Winner

  (Item #: crowdwoodf_simply_vinyl) 



Sonic Grade: B (or better!)

Woodface easily meets the definition of a Desert Island Disc. I've played it hundreds of times and enjoy it more with each play, which insures that on my desert island I'll never get sick of it. To my way of thinking it contains some of the most original, melodic, hook-laden, sophisticated popular music recorded in the last twenty years. Astonishingly (to me, anyway) it didn't even chart here in the states, a sad commentary about the state of the music biz, a state that only seems to worsen as the decades roll on.

More Crowded House


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Van Morrison - Moondance

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: morrimoond_2018) 



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

Musically, the record Moondance most reminds me of is After The Gold Rush. Neil Young set out to make a commercial album that had nothing but strong songs built around catchy melodies, with the highest quality production values. What better describes Moondance? Every song is good, you can sing practically every one of them from memory, and in fact you'll probably feel like singing along with every one of them as they are playing. And the whole album is produced with some of the best sound that was available at the time. (Shelly Yakus engineered, his first time behind the board on a major project if Wikipedia is to be believed.)

More Van Morrison


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Stealers Wheel - Stealers Wheel

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: stealsteal_2018) 



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

Forget the dubby domestic pressings. Like so many British bands on the A&M label, when it came time to master the album for the domestic market, the people in charge (whoever they may have been) took the easy way out and simply ordered up a dub of the master tape to cut the album from.

Spooky Tooth, Procol Harum, Fairport Convention, (my beloved) Squeeze and too many others to think about all had their records ruined by sub-generation masters.

More Stealers Wheel / More Gerry Rafferty


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David Bowie - The Lodger

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: bowielodge_2014) 



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

White Hot Stampers for Lodger discovered -- this wasn't easy, folks! We've been trying to find a great sounding Lodger for years but it's taken us until now, which should tell you just how tough it is to get a killer copy of this album. This one has the best side one we've ever heard and a strong side two to boot.

More David Bowie


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Frank Sinatra - That's Life

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: sinatthats_2018) 



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

This original Reprise LP has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from the later reissues. It gives you the sense that Frank Sinatra is right in front of you.

He's no longer a recording -- he's a living, breathing person. We call that "the breath of life," and this record has it in spades. His voice is rich, sweet, and free of any artificiality. You immediately find yourself lost in the music, because there's no "sound" to distract you.

More Frank Sinatra


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Frank Sinatra - Sinatra '65

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: sinatsinat65_2015) 



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

Is the title a play off of Capitol's gazillion selling Beatles '65? Only Frank really knows.

This original Green and Blue Reprise stereo pressing has the sound we look for -- big, rich and tubey. It does vary a bit from track to track but overall we found this copy to be quite enjoyable.

See all of our Frank Sinatra albums in stock


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Miles Davis - At Fillmore

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: davisatfil_2010) 



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

This is an Original Columbia 2 LP set on QUIET vinyl with tonally CORRECT sound. The music found here was recorded in the wake of Davis’ highly influential fusion opus Bitches Brew. Keith Jarrett is featured on organ along with a band that includes Chick Corea, Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland. It culls tracks from a four night stay at the Fillmore East in 1970.

More Miles Davis


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Miles Davis - Basic Miles

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: davisbasic_2018) 



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

We award this copy's side two our very special Four Plus A++++ grade, which is strictly limited to pressings (really, individual sides of pressings) that take a recording to a level never experienced by us before, a level we had no idea even existed.

More Miles Davis


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Dean Martin - Dream With Dean

Watch Out for Hard and Honky Vocals

  (Item #: martidream_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

Dream with Dean is great for finding any traces of "honk" in your midrange. Getting Deano's baritone to sound tubey and rich, to get the sound that Bing Crosby could get just by opening his mouth, is not all that easy on some systems, mine included. Correctly set VTA is critical in this regard, but pretty much everything must be working at its best for Dean to sound as intimate and natural as we know he can on the best pressings.

More Dean Martin


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David Bowie - Scary Monsters

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: bowiescary_2018) 



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

This British pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.

More David Bowie


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Gilbert and Sullivan / Overtures / Ward

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: gilbeovert_2302_2011) 



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

SUPERB sound on BOTH sides, with side two earning our coveted White Hot Stamper sonic grade for the kind of rich, sweet Living Stereo sound that we audiophiles love. The sound is nothing short of amazing on the White Hot side. This is a Top Shaded Dog in every way.

That lovely texture on the strings tells you that the pressing itself is partly responsible for the superb sound -- the lack of smear being a pressing issue, not a mastering or recording one. For naturalness, this one earns a score of ten out of ten.

More Gilbert & Sullivan


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Mel Torme - Live at Marty's

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: tormelivea_2012) 



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

We just finished a shootout for this album and had a blast with the ol’ Velvet Fog. Many copies of this album are transistory, gritty and dry, but this one has got enough richness and warmth to smooth out those unpleasant qualities. The immediacy and presence throughout are going to KNOCK YOU OUT. Mel is gonna be in the room with you when you play this one good and loud.

More Popular Vocal LPs


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Elvis Presley - Fun In Acapulco

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: preslfunin_2015) 



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

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

Fortunately there are some reissues from the '60s and '70s that have the potential for excellent sound. This is clearly one of them. The originals we see are a lost cause; they're practically always scratched and full of groove damage. We'd be lucky to find a clean one every five or ten years nowadays.

More Elvis Presley


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Paul Desmond & Gerry Mulligan - Two Of A Mind

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: desmotwoof_2018) 



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

THIS is the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There actually IS a CD of this album, and youtube videos of it too, but those of us with good turntables could care less.

And if you have an especially good turntable and the system that goes with it, we think you will find a world of difference in the sound of our Hot Stamper early pressing and any of the Heavy Vinyl records being produced of this very title.

More Paul Desmond / More Gerry Mulligan


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Albert King - Live Wire - Blues Power

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: king_livew_2015) 



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

SUPERB SOUNDING and VERY QUIET! This Stax LP sounds amazing -- super low distortion, super transparent, clean, and clear. I don’t think you could find a better sounding, quieter copy than this no matter what you do!

This is the real deal folks. Most copies sure don't sound like this! It's one of the all time great live Blues albums!

See all of our Albert King albums in stock


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Earth, Wind & Fire - Gratitude

  (Item #: earthgrati_2010) 



OFF THE CHARTS SOUND on three out of four sides! Make no mistake: This is BY FAR the best copy of Gratitude we have ever played. No other copy in our shootout was the equal of this bad boy. This copy showed us a Gratitude we had no idea existed. Every once in a while you run across a record that has both sides mastered as good as they can be mastered, and this is very nearly one of those times -- for this double album only one side fell short out of four, and that side still rated a very respectable A+ to A++. That's ten and a half pluses all told. Nice job, Mastering Lab. You did Earth Wind and Fire proud.
More Earth, Wind & Fire


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Grover Washington - Mister Magic

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: washimiste_2014) 



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

The typical pressing is murky, overly smooth and lacks energy. Many copies also suffer from serious congestion and veiling. No such problems here! You get tons of space and energy, along with balanced tonality and great presence.

A 4 1/2 star album in the All Music Guide. Washington is backed here by excellent players including Bob James, Phil Upchurch, Harvey Mason, Ralph MacDonald, Eric Gale and many more.

More Grover Washington


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Gene Ammons - Goodbye

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: ammongoodb_2010) 



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

If you want to know why Gene Ammons is considered one of the greats, skip the jam that starts out side one and go right to the ballad Alone Again (Naturally). Nobody played with more emotion than Gene Ammons.

More recordings engineered by Rudy Van Gelder


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Bola Sete - The Incomparable Bola Sete

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: sete_incom_2010) 



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

This is a Minty looking Fantasy LP with EXCELLENT SOUND. Bola Sete is one of my favorite guitarists, Latin or otherwise. Here he is joined by a very talented percussionist who brings authentic Brazilian feeling to this music. The real surprise here is Paul Horne on flute -- the music comes alive on the tracks on which he guests, such as 'Lamento De Negro'. If you like Latin guitar music, you can't go wrong here.

More Bola Sete


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Ella Fitzgerald - Sings The George Gershwin Song Book

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: fitzgsings_gershwin_1_2014) 



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

White Hot sound on side two of this original copy - shockingly good. Ella sounds rich, Tubey Magical and breathy -- this is a real Demo Disc. Side one is very good as well, nicely warm and rich by track two. Nelson Riddle's arrangements are especially interesting and artful throughout.

It is our opinion that the mono takes all the fun out of the Nelson Riddle's deliberately wide, spacious orchestral presentation surrounding Ella. Which is too bad: the mono pressings are five times as common as the stereo ones.

More Ella Fitzgerald


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Freddie Hubbard - Sky Dive

What to Listen For

  (Item #: hubbaskydi_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

Smear is by far the most common problem with the copies we played. When the transient bite of the trumpet is correctly reproduced, maintaining its full-bodied tone and harmonic structures, you know you have a very special copy of Sky Dive (or First Light or Red Clay, etc., etc.). When the sound is blurry, thick, veiled, dull or slow, you have what might be considered something more like the average copy.

More Freddie Hubbard


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June Christy - The Intimate Miss Christy

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: chrisintim_2017) 



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

Both sides of this 1962 All Tube Recorded and Mastered record are just as rich and relaxed as you would expect. The balance is correct, which means the top is there as well as the bottom, with good vocal presence throughout.

More June Christy


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Peter, Paul & Mary - See What Tomorrow Brings

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: peterseewh_2018) 



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

Peter, Paul & Mary records live and die by the quality of their midrange reproduction. These are not big-budget, high-concept mulit-track recordings. They're simple, innocent folk songs featuring exquisite vocal harmonies, backed by straightforward guitar accompaniment. If the voices aren't silky sweet and delicate, while at the same time full-bodied and present, let's face it -- you might as well be listening to something else. (As we say below, the average copy will have you looking for another record to put on.)

More Peter, Paul & Mary


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Gregg Allman - Laid Back

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: allmalaidb_2017) 



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

We were surprised at how well recorded the album is, dramatically better than the Allmans' album from the same year, Brothers and Sisters. Full-bodied and Tubey Magical, with especially smooth, present vocals, this is the sound we love at Better Records.

More Allman Brothers


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The Band - Moondog Matinee

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: band_moond_2017) 



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

Some great music is to be found here, and quite respectable sound on the "hotter" copies. ’Ain’t Got No Home’ and ’A Change Is Gonna Come’ are two personal favorites of the ten tracks here.

Both sides are tonally balanced from top to bottom, with more energy and space than others. The bass is huge, the brass rich, the all analog sound smooth and natural. It's no demo disc; it just sounds bigger, clearer, and more right than the other sides we played.

More by The Band


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Harry Belafonte - Belafonte at Carnegie Hall

Our Shootout Winner from 2006

  (Item #: belafbelaf_2006) 



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

Harry Pearson brought this record to the attention of audiophiles with his TAS list a long time ago, and rightfully so: it's an amazing recording.

We happen to love the music too, which makes it one of the most recommendable records we have ever offered. If you can find a better combination of demo disc sound, with music worth the hassle and expense of reproducing it properly, more power to you. We sure can't.

More Harry Belafonte


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Kenny Loggins - Celebrate Me Home

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: loggiceleb_2011) 



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

This WHITE HOT Stamper side one shows you just how good this record can sound, which is surprisingly good, considering how many copies of the album are just plain awful. Finally, most of the grit, grain and transistory opacity have fallen away, leaving in its place the rich, full-bodied and Tubey Magical '70s sound one would expect.

More Kenny Loggins



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Dave Brubeck - Countdown - Time In Outer Space

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: brubecount_2016) 



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

Clean and Clear, Yet Rich and Sweet. This copy managed to find the perfect balance of these attributes. You want that rare copy that keeps what is good about a Tubey Magical analog recording from The Golden Age of Jazz while managing to avoid the pitfalls so common to them: smear, lack of top end extension, opacity and blubber. To be sure, the fault is not with the recording (I guess; again, not having heard the master tape) but with the typically mediocre pressing.

More Dave Brubeck


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Barbra Streisand - Je M'Appelle Barbra

'60s 360 Vs. '70s Red

  (Item #: streijemap_2015) 



For Barbra Streisand's early albums the original pressings on the 360 label have just got to be better, right?

Nope. It’s just another Record Myth. The best of the 360 pressings in our shootout did well, just not as well.

Our good later label pressings had all the richness and Tubey Magic of the 360s -- one really couldn't tell which pressing was on the turntable by the sound -- but had a bit more space, clarity and freedom from artificiality.

More Barbra Streisand


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Robert Palmer - Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: palmesneak_2013) 



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

TWO EXCELLENT SIDES on this British Sunray Island pressing. SSTTA is very hard to find nowadays, but we managed to put together a big enough stack to make a shootout possible, and this copy acquited very well indeed -- it was miles ahead of the typical pressing. As is usually the case with these originals, the vinyl is a bit noisier than ideal at Mint Minus Minus.

No doubt this is the best album Robert Palmer ever made. With Lowell George's unmistakable slide guitar and members of the Meters providing backup, as well as the amazing Bernard Purdie on drums, it's the only Robert Palmer release that consistently works all the way through as an album. The entire first side is excellent from top to bottom, with the title track being our favorite RP song of all time.


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Arthur Lyman - Taboo: The Exotic Sounds of Arthur Lyman

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: lymantaboo_2013) 



This out-of-this-world WHITE HOT Stamper side two of Taboo blew our minds with its uncanny three-dimensional recreation of space. It's so transparent and boundless you'll feel like you are standing right on the stage with these guys and their birds! If you're an audiophile, both the sound and the music are crazy fun. If you want to demonstrate just how good 1959 All Tube Analog sound can be, this is the record that can do it, maybe better than any other.
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Arthur Lyman - Bwana A

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: lymanbwana_2011) 



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

White Hot Stamper sound, with a big stage, Tubey Magic and correct tonality from top to bottom. There's plenty going on at the extreme top - the rare copy that has it all!

Everywhere else the sound is tonally and timbrally Right On The Money. It's very lively, with tight, clear bass. Listen to how open the sound is. That sound is just not to be found on popular albums anymore.

More Exotica


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Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Swings Brightly With Nelson

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: fitzgellaswingb_2017) 



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

The sound is rich and full-bodied in the best tradition of a classic vintage jazz vocal album. You could easily demonstrate your stereo with a record this good! The space is HUGE and the sound so rich.

Prodigious amounts of Tubey Magic as well, which is key to the best sounding copies. The sound needs weight, warmth and tubes or you might as well be playing a CD.

More Ella Fitzgerald


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Rachmaninoff / Symphonic Dances / Johanos

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: rachmsymph_2011) 



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

This famously good sounding Vox pressing has been remastered a number of times, but you can be sure that the Hot Stamper we are offering here will beat any of those modern pressings by a wide margin in any area that has to do with sound (surfaces are another matter).

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)


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The Everly Brothers - The Golden Hits of...

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: everlgolde_2018) 



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

Our original Gold Label stereo LP here has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s no doubt missing from whatever 180g reissue has been made from the 50+ year old tapes. As good as that pressing may be, we guarantee that this one is dramatically more REAL SOUNDING. It gives you the sense that Phil and Don are right in the room with you.

More Everly Brothers


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Ramsey Lewis Trio - The In Crowd

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: lewisincro_2017) 



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

This original Argo Blue Label Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in a real jazz club, this is the record for you. It's what Vintage Records are known for -- this sound.

More Ramsey Lewis


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Wes Montgomery - While We’re Young

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: montgwhile_2010) 



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

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

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

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Shelly Manne & His Friends - Bells Are Ringing

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: mannebells_2016) 



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

Side One

Rich and Tubey Magical in the best way, because it's still clear and spacious.

Side Two

Tight, deep bass and an extended top, with a solid piano in between, this side is hard to fault.

Better Than a Dream, the second track on this side, has one of the best sounding jazz pianos I have ever heard. My notes say "you cannot record a piano any better" and I stand behind that statement one hundred percent.

More Shelly Manne / More Andre Previn


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

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: manneblack_2_2008) 



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

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

More Shelly Manne


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Paul Desmond - Skylark

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: desmoskyla_2012) 



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

An A+++ side one backed with an A+ to A++ side two, both on quiet vinyl! We just finished our first big shootout for this fun album that features Gabor Szabo on guitar and this was one of the best copies we heard, especially on the first side where nothing else could compare.

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Paul Desmond - Pure Desmond

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: desmopured_2011) 



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

WONDERFULLY RELAXED AND MUSICAL SOUND on this CTI pressing. We auditioned a large stack of copies and could not find a side two any better than this. The sax is breathy, the guitar sounds amazing, and the bass is KILLER. I doubt there's another copy out there with more energy, richness or fullness than this one.

More Paul Desmond


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Luiz Bonfa - Softly

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: bonfasoftl_2017) 



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

There is a wonderful array of percussion on this record, so the top end of any pressing should ideally be extended, clear and sweet. Some pressings of Softly... have no real top end, which is the reason we have to do shootouts -- to find the copies that are actually mastered and pressed right, not just the ones that should have been because they have the right stampers or are on the right label.

On this record there's plenty of information above 12K I would guess -- all those delicate percussion instruments ring so sweetly, the highs have to be extending way up there.

See more recordings with especially Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitars


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Mel Torme - Swings Shubert Alley

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: tormeswing_2012) 



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

The first Hot Stamper copy of this great album to hit the site in many, many years! 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. Turn it up and Mel is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime! One of our very favorite male vocal albums, and this copy will show you why -- the sound and music are the tops.

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Various Artists - Stereo Sampler Vol. 1 (SRD-1)

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: variostereo_2012) 



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

This Mercury Sampler has SUPERB Super Hot Stamper sound on side one, or better -- who knows if this isn't as good as it gets? We can't find enough clean copies to test so we're sticking with A++ or better just to be safe. Either way, this is the BIG, BOLD classic Mercury sound. Let's Dance - David Carroll - from Let's Dance (SR-60001) has the sweet Tubey Magic of the best Living Stereos and the percussion excitement of Bang Baa-room and Harp!

See all of our Exotica albums in stock


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Ella Fitzgerald - Newport Jazz Festival Live at Carnegie Hall

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: fitzgnewpo_2007) 



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

This is a very good sounding live album, recorded when Ella Fitzgerald could still sing. Most of her stuff for Pablo which followed this leaves much to be desired in my opinion. This album is certainly not the equal of her best work from the '60s, but I'm guessing it's better than anything she did after this.

More Ella Fitzgerald


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Shorty Rogers & His Giants Bossa Nova

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: rogerbossa_2008) 



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

This QUIET Original Reprise LP has EXCELLENT sound -- rich, smooth and sweet. It’s wonderfully natural, and that’s a sound we love here at Better Records.

This is swingin’ West Coast jazz at its best. A highly recommended jazz album for those of you who care to explore artists out of the jazz mainstream.

More Shorty Rogers


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Sonny Rollins - Rollins (2 LPs)

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: rollirolli_2008) 



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

This Prestige Two-Fer Double LP boasts EXCELLENT SOUND, right up there with some the best sounding copies we’ve played. Three sides out of four sounded surprisingly good, which is three good sides more than the average copy can claim. Oddly enough, the stampers are identical. Sample to sample variation? Fresh off the stamper transparency? Who's to say? I can't explain it, but I know a better record when I play one. This copy is clearly more transparent, no pun intended. It's also been through our extensive cleaning process, which as you can imagine helps the sound immeasurably.

More Sonny Rollins


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Elton John - Too Low For Zero

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: john_toolo_2017) 



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

There's some real Tubey Magic on this album, along with breathy vocals, in-your-listening-room presence and plenty of rock and roll energy.

More Elton John


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Elton John - Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only The Piano Player

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: john_donts_2017) 



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

The tonality here is rich, tubey and warm. It doesn't get thick or murky as many copies have a tendency to do.

The amazing engineer KEN SCOTT (Ziggy Stardust, Magical Mystery Tour, Honky Chateau, Crime of the Century, Truth, Birds of Fire) is the man responsible for the sound here.

More Elton John


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Coleman Hawkins / Ben Webster - Encounters

Classic Records Reviewed

  (Item #: hawkiencou_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: B

Probably a fairly good Classic Records jazz album. Years ago we wrote:

"A top top jazz title! This is one of our favorite Classic Records LPs from the old days when we were selling Heavy Vinyl. We haven't played this record in a long time but we liked it very much when it was in print in the '90s."

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

More Coleman Hawkins


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Peter Frampton - Where I Should Be

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: frampwhere_2010) 



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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Dave Brubeck Trio Featuring Gerry Mulligan - Compadres

Stick with Stereo on This One

  (Item #: brubecompa_mono) 



Stick with stereo on this album. The Mono pressings -- at least the ones we've played -- aren't worth anybody's time (scratch that: any audiophile's time). The mono is dramatically smaller, more recessed and more lifeless than even the worst of the stereo pressings we played.

Here are more records we don't think sound very good in MONO.

Here are some titles that have the potential to sound amazing in MONO.

More Dave Brubeck / More Gerry Mulligan


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Barbra Streisand - Guilty

Bab's Best and Most Underrated (By Too Many Audiophiles Anyway)

  (Item #: streiguilt_masterpiece) 



This ain't no zombie audiophile BS, the kind of sleep-inducing reverb-drenched trash that passes for "female vocals" in bad audio showrooms around the globe. (Paging Diana Krall.) This is Barbra and The Bee Gees at the peak of their Pop Powers. It just doesn't get any better.

This is THE BEST ALBUM Babs ever made, and you can take that to the bank. It's also one of the best sounding, if not THE best sounding of her later Monster Pop Productions. Can't say for sure as I haven't played all that many. Her first album is a true Demo Disc as well, but that one's all about the Tubey Magical '60s Columbia era, the Golden Age of Natural Sound, a world away from Guilty and its layers and layers of tracks. Having said that, there are multi-tracks and then there are multi-tracks.

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The Zombies - The World of the Zombies

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: zombiworld_2017) 



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

The World of the Zombies is for all intents and purposes a reissue of their 1965 debut album, Begin Here, with a few track changes, the most important of which is the addition of Tell Her No.

The drums here are clear and punchy and the bottom end is solid. The vocals do not get too bright as they have a tendency to do on some copies.

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Gershwin / An American In Paris & Rhapsody In Blue

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: gershrhaps_6091_2015) 



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

I’ve always loved these performances, but the shrill Columbia sound has been hard to get past. So many copies suffer from upper-midrangy, glary, hard sound and blary brass. I've come to accept that this is nothing more nor less than the "Columbia Sound," and as a consequence I rarely put much effort into surveying their prodigious catalog these days.

I won't say all that's changed; it really hasn't. The vast majority of Columbia classical pressings are still going to sound as awful as they have in the past.

More of the music of George Gershwin


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Haydn / Symphonies No. 89 & 90 / Somogyi

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: haydnsym89_westminster_2011) 



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

This White Hot Stamper side two (Symphony 90) is some of the BEST SOUND we have ever heard for any Haydn Symphony, and recently we heard some awfully good ones such as those performed by Dorati for Mercury. I rank these performances right up there with Dorati's, and on this side two I would have to say that the sound found on this early Westminster pressing (WST 17043) is EVEN BETTER than the sound of that Hot Stamper Merc. This pressing is nothing short of SUPERB in every way. Who knew?

More of the music of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)


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Mark Levinson - Acoustic Recording Series, Volume 2

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: ravelvalse_levinson_2008) 



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

The sound on the record is excellent. It was engineered by Mark Levinson, on special equipment designed to create virtually noiseless ultra-low-distortion master tapes, without noise-reduction systems. It’s mastered by Robert Ludwig.

The first side contains Ravel’s Valses Nobles et Sentimentales played on the piano by Lois Shapiro. Side two contains her performance of Haydn’s Sonata No. 49.

More Audiophile recordings


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Haydn / Symphonies No. 22 & 90 / Ansermet

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: haydnsym22_2012) 



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

Nearly White Hot Stamper sound (A++ to A+++) for side one of this early British Stereo Treasury pressing, which should not come as too much of a shock -- this is after all a vintage Golden Age performance by Ansermet and L'Orchestre de La Suisse Romande, a 1966 recording from the glorious Victoria hall in which so many of our favorite recordings were committed to analog tape through the all-tube chain Decca had perfected.

More of the music of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)


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Haydn / Symphonies 100 & 101

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: haydnsym100_vanguard_2010) 



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

The New York Times review for these performances called them "matchless" and we see no reason to disagree! With Super Hot Stamper sound for No. 100, "Military", we're confident you will have a very hard time finding better sound and music from Haydn than is found on this original Black Label Vanguard Stereophonic Demonstration Disc.

More of the music of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)


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Debussy & Ravel / String Quartet - Julliard String Quartet

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: debusquart_2413_2005) 



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

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

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

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

More Living Stereo


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Lowell George - Thanks I’ll Eat It Here

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: georgthank_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 Thanks I’ll Eat It Here.

"Lowell's style is so distinctive and his performances so soulful, it's hard not to like this record if you've ever had a fondness for Little Feat. After all, it's earthier and more satisfying than any Feat album since Feats Don't Fail Me Now and it has the absolutely gorgeous "20 Million Things," the last great song George ever wrote."

See all of our Little Feat albums in stock


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Various Composers - East of Suez

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: varioeasto_2012) 



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

Hot Stamper sound on this 101 Strings album, can you believe it? Then again, why shouldn't it have amazing Golden Age Stereo sound? It's recorded in the late '50s, using all tube equipment and probably a minimum of mikes -- there's no reason to assume the sound should be substandard just because the retail price of the record was only $1.98 (see second image).

More Exotica


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Morton Gould and His Orchestra - Baton & Bows

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: gouldbaton_2014) 



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

This Living Stereo Shaded Dog pressing has a great side two. As I'm sure you've found, many vintage pressings are dull and opaque. This one has tonally correct strings, as well as the top end and rosiny texture that's so often missing.

More Living Stereo



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Morton Gould and His Orchestra - Love Walked In

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: gouldlovew_2011) 



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

This Super Hot Stamper (or better!) Living Stereo Shaded Dog pressing has SUPERB TUBEY MAGICAL Golden Age sound the likes of which you will not believe. (If you've bought some of our best Hot Stamper Living Stereo recordings then you will have no trouble believing it I'm sure.)

Side two displays some of the richest, most three-dimensional orchestral sound we have heard in quite some time. The fifth track is especially notable for a pizzicato arrangement that makes it a DEMO DISC track to beat them all. Plucked strings simply do not sound any better!

See more of our most Tubey Magical recordings


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Lou Reed - Transformer

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: reed_trans_2017) 



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

Transformer is an absolute tour de force of '70s Glam Rock / Classic Rock / Alternative Rock. You've got Lou Reed teamed up with David Bowie (in the producer's chair!), Mick Ronson, Herbie Flowers and Klaus Voorman, and on top of that the album was recorded at Trident and mixed by the great Ken Scott.

More Lou Reed / More David Bowie


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The Everly Brothers - The Very Best of the Everly Brothers

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: everlveryb_2014) 



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

This compilation contains some real Warners recordings (from after 1960, when they signed with the label) mixed with some re-recordings of their best classic Cadence material, to make an album with as many hits and great songs as a single album can hold.

In stereo, on the original WB Gold Label, with really quiet vinyl -- this is the one!

More Everly Brothers


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The Everly Brothers - The Everly Brothers Best

Reviewed in 2015

  (Item #: everlbest_2015) 



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

This is only the second Everly Brothers Hot Stamper to make it to the site, and I'm sure the reasons for that fact are not hard to fathom. I must look at fifty EB records for every one I buy, and even with a good scrubbing most of those are not going to pass muster.

More Everly Brothers


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Richard & Linda Thompson - Hokey Pokey

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: thomphokey_2017) 



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

This is one of R&L Thompson’s best albums, their second, following the luminous I Want to See the Bright Lights Shine from a year earlier. Rich and full-bodied, with big bass and gobs of studio ambience, this is the way this music was meant to be heard.

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Dionne Warwick - Very Dionne

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: warwiveryd_2011) 



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

SUPERB Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides of this original Scepter pressing, with QUIET VINYL no less. Folks, don't expect to see records like this coming to the site too often. We can't find them anymore in this kind of clean condition, so if you like the lovely Ms Warwick, consider taking this one home and giving her (the record, not Dionne) a spin on your table.

More Popular Vocal recordings


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Dionne Warwick - Soulful

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: warwisoulf_2008) 



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

There's a reason this record is on the TAS list, but you'd never know it by playing the average pressing. Most copies of this record just sound like an old Dionne Warwick record. You would never even know how magical this recording is by playing a copy that for all intents and purposes appears to be the pressing that Harry Pearson is recommending on his Super Disc list. The catalog number is the same; the sound is not. Unless you have at least half a dozen copies of this record -- and we had more than double that -- you have very little chance of finding even one exceptional side.

More Popular Vocal recordings


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Dionne Warwick - Dionne!

We're Throwing in the Towel

  (Item #: warwidionn_2015) 



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

Compiling the strongest material from the first four albums -- all produced by Burt Bacharach and Hal David -- somehow, against all odds if you stop to think about it, this Columbia record club exclusive pressing ended up being mastered exceptionally well, obviously from superb tapes.

More Popular Vocal recordings


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Stanley Turrentine - Jubilee Shouts

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: turrejubil_2005) 



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

Two Minty looking Blue Note LPs of two previously unreleased sessions featuring the great tenor saxophonist with Tommy Turrentine, Kenny Burrell, Horace Parlan, Sonny Clark and others.

If you want to hear Turrentine at his best, skip right to track two, the beautiful ballad Then I'll Be Tired Of You, featuring his brother Tommy on trumpet. The music is powerful and the sound is excellent.

More Stanley Turrentine


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Frank Sinatra - I Remember Tommy

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: sinatireme_2017) 



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

You'll find relaxed, rich, natural big band reproduction on this copy, with the trombones and woodwinds sounding especially good. Those of you who have a good selection of recordings from this era will recognize the glorious sound of vintage tubes, a sound that has been lost to the world for decades now, but one that is in full flower on this very record.

Frank is of course in top form and his voice on this album sounds about as good as it does on any recording you can find on our site.

More Frank Sinatra


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Yes - Fragile

Analogue Productions LP Reviewed

  (Item #: yes__fragi_ap) 



Sonic Grade: C

The Analogue Productions 180g reissue shown here is mastered by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Grey, two guys I respect, but the results of their latest collaboration leave much to be desired. The overall sound is lean. This is especially noticeable on the too thin-sounding guitars and vocals. Believe me, it's no fun to play a Yes album with thin guitars and vocals.

More Yes


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Prokofiev / Love for Three Oranges Suite / Dorati

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: prokolovef_classic_records) 



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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Muddy Waters - Folk Singer

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: waterfolks_2005) 



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

This is a Minty Chess reissue LP. If you want an amazing sounding Folk Blues album, I can’t think of a better one. Top recommendation.

More Muddy Waters


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Little Milton - Blues’N Soul

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: miltoblues_2012) 



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

Pristine looking Stax LP with excellent sound and some really heartfelt Blues music.

This is a Stax reissue from 1982. My experience with the stuff that Fantasy remastered has been very good over the years. This is another winner.

"Milton's early-'70s output indeed began to walk the fine line between the blues and soul and includes the song Behind Closed Doors." -- AMG

More Soul, R&B and Blues


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Enoch Light - Reeds and Percussion

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: lightreeds_2014) 



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

This is one of the most phenomenal sounding records I have ever heard in my life. Take the best sound you ever heard from the best authentic Mercury classical record (not that Heavy Vinyl BS) and translate it into pop arrangements for clarinets, flutes, saxes, oboes, bassoons, and what do you have? Sound that leaps out of the speakers with absolutely dead on tonality.

But what is most shocking of all is how vivid and accurate the timbre of every instrument is.

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The Rolling Stones - Out of Our Heads

Mono or Stereo?

  (Item #: rollioutof_mono) 



On this London LP, even though it says the record is electronically re-processed stereo, the songs we heard on side one were dead mono.

Here are some records that we think sound amazing in MONO.

Here are some records that we don't think sound very good in MONO.

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Deep Purple - Made In Japan

Live and Learn

  (Item #: deeppmadei_2006) 



This is a classic case of Live and Learn. What we had to say below about Made in Japan back in 2006 is just plain emabarrassing.

"This is a very nice looking EMI British Import Double LP that plays Mint Minus. This copy sounds tonally correct and pretty lively. The DCC may be better but it’s a LOT MORE MONEY I haven't played that record since it came out years ago so who's to say."

Ouch.

More Deep Purple


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The Allman Brothers - Idlewild South

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: allmaidlew_2016) 



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

The first Top Copy to ever hit the site! Double Plus (A++) on side one, Triple Plus (A+++) on side two

  • Easily the group's best sounding studio recording and especially impressive on a copy like this
  • Drop the needle on Midnight Rider or In Memory Of Elizabeth Read to hear what this copy can do. You get lots of extension here both up top and down low that makes the overall sound far more engaging and musical than what you'd hear on a typical copy.
    More Allman Brothers


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    Spirit - Clear

    Sundazed Heavy Vinyl Debunked

      (Item #: spiriclear_sundazed) 



    Sonic Grade: F

    A Hall of Shame and another Sundazed record debunked.

    Although it's been many years since I last played it, I'm fairly confidant that the Sundazed only hints at the real sound of the best copies. Most Sundazed records would end up in our Hall of Shame if we ever bothered to audition them.

    Being in the "record business", such as it is, I played my share and more of awful sounding Heavy Vinyl.

    More Spirit


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