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Lincoln Mayorga and Distinguished Colleagues

Implore You to Turn Up Your Volume

  (Item #: mayor_volume_1_loud) 



S9 is hands down the best example of a recording that truly comes to life when you Turn Up Your Volume.

There's not much ambience to be found in their somewhat dead sounding studio, and very little high frequency boost to any instrument in the soundfield, which means at moderate levels this record sounds flat and lifeless. (You could say it has that in common with most Heavy Vinyl pressings these days, if you wanted to take a cheap shot at those records, which, to be honest, I don't mind doing. They suck; why pretend otherwise?)

See all of our Direct to Disc recordings in stock


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Lincoln Mayorga and Distinguished Colleagues (S9)

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: mayor_volume_1_2010) 



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

WOW! Here's a stunningly good sounding and shockingly quiet copy of The Big One -- Lincoln Mayorga and Distinguished Colleagues' first Sheffield Direct-to-Disc LP aka S9. We've been comparing and contrasting pressings of this album for a long time and this is one of the very best -- and QUIETEST -- copies we've ever had the good luck to stumble on. The sound is BIG, RICH and FULL OF ENERGY. We gave side one an A++ and side two our top grade of A+++. It is ridiculously tough to find this record anymore, let alone a pressing this amazing. Who knows when we'll find another copy, let alone one that sounds like this!

More Direct to Disc recordings


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The Beatles Heavy Rubber Soul

Finally, MF and Better Records Can Agree on Something

  (Item #: beatlrubbe_heavy_vinyl) 



We are so excited to tell you about the first of the Heavy Vinyl Beatles remasters we've played! As we cycle through our regular Hot Stamper shootouts for The Beatles' albums we will be of course be reviewing more of them*. I specifically chose this one to start with, having spent a great deal of time over the last year testing the best vinyl pressings against three different CD versions of Rubber Soul.

The short version of our review of the new Rubber Soul vinyl would simply point out that it's awful, and, unsurprisingly, it's awful in most of the ways that practically all modern Heavy Vinyl records are: it's opaque, airless, energyless and just a drag.

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Gene Ammons / Sonny Stitt - Prime Cuts

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: ammonprime_2005) 



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

This Two-fer contains the complete albums: Boss Tenors and Boss Tenors in Orbit from 1962, two classic jazz recordings with EXCELLENT SOUND.

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Rossini / Overtures / Maag / PCO

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: rossiovert_2013) 



The London and Decca original pressings are the best, right?

Not in our experience. We think that's just another Record Myth.

This Stereo Treasury pressing of Maag's 1958 recording is shockingly good in many ways. It sure doesn't sound like a budget reissue. If anything it sounds more original than the originals we played against it!

More of the music of Ottorino Rossini (1879-1936)


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King Crimson - Lizard

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: kingclizar_2018) 



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

  • Incredible sound throughout with both sides of this copy winning our recent shootout and in the process earning our top grade of Triple Plus (A+++). Every bit the sonic equal of the first album, if you colorful Big Production Jazzy Prog Rock (with mellotron!) is your thing you can't go wrong here.
    More King Crimson


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  • Ornette Coleman - The Shape of Jazz to Come

    Reviewed in 2005

      (Item #: colemshape_2005) 



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

    This minty avant-garde jazz record has AMAZING SOUND! The recording is by the famous engineer Bones Howe, the man behind some of the greatest pop and jazz recordings of all time. He gets some of that Rudy Van Gelder bite that we love, but with less distortion and more dynamic contrasts. Whether you'll like the music or not is another question -- this is free form jazz; not everybody's into it, that's for sure.

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    Ella Fitzgerald & Count Basie - Ella and Basie!

    Reviewed in 2004

      (Item #: fitzgella_and_basie_2004) 



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

    This early British import KILLS the Speakers Corner 180 gram reissue! I still like their version but this is what it should have sounded like: tonally much fuller and richer. The 180 gram copy suffers from the standard reissue MO -- brighter is not necessarily better, and definitely not when you have a big band and a vocalist, as is the case here. I've never heard this album sound better and I doubt that it really can sound much better than this. This copy makes me want to turn it up as loud as the stereo will go and let those wonderful Quincy Jones arrangements come to life!

    More Ella Fitzgerald


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    Ella Fitzgerald & Count Basie - Ella and Basie!

    Speakers Corner Debunked

      (Item #: fitzgella_and_basie_speakers_corner) 



    Sonic Grade: D

    A weak outing from Speakers Corner and a Hall of Shame pressing.

    Their 180 gram copy suffers from the standard reissue MO -- brighter is not necessarily better, and definitely not when you have a big band and a vocalist, as is the case here.

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    Ella & Basie - Ella and Basie!

    Our Shootout Winner from 2018

      (Item #: fitzgella_and_basie_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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    Nat King Cole - Just One Of Those Things

    S&P (DCC) Debunked

      (Item #: cole_justo_reviewed) 



    Sonic Grade: C+

    S+P's 180g reissue has some nice qualities, but it isn't especially natural, nor is it Tubey Magical the way the real Capitol pressings are. Ambience and instrumental textures are sorely lacking, although to be honest, considering how bad most Capitol pressings are, it's still a step up from the average copy sitting in your local store's used record bins.

    More Nat "King" Cole


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    Nat King Cole - Nat King Cole Sings/ George Shearing Plays

    Our Shootout Winner from 2013

      (Item #: cole_nat_king_cole_sings_2013) 



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

    Excellent sound on both sides! We picked up a bunch of pressings of this great collaboration album featuring the vocals of Nat King Cole and the piano work of George Shearing. The better pressings like this one are wonderful sonically, putting Cole's voice right up front with lots of breath and texture. It's very tough to find great sound for Nat King Cole, so here's a rare chance to hear what he can sound like on a strong pressing.

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    Bob Dylan - The Times They Are A-Changin'

    Our Shootout Winner from 2009 in Mono

      (Item #: dylantimes_2009) 



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

    This 360 Label Original Columbia Mono LP, complete with the rare lyric sheet, has two LOVELY sounding sides that rate A++ or better. I was actually a big fan of the Sundazed Mono, but this has more of that Tubey Magic, richness, and overall naturalness that you find on old records, qualities that seem to be sorely lacking on even the best 180 gram remasterings. MoFi also did this record and ruined it in the process (shocker!).

    More Bob Dylan


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    Frank Sinatra - Only The Lonely

    Our Shootout Winner from 2014

      (Item #: sinatonlyt_2015) 



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

    It is TOUGH to find a good sounding Only The Lonely, but this pressing really delivers. Frank's vocals sound present, breathy, and full -- just the way they need to.

    We get asked about Sinatra records all the time, but we hardly ever find stuff good enough to list on the site. And when we manage to, this stuff tends to get snapped up QUICKLY. Everyone needs a good Sinatra record or two in their collection, maybe this is the one for you?

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    Berlioz / Music Of Berlioz / Martinon

    Our Shootout Winner from 2011

      (Item #: berlimusic_15031_2011) 



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

    This English Stereo Treasury pressing (on an odd lookinig Orange label, with handwritten stampers I have never seen before) has a SUPERB side two and side one is almost as good! The original release is London CS 6101 and I doubt most copies of it would sound this good.

    This is Classic Old School Decca sound, rich and smooth with an exceptionally wide and deep soundstage. All the instruments are clear and have good texture, which is what one rarely hears on the most early pressings, which tend to be thick and dark. A little more top and this side two would have earned the full Three Pluses.

    More of the music of Hector Berlioz


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    Paul Desmond - Take Ten

    Our Shootout Winner from 2012

      (Item #: desmotaket_2018) 



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

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

    This vintage pressing is spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you'll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.

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    Dave Brubeck Quartet - Newport 1958

    Reviewed in 2011

      (Item #: brubenewpo_2011) 



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

    This is a very nice looking Columbia Six-Eye LP. The sound here is actually pretty good, particularly on side one. It's open and present, relaxed and natural, with some nice weight to the piano and fairly tight bass. It's not exactly a knockout, but if you're looking for a musical and enjoyable copy this one should do the trick. Side two is almost as good, and both sides have been through our extensive cleaning process.

    More Dave Brubeck


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    Berlioz / Symphonie Fantastique / Fourestier

    Reviewed in 2010

      (Item #: berlisymph_2011) 



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

    This obscure French label stereo reissue of an original Omega recording from the '60s is SUPERB SOUNDING, without a doubt the best sound I have ever heard for the work. (The stereo is much better these days than it was years ago when we auditioned other pressings, so comparisons with those other, older records are practically pointless.)

    And the performance is Top Notch as well; I know of none better.

    More of the music of Hector Berlioz


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    John Coltrane - Giant Steps

    Our Shootout Winner from 2016

      (Item #: coltrgiant_2016) 



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

    As you might expect, the original Blue and Green label pressings have -- potentially -- superb sound on Giant Steps, but somewhat surprisingly -- assuming you've heard a White Hot original copy -- the Red and Green label pressings can sound every bit as good.

    The Tubey Magical richness and warmth carried over into the '70s, at least on some copies of this title, and we're very glad they did, as finding clean original Coltrane albums from the early '60s is not so easy these days.

    More Giant Steps


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    Barney Kessel - Some Like It Hot

    Our Shootout Winner from 2018

      (Item #: kessesomel_2018_) 



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

    This is absolutely the right sound for this music. There was simply nothing that could beat the Triple Plus side, in any area of reproduction. If you like the sound of relaxed, All Tube jazz recordings, you can't do much better than Some Like It Hot. Many of the copies we played suffered from blubbery bass and transient smearing, but the clarity and bass definition here are surprisingly good.

    More Barney Kessel


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    Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - Deja Vu

    A Review of the Classic Records Pressing

      (Item #: crosbdejav_classic_records) 



    Sonic Grade: F

    A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP badly mastered for the benefit of credulous audiophiles.

    If you bought the Classic Record Heavy Vinyl pressing, you should know by now how badly Classic Records ripped you off.

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


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    Peggy Lee - Latin ala Lee!

    S&P (Reviewed in the '00s)

      (Item #: lee__latin_S_and_P) 



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

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

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    Leon Russell - Leon Russell and the Shelter People

    We Broke Through in 2017

      (Item #: russeleonr_2017) 



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

    The domestic pressings of Leon Russell and the Shelter People that we'd auditioned over the years always seemed flat, dry, and closed-in. We know that sound well; it's the sound you hear on records that have been made from dubbed tapes (and it's the hallmark of the modern Heavy Vinyl reissue, truth be told). It bores us to tears, and had us questioning what we could possibly have seen in the album in the first place. What happened to the glorious sound of early '70s analog we were expecting to find?

    More Leon Russell


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    David Bowie - Young Americans

    Listening in Depth

      (Item #: bowieyoung_depth) 



    Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

    This is one of my favorite Bowie albums. Nobody seems to care about it anymore. They dismiss it as disco junk, but it actually has some of his best music on it. I especially like the song Win. David Sanborn's saxophone sounds like it's coming from 60 feet behind Bowie, a nice effect.

    More David Bowie


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    Martin Denny - Quiet Village

    Our Shootout Winner from 2009

      (Item #: dennyquiet_2010) 



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

    This Superb sounding Hot Stamper copy of Quiet Village has a lot in common with the other Bachelor Pad / Exotica titles we've listed over the years, albums by the likes of Esquivel, Dick Schory, Edmundo Ros, Arthur Lyman and others.

    But c'mon, nobody really buys these records for the music (although the music is thoroughly enchanting). It's all about the Tubey Magical Stereoscopic presentation, the wacky 3-D sound effects (of real birds and otherwise) and the heavily percussive arrangements. In all of these areas and more this record does not disappoint.

    More Martin Denny


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    Duke Ellington & Count Basie - The Count Meets the Duke

    Our Shootout Winner from 2018

      (Item #: ellinfirst_2018) 



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

    Huge amounts of three-dimensional space and ambience, and rich Tubey Magic by the boatload - this 30th Street recording shows just how good Columbia's engineers were back then. Quiet throughout - good luck finding a Six Eye Stereo pressing this nice on your own, they sure don't grow on trees.

    More Duke Ellington


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    Ten Years After - Ten Years After

    Reviewed in 2008

      (Item #: tenyetenye_2008) 



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

    I had no idea the band's first album was recorded this well. I expected it to sound something like an old Rolling Stones Decca -- tubey magical but plagued by a fair amount of compression, distortion and limited at both ends of the frequency spectrum.

    More Ten Years After


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    Linda Ronstadt - Silk Purse

    Reviewed in 2010

      (Item #: ronstsilkp_2010) 



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

    We played several copies of this album, and while it's no demo disc by any means, this copy was far and away the best sounding of the group. We can't quite bring ourselves to call it a Hot Stamper. Technically of course it is -- it's a pressing that's superior to all the others we've played -- but as the recording itself has some serious shortcomings we'll just call it a Pretty Good Stamper.

    More Linda Ronstadt


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    Louis Armstrong - I’ve Got The World on a String

    Classic Records Reviewed

      (Item #: armstivego_classic_records) 



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


    Sonic Grade: B (probably)

    I first heard this album on the wonderful Classic Records pressing from the '90s. I remember really enjoying the music and liking the sound of Bernie Grundman's remaster very much. We reviewed and recommended the album (along with Under the Stars) in our old paper catalogs.

    More Louis Armstrong


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    Thelonious Monk - Monk's Dream

    Our Shootout Winner from 2013

      (Item #: monk_monks_dream_2013) 



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

    Full, rich, spacious, BIG and PRESENT, with almost no smear. This is Classic Columbia 360 Label sound from their legendary 30th Street studios.

    You may notice that very few Monk records go up on the site. We do occasionally find copies with Hot Stampers, but most of those sell directly to our best customers. We hope to be putting more up as time goes on. However, finding clean Monk with good sound is not as easy as it sounds (unless you are willing to pay the big bucks). We do have this one to offer, for those of you who prize adventurous jazz.

    See all of our Thelonious Monk albums in stock


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    Thelonious Monk - Monk's Blues

    Our Shootout Winner from 2013

      (Item #: monk_monks_blues_2013) 



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

    WONDERFUL BIG BAND MUSIC, DEMO QUALITY SOUND, and QUIET VINYL! I wish more Blue Note records had this kind of sound -- natural, full-bodied, and sweet up top. The bass here is well-defined with real weight and lots of punch. Monk’s piano sounds correct from the highest notes all the way down to the lower register, and the sax sounds JUST RIGHT -- totally free of the "RVG squawk" we often hear on old Blue Notes. The clarity and transparency are superb throughout.

    More Thelonious Monk


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    Brahms / Sonata in D Minor / Laredo

    Reviewed in 2007

      (Item #: brahmsonat_2414_2007) 



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

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

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

    More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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    Brahms / Piano Concerto #2 - Van Cliburn / Reiner / CSO

    Reviewed in 2005

      (Item #: brahmpc2_2581_2005) 



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

    This White Dog pressing is the best sounding copy I've ever heard, much better than the earlier pressings! The piano doesn''t break up like it does on those, especially in the second movement. Finally the piano sounds right - solid and with the correct overtones. It goes without saying that this is an exceptionally good performance as well. One of the best of the Cliburn recordings.

    More of the music of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)


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    Brahms / Piano Concerto #1 / Curzon / Szell

    Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

      (Item #: brahmpiano_speakers_corner) 



    Sonic Grade: B

    One of the better Speakers Corner Deccas. We haven't played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let's call it a "B" with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back when this record came out, but here it is anyway.

    "One of the best of the Speakers Corner heavy vinyl reissues. As you may know they have gone way downhill lately. Haven't played this LP in a while but I remember liking it quite a bit."

    More of the music of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)


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    Brahms / Piano Concerto #1 / Curzon / Szell

    Reviewed in 2006

      (Item #: brahmpiano_6329_2006) 



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

    This is a Near Mint London Whiteback Import LP with an excellent side one. Side one sounds about as good as this record can sound -- smooth and sweet with a natural top end and plenty of deep bass. Side two is not quite as magical.

    More of the music of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)


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    Brahms / Piano Concerto #2 / Bachauer

    Reviewed in 2012

      (Item #: brahmpiano_2012) 



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

    This original Maroon Label Mercury pressing has big and rich Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, with a a side one that's very nearly as good.

    In fact the piano itself on side one earned a grade of A++ for its amazingly present and real sound. It's the orchestra that's the problem, but that happens quite often with Mercury concerto records in our experience. We're just happy that side two sounds so good and that side one is clearly a big step up from the average copy.

    More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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    Brahms / Violin Concerto In D Major / Stern / Ormandy

    Reviewed in 2009

      (Item #: brahmconce_2009) 



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

    This very nice looking Columbia LP has SUPERB SOUND on side two. The violin is much sweeter than on side one and there's much less distortion during the loud passages. If we were grading this as a Hot Stamper we'd give it about an A+ - A++. And on top of all that, Isaac Stern, never one of my favorite performers, is actually wonderful here. He plays beautifully.

    See all pressings of Johannes Brahms' music in stock


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    Jimmy Witherspoon - Blues For Easy Livers

    Our Shootout Winner from 2012

      (Item #: witheblues_2012) 



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

    Stunningly natural sound on this great Jazz / Blues / Male Vocal album! We've been picking these up when we find 'em clean -- no mean feat, I assure you -- and this copy did just what we were hoping for! This is one of the better sounding Male Vocal LPs to hit our turntable in recent months and I bet the same will hold true for you if you take this copy home. Side one rated A++, side two was even better at A+++ and both sides were even relatively quiet for an old Prestige LP.

    See some of our best sounding Vocal records


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    Julie London - Julie Is Her Name, Vol. 2

    Our Shootout Winner from 2017

      (Item #: londojulie_is_2_2017) 



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

    The notes I took during this shootout lay out just how impressed I was with the sound of this remarkable copy:

    Wide stereo. Big Bass. Swingin'. Just the right amount of reverb. Tonal perfection. The stereo kills the mono (on this album, on the copies we played anyway).

    More Julie London


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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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    Duke Ellington - Interpretations of Peer Gynt & more

    Our Shootout Winner from 2014

      (Item #: ellinselec_2014) 



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

    One of Ellington's most enjoyable classic collaborations with Billy Strayhorn.

    A++, huge, so big it really fills the room from wall to wall, floor to ceiling. Not many records can do that. Clear and hi-rez. It could use more richness -- that alone would earn it another plus.

    More Duke Ellington


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    Duke Ellington - Newport Jazz Festival 1958

    Our Shootout Winner from 2011

      (Item #: ellinnewpo_2011) 



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

    If you are a fan, this record will be a thrill. If you’re unfamiliar with the Duke's music, I can't imagine a better introduction than this.

    This LP also includes Gerry Mulligan's only performance with the Ellington band. Paul Gonsalves' saxophone performance is superb and worth the price of the album alone. The clarinet parts on Princess Blue are out of this world -- Ellington at his best!

    More Duke Ellington


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    Duke Ellington - Masterpieces By Ellington

    Our Shootout Winner from 2018

      (Item #: ellinmaste_2018) 



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

    We've known about this wonderful album for decades, since first got hold of a red label copy from the '70s. Although not in the league with the best 6 eye pressings, even that late reissue had enough Columbia magic left in its grooves to impress the hell out of me.

    And the fact that a jazz album recorded in 1950 was still in print more than twenty years later is testament to the lasting power of Ellington's music. As Kenny Burrell would say, "Ellington Is Forever."

    More Duke Ellington


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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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    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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    Julie London - Julie... At Home

    Our Shootout Winner from 2018

      (Item #: londojulie_at_home_2018) 



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

    If you're a fan of intimate female vocals - the kind without a trace of digital reverb - you should get quite a kick out of Julie... At Home. And unless I miss my guess you'll be the first and only person on your block to own it! (That's not a bad thing considering the average person's taste in music.)

    More Julie London


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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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    Duke Ellington - Yale Concert

    Our Shootout Winner from 2018

      (Item #: ellinyalec_2018) 



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

    There is some interesting mic placement going on with this recording. Some of the instruments seem to be off-mic, creating an unusual effect that has its charms.

    Only one song was actually recorded live, Boola Boola. The rest of the material was taped in the studio and an audience dubbed in.

    More Duke Ellington


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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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    Donny Hathaway - Live

    Our Shootout Winner from 2008

      (Item #: hathalive_2008) 



    A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop 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.

    More Donny Hathaway


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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.
    More Exotica


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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 - The Alternative Wes Montgomery

    Reviewed in 2010

      (Item #: montgalter_2010) 



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

    This very nice looking Milestone Two-Fer LP with EXCELLENT sound has 14 unreleased alternate versions of songs recorded in a variety of settings by guitarist Wes Montgomery during his period with Riverside. In many cases, the versions here are dramatically different from the versions that appear on his original albums.

    More Wes Montgomery


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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.

    More Wes Montgomery


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