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Bloch / Sinfonia Breve / Dorati

Reviewed in 2004

  (Item #: blochsinfo_90288_2004) 



This is a very nice looking Mercury Living Presence LP with decent sound. It's an RFR pressing. Both pieces here are conducted by the Minneapolis Symphony. Also included is Free Variations for Orchestra by Peterson.
More Mercury Recordings


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Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra - Viva Cugat

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: cugatvivac_6003_2011) 



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

This crazy Cugat record (is there any other kind?) is a BALL and has absolutely amazing Demo Disc quality sound on side two, better than Super Hot Stamper quality.

It sounds like Henry Mancini on speed, and the recording quality puts most of Mancini's records to shame to boot. This is Bachelor Pad music for those who like their Bachelor Pad to be FUN!

More Exotica


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Schuller / Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee / Dorati

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: schulseven_2006) 



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

RFR1/ 2. DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND.

This record has the sound that Mercury is famous for: immediate, dynamic and spacious. This record lives up to the Mercury claim: You immediately feel as though you are in the Living Presence of the orchestra.

This is precisely the kind of record that Speakers Corner would not have a clue how to master. I'd stake my reputation on it, for what it's worth.

Classical Commentaries


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Harry Belafonte - Belafonte at Carnegie Hall

Our Shootout Winner from 2019

  (Item #: belafbelaf_2019) 



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

From an audiophile point of view, you get to hear live musicians and all the energy they bring to this music, all on the stage at the same time: strings, brass, percussionists and Harry Belafonte front and center. Tube mics (and not too many of them), a tube tape recorder, RCA's superb engineering and all-tube mastering chain ensure that the "breath of life" is captured intact. I know of no better live popular vocal recording on the planet.

More Harry Belafonte


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The Who - Live at Leeds

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: who__livea_rocks_harder) 



The best copies of Live at Leeds just plain ROCK HARDER than other copies. Yes, they're bigger. Yes, they have more weight and whomp down low. Yes, they are smoother and more natural up top.

But what really sets them apart is their tremendous energy. The music EXPLODES out of the speakers and comes to life on the best copies of Live at Leeds like few records you have ever heard. When we find that kind of power and energy on a record, all other things being equal, we know their stampers are White Hot.

More Live at Leeds


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Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

What to Listen For

  (Item #: john_goodb_choruses) 



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

The richness, sweetness and freedom from artificiality is most obvious where you often hear it on a Pop Rock Big Production like GYBR: in the loudest, densest, most climactic choruses.

We set the playback volume so that the loudest parts of the record are as huge and powerful as they can possibly become without crossing the line into distortion or congestion.

More Goodbye Yellow Brick Road


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The Recordings of Duke Ellington

These Four Didn't Make the Grade

  (Item #: ellington_duke) 



These are just some of the recordings by Duke Ellington that we've auditioned recently and found wanting. Without going into specifics we'll just say these albums suffer from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place in your collection, and may even belong in our Hall of Shame.

A Free Service provided to the Audiophile Public, courtesy of Better Records.

Duke Ellington Albums with Hot Stampers

Duke Ellington Albums We've Reviewed



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Neil Young - Comes A Time

Our Shootout Winning Copy from 2019

  (Item #: youngcomes_2019) 



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

Here's a copy of Comes A Time that actually delivers the kind of Tubey Analog Magic you get from the good pressings of his earlier albums.

This superb Demo Disc has been overlooked by the audiophile press for thirty years. The best sounding Neil Young records -- just look in our Hot Stamper listings to find them -- have Demo Disc sound to beat the band. I defy anyone to play me a better sounding record than Zuma or Gold Rush. Analog doesn't get any more magical.

More Comes a Time / More Neil Young


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Yes - The Yes Album

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: yes__yesal_2018) 



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

Since this is Yes's Masterpiece, not to mention their most well-recorded album, that makes it pretty much a Must Own for anyone who loves their groundbreaking and enormously influential approach to the Extended Form.

More Yes Album / More Yes


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Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: straualsos_mofi) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

Can you believe this bright and phony sounding piece of junk was once on the TAS Super Disc List? Sad, isn't it? At least Harry had the good sense to delete it way back in the '80s, along with all the rest of the awful MoFi's that were on it at the time.

Hey, I sure liked a lot of my MoFi's in the '80s too. Thank god I didn't have my own Super Disc list at the time. It would be every bit as embarrassing as Harry's list is these days, of that you can be sure.

See all of our Classical albums in stock


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Stevie Nicks - Bella Donna

Speculate Shmeculate

  (Item #: nicksbella_speculate) 



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

The sound of the typical copy can best be summed up in three words: thin, hard and bright. When the sound is thin or hard or bright the fun factor of this mainstream drops to zero. Stop Draggin' My Heart Around and Leather And Lace both sound great on the radio, why not on Warners vinyl? We can't blame Sheffield Labs, the original cutting house: all the copies we played -- good, bad and otherwise -- were originals and mastered by them.

See all of our Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac albums in stock


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A Frequently Asked Question

Are all Hot Stampers exceptionally good sounding records?

  (Item #: hot_stampers_faq_good_sounding) 



Not necessarily. What makes a Hot Stamper hot is reasonably good sound. At the very least a Hot Stamper should sound quite a bit better than any other pressing you have heard.

Not every album was well-recorded; the records made from those recordings will display most of the limitations that are baked into the master tape. A good engineer can fix an awful lot of problems in mastering, but, to mix a few metaphors, making a silk purse out of a sow's ear is rarely if ever going to be in the cards.

Straight Answers to Your Hot Stamper Questions


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Set-up Discs, Part Three

Dialing in the Azimuth

  (Item #: setup_azimuth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

The Borodin title you see pictured has DEMO QUALITY SOUND OF THE HIGHEST ORDER!

One of the reasons this record is sounding so good today (1/12/05) is that I spent last weekend adjusting my Triplanar tonearm. The sound was bothering me somewhat, so I decided to start experimenting again with the azimuth adjustment. I changed the azimuth in the smallest increments I could manage, which on this arm are exceedingly small. At some point the bass started to go deeper, dynamics improved, and the overall tonal balance became fuller and richer.

More Set-Up Advice / More Audio Advice


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Set-up Discs, Part One

Start with a Large Scale Orchestral Recording

  (Item #: setup_orchestral_recording) 



Classical music is surely the ultimate test for proper turntable/arm/cartridge set-up. The Liszt recording you see pictured is a superb choice for adjusting tracking weight, VTA, azimuth and the like.

One of the reasons $10,000+ front ends exist is to play large scale, complex, difficult-to-reproduce music such as Liszt’s two piano concertos. You don’t need to spend that kind of money to play this record, but if you choose to, it would surely be the kind of record that can show you the sound your tens of thousands of dollars has paid for.

More Set-Up Advice / More Audio Advice


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Set-up Discs, Part Two

Dialing in the Anti-Skate

  (Item #: setup_anti-skate) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

I once adjusted my anti-skate while playing this very album, at the time dialing it in to a "T". Over the years I've found that the best test for fine anti-skate adjustment is massed strings, and not just at the end of a side but right at the beginning too.

When you have all the rosiny texture, the high-end harmonic extension, the least shrillness and the widest and deepest staging, you are there, assuming that tracking weight, azimuth and VTA are correct as well.

More Set-Up Advice / More Audio Advice


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Ten Years After - A Space In Time

Ranking the Most Tubey Magical Rock Recordings

  (Item #: tenyeaspac_stereo_love) 



A Space in Time is just one of the recordings that made me pursue Big Stereo Systems driving Big Speakers, right from my earliest days in audio. You need large dynamic drivers with plenty of piston area - the kind that can move a lot of air - in order to bring the power of the music to life.

For that you need big drivers in big cabinets, the kind I've been listening to for more than forty five years. (My last small speaker was given the boot around 1974 or so.) To tell you the truth, the Big Sound is the only sound that I enjoy. Nothing less does it for me.

More Ten Years After


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

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: bach_thefo_2010) 



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

[This review was written in 2010. Since then I have played copies of these Crystal Clear organ recordings and been much less impressed. The ambience is a fraction of what it should be, and the reason I know that is that the vintage organ recordings I play have dramatically more size and space than these audiophile pressings do. Live and Learn.]

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

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


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Yes - Close To The Edge

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: yes__close_2018) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that are exceptionally Difficult to Reproduce.

TWO AMAZING SIDES rating Triple Plus (A+++) or close to it! It's not easy to find great sound for this album, but this copy really gets it right. You get plenty of rich Tubey Magic, AND plenty of space and clarity. This is truly one of the best copies we have played in a very long time.

More Close to the Edge


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A Frequently Asked Question

Why don't you give out the stampers of your "Hot Stampers"?

  (Item #: hot_stampers_faq_stampers) 



When it comes to stampers, labels, mastering credits, country of origin and the like, we make a point of rarely revealing any of this information on the site, for a number of good reasons we discuss in some depth HERE.

The idea that the stampers are entirely responsible for the quality of any given record's sound is a MYTH, and a rather convenient one too, once you stop to think about it. Audiophiles, like most everybody else on this planet, want answers. (Continued below.)

Straight Answers to Your Hot Stamper Questions


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The Police - Outlandos d’Amour

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: policoutla_2018) 



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

One of the best copies to hit the site in quite a while - Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides. Few audiophiles (I'm guessing) know how well recorded this album is - you need just the right UK pressing to show you what's really on the tape.

What's amazing about this copy? There are SWEET HIGHS and AMBIENCE that we didn’t think were possible - and it ROCKS! Whatever it's doing, it sure doesn't take a pair of golden ears to hear it.

More Sting / The Police


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Armstrong & Ellington - An Historic Recording Event (1961)

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: armsthisto_2018) 



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

Insanely good sound throughout with both sides rating a shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++).

This pressing is super 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.

More Louis Armstrong / More Duke Ellington


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A Frequently Asked Question

What makes you guys think you know it all?

  (Item #: hot_stampers_faq_know) 



We definitely don’t know it all. In fact nothing could be further from the truth. If we knew it all we couldn't learn anything from the piles and piles of records we listen to every day. With practically every shootout we learn something new about our favorite records. That, more than anything else, is what makes the kind of tedious, time-consuming, mentally exhausting work we do fun.

Case in point: a Columbia Pressing we played not long ago.

Straight Answers to Your Hot Stamper Questions


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Martin Denny - Exotic Percussion

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: dennyexoti_2011) 



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

This Liberty stereo LP has A++ DEMO DISC SOUND on side one, mated to a pretty darn good side two. The sound is very three-dimensional and has a wonderfully extended top end on this copy. The music just JUMPS out of the speakers. Soundstaging and depth are both superb.

Side two is not quite as open and transparent as side one but we still rate it an A+ for sound; it's far far better than the average copy of this record you can find, if you can find a clean one at all. Fans of TUBEY MAGIC, Golden Age Exotica or Bang, Baa-room & Harp should find much to like here.

More Martin Denny


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Martin Denny - A Taste of Honey

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: dennyatast_2010) 



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

This early stereo Liberty label pressing has BETTER than Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, earning a sonic grade of A++ to A+++. This is not just another exercise in Bachelor Pad Exotica; there is some fun, swingin' jazz here. The pianist -- whoever he is, he's uncredited along with the rest of the band -- has real jazz chops and sympathetic sidemen to play with.

The music is indeed excellent but the real thrill of course is to hear the richness and sweetness of a 1962 Tubey Magical pressing such as this one. Folks, as you well know, they don't make 'em like they used to.

More Martin Denny


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A Frequently Asked Question

What if I like the copy I own as much as the Hot Stamper?

  (Item #: hot_stampers_faq_money_back) 



You get your money back, no questions asked.

Even if you actually like our copy better than yours, but don't think the difference in sound quality justifies the price, the same policy applies: you get your money back. If you simply don't like the music or have issues with the recording itself, you get your money back. If the record plays noisier for you than it did for us, you get your money back.

Straight Answers to Your Hot Stamper Questions


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A Frequently Asked Question

How much better will a Hot Stamper sound on my system?

  (Item #: hot_stampers_faq_sound) 



That's a tough question, because it involves two things I can't know: how good your stereo is, and how critically you listen to it. Really, the only way to find out is to try a record or two and see if the sound quality justifies the price to you. Which is why we offer a 100% money back guarantee: the record has to perform to your satisfaction or we give you all your money back.
Straight Answers to Your Hot Stamper Questions


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A Frequently Asked Question

How can your records possibly be worth these prices?

  (Item #: hot_stampers_faq_prices) 



We freely admit that we paid south of thirty bucks each at local stores for many of the records on our site. We pay what the stores charge, and most good rock records are priced from ten to thirty bucks these days.

Unfortunately for us, the price we paid for the records you see on the site is only a small part of the cost of the finished "product." The reality of our business is that it costs almost as much to find a Carly Simon or Gino Vannelli Hot Stamper that sells for a hundred dollars as it does to find a Neil Young or Yes Hot Stamper that sells for five times that.

Straight Answers to Your Hot Stamper Questions


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A Frequently Asked Question

Are Hot Stamper pressings quiet?

  (Item #: hot_stampers_faq_quiet) 



They're about as quiet as vintage LPs ever are. Some surface noise is always going to be audible on an old record. We believe we sell the quietest vintage pressings in the world, but they are certainly not silent. Lately we've been adding this text to our listings to clarify our position on surface noise:

Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any original pressing will play, and since only the right originals have any hope of sounding amazing on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Straight Answers to Your Hot Stamper Questions


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Horace Silver Quintet - Doin’ The Thing

Our Shootout Winner from 2019

  (Item #: silvedoint_2019) 



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

This Minty Blue Note LP has EXCELLENT LIVE JAZZ SOUND! It’s rich, full, and tonally correct from top to bottom. Just listen to the cymbals on the track Doin’ The Thing -- you’ll hear how wonderfully extended the top end is.

"This live set (recorded at the Village Gate) finds pianist/composer Horace Silver and his most acclaimed quintet (the one with trumpeter Blue Mitchell, tenor saxophonist Junior Cook, bassist Gene Taylor and drummer Roy Brooks) stretching out on four selections, including his new song Filthy McNasty... [An] enjoyable and always funky hard bop session."

More Horace Silver


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The Beach Boys - Surf's Up

What to Listen For

  (Item #: beachsurfs_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.

What's magical about The Beach Boys? Their voices of course, what else could it be? It's not a trick question. Any good pressing must sound correct on their voices or it has no practical value whatsoever. A Beach Boys record with bad sound in the midrange -- like most of them -- is to us a worthless record.

When you drop the needle on a copy with gritty, spitty, harsh, shrill vocals, give up and move on. You have a bad pressing and no amount of cleaning or adjusting of the table can ever fix it.

More Beach Boys


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Pablo Jazz

One of Our Favorite Labels for Audiophile Sound Quality

  (Item #: pablo) 



Visit this link to find our in-stock Pablo Jazz albums.

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Oscar Peterson Trio - The Trio - Live From Chicago

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: petertrio_2018) 



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

Peterson really puts on a great show. He's made an awful lot of records during his career and most of them aren't especially noteworthy. This album is clearly an exception to that rule. ("If You Could See Me Now" is another one.)

This pressing was a huge step up from the other copies we played in our recent shootout. This copy has the immediacy that puts you front and center at The London House for a great jazz show. Ray Brown is incredible on the bass here.

More Oscar Peterson


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Talking Heads - Remain In Light

A Tough Title to Play

  (Item #: talkiremai_difficult) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

This is a record that's going to demand a lot from the listener, and we want to make sure that you feel you're up to the challenge. If you don't mind putting in a little hard work, here's a record that will reward your time and effort many times over, and probably teach you a thing or two about tweaking your gear in the process (especially your VTA adjustment, just to pick an obvious area most audiophiles neglect).

More Talking Heads


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The Rolling Stones - Stripped

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: rollistrip_2009) 



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

The best record The Rolling Stones made in the last 20 years! Superb (but very modern) sound.

All tracks recorded in performance at The Paradisco Club, Amsterdman, Holland; The Olympia Theatre, Paris, France; and rehearsals in Tokyo, Japan, Lisbon and Portugal.

More Rolling Stones


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The Rolling Stones - It’s Only Rock N’ Roll

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: rolliitson_2018) 



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

It's Only Rock 'N' Roll is no slouch if you get hold of a good one. It can be a bit gritty and grainy at times, but you gotta believe that's the sound the Stones heard in the booth and were totally cool with. Andy Johns engineered and he's made as many super-tubey, super-rich and super-smooth recordings as anybody this side of Bill Porter.

The Stones didn't want that sound this time around. The Stones wanted this sound.

More Rolling Stones


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The Rolling Stones - Black and Blue

Listen to Billy Preston's Piano

  (Item #: rolliblack_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.

Billy Preston is all over this album on piano and organ and his contribution is crucial to the musical vibe on practically every song. Listen for Billy's full, solid, clear piano sound. When the piano is thin, the mix is thin and that's not the sound you want on a Stones album.

If the piano gets lost, your copy either has a smear problem or a transparency problem. Those are certainly easier to live with -- all the '70s systems I owned were smeary and opaque compared to my system today and I enjoyed the hell out of all of them -- but far from ideal.

More Rolling Stones


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Forgotten Rock and Pop Classics

  (Item #: forgotten_rock_classics) 



The link below will take you to a group of albums that you may not know all that well, but that are long-standing favorites of ours here at Better Records. After selling high quality pressings of rock and pop music for more than 30 years, it is our opinion that these are the albums that have truly stood the test of time.

Depending on your tastes they may very well have the kind of music and sound that would fit well with the rest of your Hot Stamper collection, and provide you with hours of pleasurable listening for many years to come.

They may be mostly forgotten now, but we consider them Rock and Pop Classics.

Take a few home and give them a spin. With our 100% Money Back, No-Questions-Asked Satisfaction Guarantee, what exactly have you got to lose?


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Paul McCartney & Wings - Wild Life

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: mccarwildl_2010) 



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

This Minty Apple British/Domestic 2-Pack has two AMAZING sides on QUIET VINYL! We were not all that familiar with the album going into this shootout, but after spending the day listening to copies like these we found ourselves LOVING IT!

More Paul McCartney


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Chicago - Chicago II

The Poster Boy for Bad Planning in the Studio

  (Item #: chicachica2_bad_planning) 



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

There is one major problem with the sound of this album -- too many overdubs, meaning too many generations of tape on too many instruments. There are easily three and four generations of tape on some of the tracks, probably more, all causing compression and a loss of transient information. When the drums sound like cardboard boxes being hit with wet noodles it's because they recorded them early on and then bounced their tracks down to another track and then bounced that track down to another track until what's left sounds like an cassette tape you made of a song playing on the radio. Yes, it's that bad.

More Chicago


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The Beatles - Beatles For Sale

A Forgotten Rock and Pop Classic

  (Item #: beatlforsa_forgotten) 



The Beatles' Forgotten Rock and Pop Classic.

We had a lot of fun reading The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, which details the band's studio history from 1962 - 1970. In the book, George Martin mentions that he felt this album was a rush job and that he has trouble listening to it to this day. As much respect as we have for The Fifth Beatle, we couldn't disagree more. For Sale is simply wonderful.

As we played copy after copy for our shootout, the more enjoyable these 14 Folk Rock songs became. Repeated listening to track after track only enhanced our appreciation. And as is always the case, stumbling upon the Shootout Winning copy was a thrill that allowed us to hear more in the music than we ever thought possible.

More Beatles For Sale


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

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: manneatthe2_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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Stevie Ray Vaughan - Live Aliave

Our Shootout Winner from 2019

  (Item #: vaughlivea_2019) 



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

We just finished a big shootout for this bluesy live album, and this was one of just a handful of copies that impressed us from start to finish. Most copies we played were thick, murky, overly smooth and/or veiled, but this one almost never suffers in any of those areas. The sound is clean, clear, transparent and lively throughout.

This is one of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s better albums. We've heard reissues on both heavy and regular vinyl, but I guarantee this will KILL them all or your money back.

More Stevie Ray Vaughan


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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - 4 Way Street

What to Listen For

  (Item #: crosb4ways_wtlf) 



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

If the singers get hard and shrill in the louder passages, then what you have is a pretty typical pressing. Add grit and grain, smeared transients, opacity, surface noise and a lack of weight down low and you'll know why it takes us years to find enough copies to shoot out -- because this is what most pressings sound like.

More 4 Way Street / More CSN&Y


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The Rolling Stones - Between The Buttons

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: rollibetwe_2018) 



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

An insanely good pressing with Triple Plus (A+++) sound from first note to last - one of the best copies to hit the site in many years. This is classic '60s Stones sound, courtesy of Dave Hassinger, working in L.A. (RCA) and London (Olympic + Pye). If you're looking for the ideal combination of Tubey Magical richness and transparency, this copy is one of the few that will show it to you.

More Rolling Stones


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Various Artists - The Blues... A Real Summit Meeting

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: varioblues_2017) 



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

This is an excellent sounding Buddah Brown & Pink Label Double LP. Listen to ’Big Mama’ Thorton’s voice on this record -- it sounds like somebody forgot to put a limiter on her mic. It is without a doubt one of the most dynamic vocals I have ever heard on any record in my entire life. You feel like you are sitting front row center. Recorded live at Newport in New York, this is an OUTSTANDING blues album.

More B.B. King / More Muddy Waters


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

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: armstivego_2018) 



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

You may have seen Russell Garcia's name on one of the landmark recordings of the '50s: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong's recording of Porgy and Bess for Verve in the previous year, 1959. Watch for copies coming to the site one of these days.

[One of these days has arrived -- click here to see the results.]

We've discovered some exceptional original and reissue pressings (as well as some that really do a disservice to the music and the engineers who recorded it. What else is new in the world of records?).

More Louis Armstrong


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Sinatra At The Sands on Dahlquist DQ-10s

My Neophyte Mind Is Blown

  (Item #: sinatatthe_progress) 



The story of our latest shootout is what real Progress in Audio is all about.

Back in the early '70s this was actually the album that first introduced me to honest-to-goodness "audiophile" sound.

I was at my local stereo store listening to speakers one day, and the salesman made a comment that the speakers we were listening to (the old Infinity Monitors with the Walsh tweeter) sounded "boxy". I confessed to him that I didn't actually know what that meant or what it would sound like if it weren't boxy.

More Sinatra at the Sands


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Frank Sinatra and Count Basie - Sinatra At The Sands

Mobile Fidelity Reviewed

  (Item #: sinatatthe_mobile_fidelity) 



Sonic Grade: B

Another MoFi LP reviewed.

It's pretty good. Compressed and veiled, but the tonality is correct. I give it a B. It will beat the vast majority of reissues, which tend to be thin, gritty, and woefully lacking in Tubey Magic. And the vinyl will be quiet, which is something not many of the best pressings can offer.

But who wants to listen to a B grade record when we you can buy A and A+ pressings from us?

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Average White Band - Average White Band

Reviewed in 2018

  (Item #: averaavera_2018) 



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

Having done this shootout a number of times since we first discovered a hot sounding copy all the way back in 2007, it's hard to imagine this music sounding any better than this very copy. It's smooth, sweet, airy, open, spacious and ALIVE. The best sounding songs here truly have Master Tape Sound.

We've been playing this record for years, but until finding a very Hot copy back in 2007 we had no idea what a sonic monster it could be. The typical copy tends to be smeary, with sour horns and not very much energy.

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Paul Simon - Graceland

Our Shootout Winner from 2019

  (Item #: simongrace_2019) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and a record that ranks high on our recording ranks high on our Difficulty of Reproduction Scale.

Super transparent and hi-res with no attendant sacrifice in low end or fullness, this is about as tonally balanced as Graceland gets. The top end is more delicate and extended, which was not true for most of the copies we played.

There's a much more pleasant smoothness here, standing in sharp contrast to the typically grainy, spitty copy, with more weight down low and more presence to Simon's vocals.

More Graceland


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Neil Young - Harvest

Our Shootout Winner in 2018

  (Item #: youngharve_2018) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame since 2008.

Let's take a moment to acknowledge the string of superb studio albums Neil released from 1970 to 1976. Just look at these titles: After The Gold Rush, Harvest, On The Beach, Tonight's The Night, and Zuma.

I can't think of anyone else besides Zeppelin (first five titles) and The Beatles (you pick 'em!) who put out this many killer albums consecutively. We consider each of those albums a work of profound creativity, and we can proudly claim to have found copies of each with the sonic credentials to bring these masterpieces to life.

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Christopher Cross - Christopher Cross

Our Shootout Winner from 2019

  (Item #: crosschris_2019) 



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

A KILLER Shootout Winning copy! A+++ on both sides - this is As Good As It Gets for this Monster Album from 1979. This pressing is clearly fuller, bigger, more lively and more Tubey Magical than any other copy we played, and squarely in the best tradition of late-'70s pop productions. This one swept the Grammy awards, with great songs including Sailing, Ride Like The Wind and Never Be The Same - Michael McDonald's gorgeous harmonies are the icing on the cake.

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Neil Young - After the Gold Rush

We Loved This Copy So Much in 2005 We Asked $200 for It

  (Item #: youngafter_2005_) 



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

This is the story of how we discovered our very first killer copy of After the Gold Rush. What a thrill it was to finally hear the album sound so amazing, this after hearing so many mediocre copies over the years. It's records like this that made us eventually put 100% of our resources into finding records that sound like this one -- or better!

This is the way we heard After the Gold Rush in 2005. Embarrassingly, we liked it so much we compared it to the best DCC records we were selling back then, ouch!

More After the Gold Rush


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Rob Wasserman - Duets

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: wasseduets_2018) 



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

This rare and wonderful album from 1988 on the original MCA label offers outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout. In-the-room vocal presence (Jennifer Warnes is stunning on Leonard Cohen's Ballad Of The Runaway Horse) and tight, note-like bass are key to the best pressings.

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A Frequently Asked Question

Aren't Hot Stampers just original pressings?

  (Item #: hot_stampers_faq_original_pressings) 



They certainly can be, but quite often they are not, which shouldn't come as a surprise to any serious record collector, and definitely not to any member of our listening crew. Reissues come out on top in our record shootouts fairly regularly.

Yes, most of the time the original will beat the reissue, but most of the time is far from always, and since we have to play a big pile of copies anyway (and always with the person doing the sound grading kept in the dark about the pressing being auditioned), why not evaluate both the originals and the reissues at the same time, and do so strictly on the merits?

More Straight Answers to Your Hot Stamper Questions


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Love - Love and Forever Changes

Sundazed Debunked

  (Item #: love_love_sundazed) 



Sonic Grade: F

Two Hall of Shame titles, another two Sundazed records debunked.

We got hold of a minty original pressing of the first Love album recently, so in preparation for the commentary I pulled one of the Sundazed pressings off the shelf, (Forever Changes, the only one we ever bothered to sell), cracked it open and threw it on the turntable.

Gag, what a piece of crap. When I had auditioned them all those years ago (2002) it was -- I'm not kidding -- the best of the bunch.

More Love


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Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd - Jazz Samba

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: getz_jazz_samba_2016) 



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

TWO INCREDIBLE SIDES on unusually quiet vinyl! We just finished a big shootout for this great album and this copy was a KNOCKOUT. The sound is rich and full with good size to the soundfield. It's very tough to find good sounding Stan Getz records, so if you're a fan I think you'll be quite impressed with the sonics on this pressing. As for the music, it's top notch; All Music Guide gave it a Five Star rating and we agree wholeheartedly!

More Stan Getz


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Dire Straits - Communique

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: direscommu_2018) 



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

Forget the dubby domestic pressings and whatever crappy Heavy Vinyl record they're making these days - the UK LPs are the only way to fly on Communique. If you're a fan of the band's debut release, you'll find much to like on this underappreciated follow up.

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The Rolling Stones - Some Girls

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: rollisomeg_2018) 



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

This is the Stones' last truly great album. All Music Guide gives it the same 5 star rating that they awarded Beggars Banquet, Let It Bleed, and Sticky Fingers. With hits like Miss You, Shattered, and Beast Of Burden it's easy to see why.

Most copies are too thin and too grainy for serious audiophile listening, but this one is a different story. It's not easy to find great sound for The Stones, so take this one home for a spin if you want to hear this band come to life in your very own listening room.

More Some Girls


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Roy Orbison - Orbisongs

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: orbisorbis_songs_2018) 



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

Excellent sound throughout with Double Plus (A++) or BETTER on both sides. This superb pressing is especially Analog Sounding - lively, warm, with rich bass and breathy, clear vocals. Features one of Orbison's greatest legacies, "Oh, Pretty Woman," in stereo no less, and it sounds incredible here.

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Roy Orbison - Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits

Our Shootout Winner from 2019

  (Item #: orbisgreat_2019) 



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

You'll find oustanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides of this Monument stereo pressing. The amazingly talented Bill Porter recorded many of Orbison's classic songs from the early '60s that are found on this compilation. Only a copy this good shows you how phenominal these timeless songs can sound - rich, open, clear, solid and musical.

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Straight Life  (Item #: peppestrai_2018) 


This Jazz Classic boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound, or close to it, from first note to last. The two long ballads, "September Song" at over ten minutes, and "Nature Boy" at just under ten, give Art and the boys a chance to stretch out and take it to another level.

Art Pepper’s saxophone sound is just right - present, breathy and airy with clear leading edge transients. The lineup on this LP is truly stellar, especially for 1979, with the legendary Tommy Flanagan on piano, Billy Higgins on drums, and the great Red Mitchell on bass.

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Bruch / Scottish Fantasy / Heifetz

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: bruchscott_2603_2012) 



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

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

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

More of the music of Max Bruch


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Cannonball Adderley Quintet - In Chicago

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: adderinchi_speakers_corner) 



Sonic Grade: C? B?

A fairly good Speakers Corner jazz album.

Years ago we wrote the following: "This one has excellent sound (in that left-right jazz of the fifties kind of way)." We can't be sure that we would still feel the same way. My guess is that this is still probably a good record if you can get one the 30 bucks we used to charge for it.

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

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Beethoven / Symphonies 8 & 9 (Choral Symphony) - Giulini

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: beethsym8-9_2005) 



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

SLS 841. Two fairly quiet (for EMI anyway) LPs with BIG SOUND -- the kind of sound this work demands. This is obviously a huge orchestra and chorus. It sure sounds like it anyway. The production is first class all the way. The soloists sound particularly real, surrounded by dozens of other musicians in a big hall. I like the way Giulini plays this as well.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Symphony #7 / Reiner

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: beethsymph7_2011) 



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

This somewhat rare and fairly quiet White Dog pressing has lovely vintage Golden Age sound from 1958, comparable to the sound you hear on many early Londons and RCAs from that era.

On both sides the famous Living Stereo soundstage is wide and deep as usual.

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


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Beethoven - Symphony #9 - Solti

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: beethsym9_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

Bright phony string tone, MoFi's trademark sound for classical recordings. Anyone who has ever attended a concert knows that strings in real life simply do not sound anything like they do on these MoFi records.

The London pressing of this recording is no great shakes either; any pressing should be avoided.

More music by Ludwig van Beethoven


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Stephen Stills - Stephen Stills

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: stillsteph_2018) 



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

Love the One You're With and Sit Yourself Down are to die for, but there's really not a bad track on the album. A triumph of engineering for Bill Halverson and Andy Johns - this and Deja Vu are the very definition of Big Production Rock.

More Stephen Stills


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The Recordings of Oscar Peterson

These Four Didn't Make the Grade

  (Item #: peterson_oscar_2) 



These are just some of the recordings by Oscar Peterson that we've auditioned recently and found wanting. Without going into specifics we'll just say these albums suffer from poor performances, poor sound, or both, and therefore do not deserve a place in your collection, and may even belong in our Hall of Shame.

A Free Service provided to the Audiophile Public, courtesy of Better Records.

Oscar Peterson Albums with Hot Stampers

Oscar Peterson Albums We've Reviewed



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Rod Stewart - Never A Dull Moment

DCC Debunked

  (Item #: stewanever_dcc_) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing on Heavy Vinyl from DCC.

We hadn’t played the DCC in a very long time, so we offered a special guarantee for the Hot Stamper pressing we had listed:

Better than the DCC? Some people think so; without both records side by side I can’t say which I would prefer, but this record sure sounds amazingly good to me. Zero distortion! Music in your room!

More Rod Stewart


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Julie London - Calendar Girl

Our Shootout Winner from 2019

  (Item #: londocalen_2019) 



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

This Julie London 1956 Classic makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last - exceptionally quiet vinyl too. Both of these mono sides have plenty of Tubey Magic - they're fuller, more musical and more natural than most any other copy we played. Julie's voice sounds particularly nice on this copy - intimate, rich and warm, just as the way we like her to sound.

More Julie London


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J.J. Cale - Okie

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: cale_okie_2018) 



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

A killer sounding copy with a stunning Triple Plus (A+++) side one and a solid Double Plus (A++) side two.

Plenty of top notch songs that were later covered by other artists -- I Got The Same Old Blues, Anyway The Wind Blows and Cajun Moon, to name a few. If you're a fan of the low-key bluesy vibe of Troubadour and Naturally, you'll find much to like here.

More J.J. Cale


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J.J. Cale - Naturally

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: cale_natur_2018) 



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

Triple Plus (A+++) sound from the first note to the last and the first copy to ever hit the site! Incredibly big, rich and warm with TONS of tubey magic, a huge bottom end and wonderfully present vocals.

More J.J. Cale


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Carole King - Tapestry

CBS Half-Speed Debunked

  (Item #: king_tapes_cbs_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame Pressing

The CBS Half Speed is ridiculously bright -- can you imagine a worse way to present this intimate music?

The chances of there being Hot Stamper CBS Half-Speed Mastered pressings of Tapestry may be vanishingly small, but we can't say the number is zero. There could be some, but considering how bad an idea Half-Speed Mastering is, would they have much chance of beating our Hot Stampers? As a practical matter I would have to say the chances are zero.

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Earth Wind & Fire - The Best Of EWF, Vol. 1

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: earthbesto_2011) 



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

This original Columbia LP has AMAZING SOUND on BOTH sides. Side one was right up there with the best we have ever heard. Without ten side ones to play there is very little chance you will be able to beat it. Hell, you might need twenty to find a better side one, but since the first track on the album is Got To Get You Into My Life, you might just have a ball doing it.

What a song. And it's not on any other EWF album. Three points to make here: 1) It's from the real master tape; 2) It happens to have DEMO DISC quality sound, which means: 3) You need this record in your collection.

More Earth, Wind & Fire


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Jackson Browne - Jackson Browne

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: brownjacks_2018) 



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

Folks, this is an incredibly difficult album to find in audiophile playing condition. I can’t tell you how many copies we have to go through to find the one or two originals that are even passable, let alone with good sound. We buy them locally and off ebay whenever we see them and most of them go straight back to the seller, covered with scratches and full of groove damage just the way they arrived.

More Jackson Browne


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Jackson Browne - Hold Out

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: brownholdo_2010) 



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

HOT STAMPERS DISCOVERED for Jackson Browne's first Number One album! We just finished our first major shootout for this album and here's a copy that stood head and shoulders above the pack. Most copies we played were too thick, veiled and/or smooth to get excited about, but this one presents the music in a much more enjoyable fashion. Both sides are clean, clear and transparent with the kind of presence to the vocals that the typical pressing lacks.

More Jackson Browne


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Black Sabbath - Paranoid

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: blackparan_2018) 



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

A stunning early WB Green Label pressing with shootout winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish. The first "Triple Triple" copy of Paranoid to hit the site in a long long time -- that's how tough these are to come by! This copy has the kind of energy, presence, and fullness needed to bring the best out of this hard rock / heavy metal classic.

More Black Sabbath


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

  (Item #: itsabitsab_2012) 



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

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

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Andrew Gold - All This and Heaven Too

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: gold_allth_2016) 



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

Superb engineering by Greg Ladanyi (Toto 4, The Pretender, El Rayo-X, demo discs one and all). Contains the monster hit Thank You for Being a Friend. AllMusic gives this one 4 1/2 Stars. It's also the last good album our fab friend made.

More Andrew Gold


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The Who - The Who Sell Out

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: who__who_sell_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: D

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

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

More by The Who


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Dvorak/ Symphony No. 7 / Monteux/ LSO

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: dvorasym7_vics_2010) 



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

This fairly quiet (M-) Plum Label Victrola has LOVELY, SPACIOUS, tonally correct sound. Monteux and LSO are wonderful here, so this one gets a top recommendation from Better Records.

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak


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Julie London - Lonely Girl

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: londolonel_2017) 



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

A Knockout recording of female vocal with guitar: Triple Plus (A+++) on the first side, seriously good Double Plus (A++) on the second. Julie is in the room with you - intimate, breathy and Tubey Magical like practically nothing you've ever heard. For late night listening this is surely one of the best Sultry Female Vocal recordings ever made - you won't believe how real the sound is.

More Julie London


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Julie London - About The Blues

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: londoabout_2018) 



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

Julie's lilting vocals are clear, breathy, Tubey Magical, and sweet, like practically nothing you've ever heard. This copy is about as quiet as we can find these 1957 Turquoise original mono pressings, Mint Minus Minus* throughout.

More Julie London


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Julie London - Julie

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: londojulie_2016) 



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

Stunning Julie London sound! We are constantly picking up Julie London records, whatever we can find, in the hopes that we'll stumble upon one that sounds like this. Usually we aren't so lucky, but man is this one something! If you love jazzy female vocal records, you're going to flip out over this pressing.

More Julie London


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Julie London - Julie Is Her Name

What to Listen For

  (Item #: londojulie_is_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.

On side one listen to how rich the bottom end is on Barney Kessel's guitar. The Tubey Magic on this side is off the charts. Some copies can be dry, but that is clearly not a problem on this one. The naturalness of the presentation puts this album right at the top of best sounding female vocal albums of all time.

More Julie London


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Julie London - Julie Is Her Name

A Boxstar Bomb

  (Item #: londojulie_is_boxstar) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex / Boxstar.

One question: Where's the Tubey Magic?

We would never have pointed you in the direction of this awful Boxstar 45 of Julie Is Her Name, cut by Bernie Grundman, supposedly on tube equipment. I regret to say that we actually sold some copies, but in my defense I can honestly and truthfully claim that we never wrote a single nice thing about the sound of the record. That has to count for something, right?

See all of our Julie London albums in stock


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Julie London - Julie Is Her Name

What a Record!

  (Item #: londojulie_is_2016) 



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

We award this copy's side one our very special Four Plus A++++ grade, which is strictly limited to pressings (really, individual sides of pressings) that take a given recording to a level we've never experienced before and had no idea could even exist. We estimate that about one per cent of the Hot Stamper pressings we come across in our shootouts earn this grade. You can't get much more rare than that.

More Julie London


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Live At The Old Quarter  (Item #: vanzalivea_2018) 


  • Outstanding sound for this original Tomato LP with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on sides two and three and Double Plus (A++) sound on the other two sides
  • Big, full-bodied, clean and clear with a punchy bottom end and a lovely musical quality that's missing from most copies
  • "Van Zandt could work magic in front of an audience under the right circumstances, and while a wealth of live recordings of Van Zandt have emerged since his passing on the first day of 1997, Live at the Old Quarter, Houston, Texas ranks with the very best of his concert albums." - All Music, 4 1/2 Stars
See all of our Townes Van Zandt albums in stock


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Hampton Hawes - Everybody Likes Hampton Hawes

Reviewed in 2013

  (Item #: hawesevery_volume_3_2013) 



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

This hard-to-find '70s Contemporary reissue pressing of the 1956 mono recording has EXCELLENT sound, with both sides earning grades of A+ to A++. We don't run into Hawes' LPs the way we used to, so it was indeed a delight to find enough copies of this album to do a shootout.

Note how correct the sound of the instruments is on both sides. This is the unquestionably the hallmark of any Contemporary recording: correct instrumental timbre.

More Jazz on Contemporary


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Rod Stewart - Never A Dull Moment

British Pressing Debunked

  (Item #: stewanever_brit_2010) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing on the silver and black label Mercury British Import LP.

The domestic pressings are the only way to go on this album and Every Picture Tells a Story. Avoid the imports at any price. They are clearly made from dub tapes.

More Rod Stewart


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Muddy Waters - Folk Singer

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: waterfolks_2018) 



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

Folk Singer is an exceptional live-in-the-studio recording, with some of the best sound Muddy Waters ever managed. This '80s reissue is guaranteed to trounce any heavy vinyl pressing you've heard of it or we'll give you your money back!

This 1963 recording pressed, on '80s vinyl, has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern pressings rarely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing any sign of coming back.

More Muddy Waters


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  • Leonard Cohen - I'm Your Man

    Our Shootout Winner from 2014

      (Item #: cohenimyou_2014) 



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

    This side two demonstrates that it is in fact possible to make a good "modern" recording, and to do so even as late as 1988, although you would need to go through quite a pile of copies to find a side two that sounds like this one.

    The sound is clearly more artificial than The Man's recordings from the '70s, but that is to be expected, unavoidable even. Who could make records in the '80s that sound as good as their records from the '70s? No one leaps to mind.

    More Leonard Cohen


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    Cat Stevens Catch Bull at Four

    Sometimes There Really Is Just One Set of Magic Stampers

      (Item #: stevecatch_stampers) 



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

    As is sometimes the case, there is one and only one set of stamper numbers that consistently wins our Catch Bull At Four shootouts. We stumbled upon an out-of-this-world copy of the right pressing about two years ago, a copy took the recording to a level we had no idea could even be possible. (We were going to give it Four Pluses, and probably should have, but cooler heads prevailed.)

    More Catch Bull at Four / More Cat Stevens


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    Canned Heat - Canned Heat

    Our Shootout Winner from 2019

      (Item #: cannecanne_2019) 



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

    The sound is present, lively and tonally correct, with rich, Tubey Magical vocals that are only found on these good vintage pressings. These "authentic renderings" of blues covers include classics such as Muddy Waters' Rollin' and Tumblin' and Robert Johnson's Dust My Broom.

    More Canned Heat


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    Frank Sinatra - Swing Aong with Me

    Our Shootout Winner from 2014

      (Item #: sinatswing_along_2014) 



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

    Of the five records Sinatra released in 1961 (Sinatra's Swingin' Session!!!; Come Swing with Me!; Ring-a-Ding-Ding!; Swing Along with Me; and I Remember Tommy), this is clearly one of our favorites. (And by the way, what's with all the exclamation marks?)

    BILLY MAY deserves much of the credit for the "swing" that's all over the album. His band is jumpin', and on the best pressings -- such as this one -- the sound manages to convey that energy with virtually none of the grit and hardness you hear on so many of Sinatra's other albums.

    More Sinatra


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    Super Hot Stamper

    Lionel Richie
    Can't Slow Down

      (Item #: richicants_2019) 


    • An outstanding copy of Richie's second solo studio album, with solid Double Plus (A++) very ANALOG sound from start to finish - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
    • Rich, smooth and natural, the sound here is guaranteed to please - recall that the 12" of All Night Long was on the TAS List back in the day (and yes, I used to sell it!)
    • 4 1/2 stars: "In 1999, Q magazine included Can't Slow Down on its list of the best Motown records of all time and stated, "Production values are high, his songwriting craft is at its peak and at least one track - the global smash 'All Night Long' - is an anthem to good times that makes the heart sing and feet twitch.""
    See all of our Lionel Richie albums in stock


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    Sarah Vaughan - At The Blue Note

    Our Shootout Winner from 2018

      (Item #: vaughatthe_2019) 



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

    A superb sounding copy with top quality sound throughout. This album has the same track listing as the rare ten-inch 'The Divine Sarah Sings' but with a few extra tracks included.

    More Sarah Vaughan


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    Rachmaninoff / Three Symphonies / Waart

    Reviewed in 2005

      (Item #: rachmthree_2005) 



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

    Three Minty looking Philips Import LPs with EXCELLENT SOUND!

    The sound is dark and rich. You may prefer it as I do to the famous Previn performances on EMI, which have that mid-hall, vague ’70s EMI sound. It never appealed to me.

    The performances are excellent as well. The second symphony belongs in any serious collection and you get a very good one in this box set. This set includes Rachmaninoff's Symphonies 1-3 and 'The Rock,' Op. 7.

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


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    Jacques Loussier - Jacques Loussier Plays J.S. Bach Encore

    Our Shootout Winner from 2010

      (Item #: loussjsbac_2010) 



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

    This is a Brand New, Unplayed Japanese 45 RPM Audiocheck Pressing with DEMO DISC quality sound! This is absolutely one of the best sounding jazz records we have ever played here at Better Records!

    For those of you who are not familiar with the Audiocheck 45 RPM series from Japan, these are albums remastered at 45 with some material left off by necessity, since the maximum for each side is closer to 12 minutes than the standard LP limit of 20 minutes.


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