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1958

A Great Year for Top Quality Recordings of Timeless Music

  (Item #: 1958) 



When you look closely at all the great records that were released that year -- some of which can even be purchased as Hot Stampers on this very site -- you may come to agree with us that 1958 was a wonderful year for music.

Click HERE to see the records currently on the site that were recorded or released in 1958.

And HERE to see the records from 1958 that we've reviewed, a substantially larger group as you can imagine, more than 100 in fact.


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Cannonball Adderley - Somethin’ Else

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: addersomet_2013) 



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

A+++ SOUND, giving you a KILLER copy of one of the most beloved Blue Note albums ever! The music here is stunning -- as I'm sure most of you know, this is as much a showcase for Miles Davis as it is for Cannonball himself -- but the good news for audiophiles is that it's also one of the BEST SOUNDING BLUE NOTE ALBUMS we know of! When you hear it on a copy like this, it's just about As Good As It Gets.

More Cannonball Adderley / More Miles Davis


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Cannonball Adderley - Somethin’ Else

Classic Records Reviewed

  (Item #: addersomet_classic) 



Sonic Grade: C

Another Classic Records LP reviewed.

There are certainly some incredible sounding original pressings of this album out there, but who has the resources it takes to find one? Most of the original Blue Notes we come across these days turn out to have mediocre sound, and many of them have severely damaged inner grooves. Even the mintiest looking copies often turn out to be too noisy for most audiophiles, Blue Note vinyl being what it is.

More Cannonball Adderley / More Miles Davis


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Cannonball Adderley - Somethin’ Else

Rudy Van Gelder Outdoes Himself

  (Item #: addersomet_setting_the_record) 



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

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

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

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

More Cannonball Adderley / More Miles Davis


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Albeniz / Falla / Granados / Spain / Reiner

Reviewed in 2013

  (Item #: albenspain_2230) 



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

Spain has been an audiophile favorite for a very long time. Everybody should know it by now, what with both Chesky and Classic Records remastering it in the '90s, dismally of course, as neither of these companies showed the slightest sense that they understood how lackluster, if not downright awful, the products of their efforts turned out. No doubt Analogue Productions will see fit to ruin the recording the way they ruined Scheherazade.

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz


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Chet Baker - It Could Happen To You

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: bakerchetb_2010) 



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

This is a very nice looking RARE original Riverside LP. Side one has good sound but side two really shows you how WONDERFUL this record is. The sound on side two is rich, full and transparent with lots of tubey magic. Hard to imagine it could get much better.

More Chet Baker


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Count Basie - Basie Plays Hefti

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: basieplays_2015) 



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

This is the followup to the smash Basie album The Atomic Mr. Basie, an album we would love to make available if we could ever find a clean, good sounding copy to play.

Side one is rich, tubey and lively, right up there with some of the best pressings we played.

Side two tends to start out a bit hot but by the second track it's fuller, smoother, and every bit as dynamic as anything on the album. The sound just keeps getting better from there, with the next track coming across especially big and clear.

More Count Basie


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Count Basie - Basie Plays Hefti

Original Versus Reissue

  (Item #: basieplays_versus) 



The original pressings are the best, right?

Not in our experience. It's (probably) just another Record Myth.

Basie was recording like a madman back in the late '50s and even all through the '60s. In 1958, the year of this release, he put out seven (7!) albums on the Roulette label. We've played quite a number of them over the years and found relatively few with audiophile quality sound.

Including the original Roulette pressing of this very title. We've only heard a few, and had only one for our shootout, but it was awful enough to make us swear off buying more, especially considering the prices vintage jazz albums are going for these days.

More Count Basie


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Beethoven / Concerto No. 4 / Rubinstein / Krips

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: beethconce_2123_2011) 



This Super Hot Stamper pressing has superb RCA Living Stereo sound, with an exceptionally clear, solid, tonally correct piano.

We recently did a major shootout for all of Beethoven's Piano Concertos, pulling pressings from the three major Golden Age labels -- RCA, London, Mercury -- and this Fourth came out near the top of the heap. Most pressings of Rubinstein's Beethoven concertos simply do not have this kind of open, big and bold sound. Side one earned a grade of A++ and side two was actually a bit better at A++ to A+++. That makes this a very special piano recording indeed.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven - Symphony #6 / Monteux

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: beethsym6_2316_2005) 



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

1S/ 6S Immaculate looking RCA Shaded Dog.

This is a lovely sounding record, with a smooth, natural top end, the opposite of a hi-fi spectacular. Some may find it dull, but it's actually correct.

Monteux has a wonderful feel for this symphony. His Beethoven in general is actually quite good. This music belongs in any serious collection. String tone is everything in the Pastoral, and Living Stereo gives you the string tone rarely found elsewhere.

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


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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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Harry Belafonte - Sings The Blues

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: belafsings_2016) 



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

If you're looking to demonstrate just how good 1958 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy may be just the record for you.

Naturally the vocals have to be the main focus on a Harry Belafonte record. He should sound rich and tubey, yet clear, breathy and transparent. To qualify as a Hot Stamper the pressings we offer must be highly resolving, not crude and ambience-challenged the way so many modern LPs seem to be. You should be able to hear every element of the recording, with the voice and instruments surrounded by the natural space of the studios in which the recording was made.

More Harry Belafonte


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Luiz Bonfa - Amor!: The Fabulous Guitar of Luiz Bonfa

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: bonfaamor_2005) 



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

Atlantic Black Label LP with lovely sound! This is a famously rare and collectible jazz record by the amazing Brazilian guitarist Luiz Bonfa.

1958, the year this record was made, was a very good year for quality recordings of all types of music.

Click here to see the records currently on the site that were recorded or released in 1958 and here to see the records from 1958 that we've reviewed, a substantially larger group as you can imagine, more than 100 in fact.


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Borodin / Symphonies 2 & 3 / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: borodsymph_6126_0712) 



This White Hot Stamper pressing has DEMO QUALITY sound of the HIGHEST ORDER on fairly quiet vinyl no less. We've long considered the album one of the greatest of all the Decca / London recordings, but this pressing takes the sound beyond even our high expectations.

There is simply nothing in the sound to fault. Where is the slightly dry and midrangy quality in the upper strings that so many Londons from this era suffer from? It's nowhere to be found on this side one. And it's not as though our stereo was hiding that quality, because some of it creeps into the sound on this very side two (which is why it earned a slightly lower grade of A++).

More of the Best Recordings Made in Victoria Hall


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Borodin / Symphonies 2 & 3 / Ansermet

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: borodsymph_6126_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: C?

A decent Speakers Corner Decca.

The Speakers Corner heavy vinyl reissue of this title is not bad, but like all reissues it lacks the weight found on this original. I remember it being a little flat and bright. I haven't played it in years so I could easily be wrong. The glorious sound I hear on the best pressings is not the kind of thing I hear on 180 gram records by Speakers Corner, or anybody else for that matter.

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

More of the Best Recordings Made in Victoria Hall


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Brahms / Piano Concerto No. 2 / Gilels / Reiner

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: brahmpiano2_2010) 



This is one of the pressings we’ve discovered with Reversed Polarity.

This Very Nice Plum Label Victrola has excellent sound -- sweet and spacious -- but only if you reverse your absolute phase. The vinyl is quiet and, most importantly, this is arguably the greatest performance of all time. The LSC might be a tad better overall; they're so darn rare it's hard to know.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms / Variations And Fugue On A Theme By Handel / Katchen

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: brahmvaria_6158_2008) 



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

Near Mint copy with excellent sound! Superb piano tone for these solo pieces and very quiet vinyl add up to a wonderful listening experience. This surprisingly quiet British vinyl is going to be hard to beat by other Golden Age labels. (Finding solo piano recordings on RCA or Mercury from this era that play quietly is practically impossible.)

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms / Violin Concerto / Heifetz / Reiner

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: brahmvioli_1903_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

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

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

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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Brahms Violin Concerto

Is the 1s Pressing Always the Best?

  (Item #: brahmvioli_1903_myth) 



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

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

More recordings featuring the violin


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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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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

The Amazing Sounding Mono Copy We Played in 2005

  (Item #: cartejazzg_2005) 



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

This Contemporary Yellow Label Mono LP has DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND! If you like the sound of Contemporary Records, you won’t find a better example than this! Midrange magic doesn’t get anymore magical. I don’t care who remasters this record, I don't think they can do it as well as it was done in 1958.

I haven't heard the new 45 RPM version, but I seriously doubt that it sounds like this. It wouldn't be done on vintage tube cutting equipment, and that sound is the sound we love here at Better Records.

More Benny Carter


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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: cartejazzg_2011) 



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

HUGE DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! This Contemporary LP sounds AMAZING -- it has a wide and open soundfield that really allows you to hear into the music. Drop the needle on track three (Carter’s Own ’A Walkin’ Thing’) to hear these guys really swinging! The sound is so natural, and it really jumps out of the speakers. This knocked our original Stereo Records pressing out of the ballpark -- it wasn't even close.

More Benny Carter


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Benny Carter - Jazz Giant

Analogue Productions Debunked

  (Item #: cartejazzg_ap_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Pressing and another Analogue Productions LP debunked.

You may remember that Acoustic Sounds did a version back in the '90s, which was a complete disaster. I haven't heard the new 45 RPM version, but I seriously doubt that it sounds like this. We have yet to hear a single Heavy Vinyl 45 that sounds any good to us, judged by the standards we set in our shootouts. (Actually the records themselves set the standards; we simply grade them on the curve they establish.)

More Benny Carter


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Chopin / In Stereophonic Sound / Reubart

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: chopiinste_2012) 



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

This is SUPERB piano recording, with some of the most natural solo piano reproduction we have ever heard. The sound here is so clear and distortion-free you will think you are playing a direct to disc recording, or perhaps a master tape.

More of the music of Chopin


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Chopin and Delibes / Les Sylphides / Maag / PCO

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: chopilessy_2005) 



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

A dynamic and excellent pressing. This record has lovely string tone. Lots of tubey magic. Not one of the rarest Londons, but certainly one of the most enjoyable.

[This is a very old commentary so take it for what it's worth.]

More of the music of Frederic Chopin


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June Christy - Gone For The Day

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: chrisgonef_2010) 



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

Side two of this White Hot Stamper June Christy record on the original Capitol Turquoise label is AMAZING, both musically and sonically. It has all the TUBEY MAGIC we know these old records are famous for, but this copy gives you something you may never have heard on a vintage pressing before: real frequency EXTENSION, both high and low. Who knew an old record could have extended highs like these and such deep bass?

I can honestly say I have never heard any June Christy record sound as good as this copy does.

More June Christy


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June Christy - June’s Got Rhythm

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: chrisjunes_2013) 



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

This Super Hot Stamper original stereo Capitol LP from 1958 has SUPERB SOUND on both sides and some of the best June Christy music we've ever had the pleasure to play. Just listen to the piano on Gypsy In My Soul; it’s rich, warm and full-bodied. You’ll never hear an RVG recording with a piano that sounds like that. On side two drop the needle on Easy Living to get a taste of some of Capitol's luscious Tubey Magical midrange.

Musically this album is right up there with the best we know, the creme de la creme of female vocal recordings, albums on the level of Clap Hands and Something Cool and Lady in Satin.

More June Christy


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June Christy - This Is June Christy

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: christhisi_2016) 



This wonderful recording from 1958 is a distinguished member of the Better Records Popular Hall of Fame.

It's very rare that a Shootout Winning copy of a June Christy album from the late '50s would have vinyl this quiet. Can't recall the last time that happened, or if it ever has.

Both sides of this '50s 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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Classic Records

First Three Classical Releases
Debunked

  (Item #: classic_180_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame Pressings, Every One

I’m reminded of the nonsense I read in TAS and elsewhere in the mid-’90s regarding the reputed superiority of the Classic Records Living Stereo reissues. After playing their first three titles: 1806, 1817 and 2222 (if memory serves), I could find no resemblance between the reviews I read and the actual sound of the records I played. The sound was, in a word, awful. To this day I consider them to be the Single Worst Reissue Series in the History of the World.


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Nat King Cole - Just One Of Those Things

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: cole_justo_2008) 



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

ONE OF THE MOST TUBEY MAGICAL MALE VOCAL RECORDS WE’VE EVER HAD THE PLEASURE OF PLAYING! We shot this out against similar copies, earlier pressings, and a 180g reissue, and nothing was quite in a league with this. Turn up the volume, turn down the lights, and let Nat serenade you from right between your speakers -- he'll be IN THE ROOM with you!

More Nat "King" Cole


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Nat King Cole - The Very Thought Of You

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: cole_veryt_2016) 



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

The presence and immediacy here of Nat King Cole's vocals are '50s Capitol Recording Magic at its best. Set the volume right and Nat is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. The selection of material and the contributions of all involved are hard to fault.

More Nat "King" Cole / More Albums Arranged by Gordon Jenkins


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John Coltrane - Lush Life

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: coltrlushl_2016) 



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

We've been searching for years trying to find just what kind of Lush Life pressing -- what era, what label, what stampers, mono or stereo, import or domestic -- had the potential for good sound.

No, scratch that. We should have said excellent sound. Exceptional sound. We've played plenty of copies that sounded pretty good, even very good, but exceptional? A pressing of that caliber had eluded us -- until 2016.

More John Coltrane


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John Coltrane - Lush Life

DCC and OJC Reviewed

  (Item #: coltrlushl_dcc) 



Sonic Grade: B or so (DCC)
Sonic Grade: C or so (OJC)

The DCC heavy vinyl pressing is a nice record; I remember liking it back in the day. I'm guessing it's a bit better than the '80s OJC, which is, like most OJC pressings, typically thin and hard. Neither one of them can hold a candle to the pressings we offer on the site. If for some reason we could not find copies of the album that substantially beat the sound of either of these two remastered LPs, we simply would not have anything to offer, since neither of these versions could be considered Hot Stampers. Nice records, sure, but Hot Stampers? Not a chance.

More John Coltrane


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John Coltrane - Standard Coltrane

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: coltrstand_2015) 



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

As you may have guessed by now, remastered is a bit of a dirty word around these parts. Most remastered records we play, from The Beatles to John Coltrane to ZZ Top, sound to us like pale imitations of the real thing, whether the real thing is an original or a reissue from back in the day.

But only a fool could fail to appreciate how correct and lively the best copies of this remastered record sound, and we're no fools here at Better Records. We judge records by one and only one criterion: how they sound. We pay no mind to labels, record thicknesses, playback speeds, mastering speeds or anything else you can read about on audiophile websites.

More John Coltrane


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John Coltrane - The Stardust Session

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: coltrstard_2016) 



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

Superb sound quality courtesy of Rudy van Gelder (1958) and the brilliant mastering of David Turner (1972). The combination of old and new works wonders on this title as you will surely hear for yourself on these incredibly Hot sides.

We were impressed with the fact that these pressings excel in so many areas of reproduction. What was odd about it -- odd to most audiophiles but not necessarily to us -- was just how rich and Tubey Magical the reissue can be on the right pressing.

More John Coltrane


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Copland / Billy the Kid / Morton Gould

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: coplabilly_2011) 



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

Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides, with side one so energetic and exciting it would easily qualify as a Demo Disc. This title is almost impossible to find in anything but beat up condition. Records like these got played over and over and few survived the ten grams of stylus pressure and mis-aligned cartridges of the day.

More of the music of Aaron Copland (1900-1990)


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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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Doris Day - Hooray For Hollywood

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: day__hoora_2011) 



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

This fairly rare, fairly clean Six Eye Columbia original Stereo pressing has TWO SUPERB sounding sides, each earning our Super Hot stamper sonic grade. Frank DeVol did the orchestral arrangements, and it sounds like he let Miss Day have some of the same ones he'd done for Sinatra. Don't mess with success, right?

The vintage Columbia sound is overflowing with Tubey Magic -- it's about as Big and Rich as it gets! If you don't mind some heavy-handed reverb, the kind found on practically every vintage Tony Bennett and Nat King Cole record ever made, you will find much to like here.

More Pop Vocal recordings


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Debussy / Iberia - Reiner

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: debusiberi_2222_2005) 



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

This is a wonderful sounding Shaded Dog pressing. Side two is especially dynamic.

This has long been considered one of the Living Stereo triumphs. The spaciousness and tonal correctness is legendary.

This copy does not have the prodigious bass of some that I've heard. The Classic reissue has plenty of deep bass, but it's shrill and hard and altogether unpleasant, so the better bass comes at a steep price.

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Debussy - Iberia (Images Pour Orchestra)

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: debusiberi_2222_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

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

More of the music of Claude Debussy


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Delibes / Coppelia / Ansermet

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: delibcoppe_2201_2010) 



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

Very good sound from the Master Ballet Conductor, Ernest Ansermet, with only a few slightly bright passages marring an otherwise wonderful recording.

More of the music of Leo Delibes (1836-1891)


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Delibes / Coppelia / Ansermet

A Superb Mono Pressing

  (Item #: delibcoppe_9027) 



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

DEMO QUALITY SOUND for this early London Mono pressing.

Side one of this record sounds incredible! The sound is absolutely top notch. Check out the brass -- it has the solid weight of the real thing. [This is a very old commentary so take it for what it's worth.]

More of the music of Leo Delibes (1836-1891)


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Martin Denny - Exotica

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: dennyexoti_1211_1) 



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

This second label very quiet Liberty Stereo LP has at least Super Hot Stamper EXOTIC SOUND on both sides, with a side two that may be White Hot. It's hard to know for sure whether side two can get any better than this -- it's pretty darn amazing, some of the most Magically Delicious sound we played in our recent shootout.

Recorded in 1958, you can imagine there is a healthy amount of Tubey Magical richness and sweetness, although this second label copy seems to be cut a bit more cleanly and correctly than some of the first label Denny records we auditioned. The tonality is dead on the money, a quality that the most tubey recordings rarely exhibit; they can easily get overly lush and appear murky.

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Martin Denny - Exotica: Vol. 2

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: dennyexoti_1401s) 



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

This Liberty '60s Label Stereo LP has Hot Stamper EXOTIC SOUND on both sides. The cover says it's The Ultimate in Transistorized Stereophonic Hi-Fidelity Sound, but I hear an awful lot of Tubey Magical richness and sweetness. The tonality is actually right on the money, a quality that the heavily tubey recordings rarely exhibit: they can easily get overly lush and turn murky.

More Exotica


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Martin Denny - Forbidden Island

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: dennyforbi_fame) 



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

This original looking Liberty Black Label Stereo LP has White Hot Stamper WONDERFULLY EXOTIC SOUND. This copy is so super spacious and sweet it's positively dripping with ambience. It’s EXACTLY the kind of sound you expect from Denny and his Island bandmates.

More Martin Denny


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Martin Denny - Primitiva

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: dennyprimi_1111_1) 



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

This original looking and fairly quiet Liberty Black Label Stereo LP has Super Hot Stamper EXOTIC SOUND on both sides. The cover says it's The Ultimate in Transistorized Stereophonic Hi-Fidelity Sound, but I hear an awful lot of Tubey Magical richness and sweetness -- maybe not quite as much as some of the best early Denny recordings, but plenty nevertheless. The tonality is actually dead on the money, a quality that the most tubey recordings rarely exhibit; they can easily get overly lush and turn murky.

More Martin Denny


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Duke Ellington - Ellington Indigos

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: ellinindig_2008) 



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

AMAZINGLY TUBEY MAGICAL SOUND for this album of romantic jazz ballads. We just finished a shootout for this album and this Six Eye pressing was the winner in a landslide. The overall sound is richer, wamer, and fuller than any other. The brass is breathy with the proper amount of bite; the trumpets sound particularly good. We played about ten copies of this album this week and didn't hear any with the kind of life and energy on BOTH sides of this record. The transparency is amazing and you won't believe all the DEPTH to the soundfield -- you can really hear INTO the music.

More Duke Ellington


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Duke Ellington - Ellington Indigos

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: ellinindig_2018) 



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

This 6-Eye Stereo pressing blew us away with its superbly well recorded romantic big band jazz, of which Ellington was a master. Both sides of this pressing are huge, rich, tubey and clear. This is absolutely the right sound for this music. A near-perfect demonstration of just how good 1958 All Tube Analog sound can be - no modern record can hold a candle to a pressing as good as this one. If you like your jazz ballads performed with deep feeling, by a road-tested group of virtuoso players, this record is for you.

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's 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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Esquivel - 4 Corners Of The World

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: esquifourc_2011) 



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

This RCA Living Stereo LP has an A+ to A++ side two. The sound is three-dimensional and transparent, but could use a bit more top. This album tends to have a bit of variation from track to track, but this one gets more right than most. Side one, unfortunately, is not quite up to Hot Stamper status.

More Exotica


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Falla / El Retablo de Maese Pedro / Argenta

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: fallaelret_6028_2007) 



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

DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND!

The Falla work here is demonstration quality. It's the reason people love this record. This LP is incredibly rare, especially in NM condition.

More of the music of Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)


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Falla / Three-Cornered Hat / Argenta (CS 6050)

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: fallathree_6050_2010) 



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

Falla's Three-Cornered Hat is positively WONDERFUL on this copy (A++), and the Sinfonia Sevillana by Turina on side two is every bit as good! The second suite on side one is particularly lovely -- check out how rich and full the sound is. Side two has a HUGE soundstage, as wide as they come. The sound is very rich and full of audiophile colors -- this is the kind of record that you're going to love playing for your audio pals!

More of the music of Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)


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Falla / Three-Cornered Hat / Argenta (CS 6050)

This Copy Sure Was a Letdown

  (Item #: fallathree_cs_6050) 



Sonic Grade: F

This London original pressing with 1K/1K stampers was so bright, dry, and shrill I could hardly stand to listen to it for more than the half a minute it took to realize it was not going to get any better. It's bad enough to go right into our Hall of Shame.

The copy we had back in 2010 was a very good sounding record. You can read all about it below.

More of the music of Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)


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Fiedler / Boston Tea Party

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: fiedlbosto_2213_2010) 



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

This original Shaded Dog pressing has EXCELLENT SOUND AND QUIET VINYL ON SIDE TWO, where you'll find a wonderful rendition of Hernando's Hideaway! The sound is excellent -- lively, full-bodied and super three-dimensional. Check out how great the castanets sound!

Side one is nothing special and a bit noisy in the right channel, so we're really only charging you for the strong side two. Hernando's Hideaway is really worth the price of admission alone, you'll see! As I'm sure you know by now, Fiedler on this sort of material is very hard to beat.

More Living Stereo


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Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Swings Lightly

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: fitzgella_swings_lightly_2017) 



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

Exceptionally lovely All Tube sound from 1958, with a huge, rich orchestra conducted by our man, Marty Paich. Grammy Award for Best Improvised Jazz Solo - these were the days when Ella was on top of the world.

More Ella Fitzgerald


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Ella Fitzgerald - Sings The Irving Berlin Song Book

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: fitzgirvin) 


This is a very nice looking Verve Strobe Label Double LP. The quality of the sound changes here not only from side to side but from track to track. We dropped the needle on various songs on each side and side three had the best sounding songs we heard. Every side had some great sounding songs, some with tubey magic and breathy vocals. How About Me and Cheek to Cheek on side two sound particularly good.
More Ella Fitzgerald


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Gilbert and Sullivan / Pirates of Penzance

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: gilbepirat_lon_2009) 



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

EXCELLENT sound on EVERY side, which means it is truly a Demo Disc. On virtually every side it has the kind of rich, sweet Decca/London sound over which we audiophiles have been known to drool. It's nothing short of AMAZING on the White Hot side -- so lively, rich and HUGE. This is a Top London pressing in every way.

And it just so happens that such superb sonics are found on a lowly budget reissue, the Jubilee London label, pressed in Holland no less! Thank goodness we don't judge records either by their labels, their country of manufacture or their pressing era.

More Gilbert & Sullivan


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Grieg / Peer Gynt / Fjeldstad

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: griegpeer_6049_2011) 



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

One of the greatest records in the London catalog. As you may have read elsewhere on the site, the Londons to me have the best overall sound of any Golden Age label. As good as RCA and Mercury were, the Londons are more consistently sweet, tonally correct, dynamic and natural sounding. This is a perfect example.

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


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Grieg / Peer Gynt / Fjeldstad

Not Sounding So Good This Time Around

  (Item #: griegpeer_6049_2016) 



Sonic Grade: F

The originals we played in our recent shootout were bad enough to go right into our Hall of Shame.

We've loved the Blueback pressings in the past. This time, not so much -- too crude and opaque with jello for bass.

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


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

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: griegpeerg_rca_2013) 



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

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

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

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


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Grieg / Peer Gynt / Fjeldstad / LSO

Speakers Corner Reviewed / VTA Advice

  (Item #: griegpeerg_speakers_corner) 



Sonic Grade: C+

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

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

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


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Grieg / Peer Gynt / Fjeldstad / LSO

Our Shootout Winner from 2005

  (Item #: griegpeerg_sts_2005) 



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

This is overall the best sounding pressing of the Fjeldstad / LSO we have ever played, with BETTER than Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides. For those of you who know your Londons, when you see the label on this LP you will no doubt be shocked: This is the last pressing in the world that one would expect to sound good.

Of course we here at Better Records don't give a sh*t about any such conventional wisdom / collector bias. We like audiophile quality sound and we don't give a damn where we find it. Up against the competition this copy was superb in practically every way, excelling with orchestral size, weight and energy like virtually no other.

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Hampton Hawes - Four!

Our Shootout Winner from 2019

  (Item #: hawesfour_2019) 



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

Four! finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with stellar Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from first note to last. The timbre of the instruments in this brilliant jazz quartet is so spot-on it makes all the hard work and money you've put into your stereo more than pay off. Roy DuNann engineered some of the best sounding records we have ever heard - here's a textbook example of what the audiophiles at Contemporary were able to achieve in the studio.

More Hampton Hawes


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Ted Heath - Swings In High Stereo

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: heathswing_2010) 



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

This Super Hot Stamper has DEMO QUALITY SOUND. Just listen to Heath's arrangement of My Funny Valentine on side one, or Big Ben, the second track on side two, for audiophile Big Band sound. Many consider Ted Heath's early London recordings to be some of the best big band ever recorded. The American big bands rarely got the kind of sound that the Decca engineers were able to achieve on records like this. For one thing they didn't have Kingsway Hall, Kenneth Wilkinson or the Decca "Tree."

See all of our Large Jazz Ensemble albums in stock


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The Hi-Lo’s - And All That Jazz

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: hilosandal_2012) 



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

This Columbia Six-Eye LP has TWO STUNNING SIDES, easily the best we heard in our entire shootout! This is a superb recording, and a copy like this is a true Demo Disc. The vocals are perfection, and every instrument sounds correct and REAL here, with the transparency and clarity to put you right there with the players.

More Pop & Jazz Vocal LPs


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Billie Holiday - All Or Nothing At All

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: holidallor_2018) 



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

A KILLER sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from start to finish, on quiet vinyl to boot. This is one of the best sounding Billie Holiday records we have ever heard - it's even a clear step up from the originals we had on hand. This 2 LP set features most of the tracks from the original release plus another handful of recordings from the same period (1955-1956)

More Billie Holiday


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Billie Holiday - Lady In Satin

Balancing the Vocal, Strings and Rhythm

  (Item #: holidladyi_2016) 



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.

The better copies reproduce clearly what to our minds are the three most important elements in the recording -- strings, rhythm, and vocal -- and, more importantly, the are reproduced properly balanced with one another.

The monos, as you might expect, balance the three elements well enough, but the problem with mono is that the vocals and instruments are jammed together in the center of the soundfield, layered atop one another.

More Billie Holiday


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Billie Holiday - Songs for Distingue Lovers

Classic Records Reviewed

  (Item #: holidsongs_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: B?

Probably a fairly good Classic Records jazz album.

Back in the day we noted that: "This is one of the best Billie Holiday records around" and we stand by that statement.

By the way, we have never had a Hot Stamper pressing of the album on the site because we simply cannot find enough clean copies with which to do a shootout!

For thirty bucks the price of this Heavy Vinyl pressing has to be seen as a bargain.

More Billie Holiday


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Hovhaness / Sym. #4 / Giannini #3 / Eastman Wind Ensemble

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: hovhasym4_2016) 



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

These symphonies for winds are an audiophile delight. Mercury is famous for their wind band recordings and this is clearly one of their best.

The idea of a symphony performed only by wind instruments (with added harp and percussion) is novel, to me anyway, and I found the music nothing short of enchanting. One of the first wind recordings I fell in love with decades and decades ago was British Band Classics on Mercury with the EWO under Fennell. Whenever a copy comes in I play it and fall in love with it all over again. You may feel the same about this very record.


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Eartha Kitt - St. Louis Blues

Reviewed in 2016

  (Item #: kitt_stlou_2016) 



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

Don't expect to see another copy of this album on the site any time soon. Pressings of this album are extremely rare in any condition, and this one not only sounds great but plays surprisingly well for RCA in 1958.

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you're looking to demonstrate just how good 1958 All Tube Analog sound can be, this killer copy may be just the record for you!

More Living Stereo


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Michel Legrand - Legrand Jazz

Our Mono Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: legralegra_2007) 



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

This original Six Eye Mono Hot Stamper is THE NEW ALL-TIME CHAMPION LEGRAND JAZZ! It has a LIFE and IMMEDIACY that is not usually found on any pressing of this album -- mono or stereo. It’s the kind of difference that can be heard from another room.

More Michel Legrand


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Michel Legrand - Legrand Jazz

Our Stereo Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: legralegra_2017) 



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

This album is more common in mono than stereo, but we found the sound of the mono pressing we played seriously wanting. It's dramatically smaller and more squawky and crude than even the worst of the stereo pressings we played.

We had a copy we liked years ago but that was years ago. We don't have that copy anymore and we don't have a stereo that sounds the way our old one did either. Here are some other records that we don't think sound very good in MONO.

More Michel Legrand


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What We Listen For:

Brass Timbre and Tonality

  (Item #: legralegra_listen) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

This 2005 commentary discusses how easy it is to be fooled by tweaks that seem to offer more transparency and detail at the expense of weight and heft. It took the brass on this album to set me straight.

More Michel Legrand


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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, 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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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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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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Mahler / Symphony #2 / Walter

Never Heard One with Good Sound

  (Item #: mahlesymp2_M2S601_2011) 



This is a Minty looking Columbia 6 Eye stereo LP with No Sign of Play (NSOP). The sound is not very good however.
More of the music of Gustav Mahler


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Massenet - Le Cid Ballet & Meyerbeer - Les Patineurs

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: masselecid_2021) 



Sonic Grade: B

Finally a version of Le Cid that we can enjoy! Superb sound with a performance to match! No more suffering through the hi-fi-ish Doug Sax/ Acoustic Sounds rebutchering of the Fremaux on Klavier.

Audiophiles in droves bought into that one, apparently not noticing the overblown bass and spark-spark-sparkling top end. Thankfully we now have this Decca from Speakers Corner to demonstrate proper orchestral balance.

If your system needs boosted bass and highs keep the Klavier. If it doesn’t this Decca will allow you to forget about the sound and enjoy this lovely music.

More of the music of Jules Massenet (1842-1912)


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Massenet / Le Cid / Martinon

This Blueback Was Awful

  (Item #: masselecid_6058) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing. Don't buy into that record collecting / audiophile canard that the originals are always better.

The original Blueback pressing -- true, we only had the one, so take it for what it's worth -- was a complete disaster: shrill, with no top or bottom to speak of.

See more of Massenet's music


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Mendelssohn and Bruch / Violin Concertos / Ricci / Gamba

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: mendevioli_6010_2011) 



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

One of the great London violin concerto records. With a Super Hot Stamper copy such as this one, the Mendelssohn here has DEMO QUALITY SOUND!

In Ruggiero Ricci's hands both works are nothing short of magical (although the Bruch never sounds especially good in our experience). If you want to know why people drool over Golden Age recordings, listen to the violin on side one. If you're not careful you may find yourself drooling too.

More London Classical Records


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Gerry Mulligan - The Gerry Mulligan Songbook Vol. 1

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: mulligerry) 



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

This original COLLECTOR QUALITY World Pacific Jazz LP has VERY GOOD sound and is EXCEPTIONALLY QUIET. Zoot Sims, Al Cohen, Lee Konitz and Allan Eager all play on this record. A pretty hot lineup if I do say so!

More Gerry Mulligan


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Big Speakers, Loud Levels and More Power to the Orchestra

  (Item #: mussopictu_6177) 



The darker brass instruments like tubas, trombones and french horns are superb here. Other Golden Age recordings of the work, as enjoyable as they may be in other respects, do not recreate the full weight of the brass, probably because of compression, limiting, tube smear, or some combination of the three.

The brass on this record has a power like no other. It's also tonally correct. It's not agressive. It's not irritating. It's just immediate and powerful the way the real thing is when you hear it live. That's what really caught my ear when I first played Ansermet's recording.

More Pictures at an Exhibition


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Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: mussopictu_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

The shrillness, the hardness, the sourness, the loss of texture to the strings, the phony boosted deep bass -- this is the kind of sound that makes my skin crawl. After a minute or two I’ve had it. And the performance is dreadful as well.

HP put this on his TAS List? Yes he did!

More Pictures at an Exhibition


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Mussorgsky on Vinyl

Three that Didn't Make the Grade

  (Item #: Mussorgsky) 



These are just some of the recordings of the music of Mussorgsky that we've auditioned 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 on our site, in your collection, and may even belong in our Hall of Shame.

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

Hot Stamper Pressings of Mussorgsky's Music

Pressings of Mussorgsky's Music We've Reviewed



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Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne / Fiedler

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: offengaite_1817_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: F

Another Classic Records LP found wanting.

The last time I played the Classic I thought it was a smeary mess, as awful as their awful Scheherazade (both shamefully on the TAS List as I recall). If I were to play it today I'm guessing it would join the other Classic Records entries in our Hall of Shame.

I love Fiedler's performance and the 1954 two track RCA Living Stereo sound but finding an original Shaded Dog pressing in clean condition under $500 with the right stampers (something above 10 as a rule) is all but impossible nowadays.

More of the music of Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)


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Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne / Fiedler

Our Shootout Winner from 2004

  (Item #: offengaite_2004) 



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

Hot Stamper Copy! 11S/ 10S are the best stampers for this amazing DEMONSTRATION QUALITY record!

M-/ E+++. Side 1 plays nearly NM without a pop! Side 2 opens with a half inch scratch. But think about it -- isn't one side about the right amount for this kind of music? Do you really need to play side 2 after hearing side 1? This copy gives you a good portion of the music with AMAZINGLY GOOD SOUND.

More of the music of Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)


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Perez Prado - Prez

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: pradoprez_2013) 



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

This AMAZING sounding White Hot Stamper copy of Prez has a lot in common with the other Living Stereo / Exotica titles we've listed over the years, albums by the likes of Henry Mancini, Esquivel, Arthur Lyman, Dick Schory, Edmundo Ros, Ted Heath, Martin Denny and a handful of others. Talk about making your speakers disappear, these records can do it!

1958 - It Was a Very Good Year


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Perez Prado (and Better Records)

Implore You to Turn Up the Volume

  (Item #: pradoprez_volume) 



Another in the long list of recordings that sounds its best when you Turn Up Your Volume.

Tube smear is common to most pressings from the late '50s, and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least amount of smear, or none, yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich. Full sound is especially critical to the horns: any blare, leanness or squawk ruins much of the fun, certainly at the loud levels the record should be playing at.

More Living Stereo


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Rachmaninoff / Concerto #2 - Rubenstein/ Reiner

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: rachmcon2_2068) 



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

This is the earlier pressing, which stretches the Rachmaninoff piece over both sides of the record, resulting in a more dynamic pressing. The sound is tonally right on the money with the superb, rich, sweetly textured strings we have come to expect from RCA in this period. The piano has exquisite tone as well. This is a lovely, lyrical piece of music and the natural sound conveys the qualities of the work perfectly.

More Living Stereo


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Ravel / Concerto in G / Munch

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: ravelconce_fame) 



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

This is a wonderful sounding performance of Ravel's Piano Concerto, originally available on Shaded Dog (LSC 2271) and overflowing with Tubey Magical Living Stereo sound from 1958. The Victrola here is from 1964, and may or may not sound better than the average original RCA pressing. LSC 2271 is not a record we run into every day, so comparisons would be speculative to say the least.

What we can tell you is that our Victrola here is big, spacious, transparent and clear, with dead-on tonality throughout.

More of the music of Maurice Ravel


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Ravel / Rachmaninoff / The Reiner Sound / Reiner / CSO

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: ravelreine_2183_2010) 



Wow, the first nice Reiner Sound on Shaded Dog to make it to our site. Why? Because the few copies we've run across that looked decent enough to clean and play were just too noisy to enjoy. Not many copies have survived the bad turntables of their day with all their top end and inner grooves intact, but we're proud to say that this one has!

This former TAS List record really surprised us on two counts. First, you will not believe how DYNAMIC the recording is. Of all the classical recordings we've played lately I would have to say this is THE MOST DYNAMIC of them all.

More of the music of Maurice Ravel


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Ravel / Rachmaninoff / The Reiner Sound / Reiner

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: ravelreine_2183_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

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

More of the music of Maurice Ravel


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Rimsky-Korsakov - The Tale of Tsar Saltan

Speakers Corner Reviewed

  (Item #: rimsktaleo_speakers_corner) 



Sonic Grade: C

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

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

See more of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov in stock


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Sonny Rollins - Alternate Takes

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: rollialter_2015) 



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

An absolutely killer pressing of one of our favorite jazz albums! The album is comprised of alternate takes from the Way Out West and Sonny Rollins and the Contemporary Leaders sessions, and as such there is a bit of sonic variation between these tracks and the ones on the actual albums. The best-sounding songs here, particularly the material from Way Out West, sound amazing!

More Sonny Rollins


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Sonny Rollins - Brass / Trio

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: rollibrass_2013) 



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

Both sides sound WONDERFUL on this Verve T-Label pressing, including the Big Band side which almost never sounds good! We've played a number of these over the years and we're almost always let down by side one. Not on this copy! The sound is full-bodied and correct, not veiled and reserved as they tend to be. However, it's the Trio side where this copy really shines -- the sound is KILLER, earning out top grade of A+++. It's super clean and clear yet very tubey and warm. There's a ton of energy and the bass is superb.

More Sonny Rollins


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Sonny Rollins - Sonny Rollins & the Contemporary Leaders

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: rolliconte_2013) 



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

SUPERB SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! This Contemporary Green Label LP has THE BIG SOUND -- rich and so full-bodied with amazing presence and immediacy. The bass is PERFECTION -- deep, rock solid, and note-like. There’s lots of extension on the top end, letting Shelley Manne's fantastic work on the cymbals really come to life. The clarity on this copy is superb -- just listen to those leading edge transients on Sonny's sax. The guitar has the tubey qualities that we love here at Better Records -- it's warm, rich, and sweet with lots of ambience.

More Sonny Rollins


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Rossini-Respighi / La Boutique Fantasque / Solti

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: rossilabou_1010) 



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

This London Mono Radio Promotion Copy is a stunner! DEMO QUALITY SOUND!

They even knew it back then -- it was given the Hi-Fi Record Of The Month award! This orchestration and the sound of this music is ideal for audiophile listening.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice that closes out side two has slightly better sound by the way -- it's quite good!

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


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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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Saint-Saens - Piano Concerto No. 2

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: saintconce_2234_2011) 



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

Harry Pearson put this recording on his TAS List of Super Disc LPs, and with good reason -- the sound is wonderfully relaxed and natural. This is no Hi-Fi Spectacular, as is the case with so many of the records on his list. (Hey, we like our Demo Discs every bit as much as he does; just not the same ones. SR 90006 and LSC 2225 on Classic? Really?)

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens


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