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White Hot Stamper

Miles Davis
Someday My Prince Will Come

  (Item #: davissomed_1808_) 

Our Price: $499.99

  • A KILLER copy of this Davis classic, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • Our Hot Stamper Six Eye Stereo pressing is Tubey Magical, full-bodied and high-rez, not to mention uncannily present - Miles is in the room with you
  • Another engineering triumph for Fred Plaut at Columbia's legendary 30th Street Studios - the man is a genius
  • Musically this is one of our very favorite Miles albums - the sound is Demo Disc Quality on the copies that sound the way this one does
See all of our Miles Davis albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra
Swing Along With Me

  (Item #: sinatswing_1808_1) 

Our Price: $399.99

  • A stunning sounding copy with Triple Pus (A+++) sound on the first side and Double Plus (A++) on the second
  • Incredibly big, rich and dynamic with all of the Tubey Magic that's missing from the average copy
  • These are very tough to come by in anything but beat condition, let alone with this kind of sound!
  • "Twelve of the most uninhibited Sinatra things ever recorded!"
See all of our Frank Sinatra albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Ella Fitzgerald
Sings the Harold Arlen Song Book #2

  (Item #: fitzgarlen_1803_1806) 

Our Price: $249.99
Sale Price: $199.00 (You save $50.99 / 20%)


  • This stereo pressing of the Harold Arlen Song Book earned excellent Double Plus (A++) grades, or close to it, on both sides
  • Only the second copy to hit the site in two years, Ella is especially rich, Tubey Magical and breathy throughout
  • Check out all the great songs here: Come Rain Or Come Shine, It's Only A Paper Moon, One For My Baby, Get Happy, I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues, Over The Rainbow, and more
  • 5 Stars: "Of all of her Songbooks, the Harold Arlen and Duke Ellington sets are the most jazz-oriented."
See all of our Ella Fitzgerald albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Ellington-Basie
First Time - The Count Meets the Duke

  (Item #: ellinfirst_1805_1808) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • Two stunning Double to Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sides both coming in just shy of our shootout winner
  • Huge amounts of three-dimensional space and ambience, and Tubey Magic by the boatload - this 30th Street recording shows just how good Columbia's engineers were back then
  • Fairly quiet throughout - good luck finding a Six Eye Stereo pressing this nice on your own, they sure don't grow on trees
  • "... a very successful and surprisingly uncrowded encounter... Ellington and Basie both play piano (their interaction with each other is wonderful) and the arrangements allowed the stars from both bands to take turns soloing." - 4 1/2 Stars
Ellington / Basie


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Super Hot Stamper

Miles Davis
Someday My Prince Will Come

  (Item #: davissomed_1807x) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • An outstanding copy of this Davis classic, close to the best we heard all day, with nearly Triple Plus grades (A++ to A+++) on both sides
  • This original Six Eye Stereo pressing is Tubey Magical, full-bodied and high-rez, not to mention uncannily present - Miles is in the room with you
  • Another engineering triumph for Fred Plaut at Columbia's legendary 30th Street Studios - the man is a genius
  • Musically this is one of our very favorite Miles albums and the sound is Demo Disc Quality on the best copies
See all of our Miles Davis albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra
Swing Along With Me

  (Item #: sinatswing_1808_2) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • Superb sound throughout with each side rating a solid Double Plus (A++)
  • Both sides here are rich, smooth and full-bodied with most of the Tubey Magic that's missing from the average copy
  • These are very tough to come by in anything but beat condition, let alone with this kind of sound!
  • "Twelve of the most uninhibited Sinatra things ever recorded!"
See all of our Frank Sinatra albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Ray Charles & Betty Carter
Ray Charles & Betty Carter

  (Item #: charlraych_1803_1808) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on this vintage stereo pressing - it's the first truly Hot Stamper to EVER hit the site
  • This 1961 release showcases two of the most soulful singers to ever share a microphone, both at the height of their powers
  • Includes the still-popular "Baby It's Cold Outside" (no one has ever recorded it quite like these two), People Will Say We're In Love, Side By Side, and many more
  • 4 stars: "There is certainly a powerful, often sexy rapport between the two -- Charles in his sweet balladeering mode, Carter with her uniquely keening, drifting high register -- and they definitely create sparks in the justly famous rendition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside.""
More Ray Charles


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Super Hot Stamper

Ray Charles & Milt Jackson
Soul Meeting

  (Item #: charlsoulm_1802_1806) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • Excellent sound for this meeting of Ray Charles and Milt Jackson with Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • The overall sound here is big, full and Tubey Magical with a nice bottom end and plenty of energy
  • About as quiet as the come -- Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • One jazz icon and one giant of American music combine on this seminal album from 1961
See all of our Ray Charles albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Cannonball Adderley and His Orchestra
African Waltz

  (Item #: adderafric_1805_1808) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • This copy of Cannonball's crazy-fun 1961 album offers outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or better
  • ALIVE with musical energy, there's also plenty of space for the players to occupy, a quality vital to this big group's big sound
  • "The surging, compelling, thoroughly earthy sound of this orchestra, led by CANNONBALL ADDERLEY and including as impressive a roster of jazz stars as has ever been assembled, has already been responsible for a major breakthrough on the musical front... In March of 1961, the issuance on a 45-rpm single record of the rip-snorting Adderley performance of African Waltz caused a swift and totally unlooked-for upheaval. Quickly and enthusiastically accepted by a wide public, it leaped almost overnight into the bestseller category."
More Cannonball Adderley


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Super Hot Stamper

Gene Ammons
The Gene Ammons Story: Gentle Jug

  (Item #: ammongenea_1804_1808) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • Superb Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish for this Moodsville Classic - on fairly quiet vinyl too!
  • These two killer Rudy Van Gelder recordings capture the truly wonderful sound of Ammons' smooth, rich, breathy, bluesy sax
  • We love the reverb RVG placed on the drums here - it's sounds just right for a classic jazz album from the '60s
  • "...the tradition of the tenor ballad was fully defined by Gene Ammons and Ben Webster... this [album] is the source of a tradition. One of the absolute necessities to any jazz collection."
See all of our Gene Ammons albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

John Coltrane
My Favorite Things

  (Item #: coltrmyfav_1804_1806) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • You'll find excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this 1961 Coltrane classic
  • You'll also find dramatically more richness, fullness and presence than most copies have to offer
  • An exceptionally difficult album to find with top quality sound and decent surfaces, but here one is!
  • 5 stars: "The unforced, practically casual soloing styles of the assembled quartet allow for tastefully executed passages a la the Miles Davis Quintet, a trait Coltrane no doubt honed during his tenure in that band."
See all of our John Coltrane albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Oliver Nelson
The Blues and the Abstract Truth

  (Item #: nelsoblues_1804_1806) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • Oliver Nelson's masterpiece returns to the site with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • Clean, clear and present with a solid bass foundation, as well as the big stage this many musicians need
  • If all you know is Van Gelder's original cutting, you will surely learn a thing or two from this wonderful Hot Stamper
  • Allmusic calls this album "...his triumph as a musician for the aspects of not only defining the sound of an era... but on this recording, assembling one of the most potent modern jazz sextets ever." 5 Stars (of course)
See all of our Oliver Nelson albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Dave Brubeck Quartet
Time Further Out

  (Item #: brubetimef_1808) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this 360 label stereo copy was one of the better pressings we played in our recent shootout - it's on quiet vinyl too
  • These early sides are incredibly tubey - rich, full-bodied and warm - yet clear, lively and dynamic
  • This copy demonstrates the big-as-life Fred Plaut Columbia Sound at its best - better even than Time Out(!)
  • "Brubeck treats the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth tunes in corresponding meters, to particular effect on the 7/4 hoedown of "Unsquare Dance," the 8/8 barrelhouse changes of "Bru's Boogie Woogie" and the engaging dissonances of his 9/8 mood piece "Blue Shadows in the Street.""
See more of our Dave Brubeck albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra
I Remember Tommy

  (Item #: sinatireme_1802_1808) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This is one of the best sounding Sinatra records we have ever played - this early pressing offers the critical listener outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
  • We were shocked to hear how good the originals can sound on this album, and just as shocked to hear other copies that can actually beat the best of them
  • The richness of these heavy-on-the-brass Tubey Magical Reprise pressings makes them the clear choice for sonics (if you have the right stampers)
  • 100% of Amazon reviewers rate this one Four Stars or better, with 77% giving the album Five Stars!
See all of our Frank Sinatra albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Mel Torme
Swings Shubert Alley

  (Item #: tormeswing_1802_1806) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Both sides of this Mel Torme vintage masterpiece boast Double Plus (A++) grades and play fairly quietly
  • One of our all-time favorite Male Vocal albums that's just mindblowing on a copy like this
  • Big and spacious with amazing richness and warmth, this is Vocal Demo Disc like few others
  • 5 stars: "The overall mood... is unrestrained enthusiasm, and it makes for an excellent record."
See all of our Mel Torme albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Milt Jackson & John Coltrane
Bags & Trane

  (Item #: jacksbagsa_1804_1808) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • You'll find outstanding sound on this vintage stereo pressing, with both sides rating a solid Double Plus (A++)
  • One of Tom Dowd's many excellent recordings of John Coltrane at the height of his powers - the sound is to die for
  • Relatively quiet for a vintage jazz album such as this - Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • 5 stars: "Vibraphonist Milt Jackson and tenor saxophonist John Coltrane make for a surprisingly complementary team on this 1959 studio session, their only joint recording."
More Milt Jackson / More John Coltrane


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Super Hot Stamper

Red Garland Trio
Bright And Breezy

  (Item #: garlabrigh_1805) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This 1961 recording by Ray Fowler is RICH and REAL like you will not believe, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout
  • Both sides are Tubey Magical, rich, open, spacious and tonally correct, as well as exceptionally dynamic
  • This record has excellent sound and some of the best music we have ever heard on Red Garland's albums
  • "Pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Art Taylor were in the midst of a long tenure with Miles Davis and stayed busy in studios backing one horn player after another. The unit's simpatico refinement never wavers in doubt. They were made for each other, honed in night-after-night performances in a variety of settings."
See all of our Red Garland albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Ben Webster
The Warm Moods

  (Item #: webstwarmm_1802_1806) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • This Ben Webster and Strings 2 pack boasts excellent Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • With a wonderful combination of material, performance, and sonics, this is an album you'll want to play again and again
  • The sound is rich, warm and full-bodied, with you-are-there immediacy and impressive dynamics
  • If your collection could use some romantic jazz ballads, look no further -- this is the album for you
See all of our Ben Webster albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra
Come Swing With Me!

  (Item #: sinatcomes_1802_1805) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • This 1961 original Capitol stereo pressing boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides
  • On this early pressing you'll hear Billy May's arrangements - just brass, no strings or winds - blasting behind Sinatra like never before
  • This was Sinatra's final swing session with Capitol and on a pressing as good as this one you can tell he and the band are having a blast
  • Allmusic: "...his intense, speedy energy gives the album an edge that distinguishes the record... it [has] enough genuine gems to make it necessary."
See all of our Frank Sinatra albums in stock


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Hot Stamper

Ben Webster
The Warm Moods

  (Item #: webstwarmm_1801_1807) 

Our Price: $99.99
Sale Price: $79.00 (You save $20.99 / 21%)


  • A very good copy of this great jazz "plus strings" album starring our man Ben Webster, with Hot Stamper sound on both sides
  • Calm, relaxed jazz performed expertly by Webster and backed by a small orchestra, capably conducted by Johnny Richards
  • With a wonderful combination of material, performance, and sonics, this is a record you'll want to play again and again
  • If your collection could use some romantic jazz ballads, look no further, this is the album for you
See all of our Ben Webster albums in stock


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Hot Stamper

Ella Fitzgerald
Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie!

  (Item #: fitzgclaph_1803_2) 

Our Price: $99.99
Sale Price: $69.00 (You save $30.99 / 31%)


  • This early stereo pressing is excellent from first note to last, earning Hot Stamper grades for its lovely sound
  • Both sides are rich, smooth and dynamic with lovely, breathy vocals and plenty of Tubey Magic
  • Our single favorite female vocal album here at Better Records, Ella's small group masterpiece
  • "After the lush orchestrations of her classic series of composer songbooks, which found her collaborating with the best arrangers, the intimate scale and easy interplay of a crack band provide a wonderful platform for the spirited performances here."
See all of our Ella Fitzgerald albums in stock


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Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra
All The Way

  (Item #: sinatallth_1801) 

Our Price: $89.99
Sale Price: $69.00 (You save $20.99 / 23%)


  • This vintage '60s Capitol pressing boasts Hot Stamper sound from first note to last and reasonably quiet vinyl
  • This group of singles and B-sides was recorded from 1957 to 1960 and contain some of Sinatra's better-known songs arranged by Nelson Riddle
  • As you can well imagine, finding clean, scratch-free '60s Sinatra records like this one, in stereo no less, is no walk in the park
See all of our Frank Sinatra albums in stock


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Hot Stamper

Dave Brubeck Quartet
Time Further Out

  (Item #: brubetimef_1801_2) 

Our Price: $69.99

  • You'll find very good Hot Stamper sound on both sides of this copy - a favorite of ours from Brubeck's legendary quartet
  • More varied and, in our opinion, even more musically interesting than Time Out
  • This recording demonstrates the big-as-life Fred Plaut Columbia Sound at its best
  • "Brubeck treats the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth tunes in corresponding meters, to particular effect on the 7/4 hoedown of "Unsquare Dance," the 8/8 barrelhouse changes of "Bru's Boogie Woogie" and the engaging dissonances of his 9/8 mood piece "Blue Shadows in the Street.""
See more of our Dave Brubeck albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Chet Atkins
The Most Popular Guitar

  (Item #: atkinmostp_1710x) 

Our Price: $69.99

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this was one of the better copies we played in our recent shootout
  • Bill Porter working in his custom Nashville studio sure knows how to make an amazing Living Stereo recording
  • If you're looking to demonstrate just how good 1961 All Tube Analog sound can be, this copy is just the record that can do it
  • The soundstage, depth, and height of this spacious recording are as huge and three-dimensional as any you've heard
See all of our Chet Atkins albums in stock


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1961

Is There a Better Year for Top Quality Recordings of Timeless Music?

  (Item #: 1961) 



The short answer is not that we know of. When you look closely at all the great records that were released that year -- some of which can even be purchased in Hot Stamper form -- you may come to agree with us that there is no better year for music on record than 1961.

Click HERE to see the records currently on the site that were recorded in 1961.

And HERE to see the records from 1961 that we've reviewed, a substantially larger group as you can imagine.



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Adam / Giselle / Fistoulari

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: adam_gisel_2011) 



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

Remastered by Philips from a Golden Age Classical Recording by Mercury, originally released in 1961.

This Mercury Golden Import 2 LP set has VERY GOOD sound. The average copy tends to be a bit dark and recessed, but this one is refreshingly free from those problems. It's not quite up to Hot Stamper status, but it is a very enjoyable record!

More Mercury Recordings


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Barney Kessel - Workin' Out

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: kesseworki_2013) 



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

This is a 2-pack set of original pressings that gives you wonderful sound for both sides of this great Contemporary album, A++ for the first and A+++ for the second. There is a catch, however, one that won't bother some of you at all but will drive a few of you crazy: the side one pressing is in mono and the side two is in stereo. All that mattered to us was that they both sounded great, and a quick flip to the not-so-hot side of either pressing will quickly show you why we paired these up.

More Barney Kessel


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Beethoven & Kodaly / Serenade & Duo / Heifetz, Piatigorsky

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: beethseren_2550_2013) 



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

This wonderfully quiet (for the most part) Shaded Dog pressing has EXCEPTIONALLY good sound for side two, which is where the Kodaly Duo for Violin and Cello can be found. Rarely have I heard these two instruments sound better than they do here. With a sonic grade of A++ to A+++, you can be sure the sound is right up there with the best of the classical recordings we have to offer.

The Beethoven on side one has many good qualities as well, but the acoustic in which it is performed is not nearly as good as that of this side two.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / ’Kreutzer’ Sonata

Putting Your System to the (Violin and Piano) Test

  (Item #: beethkreut_2577_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating this kind of recording.

Do you want a recording that is going to put your system to the test? Well this is that record! That violin is REAL. As you compare equipment or tweak your system, you will hear the sound of that violin change and it should be obvious when it gets better and when it gets worse.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Beethoven / Kreutzer Sonata / Heifetz / Rubinstein

Cisco Debunked

  (Item #: beethkreut_cisco_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex.

The Cisco pressing of LSC 2577 is not acceptable on any level. There is no violinist in front of you when you play their record. There is someone back behind your speakers under a thick blanket, and his violin sure doesn't sound very much like a real violin -- no rosiny texture, no harmonics, no real body. I am proud to say we rejected the record when it was released and never carried it. (The Cisco Peer Gynt was every bit as bad.)

More recordings featuring the violin


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Beethoven / Piano Concerto No.1 / Richter / Munch

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: beethpiano_2544_2012) 



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

As you may know, this is a ridiculously difficult Shaded Dog to find in clean condition. Its companion, the Brahms disc with Richter (LSC 2466), is ten times more common and not half as good.

This pressing has the real Living Stereo magic in spades, but unlike most of the RCA concerto recordings, Richter, the brilliant soloist featured here, is not overly spotlighted, hence the much more natural "concert hall" sound.

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


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Beethoven, Bach, Schubert / Heifetz, Primrose, Piatigorsky

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: beethtrios_2563_2013) 



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

This Red Seal pressing of the famous 1961 recording (LSC 2563) has SUBLIME White Hot Stamper sound for one of the works contained herein, the Schubert. It's so rich and sweet you may have a hard time believing it's on a Red Seal LP. The originals we've played over the years sure never sounded like this! Perhaps it's the thin vinyl that contributed to the shockingly good sound. Maybe, just maybe, RCA was right to start pressing thinner records in the '70s. If they can sound this good, we should all be for it.

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


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Beethoven, Bach, Schubert / Trios / Heifetz, Primrose, Piatigorsky

On the Red Seal Label?

  (Item #: beethtrios_reissue) 



So often when we do these shootouts involving original pressings up against their reissue counterparts, it's the reissues that sound rich, warm and tubey, and the originals that sound dry and boxy. If you haven't noticed that in your own critical listening, play this record against any shaded dog that you own and see which one is more Tubey Magical.

If you have your VTA set right, you might be shocked to find it's this one. Don't get us wrong; lots of these later RCA pressings are awful: thin, often with no top end at all. Flat transfers perhaps? Who is to say?

More Living Stereo


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Beethoven/ ’Kreutzer’ Sonata & Bach/ Concerto... / Heifetz

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: beethkreut_2577_2009) 



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

This beautiful 1S/1S first pressing in excellent condition has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND -- on both sides!

This is the kind of record on which the RCA reputation is based. They're not kidding -- this is truly LIVING STEREO SOUND at its best.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Ben Webster - The Warm Moods

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: webstwarmm_2014) 



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

Amazing sound and wonderful music on this lovely Ben Webster and Strings album recorded in 1961! I don't think you could find a better sounding album of this kind of music. This is calm, relaxed jazz performed expertly by Webster backed by a small orchestra capably conducted by Johnny Richards.

More Ben Webster


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Benny Carter - Further Definitions

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: cartefurth_2009) 


This is an original Minty looking Impulse LP. What I played of this album sounded nice and smooth. There may be livelier copies out there -- I just don’t come acoss enough clean ones to know what the potential for this album is. I prefer smooth to aggressive, that’s for sure. Top players on this album include Coleman Hawkins, Philly Jo Jones, Phil Woods, Charles Rouse and others.
More Benny Carter


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Bill Evans - Sunday at the Village Vanguard

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: evanssunda_2016) 



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

Huge space; clear, highly resolving cymbal harmonics that extend all the way into space; lively energy; bass that's deep and note-like -- I just don't know how you can make this live piano trio music sound any better than it does here!

The best sounding Bill Evans record we have ever played? Probably. it's safe to say that at the very least it's as good as any we've critically evaluated on our current system.

More Bill Evans


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Bill Evans - Village Vanguard Sessions

Live and Learn

  (Item #: evansvilla_wrong) 



A classic case of Live and Learn. Many years ago we had played copies of the record and thought the sound was fine, shootout material in fact. Flash forward to 2015 or 2016. Now it sounds thin, flat and opaque. Worse, it's actually in MONO.

A stereo recording reissued in mono for no apparent reason? What were they smoking over there at Milestone?

More Bill Evans


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Bizet / Symphony in C Major / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: bizetsymph_2011) 



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

This Decca Ace of Diamonds pressing of Ansermet's 1961 recording has SUPERB Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides. The Symphony in C, which takes up the whole of side one, is BIG and LIVELY, which is just the kind of sound that makes us swoon here at Better Records. Live music IS big and lively, so why shouldn't the best records be?

The second movement has a sublimely gorgeous oboe part you must hear. The whole side is wonderfully spacious, with real depth.

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


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Bizet / Symphony in C Major / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: bizetsymph_2012) 



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

This London pressing of Ansermet's 1961 recording has SUPERB Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides. The Symphony in C, which takes up the whole of side one, is BIG and LIVELY, which is just the kind of sound that makes us swoon here at Better Records. Live music IS big and lively, so why shouldn't the best records be? The bottom end has real power on this copy, the way live music does.

We like our recordings to have as many Live Music qualities as possible, and those qualities really come through on a record such as this when reproduced on the full-range speaker system we use.

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


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Brahms / Concerto for Violin and Cello - Heifetz / Piatigorsky (LDS 2513)

  (Item #: brahmvioli_2513) 



This nice looking RCA Soria pressing plays about Mint Minus, pretty quiet for a Shaded Dog era pressing.

The orchestra is its typical shrill self. The cello and violin sound wonderful most of the time. When they really get going the sound can be a bit much. At moderate volumes the record is very enjoyable.

This is a famous recording for having distortion and congestion in the louder orchestral passages. There is no such thing as a copy of this record that doesn't have that problem. You listen to this record for the wonderul interplay between Heifetz and Piatigorsky and not much else.

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


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Bruch & Mozart / Violin Concertos / Laredo - Mitchell

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: bruchvioli_fame) 



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

Superb sound. The violin is wonderful on both sides. The Mozart is absolutely gorgeous; the best I''ve ever heard it.

The orchestra on the Bruch side gets a little congested in the louder passages, which is typical for records of this era.

Laredo plays these pieces beautifully. The Bruch is an especially romantic work and his violin sings sweetly and with deep emotion throughout. The Mozart is more spritely and he plays it with the light touch it requires. You will have a hard time finding a better violin concerto record. This ranks with the best of them.

More of the music of Max Bruch


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Chabrier / Espana and more / Paray

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: chabrespan_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: D

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

I much prefer Ansermet’s performances on London to those of Paray on Mercury. I know of none better. The famous Classic pressing of the Mercury is a grainy, gritty, shrill piece of crap.

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


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Chet Atkins - Chet Atkins In Hollywood

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: atkininhol_2007) 



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

This Minty looking RCA Victor LP has an AMAZING SIDE TWO backed with a great side one. Side two is full of the tubey magic that’s missing from the Classic Records version and it has a wonderfully extended top end. Side one lacks some of the top end extension found on side two but the first track has that tubey Nashville sound that we love here at Better Records. The rest of the side is pretty damn good as well.

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs.

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Chet Atkins - Christmas with Chet Atkins

Our Shootout Winner from 2006

  (Item #: atkinchris_2006) 



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

This is a very nice looking RCA reissue LP with DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! I can’t believe how good this late reissue sounds! It may not have all of the tubey magic of the best originals, but it does have the tubey magic that Bill Porter recorded and that the RCA engineers managed to transfer accurately to this LP. I can tell you I'll never pass up another one of these. Without a doubt this has to be the best sounding Christmas record we have for sale.

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Chopin / Concerto No. 1 / Rubinstein / Skrowaczewski

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: chopiconce_2575_2012) 



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

You'll find Super Hot Stamper sound on side one of this minty and rare Shaded Dog pressing, with more space and more hall than most of Rubinstein's recordings on RCA -- this is a closer approximation of live music than we expected, and in that sense a pleasant surprise. The strings have lovely Living Stereo texture as well. There is of course no shortage of Tubey Magic (and a bit too much of it on side two.)

A reviewer on Amazon mentioned that this performance shows Rubinstein's deep understanding of the work, having played it for forty years. On that basis alone it should stand the test of time.

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Dave Brubeck - Time Further Out

Our Stereo Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: brubetimef_2011) 



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

This Columbia Original Six-Eye Label Stereo pressing is the new ALL TIME CHAMPION for this album, with two INCREDIBLE A+++ sides and surprisingly quiet vinyl for a record this old! We just finished a big shootout for Time Further Out and this copy was the best BY FAR. It gives you big drums, incredible spaciousness, tight bass, extended highs and wonderful clarity. I don't think you could find a better sounding copy no matter what you did!

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Dave Brubeck Quartet - Near Myth

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: brubenearm_2011) 



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

This original STEREO BLUE VINYL Fantasy pressing has Hot Stamper sound on both sides, with rich and musical Tubey Magical qualities appropriate to this early '60s West Coast jazz. We've known about this album for close to twenty years, having played the surprisingly good sounding OJC pressing and recommended it back in the days when those kinds of records were still in print.

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Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Further Out's Engineering

When Less Is More

  (Item #: brubetimef_engineering) 



FRED PLAUT is one of our favorite recording and mixing engineers. His work on Time Further Out speaks for itself -- we think it's the best sounding Brubeck recording of them all.

We could find no information about the venue for this recording. It might be the Columbia Studios known as "The Church" -- that would explain the amazing sound quality of the album -- but it may just be Plaut's engineering prowess in another location that makes this some of the best sound to be found on any Brubeck record.

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Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Further Out

Our Mono Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: brubetimef_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame for this amazing MONO LP.

This Columbia Six-Eye pressing is THE BEST SOUNDING MONO COPY OF THIS ALBUM WE'VE EVER HEARD! The better Mono pressings of this album give you extra immediacy, more solidity to the drums, and energy like you wouldn't believe. That makes the drum solo on side two sound OUT OF THIS WORLD. Most copies are congested and veiled, but not this one! The sound is spacious and transparent with wonderful presence. You will not believe how lively it is!

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Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Further Out

What to Listen For

  (Item #: brubetimef_wtlf) 



The best copies such as this one demonstrate the big-as-life Fred Plaut Columbia Sound at its best (better than even Time Out in our opinion). These vintage recordings are full-bodied, spacious, three-dimensional, rich, sweet and warm in the best tradition of an All Tube Analog recording. If you want to hear big drums in a big room these Brubeck recordings will show you that sound better than practically any record we know of. The Engineering tab below has much more on that subject.
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Debussy / La Mer / Reiner

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: debuslamer_2462_2005) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Orchestral Music Hall of Fame from 1961.

1S RCA Shaded Dog. This is an exceptionally good sounding copy, full of that RCA Living Stereo magic. Excellent performance from Reiner as well. On a work like La Mer the timbre of the instruments is critical to the enjoyment of the piece, as they often play solo and in small groupings. This record captures those qualities perfectly.

This record also includes Strauss' Don Juan, which never sounds good on this title and is best left unplayed.

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Delibes / Sylvia and Coppelia / Rignold

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: delibsylvi_2008) 



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

DEMO DISC QUALITY SOUND. This record was thoroughly enjoyed by its previous owner and I know why: it's great! This title is also extremely rare for some reason. One of the top five Vics. Look for a clean one; you won't be disappointed.

[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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Duke Ellington & Count Basie - The Count Meets the Duke

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: ellinfirst_2018) 



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

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

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Dvorak / Cello Concerto - Munch / Boston

Hard to Recommend in Living Stereo

  (Item #: dvoracello_22490_test) 



I have never heard a copy of this record sound better than decent. This title is very unlikely to have the wonderful sound of the best Living Stereo pressings that you can find on our site, each of which has been carefully evaluated to the highest standards.

If you can get one for cheap, go for it. Otherwise I would pass.

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak


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Dvorak / Symphony #2 / Monteux (LSC 2489)

Hard to Recommend in Living Stereo

  (Item #: dvorasym2_2489) 



We've definitely never liked any pressing of this album, from Shaded Dogs to '60s Red Seals and everything in between.

Your copy is very unlikely to have the wonderful sound of the best Living Stereo pressings that you can find on our site, each of which has been carefully evaluated to the highest standards. Of course we would be foolish to judge a record we have never played, so perhaps your copy is killer. We can't say it isn't, although the odds, in our opinion, are against you.

If you see one for cheap, go for it. Otherwise you should probably take our advice and give it a pass.

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak


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Dvorak / Symphony No. 9 / Kertesz / Vienna Phil.

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: dvorasym9_decca_2013) 



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

Presenting yet another remarkable Demo Disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology, in this case 1961, with the added benefit of mastering courtesy of the more modern equipment of the '70s, in this case 1970. (We are of course here referring to the good modern equipment of 40 years ago, not the bad modern mastering equipment of today.)

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak


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Ella Fitzgerald - Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: fitzgclaph_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

Long time customers know that I have been raving about this album for more than a dozen years -- ever since I first heard it in fact. I consider it the finest female vocal album in the history of the world. I could go on for pages about this music. Suffice to say this is a record that belongs in every human being’s record collection. Just not the Classic Records pressing of it.

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Ella Fitzgerald - Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie

Our Mono Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: fitzgclaph_2009) 



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

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

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Ella Fitzgerald - Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: fitzgclaph_2017) 



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

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

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

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Ella Fitzgerald - Misty Blue

Not Her Finest Hour

  (Item #: fitzgerald_ellasss) 



A Hall of Shame pressing from 1968.

The First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerald was arguably the finest female jazz singer of all time (although some may vote for Sarah Vaughan or Billie Holiday). Blessed with a beautiful voice and a wide range, Fitzgerald could outswing anyone, was a brilliant scat singer, and had near-perfect elocution; one could always understand the words she sang. The one fault was that, since she always sounded so happy to be singing, Fitzgerald did not always dig below the surface of the lyrics she interpreted and she even made a downbeat song such as "Love for Sale" sound joyous. However, when one evaluates her career on a whole, there is simply no one else in her class." - AMG

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Ella Fitzgerald - Sings the Harold Arlen Song Book #2

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: fitzgarlen_2016) 



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

The vinyl is about as quiet and scratch-free as we ever come across on these early stereo pressings. Even with us hitting multiple record stores every week, we would be hard-pressed to find one clean copy of an album like this in any given year.

But we found this one, and it won our shootout.

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Elvis Presley - Something For Everybody

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: preslsomet_2017) 



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

Most of the man's records don't sound good on most pressings, and more often than not the best sounding pressings are just too noisy to interest most audiophiles.

But we found this one, and it blew everything else out of the water. It's got the glorious sound of 1961 in its grooves.

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Enoch Light - Reeds and Percussion

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: lightreeds_2014) 



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

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

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

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Eric Dolphy - Copenhagen Concert

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: dolphcopen_2010) 



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

Rarely have I heard a string bass sound better than it does here. The flute is equally gorgeous. They could record a live jazz concert this well in 1961? Apparently.

Although this is only our second Hot Stamper listing for the album, I've known about Dolphy's legendary Copenhagen Concert for close to thirty years. When an audiophile hears a bass clarinet reproduced the way it is on this record he is very unlikely to forget it.

Do the originals sound as good as these '70s pressings? Not a clue. Never ran into a clean one in my life.

See all of our Eric Dolphy albums in stock


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Falla / El Amor Brujo & El Retablo de Maese Pedro / Argenta

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: fallaelamo_2012) 



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

The famous Ansermet recording of El Retablo de Maese Pedro (Master Peter's Puppet Show) has been mastered on this London Stereo Treasury Import LP to near PERFECTION. This is High Fidelity Audiophile Demo Disc Quality Gold, with bells, drums, voices, trumpets, strings, woodwinds and more, all sounding so real it will take your breath away. This Golden Age tape has been mastered brilliantly with "modern" mastering equipment (from the mid-'60s, not the low-rez junk they're forced to make do with these days), giving you, the listener, sound that only the best of both worlds can offer.

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


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Falla / Three Cornered Hat (Complete Ballet) / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: fallathree_6224_2017) 



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

This London is energetic, dynamic, spacious, transparent, rich and sweet. James Walker was the producer, Roy Wallace the engineer for these 1961 sessions in Geneva's glorious Victoria Hall. It's yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology,

We were impressed with the fact that this pressing excelled in so many areas of reproduction. The illusion of disappearing speakers is one of the more attractive aspects of the sound here, allowing the listener to inhabit the space of the concert hall in an especially engrossing way.

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


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Frank Sinatra - All The Way

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: sinatallth_2016) 



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

This vintage '60s Capitol pressing was our clear winner, with Triple Plus sound on both sides. It has the all the Tubey Magic one could ask for, allowing Sinatra's rich baritone to work its magic on every phrase. As you can well imagine, finding clean, scratch-free '60s Sinatra records like this one, in stereo no less, is no walk in the park.

This group of singles and B-sides was recorded from 1957 to 1960 - it contain some of Sinatra's better known songs arranged by Nelson Riddle.

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Frank Sinatra - Come Swing With Me!

Our Shootout Winner from 2005

  (Item #: sinatcomes_2005) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Hall of Fame.

I discovered that some of these later Capitol reissues can really sound good about ten years ago. They're cheap when you find them because collectors don't want them and audiophiles as a whole think that cheap reissues always sound bad. But here at Better Records we don't really deal too much with record collectors per se. We deal with that tiny minority of audiophiles who want real music that actually sounds good. (The majority of audiophiles want Patricia Barber records and they can have her.)

So we love finding great Sinatra albums from his prime recording days that actually sound the way we want them to -- lively and fun.

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Frank Sinatra - I Remember Tommy

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: sinatireme_2017) 



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

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

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

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Frank Sinatra - Sinatra Swings

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: sinatswings_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.

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Freddie Hubbard - Goin’ Up

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: hubbagoinu_2011) 



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

This very nice looking Blue Note LP has good sound and some straight ahead Blue Note jazz, the kind that Blue Note jazz fans love. The second track on side one, ’The Changing Scene’, is a wonderful ballad reminiscent of ’Round Midnight. It's the best material on the album in my opinion.

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Gil Evans Orchestra - Out Of The Cool

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: evansoutof_2011) 



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

This is an incredibly well-recorded big band jazz album from 1961 with excellent music, and a Hot Stamper pressing like this one gives you WONDERFUL SOUND. We've been collecting these for ages trying to get this shootout going, but it's difficult to find copies that sound like this. We went through a ton of expensive copies and only found a few that were fit to list on the site. This one fared very well, earning an A++ for side one and an A+ on side two.

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Hanson / The Composer and His Orchestra / Hanson

  (Item #: hansotheco_0412) 



This is a White Hot Stamper 2-pack that's made up, naturally, of two LPs: a later Mercury reissue pressing for side one (A+++) and an FR1 Mercury original for side two which is nearly as good (A++ to A+++), for the simple and obvious reason that the "bad" sides of each of these LPs are not nearly as good as the "good" sides. As a matter of fact the bad sides would not even qualify as decent sounding, let alone Hot Stampers. When you play the weaker sides here you will no doubt appreciate why we felt it was appropriate to bundle two somewhat different records together to make a truly SUPERB one.

This pair of records actually deserves to be on the TAS Super Disc list. The typical copy we played doesn't, and the proof of that fact are the two bad sounding sides on these very records. The good sides are true Demo Discs; the bad sides are nothing but old records.

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Harry Belafonte - Jump Up Calypso

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: belafjumpu_2012) 



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

TWO EXCELLENT SIDES on this Living Stereo pressing that should easily beat your DCC version -- or your money back! We played a big stack of these recently and are happy to report that the best copies deliver that old-school RCA tubey magic that brings out the best in Belafonte's music. The sound here is big, lively, rich and full. Only the better copies like this one really brought out the FUN in the music, an essential quality for this material.

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Helen Humes - Songs I Like to Sing

Our Black Label Shootout Winner

  (Item #: humessongs_blk_2007) 



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

This Contemporary Black Label Original LP has AMAZING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! It has that classic tube-mastered sound -- warmer, smoother, and sweeter than the later pressings with more breath of life.

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Helen Humes - Songs I Like to Sing

Our Yellow Label Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: humessongs_2008) 



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

Side one has OFF THE CHARTS, A+++ Master Tape Sound. It's amazingly tubey magical, yet incredibly clean and clear -- something you can't get from the tube-mastered originals. Helen's voice is PERFECTION -- breathy, full, and sweet. The orchestra sounds JUST RIGHT -- just listen to the nice bite of the brass. The overall sound is super full-bodied and rich and very transparent.

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Helen Humes - Swingin’ With Humes

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: humesswing_2008) 



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

SUPERB SOUND AND MUSIC! We’ve been finding great copies of Helen’s Songs I Like To Sing! for some time, but this is the first knockout copy we’ve ever found of this great title from 1961. Both sides have A+++ sound, As Good As It Gets (AGAIG).

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Horace Silver Quintet - Doin’ The Thing

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: silvedoint_2006) 



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.

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Howard McGhee - Maggie’s Back In Town

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: mcghemaggi_2007) 



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

This Contemporary LP has WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC! It’s rich and full a very extended, very natural top end. The cymbals on this record sound AMAZING! Roy DuNann sure knew how to record this kind of jazz. Just listen to the leading edge transients of the trumpet or the punchiness of the drums. There's no trace of phony EQ or bad mastering whatsoever.

The lineup on this album is stellar, with Phineas Newborn, LeRoy Vinnegar and the great Shelly Manne backing McGhee. The best sounding tracks on this record are "Sunset Eyes" on side one and "Brownie Speaks" on side two.

1961 - It Was a Very Good Year


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Jack Sheldon - Jack Sheldon And His All-Star Band

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: sheldjacks_2017) 



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

If you like the sound of relaxed, tube-mastered jazz -- and what red blooded audiophile doesn't -- you can't do much better than Jack Sheldon And His All-Star Band. The warmth and immediacy of the sound here are guaranteed to blow practically any Big Band record you own right out of the water.

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Joe Gordon - Lookin’ Good!

  (Item #: gordolooki_2009) 



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

This Super Hot Stamper pressing has the Contemporary Jazz Sound we LOVE here at Better Records. If you want to know what’s wrong with the sound of your Rudy Van Gelder Squakfest Records, play this LP and bathe in the kind of relaxed, NATURAL tonality that Roy DuNann is justly famous for.

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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.

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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.

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John Coltrane - My Favorite Things

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: coltrmyfav_2015) 



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

SUPERB SOUND FROM START TO FINISH! We played tons of these in our most recent shootout and both sides here were head and shoulders above the typical copies. Some were a bit squawky and some of them were a bit dull, but this one sounded excellent throughout. We have a tough time finding Hot Stamper pressings of this album -- most copies out there are very disappointing.

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Lalo / Symphonie Espagnole / Hendl (LSC 2456)

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: lalo_symph_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

The Classic Records Heavy Vinyl pressing is a good example of exactly what NOT to do with a recording such as this. Their version is intolerably aggressive. Who in his right mind can listen to a record that sounds like that? You better have some VERY dull or muffled speakers. In a system with properly working tweeters this record would be all but unlistenable.

More Living Stereo


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Leonard Bernstein - Conducts Symphonic Dances...

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: bernssymph_2015) 




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

One of the great Columbia recordings. I suspected it might have been done at the legendary 30th St studios in New York but I was wrong, Manhattan Center's huge stage served as the venue. Either way the sound is no less glorious.

More of the music of (or music conducted or performed by) Leonard Bernstein


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Leonard Bernstein - West Side Story Soundtrack

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: bernswests_2014) 



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

This minty CBS Masterworks reissue LP may have been pressed in the '70s but it sure doesn't sound like it. In fact it sounds about as TUBEY MAGICAL as a record from the '60s would.

If you prize richness, sweetness and correct tonality you will no doubt find this record satisfying. It's got that beautiful Columbia sound that we love here at Better Records.

More of the music of (or music conducted or performed by) Leonard Bernstein


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Liszt / Les Preludes / Dorati

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: lisztlespr_90214_2008) 



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

This copy with Philips stampers has a fairly quiet and good sounding side one, which is the work by Smetana and A Night On Bald Mountain. Side two is thin and bright. Dorati is excellent on material like this and plays it with great verve.

Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Antal Dorati. This performance also includes Smetana's "The Moldau", Mussorgsky's "Night On Bald Mountain", and Sibelius' "Valse Triste".

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


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

Awful Mercury Mastering

  (Item #: lisztpiano_philips) 



Sonic Grade: F

An Orchestral Hall of Shame pressing.

This recording was released through Mercury, recorded by Robert Fine and Wilma Cozart, mastered by George Piros, the legendary Mercury team of renown. It is instructive to note that the Philips mastering is dramatically superior to the mediocre Mercury mastering, which may strike you as counterintuitive, but is nonetheless a fact. It's precisely the reason we play records all day here at Better Records. You can't judge a record by its credentials. The only way to know how it sounds is to play it, and to really know how it sounds you must play it against a sizeable number of other copies.

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


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

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: lisztpiano_2012) 



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

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

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


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Liszt / Piano Concertos No. 1 and 2 / Richter

Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: lisztpiano_2016) 



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

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

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


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Liszt, Enesco, Smetana / Rhapsodies - Stokowski

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: lisztrhaps_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

The lower strings are wonderful on the original -- wall to wall, with that rosiny texture we love. I wrote at the time -- this is twenty or so years ago -- that the Classic pressing took that rich, dark sound and brightened it up, naturally ruining it in the process. Cellos and double basses just don't sound like that. On the best pressings of LSC 2471 their timbre is Right On The Money. Of course, that's is the real thing, not some audiophile rebutchering.

Now if you're a Classic Records fan, and you like that brighter, more detailed, more aggressive sound, the original is probably not the record for you.


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Liszt, Enesco, Smetana / Rhapsodies - Stokowski

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: lisztrhaps_2471_2010) 



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

This RCA Living Stereo White Dog LP has SUPERB SOUND!

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

See all of our Living Stereo albums in stock


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Liszt, Khatchaturian et al. / Fiedler / BPO

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: lisztliebe_2546_2015) 



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

Breathtaking 1961 Living Stereo sound on side two - huge, open and Tubey Magical as all get out. Living Stereo Hot Stampers mean the hall is huge, the strings rich and sweetly textured. Vaughan Williams' arrangement of Fantasia On "Greensleeves" is especially lovely here. Fiedler and his Boston Pops play these 8 shorter pieces with great gusto and skill.

See more recordings conducted by Arthur Fiedler


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Liszt, Khatchaturian et al. / Fiedler / BPO

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: varioliebe_2546_2015) 



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

Breathtaking 1961 Living Stereo sound on side two - huge, open and Tubey Magical as all get out. Living Stereo Hot Stampers mean the hall is huge, the strings rich and sweetly textured. Vaughan Williams' arrangement of Fantasia On "Greensleeves" is especially lovely here. Fiedler and his Boston Pops play these 8 shorter pieces with great gusto and skill,

See more recordings conducted by Arthur Fiedler


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Mahler - Symphony No. 4 - Solti

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: mahlesym4_6217_2017) 



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

Deep bass; rich, smooth strings, lots of lovely hall space - this copy was right up there with the best we heard, and clearly won the shootout for side two. You will hear immediately why this side two could not be beat - it's wonderful.

More of the music of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)

More recordings engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson

More recordings made in Kingsway Hall



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Martin Denny - Exotic Percussion

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: dennyexoti) 



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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Mel Torme - Swings Shubert Alley

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: tormeswing_2012) 



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

The first Hot Stamper copy of this great album to hit the site in many, many years! We are HUGE fans of this album at Better Records, but it's taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble!

The presence and immediacy here are staggering. Turn it up and Mel is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime! One of our very favorite male vocal albums, and this copy will show you why -- the sound and music are the tops.

More Mel Torme


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Mel Torme - Swings Shubert Alley

The Original Pressings Are the Best, Right?

  (Item #: tormeswing_original) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing on the original. Don't buy into that record collecting / audiophile canard that the originals have better sound.

The original Verve stereo pressing -- true, we only had the one, so take it for what it's worth -- was dry, lean and evinced very little of the Tubey Magic that VAL VALENTIN managed to get on the master tape.

More Mel Torme


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