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1962

A Great Year for Top Quality Recordings of Timeless Music

  (Item #: 1962) 



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 196 was a wonderful year for music.

Click HERE to see the records currently on the site that were recorded or released in 1962.

And HERE to see the records from 1962 that we've reviewed, a substantially larger group as you can imagine.



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Adam / Giselle / Karajan

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: adam_gisel_6251_2010) 



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

This Dutch Import is the best sounding copy I have ever heard. It is dead silent and rich!

Big spacious hall sound. Lovely mid-hall perspective. Very smooth and sweet. You can listen to music like this for hours and never get tired -- the opposite of your typical Classic Records pressing.

More Orchestral Music on London


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Cannonball Adderley - Bill Evans - Know What I Mean?

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: adderknoww_2015) 



A distinguished member of the Jazz Hall of Fame.

One of our favorite Cannonball Adderley albums here at Better Records, and the sound is killer on this copy. Both sides are Tubey Magical, rich, open, spacious and tonally correct. We've never heard the record sound better, and that's coming from someone who's been playing the album since the '80s when it was first reissued in its current form.

These guys are playing live in the studio and you can really feel their living, breathing presence on every track -- assuming you have a copy that sounds like this one.

More Bill Evans / More Cannonball Adderley


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Gene Ammons / Sonny Stitt - Prime Cuts

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: ammonprime_2005) 



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

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

More Gene Ammons


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Anderson / Fiddle-Faddle and more / Fiedler

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: anderfiddl_2638_2011) 



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

This famous Fiedler / Boston Pops recording of Leroy Anderson's music has Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides! I frankly admit to never having taken this title seriously. I imagine few hard core Shaded Dog collectors have ever bothered to play it, which is their loss, not ours. It's very well recorded, with tons of Golden Age Living Stereo magic. Talk about BIG and RICH, both sides will show you exactly why modern audiophiles drool over these recordings. You simply cannot find this sound anywhere else.

More Living Stereo


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Chet Atkins / Caribbean Guitar

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: atkincarib_2011) 



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

This RCA Living Stereo LP has an A++ side two! It's rich, warm and sweet with great transparency and clear transients -- if it had just a bit more top it would be right up with the very best copies. Side one is not quite up to the same standards, and is very noisy. The vinyl plays about Mint Minus Minus on side two, but its a rare copy that plays any quieter.

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

More Chet Atkins


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JS Bach / Voilin Concertos / Igor and David Oistrach

  (Item #: bach_voili_dg) 



This Minty looking Deutsche Grammophon LP is rich and smooth. We didn't have any other copies to compare this to, but we've played enough DG LPs around here to know that the average pressing is nothing to get too excited about! If we were giving this a Hot Stamper rating, we'd put it at about A+ on both sides.
More of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach


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Beethoven / Quartet in C-Sharp Minor / Julliard String Quartet

  (Item #: beethquart_LSC2626_2013) 



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

This RCA White Dog pressing contains what many consider to be Beethoven's greatest string quartet, with SUPERB better than Super Hot Stamper sound on BOTH sides, each of which rated grades of A++ to A+++. The reason we held back on the full Three Plus White Hot Stamper designation is simple: each side had slightly more of a fairly important quality that the other side lacked. When you play this record at home see if you don't agree with us that this is an AMAZING sounding chamber music record, with minor, albeit recognizable and appreciable, differences in its strengths on each side.

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: benneileft_2015) 



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

Everything that's good about All Tube Vocal Recordings from the '50s and '60s is precisely what's good about the sound of this record.

The huge studio the music was recorded in is captured faithfully here. The height, width and depth of the staging here are extraordinary. We are not big soundstage guys here at Better Records, but we can't deny the appeal of the space to be found on a record as good as this.

More Tony Bennett


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Mastering I Left My Heart In San Francisco

Tubes, Sure, But Are They Any Good?

  (Item #: benneileft_reissues) 



We played a few decent sounding reissues from the '70s that may eventually make it to the site. Again and again my notes made it clear that those pressings could have used more tubes in the mastering chain.

On this record, like so many others you may have read about on the site, the right amount of TUBEY MAGIC -- and by that we mean a very healthy amount -- makes all the difference. Now keep in mind that we are talking about 1962 tubes, not the stuff that engineers are using today to make "tube-mastered" records. Modern pressings barely hint at the Tubey Magical sound of a record like this, if our experience with hundreds of them serves as a guide.

More Tony Bennett


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

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: brahmpc2_2581_2005) 



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

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

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


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Brahms / Piano Concerto #1 / Curzon / Szell

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: brahmpiano_6329_2006) 



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

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

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


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Brahms / Piano Concerto #1 / Curzon / Szell

Speakers Corner (Reviewed in the '90s)

  (Item #: brahmpiano_speakers_corner) 



Sonic Grade: B

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

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

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


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Brahms / Sonatas #2 & 3 / Rubinstein and Szeryng

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: brahmsonat_2619_2010) 



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

3S/ 4S RCA Shaded Dog. The sound is actually quite decent when you INVERT the ABSOLUTE PHASE. If you cannot or will not do that, this record will not sound good -- it's somewhat hard and bright. It will never be a Top Shaded Dog but it is a good one with the absolute phase inverted.

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


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Brahms / Violin Concerto / Szeryng / Dorati

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: brahmvioli_90308_2012) 



These later Mercury stampers are wonderful: gorgeous woodwinds, a large, full-bodied orchestra and of course a Tubey Magical violin to die for. Both sides earned SUPERB Super Hot Stamper grades (but for very different reasons). The exciting sound is matched by an equally exciting performance by Dorati. Dorati and the LSO pull out all the stops; they're staking out a position as to just how powerfully and emotionally this work ought to be performed.

The opening is so dramatic -- in the style of the First Brahms Symphony -- that it's hard to imagine there is any recording medium that can capture it without a fair amount of dynamic compression. This vintage pressing suffers from a relatively (in our experience) small amount of congestion and shrillness at the opening and elsewhere.

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

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Britten / Debussy / Schumann / Cello Sonatas / Rostropovich

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: brittsonat_6237_2011) 



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

Both sides of this promo London Blueback pressing of piano and cello music have SUPERB sound. If you're a fan of the cello, the piano, or chamber works in general, you will have a hard time finding a better sounding recording than this.

Notice especially that there is practically no smear on the piano -- the notes are clear, with their transients fully intact, something one rarely hears anywhere but in the live setting. The tonality of the piano is also correct from top to bottom.

But the real surprise here is how unusually natural the cello sounds -- more like the real instrument and less like the typical recording of it.


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The Bloated Cello Sound Some Audiophiles Seem to Love

  (Item #: brittsonat_cello) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate any and all cello recordings you may own.

On this pressing we were a bit surprised by how unusually natural the cello sounded -- more like the real instrument and less like the typical recording of it.


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Ray Brown - And The All-Stars Band - Cannonball Adderley

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: brownwitht_2017) 



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

These two sides offer bigger brass, more transparency and more presence than any other sides we played! This may become one of your favorite big band albums to demo or test with. Or you can just enjoy the hell out of it if you prefer. So transparent and tonally correct, this is a killer sounding copy. We put this one right up there with the best of the Verve jazz titles we've done to date.

This is the kind of HUGE, RICH sound that Ray Hall engineered with tubes back in 1962, and it's glorious to hear in 2017.

See all of our Ray Brown albums in stock


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Dave Brubeck - Countdown - Time In Outer Space

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: brubecount_2016) 



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

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

More Dave Brubeck


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Bruch / Scottish Fantasy / Heifetz

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: bruchscott_2603_2012) 



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

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

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

More of the music of Max Bruch


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Bruch / Scottish Fantasy / Heifetz

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: bruchscott_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

It should go without saying that a good original pressing kills the Classic reissue, and the Classic version is one of the better Classics. Still, it's no match for the real thing, not even close. The Classic is airless, smeary and low-rez, which means that all the subtleties of the music and the performance will be much more difficult to appreciate. For $30 it's not a bad record.

More of the music of Max Bruch


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Bruch / Scottish Fantasia - Oistrakh / Horenstein

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: bruchscott_fame) 



CS 6337. This Minty looking London Whiteback LP has THE MOST AMAZING SCOTTISH FANTASIA I have ever heard! Folks, it doesn't get any better than this. I would say this is one of the five best sounding violin recordings I have ever heard. Interestingly, the violin sound that we typically put up with is found on side two of this very album. It's easy to forget that there are actually records that sound like side one, and that side two really isn't the way an orchestra is supposed to sound.
More of the music of Max Bruch


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June Christy - The Intimate Miss Christy

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: chrisintim_2017) 



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

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

More June Christy


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

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: cole_nat_king_cole_sings_2013) 



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

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

More Nat "King" Cole


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John Coltrane - Ole Coltrane

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: coltrole_2016) 



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

Olé! Here's a great copy of a wonderful Coltrane album that we seriously enjoy but just don't see enough to keep in our regular rotation. And that's a shame, because these Top Copies are a THRILL to hear. Both sides give you an exceptionally strong bottom end, and with two bass players contributing on much of the album that is essential for this music. The overall sound is lively, dynamic, and very transparent.

More John Coltrane


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John Coltrane - Coltrane Plays the Blues

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: coltrplays_2009) 



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

ONE OF THE VERY BEST COPIES WE'VE EVER HEARD of this phenomenal album! This is PURE GOLD for the jazz-loving audiophile. I can count the number of jazz records we've played this year in a league with this one both sonically and musically on one hand. Both sides here are AMAZINGLY GOOD -- exceptionally rich and full-bodied with superb transparency. Coltrane's sax sounds OUT OF THIS WORLD with the lots of that airy, breathy quaility that we just love here. The immediacy is OFF THE CHARTS!

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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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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Martin Denny - A Taste of Honey

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: dennyatast_2010) 



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

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

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

More Martin Denny


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Paul Desmond & Gerry Mulligan - Two Of A Mind

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: desmotwoof_2018) 



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

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

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

More Paul Desmond / More Gerry Mulligan


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Dvorak / Cello Concerto / Starker / Dorati

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: dvoracello_90303) 



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

This very nice looking Mercury Oval Label Living Presence LP has EXCELLENT SOUND -- the string tone is relatively sweet, and there's plenty of deep powerful bass on this particular pressing.

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak


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Dvorak / Cello Concerto / Fournier - Szell

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: dvorakonze) 


This Deutsche Grammophon German Import LP is especially warm and sweet for a DG record. The tape hiss here is exactly right, which tells me that the smooth sound that I’m hearing is what the tape actually recorded and the engineers wanted. The cello sound is wonderful with an especially woody tone and nice texture to the strings.
More of the music of Antonin Dvorak


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Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan

Our Shootout Winner from 2013 in Mono

  (Item #: dylanbobdy_2013) 



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

TWO AMAZING SIDES RATING AT OR NEAR A+++ for this the MONO pressing! It's beyond difficult to find copies of this album with good sound, but we managed to get a hold of a hot one here. This is a true solo album -- guitar, vocals and harmonica -- and it's a lot of fun to hear a young (20!) Dylan playing the way he might have played in the coffee shops and folk clubs of Greenwich Village.

More Bob Dylan


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Bill Evans - Moon Beams

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: evansmoonb_2016) 



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

Moon Beams is one of the best sounding Bill Evans records we've ever played. You can see why we chose it to be the first OJC Hot Stamper of his to hit the site back in 2015. Play It Might As Well Be Spring for the kind of sublime musical experience you only find on 20th century analog.

Both sides are Tubey Magical, rich, open, spacious and tonally correct. We've never heard the record sound better, and that's coming from someone who's been playing Bill Evans' albums since the '80s when they were first reissued in their current form.

More Bill Evans


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Bill Evans - Moon Beams

OJC versus Riverside

  (Item #: evansmoonb_wtlf) 



The original Riverside pressings are the best, right?

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

Some of you may have discovered that the original Bill Evans records on Riverside are mostly awful sounding -- I can't recall ever hearing a good one -- so we are not the least bit worried that this OJC won't beat the pants off of the original, as well as any other reissue you may have, and even the new Analogue Productions 45.

More Bill Evans


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The Everly Brothers - The Golden Hits of...

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: everlgolde_2018) 



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

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

More Everly Brothers


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Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Swings Brightly With Nelson

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: fitzgellaswingb_2017) 



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

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

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

More Ella Fitzgerald


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Ella Fitzgerald - Sings the Harold Arlen Song Book #2

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: fitzgsings_arlen_2_2016) 



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

The first Harold Arlen Song Book to hit the site, and with sound like this it's going to be very hard to beat. White Hot on side two, Super Hot on side one, Ella is especially rich, Tubey Magical and breathy throughout. Look at the great songs on Volume 2: 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.

See all of our Ella Fitzgerald albums in stock


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Gershwin / Concerto in F / Boston Pops (LSC 2586)

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: gershconce_2586_2005) 



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

The best copy I've ever heard. Takes this recording to a new level beyond the best shaded dogs. It's plainly cut cleaner. One dead giveaway is that the tape hiss is reproduced accurately for the first time, which means that all the high frequencies and their attending harmonics are fully evident, for the first time in my experience anyway.

The explosive opening on this wonderful LP is a prime example of DEMONSTRATION QUALITY sound. Incredibly deep and powerful bass. Great brass.

More of the music of George Gershwin


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Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd - Jazz Samba

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: getz_jazz_samba_2016) 



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

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

More Stan Getz


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Morton Gould and His Orchestra - Love Walked In

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: gouldlovew_2011) 



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

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

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

See more of our most Tubey Magical recordings


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Grieg & Liszt / Piano Concertos / Rubinstein

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: griegpiano_2011) 



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

The strings are RICH in the best Living Stereo tradition, but unlike so many classical pressings we play, the tubey magical string tone comes with virtually no tube smear. The textures and overtones are fully intact. This side may in fact be pretty much as good as it gets; we don't have enough copies to know just how good the recording can be, but it can't be too much better than this, because this side puts most Golden Age classical recordings to shame.

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


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Grieg / Piano Concerto / Wallenstein

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: griegpiano_2566_2010) 



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

This Shaded Dog pressing has exceptionally lively and dynamic sound on side two, which earned an A++ grade and plays quietly to boot! The sound is BIG and BOLD enough to fill up your listening room and then some. Side one is strong as well earning an A+ grade and also playing quietly. The piano is clean and clear, and the strings are rich and textured, It's practically impossible to find a Rubinstein record that plays Mint Minus, but this one does! And his performance of this wonderful work is superb, as is his performance of the shorter coupling works on side two (which actually have the best sound here).

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


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Vince Guaraldi - Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus

45 RPM Acoustech Debunked

  (Item #: guarajazzi_acoustech) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Heavy Vinyl LP debunked from the consistently execrable Analogue Productions label, purveyors of bad sounding vinyl from day one.

More Vince Guaraldi


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Vince Guaraldi - Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus

The Mono & Most Other Pressings Suck

  (Item #: guarajazzi_options) 



A word of advice: Stick with stereo on this title; the MONO pressings aren't worth anybody's time (scratch that: any audiophile's time). The early colored vinyl mono pressing we played was awful in every way.

Our advice: Steer clear at anything more than a buck.

More Vince Guaraldi


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Vince Guaraldi - Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus

Keeping the Players Together

  (Item #: guarajazzi_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises, here discussing the importance of transparency, ambience and resolution.

The arrangement of the players is straightforward, with the bass hard left, drums hard right (with leakage well to the left on the cymbals, but that's another story), and Guaraldi on piano in the center. (The first track of side two reverses this arrangement; why I have no idea.)

Here's the crazy thing about this recording: The best copies really connect up the space each of the players is in. I heard it during the shootout, and I can't recall if it actually happened more than once or twice, but I know I heard it. They are all live, they are all on the same soundstage, but on most copies you would hardly know it.

More Vince Guaraldi


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Herbie Hancock - Takin’ Off

A Cisco Record We Recommend

  (Item #: hancotakin_84109) 



Sonic Grade: B-

The sound is SUPERB overall, with correct tonal balance and plenty of life. I was WAY TOO HARD on this album when it first came in. It’s playing right now and really swinging!

I just learned the secret to getting this one to sound right, and I am happy to share it with you. TURN IT UP!. When you get some volume going, the musicians really come to life on this album. It may sound crazy, but you need to play this one as loud as you would play your average rock record.

More Herbie Hancock


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Coleman Hawkins and Clark Terry - Back In Bean’s Bag

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: hawkibacki_2006) 



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

Columbia 360 Label. A Jazz Primer if there ever was one! If you don’t get jazz this album will get it for you. There is simply not a false step or false note to be found anywhere on this recording.

This record has a magical midrange, like so many Columbias. It's a little rolled off on the extreme highs. If you have any way of boosting your top end, you can make this record really sing. As it is now, it's still quite good, just a bit more mellow than I know it should be.

More Coleman Hawkins


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Coleman Hawkins - Today and Now

Reviewed in 2015

  (Item #: hawkitoday_2015) 



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

We love the Tubey Magical breathy/reedy style of Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. It seems that only the best early vinyl pressings manage to reproduce it properly. The CDs we've played over the years have had a tough time finding the richness in the sound; they end up being at least somewhat dry and hard, and that is simply not the right sound for this music.

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The Heifetz-Piatigorsky Concerts (Soria 3 LP Box Set)

  (Item #: heifeconce_8976159_1) 



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

This IMMACULATE set has dry, edgy, screechy sound -- until you reverse your absolute phase! Then it sounds pretty good! It certainly will never win any awards, but it’s practically unlistenable without the phase reversed.

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Freddie Hubbard - Hub-Tones

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: hubbahubto_2007) 



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

This Blue Note reissue LP has SUPERB SOUND AND QUIET VINYL! Freddie’s trumpet sounds Right On The Money -- breathy and full-bodied with clearly audible leading edge transients. The overall sound is tonally correct with extended highs and super low distortion. It's open and spacious and wonderfully dynamic. I don't think there's anything you could do to this music to make it sound much better than this!

More Freddie Hubbard


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Freddie Hubbard - Ready For Freddie

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: hubbaready_2006) 



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

This is a QUIET Blue Note ’70s pressing with wonderful music and pretty good sound. The trumpet here sounds excellent with lots of breath and just the right amount of bite. The track Crisis on side two should particularly appeal to audiophiles -- just check out that well-recorded bass and all the cool little drum breaks.

We hardly ever see clean copies of this album, so we don't imagine we'll ever have the resources to do a proper shootout. I don't imagine that you'll find a much better sounding copy of this album that plays this quietly.

More Freddie Hubbard


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Milt Jackson & Wes Montgomery - Bags Meets Wes!

Our Shootout Winner from 2005

  (Item #: jacksbagsm_2005) 



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

These two guys were made for each other; they have the same musical sensibilities. Credit must also go to Wynton Kelly; his every solo is a thing of beauty. The three principles here are at the tops of their games and the sound will have you drooling. Good luck finding a more involving and enjoyable jazz record with this kind of sound -- they just aren't out there. That's why, even with some surface problems, we think you are getting your money's worth and more with this one.

More Wes Montgomery


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Barney Kessel - Let's Cook

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: kesseletsc_2012) 



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

We were simply blown away by this Yellow Label pressing, which earned an A+++ for side one and an A++ for side two in a recent shootout. The transparency and clarity are SUPERB, and the amount of tubey magic is unbelievable! Folks, if you like guitar jazz, do not miss out on this album. I guarantee you will be absolutely knocked out by the sound of this pressing, not to mention the fantastic music!

More Barney Kessel


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Khachaturian - Spartacus & Gayneh - Khachaturian

  (Item #: khachspart_6000) 



This is a Near Mint Decca In The Box British Import LP featuring Spartacus on side one and Gayaneh on side two with the Vienna Phil.

Side Two is the BEST EVER! Just play the Sabre Dance! This famous TAS List LP has a very good side one as well, 90 to 95% the best. This is a record that deserves its Superdisc ranking. It IS a superdisc!

More Classical Music on London


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Henry Mancini - Hatari!

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: mancihatar_2009) 



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

This Super Hot Stamper pressing is one of the BEST COPIES we’ve ever played! Both sides earned very high A Double Plus honors, beating practically all the other copies we played it against. The sound is relaxed, natural, and musical, with an incredibly sweet top end.

The overall sound is airy, open, spacious, and SUPER transparent. The brass on this copy also sounds just right: breathy with a nice bite, avoiding most of the blare-y quality we heard on so many other pressings. (There is a touch of smear on even the best copies; this one is no different.)

More Henry Mancini


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Herbie Mann - Live At The Village Gate

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: mann_livea_0313) 



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

One of the best copies we've ever heard, and certainly the best to make it to the site! A++ for side one and A+++ for side two, this White Hot Stamper is a real knockout.

We've been trying to track down top pressings of this one for ages, but they are tough to come by and often noisy. It's one of the better flute jazz albums we've heard, both in terms of sonics and music.

Both sides really shine with a meaty bottom end, lots of energy, an extended top and wonderful transparency. The soundstage is big and open with lots of depth, giving room to all the various players and their instruments.

More Herbie Mann


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Herbie Mann - Live At The Village Gate

Audio Fidelity / DCC Debunked

  (Item #: mann_livea_24425) 



Sonic Grade: D-

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Audio Fidelity / DCC LP debunked.

A murky mess. Hard to imagine you couldn't find a common domestic pressing that wouldn't sound better.

More Herbie Mann


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Shelly Manne - Sounds Unheard Of!

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: mannesound_2009) 



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

This Super Hot Stamper Black Label Original Contemporary pressing has SUPERB sound on BOTH sides. All that stuff we tend to say about the original tube-mastered Contemporary pressings being fat and dull does not apply here whatsoever. This record is mastered beautifully, we real transient attacks to all the percussion. When Shelly bangs on the bass drum it goes Ka-Boom and really rattles the walls. As a Demo Disc this one is pretty hard to beat!

More Shelly Manne


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Shelly Manne - Sounds Unheard Of!

Analogue Productions Debunked

  (Item #: mannesound_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

Remember the '90s Acoustic Sounds Analog Revival series mastered by Stan Ricker? This was one of the titles they did, and completely ruined of course. Ricker boosted the hell out of the top end, as is his wont, so all the percussion had the phony MoFi exaggerated spit and tizzyiness that we dislike so much around here at Better Records, the phony top that many audiophiles do not seem bothered by to this day.

More Shelly Manne


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Mendelssohn & Schubert / Symphony No. 4 & Symphony No. 5

Reviewed in 2014

  (Item #: mendesym4_90356_2014) 



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

The strings are rich, with lovely rosiny texture and virtually no tube smear. Played with zest and the recording is every bit as lively.

The grade on side one could even be better than Two Pluses -- we just don't have enough clean copies to know. Big bass at the end, powerful dynamics too.

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


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Gerry Mulligan - And His Concert Jazz Band On Tour

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: mulliandhi_2016) 



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

White Hot on side two, nearly White on side one, this live album is crazy good sounding on this copy. Huge space, size and clarity, with Tubey Magical richness befitting its 1960 recording dates. On the second track of side two the swingin' Zoot Sims is as immediate and real as any sax player can be.

More Gerry Mulligan


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Gerry Mulligan - Jeru

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: mullijeru_2016) 



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

This Black Print 360 original stereo pressing from 1962 put every other copy we played to shame - it's White Hot on both sides. Tubier, more transparent, more dynamic, with that "jumpin' out of the speakers' quality that only The Real Thing (an old record) ever has. Hard to imagine any reissue, vintage or otherwise, can beat the sound of this amazing LP - we sure couldn't find one.

See all of our Gerry Mulligan albums in stock


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Roy Orbison - Crying

Reviewed in 2003

  (Item #: orbiscryin_classic) 



Sonic Grade: C

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

"This is actually a very good sounding record, unlike the first Orbison that Classic did. It's also a better album."

More Roy Orbison


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Roy Orbison - Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits

Our Shootout Winner from 2019

  (Item #: orbisgreat_2019) 



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

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

More Roy Orbison


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Peter, Paul & Mary - Peter, Paul and Mary

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: peterpeter_2007) 



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

TUBEY MAGICAL MASTER TAPE SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! We just finished a huge shootout for this album with Gold Labels, Green Labels and even a few later labels, and this EXCEPTIONALLY QUIET Gold Label copy was the Champion... for BOTH SIDES!

More Peter, Paul and Mary


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Oscar Peterson Trio - West Side Story

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: peterwests_2015) 



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

I've known this was a very well recorded album since I first heard the DCC gold CD back in the '90s.

It sounded great to me at the time -- I had nothing to compare it to -- but it sure didn't sound like this! This album is clearly one of the best jazz piano recordings I've ever played. In its own way it's every bit as good as that other landmark recording, The Three, from 1975.

More Oscar Peterson


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Elvis Presley - Pot Luck

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: preslpotlu_2017) 



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

If you want to know just how rich, spacious, natural and Tubey Magical Elvis' records can sound, look no further. Recorded in Nashville by the brilliant Bill Porter, and with the Jordanaires singing backup, what's not to like?

More Elvis Presley


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Prokofiev & Rachmaninoff / Piano Concertos / Janis - Kondrashin

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: prokoconce_90300_2010) 



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

This is a very good sounding and pretty darn quiet Mercury Plum label pressing of Janis' superb performances, and a member of the TAS Super Disc list. Side one, the Prokofiev side, is super-transparent, with a percussive and wonderfully clear, correct sounding piano at the center of the stage. Additionally, the orchestra is not shrill as it is on so many Mercury pressings.

More of the music of Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)


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Rachmaninoff / Piano Concerto #2 / Cliburn / Reiner

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: rachmconce_2601_2011) 



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

We dropped the needle on side one of this lovely and quite rare Shaded Dog pressing and heard very good Living Stereo orchestral sound. We ended up giving it a sonic grade of A+ to A++.

When we flipped it over and heard the sound on side two, our jaws hit the ground (simultaneously? Can't say for sure). WOW! It's clearly one of the BEST piano concerto recordings we have ever had the pleasure of placing on our turntable. It puts to shame 98% of the piano recordings we've played over the years. Who knew LSC 2601 could sound so good?

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


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Rodrigo - Boieldieu / Harp Concertos

Speakers Corner Debunked

  (Item #: rodriharpc_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: C-

About ten years ago a Heavy Vinyl version of this album was remastered and pressed by Speakers Corner, part of their disastrous foray into the DG catalog. This title was decent, the Beethoven Violin Concerto was okay, as was one of the Tchaicovsky Symphonies with Mravinsky (#5), but the rest were just plain awful, offering truly disgracefully bad sound.

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


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Shorty Rogers Big Band - Jazz Waltz

Leave the Originals for the Jazz Collectors

  (Item #: rogerjazzw_2014) 



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

The original Reprise pressing, whether in mono or stereo, has never sounded very good to us. The mono is quite a bit worse than the stereo - no surprise there - but both must be considered poor reflections of the master tape.

We sold one many years ago, describing it this way: "Beautiful Original with decent sound -- rich, smooth and sweet."

More Shorty Rogers


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Sonny Rollins - The Bridge

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: rollibridg_2013) 



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

We found STUNNING sound for Sonny Rollins' classic LP The Bridge this week, and as you might have guessed from the image to the left, it wasn't on an original pressing! It's beyond tough to find copies of this album on any label these days, but we had a big stack of pressings from different eras and auditioned them in a big shootout. We've paired up our best side one with our best side two to create this killer White Hot Stamper 2-pack.

More Sonny Rollins


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Schubert / Symphony #9 ("The Great") / Skrowaczewski

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: schubsym7_2013) 



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

This Colorback Maroon Label RFR pressing (SR 90272) has wonderful orchestral sound, with both sides having Hot Stampers. Side two earned the full Two Pluses for its relatively rich strings, a quality one rarely hears on Mercury recordings from this era. The string texture is superb here, so critical to the enjoyment of a large scale romantic symphony such as this.

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


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Horace Silver Quintet - The Tokyo Blues

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: silvetokyo_2009) 



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

This QUIET Blue Note ’70s issue LP has a PHENOMENAL SIDE ONE and a GREAT SIDE TWO! It's one of the better sounding Blue Notes we've heard over the last few months.

I've played quite a few of these over the years and I've NEVER heard a side one this good. (We did hear a slightly better side two earlier this year.) The sound is super full-bodied and shockingly transparent with real depth to the soundfield. The brass has a nice bite and the piano sound is superb -- you can very clearly hear the sound of the little hammers hitting the strings inside! Piano jazz almost never sounds this good.

More Horace Silver


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Frank Sinatra - All Alone

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: sinatallal_2015) 



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

The biggest issue with Reprise-era Sinatra is always grit and grain, and we're happy to report that this superb pressing has very little of either.

Also it's often the case that the strings may seem a bit shrill or smeary (or both; smear itself can actually make the strings sound shrill). The more harmonically correct and rosiny the string tone the better, obviously.

More Frank Sinatra


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Frank Sinatra - Point of No Return

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: sinatpoint_2012) 



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

This Capitol Rainbow Label pressing defeated most of the copies we threw up against it in a recent shootout. The overall sound is clean, clear and transparent with correct tonal balance.

We enjoyed the music on this one quite a bit, especially when we heard it on a good sounding copy like this one. Check out the AMG review linked above for the story behind the album, which teams Frank up with his former collaborator Axel Stordahl, who arranged and conducted. The results are wonderful.

More Frank Sinatra


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Frank Sinatra - Sinatra Sings... of Love and Things

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: sinatsinatra_sings_2015) 



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

The music is excellent as one can see from the track listing. It's hard to go wrong with these later Capitol Sinatra records. They're almost always a fun listen.

This album comprises the last group of singles Capitol released of Sinatra's music. Reprise had started in 1960 and the rest of Sinatra's music would come out on his own label. Somehow he managed to record and release six studio albums in 1962, with this compilation making a total of seven for the year. Even more remarkable, all seven of them made the Top Ten of the pop charts.

More Frank Sinatra


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Frank Sinatra - Sinatra and Swingin' Brass

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: sinatswingin_brass_2012) 



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

This nearly White Hot side two showed us just how good sounding this original Tri-Color Reprise original pressing could sound. Don't get me wrong; they have their share of problems, but the better copies are as musical and enjoyable as many of the best Capitol releases from Sinatra's prime period. (Most of which sound dreadful by the way, due to Capitol's awful mastering. Just play an early Beatles album to hear what I'm talking about.)

More Frank Sinatra


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Frank Sinatra - Sinatra and Swingin' Brass

Skip the Mono

  (Item #: sinatswingin_brass_mono) 



Sonic Grade: F

A great sounding record in stereo, potentially anyway, but in mono the bad sound puts it firmly in our Hall of Shame.

Stick with stereo; the mono pressings aren't worth anybody's time (scratch that: any audiophile's time).

A public service from the record loving audiophiles here at Better Records.

More Frank Sinatra


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Jimmy Smith - Bashin'

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: smithbashi_2012) 



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

Bashin' is back after a two and a half year hiatus, and it's back with a vengence -- both sides here are Super Hot, with some of the best sound we have ever heard for the album. In the past we've complained about "Rudy Van Gelder’s somewhat over the top echo-drenched brass", but on a copy such as this there is nothing to complain about!

More Jimmy Smith / More Oliver Nelson


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Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: straualsos_mofi_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

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

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

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Strauss / Carnival in Vienna / Ormandy

Reviewed in 201

  (Item #: straucarni_2011) 



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

Side two of this two-eye Columbia pressing has EXCELLENT sound, rating a sonic grade of A+ to A++. With a grade such as that it ranks somewhere in the Top Five Per Cent of Columbia pressings I would guess, only because so many Columbias are just plain awful. Is even one out of ten passable? I doubt it. But this one is! It's quite good in fact, with an extended top end and lovely texture to the strings.


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Tchaikovsky / The Nutcracker Ballet / Dorati

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: tchainutcr_9013_2010) 



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

This London Symphony recording is without a doubt THE BEST SOUNDING Nutcracker we have ever played here at Better Records, and that includes not only the full ballet but the suites and excerpts as well. The sound in a word is GLORIOUS. This copy, with 8 1/2 pluses total for the four sides, has DEMO DISC quality sound on three out of four sides. We shot out nine original maroon label copies (and one oval label Philips pressing) so we had our work cut out for us when it came to this masterwork of Tchaicovsky's. It was an absolute JOY to hear his sublime orchestration recorded so faithfully and naturally by the Mercury team, using 35MM film no less.

More Tchaikovsky


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Tchaikovsky / Romeo & Juliet / Dorati

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: tchairomeo_90209_2011) 



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

SUPERB Nearly White Hot Stamper sound on side two. With a grade of A++ to A+++, this is clearly the best sounding Romeo and Juliet we have ever heard. Rich lower strings, clear horns, big cymbal crashes, zero smear -- rich and tubey but clear, right up there with the best of the RCA's and London's. And Dorati turns in a top performance with the London Symphony.

More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)


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Various - Balalaika Favorites

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: variobalal_90310) 



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

DEMO QUALITY SOUND!

This is the best sounding copy of this record I have ever heard! There aren't going to be many copies that sound like this one. The originals that I've heard definitely don't, and the worst offenders are the Columbia pressings, the records with stampers like CCFR, CTFR, etc. They usually sound hard and sour and are best avoided.

More Mercury Recordings


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Various - Balalaika Favorites

Classic Record Debunked

  (Item #: variobalal_90310_classic) 



Sonic Grade: D

Another Classic Records LP debunked.

It's been quite a while since I played the Classic pressing, but I remember it as unpleasantly hard and sour.

More Mercury Recordings


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Ben Webster - And ’Sweets’ Edison

Classic Records Repress - Reviewed in the '90s

  (Item #: webstandsw_classic) 



Sonic Grade: B?

Probably a fairly good Classic Records jazz album. Both the music and sound are excellent.

The right Columbia pressing will kill it, but it's probably a fairly good value if you can get one for the 30 bucks we used to charge.


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Ben Webster - And ’Sweets’ Edison

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: webstwante_cs_8691) 



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

This is a Minty looking Columbia 360 Label LP. As good as the now out of print Classic Records version was, my guess is that this pressing will be clearly superior in terms of warmth, richness, and sweetness. It's been years since I've seen a copy of this album, but I remember liking it very much back in the days when the Classic version was in print.

I've also had a chance to go back and listen to lots of early Columbias like this one and I have been extremely impressed with the naturalness of the sound. I picked up a copy of Time Out recently that was as good as it gets on side one. No heavy vinyl reissue ever sounded like that!

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