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1973

Dark Side of the Moon Was Released - That Alone Makes 1973 Pretty Special, No?

  (Item #: 1973) 



1973 turned out to be a great year in music.

Click HERE to see the records currently on the site that were recorded or released in 1973.

And HERE to see the records from 1973 that we've reviewed.


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Airto - Fingers

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: airtofinge_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

At times this record really sounds like what it is: a bunch of guys in a big room beating the hell out of their drums and singing at the the top of their lungs. You gotta give RVG credit for capturing so much of that energy on tape and transferring that energy onto a slab of vinyl.

Of course this assumes that the record in question actually does have the energy of the best copies. It's also hard to know who or what is to blame when it doesn't, since even the good stampers sound mediocre most of the time. Bad vinyl, worn out stampers, poor pressing cycle, it could be practically anything.

More Airto


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Airto - Fingers

Truly a Desert Island Disc

  (Item #: airtofinge_obsess) 



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

Fingers is one of our all time favorite records, a Desert Island disc to be sure. I've been playing this album for more than thirty years and it just keeps getting better and better. Truthfully it's the only Airto record I like. I can't stand Dafos, and most of the other Airto titles leave me cold. I think a lot of the credit for the brilliance of this album has to go to the Fattoruso brothers, who play keyboards, drums, and take part in the large vocal groupings that sing along with Airto.

More Airto


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Airto - Fingers

High Frequency Extension Is Key to the Best Pressings

  (Item #: airtofinge_wtlf) 



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

The best copies have the highs that are missing from so many of the CTI originals. When you play them against most copies there is an extension to the top end that you won't hear elsewhere. Since this album is heavy on percussion, that difference is critical. The HARMONICS of the percussion are critically important to the music. When they go missing it's as if the music seems to slow down, a strange effect but a fairly common one with rhythmically dense arrangements such as these.

More Airto


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The Allman Brothers - Brothers and Sisters

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: allmabroth_2011) 



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

A+++ sound on side one! It's bigger, punchier and livelier with more texture to the instruments than any other copy we played. Finding great sound for this album is no mean feat. This one is definitely not a Demo Disc -- no copy will truly be -- but it's a BIG step up from most of the copies we played. I don't think you could find better sound for the first side no matter what you did!

More Allman Brothers


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Gregg Allman - Laid Back

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: allmalaidb_2017) 



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

We were surprised at how well recorded the album is, dramatically better than the Allmans' album from the same year, Brothers and Sisters. Full-bodied and Tubey Magical, with especially smooth, present vocals, this is the sound we love at Better Records.

More Allman Brothers


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America - History: America’s Greatest Hits

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: amerihisto_2018) 



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

The big sound on both sides lets this Greatest Hits compilation hold its own against the originals. Side One has amazing CLARITY and PRESENCE, which is especially noticeable on the vocals. Side Two has plenty of bottom end that drives these songs with energy and life. Listen for the bells on 'Tin Man'; they have the correct transients and harmonics. You never quite get back all of the Tubey Magic of the originals, but the detail and richness are enough to make you fall in love with this high quality George Martin (re) production.

More America


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The Band - Moondog Matinee

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: band_moond_2017) 



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

Some great music is to be found here, and quite respectable sound on the "hotter" copies. ’Ain’t Got No Home’ and ’A Change Is Gonna Come’ are two personal favorites of the ten tracks here.

Both sides are tonally balanced from top to bottom, with more energy and space than others. The bass is huge, the brass rich, the all analog sound smooth and natural. It's no demo disc; it just sounds bigger, clearer, and more right than the other sides we played.

More by The Band


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

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: beethsym8-9_2005) 



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

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

More of the music of Ludwig van Beethoven


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David Bowie - Aladdin Sane

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: bowiealadd_2008) 



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

THE BIG BOWIE SOUND for this wonderful follow-up to Ziggy Stardust! We just finished shooting out a number of imports and domestic pressings of this album, and this British Orange Label pressing was THE KING -- on both sides! This one’s got the kind of "meat on the bones" sound that takes these great glam-rock songs to a whole new level! You won't believe how dynamic the sound is!

More David Bowie


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David Bowie - Pin-Ups

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: bowiepinup_2009) 



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

We just finished our biggest-ever shootout for this fun Bowie album and this one was DRAMATICALLY better than most other copies. We played copies from all over the world -- England, Germany, France, Canada, and the good ol' USA -- and heard all kinds of bad sound. This one is no Demo Disc (I don't there's a copy in the world that would fit that description) but it's a HUGE step up over just about anything else you could expect to find. The sound is lively, natural, and smooth with all the tubey magic you could ask for.

More David Bowie


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Bread - The Best of Bread

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: breadbesto_2011) 



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

For just the second time since 2007, here’s a White Hot Stamper copy of The Best Of Bread -- a Better Records Desert Island Disc if ever there was one. (Believe me, there are plenty.)

I can’t be sure why these songs sound so much better here than they do on Bread’s standard albums, but we’ve never heard a Bread album that could compete with the best copies of this compilation. [This is no longer true, please read more about this subject in the listings for the individual Bread albums.]

Bread albums have some of the most Tubey Magical, rich and sweet ANALOG sound you can find, thanks to engineer ARMIN STEINER.


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Jackson Browne - For Everyman

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: brownforev_2010) 



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

An excellent copy of JB's sophomore effort, with wonderful Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides. Rich, smooth and musical, with plenty of bottom end weight, this is the way you want to hear it. David Lindley joins the band, and the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Glen Frey, David Crosby, Elton John and Joni Mitchell contribute.

The average copy of this record is absolute MUD, but this one shows you that the master tape of For Everyman is a whole lot better than most audiophiles would suspect. (The first album is the same way.)

More Jackson Browne


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Buckingham Nicks - Buckingham Nicks

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: buckibucki_2012) 



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

TWO WHITE HOT A+++ SIDES! The overall sound is UNBELIEVABLY rich, sweet, open, spacious, and transparent. Most copies suffer from a seriously bloated bottom end, but the bass on this one is nice and tight. The other big problem with the typical copy is a harsh top end, but the highs here are much sweeter and never aggressive.

More Buckingham Nicks / More Fleetwood Mac


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Buckingham Nicks - Buckingham Nicks

Watch Out for Too Fat and Too Rich

  (Item #: buckibucki_wtlf) 



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

The biggest problem with this record is sound that gets too fat and too rich. There has to be transparency to the sound that lets us listen into the studio. When Stevie is singing, almost always double-tracked by the way, Lindsay is often doing harmony vocals well behind her, double-tracked as well.

More Buckingham Nicks / More Fleetwood Mac


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Ray Charles - All Time Great Country & Western Hits

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: charlallti_2011) 



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

EXCELLENT SOUND and mostly quiet vinyl throughout, the big highlights being an A++ side three and an A+++ side four! We finally found enough copies of this album to do another proper shootout, and this one was one of the very best. Drop the needle on side four to find out just how amazing Ray Charles can sound on vinyl when you've got a killer pressing. The vocals are silky and breathy with natural texture and amazing presence. You will not believe how much tubey magic you get on this side!

More Ray Charles


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Chicago - Chicago VI

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: chicachica6_2016) 



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

The background vocals on these sides are super-breathy and clear, a far cry from the typically smeary, dark voices we heard on most of the pressings we played, all originals in this case.

More often than not the brass lacks bite and presence, but these sides had the Chicago horns leaping out of the speakers. What is a Chicago record without great horns? Without that big bold sound you may have something, but it sure ain't Chicago.

See all of our Chicago albums in stock


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Leonard Cohen - Live Songs

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: cohenlives_2017) 



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

We had a big shootout for this live album, compiled from different shows Cohen performed in 1970 and 1972, and we're pleased to report that the sound was killer on both sides of this copy.

Drop the needle anywhere and you'll notice the impressive immediacy to the vocals, the clear transients on the guitars and the deep, note-like bass. Cohen's voice sounds just right here -- deep and gravely -- and the overall sound is rich, warm and full.

More Leonard Cohen


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Alice Cooper - Billion Dollar Babies

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: coopebilli_2010) 



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

This White Hot Stamper copy had the two best sides back to back we heard in our shootout, with a Triple Plus side two that really brings this music to life.

Which is not easy to do, given that the average copy of this album is a sonic mess -- dark, murky, recessed, compressed, thick and congested. There are a lot of green label Warner Bros. records from the '70s that sound like that, one might even call it their "house sound". When you play the later pressings it's obvious that they've gone overboard in cleaning up the murk, leaving a sound that is lean, flat and modern -- in other words, unmusical.

More Alice Cooper


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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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Deep Purple - Mark I & II

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: deeppmarko_2009) 


This is a Minty looking EMI Import Double LP. It’s a compilation with a single LP dedicated to each era of the bands early history. As with any compilation some tracks sound better than others here but don’t let the German sourced tapes scare you. These sound like really high quality tapes, close to, if not the actual master tapes. The second LP features the most recognizable and probably best lineup (Mark II) the band ever had, with songs such as Black Knight, Speed King, Smoke on the Water and Highway star to name but a few.
More Deep Purple


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Deep Purple - Who Do We Think We Are!

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: deeppwhodo_2011) 



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

This British Import Purple Records pressing has a GREAT side one, and AMAZING A+++ side two, and VERY QUIET VINYL throughout! I don't think you could find a better sounding side two no matter what you did. The sound here is BIG, BOLD and LIVELY with real weight down low and excellent presence. It really JUMPS out of the speakers and fills up the room! Side one is very good as well, with all of the qualities described above. It doesn't fully open up the way side two does, but it still slaughtered most of the copies we played it against.

More Deep Purple


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Deodato - Prelude

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: deodaprelu_2017) 



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

Listen to the trumpet on the second track on side one -- it's so immediate, it's practically JUMPING out of the soundfield, just bursting with energy. Rudy can really pull off these big productions on occasion, and this session was clearly one of them. If you have the kind of stereo that's right for this music (the bigger the better) you could easily find yourself using this record as a demonstration disc. It's very unlikely your audiophile friends have ever heard anything like it.

More Deodato


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The Doobie Brothers - The Captain and Me

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: doobicapta_2009) 



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

OH BABY! This is the HOTTEST copy of The Captain And Me to ever hit the site, bar none. The sound is nothing short of PHENOMENAL from the first cut to the last. Side two earned our top A+++ grade while side one clocked in just half a plus behind. You can’t even begin to imagine what we’ve gone through trying to find Hot Stampers for this album. Here’s the copy that proves it was all worth it.

More Doobie Brothers


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The Doobie Brothers - The Captain and Me

Nautilus Debunked

  (Item #: doobicapta_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

Another Half-Speed Mastered Audiophile Pressing Debunked and another We Was Wrong listing to boot.

We actually recommended the Nautilus Half-Speed in the old days, but the last time we played one (mid-2007) the sound was Pure Audiophile BS -- compressed to death and totally whomp-free. The average domestic copy is terrible too, but that’s no excuse now is it? Not to worry. One of these days we will put some Hot Stampers on the site, and they will ROCK!

More Doobie Brothers


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Compromised Versus Purist Recordings

If It's About the Music, the Choice Is Clear

  (Item #: doobicapta_vs_dd) 



A while back one of our good customers wrote to tell us how much he liked his Century Direct to Disc recording of the Glenn Miller big band, one of the few really amazing sounding direct discs that contains music actually worth listening to. Which brought me to the subject of Hot Stampers.

Hot Stamper pressings are almost always going to be studio multi-track recordings, not live Direct to Discs. They will invariably suffer many compromises compared to the purist approach of an audiophile label trying to eliminate sources of distortion in the pursuit of the highest fidelity.

More Doobie Brothers


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Dr. John - In The Right Place

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: drjohinthe_2017) 



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

Punchy drums, solid bass, smooth vocals, extended highs -- this album was produced, recorded and mastered by superbly talented individuals who deserve a lot of credit for the work they have done here.

If you like Little Feat this album should be right up your alley. And if you like this album and don't know little feat, the link on the left will take you to their music. They're one of the all time great bands of the '70s (and still going as far as I know).

More Dr. John


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Eagles - Desperado

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: eagledespe_2010) 



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

This Original Asylum White Label Pressing has a STRONG A++ side one backed with a KILLER A+++ side two! It's been a couple of weeks since we finished our big shootout for this great album and I still can't get over how amazing this copy sounded. Most copies are too compressed to ever really come to life, but this one is big, bold and dynamic with lots of energy. The bottom end is positively killer on this one.

More Eagles' albums


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Eagles - Desperado

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: eagledespe_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series. This is the second-best sounding Eagles record of all time, no doubt thanks to the engineering of our man Glyn Johns. Of course, the best sound on an Eagles record is found on the first album. For whatever reason, that record was left off the TAS Super Disc list, even though we feel that both musically and sonically it beats this one by a bit.
More Eagles' albums


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Electric Light Orchestra - On the Third Day

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: electonthe_2010) 



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

This White Hot Stamper Side Two is proof positive that the master tape used to cut the album back in 1973 was right here in the good old U. S. of A. The sound is positively JUMPING out of the speakers, like nothing you've ever heard before from this band -- especially if you have a British pressing of the album. The sound has real life to it, unlike the sound on the import pressings of the album. Once you've played a good domestic pressing such as this one, it's obvious that the Brit vinyl is made from sub-generation copy tapes. The imports sound like someone threw a blanket over your speakers.

More ELO


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Electric Light Orchestra - On the Third Day

The British Imports Are Made from Dubs

  (Item #: electonthe_import) 



Sonic Grade: F

Presenting the newest member of our Hall of Shame.

It's obvious, or should be, that the Brit vinyl is made from sub-generation copy tapes. The imports sound like someone threw a blanket over your speakers. We know this because we had a bunch of them cleaned up for our shootout many years ago and they all sucked.

We tend to buy Electric Light Orchestra records on import vinyl; those are the ones that often sound the best. Many of the domestic pressings sound as though they were mastered from dub tapes. But On The Third Day is proof that this is not always the case, just as Siren proves that the best Roxy Music albums are not always British.

More Electric Light Orchestra


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Eno - Here Come The Warm Jets

Our Shootout Winning Copy frrom 2007

  (Item #: eno__herec_2007) 



This British Island Sunray LP is the copy we've been waiting for! We love this music but we'd never heard a copy of this album that could hold its own sonically with our Hot Stamper copies of Taking Tiger Mountain -- until we played this one.

We hardly ever see enough clean copies of this to do a full shootout, but we know Hot Stamper sound when we hear it and this copy's got it -- on BOTH sides. It's got a wonderfully meaty bottom end that was missing from many of the copies we've played before. Baby's On Fire is super punchy, and Cindy Tells Me has AMAZING bass. The vocals are full-bodied and breathy with lots of texture and wonderful presence. The clarity here is superb -- none of the smearing so common to the domestic pressings.

More Eno


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Bryan Ferry - These Foolish Things

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: ferrythese_2010) 



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

AN AMAZING COPY OF THIS VERY FUN ALBUM! We had a nice stack of British copies and this one had an unbeatable A+++ side one backed with a killer A++ - A+++ side two, both on very quiet vinyl. Anyone who digs Roxy Music or Bowie's Pin-Ups is going to find a lot to like here. Check out the cool cover of A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall that kicks off side one!

More Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music


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Ella Fitzgerald - Newport Jazz Festival Live at Carnegie Hall

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: fitzgnewpo_2007) 



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

This is a very good sounding live album, recorded when Ella Fitzgerald could still sing. Most of her stuff for Pablo which followed this leaves much to be desired in my opinion. This album is certainly not the equal of her best work from the '60s, but I'm guessing it's better than anything she did after this.

More Ella Fitzgerald


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Fleetwood Mac - Mystery To Me

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: fleetmyste_2011) 



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

Here it is, folks -- the best sounding copy of Mystery To Me to ever hit our site. This copy positively DOES IT ALL -- it's super open and spacious with tons of energy and incredible presence. The bottom end is just KILLER and there's dramatically more richness and fullness than you get on most copies out there.

More Fleetwood Mac


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Fleetwood Mac - Mystery To Me

Whomp Factor on "Why"

  (Item #: fleetmyste_wtlf) 



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

There is an amazing bass drum on this album that plays on selective tracks, most notably the song "Why", and it will shake the foundation and knock your knick-knacks right off their shelves if you've got the woofers (and the room) to play it right. I was using this record to demo my system in the mid-'70s. I had a pair of Fulton Js and they could really pump out the low end this record needs.

More Fleetwood Mac


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Fleetwood Mac - Penguin

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: fleetpengu_2011) 



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

As Good As It Gets sound on side two of this Minty Reprise original LP. The sound is positively JUMPING out of the speakers in a way that was completely unexpected. We simply did not hear this kind of sound on any other copy. We often talk about the size of the soundfield on a particular pressing, side to side, bottom to top, and even more often about the energy found on one copy relative to another. On this side two we were surprised by a Penguin that was BIGGER and more ENERGETIC than we have ever heard.

More Fleetwood Mac


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Marvin Gaye - Let’s Get It On

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: gaye_letsg_2011) 



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

AMAZING SOUND for one of the best soul albums of all time! This is the first Hot Stamper copy of Let's Get It On to ever hit the site, and it is KILLER on side one, giving you better sound for the classic title track than you probably ever dreamed of! It's not easy to find clean original copies, and even when you manage to track them down they often don't sound all that hot. This side one takes the music to a whole new level -- the vocals are smooth and sweet, the bottom end is punchy with real weight, and the vocals have the kind of presence that carries them out of the speakers and front and center into your listening room. Let's get it on indeed!

More Marvin Gaye


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Genesis - Live

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: geneslive_2010) 



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

Superb sounding but somewhat noisy British Original (or what appears to be) pressing on the blue Charisma label. This album sounds RIGHT ON THE MONEY. I don’t think you can find a better sounding version than this one.

More Genesis


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Genesis - Selling England By The Pound

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: genesselli_2012) 



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

TWO EXCELLENT SIDES on this Charisma Import pressing! This is only the second Hot Stamper copy of Selling England By The Pound to EVER hit our site, and with both sides rating at least A++, it's a monster! It's beyond difficult to find good sounding copies of the early Genesis albums, but we managed to pull together enough clean copies to get this shootout going and eventually found a few copies that got the job done. The overall sound is big, open, transparent and tubey.

More Genesis


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Hall and Oates - Abandoned Luncheonette

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: hallaaband_2008) 



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

If you’re looking for a big production pop record that jumps out of your speakers, is full of TUBEY MAGIC, and has consistently good music, look no further. Until I picked up one of these nice originals, I had no idea how good this record could sound. For an early '70s multi-track pop recording this is about as good as it gets (AGAIG as we like to say). It's rich, sweet, open, natural, smooth most of the time -- in short, it's got all the stuff we audiophiles LOVE.

More Hall and Oates


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Hall and Oates - Abandoned Luncheonette

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: hallaaband_debunk_) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

Those of you who have had the misfortune to play the MoFi LP know that they absolutely ruined this album. They boosted the hell out of the top end, the last thing in the world this recording needed.

Actually, that’s probably not true. People who collect MoFi records probably like the kind of phony sound found on the MoFi of this title.

More Hall and Oates


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Hall and Oates - Abandoned Luncheonette

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: hallaaband_depth) 



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

If you have a copy or two laying around, there is a very good chance that side two will be noticeably thinner and brighter than side one. That has been our experience anyway, and we've been playing batches of this album for well over a decade. To find a copy with a rich side two is rare indeed.

More Hall and Oates


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Milt Jacskon - Sunflower

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: jackssunfl_2016) 



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

The first track, at more than ten minutes, is yet another one of our favorite orchestra-backed jazz recordings here at Better Records. Other albums of this sort that we love are Wes Montgomery's California Dreaming (1966, and also Sebesky-arranged), Grover Washington's All the King's Horses (1973) and Deodato's Prelude (also 1973, with brilliant arrangements by the man himself).

See all of our Milt Jackson albums in stock


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Keith Jarrett - Solo-Concerts (3 LP Box Set)

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: jarresoloc_2010) 



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

This is a very nice looking ECM Promo 3 LP set with Virtually No Sign of Play (VNSOP). The set comes with a 13-page booklet containing extensive liner notes and photographs. We prefer the sound of these domestic pressings to the imports we've played.


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Billy Joel - Piano Man

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: joel_piano_2011) 



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

This is the first Super Hot Stamper copy of Billy Joel's classic Piano Man to ever hit the site! We've been trying to find great copies of this one for ages, but it is TOUGH. This copy gets you much better sound than most of them out there -- it's cleaner, clearer and more open with the kind of vocal presence needed to make the title track come to life. So many copies we played were thin, dry and grainy -- sonic issues that really gets in the way of enjoying this music.

More Billy Joel


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Elton John - Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only The Piano Player

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: john_donts_2017) 



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

The tonality here is rich, tubey and warm. It doesn't get thick or murky as many copies have a tendency to do.

The amazing engineer KEN SCOTT (Ziggy Stardust, Magical Mystery Tour, Honky Chateau, Crime of the Century, Truth, Birds of Fire) is the man responsible for the sound here.

More Elton John


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Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: john_goodb_2012) 



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

With three White Hot shootout winning sides and one Super Hot side, the four sides of these 2 LPs will show you a GYBR you never imagined could exist. We certainly never expected to hear it sound like this, I can tell you that. I've never begun to hear these songs have the energy, presence and rock and roll POWER that they do here.

More Goodbye Yellow Brick Road


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Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

What to Listen For

  (Item #: john_goodb_choruses) 



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

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

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

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Elton John

MoFi and DD Labs Debunked

  (Item #: john_goodb_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F (DD Labs) / D (MoFi)

Hall of Shame and two more Half Speeds debunked.

If you have the Direct Disc Labs half-speed you have one truly awful record in your collection, so sucked out in the midrange, so compressed everywhere, what the hell were they thinking making this rockin' album sound like that? It’s positively disgraceful. It makes MoFi look like they knew what they doing, and we know that sure isn’t true.

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Elton John - GYBR

Great job on finding what for me is a new reference disk

  (Item #: john_goodb_letter) 



"This hot stamper shows off the difference between a recording and a performance. Great job on finding what for me is a new reference disk."

The entire letter can be found below, along with our general notes about the recording.

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Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

The Earliest Stampers Sound the Best, Right?

  (Item #: john_goodb_myth) 



Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

We had a White Hot stamper listing a while back with these comments featured prominently in the description:

This is BY FAR the best sounding Goodbye Yellow Brick Road to ever hit the site, and BY FAR the best sounding copy we have ever played here at Better Records. And for those of you who think that the early stampers must be the best, note that this killer copy had no side with a stamper under three. How about them apples? As we like to say, screw all that Platonic thinking; we find the empirical approach of playing the records works a whole lot better, thank you very much.

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Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (2 LPs)

A Heavy Vinyl Winner!

  (Item #: john_goodb_scorecard) 



Sonic Grade: B (or better!)

Hey, they really did a good job with this one! We are going to listen to it again at a later date to see if our initial impressions were correct [I guess by now it should be clear that we are never going to do that, sorry!], but it sure sounded good to us when we played it recently during our big GYBR shootout.

I’m guessing no domestic copy can beat it, and certainly no audiophile half-speed mastered pressing can hold a candle to it; those records are pretty awful.

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King Crimson - Larks’ Tongues In Aspic

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: kingclarks_2010) 



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

For King Crimson, it doesn’t get much better than this original Island SUNRAY Label British Import LP. It sounds great in all aspects -- quiet, TRANSPARENT, DYNAMIC and full of energy. The sound JUMPS right out of the speakers practically the instant the needle hits the groove. (You better watch your volume knob if you value your equipment!)

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Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: ledzehouse_2010) 



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

A TRULY STUNNING COPY of this classic album! Both sides here are rich, warm and full-bodied with tons of energy and presence. It just doesn't get much better than this, folks! We gave side two a Four Plus grade -- note that we don't even have a graphic for that! -- and side one was also very strong.

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Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: ledzehouse_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

We can describe the sound in two words: ridiculously bright. Honestly, what more need be said?

Over the years we have done many Led Zeppelin shootouts, often including the Classic Heavy Vinyl Pressings for comparison purposes. After all, these Classic LPs are what many -- perhaps most -- audiophiles consider superior to other pressings.

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Led Zeppelin - Houses of the Holy

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: ledzehouse_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Led Zeppelin's momentous 1973 release, Houses of the Holy.

You really get an understanding of just how much of a production genius Jimmy Page was when you listen to a copy of Houses with the kind of resolution and transparency found on our best copies. To take just one example, just listen to how clearly the multi-tracked guitars can be heard in the different layers and areas of the soundstage. On some songs you will have no trouble picking out three, four and even more guitars playing, each with its own unique character.

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Little Feat - Dixie Chicken

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: littldixie_2010) 



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

White Hot Stamper sound on side two -- yes, it is possible, and this very copy is Proof with a capitol P. Most copies of this album sound like cardboard, especially the later pressings on the palm tree and tan labels. To get the best sound you need originals of this album, and Warner Brothers green label originals are getting pretty darn hard to find as more and more collectors and audiophiles are coming to the realization that the unending stream of heavy vinyl reissues flooding the market leaves a lot to be desired. (Our desire for them is at zero as we no longer bother to order the stuff.)

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Little Feat - Dixie Chicken

How Does the MoFi Sound?

  (Item #: littldixie_mobile_fidelity) 



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

How does the MoFi pressing sound? We have no idea; we've never bothered to order one. This is an album about rhythm. Half-Speed mastered records have sloppy bass and, consequently, lack rhythmic drive. Who is his right mind would want to half-speed master an album by Little Feat, one of the most rhythmically accomplished bands in rock and roll history?

The obvious answer is that it was a bad idea. But, if you're Mobile Fidelity, and that's the only idea you've ever had because you are in the half-speed mastering business, then what else can you do? As the old saying goes, to a hammer everything looks like a nail.

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Loggins & Messina - Full Sail

Choruses that Really Get Up and Going

  (Item #: loggifulls_wtlf) 



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

At about the two minute mark the big chorus in Watching the River Run is also a great test for weight, resolution, dynamic energy, and freedom from strain in the loudest parts. When the whole band is projecting, really belting it out, the shortcomings of practically any copy will be most evident. It was a key test every pressing had to pass.

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Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds of Fire

We Just Weren't Ready in 2013

  (Item #: mahavbirds_2013) 



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

This WHITE Hot Stamper Birds of Fire has a side one that will blow your mind. Turn this one up and prepare yourself for the kind of sound that perhaps one out of fifty records has to offer, with cymbal crashes that really crash, bass that threatens to move your house off its foundation, and the kind of jazz rock fusion POWER that few groups in the history of music have ever been capable of. It’s 100% guaranteed to bring your stereo to its knees. Was it really possible to encode this kind of energy onto a slice of vinyl decades ago? This side one proves it was.

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Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds of Fire

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: mahavbirds_rocks_harder) 



What do you hear on the best Hot Stampers of Birds of Fire?

They just plain ROCK HARDER than the other copies we played.

But what really sets them apart is the tremendous ENERGY they contain in their grooves. The music EXPLODES out of the speakers and comes to life on the best copies of Birds of Fire like nothing you have ever heard.

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Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds of Fire

What To Listen For

  (Item #: mahavbirds_wtlf) 



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

Birds of Fire as a recording is not about depth or soundstage or ambience. It's about IMMEDIACY, plain and simple. All the lead instruments positively jump out of the speakers -- if you are lucky enough to be playing the right pressing. This is precisely what we want our best Hot Stampers to do. The better they do it, the higher their grade.

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Dave Mason - It's Like You Never Left

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: masonitsli_2015) 



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

I was a big fan of this album when it came out in 1973, used to play it all the time in fact. Now I hear why - it's big and rich with a solid bottom end and a smooth, sweet top, perfect for the big but not especially sophisticated speakers (the Fulton J System) I had back in the day.

This album has the kind of sound that the typical CD just doesn't want anything to do with. Not that the Compact Disc couldn't pull it off -- there are good sounding CDs in the world -- but it doesn't seem to want to even try.

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Paul McCartney & Wings - Band On The Run

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: mccarbando_2011) 



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

This British Original looking EMI Black Label LP has THE BEST SOUND I HAVE EVER HEARD FOR THIS ALBUM. Most pressings of this album leave a lot to be desired. They typically sound like they're made from second-rate dubs.

A song like Jet can be positively painful on most of the LPs that you run across. Here, practically for the first time, it actually sounds good, with plenty of deep bass that I'm not used to hearing. Following Jet is probably the best sounding track on side one, Bluebird. It's amazingly sweet and transparent on this LP. Like I say, I don't think I've ever heard a better copy.

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Harry Nilsson - A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: nilssalitt_2011) 



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

AMAZING SOUND AND WONDERFUL MUSIC! We just finished our first huge shootout for this great album and this one was a BIG step up over most of the pressings we played. This is one of the better sounding orchestral-backed male vocal albums that we know of, and on a copy like this the sound can be MINDBLOWINGLY GOOD. Side one is rich, lush and warm; more importantly, the vocals are PERFECTION.

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Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: oldfitubul_2017) 



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

You'll find incredible Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides of this British Virgin LP - this one is doing everything right! The space, the richness and the clarity all combine to make this a powerful listening experience. It's incredibly hard to find good sounding copies of this record - this is the first White Hot copy to hit the site in a long time.

See all of our Mike Oldfield albums in stock


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Pentangle - Pentangling

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: pentapentangling_2012) 



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

STUNNING BRITISH FOLK SOUND! If you're a fan of this kind of music, you will be bowled over by the sound on this Transatlantic pressing. The sound is full of that good ol' British tubey analog magic that you just won't find on any CD ever made. The top end is extended and silky sweet, and the soundfield is big and open. The title track is DEMO DISC QUALITY.

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Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: pinkfdarks_2012) 



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

This Minty EMI Harvest German Import LP takes this album to a WHOLE NEW LEVEL. Both of these White Hot sides have HUGE, room-filling, hi-definition sound with all the Tubey Magic you could ever hope for. The transparency and the clarity are mind-boggling! Just listen to how clear the clocks are on Time, how breathy the vocals are on Breathe, how textured the synthesizers are and how silky the top end is from the beginning of the album all the way to the end.

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Are All MoFis Created Equal?

A Pair of Pink Floyd LPs Proved They Aren’t

  (Item #: pinkfdarks_mofi_2016) 



Many audiophiles are still under the misapprehension that Mobile Fidelity, with their strict "quality control", managed to eliminate pressing variations of the kind we discuss endlessly on the site.

Such is simply not the case, and it's child's play to demonstrate how false this way of thinking is, assuming you have these four things: good cleaning fluids and a machine, multiple copies of the same record, a reasonably revealing stereo, and two working ears. With all four the reality of pressing variations for ALL pressings is both obvious and incontrovertible.

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Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon

MoFi Reviewed

  (Item #: pinkfdarks_mofi_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D- to B+ (depending)

Now that we’ve had a chance to hear scores of the best import pressings of Dark Side, we know -- better than anyone, if I can be so bold -- just how good that record can sound. No MoFi is ever going to compete with one our our White Hot Stamper pressings -- they have energy and rock power that is nothing less than astonishing.

Playing so many MoFi copies this time around made one thing very clear: the average MoFi pressing of Dark Side is really a piece of junk. So COMPRESSED, so THIN, so PHONY in the upper midrange and BOOSTED on the top end. The typical MoFi is as artificial sounding as the average store bought CD. (Or phony audiophile recording by the likes of Chesky or Audioquest.)

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Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

Quick and Easy Listening Test

  (Item #: pinkfdarks_test_2014) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

Breathe is my favorite test track for side one for any version of Dark Side Of The Moon, Half-Speed or otherwise. When the voices come in about halfway through the song, you can tell that most copies are too bright simply by listening to the vocals on this track. The cymbals might sound wonderful; lots of other instruments might sound wonderful; and there might be plenty of ambience, detail and transparency. But all of that counts for nothing if the voices don't sound right. And on most copies the voices sound bright, aggressive, grainy and transitory. (This is the case with the new 180 gram 30th Anniversary copy I regret to say.)

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Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon

Expanding Space Itself

  (Item #: pinkfdarks_top_ten) 



Recently we played a copy with all the presence, all the richness, all the size and all the energy we ever hoped to hear from a top quality pressing of Dark Side of the Moon. It did it ALL and then some. The raging guitar solos (there are three of them) on Money seemed to somehow expand the system itself, making it bigger and more powerful than I have ever heard. Even our best copies of Blood Sweat and Tears have never managed to create such a huge space with that kind of raw power. This copy broke through all the barriers, taking the system to an entirely new level of sound.
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Prokofiev / Peter and the Wolf / Young Person’s Guide / Previn

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: prokopeter_2935) 



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

ASD 2935. Excellent sound.

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The Rolling Stones - Goats Head Soup

Live and Learn, A Lesson from 2011

  (Item #: rolligoats_2011) 



This is a classic case of Live and Learn.

We would agree with very little of what we had to say about Goat's Head Soup as a recording when we wrote about it back in 2011 -- and for the previous 35+ years since I first played a domestic original.

Having done a big shootout for the album in 2016 we now know there most certainly are great sounding pressings to be found, because we found some. The data are in, and now we know just how wrong we were. In our defense, let me just ask one question: Did anybody else know this record was well recorded? I can find no evidence to support anyone having ever taken such a contrarian position.

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The Rolling Stones - Goats Head Soup

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: rolligoats_2016) 



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

The impossible has happened - we found a good sounding copy of Goats Head Soup, only 53 years after it was first released.

Why did it take us so long to find a killer copy? Let's just say the pressing is somewhat "off the beaten path" and leave it at that. We ran into it by accident during an attempted shootout not long ago, and it was so much better than the other records we were playing at the time that we had to postpone the shootout until we could find more of these specific pressings. It took some months but we managed to get a big pile of "happy accidents" together and the result was a gamechanging White Hot copy.

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Linda Ronstadt - Don't Cry Now

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: ronstdontc_2011) 



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

WOW! This White Hot Stamper Asylum pressing has TWO AMAZING A+++ SIDES -- better than every other copy we played it against. Side one is huge, rich and full. The sound is absolutely jumpin' out of the speakers and Linda's vocals are wonderfully present and breathy. Side two is every bit as good. It's nice and clear with a great top end, present vocals and lovely sounding pianos. P> Linda really belts it out on this album -- face it, it's what she does best -- and only the rarest copies allow you to turn up the volume good and loud and let her do her thing.

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Linda Ronstadt - Don’t Cry Now

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: ronstdontc_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi Audiophile LP debunked.

You're looking at one of the worst audiophile disasters in recent memory. Talk about dead as a doornail sound, folks, if you own this pressing, take it from us, you don't know what you're missing. Buy the next domestic copy you spot at your local record store for five bucks and find out. No way it can sound as bad as this compressed, lifeless, dull "audiophile" record.

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Linda Ronstadt - Don’t Cry Now

What to Listen For

  (Item #: ronstdontc_wtlf) 



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

Her vocals on both sides can be very DYNAMIC, but only the best copies will present them with no hint of STRAIN or GRAIN, two problems that make most pressings positively painful to listen to at the loud volumes we prefer.

Linda really belts it out on this album -- face it, it's what she does best -- and only the rarest copies allow you to turn up the volume good and loud and let her do her thing.

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Roxy Music - For Your Pleasure

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: roxymforyo_2017) 



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

This album is a MASTERPIECE of Art Rock, Glam Rock and Bent Rock all rolled into one. Spacious, dynamic, present, with HUGE MEATY BASS and tons of energy, the sound is every bit as good as the music. (At least on this copy it is. That's precisely what Hot Stampers are all about.)

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Roxy Music - Stranded

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: roxymstran_2016) 



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

Stranded is one of the higher quality recordings by the band, coming in second for sonics only to the first album, which is really saying something considering that the first album is a Top 100 title. The Tubey Magic on the early albums has to be heard to be believed.

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Saint-Saens - Carnival of the Animals

180g Klavier Debunked

  (Item #: saintcarni_debunk_2015) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing.

Yet another murky, smeary Audiophile Piece of Trash from the mastering lathe of the formerly brilliant Doug Sax. He used to cut the best sounding records in the world. Then he started working for AP and to my knowledge hasn't cut a good sounding record since.

For those of us who remember his consistently superb work in the '70s, we sadly note that he passed away in 2015. I was honored to have met him a few years back at a Chopin concert performed by Lincoln Mayorga.

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Saint-Saens - Danse Macabre / Ravel, Debussy, Chabrier

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: saintdanse_2016) 



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

This White Hot EMI pressing has some of the loveliest orchestral music reproduction we’ve ever heard. Man, this copy sure has it going on: it’s super clean and clear, tonally correct from top to bottom, with all of the weight of the orchestra down low on both sides.

If you want a classical record to TEST your system, if you want a classical record to DEMO your system, you will have a hard time finding a better pressing than this very copy.

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)


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Saint-Saens / Symphony No. 3 ("Organ") / Fremaux

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: saintsym3_2016) 



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

One of Saint-Saens' greatest masterpieces finally comes to Better Records with true Demo Disc sound. Huge, lively, spacious, dynamic - both sides earned our top grade of Triple Plus (A+++). What this copy did better than any other was show us just how rich, smooth and Tubey Magical the 1973 sound could be.

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)


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Schumann & Grieg / Piano Concertos / Lupu / Previn / LSO

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: schumpiano_6840_2008) 



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

This is an EXCELLENT SOUNDING London pressing of the famous TAS list LP. I've never heard a quieter copy. Usually these are noisy as hell and this one plays dead quiet most of the time, and Mint Minus the rest. HP was right: the Grieg here has the best sound. The piano is amazingly well recorded; the sound is rich and powerful. The orchestra sound better on the Grieg as well; it's slightly more compressed and leaner on the Schumann side.


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Son Seals - The Son Seals Blues Band

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: sealssonse_2011) 



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

This 1973 debut album has the kind of Live-in-the-Studio sound that most Blues albums (and every other kind of album) strive for but practically never achieve. If you turn this one up good and loud, the Son Seals Band will be right there in the room with you. If there's any overdubbing on this record you sure can't hear it.

If you've been suffering with one bad sounding Stevie Ray Vaughan album after another -- is there any other kind? -- this record should come as a godsend. This album will show you just how dynamic and energetic recordings can be, but so rarely are. Not more than one or two out of 100 records we play in a given year are as exciting sounding as this very record.

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Paul Simon - There Goes Rhymin’ Simon

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: simonthere_2008) 



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

TWO LOVELY SIDES, including a side one that takes this music to an entirely new level! People have been telling me for years how good this album can sound, but until we played this copy I didn’t realize just how right they were. This side one has STAGGERING presence and a MASSIVE three-dimensional soundfield that we simply did not hear anywhere else. The sound is airy, open, spacious and SO transparent, and the energy factor is OFF THE CHARTS. Drop the needle and brace yourself for rich, full-bodied sound that jumps out of the speakers and fills the room!

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Sly And The Family Stone - Fresh

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: slyanfresh_2017) 



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

Both sides here had exceptionally good bass, and that earned it a lot of points in our shootout. The sound is punchy and full-bodied with excellent clarity. It's also smooth, in the best tradition of analog from the early '70s. This is the right sound for the music, no question about it.

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Spooky Tooth - Witness

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: spookwitne_2007) 



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

This very nice looking Island Sunray British Import LP has GREAT SOUND on side one -- we rate it A++ or thereabouts. (There may be a copy out there that’s worthy of our Triple Plus grade and there may not; this is the first clean early British copy we’ve played and it sounded so good to us we didn’t think there was much room for improvement, on side one anyway. Hence the grade.)

Although it’s not Glyn Johns that engineered this album, it was recorded at Island and Olympic studios, both of which are top quality locations famous for producing some of the best sounding rock records in the history of the world.

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Bruce Springsteen - The Wild, The Innocent...

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: sprinwildt_2013) 



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

White Hot Stamper sound on both sides of this original copy, much better sound than we ever expected to hear. Side one here was the richest, clearest, biggest and most energetic of any side one we played. Side two is nearly as good, but such a big jump over all the rest that it easily earns its Three Pluses. Side one is doing it all. Nothing came close.

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Steely Dan - Countdown to Ecstasy

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: steelcount_2009) 



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

It's time for our annual Countdown to Ecstasy -- whatever that is -- and for 2009 this copy took TOP HONORS with superb sound on both sides! We just finished doing a huge shootout for this album with well over a dozen copies, winnowed down from close to twenty at the start, and the winner and new champion is this very copy -- on the yellow label no less!

We had done shootouts in the past in which all the best copies of this album were on the black label, but this time around the yellow labels came out victorious.

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Steely Dan - Countdown to Ecstasy

Singing Along with My Old School

  (Item #: steelcount_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of Countdown to Ecstasy, Steely Dan's wonderful second album.

We've found that two songs are especially helpful in this regard: Razor Boy on side one, and My Old School on side two.

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10cc - 10cc

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: tencctencc_2014) 



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

These British original pressings are surprisingly hard to find; Sheet Music is a tough one these days too. We're lucky to find one clean copy of either title in a given year. We'll be looking harder from now on though, because this record sounds great and the music is a blast.

See all of our 10cc albums in stock


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Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee - Sonny and Brownie

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: terrysonny_2013) 



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

SUPERB A+++ DEMO DISC SOUND and DEAD QUIET VINYL on both sides of this A & M pressing! What a record! I'd be willing to bet my bottom dollar that you couldn't find ANY version of this music that sounded better than this. The sound is RIGHT ON THE MONEY from top to bottom, start to finish. The immediacy, clarity and transparency are OFF THE CHARTS -- this record puts a killer blues jam right there in your living room!

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Traffic - Shoot Out At The Fantasy Factory

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: traffshoot_2015) 



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

Import versus domestic? You would be hard pressed to find better sound than on the best of these DOMESTIC pressings, and that includes Low Spark of High Heeled Boys!

We just finished a huge shootout for this album and didn't find a copy that could hold a candle to this one in the huge stack we played. This may not be the best Traffic album ever, but on a copy that sounds this good it's very enjoyable and certainly an impressive sonic spectacular.

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Live In Japan  (Item #: vaughlivei_2018) 



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

This album captures Vaughan's rich, playful style and transfixing vocal range like you've never heard before.

You may remember that Mobile Fidelity remastered this very album on CD, one of their very first releases, long before they came up with the idea of gold plating their discs and doubling the price. Some of those early discs were outstanding; I still own many of them to this day. That said, I don't think I ever played this particular title.

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Tom Waits - Closing Time

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: waitsclosi_2017) 



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

This copy has the kind of sound we look for in a top quality Tom Waits record: immediacy in the vocals (so many copies are veiled and distant); natural tonal balance (most copies are either bright or dark; ones with the right balance are the exception, not the rule); good solid weight (so the piano and other instruments sound full and powerful); spaciousness (the best copies have studio ambience like you would not believe); and last but not least, TRANSPARENCY, the effect of being able to see INTO the soundfield all the way to the back, where there is plenty going on in this remarkable studio recording.

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Joe Walsh - The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: walshsmoke_2010) 



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

MASTER TAPE SOUND on side one of 1973 classic, an album the All Music Guide calls "a superb album by anyone's standards". We had no idea this album could sound so good until we stumbled upon a clean copy recently a threw it on the table. We couldn't believe how rich and punchy it sounded, after hearing dozens of dry, thin, lifeless copies over the years.

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Walton - Violin Concerto -- Chung / Previn

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: waltovioli_6601_2011) 



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

A Near Mint 1973 Decca British Import LP. This album also contains the Stravinsky Concerto on side two.

The Walton sounds quite good; the Stravinsky is a bit Hi-Fi-ish for my taste. Love that cover!

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War - Deliver The Word

Our Shootout Winner from 2019

  (Item #: war__deliv_2019) 



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

WONDERFUL JAZZ / FUNK / SOUL SOUND from start to finish! We just finished our first big shootout for this fun album -- the All Music Guide calls it "a magical ride with plenty of surprises to keep the listener on his or her toes" and we couldn't agree more! This copy gives you punchy bass, airy flutes, hard-hitting percussion and loads of Tubey Magic. Most copies we played had too much hardness, edge, and honk, but this one is smooth, sweet and rich.

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