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1976

Stevie Wins Another Grammy, Frampton Comes Alive and Hotel California Sells Millions

  (Item #: 1976) 



Click HERE to see the records currently on the site that were recorded or released in 1976.

And HERE to see the records from 1976 that we've reviewed.


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801 - 801 Live

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: 801__live_2007) 



The best Island copies of this album ROCK HARDER than practically any record we've ever played. If you have the system for it, this one will bring a Live Art Rock concert right into your living room!

It's right at the top of the list of my Favorite Albums -- a Desert Island Disc if ever there was one. I stumbled across it more thirty years ago and I've loved it ever since. It all started when a college buddy played me the wildly original Tomorrow Never Knows from the album and asked me to name the tune. Eno's take is so different from The Beatles version that I confess it took me an embarrassingly long while to catch on.

More Phil Manzanera


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Are You a Detail Freak?

At Better Records We Call that Pitfall Number 1

  (Item #: 801__live_detail) 


Is that where the music is -- in the details? Brighter ain’t necessarily better; most of the time it’s just brighter.

This album isn't about clarity. It's about the sound of a live Rock and Roll concert. It's about the raw power of one of the most phenomenal rhythm sections to ever be captured in performance.

More Phil Manzanera / More Brian Eno


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801 Live

It's All About the Bass (Except for that One Time When It Wasn't)

  (Item #: 801__live_listen) 



What's especially interesting about this copy is that we went crazy for it even though it did not have the best bass of the copies we played, which, as you will see below, clearly contradicts what we had previously written. We thought that the copies with the best bass had the best everything else too, but that was not what we heard this time around.

THIS copy got the music to work its magic, and it did it with most, but not all, of the bass of the best. Not sure how to explain it. Rules were made to be broken maybe?

More Phil Manzanera & Roxy Music


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Ambrosia - Somewhere I've Never Travelled

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: ambrosomew_2012) 



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

This SUPERB WHITE HOT STAMPER copy is our overall winner from the recent huge Hot Stamper shootout we did for Ambrosia’s second -- and second best -- album. Friends, it’s been a long time coming but, judging by this copy and the others which fared well, it was worth it. We LOVE this music.

Ambrosia is one of the few groups that has mastered the technique of being both far-out galactic in scope of vision and mainstream AM commercial in execution... There is an unusual dreamlike quality that pervades its work. The songs seem to be reaching the listener direct from some strange and beautiful realm of the unconscious. It is an experience rare in popular music today, or at any time.

Billboard, 1977



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Ambrosia and Its Elusive Hot Stampers

"Press on" - Sage Advice from Calvin Coolidge

  (Item #: ambrosomew_mistake_2014) 



“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Calvin Coolidge

If you substitute "finding Hot Stamper pressings" for the words "the human race" you will surely appreciate the point of this commentary.

More Ambrosia


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Joan Armatrading - Joan Armatrading

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: armatjoana_2008) 



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

TWO AMAZING SIDES! We’ve known for quite some time that this can be an amazing sounding record, but until this week we didn’t realize just how stunning the best copies can be! This one’s an absolute knockout -- side one earned the high grade of A++ while side two is As Good As It Gets!


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Bad Company - Run With The Pack

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: badcorunwi_2013) 



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

SUPERB SOUND on Hot Stamper 2-pack! This is not an easy album to find with audiophile sound, and since our best sides were less impressive on their flipsides, we paired up these two copies to give you incredible sound for the album from first note to last.

Side two of the second record is the real deal, with BIG, RICH and ROCKIN' White Hot Stamper sound. Side one of the first record is nearly as good (A++ to A+++), boasting exceptional transparency, excellent balance and something we didn't hear on most copies: ENERGY.

More Bad Company


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Count Basie - I Told You So

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: basieitold_2012) 



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

This is a Superb Basie Big Band title in every way -- musically, sonically, you name it, this album has got it going on! With 18 pieces in the studio, "I Told You So" can be a real powerhouse -- if you have the right copy, and this side one, with SUPER HOT Stamper sound, shows you just how lively, fun and dynamic this music can sound.

This is the way it must have sounded in 1976, in the New York studios where it was recorded, with legendary RCA engineer BOB SIMPSON behind the board.

More Count Basie


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George Benson - Breezin'

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: bensobreez_2016) 



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

Excellent sound for George Benson's 1976 classic Breezin'! This copy should blow the doors off your old copy or any MoFi pressing -- guaranteed. It's got all the elements this smooth masterpiece needs to come to life today, almost 40 years later if you can believe it. There's tons of energy, strong presence, excellent bass and a huge soundfield with real depth. You can hear right into the music, something just not possible on most copies out there.

See all of our George Benson albums in stock


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George Benson - Breezin’

Hot Stamper MoFi Reviewed

  (Item #: bensobreez_mfsl) 



Sonic Grade: B-

Another MoFi reviewed, and surprisingly this one isn't awful.

It has an excellent side two backed with a pretty good side one. Side two has excellent bass -- for a MoFi -- and lots of energy -- for a MoFi. It’s slightly smooth but overall it’s very musical. The best domestic copies are going to eat its lunch, but try to find one that sounds good. Most of them are awful.

This MoFi copy, though lacking in many ways, is MUCH BETTER sounding than the other MoFi copies we played it against, which were muddy and compressed.

More George Benson


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Boston - Boston

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: bostobosto_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.

MASTER TAPE SOUND! We just finished another big Boston shootout; stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but most copies are pretty darn mediocre. If you want to deal with grainy highs, hooded mids, leaned-out bass and on overall lack of enthusiasm on the part of the band, I suppose that’s your prerogative, but this music is a heckuva lot more fun when it sounds like it does on this White Hot Stamper!

More Boston


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Letter of the Week

Boston MoFi = Crappy Soggy French Fries!

  (Item #: bostobosto_letter) 




This week’s letter comes from Ed, another satisfied and enthusiastic Hot Stamper fan. Apparently one of our Killer LPs made him want to take his MoFi pressing and turn the damn thing into a frisbee. When you hear what MoFi did to Boston you might want to toss their version out the window yourself. That pressing is bunk! We have a whole section of records like that that we've debunked to date, and if we had the time we could put hundreds more in it.
More Boston


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Boston - Boston

MoFi Half-Speed Debunked

  (Item #: bostobosto_mfsl_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

The MoFi Anadisc has the same problems that plague the whole series: turgid, thick, blobby, murky, mucky sound. A real slogfest. Audiophile trash of the worst kind. People still pay money for this kind of bad sound? Yes they do! Go to ebay and see the high prices these records are fetching. (This is equal parts shocking and disgusting.)

More Boston


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David Bowie - Station To Station

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: bowiestati_2015) 



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

Here's an amazing White Hot Stamper copy of one of the toughest nuts to crack in the whole Bowie catalog! Full, punchy and present with a wide open soundstage and super dynamics, this is exactly the right sound for this material. This is dense, difficult music, and the typical pressing just can't do it justice! Bowie fans, I'm sure you'll agree this has been a long time coming.

More David Bowie


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Jackson Browne - The Pretender

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: brownprete_2015) 



Amazing A++++ (Four Plus) sound, so good we rated it beyond our usual top grade of Triple Plus. Without a doubt it's the best sounding Jackson Browne record ever made, and this copy backs up everything we say and more.

Side one was super transparent, with breathy, present vocals. What really blew us away on this one is the sheer size and openness of the soundfield. We were so impressed that we went beyond our usual top grade of A+++, something we rarely do. But when a copy like this comes along and sets a new standard for an album's sonic potential, there's nothing else we CAN do!

More Jackson Browne


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J.J. Cale - Troubadour

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: cale_troub_2017) 



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

Cale's classic from 1976 debuts on the site, and this copy is As Good As It Gets folks. If you're hankerin' to hear Cocaine on the authentic original, you really can't do any better than this pressing.

Wikipedia lists his many styles as "Americana, Cajun, blues, swamp rock, country rock, Red Dirt, Tulsa Sound" but we think Americana is probably all you really need.

More J.J. Cale


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The Recordings of Benny Carter

These Three Didn't Make the Grade

  (Item #: carter_benny) 



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

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

Benny Carter Albums with Hot Stampers

Benny Carter Albums We've Reviewed



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Ry Cooder - Chicken Skin Music

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: coodechick_2010) 



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

Side two of this Reprise pressing is OUT OF THIS WORLD. From the moment the needle hit the groove we were blown away by the huge soundfield, the unbelievable presence and the massive amount of energy. It sounded like Ry and his crew were right there in the room with us, playing their hearts out. The two tracks featuring Hawaiian musicians (steel guitarist and singer Gabby Pahinui and slack key guitar master Atta Isaacs) are both on side two and they sound AMAZING on this copy.

More Ry Cooder


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Alice Cooper - Goes To Hell

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: coopegoest_2016) 



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

Triple Plus (A+++) Shootout Winning sound on side one -- it doesn't get any better than this, folks! Huge, open and clear, yet rich and full-bodied, this is the sound you want for this Alice Cooper classic. At Double Plus (A++) side two is nearly as good - Alice's vocals are especially clear and lively. The choruses are big and rich, just the way we like 'em - we guarantee you've never heard the album sound this good by a long shot.

More Alice Cooper


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Crack The Sky - Animal Notes

  (Item #: crackanima_fame) 



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.

Both sides are big and rich in the same way that all the best Classic Rock albums from the '70s are. It has plenty of rock ENERGY; here the sound jumps out of the speakers like practically no other copy we heard.

More Crack the Sky


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Crack The Sky - Animal Notes

What To Listen For

  (Item #: crackanima_wtlf) 



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

The best vintage rock recordings usually have something going for them that few recordings made after the '70s do: their choruses get big and loud, yet stay smooth, natural and uncongested.

We've mentioned it in countless listings. So many records have -- to one degree or another -- harsh, hard, gritty, shrill, congested choruses. When the choruses get loud they become unpleasant, and here at Better Records you lose a lot of points when that happens.

More Crack the Sky


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Crosby / Nash - Whistling Down The Wire

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: crosbwhist_2012) 



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

TWO AMAZING SIDES RATING AT OR NEAR A+++! This is the pair's third and best album, with better sound than Wind on the Water as well as their strongest songwriting. This is arguably a better CSN record than the album titled CSN from 1977. For one thing, the harmonies are superior, even without Stephen Stills. (Crosby and Nash were in big demand in the Rock and Pop world of the '70s for their impressive background vocal skills.) For another it's clearly a better recording.

More Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young


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Miles Davis - Green Haze

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: davisgreen_2018) 



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

A superb sounding Mono pressing with Double Plus (A++) sound or better on all four sides. The sound is spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience - talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This Prestige Two-Fer simply combines two complete Miles Davis titles recorded by Rudy Van Gelder in 1955 - 'The Musings of Miles' and 'Miles.'

More Miles Davis


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Doobie Brothers - Takin’ It to the Streets

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: doobitakin_2009) 



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

SUPERB SOUND on this A++ / A+++ White Hot Stamper -- who in his right mind thought this record could sound this good? Not us! We’ve been buying pressings for years with virtually nothing to show for it; that’s why you haven’t seen a Hot Stamper hit the site since 2007. The typical copy of this album has no real top or bottom; that’s what separates the men from the boys on Takin’ It to the Streets. That shrunken, flat, two-dimensional, lifeless, compressed, midrangy sound you’re so used to hearing on Doobies Brothers albums (to this day I still haven’t found a good Minute by Minute!) is the rule, and this pressing the exception.

More Doobie Brothers


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Bob Dylan - Desire

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: dylandesir_2017) 



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

Two amazing Triple Plus (A+++) sides, huge and solid with tons of weight. Both sides are incredibly clean, clear and lively with lots of space around all of the instruments. Desire spent five weeks at Number One, mostly on the strength of the powerful and provocative "Hurricane."

More Bob Dylan


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Eagles - Hotel California

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: eaglehotel_2011) 



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

TWO SUPERB SIDES -- super transparent, super hi-rez, with tons of energy and tubey magic! We just finished a mega-shootout for this title, dropping the needle on more than a dozen copies, and this bad boy earned Best In Show. Side two earned our top A+++ grade while side one was just half a plus behind. Most copies out there won't come even close to this one on EITHER side.

More Hotel California


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Eagles - Hotel California

DCC Reviewed

  (Item #: eaglehotel_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: B+/B-

The DCC -- Not Bad, But...

The DCC for this album is not a total disaster. In fact, the first side of the DCC is one of the better DCC sides we've played in recent memory. We dropped the needle on a few copies we had in the back (pressing variations exist for audiophile records too, don't you know) and they averaged about a B+ for sound on side one. Side two was quite a bit too clean for our tastes -- no real ambience or meaty texture to the guitars, about a B- for sound. To flip something we say often: you can do worse, but you can do a LOT better.

More Hotel California


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Bill Szymczyk

On Recording the Drums and Vocals for Hotel California

  (Item #: eaglehotel_drum_2015) 



Excerpted from an article by Dan Daley at Sound on Sound.

Eagles records were a benchmark for drum sounds in their time. Bill Szymczyk says he and Henley invested a lot of time experimenting with microphone choices and placements, but that most of the time they reverted to fairly common configurations. There was a lot of flavor-of-the-week with microphones back then, he says. But it would usually come back to a Shure 57 on the top of the snare, either U67 or 87s as overheads, sometimes AKG 414s.

More Hotel California


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Eagles - Hotel California

Rockin' Out to Victim of Love

  (Item #: eaglehotel_wtlf) 



Victim of Love is yet another one of our favorite tracks that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

It's the sound of this five piece tearing it up LIVE IN THE STUDIO. It's also the track where the DCC just falls apart for us. Where did the rock and roll energy go? The DCC makes it sound like the band just doesn't care, which was certainly not our experience when were playing any of the killer Hot Stampers we came across. Just the reverse was true; we had them turned up full blast and they ROCKED.

More Hotel California


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Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: electnewwo_2008) 



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

Even though I am not the world's biggest ELO fan, I am a HUGE fan of this album, which is why I’m so happy to have finally found one with AMAZING SOUND, on both sides! The British originals are the only ones that can convey the sweet TUBEY MAGIC of the British Master Tapes. The string tone on the average domestic copy is shrill and smeary; too little of the critically important texture remains after the master tapes have been dubbed and the copies sent to America for mastering.

More ELO


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Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: electnewwo_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

As a result of Jeff Lynne's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink production approach, it will be the rare copy that provides enough transparency and resolution to bring out all the elements in these incredibly dense mixes, strings included. But when you find a copy that does, what a THRILL it is. This is the band's MASTERPIECE in my humble opinion. For audiophiles ELO on LP doesn't get any better.

More Electric Light Orchestra


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Duke Ellington - The Ellington Suites

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: ellinellin_2013) 



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

  • An A++ side one, an A+++ side two and quiet vinyl throughout make this copy an Ellington LP that is sure to impress! Side one of this album features a piece called "The Queen's Suite" that was recorded in 1959. On this A++ side, you get stunningly Tubey Magical late '50s jazz sound -- something that's almost impossible to come by on any recording made after that.

    1976 Grammy Award Winner for Best Jazz Performance by a Big Band.

    More Duke Ellington


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  • Peter Frampton - Frampton Comes Alive

    Our Shootout Winner from 2015

      (Item #: frampframpton_comes_2015) 



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

    What a monster -- this White Hot Stamper Frampton Comes Alive boasts KILLER A+++ sound on sides one, two, and four and very strong A++ sound on side three! If you're looking for a top-shelf pressing of THE iconic Classic Rock Double Live Album, don't let this one pass you by. If you grew up with this album it's going to be a thrill to hear this copy rockin' on a big audiophile system.

    More Peter Frampton


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    Peter Frampton - Frampton Comes Alive

    What to Listen For

      (Item #: frampframpton_comes_wtlf) 



    Another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.

    What to listen for? Dynamic, soaring guitar solos!

    On the best copies the guitar solos are the loudest parts of some songs, which, as everyone who's ever been to a rock concert knows, is exactly what happens in live rock music.

    Not many live albums are mixed to allow the guitar solos to rock the way these do. Since Frampton is one of my favorite players, hearing his solos get loud on this album is nothing less than a thrill.

    More Peter Frampton


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    Genesis - A Trick Of The Tail

    Our Shootout Winner from 2014

      (Item #: genesatric_2014) 



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

    GENESIS AT LAST! We've been trying to find Hot Stamper copies of this album for years, but it is BEYOND DIFFICULT to find copies of this album that sound great and play quietly. Here's an amazing Trick Of the Tail that absolutely blows the typical pressing out of the water!The sound is BIG, BOLD and OPEN, breaking free from the grainy and cloudly qualities that screw up the average copy.

    More Genesis


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    Genesis - A Trick Of The Tail

    MoFi Debunked

      (Item #: genesatric_mfsl_debunk_2015) 



    Sonic Grade: F

    A Hall of Shame pressing and another Half Speed debunked.

    The last time I played the MoFi I could not believe how ridiculously COMPRESSED it was. On top of that, the midrange is badly sucked out (as is the case with most MoFi's) making the sound as dead as dead can be. You think 180 gram records are lifeless? Play this piece of crap and see just how bad an audiophile record can sound.

    More Phil Collins and Genesis


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    Andrew Gold - What's Wrong With This Picture?

    Our Shootout Winner from 2015

      (Item #: gold_whats_2015) 



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

    The best copies of Gold's sophomore release are incredibly rich, sweet and Tubey Magical. They also have tons of deep punchy bass and wonderfully breathy vocals.

    If you own many Asylum records, you know this title is yet another example of classic Asylum Analog. Think of the sound of the Eagles first album and you won't be far off.

    More Andrew Gold


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    Dave Grusin - Discovered Again

    Our Shootout Winner from 2008

      (Item #: grusidisco_2008) 



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

    This Sheffield Direct to Disc pressing has AMAZING SOUND! Out of the six copies we played, this was the White Hot Stamper WINNER of our shootout with the kind of life and musical energy simply not to be found on the average Sheffield copy.

    See more of our Audiophile recordings


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    Side One Is Actually In Phase (Usually)

    And You Read It Here First (Probably)

      (Item #: grusidisco_phase) 



    According to the liner notes, this album is reversed absolute phase. They tell you to switch the positive and negative at the speaker for the best transient response and spatial clarity. But get this: most side ones are NOT reversed phase!
    See more of our Audiophile recordings


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    Heart - Dreamboat Annie

    Nautilus Hot Stamper

      (Item #: heartdream_2009) 



    This is a Minty looking Nautilus Half-Speed Mastered LP with SURPRISINGLY GOOD SOUND on side two. I think I finally figured out why people like these half-speed mastered records so much. If you get one like this, it's great! The mids and highs are transparent, sweet, open, and tonally correct. There's none of that MOFI 10k top end boost here! Listen critically to the vocals -- there's almost no phony hi-fi-ish quality to the midrange, the kind you hear on so many half-speed mastered records.

    Flip the record over to side one and there they are, plain as day: audiophle BS vocals. That makes this a Hot Stamper on side two and a pretty much run-of-the-mill stamper for side one.

    More Heart


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    Heart - Dreamboat Annie

    Our Shootout Winner from 2012

      (Item #: heartdream_2012) 



    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.

    MASTER TAPE SOUND and QUIET VINYL on BOTH SIDES! If you're an audiophile who loves classic rock, you just haven't lived until you've heard Magic Man and Crazy On You on a Hot Stamper pressing, and they don't get ANY hotter than this copy! We play dozens upon dozens of these every year, and based on that experience this Hot Stamper will be virtually unbeatable for EITHER side.

    More Heart


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    Heart - Dreamboat Annie

    What to Listen For

      (Item #: heartdream_wtlf) 



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

    On the best copies the music just JUMPS out of the speakers. There is so much more LIFE to this recording than I ever thought possible, and only the best pressings let that energy come through. In a nutshell those are the ones that earn the name Hot Stamper.

    More Heart


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    Bernard Herrmann on Vinyl

    These Four Didn't Make the Grade

      (Item #: herrmann_bernard) 



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

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

    Hot Stamper pressings of Bernard Herrmann's Music

    Various Pressings of Bernard Herrmann's Music We've Reviewed



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    Harry James & His Big Band - The King James Version

    Our Shootout Winner from 2009

      (Item #: jameskingj_2008) 



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

    This White Hot Stamper has the best side two we have ever heard! Side two fulfills the promise of the direct to disc recording approach in a way that few -- very few -- direct to disc pressings do. To be honest, the typical pressing of The King James Version leaves much to be desired. As a rule two areas are especially lacking: there is a noticeable lack of presence on most copies, causing the brass to get stuck in the speakers and lose its bite; and, every bit as bad, the sound is often just plain compressed, lacking energy and life. The musicians on most copies are just not giving it their all.

    More Audiophile recordings


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    Billy Joel - Turnstiles

    What to Listen For

      (Item #: joel_turns_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.

    On side two Prelude/Angry Young Man were key test tracks. The biggest, richest copies with the most space consistently brought out the best in the songs and individual performances of the players.

    Summer, Highland Falls is a great test -- listen for breathy vocals, a full piano, a clear snare drum once it comes in and, most importantly, an energetic performance. You will need all four to score well in one of our shootouts.

    More Billy Joel


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    Kansas - Leftoverture

    Our Shootout Winner from 2010

      (Item #: kansalefto_2010) 



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

    This copy of Kansas' most consistent album, their masterpiece I might venture to say, has an OFF THE CHARTS A+++ side two! This is the ROCK album they recorded; the average copy of Leftoverture only hints at the power of the band.

    Side two just KILLED from start to finish, with the deepest, punchiest bass, moving up the frequency ladder to the clearest sweetest mids, and following it all the way to the top with the most extended grain-free, silky highs.

    More Kansas


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    Kansas - Leftoverture

    CBS Half-Speed Debunked

      (Item #: kansalefto_cbs) 



    Sonic Grade: F

    A Hall of Shame Pressing and another Audiophile Record debunked.

    Way too bright and thin. What were they thinking?

    It's the sound that most audiophiles are fooled by to this day! Brighter and more detailed is rarely better. Most of the time it's just brighter. Not many half-speed mastered audiophile records are dull. They're bright because the audiophiles who bought them preferred that sound. I did. Hopefully we've all learned our lesson, expensive and painful as it may have been.

    More Kansas


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    Kansas - Leftoverture

    Reverse Your Polarity, My Wayward Son

      (Item #: kansalefto_polarity) 



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

    About eight years ago (time flies!) we discovered that the first track on side one is in the wrong polarity, or out of absolute phase, whichever terminology you prefer (we ourselves use both). The full story can be found below.

    More Kansas


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    Kansas - Point of Know Return

    Our Shootout Winner from 2013

      (Item #: kansapoint_2013) 



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

    TWO STUNNING SIDES, both clocking in at or just shy of our top grade of A+++! It takes a special pressing to do this music justice, and this one really nails it. Rich, full and tonally balanced from top to bottom, it's hard to imagine how this music could sound any better. The bass is solid and textured, the vocals are full and clear and there's tons of space around all the instruments! From the grungy guitars of the title track to the delicate acoustics of "Dust in the Wind", this one gets it right.

    More Kansas


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    King Crimson - The Young Persons' Guide To King Crimson

    Our Shootout Winner from 2015

      (Item #: kingcyoung_2015) 



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

    No doubt one can find original British copies of the albums from which these songs are taken that sound better, but they tend to be quite expensive and extremely hard to find in clean condition. This gets you most of the more important King Crimson material in one handy 2 LP album.

    The Polydor reissues we've played were passable at best, and the Editions EG recut is a complete disaster. I'm sure the cassette produced back in the day had better fidelity.

    More King Crimson


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    Led Zeppelin - Presence

    Our Shootout Winner from 2012

      (Item #: ledzeprese_2012) 



    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 STUNNING side two (where Nobody's Fault But Mine can be found, one of the best Zep rockers of all time and the best reason to own this album), with MASSIVE room-filling size and rock ENERGY like you will not believe. How did they manage to get such rock and roll power into these grooves, the way they did on Zep II and IV? We can't even imagine, but it's there all right.

    More Led Zeppelin


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    Led Zeppelin - Presence

    Classic Records Debunked

      (Item #: ledzeprese_classic_records) 



    Sonic Grade: D

    This was one of only three Classic Records 180 (later 200) gram titles that I used to recommend back in the day.

    Now when I play the heavy vinyl pressing I find the subtleties of both the music and the sound that I expect to hear have simply gone missing. These days the Classic just sounds second-rate compared to the real thing. You can adjust the VTA of your rig until you're blue in the face, you'll never get the Classic to sound better than passable.

    The average original pressing is better, and that means Classic's version deserves a sub-standard grade of D.

    More Led Zeppelin


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    Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains The Same

    Our Shootout Winner from 2007

      (Item #: ledzesongr_2007) 



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

    FREAKISHLY GOOD LIVE ZEP SOUND! This Swan Song LP is just full of the Zep Magic -- super lively and full-bodied with a whole lotta WHOMP. Bonzo’s drum sound is LARGER THAN LIFE on this copy. Three of the four sides here rate ABOVE A++.

    More Led Zeppelin


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    Mark-Almond - To The Heart

    Our Shootout Winner from 2017

      (Item #: markatothe_2017) 



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

    It takes two copies paired up to get Triple Plus (A+++) sound for both sides, but here they are, a Triple Triple 2-pack. With Roy Halee's brilliant engineering, the sound is as big, rich, clear, open, and ANALOG as you could hope for. New York State of Mind and Here Comes the Rain, Parts 1&2 have a wonderfully relaxed, mellow, jazzy vibe. Allmusic users give this one 4 1/2 Stars and we think that's about right.



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    Dave Mason - Certified Live

    Our Shootout Winner from 2015

      (Item #: masoncerti_2015) 



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

    Unlike Frampton Comes Alive, recorded at different venues, Certified Live was recorded at one location, the Universal Amphitheatre, resulting in very little variation in the sound from track to track. The variation in the sound from side to side is the kind of variation we hear on virtually every pressing we play, since no two sides of a record ever really sound exactly the same.

    We like our '70s Rock Records to be rich and full; that's what live Rock Concerts have always sounded like to us and we see no reason to revise our biases now. It's what good analog does effortlessly and what even the best digital finds difficult to achieve.

    More Dave Mason


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    Paul McCartney and Wings - At the Speed of Sound

    Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2016

      (Item #: mccaratthe_2016) 



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

    This is a classic case of Live and Learn. We were wrong about At the Speed of Sound as a recording. As to whether or not there are great sounding pressings of it, having just done a big shootout for the album in 2016 we now know there most certainly are.

    More Paul McCartney


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    Steve Miller Band - Fly Like An Eagle

    Our Shootout Winner from 2013

      (Item #: milleflyli_2013) 



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

    The hottest copy -- by far -- of Fly Like An Eagle to ever hit the site! We've been collecting these for years in hope of finding a knockout pressing, but shootout after shootout stalled. They pressed tons of copies of this album and most of them sound terrible -- grainy, dry and flat. We went into this shootout without high expectations this week, but we were BLOWN AWAY by the sound of the best copies. And here's one that just couldn't be beat, earning A+++ grades on BOTH SIDES. What a monster!

    See all of our Steve Miller albums in stock


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    Steve Miller Band - Fly Like An Eagle

    Capitol Debunked

      (Item #: milleflyli_debunk_) 



    Sonic Grade: F

    A Hall of Shame and another Heavy Vinyl LP debunked.

    This Capitol Records Limited Edition 180 gram LP from the series that Robert Ludwig mastered is the worst sounding version of the album I have ever heard bar none. It was cut with the azimuth off, which makes all the high frequency transients sound smeared. How anybody could put up with that crappy sounding LP is beyond me, but I have never heard a single person complain about the bad sound.

    More Steve Miller


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    Mussorgsky et al. / Danse Infernale / Fiedler

    Our Shootout Winner from 2009

      (Item #: mussodanse_2009) 



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

    It took two copies -- one for side one, one for side two -- to find two sides this good. We love this album but most copies are unbelievably dreadful. (Actually, if you’ve played a fair number of DG recordings over the years you might not have any trouble believing how bad the average one is, so I take that back.)

    This German Import has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND -- of a kind. Being a DG recording, one of the things you won’t be demonstrating with this record is natural string tone -- it’s just not part of the DG sound. But, this record is ALIVE.

    More of the music of Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881)


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    Willie Nelson - The Troublemaker

    Our Shootout Winner from 2016

      (Item #: nelsotroub_2016) 



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

    The first Hot Stamper copy of this great album to ever hit the site and it's one for the ages! It's taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make this shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble!

    More Willie Nelson


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    Offenbach / Gaite Parisienne / Dorati

    Our Shootout Winner from 2011

      (Item #: offengaite_75014_2011) 



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

    This lovely Mercury Golden Import LP not only has Super Hot Stamper sound on side one, which is where Gaite Parisienne can be found, but it also boasts one of the greatest performances of the piece ever recorded.

    Dorati is surely The Man when it comes to energy, drive and dynamic excitement with this venerable warhorse. He and his Minneapolis Symphony play the hell out of this boisterous music, and luckily for us audiophiles, the Mercury engineers give us Demonstration Quality Sound to go with it.

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


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    The Alan Parsons Project - Tales of Mystery & Imagination

    Our Shootout Winner from 2015

      (Item #: parsotales_2015) 



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

    Alan Parsons' concept album based on the stories of Edgar Allen Poe was a TAS Super Disc for a while back in the day, and one can easily see why. The sound on the better pressings is big, solid and full-bodied with amazing resolving power and dynamics.

    The best copies usually have exceptionally extended top ends. The best top ends are difficult to come by but they sure make a difference in the sound, revealing three-dimensional space that most copies do no better than to hint at.

    See all of our Alan Parsons albums (and albums he engineered) in stock


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    Art Pepper - Living Legend

    Our Shootout Winner from 2010

      (Item #: peppelivin_2010) 



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

    SUPERB SOUND AND MUSIC! Art Pepper’s saxophone sound is Right On The Money, breathy and airy with clearly audible leading edge transients. The lineup on this LP is stellar, with Hampton Hawes on piano and keys, Shelly Manne on drums, and the great Charlie Haden on bass guitar.

    We've mentioned plenty of times what big fans we are of Contemporary Label Jazz LP's and this record is another sonic triumph for engineer Roy DuNann. The sound is warm and lively, with superb clarity and virtually no distortion. The top end is wonderfully extended, allowing you to really appreciate some fantastic cymbal work by Shelly Manne.

    More Art Pepper


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    Art Pepper - The Trip

    Our Shootout Winner from 2007

      (Item #: peppetrip_2007) 



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

    This Autographed copy of The Trip has WONDERFUL SOUND AND MUSIC! The title ain’t lying -- this album is a TRIP! We dropped the needle on this Contemporary Yellow Label pressing and immediately stopped listening critically and began just enjoying the music and the sonics. That’s the sign of a truly exceptional album. The sound on this album is so alive and so real, you’ll feel like there’s a West Coast Jazz quartet in your living room.

    The key word here is NATURAL. No phony boosted top, just smooth sweet sound everywhere you listen.

    More Art Pepper


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    Tom Petty - Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

    Our Shootout Winner from 2008

      (Item #: pettytompe_2008) 



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

    Big and punchy with great energy, this copy really rocks. And rockin' is what this album is all about -- this is fun, high-energy music, but it takes a Hot Stamper copy like this to bring it life.

    This is the classic first album, with two of their best songs: Breakdown and American Girl. It's straight ahead rock and roll, with sonics to match.

    More Tom Petty


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    Queen - A Day At the Races

    Our Shootout Winner from 2015

      (Item #: queendayat_2015) 



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

    TWO SUPERB A+++ SIDES! Big and lively, rich and full, clear and open, no other copy in our shootout impressed us as much as this one.

    Most of the copies we played weren't even worth putting a grade on. We would feel horrible selling a record that we knew sounded as bad as those dogs. It may never be a Demo Disc, but on a White Hot Stamper copy like this it's a whole lot of fun!

    More Queen


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    Rachmaninov / The Bells / Previn

    Reviewed in 2008

      (Item #: rachmbells_3284_2008) 



    This is a Minty EMI original looking pressing of the famous TAS List title. You will have a very hard time finding a nicer one than this!

    Since it is such a famously well-regarded recording we decided to clean it up and gave it a spin. Side one has sweet string tone and a super-extended top end, and it plays very quiet.

    Side two is not quite as good; it's fuller but lacks the extension on the top that side one has in spades. It's also quiet at mostly Mint Minus. (EMIs from this period are almost never quieter than that.)

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


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    Mark Levinson - Acoustic Recording Series, Volume 2

    Reviewed in 2008

      (Item #: ravelvalse_levinson_2008) 



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

    The sound on the record is excellent. It was engineered by Mark Levinson, on special equipment designed to create virtually noiseless ultra-low-distortion master tapes, without noise-reduction systems. It’s mastered by Robert Ludwig.

    The first side contains Ravel’s Valses Nobles et Sentimentales played on the piano by Lois Shapiro. Side two contains her performance of Haydn’s Sonata No. 49.

    More Audiophile recordings


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    Return to Forever - Romantic Warrior

    Our Shootout Winner from 2011

      (Item #: returroman_2011) 



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

    This White Hot Stamper Romantic Warrior has a side one that will blow your mind. It’s 100% guaranteed to bring any stereo to its knees! Turn this one up and prepare yourself for the kind of sound that perhaps one out of a hundred records has to offer, with cymbal crashes that really crash, bass that threatens to move your house off its foundation and energy that is hard to believe was encoded into a thin piece of vinyl decades ago. But here it is! This copy is all that and more.

    More Return to Forever


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    Return to Forever - Romantic Warrior

    Listening in Depth

      (Item #: returroman_depth) 



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

    Romantic Warrior is my favorite JAZZ/ROCK FUSION album of all time. As good as the music is, the sound is even better. This is the Jazz/Rock Demo Disc that stands head and shoulders above the rest. In my experience, no record of this kind is more DYNAMIC or has better BASS. Not one. Demo Disc doesn't begin to do this kind of sound justice.

    More Return to Forever


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    The Rolling Stones - Black and Blue

    Our Shootout Winner from 2016

      (Item #: rolliblack_2016) 



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

    This is in fact one of the better sounding "later period" (1976) Stones records we've played, that's if we're talking about the better copies of course, like this one. The best pressings however are big, open, dynamic and full-bodied, with exceptionally lively percussion. As always, credit goes to the recording engineers, Glyn Johns et al., as well as Lee Hulko at Sterling, the original mastering engineer (who's cut about as many good sounding records as anyone we can think of).

    More Rolling Stones


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    The Rolling Stones - Black and Blue

    Listen to Billy Preston's Piano

      (Item #: rolliblack_wtlf) 



    Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

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

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

    More Rolling Stones


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    Linda Ronstadt - Hasten Down The Wind

    Our Shootout Winner from 2015

      (Item #: ronsthaste_2015) 



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

    This copy is huge, rich and lively, with Linda's vocals reproduced to near perfection.

    The sound is rich, smooth, full-bodied and natural on both sides. In other words, this is Classic Analog from the '70s, recorded by none other than Val Garay, one of our favorite engineers.

    More Linda Ronstadt


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    Rush - 2112

    Our Shootout Winner from 2014

      (Item #: rush_2112_2014) 



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

    We just finished our first ever shootout for the classic 2112, and here's a wonderful copy with two impressive sides! We've collected a bunch of these over the years -- it took ages to find pressings that delivered the kind of sound our customers expect from a Better Records Hot Stamper. Most Rush records sound godawful, but this one actually has the potential to be amazing -- as long as you've got the right copy!

    More Rush


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    Boz Scaggs - Silk Degrees

    Our Shootout Winner from 2011

      (Item #: scaggsilkd_2011) 



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

    This White Hot Stamper side one will BLOW THE DOORS OFF any Silk Degrees you have ever heard. Side one earned an A+++ grade with incredible clarity, a huge bottom end, silky sweet highs, and tons of energy. The strings have real texture, something you won't hear on too many pressings of this album. The mids are clear, the vocals are breathy and the piano is super solid.

    More Boz Scaggs


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    Boz Scaggs - Silk Degrees

    That Rich, Solid Piano - The Forgotten Sound of '70s Rock

      (Item #: scaggsilkd_piano) 



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

    What do you hear on the best copies? Well, the first thing you hear is a rich, solid piano, a piano that's missing from the CBS Half-Speed and 90% of the reissues we've played. Like so many recordings from the '70s this album is surprisingly natural sounding. I've had the same experience with Billy Joel's '70s records. I was surprised to hear how well recorded they are -- and how full-bodied the piano is -- after I stopped listening to the audiophile and import pressings and went back to the original domestic copies.

    More Boz Scaggs


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    Boz Scaggs - Silk Degrees

    David Hungate Gives a Master Class on the Bass

      (Item #: scaggsilkd_wtlf) 



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

    One of the main qualities separating the winners from the also-rans on this title is the quality of the bass. This is first and foremost rhythmic music. David Hungate just kills on this album; he's giving a master class on rock and roll bass on practically every track. And, for us audiophiles, the good news is the bass is very well recorded -- big, punchy and well up front in the mix.

    More Boz Scaggs


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    Schubert / Symphony No. 9 "The Great" / Krips / LSO

    Our Shootout Winner from 2013

      (Item #: schubsym9_decca_2013) 



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

    Krips' 1958 recording for Decca (from Kingsway Hall, with the legendary Kenneth Wilkinson behind the board) is here brought to life on a quiet and wonderful World of the Great Classics reissue from 1976. This copy was one of the best we played, showing us depth and transparency that was only hinted at on most pressings, regardless of age.

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


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    Bob Seger - Night Moves

    Our Shootout Winner from 2012

      (Item #: segernight_2012) 



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

    We've been trying to find killer copies of Night Moves for ages but it is not easy. Most copies out there are thin and dry, which is no way to hear these classic '70s tracks. We brought in copy after copy that made us think, "I swear this sounds better on the radio!"

    Finally, after pulling together a ton of copies from different eras, we started to realize that there were indeed vinyl pressings of Night Moves that sounded right... but they are few and far between, the exception and not the rule so to speak. Here's a copy with an excellent side one and a killer side two -- the first Hot copy of a Bob Seger album to EVER hit the site.

    More Bob Seger


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    Bob Seger - Night Moves

    MoFi Debunked

      (Item #: segernight_mofi) 



    Sonic Grade: F

    A Hall of Shame pressing and another Half Speed debunked.

    The last time I played a copy of the MoFi of Night Moves, #034, I could not believe how ridiculously bright it was.

    This may be less surprising than it seems. #033 (Aja) is too bright, and so is #035 (Tea for the Tillerman.) Perhaps it was simply an especially bad time for MoFi mastering issues.

    More Bob Seger


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    Jack Sheldon - Jack Sheldon And His All-Star Band

    Our Shootout Winner from 2017

      (Item #: sheldjacks_2017) 



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

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

    More Jack Sheldon


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    Carly Simon - Another Passenger

    Our Shootout Winner from 2010

      (Item #: simonanoth_2010) 



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

    A TOP PRESSING of what we consider to be the best -- and best-sounding -- Carly Simon album! I’ve been telling people for years how amazing this album can sound, but we almost never hear it sound quite like this! Side one rates A++, side two rates A+++ and both sides play quietly. Most copies are gritty and edgy, but this one is smoother, sweeter and much more musical.

    More Carly Simon


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    Carly Simon - Another Passenger

    What to Listen For

      (Item #: simonanoth_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's one quality in particular that added immensely to our enjoyment of the music -- gobs and gobs of Tubey Magic. The copies that were opaque, dry, flat and "modern" sounding -- which pretty much describes practically every Heavy Vinyl record we've played in the last five years -- bored us to tears, not surprisingly in the very same way that most Heavy Vinyl does.

    More Carly Simon


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    Steely Dan - The Royal Scam

    Our $600 Shootout Winner from 2009

      (Item #: steelroyal_2009) 



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

    Steely Dan fans, brace yourselves! This White Hot Stamper copy of The Royal Scam ROCKS HARDER than you’d ever imagine! We play dozens and dozens of these each year, and it’s a shame more of them don’t sound like this. All the elements necessary to really bring this music to life are here: tight, punchy bass; knockout energy; big time presence; shocking clarity and so forth. Everyone gets all hot and bothered about Aja (and with good reason) but there’s no denying how POWERFUL this material is after you’ve heard these songs sound like this.

    More Steely Dan


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    Steely Dan - The Royal Scam

    Turning Aggressive Energy into Pure Excitement

      (Item #: steelroyal_wtlf) 



    Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

    We really went overboard with the track commentary for this one. This should make it easy for you to compare what we say about the sound of these songs with what they sound like to you on your system, using the copy you own or, better yet, one of our Hot Stampers.

    More Steely Dan


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    Al Stewart - Year Of The Cat

    Our Shootout Winner from 2009

      (Item #: stewayearo_2009) 



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

    For the first time on our site, TRIPLE PLUS MASTER TAPE SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! We play stacks of copies of this one a few times every year, but I don’t recall ever hearing one that sounded so correct from the first song to the last.

    Let me tell you -- when this album sounds as bad as most copies do, the music just plain does not work. So many copies add a nasty layer of grit to the vocals, and the effect is positively painful. This copy shows you a Year Of The Cat that is just not available on the typical copy, and certainly not on the MoFi pressing either.

    More Al Stewart


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    Al Stewart - Year Of The Cat

    MoFi Debunked

      (Item #: stewayearo_mofi) 




    Sonic Grade: D to B-

    If you own the typical MoFi version of this album you happen to own one of the All Time Mastering Disasters of the modern era. Ridiculously boosted at both ends, their version is all but unlistenable on a high end stereo.

    Some copies are worse than others, so we are conservatively giving MoFi's pressing a sonic grade of D. We've played some in the past that clearly deserved an F (F as in Failing), but we also once played one that sounded pretty good, which we describe below. If you've played half a dozen MoFi copies and plucked out the best one, yours might be good too. If you haven't heard a bunch, chances are slim that yours is any better than awful.

    More Al Stewart


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    The Stills-Young Band - Long May You Run

    Our Shootout Winner from 2015

      (Item #: stilllongm_2015) 



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

    Side one is highly resolving; the breathy vocals are a clear indication that there is simply more information on this side than the other copies we played. The tonal balance is correct. It's not brighter, there's just more "there" there.

    The second track is even richer and smoother, with lovely studio space for the band to stretch out into. The second side has good lower midrange weight, which serves to keep things smooth and full-bodied. The first track has that "live in the studio" sound that we love so much about vintage rock records.

    See all of our Crosby, Stills, Nash or Young albums in stock


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    London Orchestral Records from the '70s

    And the Problem of Opacity

      (Item #: straualsos_6978) 



    Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning records.

    The average copy of this 1976 recording has that dry, multi-miked modern sound that the '70s ushered in for many of the major labels, notably London and RCA. How many Solti records are not ridiculously thick and opaque? One out of ten? If that. We're very wary of records recorded in the '70s; we've been burned too many times.

    And to tell you the truth we are not all that thrilled with most of what passes for good sound on Mehta's London output either. If you have a high-resolution system these recordings, like those on Classic Heavy Vinyl we constantly criticize, leave a lot to be desired.

    More orchestral music conducted by Georg Solti


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    Super Hot Stamper

    James Taylor
    Greatest Hits

      (Item #: taylogreat_2019) 


    • JT's superb Greatest Hits collection finally returns to the site with solid Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides
    • Outstanding size and weight with rich, clear sound and good space up top, thanks to Lee Herschberg's engineering skills
    • Three tracks are unique to this pressing and make it a Must Own for JT fans
    • 4 1/2 stars: "... examples of Taylor's undeniable warmth and facility for folk/country-tinged pop... a good sampler of Taylor's more popular early work."
    More James Taylor


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    James Taylor - In The Pocket

    Our Shootout Winner from 2016

      (Item #: taylointhe_2016) 



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

    The quality of the songwriting is what makes this album such a moving listening experience. These songs are superb, individually and collectively, and can hold their own up against those found on Gorilla, an album with which In the Pocket has much in common.

    Just as they did on Gorilla, Taylor and his multi-talented, multi-tracking production team polish these songs into three and four minute gems of popcraft, and they do so without ever compromising the emotional heart of the material. I've searched and I honestly cannot find a bad song on the album. Better than that, not even a weak one.

    More James Taylor


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    Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 (Pathetique) / Monteux

    Our Shootout Winner from 2012

      (Item #: tchaisym6_2012) 



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

    Presenting a first for Better Records: a White Hot Stamper copy of this CORRECTLY remastered version of LSC 1901, which just happens to be a recording from the earliest days of stereo, 1955! It's guaranteed to KILL any and all original Shaded Dogs, as well as the more common reissues; White Dogs, Red Seals, Gold Seals, Victrolas, Classic Heavy Vinyl, you name it, this pressing will beat the pants off of it and in the process show you precisely what is wrong with each and every one of them.

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


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    Tchaikovsky / Violin Concerto / Grumiaux

    Our Shootout Winner from 2012

      (Item #: tchaivioli_2012) 



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

    This White Hot Two-Pack of the most well-known and beloved violin concerto in the classical repertoire gives you a TOP performance with TOP quality sound from first note to last. No single copy had two sides as good as these, so we've combined two LPs to bring you the best Tchaicovsky Violin Concerto ever to hit the site.

    In choosing these two sides we put special emphasis on the sound of the violin. Many copies suffered from a slight screechiness to the sound of the instrument, but we present here a violin that is rich and sweet, yet retains the full pallette of its complex harmonics.

    More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky


      more Info











    10cc - How Dare You!

    Our Shootout Winner from 2016

      (Item #: tencchowda_2016) 



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

    With this superb British pressing some of you who might consider yourselves more devoted fans of the band will finally be able to hear what a good recording this is. The typical domestic copy is a disaster as are some of the British originals and reissues; we should know, we cleaned them, played them and heard them for ourselves.

    See all of our 10cc albums in stock


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    The Three - The Three (33 RPM)

    Our Direct Disc Copy from 2009

      (Item #: threethree_dd_2009) 



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

    DEMO QUALITY, MASTER TAPE SOUND (!) on BOTH SIDES! Hey, wait a minute, this is the direct to disc version, there is no Master Tape. How can it have Master Tape Sound?

    Simple. It's the RARE copy that actually sounds like this one. Most Eastwind pressings -- like pressings on any label -- do not convey all the information of the master tape that you know must exist because you HEAR it on some copies. Some Direct Discs have much more of the sound that was cut live directly onto the acetate than others. This is one of those, one of the ones with MUCH MORE SOUND!

    More of The Three


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    Brahms, Handel, Chopin - Lincoln Mayorga, Pianist

    Reverse Your Polarity!

      (Item #: variobrahm_mayorga) 



    This IMMACULATE Sheffield Direct-to-Disc LP with Very Little Sign Of Play (VLSOP) is one of the best Sheffields. Lincoln Mayorga is an accomplished classical pianist: this is arguably his best work. (I had a chance to see him perform at a recital of Chopin's works early in 2010 and he played superbly -- for close to two hours without the aid of sheet music I might add.)

    You might want to try reversing the phase when playing this LP; it definitely helps the sound, a subject we discuss below.

    See more of our Direct to Disc recordings


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    Tom Waits - Small Change

    Our Shootout Winner from 2017

      (Item #: waitssmall_2017) 



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

    This is a wonderful album, considered by many to be Waits's masterpiece. He's backed with a real jazz combo here, including Lew Tabackin on sax and the great Shelley Manne on drums. Bones Howe does a great job gettin the kind of beatnik-jazz sound out of these songs that they need. On a copy like this, the presence and clarity are absolutely stunning!

    More Tom Waits


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    The Recordings of Weather Report

    Four that Didn't Make the Grade

      (Item #: weather_report) 



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

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

    Weather Report Albums with Hot Stampers

    Weather Report Albums We've Reviewed



      more Info











    The Recordings of Weather Report

    Three that Didn't Make the Grade

      (Item #: weather_report_2) 



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

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

    Weather Report Albums with Hot Stampers

    Weather Report Albums We've Reviewed



      more Info




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