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White Hot Stamper

The Beatles
Magical Mystery Tour

  (Item #: beatlmagic_1807_1809) 

Our Price: $599.99

  • Incredible Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning sound from beginning to end - this copy is guaranteed to blow your mind!
  • A stunning copy with some of the best Beatles sound money can buy - superb work from Ken Scott here
  • Demo Quality Sound for I Am The Walrus, Strawberry Fields Forever, Baby You're A Rich Man and more
  • You won't believe how powerful the sound is - it's big, rich, open and lively beyond any expectations you may have had
  • A longtime Top 100 album and Psych Masterpiece that knocks us out every time we do the shootout for it
See all of our Beatles albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Michael Jackson
Thriller

  (Item #: jacksthril_1806_1809) 

Our Price: $499.99
Sale Price: $449.00 (You save $50.99 / 10%)


  • The two INCREDIBLE sides here are guaranteed to make this by far the best sounding Thriller you have ever heard - Triple Plus (A+++) or very close to it
  • The sound is HUGE - wide, deep, and open, with a solid bottom end and relentless rhythmic energy to spare
  • Billie Jean and Beat It sound out of this world, but that's not fair, since every track on this copy is good enough to blow your mind
  • 5 stars: "This was a record that had something for everybody, building on the basic blueprint of Off the Wall by adding harder funk, hard rock, softer ballads, and smoother soul — expanding the approach to have something for every audience."
See all of our Michael Jackson albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Yes
Close To The Edge

  (Item #: yes__close_1807_1) 

Our Price: $449.99

  • An amazing copy of this Prog Blockbuster: Triple Plus (A+++) on the first side, Double to Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) on the second
  • This is a complex recording, with huge organs, light-speed changes, lots of multi-tracking, and what practically amounts to an overload of information
  • What a monster -- incredible richness and clarity with amazing presence, TONS of energy and breathtaking transparency
  • 5 Stars: "Close to the Edge comprised just three tracks, the epic "And You and I" and "Siberian Khatru," plus a side-long title track that represented the musical, lyrical, and sonic culmination of all that Yes had worked toward over the past five years."
See more of our Yes albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Led Zeppelin
Led Zeppelin IV

  (Item #: ledze4_1807_1) 

Our Price: $399.99

  • A Hard Rockin' Zep IV, one that earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) sonic grades or BETTER on both sides
  • Dramatically fuller and smoother than most, making it possible to get the volume up good and high where it belongs
  • Here they are: Black Dog, Rock & Roll, Stairway, When the Levee Breaks, and more, sounding better than you've ever heard them
  • 5 stars: "Encompassing heavy metal, folk, pure rock & roll, and blues, Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album is a monolithic record, defining not only Led Zeppelin but the sound and style of '70s hard rock."
See all of our Led Zeppelin albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Steely Dan
The Royal Scam

  (Item #: steelroyal_1805_1807) 

Our Price: $399.99

  • Stunning sound from start to finish: Triple Plus (A+++) or close to it on both sides
  • This is a killer Shootout Winning copy of The Dan's hard-rockin' classic from 1976 - HERE is the right sound for this music
  • These sides show you just how good The Royal Scam can get - it's rich, meaty, with powerful rhythmic energy and not too bright
  • "Drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie lashes out the rolling grooves on most of the nine tracks, establishing the album's anxious feel, and Larry Carlton's jaw-dropping guitar work provides a running commentary to Fagen's strangulated vocals... These are not the sort of Steely Dan songs favored by smooth-jazz stations."
More Royal Scam


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White Hot Stamper

The Beatles
White Album

  (Item #: beatlwhite_1806_1808) 

Our Price: $399.99

  • Stunning Triple Plus (A+++) sound on sides two and four and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on sides one and three
  • Some of the most powerful and immersive Beatles sound you will ever hear -- you will be KNOCKED OUT
  • All four sides have stunning Demo Quality tracks including Dear Prudence, Blackbird, Yer Blues and Revolution
  • A 5 Star Album on Allmusic that is an absolute treasure on a great sounding copy like this one
See all of our Beatles pressings in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Steely Dan
Katy Lied

  (Item #: steelkatyl_1802_1807) 

Our Price: $349.99

  • A killer copy with a Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) side two mated to an outstanding Double Plus (A++) side one
  • The sound is HUGE -- big, bold, dynamic, and lively, just the way you want The Dan to sound
  • Our pick for the best Steely Dan album of them all, a Masterpiece of jazzy swing pop that will surely reward hundreds of plays
  • 5 stars: "Each song is given a glossy sheen, one that accentuates not only the stronger pop hooks, but also the precise technical skill of the professional musicians drafted to play the solos."
See all of our Steely Dan albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

The Beatles
The White Album

  (Item #: beatlwhite_1806_1809) 

Our Price: $299.99
Sale Price: $249.00 (You save $50.99 / 17%)


  • This British pressing earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on all four sides
  • This copy of the Beatles' double album masterpiece is going to thrill and delight the lucky person who snags it
  • Some of the most powerful and immersive Beatles sound you will ever hear - we guarantee you will be KNOCKED OUT
  • "If there is still any doubt that Lennon and McCartney are the greatest song writers since Schubert, then next Friday - with the publication of the new Beatles double LP - should surely see the last vestiges of cultural snobbery and bourgeois prejudice swept away in a deluge of joyful music making..." Right On!
See all of our Beatles albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Blood, Sweat & Tears
Blood, Sweat & Tears

  (Item #: bloodblood_1807_3) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • An excellent original 360 pressing of "The Best Sounding Rock Recording Ever"
  • Both sides earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) sonic grades - this is surely Roy Halee's engineering masterpiece, and here's the kind of copy that makes our case
  • The sound is HUGE, rich, dynamic and POWERFUL - a permanent member of our Top 100 and a Demo Disc par excellence
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Their finest moment and a testimony to the best of the jazz/rock movement ... The album is bold, brassy and adventurous."
See all of our Blood, Sweat & Tears albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Neil Young
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

  (Item #: youngevery_1804_2) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • With an excellent Double Plus (A++) sound OR BETTER throughout, this copy rocks
  • Fairly quiet vinyl, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout - they didn't press them any quieter!
  • Includes some of Neil Young's most beloved classics: "Cinnamon Girl," "Cowgirl in the Sand," and "Down by the River" just to name three
  • 5 stars: "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere was breathtakingly different when it appeared in May 1969, both for Young and for rock in general, and it reversed his commercial fortunes...."
See all of our Neil Young albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Prokofieff / Lt. Kije / Abbado (45 RPM)

  (Item #: prokoltkij_45_1806) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one and a Double Plus (A++) side two, this copy will show you a Lt. Kije you had no idea could exist
  • The best of these Japanese pressings have a combination of sonics and performance for Kije that are simply phenomenal
  • If you want to know what Master Tape Sound is all about this copy will show you
  • Big, clear, dynamic, energetic, extended on the top and bottom, we found very little to fault, that's for sure
More of the music of Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)


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Super Hot Stamper

Roxy Music
Country Life

  (Item #: roxymcount_1804) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • This killer early British Island copy had two excellent sides, each rating a solid Double Plus (A++) for sound
  • Big, rich, full and dynamic with plenty of Tubey Magic and energy; one of the better copies from our most recent shootout
  • Relatively quiet vinyl throughout -- Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • AMG raves that "...Country Life finds Roxy Music at the peak of their powers, alternating between majestic, unsettling art rock and glamorous, elegant pop/rock. Roxy Music rarely sounded as invigorating as they do here."
More Roxy Music / More Bryan Ferry


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Super Hot Stamper

Steely Dan
Katy Lied

  (Item #: steelkatyl_1808) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • An outstanding original copy with Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides
  • The sound is HUGE - big, bold, dynamic, and lively, just the way you want The Dan to sound
  • Our pick for the best Dan album of them all, a Masterpiece of jazzy swing pop that will surely reward hundreds of plays
  • 5 stars: "Each song is given a glossy sheen, one that accentuates not only the stronger pop hooks, but also the precise technical skill of the professional musicians drafted to play the solos."
More Steely Dan / More Katy Lied


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Super Hot Stamper

The Beatles
Magical Mystery Tour

  (Item #: beatlmagic_1801_1807) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • Outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides -- spacious, rich, full, big and lively
  • Very quiet vinyl from start to finish for this vintage German pressing -- Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • What a set of songs: Fool on the Hill, I Am The Walrus, Strawberry Fields Forever, Baby You’re A Rich Man, All You Need Is Love, Penny Lane and many more
  • A Psych Masterpiece from 1967 and a Better Records Rock and Pop Top 100 album
See all of our Beatles albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Roxy Music
Country Life

  (Item #: roxymcount_1804_1809) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • This killer early British Island copy had two excellent sides, each rating a solid Double Plus (A++) for sound
  • Big, rich, full and dynamic with plenty of Tubey Magic and energy; one of the better copies from our most recent shootout
  • Relatively quiet vinyl throughout -- Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • AMG raves that "...Country Life finds Roxy Music at the peak of their powers, alternating between majestic, unsettling art rock and glamorous, elegant pop/rock. Roxy Music rarely sounded as invigorating as they do here."
More Roxy Music / More Bryan Ferry


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Super Hot Stamper

Airto
Fingers

  (Item #: airtofinge_1710_1806) 

Our Price: $149.99
Sale Price: $119.00 (You save $30.99 / 21%)


  • Excellent from first note to last - Double Plus sound (A++) or BETTER on both sides, on fairly quiet vinyl
  • Great bass, solid weight to the all the drums, clarity and presence, and most important of all, energy
  • Sonically impressive funky Brazilian jazz sound with tons of lifelike percussion - thanks RVG!
  • 4 1/2 stars in the All Music Guide; a longtime Better Records favorite and Desert Island Disc
More or our albums with Airto


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Super Hot Stamper

Chicago
Chicago II

  (Item #: chicachica2_1710_1806) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Excellent sound throughout with all four sides rating an exceptionally good grade of Double Plus (A++) or BETTER
  • Big, rich, and present throughout, with real rock and roll energy, just the right sound for this album
  • One of the toughest classic rock albums to find good sound for, bar none - a tough nut to crack
  • 4 1/2 stars: "The contents of Chicago II underscore the solid foundation of complex jazz changes with heavy electric rock & roll that the band so brazenly forged on the first set."
See all of our Chicago albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Michael Jackson
Thriller

  (Item #: jacksthril_1805_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • With excellent Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides, this pressing will be very hard to beat
  • The sound is huge - big, wide, deep, and open, with a punchy bottom end and rhythmic energy to spare; very quiet vinyl too -- a true Mint Minus
  • Billie Jean and Beat It sound out of this world, but that's not fair, since every track does
  • A Top 100 and 5 Stars on AMG: "This was a record that had something for everybody, building on the basic blueprint of Off the Wall by adding harder funk, hard rock, softer ballads, and smoother soul — expanding the approach to have something for every audience."
See all of our Michael Jackson albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Steely Dan
The Royal Scam

  (Item #: steelroyal_1712_1807) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This early pressing earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) sonic grades - this is a Royal Scam with energy and drive
  • This copy of The Dan's hard-rockin' classic from 1976 has the right sound for this music - rich and meaty, with powerful rhythmic energy
  • "Drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie lashes out the rolling grooves on most of the nine tracks, establishing the album's anxious feel, and Larry Carlton's jaw-dropping guitar work provides a running commentary to Fagen's strangulated vocals... These are not the sort of Steely Dan songs favored by smooth-jazz stations."
More Royal Scam / More Steely Dan


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Super Hot Stamper

Ambrosia
Ambrosia

  (Item #: ambroambro_1809) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • Spectacular Prog Rock sound explodes on this copy of the band's phenomenally well-recorded debut album, mixed by none other than Alan Parsons
  • With seriously good Double Plus (A++) grades or close to them, this copy has the sound we were looking for
  • Big Whomp Factor here - the bottom end is huge and punchy on this copy, like nothing you've heard
  • A Better Records All-Time Favorite & Top 100 Demo Disc: " Its songs skillfully blend strong melodic hooks and smooth vocal harmonies with music of an almost symphonic density."
See all of our Ambrosia albums in stock


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Hot Stamper

Roxy Music
Country Life

  (Item #: roxymcount_1711_1804) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • You'll find very good Hot Stamper grades on both sides of this early British Island pressing
  • One of a handful of albums that represent the musical high watermark of early- to mid-'70s Art Rock
  • Includes many of the best songs Ferry ever wrote and Roxy ever played
  • AMG raves that "...Country Life finds Roxy Music at the peak of their powers, alternating between majestic, unsettling art rock and glamorous, elegant pop/rock. Roxy Music rarely sounded as invigorating as they do here."
More Roxy Music / More Bryan Ferry


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Hot Stamper

Steely Dan
The Royal Scam

  (Item #: steelroyal_1802_1807) 

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


  • You'll find very good Hot Stamper sound and quiet vinyl on both sides of this 1976 pressing of Royal Scam
  • Includes classics Kid Charlemagne, Caves Of Altamira, Don't Take Me Alive and more
  • "Drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie lashes out the rolling grooves on most of the nine tracks, establishing the album's anxious feel, and Larry Carlton's jaw-dropping guitar work provides a running commentary to Fagen's strangulated vocals... These are not the sort of Steely Dan songs favored by smooth-jazz stations."
More Royal Scam / More Steely Dan


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Hot Stamper

Michael Jackson
Thriller

  (Item #: jacksthril_1803) 

Our Price: $79.99

  • You'll find two Hot Stamper sides on this copy of Thriller, one of our favorite records from the '80s (and everybody else's)
  • Our old pal Bernie Grundman handled the mastering on these originals and managed to do a really nice job
  • Billie Jean and Beat It sound awfully good here, but that's not fair, since every track does
  • 5 Stars: "This was a record that had something for everybody... adding harder funk, hard rock, softer ballads, and smoother soul — expanding the approach to have something for every audience."
See all of our Michael Jackson albums in stock


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Advances in Playback Technology

More Than Blind Faith

  (Item #: blindblind_advances) 



In a 2007 commentary for the Hot Stamper pressing of Blind Faith we noted that

When it finally all comes together for such a famously compromised recording, it’s nothing less than a THRILL. More than anything else, the sound is RIGHT. Like Layla or Surrealistic Pillow, this is no demo disc by any stretch of the imagination, but that should hardly keep us from enjoying the music. And now we have the record that lets us do it.

More Blind Faith


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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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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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Ambrosia's First Album

Right at the Top of Our Difficulty of Reproduction Scale

  (Item #: ambroambro_setup) 



You can play hard-to-reproduce records all day long if your system is tuned up and working fine. Ours has to be, all day, every day. The shootouts we do require that everything is working properly or we simply couldn't do them.

But you can't play this record on such a system without retesting everything, because this is the Single Most Difficult to Reproduce Recording I know of, bar none.

More Ambrosia


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Bernard Herrmann - Conducts Psycho and Other Film Scores

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: herrmcondu_2010) 



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

This very nice looking London Phase 4 LP has SUPERB SOUND for some of these pieces. Especially noteworthy is the ’Psycho Narrative For Orchestra’, at 14 minutes the longest piece here. Written purely for string orchestra, the tonality is Right On The Money (ROTM), with cellos that growl like the real thing.

In fact, so much of this sounds so good, and is such a brilliant showcase for one of the great orchestral colorists, Bernard Herrmann, that you’ll be asking yourself why more classical music doesn’t sound like this.

More Bernard Herrmann


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Bernard Herrmann - The Fantasy Film World of...

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: herrmfanta_2008) 



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

Two AMAZING SOUNDING DEMO DISC LPS for the price of one! We’ve mated the HOTTEST SIDE ONE of one copy with the HOTTEST SIDE TWO of another to produce the best sounding complete Fantasy Film World we have ever heard. A+++ sound, with the kind of orchestral power that few recordings in the history of the world can lay claim to. There's a reason this record is on the TAS Superdisc list -- if any LP should be called a Superdisc, this one should. (With Phase Four sound you might even call it a Super-Duper-Disc.)

More Bernard Herrmann


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Bernard Herrmann / Citizen Kane & Other Classic Film Scores

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: herrmcitiz_2013) 



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

The Citizen Kane Suite on this album is to die for -- a real desert island disc for me. (The CD by the way is actually quite good. I have it in the car and play it often.)

The Concerto Macabre for Piano and Orchestra (from "Hangover Square") is superbly well recorded and a brilliant piece of music as well.

More of the music of Bernard Herrmann


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Billy Joel - Songs in the Attic

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: joel_songs_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

You know how you can tell when you have a Hot Stamper? It's the side you play through to the end. When the sound is right you want to hear more. Since the opening track of this record is one of the keys to knowing whether it's mastered and pressed properly, once you get past the sibilance hurdle on track one, the next step is to find out how the challenges presented by the rest of the tracks are handled on any given LP. Some advice follows.

More Billy Joel


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Blood, Sweat & Tears - Child is Father to the Man

Our 2011 Shootout Winner for Side One

  (Item #: bloodchild_2011) 



A QUIET White Hot Stamper on side one for BS and T’s debut, one of my favorite albums of all time. Why do we so rarely list amazing copies of this album? Let me ask you this: have you played one recently? The average copy of this record is a sonic MESS. Even the best copies have problems.

We present here a FREAKISHLY GOOD SOUNDING SIDE ONE. This copy blew the doors off the competition, earning our highest grade of A Triple Plus and giving us a whole new appreciation for what this record can really sound like! Who knew? The brass has power on this copy like we almost never hear for this album. The bass was bigger and bolder than any other; finally, here is the kind of rock sound we are always looking for on the album but is so elusive.

More Blood, Sweat & Tears


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Blood, Sweat and Tears

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: bloodblood_2016) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

In my opinion this is the BEST SOUNDING rock record ever made. Played on a BIG SPEAKER SYSTEM, a top Hot Stamper pressing is nothing less than a thrill, the ultimate Demo Disc.

Credit must go to the amazing engineering skills of ROY HALEE. He may not be very consistent (Graceland, Still Crazy After All These Years) but on this album he knocked it out of the park. With the right copy playing on the right stereo, the album has the potential to sound like LIVE MUSIC.

More Blood, Sweat & Tears


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Carly Simon - Hotcakes

What to Listen For

  (Item #: simonhotca_wtlf) 



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

Many copies of this album suffer from (at least) one of two problems: unnatural hi-fi sound or considerable grit and grain. Both are in large part due to the processing-intensive production of Richard Perry. On the best copies it's easy to understand his choices as the sound is quite lovely. Unfortunately that rich, sweet sound he obviously got on to the master tape didn't quite make it to the average vinyl pressing of the album.

More Carly Simon


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Copland / Billy the Kid / Morton Gould

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: coplabilly_2011) 



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

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

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


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Fagen's The Nightfly & Digital Sound

Do All the Pressings Have to Sound Like CDs?

  (Item #: fagennight_digital) 



The average copy of this digitally recorded, mixed and mastered LP sounds just the way you would expect it to: like a CD. It's anemic, two-dimensional, opaque, thin, bright, harsh, with little extreme top and the kind of bass that's all "note" with no real weight, solidity or harmonic structure. Sounds like a CD, right? (That's the way most of my CDs sound, which is why I no longer listen to them except in the car)

But what if I told you that the best copies of The Nightfly can actually sound like a real honest-to-goodness ANALOG recording, with practically none of the nasty shortcomings listed above? You may not believe it, but it's true.

More Donald Fagen


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INXS - Kick

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: inxs_kick_2017) 



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

For a recording from 1987 there is a surprising amount of Tubey Magical Analog sound to be found here. There is almost always a trace of hardness in the loudest vocal parts; that's where the 1987 recording technology raises its head, but the better copies such as this one keep it to a bare minimum.

The copies that were the richest and had the biggest bottom end, without being smeary or dark from a lack of top tended to do the best in our shootout. The copies that lacked weight or lower midrange fullness were most often rejected; rhythmically driven Funk Rock simply doesn't work without plenty of richness and bass.

More INXS


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Jellyfish's Bellybutton

Not a Perfect Recording, a Good One for Testing Though

  (Item #: jellybelly_test_2016) 



Now She Knows She's Wrong -- another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

I spent quite a few hours tuning up the stereo with side two of the album, specifically the song Now She Knows She's Wrong, with its glockenspiel, loudly clanging tubular bells and yelling chorus at the end.

It's exceedingly hard to get everything right at the same time: the energy, the deepest bass, the extension at the very top of the top end, the greatest transparency, just to mention a few of the main ones. There are always trade-offs, and being able to balance the trade-offs against the gains in these areas and others is a real test of your critical listening skills.

More Jellyfish


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Jennifer Warnes - Famous Blue Raincoat

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: warnefamou_2009) 



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

This Cypress pressing has AMAZINGLY GOOD SOUND on side one! With a grade of A++ to A+++ it's the highest rated side of any copy we have to offer this go around -- none of our other pressings could touch it on any side.

Why such a high grade? Simple. It's ALIVE! It's super transparent with a big, bold bottom end. The drums here are as good as they get -- punchy and powerful with lots of WHOMP and the sound of the skins being THWACKED.

More Jennifer Warnes


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Jethro Tull - Aqualung

British Band, British Pressing... Right?

  (Item #: jethraqual_myth_2014) 



Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

As we’ve noted so many times before, this British band, like many of their brethren, had their master tapes sent to America to make our much-maligned domestic pressings. I maligned them myself, wrongly I now realize.

It takes an amazing stereo and a top quality Hot Stamper pressing to get this music to work its magic. If you are lucky enough to have those two things, you will not believe how good this album sounds on domestic vinyl, so much better than you ever thought possible. It’s not perfect, but with the right pressing you can hear why Anderson, his bandmates, the engineer and producer all thought they had put a real winner down on tape.

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Joe Jackson's Jumpin’ Jive

Get Rid of Grit and Grain The Right Way

  (Item #: jacksjumpi_advice) 



Jumpin' Jive is one of the clearest examples of an album where it is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT to make sure your stereo is running on good electricity before you make any attempt to play it. This is the kind of recording -- bright, full of energy -- that will bring most stereo systems to their knees. Of course, when you play a good copy and it really sounds good, it's a record that rewards all the time and effort you've put into your system.

So much of the aggressiveness, grit and grain that we hear in immediate, high-energy recordings such as this are really the fault of the electricity feeding the stereo, not the fault of the record or even the equipment used to play it.

More Audio Advice


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Joni and Blue

Hot Stamper Shootout Stalled 2005!

  (Item #: mitchblue_2005) 



Dateline 2005!

We are preparing to put some Hot Stamper copies of this record on the site. Because it’s so difficult to find a quiet, properly mastered, properly pressed LP of this music, it’s a project that has been going on for years.

More Joni Mitchell


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Joni Mitchell - Blue

Listening In Depth

  (Item #: mitchblue_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 Blue.

You’ve probably heard us say this before, but top quality copies of Blue are few and far between. It’s not just the toughest nut to crack in Joni’s catalog, it’s one of the most difficult albums in ALL OF POP MUSIC to get to sound right.

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Led Zeppelin - IV

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: ledze4_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

We always have a great time doing Zep IV shootouts. It's one of those all-too-rare cases where amazing music and amazing sonics coexist on the same slab of vinyl. You just need to find the right slab, a proposition that turns out to be much harder than it sounds.

You probably know by now just how tough it is to find audiophile quality sonics on this album. Far too many copies just leave us cold, but the best pressings, whether British or domestic, are so good, and so much fun at the loud volumes we employ, that it ends up being worth all the time, trouble and expense it takes to wade through the vinyl dreck to find them.

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Led Zeppelin - IV

With This Copy You Better Be Ready to Rock

  (Item #: ledze4_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.

We did a massive shootout in 2012 for Zep's beloved fourth album and this British pressing earned a nearly perfect score with some of the BIGGEST, BOLDEST, HARDEST Rockin' sound we have ever heard on the album. Without a doubt this is the best sounding IV side two we've ever played, with the biggest bottom of them all.

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Michael Jackson - Thriller

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: jacksthril_2010) 



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

A KILLER THRILLER, with an A+++ side one that's going to knock you out! That gives you TOP SHELF SOUND for songs including Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' and the title track, which are going to BLOW YOU AWAY! So many copies of Thriller out there just don't deliver, but this side one does almost everything right.

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Michael Jackson - Thriller

Thoughts on Thriller, Circa 2006

  (Item #: jacksthril_2006) 



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

This pressing has a side two that is so amazing sounding that it COMPLETELY CHANGED my understanding and appreciation of this album. The average copy is a nice pop record. This copy is a MASTERPIECE of production and engineering.

After playing a bunch of these we noticed some recurring shortcomings on most of the pressings. Either they lacked extension on the top end or they lacked bass definition and weight, or both. When this copy hit the table, the first thing we noticed was that the top end was Right On The Money and the bottom end was also Right On The Money. Not surprisingly, the middle fell right into place.

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Mussorgsky et al. - Danse Infernale

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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Neil Young - Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: youngevery_2008) 



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.

This original Two Tone Super Hot Stamper pressing had condition issues -- they all do don't you know -- but it also had KILLER Neil Young LIVE ROCK Sound. The best tracks have that Live-in-the-Studio quality, with minimal processing and maximum ENERGY. (Our commentary about Zuma to the left gets more heavily into the subject.) Suffice to say we love that sound.

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Our DOR (Difficulty of Reproduction) Scale

  (Item #: brewedowni_dors) 



We’ve mentioned how difficult some records are to reproduce: how the Revolutions in Audio of the last decade or two have profoundly changed the ability of the seriously dedicated audiophile to get records that never sounded good before to come to life musically in a way previously understood to be impossible.

This is one of those records. But you have to have done your homework if you want to play a record like this, as the commentary below explains.

See more records that rank high up on our Difficulty of Reproduction Scale


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Paul Simon - Graceland

When Clarity Is King

  (Item #: simongrace_wtlf) 



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

We regularly do shootouts for Graceland. Having played so many copies over the years we're become quite familiar with the range of sound on the album, what constitutes good, better and best, and we understand precisely what qualities the premier copy must have in order to win one of our shootouts.

Above all the thing Graceland has going for it sonically is CLARITY. It has many other good qualities as well: It can be open and spacious, tonally correct, with punchy, tight bass and present, breathy vocals.

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Prokofiev / Lt. Kije / Abbado (45 RPM)

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: prokoltkij_45_2012) 



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

This Japanese 45 RPM remastering of our favorite recording of Prokofiev's wonderful Lt. Kije Suite has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND. For starters, there are very few records with dynamics comparable to these. Since this is my favorite performance of all time, I can't recommend the record any more highly.

Most of what's "bad" about a DG recording from 1978 is ameliorated with this pressing. The bass drum (drums?) here must be heard to be believed. We know of no Golden Age recording with as believable a presentation of the instrument as this.

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


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Prokofiev / Lt. Kije / Abbado

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: prokoltkij_33_2011) 



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

This German 33 RPM White Hot Stamper pressing of our favorite recording of Prokofiev's wonderful Lt. Kije Suite has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND. For starters, there are very few records with dynamics comparable to those found here. As this is my favorite performance of all time, with this kind of Demo Disc sound I cannot recommend the record any more highly.

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


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Rolling Stones - Exile On Main Street

What to Listen For

  (Item #: rolliexile_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.

The best copies will tend to have the qualities detailed below, and the more abundant these qualities are on any given pressing, the higher its grade will be.

Yes, it is a science, an empirical one, which can only be carried out by the use of strict protocols and controls, but it sure ain't rocket science. All you need is the system, the room, the records, the time and the will to do the painstaking critical listening required to carry out the task.

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Roxy Music - Siren

British Band, British Pressing, Right?

  (Item #: roxymsiren_2015) 



Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

Of all the Roxy albums (with the exception of Avalon) this is probably the best way "in" to the band's music. The earlier albums are more raucous, the later ones more rhythmically driven -- Siren catches them at their peak, with, as other reviewers have noted, all good songs and no bad ones.

More Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry


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Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - Ye-Me-Le

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: mendeyemel_depth) 



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

The first three tracks on side 1 are the best reason to own this album, especially the first two (Wichita Lineman and Norwegian Wood), which are as good as anything the group ever did. I'm a big fan so that has to be seen as high praise indeed.

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Sergio Mendes - Look Around

Then Listen for the Huge Room on Roda

  (Item #: mendelooka_listen_2014) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

If you have a good copy of Look Around and a high-rez stereo/room and want to have some fun, play the second track on side one, Roda. In the left channel there is some double-tracked clapping (or two people, how could you tell the difference?) in a HUGE room. Actually although it sounds like a huge room it's probably a normal sized room with lots of reverb added. Either way it sounds awesome.

These hand claps drive the energy and rhythm of the song, and they are so well recorded you will think the back wall of your listening room just collapsed behind the left speaker. On the truly transparent copies the echo goes WAY back.

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Sergio Mendes - Stillness

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: mendestill_2013) 



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

TWO AMAZING SIDES, including a BETTER THAN WHITE HOT A++++ SIDE TWO! That's right folks, four pluses! This is an incredibly well-recorded album -- a member of our Top 100, in fact -- but the typical copy just can't bring it to life the way our Hot Stampers can. At its best, the soundfield itself has a three-dimensional quality that will absolutely blow you away.

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Setup Discs, Part Two

Dialing in the Anti-Skate

  (Item #: bizetcarme_setup) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

This is a superb Demonstration disc, but it is also an excellent Test disc. The sound of the best copies is rich, full-bodied, incredibly spacious, and exceptionally extended up top. There is a prodigious amount of musical information spread across the soundstage, much of it difficult to reproduce. Musicians are banging on so many different percussive devices (often at the back of the stage, exactly where they should be) that getting each one's sonic character to clearly come through is a challenge -- and when you've met it, a thrill.

If you've done your homework with VTA, Azimuth, Anti-Skate and Tracking Weight, this is the record that will make clear just how much you've accomplished.

More of the music of Georges Bizet


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Steely Dan - Katy Lied

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: steelkatyl_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

The trick with Katy Lied is to find the right balance between richness, sweetness and clarity.

Take three or four Katy Lied pressings, clean them up and play just one or two of the tracks we discuss below. You won't find any two copies that get those tracks to sound the same. We do our shootouts with dozens of copies at a time and no two sound the same to us.

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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!

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Still Crazy About Records After All These Years

Why Not? They Keep Getting Better!

  (Item #: simonstill_better) 



Still Crazy is the perfect example of an album that now sounds far better than we thought would ever be possible, not in this life anyway, due mostly to changes to the stereo, the quality of the electricity that feeds it, and last but far from least, the listening room itself.
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Supertramp - Crisis? What Crisis?

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: supercrisi_2013) 



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

TWO AMAZING SIDES, including an A+++ SIDE ONE! It's not the A&M Half Speed, and it's not a British pressing either. It's domestic folks, your standard plain-as-day A&M pressing, and we're as shocked as you are. Hearing this copy (as well as an amazing Brit; they can be every bit as good, in their own way of course) was a THRILL, a thrill that's a step up in "thrillingness" over our previous favorite pressing, the Half Speed.

The best of the best domestics and Brits are bigger, livelier, punchier, more clear and just more REAL than the audiophile pressing...

More Crisis? What Crisis?


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The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: beatlmagic_obsess) 



MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR is an album we admit to being obsessed with -- just look at the number of commentaries we've written about it.

We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands -- maybe a bit too much time on your hands -- please feel free to check out our commentaries.

This link will take you to all of our other BEATLES albums.


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The Beatles - Magical Mystery Tour

Listening In Depth

  (Item #: beatlmagic_depth) 



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

We discuss in detail what we're listening for and what the best copies seem to do so well that the run-of-the-mill copies simply do not. If you own a copy of the German MMT plays yours and listen for what we're listening for. It's all laid out in the track commentary.

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The Beatles - The White Album

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: beatlwhite_mfsl) 



Sonic Grade: D

Another MoFi LP debunked.

The last time I played the MoFi I could not believe how ridiculously phony and compressed it was. And to think I used to like their version when it came out back in the '80s!

Take Yer Blues. The MFSL pressing positively wreaks havoc with all the added bass and top end The Beatles put on this track. The MoFi version is already too bright, and has sloppy bass to start with, so the result on this track is way too much BAD bass and way too much BAD spitty 10k-boosted treble, unlike the good imports, which have way too much GOOD bass and treble.

See more of our in-stock copies of The Beatles albums


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Turntable Set Up Advice

Using Court and Spark

  (Item #: mitchcourt_setup) 



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

There are loud vocal choruses on many tracks, and more often than not at their loudest they sound like they are either breaking up or threatening to do so. I always assumed it was compressor or board overload, which is easily heard on Down to You. On the best copies there is no breakup -- the voices get loud and they sound clean throughout.

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Yes, We're Getting Awfully Close To The Edge

Are Your Planets Aligned?

  (Item #: yes__close_planets) 



A word of caution: Even our Hottest Stamper copies can sound problematical unless your system is firing on all cylinders. Your electricity has got to be cooking, you've got to be using the right room treatments, and ideally you should be using a demagnetizer such as the Talisman on the record itself, your cables (power, interconnect and speaker) as well as the individual drivers of your speakers.

This is a record that's going to demand a lot from the listener, and we want to make sure that you're up to the challenge. If you don't mind putting in a little hard work, here's a record that will reward you many times over, and probably teach you a thing or two about tweaking your gear in the process.

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