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Count Basie - Basie Plays Hefti

Original Versus Reissue

  (Item #: basiebasie_plays_emus) 



The original pressings are the best, right?

Not in our experience. It's (probably) just another Record Myth.

Basie was recording like a madman back in the late '50s and even all through the '60s. In 1958, the year of this release, he put out seven (7!) albums on the Roulette label. We've played quite a number of them over the years and found relatively few with audiophile quality sound.

Including the original Roulette pressing of this very title. We've only heard a few, and had only one for our shootout, but it was awful enough to make us swear off buying more, especially considering the prices vintage jazz albums are going for these days.

More Count Basie


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Schuller / Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee / Dorati

Reviewed in 2006

  (Item #: schulseven_2006) 



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

RFR1/ 2. DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND.

This record has the sound that Mercury is famous for: immediate, dynamic and spacious. This record lives up to the Mercury claim: You immediately feel as though you are in the Living Presence of the orchestra.

This is precisely the kind of record that Speakers Corner would not have a clue how to master. I'd stake my reputation on it, for what it's worth.

Classical Commentaries


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The Who - Live at Leeds

None Rocks Harder

  (Item #: who__livea_rocks_harder) 



The best copies of Live at Leeds just plain ROCK HARDER than other copies. Yes, they're bigger. Yes, they have more weight and whomp down low. Yes, they are smoother and more natural up top.

But what really sets them apart is their tremendous energy. The music EXPLODES out of the speakers and comes to life on the best copies of Live at Leeds like few records you have ever heard. When we find that kind of power and energy on a record, all other things being equal, we know their stampers are White Hot.

More Live at Leeds


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The Police - Outlandos d’Amour

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: policoutla_2018) 



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

One of the best copies to hit the site in quite a while - Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on both sides. Few audiophiles (I'm guessing) know how well recorded this album is - you need just the right UK pressing to show you what's really on the tape.

What's amazing about this copy? There are SWEET HIGHS and AMBIENCE that we didn’t think were possible - and it ROCKS! Whatever it's doing, it sure doesn't take a pair of golden ears to hear it.

More Sting / The Police


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Chicago - Chicago II

The Poster Boy for Bad Planning in the Studio

  (Item #: chicachica2_bad_planning) 



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

There is one major problem with the sound of this album -- too many overdubs, meaning too many generations of tape on too many instruments. There are easily three and four generations of tape on some of the tracks, probably more, all causing compression and a loss of transient information. When the drums sound like cardboard boxes being hit with wet noodles it's because they recorded them early on and then bounced their tracks down to another track and then bounced that track down to another track until what's left sounds like an cassette tape you made of a song playing on the radio. Yes, it's that bad.

More Chicago


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A Frequently Asked Question

Aren't Hot Stampers just original pressings?

  (Item #: hot_stampers_faq_original_pressings) 



They certainly can be, but quite often they are not, which shouldn't come as a surprise to any serious record collector, and definitely not to any member of our listening crew. Reissues come out on top in our record shootouts fairly regularly.

Yes, most of the time the original will beat the reissue, but most of the time is far from always, and since we have to play a big pile of copies anyway (and always with the person doing the sound grading kept in the dark about the pressing being auditioned), why not evaluate both the originals and the reissues at the same time, and do so strictly on the merits?

More Straight Answers to Your Hot Stamper Questions


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Roy Orbison - Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits

Our Shootout Winner from 2019

  (Item #: orbisgreat_2019) 



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

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

More Roy Orbison


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Jackson Browne - Jackson Browne

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: brownjacks_2018) 



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

Folks, this is an incredibly difficult album to find in audiophile playing condition. I can’t tell you how many copies we have to go through to find the one or two originals that are even passable, let alone with good sound. We buy them locally and off ebay whenever we see them and most of them go straight back to the seller, covered with scratches and full of groove damage just the way they arrived.

More Jackson Browne


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Cat Stevens Catch Bull at Four

Sometimes There Really Is Just One Set of Magic Stampers

  (Item #: stevecatch_stampers) 



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

As is sometimes the case, there is one and only one set of stamper numbers that consistently wins our Catch Bull At Four shootouts. We stumbled upon an out-of-this-world copy of the right pressing about two years ago, a copy took the recording to a level we had no idea could even be possible. (We were going to give it Four Pluses, and probably should have, but cooler heads prevailed.)

More Catch Bull at Four / More Cat Stevens


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John Coltrane - A Love Supreme

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: coltrloves_2018) 



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

The original Impulse pressings on the brown and orange label are the best, right?

Not in our experience. We think that plays into one of the biggest canards in all of record collecting, that the first pressings are always the best sounding.

More John Coltrane


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Billie Holiday - All Or Nothing At All

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: holidallor_2018) 



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

A KILLER sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it from start to finish, on quiet vinyl to boot. This is one of the best sounding Billie Holiday records we have ever heard - it's even a clear step up from the originals we had on hand. This 2 LP set features most of the tracks from the original release plus another handful of recordings from the same period (1955-1956)

More Billie Holiday


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Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 (Pathetique) / Monteux

Shaded Dog Originals Suck

  (Item #: tchaisym6_1901) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing.

We've played at least three Shaded Dogs of LSC 1901 since 2011 and all three were AWFUL. A recent reissue showed us the light.

The size and scope of this recording is enormous, with the orchestral sections clearly staged wide and deep. Where is the old tube smear and compression and opacity? It must not be on the tape, because I hear no trace of it.

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


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Tchaikovsky / Symphony #6 / Monteux

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: tchaisym6_1009_2011) 



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

This remastered Victrola version of the original Living Stereo pressing (LSC 1901) is guaranteed to KILL any and all originals -- Shaded Dogs, White Dogs, Red Seals -- you name it, this pressing will beat the pants off of it, guaranteed. I've played many copies of the earlier RCAs and I have surely never heard one sound like this, with so much LIFE and CLARITY. Where is all the old cutter head distortion, congestion and frequency limiting? It's sure not here!

See more entries in our Originals vs. Reissues series


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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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Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: minguahum_2018) 



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

This freakishly good 360 beat our best 6 Eye Stereo original, not to mention every other pressing in our shootout as well - darn quiet too. Another amazing 30th Street Studio recording by the legendary Fred Plaut - if you like Kind of Blue, here's another album with that sound (same year, same studio, same engineer).

More Charles Mingus


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Rossini / Overtures / Maag / PCO

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: rossiovert_2013) 



The London and Decca original pressings are the best, right?

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

This Stereo Treasury pressing of Maag's 1958 recording is shockingly good in many ways. It sure doesn't sound like a budget reissue. If anything it sounds more original than the originals we played against it!

More of the music of Ottorino Rossini (1879-1936)


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Miles Davis - Workin’ And Steamin’

Our Shootout Winning Mono from 2018

  (Item #: davisworki_2018) 



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

A MONSTER Double Album that simply could not be beat - three of the four sides earned our highest sonic grade of Triple Plus (A+++). The best sounding tracks here can hold their own with ANY Miles Davis vinyl we've ever heard, and that's a whole lot of Mile Davis albums. You might be surprised that a reissue can beat the originals, but one play of this pressing should be enough to remove all doubt.

More Miles Davis


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Roy Orbison - The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: orbisallti_2018) 



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

The depth, the spaciousness, the richness -- this one has it all. It seems as though Bill Porter just does not know how to not make an amazing recording, whether for Monument or Living Stereo. Everything the guy touches is GOLD! Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead on correct tonality -- everything that we listen for in a great record is here.

More Roy Orbison


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Leonard Cohen - New Skin For the Old Ceremony

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: cohennewsk_2018) 



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

Leonard Cohen was a poet long before he decided to pick up a guitar. Despite singing in a dry baritone over spare arrangements, Cohen is a gifted lyricist who captivates the listener. New Skin for the Old Ceremony may be Leonard Cohen's most musical album, as he is accompanied by violas, mandolins, banjos, and percussion that give his music more texture than usual. The fact that Cohen does more real singing on this album can be seen as both a blessing and a curse -- while his voice sounds more strained, the songs are delivered with more passion than usual.

More Leonard Cohen


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Sarah Vaughan - Dreamy

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: vaughdream_2018) 



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

The original release for Dreamy is on Roulette, a label we have often found to have problems in the sound department (not to mention notoriously bad vinyl). The originals we've played over the years have much too much honk and hardness in the midrange to be taken seriously, at least by us anyway, and certainly not at these prices. When we stumbled upon these good Emus reissues, the skies opened up and the sun shone down upon Sarah's wonderful 1960 album of ballads as it had never done before.

More Sarah Vaughan


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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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Liszt, Enesco, Smetana / Rhapsodies - Stokowski

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: lisztrhaps_2471_2010) 



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

This RCA Living Stereo White Dog LP has SUPERB SOUND!

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

See all of our Living Stereo albums in stock


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The Band - Moondog Matinee

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: band_moond_2017) 



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

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

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

More by The Band


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Barbra Streisand - Je M'Appelle Barbra

'60s 360 Vs. '70s Red

  (Item #: streijemap_2015) 



For Barbra Streisand's early albums the original pressings on the 360 label have just got to be better, right?

Nope. It’s just another Record Myth. The best of the 360 pressings in our shootout did well, just not as well.

Our good later label pressings had all the richness and Tubey Magic of the 360s -- one really couldn't tell which pressing was on the turntable by the sound -- but had a bit more space, clarity and freedom from artificiality.

More Barbra Streisand


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The Beach Boys - Surfin' U.S.A.

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: beachsurfi_2017) 



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

It's hard to find great sounding Beach Boys records, so when first we heard a Hot Stamper of this title we were blown away. The sound is big, open, rich and full, with the performers front and center (as well as left and right). The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy. And this copy gives you more life and energy than others by a long shot.

More Beach Boys


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Lou Reed - Transformer

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: reed_trans_2017) 



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

Transformer is an absolute tour de force of '70s Glam Rock / Classic Rock / Alternative Rock. You've got Lou Reed teamed up with David Bowie (in the producer's chair!), Mick Ronson, Herbie Flowers and Klaus Voorman, and on top of that the album was recorded at Trident and mixed by the great Ken Scott.

More Lou Reed / More David Bowie


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Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: pinkfatomh_2013) 



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

This is an album that almost never sounds good. We've spent a ton of money over the years chasing British originals and various other pressings looking for that Pink Floyd magic, but most copies were terribly disappointing sonically. This was the best copy we've heard in many years -- richer, bigger sounding and more solid than everything else we were able to put against it. It's far from a Demo Disc but if you like this music I don't think you can find better sound for it.

More Pink Floyd


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Sly & The Family Stone - Stand

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: slyanstand_2017) 



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

Finally, a Triple Plus (A+++) copy of Sly’s classic Stand album from 1969, one of the few times that this album has EVER sounded the way it is supposed to! Man, most copies of this album just plain suck -- sonically of course.

Both sides here have lively punchy drums; a big soundfield, front to back and side to side; tonally correct vocals (which obviously are key and sound edgy and thin on most copies), and real resolution to the sound overall. Also just as importantly you lose the sibilance most copies suffer from and the smear on the horns goes away, thank goodness.

More Sly and the Family Stone


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Verdi / Rossini / Overtures and Intermezzos / Solti

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: varioover_1119_2016) 



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

This White Hot Stamper Plum Victrola pressing has GORGEOUS Tubey Magical Analog sound the likes of which you may have never heard. Yes, it's that good! Recorded in England by Decca in 1959, with Solti at the helm of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the music herein was originally released on the album Venice, LSC 2313, with a lovely die-cut cover. Six years later, still clearly in the Golden Age of Tubes, it was reissued on Victrola, and it would be hard to imagine it sounding any better than it does here. (We keep a noisy Venice as a ref but it sure doesn't sound like this pressing.)

More Living Stereo


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Paganini / Violin Concerto 1 & 2 / Menuhin

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: paganvioli_emi_2013) 



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

Another remarkable Demo Disc from the Golden Age of recording, in this case 1961, with the benefit of more modern mastering from the '70s, a combination that works wonders on this title, as you will hear from both of these White Hot sides.

The sound is so transparent, undistorted, three-dimensional and REAL, without any sacrifice in solidity, richness or Tubey Magic, that we knew we had our shootout winner with this copy.

More recordings featuring the violin


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Gilbert and Sullivan / Pirates of Penzance

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: gilbepirat_lon_2009) 



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

EXCELLENT sound on EVERY side, which means it is truly a Demo Disc. On virtually every side it has the kind of rich, sweet Decca/London sound over which we audiophiles have been known to drool. It's nothing short of AMAZING on the White Hot side -- so lively, rich and HUGE. This is a Top London pressing in every way.

And it just so happens that such superb sonics are found on a lowly budget reissue, the Jubilee London label, pressed in Holland no less! Thank goodness we don't judge records either by their labels, their country of manufacture or their pressing era.

More Gilbert & Sullivan


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Genesis - Nursery Cryme

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: genesnurse_2011) 



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

This QUIET Super Hot Stamper is actually on the Charisma Blue label, not the original, but it gave our best Pink label copies a run for their money, with superb bass, real rock energy and lovely midrange transparency. For fans of the Classic Lineup involving Phil Collins and Steve Hackett -- this being the first album with them on board -- side one of this copy will show you a Nursery Cryme the likes of which you have never heard. (If you own the Classic Heavy Vinyl pressing you are really in for a shock. That pressing is a smeary lifeless mess next to this LP.)

More Genesis


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Traffic - Mr. Fantasy

Where's the Bass?

  (Item #: traffmrfan_pink) 



This Pink Label Original Island pressing has amazingly sweet, open, extended and transparent mids and highs. It has two major shortcomings: a lack of bass, and a fair amount of surface noise. If you can add a few dB around 50 cycles and can put up with some surface noise and scratches, you are guaranteed to hear some wonderful sound in the best tubey Island tradition.

Side two sounds better than side one; it has more bass and therefore is more tonally correct.

More Traffic


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Dopey Record Theories Part 2

Putting More Bad Ideas to the Test

  (Item #: book_2) 



A well-known audiophile expert once wrote the following, which I quote:

But just because you find a “360 Sound” label doesn't mean you have an “original” pressing. -1A is an original. Then -1B, etc. Past a certain number it goes to -1AA, etc. There's great variability to the sound of these different pressings with -1A being best, of course.

Of course!
More Dopey Record Theories


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Joe Gordon - Lookin’ Good!

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: gordolooki_2009) 



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

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

More Contemporary label jazz


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Sly and the Family Stone - Greatest Hits

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: slyangreat_2008) 



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

Finally, a Triple Plus side for Sly’s Greatest Hits album, the first time this album has EVER sounded the way it is supposed to! Man, most copies of this album just plain suck -- sonically of course. Musically I have to second the sentiments of the writer for AMG who noted: "Music is rarely as vivacious, vigorous, and vibrant as this, and captured on one album, the spirit, sound, and songs of Sly & the Family Stone are all the more stunning." So true.

More Sly and the Family Stone


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Records We've Played Vs. Records We've Heard

What's the Difference?

  (Item #: playing_vs_hearing_) 



Please note that we should, but often don't, make a vitally important distinction between two words we tend to use interchangeably on the site. There is a difference between the sound of records that we've played and the sound that we've heard.

The stereo, the listening room, our cleaning technologies and who knows what else are all undergoing constant changes. This means that we may have played a better pressing in the past but couldn't hear it sound as good as it does now. The regular improvements we make in all areas of playback make sonic comparisons over time all but meaningless.

More Orchestral Recordings


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Poco - Poco

Are the Original Pressings the Best Sounding?

  (Item #: poco_poco_original) 



I've been a fan of this album since it came out in 1970, but I never thought that the original pressings were especially good sounding.

Turns out I was right -- the original Yellow Label Epic pressings leave much to be desired, so much so that we simply do not bother to pick them up anymore. Based on the results of this shootout I would say it's very unlikely we would offer you anything but a later label copy as a Hot Stamper. Ah, but which one? That's always the rub, isn't it? They all sound different, and most are nothing special.

See all of our Poco albums in stock


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Art Pepper - Smack Up

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: peppesmack_2009) 



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

WOW -- the first Smack Up Hot Stamper to hit the site in over two years! We love this album and wish we could find more great copies, but it sure ain't easy. Here's a Contemporary Yellow Label pressing that's very good on side one and INCREDIBLE on side two. The first track on side one doesn't sound quite as good as the rest of the material, but by the second track this thing is SMOKIN'.

More Smack Up / More Art Pepper


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Art Pepper + Eleven - Modern Jazz Classics

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: peppemoder_yellow_2008) 



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

Oh Yeah! This Contemporary Yellow Label LP DESTROYED the competition in our big shootout this week, rating ABOVE A++ on BOTH SIDES. We didn’t hear better sound for either side on any other copy we played. Drop the needle on any track and prepare yourself to be BLOWN AWAY! The sound is full-bodied and energetic with tight bass, breathy brass, and lots of ambience.

More Art Pepper


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Frank Sinatra - Close To You

Sounds Great in Mono

  (Item #: sinatclose_2010) 



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

This nice looking Capitol Rainbow Label pressing has SUPERB SINATRA SOUND! His voice is PERFECTION. Rich, sweet, and completely free of phony EQ (Mobile Fidelity take note!), this record will put a living, breathing Sinatra between your speakers. Normally I'm not a big fan of these slower, ballady Sinatra records, but he's so good here, it's difficult to find fault with music and sound like this.

More Frank Sinatra


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The Beach Boys - Surfer Girl

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: beachsurfe_2016) 



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

If you've ever played an original pressing of the album you know what a sonic mess it is. There may be some good sounding copies out there but we've never heard one and remain skeptical in the extreme as to the possibility. Ever heard a top quality early Beatles Capitol pressing? Me neither.

More Beach Boys


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The Beach Boys - Little Deuce Coup

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: beachlittl_2007) 



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

This Capitol reissue LP has STUNNINGLY GOOD SOUND. The Beach Boys’ voices are as clear and as sweet as you could ever wish for. I’d be really surprised if original pressings of this album are even remotely as good sounding. This album sounds like somebody threaded up the master tape and started up the record cutting lathe.

More Beach Boys


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Frank Zappa & The Mothers - Freak Out!

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: zappafreak_2010) 



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

No Demo Disc by any stretch, this Hot Stamper beat the pants off of what appears to be a true first pressing that we just happened to have on hand. Most pressings of this double album are just awful, if you can even find one that's clean enough to bother playing. Our copy here earned grades of A Plus on sides one, two and four, and a grade of A Double Plus on side three. No copy in our shootout earned a higher grade than A++, for the simple reason that we just can't find enough clean original copies with which to do a definitve shootout.

More Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention


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Tchaikovsky / 1812 Overture / Alwyn

Not Recommended Original

  (Item #: tchai1812_6038) 



This very nice looking London Blueback original LP with Little Sign of Play (LSOP) contains the famous Alwyn conducted performance of the 1812 Overture.

The sound leaves much to be desired; at best it would be likely to earn about a "C" grade, as the average classical record is not very good sounding and not even worth the bother to play it.

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


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The Beatles - With the Beatles

The Early Pressings Are the Best, Right?

  (Item #: beatlwitht_myth) 



Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

So many Parlophone copies would have you think With The Beatles is a gritty, edgy, crude recording -- especially if you made the mistake of buying an early pressing. The early pressings are consistently grittier, edgier and more crude than the later pressings we played.

So much for the old canard that Original Always Equals Better. When it comes to With The Beatles it just ain't so, and it doesn't take a State-of-the-Art system or pair of golden ears to hear it.

More With the Beatles


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Grieg / Peer Gynt / Fjeldstad / LSO

Our Shootout Winner from 2005

  (Item #: griegpeerg_sts_2005) 



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

This is overall the best sounding pressing of the Fjeldstad / LSO we have ever played, with BETTER than Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides. For those of you who know your Londons, when you see the label on this LP you will no doubt be shocked: This is the last pressing in the world that one would expect to sound good.

Of course we here at Better Records don't give a sh*t about any such conventional wisdom / collector bias. We like audiophile quality sound and we don't give a damn where we find it. Up against the competition this copy was superb in practically every way, excelling with orchestral size, weight and energy like virtually no other.

More Edvard Grieg


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The Rolling Stones - Goats Head Soup

Live and Learn, A Lesson from 2011

  (Item #: rolligoats_2011) 



This is a classic case of Live and Learn.

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

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

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The Yardbirds - Roger The Engineer

Our Mono Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: yardbroger_2012) 



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

This is one of the few Mono mix albums that really justifies the claims made for the superiority of mono mixes in general. Just listen to the vocals on side one: they're right up front and centered the way they should be in any good pop song. On the stereo version, they're off to the left and down in level. They have no power over there! It robs the song of its focus.

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Bryan Ferry - The Bride Stripped Bare

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: ferrybride_2013) 



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

It's been years since I last played this album, and I'm happy, ecstatic even, to report that it sounds far better than I remember it sounding. In the old days I recall it as somewhat dry, flat and transistory. Now it's BIG and BOLD, revealing a band that's on fire in the studio.

This White Hot side two had by far the most energy of any side we played, showing us just what a monster rocker this album can be when it's mastered and pressed right. The reviews were mixed when the album was released in 1978 but time has been kind to it -- after hearing the killer copies I would rank it up at the top with the best of Ferry's and Roxy's work.

More Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music


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Leonard Bernstein - West Side Story

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: bernswests_2015) 



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

SUPERB sound can be found on these two Columbia stereo pressings of the Broadway Cast recording. This is a huge, spacious, natural, exciting All-Tube Golden Age recording that impressed us no end here at Better Records.

We heard an amazing sounding copy many years ago, and the only reason we haven't done the shootout since then is that we just couldn't find enough clean copies with which to do it. To be clear, we're not talking quiet vinyl, we're talking about not beat-to-death, not all-scractched-up vinyl. People loved this music and they played the hell out of it.

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


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Tchaikovsky / 1812 / Marche Slave and More / Alwyn

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: tchai1812o_decca_2015) 



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

A BEYOND White Hot Quadruple Plus side one - hear Tchaicovsky's 1812 in Demo Disc sound. This is the most exciting and beautifully played 1812 we know of, with the best sound ever to boot on this copy. This is an exceptional Decca remastering of a superb Golden Age recording on very good vinyl.

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


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Schubert / The Trout Quintet / Curzon / Vienna Octet

Original Versus Reissue

  (Item #: schubtrout_6090_2013) 



This unusual 2-pack combines two very different pressings from very different eras to create a complete performance of The "Trout" Quintet with SUPERB Super Hot Stamper (or better) on both sides. One pressing, the one shown, is from the early '60s; the other is from 1982. How could an imported budget late reissue beat a superb Golden Age pressing on any side you ask? Well, the answer to that question is provided by the records we will send you.
More of the music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828)


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Peter, Paul & Mary - Peter, Paul and Mary

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: peterpeter_2007) 



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

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

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Roxy Music - For Your Pleasure

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: roxymforyo_2017) 



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

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

More Roxy Music / More Brian Eno


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Bill Evans - Sunday at the Village Vanguard

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: evanssunda_2016) 



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

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

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

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Grieg / Peer Gynt Suites / Fiedler (LSC 2125)

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: griegpeerg_2125_2008) 



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

Red Seal pressing with EXCELLENT SOUND!

Fiedler is wonderful here, which is to be expected. What's unusual about this Red Seal is how good the sound is. It's extremely transparent and tonally correct. It sounds to me like a flat transfer. Some tubey colorations would be nice, especially in the louder passages. The sound also lacks a bit of weight in the bottom end. But these faults are mostly made up for by the tremendous clarity and freedom from distortion that this pressing has. I doubt if the Shaded Dog has those qualities.

More Living Stereo


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The Byrds - Ballad of Easy Rider

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: byrdsballa_2016) 



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

The first White Hot copy of this great Byrds album -- 4 stars on Allmusic -- to EVER hit the site, and it's a killer Triple Triple copy! Anyone who has played the typical copy of this album is probably familiar with the dull, lifeless, opaque sound that plagues most pressings. We collect these in bulk (natch) and it's disappointing how mediocre most copies sound.

See all of our Byrds albums in stock


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The Byrds - Fifth Dimension

The Red Labels Can Rock

(More Accurately, Some of Them Can)

  (Item #: byrdsfifth_2014) 



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

There was not another Red Label that could hold a candle to this copy in our recent shootout, and no 360 label copy could either. It's the exception that proves the rule.

Does it have 100% of the Tubey Magic of the best 360 Label copies? Maybe not, but it has quite a healthy dose, and it does so many things so much better than any of the tube-mastered originals we played that it was simply no contest. There was nothing that communicated the music remotely as well as this Red Label copy did.

More of The Byrds


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Supertramp - Crisis? What Crisis?

An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

  (Item #: supercrisi_obsess) 



CRISIS? WHAT CRISIS? 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 our other SUPERTRAMP albums.


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John Coltrane - John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: coltrjohnc_2016) 



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

An outstanding copy of this classic Jazz Vocal album, with superb sound throughout. The sound is huge and spacious with richness and Tubey Magic like nothing you've heard. I defy you to find a Male Vocal record produced in the last thirty years that can hold a candle to this one sonically or musically. A wonderful collaboration between a horn player and a singer, perhaps the greatest of all time.

More John Coltrane / More Johnny Hartman


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Jethro Tull - Benefit

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: jethrbenef_2016) 



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

WHOA! The best copy of Benefit to hit the site in OVER EIGHT YEARS! The sound is big, rich, tubey and solid with excellent transparency,

Discovering these very special British pressings - don't ask! - allowed us to get good sound and quiet vinyl on Benefit for the first time in the history of Better Records.

More Benefit / More Jethro Tull


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The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: beachpetso_2014) 



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

We've obviously been at this Hot Stamper business for a long, long time. Well folks, today is the day that an amazing A+++ copy of Pet Sounds finally makes it onto the site (we've found a few before, but they always sold before they got a chance to be listed!). I'm not sure if you want to hear the story of how we finally found these good pressings or just snap this one up before the next man does -- I think we all know this record isn't going to last long here!

More Beach Boys


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Chicago - Chicago II

360 Original or Red Label Reissue?

  (Item #: chicachica2_360_vs_red) 



Both can be good. I did the shootout (TP) and often tried to guess the label for the copy I was hearing, for fun more than anything else. I have to admit that my batting average was not much better than chance.

The 360s tend to be a little fuller and smearier, but plenty of red label copies sound that way and some 360s don't, so trying to match the sound to the label was even more pointless than usual.

When comparing pressings in a shootout it's too late for the label to have any predictive value. We've already bought the records, cleaned them all up and now just want to know what they actually sound like -- not which ones might be the best, but which ones are the best.

More Chicago


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Jethro Tull - This Was

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: jethrthisw_2016) 



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

Guaranteed to MURDER any Pink Label Island original you have ever heard - these are the Hot Stampers.

Folks, this is the best copy we are going to have on the site for a very long time. It took years and hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to get this shootout going and this killer copy is the result.

See all of our Jethro Tull albums in stock


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Jimi Hendrix - Axis: Bold As Love

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: hendraxisb_2016) 



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

What a copy! Super rich and full-bodied with a wide, tall soundstage and plenty of punch, this is exactly the right sound for this music. It sure ain't easy to find good-sounding Hendrix records, and most copies of Axis are positively painful. You need rich, full tonality and plenty of space up top if this album is going to work, and on those counts this copy certainly delivers!

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Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: hendrareyo_2014) 



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

STUNNING SOUND ON BOTH SIDES! It is no easy task trying to find good copies of this album (or any Hendrix album, really). This one is absolutely killer. The bottom end is big and weighty, the top is open and transparent, and there's plenty of rich, full tubey magic. It's going to be incredibly hard to find a pressing that comes anywhere close to this one.

No matter what version you've been playing, we guarantee you'll be blown away by the energy and punch on this one.

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Creedence Clearwater Revival - Cosmo's Factory

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: creedcosmo_2015) 



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

Clean copies of the album are rare enough as it is; good sounding clean copies are as rare for this title as for practically any we offer.

Fortunately we've made some strides of late finding the "right' pressings for this band, and with better cleaning technologies we are finding that the better copies such as this one are sounding the way we want our Creedence records to sound.

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Creedence Clearwater Revival - Willy and the Poor Boys

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: creedwilly_2016) 



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

The typical copy of this album is grainy, murky, and veiled -- and that's just for starters. It took us a HUGE stack of copies to find ANY that had bottom end weight, midrange presence, freedom from grain (mostly) and real energy.

See all of our CCR albums in stock


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Brahms & Dvorak / Hungarian & Slavonic Dances / Reiner

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: brahmhunga_15009_2010) 



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

GOOD SOUND and QUIET VINYL on both sides of this British Stereo Treasury pressing -- this one beat out some of our Blueback pressings! This one gives you more extension both up top and down low than the typical pressings. It's not the most impressive record in the world, but it's a nice step up from most copies out there and the vinyl is quiet.

More of the music of Johannes Brahms


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David Bowie - Low

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: bowielow_2011) 



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

[This is an old listing that we ourselves are fairly skeptical of. We present it as more of a historical document than a guide to finding good sound on Low.]

This is the first Hot Stamper copy of Low to ever hit our site, and it's a darn good one -- especially on side one, where all the "pop" songs are found. We just had a huge shootout for this album featuring all the copies we've picked up over the years, and this domestic (!) pressing shocked us by blowing away our Brit copies on side one.

More David Bowie / More Brian Eno


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Tchaikovsky / Excerpts from The Nutcracker / Reiner / CSO

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: tchainutcr_2328_2013) 



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

This RCA reissue pressing of LSC 2328 has some of the BEST SOUND we have ever heard for The Nutcracker, and we've played them by the dozens, on the greatest Golden Age labels of all time, including the likes of Mercury, RCA and London. In a somewhat (but not too) surprising turn of events, the reissue pressing we are offering here beat all the originals and early reissues we could throw at it. Finally, this legendary Mohr/Layton production can be heard in its full glory!

If you like your Nutcracker exciting and dynamic, this is the copy for you.

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The Who - Live at Leeds

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: who__livea_2013) 



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.

TWO STUNNING A+++ SIDES! Get ready to rock out, as this is one of the BEST SOUNDING live albums ever recorded. Young Man Blues on a copy such as this has drums that are so solid, punchy and present they positively put to shame the drum sound on 99 out of 100 rock records you've ever played. Keith Moon lives on!

More Live at Leeds


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Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: pinkfwishy_2016) 



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

Amazing! Triple Plus (A+++) sound on both sides, making this a Top Copy that will knock you out. The sound is, in a word, HUGE. You won't believe how full, rich and clear this one is.

This copy has the size, energy and presence to bring the music out of the speakers and right into your listening room!

More Pink Floyd


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Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: pinkfdarks_2012) 



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

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

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Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: hendrelect_2014) 



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.

Sides three and four of this bad boy are OFF THE CHARTS, earning our top grade of A+++. Side three manages to combine superb transparency and presence with rich Tubey Magic and a strong, rockin' low end -- not an easy balance to strike! The guitars here, obviously one of the main draws on a Hendrix album, sound phenomenal.

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Cream - Wheels Of Fire

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: creamwheel_2007) 



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

It wasn’t easy, but we’ve cracked one of the toughest nuts around -- WHITE HOT STAMPERS FOR WHEELS OF FIRE! Sides one, two, and three on this RSO British LP have SUPERB SOUND AND QUIET VINYL! We’ve never heard White Room sound nearly as amazing as it does here -- you aren’t going to believe all the WHOMP!

More Eric Clapton and Cream


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Art Pepper - Meets The Rhythm Section

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: peppemeets_2009) 



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

This LP has AMAZING SOUND on both sides with each rating A+++ or something very close to it. This one has all the tubey magic of the best black label originals, without their bad vinyl and bloated bass. I get black label original Contemporary pressings in all the time, but few of them are mastered right and most never make it to the site. Some are pure muck. Some have bloated bass that is hard to believe. Don’t buy into that record collecting slash audiophile canard that Original Equals Better. It's BS.

More Art Pepper


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Pink Floyd - Meddle

Hottest Side One We Had Ever Heard Back in 2007

  (Item #: pinkfmeddl_2007) 



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

This Harvest Green Lable British Import pressing has a side one that goes FAR beyond anything we’ve ever heard for this album. We had no choice but to award this side one the very rare A with FOUR pluses A++++. We’ve never given any side of any other Pink Floyd record such a high grade, so you can be sure that you’ve never heard them sound this amazing!

More Meddle


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Roxy Music - Roxy Music

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: roxymroxym_2011) 



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

The legendary first Roxy Music album returns to the site in tip top White Hot Stamper form, boasting no less than an incredible A+++ White Hot Side Two coupled with a superb A++ Super Hot Side One! Folks, it doesn't get much better than this!

In considering both music and sound, this is arguably the best record the band ever made. Siren, Avalon and Country Life are all musically sublime, but the first album has the kind of dynamic, energetic, POWERFUL sound that their other records simply never show us. And we've played them by the dozens, so there's a pretty good chance we will never find copies with the abundant richness and power we found here.

More Roxy Music


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Pink Floyd - Meddle

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: pinkfmeddl_2012) 



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

Side two is where the 20+ minute prog epic Echoes is found, and the sound of it on this copy is MINDBLOWINGLY GOOD. If you're the kind of guy who will get a thrill from hearing Pink Floyd bangin' out one of their heaviest psych jams with top quality sonics, this copy will completely knock you out. And side one is no slouch either -- it sounds amazing as well! Drop the needle on ’One of These Days’ and listen to how HUGE the soundfield is, it’s big, wide and deep so you can really hear into the music.

More Meddle


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Linda Ronstadt - Heart Like A Wheel

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: ronstheart_2011) 



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

This original Capitol Orange Label LP has TWO SUPERB sides, with side two earning our top grade of A+++ for its White Hot sound! And side one was nearly as good at A++ to A+++. These are the highest grades we are awarding to any copy on the site, folks. It doesn't get any better. The sound is uncharacteristically smooth, sweet, clear and Tubey Magical, light years from the grungy grit and grain that plagues most copies of Heart Like a Wheel.

Things are different since our last big shootout back in 2009. We learned a lot about the record and have added plenty of new commentary to back it up. If you're a fan check it out.

More Heart Like a Wheel


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John Coltrane - Lush Life

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: coltrlushl_2016) 



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

We've been searching for years trying to find just what kind of Lush Life pressing -- what era, what label, what stampers, mono or stereo, import or domestic -- had the potential for good sound.

No, scratch that. We should have said excellent sound. Exceptional sound. We've played plenty of copies that sounded pretty good, even very good, but exceptional? A pressing of that caliber had eluded us -- until 2016.

More John Coltrane


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The Rolling Stones - Goats Head Soup

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: rolligoats_2016) 



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

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

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

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Mel Torme - Swings Shubert Alley

The Original Pressings Are the Best, Right?

  (Item #: tormeswing_original) 



Sonic Grade: D

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

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

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The Yardbirds - Roger The Engineer

Original Pressing Debunked in 2008

  (Item #: yardbroger_original) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing. Don't buy into that record collecting / audiophile canard that the originals are always better sounding.

The original British pressing -- true, we only had the one, so take it for what it's worth -- was a poor imitation of what was surely on the master tape, as revealed by the Edsel reissues. Maybe you have a good sounding one, can't say you don't. But we would be very unlikely to spend much money on an original import pressing after hearing this one. And the domestic records we've played were clearly made from dub tapes, so they're a bust too.

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Ray Charles - The Genius After Hours

Top Quality Remastering Was Possible in 1985

  (Item #: charlthege_remastering) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on records.

Proof positive that there is nothing wrong with remastering vintage recordings if you know what you're doing. These sessions from 1956 (left off of an album that Allmusic liked a whole lot less than this one) were remastered in 1985 and the sound -- on the better copies mind you -- is correct from top to bottom.

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Shorty Rogers Big Band - Jazz Waltz

Leave the Originals for the Jazz Collectors

  (Item #: rogerjazzw_2014) 



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

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

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

More Shorty Rogers


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Linda Ronstadt - The Stone Poneys Featuring Linda Ronstadt

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: ronststone_2015) 



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

White Hot on side one, and by far the best sound we heard in our shootout for these 1975 pressings.The originals from 1967 have never impressed us. Much more folk than pop, for the most part the sound here is tubey, rich and sweet. Re-released when HLAW hit big, this album features three great Linda solos.

More Linda Ronstadt


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Red Mitchell Quartet - Red Mitchell Quartet

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: mitchredmi_2010) 



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

TWO SUPERB SIDES on quiet vinyl. This stunning copy of this Better Records fave has some of the best upright bass sound we've heard; it's welll-defined with texture and weight. It's also unbelievable dynamic and lively. The clarity and transparency are mindblowing here. We went crazy over the huge soundfield on this copy -- wall to wall, floor to ceiling, and then some.

More Red Mitchell


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Joan Baez - Diamonds and Rust

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: baez_diamo_2014) 



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

The last shootout for this record took place in 2007. It's remembered as not an especially happy affair. We can confidently report that this time around things are sounding a lot better than we expected, with rich, smooth, natural analog sound on the better copies. This is undoubtedly the result of our much better cleaning regimen and the many improvements to the system and room we have made over so many years.

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

On the Red Seal Label?

  (Item #: beethtrios_reissue) 



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

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

More Living Stereo


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The Police - Reggatta de Blanc

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: policregga_2014) 



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

This A&M LP has PUNCHY LOW-END that really drives this rhythmically charged music! Sting’s pulsing bass lines and the massive assault of Stewart Copeland’s kick drum really come to life on this White Hot Stamper domestic pressing.

See all of our Sting / Police albums in stock


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Delibes / Coppelia & Sylvia / Ansermet

London Vs. Decca, Again

  (Item #: delibcoppe_decca) 



Don't buy into that record collecting / audiophile canard that the originals are better. The right Decca reissue blows the doors off the original we played.

This has lately become a pattern, but keep in mind it's a pattern that's reliable less than half the time, if memory is any guide. Many of the Decca reissues we've played over the last few years have failed badly in a head to head with their earlier-mastered and -pressed counterparts. But the ones that beat all comers are the ones that stick in our minds and show up on our site. Clearly a case of confirmation bias, but at least we know something about our own biases.

More of the music of Leo Delibes (1836-1891)


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Art Pepper - Today

Phil DeLancie Digital or George Horn Analog?

  (Item #: peppetoday_ojc) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning (usually old) records.

We've wanted to do Art Pepper Today for more than a decade, but the original Galaxy pressings were just too thick and dark to earn anything approaching a top sonic grade. Thirty years ago on a very different system I had one and liked it a lot, but there was no way I could get past the opaque sound I was now hearing on the more than half-dozen originals piled in front of me.

So, almost in desperation we tried an OJC reissue from the '90s. You know, the ones that all the audiophiles on the web will tell you to steer clear of because it had been mastered by Phil DeLancie and might be sourced from digital tapes.

More Art Pepper


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Oliver Nelson - The Blues and the Abstract Truth

Mastering Better Than The Master

  (Item #: nelsoblues_rvg) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts concerning the sound of old records.

For those of you who are still holding on to the idea that the original pressings are better, our Hot Stamper LPs may come as quite a surprise. Yes, we can all agree that Rudy Van Gelder recorded it, brilliantly as a matter of fact. Shouldn't he be the most natural choice to transfer the tape to disc, knowing, as we must assume he does, exactly what needs fixing and what needs to be left alone?

More Oliver Nelson


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Massenet / Le Cid / Martinon

This Blueback Was Awful

  (Item #: masselecid_6058) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing. Don't buy into that record collecting / audiophile canard that the originals are always better.

The original Blueback pressing -- true, we only had the one, so take it for what it's worth -- was a complete disaster: shrill, with no top or bottom to speak of.

See more of Massenet's music


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Bloomfield / Kooper / Stills - Super Session

All Things Are Never Equal

  (Item #: bloomsuper_equal) 



Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning (usually old) records.

Can the Red Label reissues sound any good?

Why yes, they can, and here's why. Every once in a while, when it comes time to stamp out some more copies of slow but still-selling records, "back catalog" as they are known in the trade, someone has to go into the vault and find a tape with which to master. Maybe that person finds a real master tape. Or maybe that person finds a master tape and makes a really high quality dub of it to master from.

More Al Kooper / More Stephen Stills


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Derek and The Dominos - Layla

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: dereklayla_listen) 



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

The best copies of Layla are Tubey Magical, energetic, and tonally balanced. Most importantly, they sound CORRECT; you get the sense that you are hearing the music exactly as the band intended. The best sounding tracks have presence, clarity, and transparency like you have never heard -- that is, unless you've gone through a pile of copies the way we do.

More Eric Clapton and Cream


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Stan Getz - Getz Au Go Go 1987 Reissue

Isn't This Record Supposed to Be Stereo?

  (Item #: getz_getza_stereo) 



As part of our recent shootout for the album we played what turned out to be a later reissue. According to my research it's most likely from the late '70s or early '80s.

As a general rule we make a point to go out of our way to play practically any copy we can get our hands on, in the off chance that a reissue will beat the original. It's happened plenty of times. Those of you with White Hot Stamper shootout winning copies of some of our favorite titles know what I'm talkin' about.

More Stan Getz


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