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Super Hot Stamper

Cannonball Adderley
In San Francisco

  (Item #: adderinsan_1805_1904) 

Our Price: $74.99

  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this groundbreaking live jazz album - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The sound on this Riverside Stereo LP is shockingly good for a live album, and the vinyl is as quiet as we can find it
  • Cannonball joins forces here with his brother, cornetist Nat Adderley, at The Jazz Workshop in San Francisco, to create an album Orrin Keepnews lauded as, "the birth of contemporary live recording"
  • 4 1/2 stars: "Both Cannonball and Nat Adderley play with stunning, bluesy brilliance here... Outside of Somethin' Else, Adderley's 1958 masterpiece, In San Francisco may be the saxophonist's defining moment."
See all of our Cannonball Adderley albums in stock


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Beethoven / Kreutzer Sonata / Heifetz / Rubinstein

Cisco Debunked

  (Item #: beethkreut_cisco_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex.

The Cisco pressing of LSC 2577 is not acceptable on any level. There is no violinist in front of you when you play their record. There is someone back behind your speakers under a thick blanket, and his violin sure doesn't sound very much like a real violin -- no rosiny texture, no harmonics, no real body. I am proud to say we rejected the record when it was released and never carried it. (The Cisco Peer Gynt was every bit as bad.)

More recordings featuring the violin


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Hot Stamper

Tony Bennett
I Left My Heart In San Francisco

  (Item #: benneileft_1803_1811) 

Our Price: $69.99

  • This copy of Tony Bennett's 1962 classic earned very good Hot Stamper grades on both sides
  • Amazing music, plus brilliant engineering by Frank Laico at his favorite studio (and ours), Columbia 30th Street studios
  • This copy plays on relatively quiet vinyl too, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • Allmusic 5 Stars and the winner of two Grammy Awards in 1962 including Record of the Year
See all of our Tony Bennett albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Tony Bennett
I Left My Heart In San Francisco

  (Item #: benneileft_1909) 

Our Price: $99.99

  • This copy of Tony Bennett's 1962 classic has outstanding sound, rating of Double Plus (A++) or BETTER on both sides
  • Tubey Magical like you will not believe - this killer copy is as about as huge and as real as it gets
  • Brilliant engineering by Frank Laico at his favorite recording digs (and ours), Columbia 30th Street studios
  • 5 Stars and the winner of two Grammy Awards in 1962 including Record of the Year (not bad!)
See all of our Tony Bennett albums in stock


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Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: benneileft_2015) 



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

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

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

More Tony Bennett


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Mastering I Left My Heart In San Francisco

Tubes, Sure, But Are They Any Good?

  (Item #: benneileft_reissues) 



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

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

More Tony Bennett


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Brahms - Concerto No. 2- Reiner / Gilels

Cisco Reviewed

  (Item #: brahmpiano2_2281_cisco) 



Sonic Grade: C+?

Another Heavy Vinyl pressing from Cisco / Impex reviewed.

It's been quite a while since I played the Cisco pressing, but I remember it as being quite good. At the time we wrote: "The overall sound is smooth and spacious. The piano may lack the full weight of the live instrument, but that's RCA's fault, not Cisco's. If you can look past that you will find this to be one of the better Living Stereo reissues available today." and we'll just have to stick with that for now, since we haven't played the record in more than ten years.

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


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June Christy - Something Cool

Cisco Reviewed

  (Item #: chrissomet_cisco) 



Sonic Grade: C-

This is a decent Cisco LP, which has now long out of print. Audiophiles who love female vocal albums and pass on this one are missing the boat, because finding a better sounding original in clean enough condition to play is practically impossible these days. Of course if you already have a clean original you sure don't need to waste your money on this LP.

More June Christy


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Dvorak & Glazounov - Violin Concertos - Milstein

Cisco Reviewed

  (Item #: dvoravioli_cisco) 



Sonic Grade: B or so

Some of the sweetest violin tone on heavy vinyl you will ever hear. For Heavy Vinyl this one gets a very high recommendation. The domestic originals we've played have been uniformly awful so pick up this Cisco pressing wherever you can find it if the price is right, assuming you can stand the lack of ambience and resolution that Heavy Vinyl consistently suffers from. To be honest, we have not played this record in many years and would probably like it much less now than we did at the time of its release.

More of the music of Antonin Dvorak


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Dexter Gordon - One Flight Up

Cisco Debunked

  (Item #: gordoonefl_cisco) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex.

You will have a hard time finding any pressing that doesn't sound better than this "dubby" Cisco LP. (The DMM reissues are worse, but I can't think of any others offhand that would be. The CDs of course, but that's a case of apples and oranges.)

If smeared transients and zero ambience are your kind of sound, this is the record for you! If you want a real Blue Note, we may have some in stock.

More One Flight Up


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Grieg / Music From Peer Gynt / Fiedler

Cisco Debunked

  (Item #: griegpeerg_cisco) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex.

Pretty bad, on a par with the shrill crap Classic Records has been dishing out for years but in the opposite tonal direction: dull and deadsville.

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

See all pressings of Peer Gynt in stock


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Herbie Hancock - Takin’ Off

A Cisco Record We Recommend

  (Item #: hancotakin_cisco) 



Sonic Grade: B-

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

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

More Herbie Hancock


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Billy Joel - 52nd Street

Impex (Cisco) Debunked

  (Item #: joel_52nds_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: Side One: F / Side Two: C+

The new Impex (Cisco) 180 gram remastering of 52nd Street was cut by Kevin Gray, under the direction of Robert Pincus (aka Mr Record), at the now defunct AcousTech Mastering in Camarillo. We noted in a recent review for a much superior (how could it not be?) Hot Stamper pressing:

Side one is a joke (zero ambience, resolution, energy, etc.) but side two is actually quite good. Side two fixes the biggest problem with the album: hard, honky vocals.
More Billy Joel


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Julie London - Julie Is Her Name

A Boxstar Bomb

  (Item #: londojulie_is_boxstar) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex / Boxstar.

One question: Where's the Tubey Magic?

We would never have pointed you in the direction of this awful Boxstar 45 of Julie Is Her Name, cut by Bernie Grundman, supposedly on tube equipment. I regret to say that we actually sold some copies, but in my defense I can honestly and truthfully claim that we never wrote a single nice thing about the sound of the record. That has to count for something, right?

See all of our Julie London albums in stock


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Wes Montgomery - California Dreaming

Cisco Reviewed

  (Item #: montgcalif_cisco) 



Sonic Grade: C

Another Heavy Vinyl pressing from Cisco / Impex reviewed.

Beware any and all imitations, even this one, which I admit I used to like somewhat. They barely BEGIN to convey the qualities of the real master tape the way the best pressings do. Our Hot Stampers exhibit huge amounts of ambience and spaciousnesss, with far more energy and the kind of "see into the studio" quality that only the real thing ever seems to have.

More Wes Montgomery


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Mozart / Symphony #35 / Witt / Jena

A Cisco Recommended LP

  (Item #: mozarsym35_cisco) 



Sonic Grade: B-

Hearing this performance from Thomas Nee and his orchestra is like hearing the work for the first time. It may be difficult to reproduce the magic in these grooves but wonderfully rewarding when you do. You won’t be bored! The sound is intimate and immediate; this is the record for those of you who appreciate more of a front row center seat. Count me in; that’s where I like to sit myself.

More of the music of Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)


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Prokofiev / Symphonic Suite of Waltzes / Gypsy Fantasy / Schweiger

Cisco Reviewed

  (Item #: prokosymph_cisco) 



Sonic Grade: B-

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

"Another superb choice from Cisco. These shorter pieces really come to life here. The sound has more hall than the Mozart title they did and every bit the lifelike tonality and transparency."

[UPDATE: None of Cisco's records turned out to be transparent in the least, so that's a big red flag right there. The music is quite good, so if you don't pay much you won't get hurt too badly by the mediocre sound.]

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


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Linda Ronstadt - Heart Like A Wheel

Cisco Reviewed

  (Item #: ronstheart_cisco) 



Sonic Grade: C

This pressing beats the typical Capitol LP, which is an aggressive, grainy piece of crap. Take my word for it: I easily have 30-40 copies of this album, and I can tell you from years of experience that it is extremely difficult to find good sounding pressings of this music. Cisco has done a service to the audiophile community by producing a very enjoyable LP of this, Linda’s masterpiece. It’s music that belongs in your collection. (If you have the bread, check out our Hot Stamper copies, guaranteed to kill any modern pressing -- including this one -- or your money back.)

More Heart Like a Wheel


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Shostakovich - Symphony No. 5 - Bernstein

Cisco Reviewed

  (Item #: shostsymph_6115) 



Sonic Grade: B

This Cisco 180 gram LP has EXCELLENT SOUND. Without a doubt this pressing is a HUGE improvement over the majority of shrill originals. Robert Pincus, Mr. Record himself, loaned me his best original Columbia pressing for the shootout. Not surprisingly it sounded every bit as hard, shrill and aggressive as others I have heard. Sounds lovely in the quiet passages, but you better cover your ears in the tuttis.

That’s why you see so few Columbia classical LPs on our site; the sound is usually terrible, and almost always in the same way: boosted upper midrange/ lower highs.

More of the music written or performed by Leonard Bernstein


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Steely Dan - Aja

Cisco Debunked

  (Item #: steelaja_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex.

I’ve had the opportunity to play our Hot Stampers against the Cisco for friends on more than one occasion. The problem is, the more you listen to the Cisco pressing, the worse it sounds. We wanted to like it, but the more we played it, the more we realized just how wrong it was in too many important ways.

More Aja


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Steely Dan - Aja

Listening in Depth

(with Free Cisco Debunking Tool)

  (Item #: steelaja_depth) 



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

Our track commentary for the song Home at Last makes it easy to spot an obvious problem with Cisco's remastered Aja: This is the toughest song to get right on side two. Nine out of ten copies have grainy, irritating vocals; the deep bass is often missing too. Home at Last is just plain unpleasant as a rule, which is why it's such a great test track.

More Aja


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Super Hot Stamper

Gabor Szabo with Gary McFarland
Gypsy ’66

  (Item #: szabogypsy_1802_1904-) 

Our Price: $74.99

  • With excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides this copy is superb from first note to last
  • This copy plays on relatively quiet vinyl, Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus throughout
  • The credit must go to one of, if not THE Greatest Jazz Engineers of all time, Mr. Rudy Van Gelder
  • "Szabo's original sound, the unusual instrumentation (two or three guitars, Sadao Watanabe on flute, Gary McFarland on marimba, bass, drums and percussion) and McFarland's clever arrangements uplift the music."
See all of our Gabor Szabo albums in stock


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Gabor Szabo with Gary McFarland - Gypsy ’66

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: szabogypsy_2016) 



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

One of the qualities that we don't talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record's presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small -- they don't extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don't seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy for the instruments or vocals in the center.

More Gabor Szabo


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Gabor Szabo with Gary McFarland - Gypsy ’66

Heavy Vinyl Reviewed

  (Item #: szabogypsy_speakers_corner) 



Sonic Grade: B?

Probably -- we haven't played a copy in years -- one of the better Speakers Corner jazz albums.

They cut a very good version of this album on Heavy Vinyl back in 2002, which we recommended at the time.

Our Hot Stamper pressings will of course be dramatically more transparent, open, clear and just plain REAL sounding, because these are all the areas in which heavy vinyl pressings fall short, with very few exceptions.

More Gabor Szabo


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Tchaikovsky - Serenade for Strings - Munch

A Cisco Recommended LP

  (Item #: tchaiseren_cisco) 



Sonic Grade: B

This Cisco 180 gram LP has Very Good sound. The original Shaded Dogs tend to be warmer and sweeter, but also more compressed and a bit smeary. This pressing is alive and present, although the string tone can be a bit steely at times. If you have a warm, tubey system this record may just be the ticket. If your system leans toward the dry and analytical, this is not the record for you.

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

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


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Jennifer Warnes - The Hunter

Cisco Debunked

  (Item #: warnehunte_cisco) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex.

Some of the worst sound I have ever heard in my life. An absolute disgrace, both sonically and musically.

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

More Jennifer Warnes


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Jennifer Warnes - The Well

Cisco Debunked

  (Item #: warnewell_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing from Cisco / Impex.

Some of the worst sound I have ever heard in my life, worse than The Hunter even, and that's saying something! It is records like this that make audiophiles the laughing stocks of the music world they too often appear to be (all customers and at least some of you reading this excepted). If this kind of crap is what they choose to play they deserve all the derision being heaped upon them.

More Jennifer Warnes


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