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Queen - The Game

What to Listen For

  (Item #: queengame_wtlf) 



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

The best sounding side ones were rarely as good as the best sounding side twos.

Even the good side ones tended to have a trace of harmonic distortion and compression that is simply nowhere to be found on the good side twos. How and why this is we have no idea. Since every copy had the same sonic issues we discounted it in our grading. Only the better copies bring the hits on side one to life and give them the size and power we know they can have.

More Queen


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Gerry Rafferty - City To City

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: raffecityt_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

The MoFi pressing of this album is a complete disaster -- it’s fat, muddy and compressed. It was mastered by Jack Hunt, a man we know to be responsible for some of the thickest, dullest, deadest MoFi recuts throughout their shameful catalog. With mastering credits on this album, Michael McDonald (149) and Blondie (050), you have to wonder how this guy kept getting work.

More Gerry Rafferty


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Gerry Rafferty - City To City

What to Listen For

  (Item #: raffecityt_depth) 



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

Listen to the chorus on the first track, The Ark. On the best copies it really gets loud without becoming harsh or shrill. So many popular albums have choruses (and guitar solos) that are no louder, and sometimes not even as loud, as the verses, which rob the songs of any real drama or power. This recording has the potential to give you a dramatic, powerful, loud chorus. It's a thrill when you find a pressing that delivers on that promise.

More Gerry Rafferty


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Super Hot Stamper

R.E.M.
Murmur

  (Item #: rem__murmu_1807_1902) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last on this killer copy of Murmur
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl too - this one plays about as quietly as any copy we can find
  • Includes R.E.M. favorites Radio Free Europe. Pilgrimage and Talk About the Passion and more
  • 5 Stars: "The songs on Murmur sound as if they've existed forever, yet they subvert folk and pop conventions by taking unpredictable twists and turns into melodic, evocative territory... R.E.M. may have made albums as good as Murmur in the years following its release, but they never again made anything that sounded quite like it."
See all of our R.E.M. albums in stock


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Respighi / Pines Of Rome / Maazel

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: respipines_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

MoFi’s version of this recording (#507) is one of the worst sounding classical records they ever made, and that’s saying something, because most of their classical catalog is awful. Thin, bright, with sloppy bass and completely unnatural string tone -- the MoFi makes the typical Classic Record sound good! And that’s REALLY saying something.

More recordings engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson


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Reviewer Malpractice

There Oughta Be a Law...

  (Item #: reviewer) 



We’ve devoted a section to criticizing the worst of the reviewers who write for the audiophile mags and sites.

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The Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: rollistick_mofi_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

The MoFi pressing of this album is a joke. It’s so compressed, lifeless, and lacking in bottom end that it would hardly interfere with even the most polite conversation at a wine tasting. I consider it one of the worst sounding versions ot the album ever made. It’s an Audiophile Record in the worst sense of the word.

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Linda Ronstadt - Don't Cry Now

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: ronstdontc_2011) 



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

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

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Linda Ronstadt - Don’t Cry Now

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: ronstdontc_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

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

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

More Linda Ronstadt


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Super Hot Stamper

Linda Ronstadt
Prisoner In Disguise

  (Item #: ronstpriso_1811) 

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


  • Excellent Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this copy of Prisoner, the followup to Linda's Masterpiece, Heart Like a Wheel
  • This is an amazing recording, but it takes a special copy like this one to reveal all the magic that we know must be on the tape
  • 4 1/2 stars - Love Is a Rose, Tracks of My Tears and Heat Wave were hits, but Linda really pours her heart into Hey Mister, That's Me up on the Jukebox
  • Andrew Gold (so critical to the success of HLAW) is still heavily involved, along with EmmyLou Harris, James Taylor, Lowell George, David Lindley, JD Souther, and of course Peter Asher
See all our Linda Ronstadt albums in stock


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Linda Ronstadt - Prisoner In Disguise

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: ronstpriso_2010) 



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

Val Garay (JT, Simple Dreams) does it again! Both sides of this Asylum pressing have SUPERB SOUND, and side one I would go so far as to say has MASTER TAPE SOUND.

Side one is simply OFF THE CHARTS. It’s super-transparent; the clarity is amazing, and from the moment the needle hits the groove you hear the kind of stunning immediacy that brings Linda right INTO your listening room! This is EXACTLY the kind of sound a pop record is supposed to have. This copy gives it to you big time, on both sides.

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Linda Ronstadt

The Middle of the Midrange Is Key

  (Item #: ronstpriso_midrange) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

Here's what we learned when doing our recent shootout: many copies sounded like they were half-speed mastered. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a lot of things. In this case, these half-speed sounding ones had a little something phony added to the top of Linda's voice, they had a little bit of suckout right in the middle of the midrange, the middle of her voice, and they had an overall diffuse, vague quality, with sound that lacked the SOLIDITY we heard on the best pressings.

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Linda Ronstadt - What’s New

Wait, How Exactly Is This an Audiophile Record?

  (Item #: ronstwhats_debunked) 



Not having played this record in more than a decade, it’s interesting to hear this Mobile Fidelity pressing with much better equipment than was previous available to me. The first thing I noticed was the amazing transparency of the recording, no doubt the reason audiophiles have always liked it.

Next on the list, and a bit of a surprise, is the correct tonality -- this record is tonally right on the money, something Mobile Fidelity rarely achieves. This MOFI was mastered by Jack Hunt, not Stan Ricker, which may explain why the top end is more correct than usual.

More Linda Ronstadt


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Super Hot Stamper

Santana
Abraxas

  (Item #: santaabrax_1901_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • With two outstanding sides each rating a Double Plus (A++) for sound, this copy is guaranteed to rock like no other you've ever heard
  • The sound is rich, full-bodied and musical with punchy drums and guitar solos that really get LOUD
  • 5 stars on Allmusic, and a Top 100 title for its blistering solos that soar into space
  • "America was never the same after Carlos Santana discovered the smoldering Afro-Cuban magic of Tito Puente. A sinuous cha cha cha that sounds as if it had been waiting for Santana's soulful guitar licks to reinvent it, the Puente-penned "Oye Como Va" became the pillar of U.S. Latin rock." -Rolling Stone
See all of our Santana albums in stock


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Letter of the Week

... Santana’s guitar is scorching! ...

  (Item #: santaabrax_letter) 



This week’s letter comes from our good customer Dan, who was positively astounded by our Hot Stamper pressing of Abraxas. We told Dan to listen to this record as loud as his ears could take it. Could he handle it!? Apparently he could!

Take it from the man himself: "As you suggested, I played this album as loud as my ears could tolerate and the result was astounding."

See all of our Santana albums in stock


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Santana - Abraxas

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: santaabrax_mofi_debunked) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi Half-Speed Mastered Audiophile LP debunked.

The remastered Abraxas never got past the first elimination round; it had to have been one of the worst half-speeds I have ever heard. Dead dead dead as a doornail.

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Santana - Inner Secrets

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: santainner_2011) 



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

The sound went so far beyond our expectations, so far beyond even the White Hot Stamper pressing we discovered in this shootout, that we had to throw on another plus if the grading was to make any sense at all.

More Santana


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Santana - Inner Secrets

Santana's Guitar Solos Soar

  (Item #: santainner_wtlf) 



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

On side two the final guitar solo Santana takes on Well All Right gets LOUDER in the mix than any guitar solo on any rock record with which I am familiar. The sound gets louder after the first chorus, then louder still right before the second solo, and then the solo itself gets even louder until it seems to be as loud as live music. (Operative word: seems.)

More Santana


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White Hot Stamper

Santana
Santana

  (Item #: santasant1_1906) 

Our Price: $599.99

  • WOW! Amazing sound throughout with both sides earning top Triple Plus (A+++) grades or very close to it
  • The drums have real snap to them - fast, clean percussion is critical to Santana's music and this copy delivers
  • A Must Own album, clearly their Masterpiece, and one of the truly groundbreaking debuts in rock history - a personal favorite to this very day
  • "Santana combined Latin rhythms with jazz-inspired improvisation, hard-rock guitar and lyrical, B.B. King-style blues - and even had a hit single, "Evil Ways." Rolling Stone
See all of our Santana albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Santana
Santana

  (Item #: santasant1_1906_1) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • With two seriously good Double Plus (A++) sides, this original pressing has plenty of Columbia analog magic in its grooves
  • The drums have real snap to them - fast, clean percussion is critical to Santana's music and this copy delivers
  • A Must Own album, clearly their Masterpiece, and one of the truly groundbreaking debuts in rock history - a personal favorite to this very day
  • "Santana combined Latin rhythms with jazz-inspired improvisation, hard-rock guitar and lyrical, B.B. King-style blues - and even had a hit single, "Evil Ways." Rolling Stone
See all of our Santana albums in stock


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Santana - Santana

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: santasant1_depth) 



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

First off, a 360 label doesn't mean much on this record except the POTENTIAL for good sound. The badly mastered or pressed copies can be recognized easily: they are muddy and smeary. The recording itself has a bit of that too-many-tubes-in-the-signal-path quality to start with, so unless the record is mastered and pressed clearly and cleanly the whole presentation is likely to turn to mud.

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Santana - Santana

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: santasant1_mofi) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

Santana is a record we admit to having liked a bit when it first came out. Since then we have changed our minds. As embarrassing as it may be, clearly We Was Wrong.

It’s just too damn compressed and lifeless. The Whomp Factor on this pressing is Zero. Since whomp is critical to the sound of Santana’s music, it’s Game Over for us. The review below is exactly what we wrote at the time the record came in.

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Boz Scaggs - Silk Degrees

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: scaggsilkd_2011) 



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

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

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Boz Scaggs - Silk Degrees

CBS Half-Speed Debunked

  (Item #: scaggsilkd_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Half-Speed Mastered Audiophile Pressing Hall of Shame.

Ran across this listing from all the way back in 2005. It takes shots at Badly Half-Speed Mastered records like this awful CBS audiophile pressing of Silk Degrees, as well as the audiophiles who complained about plain old domestic pressings at the time. I should know; I was one of them. Ouch.

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Boz Scaggs - Silk Degrees

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

  (Item #: scaggsilkd_piano) 



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

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

More Boz Scaggs


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Bob Seger - Night Moves

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: segernight_2012) 



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

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

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

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Bob Seger - Night Moves

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: segernight_mofi) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Half Speed debunked.

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

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

More Bob Seger


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Bud Shank And the Sax Section

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: shankandth_2010) 



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

A True Demo Disc of the highest order! The sound of multiple saxes playing these lively arrangements is audiophile magic to these ears. We played a ton of copies and none of them had two sides like this! You aren't going to believe how open, lively and tubey magical the sound is throughout.

Both sides here are SUPER HOT. It must have something very close to 100% of the sound the engineer recorded, because it is just out of this world. The engineer in question? None other than Bruce Botnick, the man behind Sergio Mendes' first album, The Doors, Love and countless others, a true wizard in the studio if ever there was one.

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Bud Shank And the Sax Section

The Bass Sax - What a Sound

  (Item #: shankandth_wtlf) 



What to Listen For you ask?

The reason this album is so appealing to us audiophiles is that the sound of each of the saxophones is clearly recognizable as they weave in and around these arrangements. On the back cover you can see a fellow holding a bass saxophone, an instrument you don't hear too often -- perhaps it's fallen from favor. (It solos at the beginning of Sidewinder on side one. Once you hear it you will be dying to play that song for your audiophile buddies, I guarantee it. What a sound!)

More Bud Shank


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Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: simonbridg_mofi_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

Pure mud. One of the worst versions ever made. (The CBS Half-Speed is actually quite good by the way.)

More Simon and Garfunkel


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Bridge Over Troubled Water

"The Classic just doesn’t come close in terms of warmth"

  (Item #: simonbridg_testimonial) 



This letter comes from one of our best customers, our good friend Owais, who dropped us a line after he received his latest shipment of tasty Hot Stampers including a mono The Times They Are A-Changin’ and a KILLER stereo copy of Bridge Over Troubled Water.
More Simon and Garfunkel


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Frank Sinatra and Count Basie - Sinatra At The Sands

Mobile Fidelity Reviewed

  (Item #: sinatatthe_mobile_fidelity) 



Sonic Grade: B

Another MoFi LP reviewed.

It's pretty good. Compressed and veiled, but the tonality is correct. I give it a B. It will beat the vast majority of reissues, which tend to be thin, gritty, and woefully lacking in Tubey Magic. And the vinyl will be quiet, which is something not many of the best pressings can offer.

But who wants to listen to a B grade record when we you can buy A and A+ pressings from us?

More Sinatra at the Sands


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Super Hot Stamper

Frank Sinatra
Nice and Easy

  (Item #: sinatnicea_1905) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • You'll find outstanding sound throughout this copy of Sinatra's 1960 release with both sides rating a solid Double Plus (A++) or BETTER
  • The Chairman sounds out of this world here -- incredibly rich, smooth, musical and balanced
  • Take this one home and play it against the MoFi pressing for a good laugh -- this thing will positively SMOKE whatever other version you might have in your collection, guaranteed
  • 5 stars: "... a breezy collection of mid-tempo numbers arranged by Nelson Riddle"
See all of our Frank Sinatra albums in stock


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Frank Sinatra - Nice and Easy

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: sinatnicea_2013) 



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

It's been a long time coming but we're pretty sure whoever takes this bad boy home will agree that it's been worth the wait. Here's the first White Hot Stamper of The Chairman's classic Nice 'n' Easy to ever hit the site! This killer pressing has an A+++ side one, an A++ side two, and unusually quiet vinyl throughout. Take this one home and play it against the MoFi pressing for a good laugh -- this thing will positively SMOKE whatever other version you might have in your collection, guaranteed.

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Frank Sinatra - Nice and Easy

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: sinatnicea_mofi) 



Sonic Grade: F

AHall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

A piece of garbage that gets Frank's voice completely wrong, thinning it out and boosting at it the top of his range. No one else besides MoFi ever managed to make Frank Sinatra's voice sound this way, so what are the chances that they're right and everybody else is wrong? Slim? None? Put us down for "none."

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Which One's Pink?

And What Do All Those Numbers Mean?

  (Item #: stampers) 



An erstwhile customer sent us an email a while back asking this question: "What is the FULL stamper matrix for this record... all the way around the dead wax?"

I replied that we never give out stamper numbers for the records we sell. The only way to find out the stampers for our records is to buy them. And while we're on the subject, you might enjoy reading this commentary I wrote a while back pointing out how misleading the matrix numbers can be: The Book of Hot Stampers.


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White Hot Stamper (With Issues)

Steely Dan
Aja

  (Item #: steelaja__1904_1906) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • A STUNNING copy - you won't believe how BIG and BOLD the sound is - Triple Plus (A+++) or close to it on both sides
  • Punchy, full and smooth, with the kind of rhythmic energy that brings out the jazzy funk in the music
  • A Better Records Rock and Pop Top 100 album and a true Demo Disc on an exceptional pressing like this
  • 4 1/2 stars: "With Aja, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen's obsession with sonic detail and fascination with composition reached new heights. A coolly textured and immaculately produced collection of sophisticated jazz-rock, Aja has none of the overt cynicism or self-consciously challenging music that distinguished previous Steely Dan records ... a shining example of jazz-rock at its finest. "
See more of our Steely Dan albums in stock


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Steely Dan - Aja

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: steelaja__mobile_fidelity) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

More Mofi Bashing, But Boy Does The MOFI Deserve It.

I remember back in the ’70s when I thought this album sounded pretty good on my plain old ABC original. Then I got a copy of the Mobile Fidelity pressing and I thought it sounded even better. Side two of the MOFI had bass that was only hinted at on my domestic copy.

More Aja


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Super Hot Stamper (Quiet Vinyl)

Steely Dan
Aja

  (Item #: steelaja_1904_1) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • An outstanding copy of Steely Dan's 1977 release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Punchy, full and smooth, with the kind of rhythmic energy that brings out the jazzy funk in the music
  • A Better Records Rock and Pop Top 100 album and a true Demo Disc on an exceptional pressing like this
  • 4 1/2 stars: "With Aja, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen's obsession with sonic detail and fascination with composition reached new heights. A coolly textured and immaculately produced collection of sophisticated jazz-rock, Aja has none of the overt cynicism or self-consciously challenging music that distinguished previous Steely Dan records ... a shining example of jazz-rock at its finest. "
See more of our Steely Dan albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Steely Dan
Aja

  (Item #: steelaja_1904_2) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • An outstanding copy of Steely Dan's 1977 release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Punchy, full and smooth, with the kind of rhythmic energy that brings out the jazzy funk in the music
  • A Better Records Rock and Pop Top 100 album and a true Demo Disc on an exceptional pressing like this
  • 4 1/2 stars: "With Aja, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen's obsession with sonic detail and fascination with composition reached new heights. A coolly textured and immaculately produced collection of sophisticated jazz-rock, Aja has none of the overt cynicism or self-consciously challenging music that distinguished previous Steely Dan records ... a shining example of jazz-rock at its finest. "
See more of our Steely Dan albums in stock


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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.

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Steeleye Span - All Around My Hat

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: steelallar_2013) 



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

The best copy to ever hit the site! It ain't easy to find clean British pressings of this one, which is why it's taken us so long to get a copy like this up on the site. We played a good sized stack of these recently and only a couple did the job well enough to be considered Hot Stampers. This one is a big step up, with way less of the thick / murky / veiled sound that plagues many copies.

See all of our Folk albums in stock


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Steely Dan - Katy Lied

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: steelkatyl_2010) 



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

This White Hot Stamper side one is an ABSOLUTE KNOCKOUT. Even our usual top grade of A Triple Plus was not enough to tell the story, so we awarded this side one the rare Four Plus (A++++) grade. The sound is HUGE -- big, bold, dynamic, and lively. The clarity and transparency exceeded all our expectations; we felt as if we were hearing every last Steely Dan-sweated detail. The overall sound is natural, relaxed, and musical. The highs are as sweet as they come (which is not as sweet as they should have been, more about that later) and the bottom end has the weight and punch this music needs to rock.

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Steely Dan - Katy Lied

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: steelkatyl_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

By the time I was avidly collecting Mobile Fidelity records in the late '70s this title had already gone out of print, one of the first to do so. My guess is that even the cloth-eared audiophiles at MoFi knew when they had a turkey on their hands and mercilessly put this one out to pasture. Yes, the sound is so bad that even MoFi could hear it.

Compressed and lifeless as the screen speakers so popular at the time, it's hard to imagine any version sounding worse than this one.

More Katy Lied


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Steely Dan's Pretzelly Logic

Holy Shit! This Is a GREAT LP!

  (Item #: steelpretz_testimonial_0409) 


"I Took Tom’s Advice and Played It Real Loud."

One of our newest Hot Stamper converts, John R., a customer only since February, has already managed to acquire about a dozen of our best Hot Stamper LPs to the tune of many thousands of dollars. As we like to say, the best copies may not be cheap, but here at Better Records you most certainly get what you pay for. Just ask John. If I read him right what he got for his 650 clams was something that exceeded any expectation he might have had for it. Like we say ourselves sometimes: Who knew? How would anyone know this album could so this good? The average copy barely hints at the sound the engineers recorded.

Anyway, that’s our story. Now here’s John’s.


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Cat Stevens - 200 Grams of Tea for the Tillerman

This Is Your Idea of Analog?

  (Item #: steveteafo_200_2014) 



Dear Record Loving Audiophiles of Earth,

I'm afraid we have some bad news to report. We regret to inform you that the 2011 edition of Tea for the Tillerman pressed by Analogue Productions on Heavy Vinyl doesn't sound very good. We know you were all hoping for the best. We also know that you must be very disappointed to hear this unwelcome news.

But the record is what it is, and what it is is not very good. Its specific shortcomings are many and will be considered in at length in our review below.

More Tea for the Tillerman / More Cat Stevens


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Cat Stevens - Tea for the Tillerman

A Hall of Fame Pressing from 2004!

  (Item #: steveteafo_2004) 



This is a superb sounding original Brown Label A&M pressing. If you didn’t know better you might think you were listening to a Pink Label copy: it’s that good! In fact, having just played a Pink label Island 3U/3U original, I’m going to say that this pressing actually sounds better on side one than that famous import. This will no doubt shock many of you. But I have known of a better sounding brown label domestic pressing for close to 10 years.
More Tea for the Tillerman


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Traveling Back in Time with Cat Stevens on MoFi

To Hear It on Vintage Equipment

  (Item #: steveteafo_badstereo) 



Our good customer Roger wrote us a letter years ago about his MoFi Tea for the Tillerman, in which he remarked, "Sometimes I wish I kept my old crappy stereo to see if I could now tell what it was that made these audiophile pressings so attractive then."

It got me to thinking. Yes, that would be fun, and better yet, it could be done. There are actually plenty of those Old School systems still around. Just look at what many of the forum posters -- god bless 'em -- are running. They've got some awesome '70s Japanese turntables, some Monster Cable and some vintage tube gear and speakers going all the way back to the '50s.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Tea for the Tillerman


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Cat Stevens - Tea For The Tillerman

MoFi (UHQR too) Debunked

  (Item #: steveteafo_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: MoFi Regular LP: D / UHQR: F

This is, I hope it goes without saying, one of the greatest rock records of all time, music that belongs in any collection. I’ve been playing this album for 30 years and I can honestly say I’ve never once been tired of hearing it. I do get tired of hearing bad copies. I become absolutely incensed when I have to play the Mobile Fidelity version of this album, because what they did to this record is a travesty. If you want to know what the guitars on this album are NOT supposed to sound like, play the MOFI. And if you want to hear an even worse version, play the UHQR.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Tea for the Tillerman


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Bad MoFi Mastering - Part One

Cat Stevens and His Sparkling Acoustic Guitars?

  (Item #: steveteafo_sparkle) 



In the commentary for America’s first album we noted that:

The guitars on this record are a true test of stereo fidelity. ... most of the pressings of this record do not get the guitars to sound right. ... on a copy with a bit too much top end they will have an unnatural hi-fi-ish sparkle.

This kind of sparkle can be heard on practically every record Mobile Fidelity made in the ’70s and ’80s. Tea for the Tillerman, Sundown, Year of the Cat, Finger Paintings, Byrd at the Gate, Quarter Moon in a 10 Cent Town -- the list of sparkling MoFis would be very long indeed, and these are just the records with prominent acoustic guitars!

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Tea for the Tillerman


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Cat Stevens Testimonial

A $100 Hot Stamper Is Now My Reference Album!

  (Item #: steveteafo_testimonial) 



One of our best customers, Gerardo, who has to have his Hot Stampers shipped all the way to the Phillipines where he lives, asked recently about Tea for the Tillerman. He wanted to know if we had something that would beat the MoFi pressing. Having recently played one (for condition; we already know how bad the sound is) we said HELL YEAH!

In fact, about the cheapest clean plain old American copy we can dig up for you will beat the pants off the MoFi. So we charged him $100 and sent it on out. Not having heard back, we followed up with this email:

Hi Gerardo,

We were just wondering if you ever got to have the Tea For The Tillerman Hot Stamper vs. MoFi / UHQR shootout. Hope it went well!

His reply can be seen below.


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Cat Stevens Testimonial

One of the Best Recordings in My 10K LP Collection

  (Item #: steveteafo_testimonial_200) 



Roger is up to his old tricks again, doing shootouts with our Hot Stampers and all the great pressings he already owns, in this case putting our humble Brown Label A&M domestic LP up against the legendary Pink Label Island British Import and a couple of MoFis. We’ll let Roger tell his own story, since by now we all know he does it as well as anyone.

Hi Tom,

Just a note on another hot stamper shootout I recently did, this time on Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman. It was interesting comparing itto the regular MFSL half-speed, the MFSL UHQR pressing, and a UK Pink Island 3U pressing, which was my all-time champ.

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Cat Stevens - Tea for the Tillerman

Live and Learn

  (Item #: steveteafo_wrong) 



A blast from the past from 2006.

I have to admit that I was dead wrong when I said that the best copies of this album were the Brown Label A&M pressings. I see now how I made this error. We played four pink label copies and our best A&M LP is only better than three of them.

But it sure isn't better than this one! I've heard a good dozen or so Pink Labels and this is the first one that ever blew my mind. I thought I knew this record, but this copy changes everything.

More Tea for the Tillerman


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Cat Stevens - Teaser & The Firecat

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: stevetease_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

In case you don’t already know, one of the worst sounding, if not THE WORST SOUNDING VERSION OF ALL TIME, is the Mobile Fidelity Anadisq pressing that came out in the ’90s. If you own that record, you really owe it to yourself to pull it out and play it. It’s just a mess and it should sound like a mess, whether you have anything else to compare it to or not.

More Teaser and the Firecat / More Cat Stevens


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MoFi Cat Stevens & TAS List Thoughts

This Is Your Idea of a Super Disc?

  (Item #: stevetease_tas) 



We here at Better Records would like to give a shout out to The Man, Harry Pearson, for putting one of the worst MoFis of all time on his so-called Super Disc List, which, as we all know, is still the delight of nitwits around the world.

In case you don’t already know, one of the worst sounding, if not THE WORST SOUNDING VERSION OF ALL TIME, is the Mobile Fidelity Anadisq pressing that came out in the ’90s. If you own that record, you really owe it to yourself to pull it out and play it. It’s just a mess and it should sound like a mess, whether you have anything else to compare it to or not.

More Teaser and the Firecat / More Cat Stevens


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Cat Stevens Teaser Testimonial

... So Much More Alive and Dynamic ...

  (Item #: stevetease_testimonial) 



Roger here likes doing his own shootouts, having acquired many of the so-called audiophile recommended pressings over the years. Like us, he knows firsthand that those recommended records have little hope of standing up to the real thing, the real thing of course being an old record we charged him a lot of money for, or, to put it another way, a Super Hot Stamper. Can it possibly be worth the three hundred clams it cost him? Let’s hear from Roger on that subject.
Hi Tom:

Just the usual note to let you know of my latest LP shootout: Cat Stevens Teaser and the Firecat.

More Teaser and the Firecat


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Al Stewart - Year Of The Cat

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: stewayearo_2009) 



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

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

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

More Al Stewart


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Al Stewart - Year Of The Cat

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: stewayearo_mofi) 




Sonic Grade: D to B-

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

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

More Al Stewart


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Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: straualsos_mofi_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

Can you believe this bright and phony sounding piece of junk was once on the TAS Super Disc List? Sad, isn't it? At least Harry had the good sense to delete it way back in the '80s, along with all the rest of the awful MoFi's that were on it at the time.

Hey, I sure liked a lot of my MoFi's in the '80s too. Thank god I didn't have my own Super Disc list at the time. It would be every bit as embarrassing as Harry's list is these days, of that you can be sure.

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Supertramp - Breakfast In America

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: superbreak_2009) 



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

TWO KILLER SIDES ON THIS ROCKIN’ LATE ’70s CLASSIC! I am not at all ashamed to say that we LOVE this album here at Better Records, and a copy like this will certainly help show you why. Side one has incredible A+++ Master Tape Sound and side two is just a plus behind. Drop the needle on Gone Hollywood or The Logical Song to hear how powerful this music can sound when you have the right pressing.

More Breakfast in America


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Supertramp - Breakfast In America

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: superbreak_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: C-

The MoFi Standard Operating Procedure of boosting the top end does this album no favors; it’s positively ruinous in fact. How dull does a system have to be to make this record sound right? Pretty damn dull. And the bad bass definition just adds to the phoniness. The average domestic copy is not that great either, so let’s give the MoFi a somewhat forgiving grade of C minus.

More Breakfast in America
.

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Super Hot Stamper

Supertramp
Crime of the Century
(UK Pressing)

  (Item #: supercrime_1903) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • A huge and powerful UK pressing of Supertramp's Masterpiece, offering outstanding Double Plus (A++) quality sound on both sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Ken Scott engineered this one to have Cinerama-sized height, width and depth to rival the best albums you've ever heard
  • Clearly their Magnum Opus, a great leap forward and a permanent member of our Rock & Pop Top 100 Album List
  • "The tuneful, tightly played songs, pristine clarity of sound, and myriad imaginative sound effects, helped create an album that Sounds magazine likened to 'Genesis, The Beach Boys...a smattering of [Pink] Floyd.'"
See all our Supertramp albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Supertramp
Crime of the Century

  (Item #: supercrime_1906) 

Our Price: $129.99

  • A huge and powerful pressing of Supertramp's Masterpiece, offering outstanding Double Plus (A++) quality sound on both sides
  • Ken Scott engineered this one to have Cinerama-sized height, width and depth to rival the best albums you've ever heard
  • Clearly their Magnum Opus and a great leap forward, this album earned 4 stars in AMG and a permanent spot on our Rock & Pop Top 100 Album List
  • "The tuneful, tightly played songs, pristine clarity of sound, and myriad imaginative sound effects, helped create an album that Sounds magazine likened to 'Genesis, The Beach Boys...a smattering of [Pink] Floyd.'"
See all our Supertramp albums in stock


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Supertramp - Crime of the Century

Ken Scott's Producing / Engineering Masterpiece

  (Item #: supercrime_2011) 



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

AMAZING White Hot Stampers for the greatest KEN SCOTT production in history. This is his (and the band’s) MASTERPIECE, and now we have a pressing that allows us to revel in the GLORY that is Crime of the Century!

This killer copy rates A+++ on BOTH sides. Wow is the only word I can think of to describe it.

More Crime of the Century


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Supertramp - Crime of the Century

Loud Levels and Big Woofers

  (Item #: supercrime_loud) 



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

The bass on the best copies is AWESOME. Playing a Hot Stamper copy at loud levels with big woofers will have your house quaking. Add to that the kind of ENERGY that the better pressings have in their grooves and the result is an album guaranteed to bring most audiophile systems to their knees, begging for mercy.

More Crime of the Century


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Supertramp - Crime of the Century on MoFi

What to Listen For

  (Item #: supercrime_mofi_debunk) 



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

Listen to the vocals at the end of Dreamer. If they are bright, the bells at the end of the song sound super-extended and harmonically rich. But at what price? The vocals are TOO BRIGHT. Which is more important, good vocals or good bells? There has to be a balance. This is something audiophiles and audiophile labels, who should obviously know better, often have trouble understanding.

More Supertramp
.

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Supertramp - Crime of the Century on MoFi

We Was Wrong - It Can Sound Great

  (Item #: supercrime_wrong) 



This MoFi Crime of the Century has two superb sounding sides. I have to admit I was DEAD WRONG about MoFi’s Crime of the Century -- on this pressing, anyway. But I can tell you that this is one of the few I have ever played that sounded right to me.

It's not that MoFi couldn't cut a record that's tonally correct. It's just that most of they time they didn't. This time they did.

More Crime of the Century


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Supertramp - Crisis? What Crisis?

The Exception that Probes the Rule

  (Item #: supercrisi_review) 



This Hot Stamper A&M Half Speed today joins a VERY ELITE GROUP: Half-Speeds that hold their own in a head to head shootout against some of the BEST Hot Stamper Non-Audiophile pressings we can find. There are presently a total of three titles that fit the description: Dark Side of the Moon on MoFi, Crime of the Century on MoFi, and this title on A&M.

Most half-speed mastered records we throw on our table have us scratching our heads and asking, What the hell were they thinking? They SUCK! Tubby bass, recessed mids, phony highs, compression -- the list of bad qualities they almost all have in common is a long one. Playing these kinds of records on a properly set-up modern system is positively painful.

More Crisis? What Crisis?


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Super Hot Stamper

James Taylor
Dad Loves His Work

  (Item #: taylodadlo_1905) 

Our Price: $89.99

  • This outstanding copy boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Dramatically bigger, clearer and richer sounding than most, with a far more accurate and natural tonal balance
  • One of our favorite JT albums and perhaps his most underrated, with a great set of songs including Stand and Fight and Summer's Here
  • 4 stars on Allmusic: "James Taylor bounced back from the spotty Flag with this all-original album led by his collaboration with J.D. Souther on "Her Town Too," his biggest pop hit since "Handy Man," and his biggest non-cover hit since his first, "Fire And Rain," in 1970."
See all of our James Taylor albums in stock


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James Taylor - Dad Loves His Work

What to Listen For

  (Item #: taylodadlo_wtlf) 



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

The soundstage and depth on our Hot Stamper copies is HUGE -- this is without a doubt the most spacious recording by James Taylor we've ever heard. If you want your speakers to disappear, replaced by a huge studio full of musicians playing their hearts out, this is the album that can do it. But of course there's a lot more to the sound of the best copies than a big soundstage. Tonality is key.

More Dad Loves His Work


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Tchaikovsky / 1812 Overture / Kunzel

Telarc UHQR Debunked

  (Item #: tchai1812_UHQR) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing.

This is what we had to say about the UHQR back in 2005 or so:

Having played this record all the way through, I have to comment on some of its sonic qualities. It's about the most dynamic recording I've ever heard. This was the promise of digital, which was never really delivered. On this record, that promise has been fulfilled. The performance is also one of the best on record. It's certainly the most energetic I can remember.

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


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10cc - Deceptive Bends

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: tenccdecep_2008) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame and another in our series of Demo Discs for Bass.

The remarkable level of transparency found on this copy allows you to pick out each background vocal and follow it throughout the choruses. The bass here is PERFECTION: it’s deep, punchy and POWERFUL. When you get the right pressing of this album, the bass is so good it will make every other rock record you own sound positively anemic.

More Deceptive Bends


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10cc - Deceptive Bends

A Tough Test for Sibilance

  (Item #: tenccdecep_test) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you go about critically evaluating your copies of Deceptive Bends.

On side two the tonal balance is especially critical. Any boost to the top end will cause the vocals on the second track to SPIT LIKE CRAZY. This is a good test for how well your cartridge and arm are doing their jobs.

More 10cc


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Traffic - John Barleycorn Must Die

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: traffjohnb_2012) 



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

This White Hot Stamper side one is OUT OF THIS WORLD -- the new KING for this album! We played a huge number of pressings -- Pink Labels, United Artists originals and reissues -- and this side one was completely UNMATCHED. What put it in a league of its own? BIG ENERGY for one thing. Side one of this copy was jumping out of the speakers in a way that took us completely by surprise. We had a dozen clean copies, that's 24 sides, and this was the only one that showed us just how lively and clear that side one master tape must be.

More Traffic


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Traffic - John Barleycorn Must Die

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: traffjohnb_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For as you critically evaluate your copy of John Barleycorn Must Die.

The toughest test on side two is the first track, Stranger to Himself. Getting the voices right is practically impossible. If the voices are full, smooth, yet breathy and clear, you have that rare copy that actually gets the midrange right. Not many do.

More Traffic / More Steve Winwood


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Traffic - John Barleycorn Must Die

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: traffjohnb_UK_2007) 



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

This British Island Pink Label John Barelycorn has MASTER TAPE SOUND on THE BEST SIDE TWO WE’VE EVER HEARD! It’s also the only British copy we played that could hold its own with our best domestics on side one.

More Traffic


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Traffic - John Barleycorn Must Die

Listen for Winwood's Left Hand

  (Item #: traffjohnb_wtlf_2015) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For.

We learned something new a few years back about John Barleycorn while playing an especially TRANSPARENT copy. This pressing made it clear -- really, for the first time -- exactly what Winwood was doing with his left hand on the piano during the song Glad.

More Traffic


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Traffic - The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: trafflowsp_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

Of course our Hot Stamper pressings are going to be better than the Anadisq LP from the mid '90s. How much better? Words fail me. The MoFi was an out and out disaster. Perhaps some of the MoFi collectors didn't notice because they had nothing to compare it to. God forbid they would ever lower themselves to buy a "common" pressing such as one of our domestic Islands.

More Traffic


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Gino Vannelli - Powerful People

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: vannepower_2014) 



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

This is some of the best sound we heard in our shootout, coming in right behind our winning sides. Few copies were as BIG and BOLD as this, and that is unquestionably our sound.

Overall this copy is far richer and fuller than most, and that's a big deal on Powerful People, an album which is almost always pure midrange -- no bottom, no top, just midrange. Until we did this shootout I wasn't sure we would ever find a copy with any real bass or top end. For that very reason we had more than once abandoned this project in past years.

More Gino Vannelli


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Gino Vannelli - Powerful People

What Was I Thinking?

  (Item #: vannepower_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

At the time of our last shootout in 2014 I still had the MoFi pressing of Powerful People in my personal, very small (at this point) record collection. Almost all the best sounding records from my collection had long ago been sold off, going to good homes that I can only assume would play them more than I had in the last ten years. If it's a record you see on our site, chances are good I have listened to it until I'd practically turned blue in the face.

More Gino Vannelli


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Gino Vannelli - Powerful People

The Most You Can Hope For

  (Item #: vannepower_summation) 



Like most of the better audiophile records -- from long ago as well as those being produced today -- the most you can hope for from these reissues is that they can fix a few problems you might be saddled with on the particular pressing you own.

But if you work at it, the "right" plain old record, properly cleaned and played, will show you sound that the audiophile edition can barely begin to reproduce. Having auditioned by the thousands the kinds of records you see on the site, the reality of this truth is irrefutable to us now, and has been for a very long time. Our customers know exactly what we are talking about; they've heard it for themselves. That's why they keep coming back.

More Gino Vannelli


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Super Hot Stamper

Various Artists
The Blues... A Real Summit Meeting

  (Item #: varioblues_1906_1) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • You'll find outstanding Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it on sides three and four and solid Double Plus (A++) sound on the other two sides of this wonderful double album collection from 1973
  • This copy is surprisingly spacious, full-bodied and natural, with a nice extended top end, plenty of space around the instruments and few of the problems that plagued most of the pressings we played
  • Features B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Big Mama Thornton, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup and more
  • Recorded live at Newport in New York, this is an OUTSTANDING blues album
More B.B. King / More Muddy Waters


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Various Artists - The Blues... A Real Summit Meeting

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: varioblues_2017) 



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

This is an excellent sounding Buddah Brown & Pink Label Double LP. Listen to ’Big Mama’ Thorton’s voice on this record -- it sounds like somebody forgot to put a limiter on her mic. It is without a doubt one of the most dynamic vocals I have ever heard on any record in my entire life. You feel like you are sitting front row center. Recorded live at Newport in New York, this is an OUTSTANDING blues album.

More B.B. King / More Muddy Waters


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Muddy Waters - Folk Singer

Classic Records Reviewed

  (Item #: waterfolks_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: C+

Kills that muddy MOFI, which I must confess I used to like. Things have changed, that's for sure. The Mobile Fidelity is thick and fat sounding, like most of their awful Anadisq releases, with much less transparency than this Classic.

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

More Muddy Waters


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Muddy Waters - Folk Singer

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: waterfolks_mofi) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

The MoFi is thick, fat and murky, with much less transparency than the Classic release (which is no award winner either). Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.

More Muddy Waters


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The Science of Hot Stampers

Incomplete, Imperfect, and (Gulp!) Provisional

  (Item #: wrong_) 



We have a section on the website you may have seen called Live and Learn. This section (50+ strong!) is devoted to the discussion of records we think we got, uh, wrong.

Oh yes, it's true. But it’s not really a problem for us here at Better Records. We see no need to cover up our mistakes. The process of learning involves recognizing and correcting previous errors. Approached scientifically, all knowledge — in any field, not just record collecting or music reproduction — is incomplete, imperfect, and must be considered provisional.

What seems true today might easily be proven false tomorrow.

See more entries in our Thinking About Hot Stampers series


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After You've Played 100 Copies of the Album...

What's Left to Learn?

  (Item #: wrong_1410) 



A common misconception of many of those visiting the site for the first time is that we think we know it all.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We definitely don't know it all. We learn something new about records with practically every shootout.

Case in point: the record you do not see pictured to the left. (The record we recently learned something new about -- this, after having played scores and scores of copies over the years -- will remain a secret for the time being. At least until we find another one.)

More from our Thinking About Hot Stampers series


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Hot Stamper

Yes
Close To The Edge

  (Item #: yes__close_1811_1904-) 

Our Price: $59.99

  • This early domestic Atlantic pressing of Yes's classic fifth album earned Hot Stamper sonic grades on both sides
  • Exceptionally QUIET vinyl for this title - Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus - they don't come any cleaner than this
  • 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

Yes
Close To The Edge

  (Item #: yes__close_1902_1905) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • Two outstanding sides, each earning seriously good Double Plus (A++) grades - these early pressings are the only ones that can make sense of this challenging music
  • An incredibly complex recording, with huge organs, light-speed changes and an abundance of multi-tracked parts
  • As amazing as the sound may be, the good news is that the vinyl on this killer copy is exceptionally quiet as well
  • 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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Yes - Close To The Edge

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: yes__close_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.

The toughest nut to crack in the entire Yes catalog! We’ve been trying for years to bring you Hot Stamper copies of this one, but it is one tough task. Here’s the copy that proved to us just how much this album can cook if your stereo is up to it and you’ve got the right pressing. We went through Imports, Plain Ol’ Domestics, White Label Promos and what have you, and no other copy had two sides this strong.

More Yes


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Yes - Close To The Edge

A MoFi Winner (?)

  (Item #: yes__close_mofi) 



Sonic Grade: Side One: B to B+ / Side Two: C

A few years back we wrote the commentary you see below. We can't say if we would still agree with the sentiments expressed, so take what you read with a grain of salt, and remember that no two records sound the same. If your copy is better or worse on either side it will not come as a surprise to us here at Better Records!

More Yes


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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.

More Yes


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Neil Young - Harvest

Nautilus Reviewed

  (Item #: youngharve_nautilus) 



Sonic Grade: B

Another Half Speed reviewed. We haven't played a copy of this record in more than a decade, 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.

This is a SURPRISINGLY good sounding Nautilus Half-Speed mastered LP with AMAZING transparency. The sound here is DRAMATICALLY more natural than your average audiophile pressing.Just listen to the phoney top end found on most MOFIs to see what we mean. On this record you'll hear non of the hyped up highs that are MoFis claim to fame.

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Hot Stamper

Neil Young
Old Ways

  (Item #: youngoldwa_1803_1811) 

Our Price: $49.99

  • A surprisingly good sounding pressing earning Hot Stamper grades on both sides - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Neil's unabashed country album (hello Waylon Jennings!) has been a long time coming; it's the first copy to hit the site in over five years
  • We guarantee this one will make your MoFI pressing sound like the bad joke it was back in 1996 or your money back and then some
See all of our Neil Young albums in stock


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White Hot Stamper

Neil Young
Old Ways

  (Item #: youngoldwa_1906) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • A stunning pressing of Neil's 1985 release with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • We just finished a big shootout for Neil's country-fried album and this was THE BEST copy to hit our table
  • White Hot copies of Neil's unabashed country album (hello Waylon Jennings!) rarely hit the site - this is only the second we've had in many years
  • We guarantee this one will make your MoFi pressing sound like the bad joke it was back in 1996 or your money back and then some
See all of our Neil Young albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Neil Young
Old Ways

  (Item #: youngoldwa_1906_1) 

Our Price: $119.99

  • A surprisingly good sounding pressing with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish
  • Big, full-bodied and energetic, with wonderfully present vocals and a huge bottom end - shocking for 1985
  • We guarantee this one will make your MoFI pressing sound like the bad joke it was back in 1996 or your money back and then some
  • "... this turns out to be his most carefully crafted album since Comes a Time... Pretty amazing." - Rolling Stone
See all of our Neil Young albums in stock


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Neil Young - Old Ways

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: youngoldwa_2010) 



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

We just finished our first major shootout for Neil's country-fried album from the mid-'80s and this was easily one of the better copies to hit our table. Most of the pressings we played were too gritty and grainy to hold our interest, but this one was richer, sweeter and smoother by a country mile! Side one earned an A++ grade and side two was best in show, rating A+++. This one will make the MoFI pressing sound like a bad joke.

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Frank Zappa - The Grand Wazoo

What to Listen For

  (Item #: zappagrand_wtlf) 



The Tubey Magical keyboards at the start of The Grand Wazoo are amazing sounding on the best copies. How Zappa ever decided to go digital when he managed to record so well in analog (from time to time, let's be honest) is beyond me.

Problems?

Smear on the horn transients are always an issue on this album (and Zappa's previous big band album, Waka/Jawaka). After that we would say a lack of top end is the other most common shortcoming we hear. To find a copy that's not dull and smeary is no mean feat.

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