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Bartok / Piano Concerto No. 3 / Kertesz / Katchen

Reviewed in 2009

  (Item #: bartopiano_6487_2009) 



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

This Super Rare original London pressing has EXCELLENT SOUND and lovely music. The piano is especially well recorded, with the orchestra exhibiting the patented lovely, rich, rossiny string tone, with tons of depth and spaciousness to the sound. This is the first copy of the album I have run into, and my first exposure to the Bartok Piano Concerto, which is actually wonderful.

More Classical Music on London


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Big Speakers, Loud Levels and More Power to the Orchestra

  (Item #: mussopictu_6177) 



The darker brass instruments like tubas, trombones and french horns are superb here. Other Golden Age recordings of the work, as enjoyable as they may be in other respects, do not recreate the full weight of the brass, probably because of compression, limiting, tube smear, or some combination of the three.

The brass on this record has a power like no other. It's also tonally correct. It's not agressive. It's not irritating. It's just immediate and powerful the way the real thing is when you hear it live. That's what really caught my ear when I first played Ansermet's recording.

More Pictures at an Exhibition


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Chopin, Rachmaninoff et al. / Richter

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: chopiricht_2611_2011) 



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

This collection of WONDERFUL solo piano works, here performed by one of our favorite pianists. Sviatoslav Richter, has SUPERB Living Stereo sound, earning a Super Hot Stamper sonic grade on side one. On this White Dog original pressing the piano is present and clear, with no smear whatsoever. Although the sound is big and rich, without more weight to the piano -- the kind you rarely hear outside of a live event -- we could not award the full Three Pluses. In practically every other way the sound was Hard To Fault (HTF).

More of the music of Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)


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Classic Records

First Three Classical Releases
Debunked

  (Item #: classic_180_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame Pressings, Every One

I’m reminded of the nonsense I read in TAS and elsewhere in the mid-’90s regarding the reputed superiority of the Classic Records Living Stereo reissues. After playing their first three titles: 1806, 1817 and 2222 (if memory serves), I could find no resemblance between the reviews I read and the actual sound of the records I played. The sound was, in a word, awful. To this day I consider them to be the Single Worst Reissue Series in the History of the World.


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Debussy & Ravel / String Quartet - Julliard String Quartet

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: debusquart_2413_2005) 



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

Near Mint SUPER RARE Demonstration Copy Shaded Dog of this Debussy and Ravel string quartet recording.

I haven't seen a clean one of these in probably close to ten years. This record looks like it has been played very little.

The sound is also very natural. Not bright or close miked -- much more the way it would actually be heard in a smaller more intimate setting.

More Living Stereo


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Debussy - Iberia (Images Pour Orchestra)

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: debusiberi_2222_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

The Classic of LSC 2222 is all but unlistenable on a highly resolving system. The opacity, transient smear and loss of harmonic information and ambience found on Classic's pressing drives us right up the wall. Who can sit through a record that sounds like that? Way back in 1994, long before we had anything like the system we do now, we were disparaging the "Classic Records Sound" in our catalogs.

More of the music of Claude Debussy


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Debussy / Iberia - Reiner

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: debusiberi_2222_2005) 



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

This is a wonderful sounding Shaded Dog pressing. Side two is especially dynamic.

This has long been considered one of the Living Stereo triumphs. The spaciousness and tonal correctness is legendary.

This copy does not have the prodigious bass of some that I've heard. The Classic reissue has plenty of deep bass, but it's shrill and hard and altogether unpleasant, so the better bass comes at a steep price.

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Mark Levinson - Acoustic Recording Series, Volume 2

Reviewed in 2008

  (Item #: ravelvalse_levinson_2008) 



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

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

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

More Audiophile recordings


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Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition / Muti

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: mussopictu_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

The MoFi mastering here is a joke. All that phony boosted top end makes the strings sound funny and causes mischief in virtually every other part of the orchestra as well. Not surprisingly, those boosted highs are missing from the real EMIs.

More Pictures at an Exhibition


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Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: mussopictu_classic_records) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

The shrillness, the hardness, the sourness, the loss of texture to the strings, the phony boosted deep bass -- this is the kind of sound that makes my skin crawl. After a minute or two I’ve had it. And the performance is dreadful as well.

HP put this on his TAS List? Yes he did!

More Pictures at an Exhibition


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Mussorgsky - The Power of the Orchestra

Chesky Debunked

  (Item #: mussopower_chesky_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Record and another Remastered Audiophile Pressing debunked.

Lifeless, compressed and thin. It’s clean and transparent, I’ll give it that, which is no doubt why so many audiophiles have been fooled into thinking it actually sounds better than the original. But of course there is no original; there are thousands of them, and they all sound different.

The Hot Stamper commentary below is for a pair of records that proves our case in the clearest possible way.

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


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Mussorgsky / The Power of the Orchestra / Leibowitz

Awesome In Mono

  (Item #: mussopower_mono) 



A distinguished member of our Unconventional Hall of Fame.

This is the kind of record that the mono cartridge owners of the world worship. And for good reason. But you don't need to have a mono cartridge to hear how good -- in fact, how much BETTER -- this copy sounds than most of the stereo pressings out there.

I found out about mono classical records one day when I got a mono copy of The Power Of The Orchestra, VCS 2659. It sounded better than any stereo recording of that work I had ever heard. All the instruments were so much more solid sounding, so palpable, so free from distortion, that it made me recognize for the first time what the mono record lovers of the world were talking about.

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


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Ravel & Dukas / Bolero & Sorcerer’s Apprentice / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: ravelboler_6367_2014) 



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

We are rarely able to find quality recordings (or performances) of either Bolero or The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, so this pressing comes as an especially welcome addition to the classical offerings on the site.

The sound is clear, with wonderful depth to the stage. As a rule, the classic '50s and '60s recordings of Ansermet and the Suisse Romande in Victoria Hall are as big and rich as any you may have encountered. These recordings strike us as the ideal blend of clarity and richness, with depth and spaciousness that will put to shame 98% of the classical recordings ever made.

More of the music of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)


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Ravel / Concerto in G / Munch

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: ravelconce_fame) 



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

This is a wonderful sounding performance of Ravel's Piano Concerto, originally available on Shaded Dog (LSC 2271) and overflowing with Tubey Magical Living Stereo sound from 1958. The Victrola here is from 1964, and may or may not sound better than the average original RCA pressing. LSC 2271 is not a record we run into every day, so comparisons would be speculative to say the least.

What we can tell you is that our Victrola here is big, spacious, transparent and clear, with dead-on tonality throughout.

More of the music of Maurice Ravel


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Ravel / Daphnis et Chloé / Monteux / LSO

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: raveldaphn_6147_0213) 



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

Nearly White Hot Stamper sound on this superb London Blueback pressing make it quite possibly the best complete Daphnis et Chloe we have ever heard.

Both sides here are BIG, with the space and depth of the wonderful hall that the LSO perform in. From my research it appears that John Culshaw may have produced the album, which surely accounts for the huge size and space, not to mention quality, of the recording. The sound is dynamic and tonally correct throughout. Without more copies on hand we feel it's best to hold back half a plus on the sonic grade. That said, it's clearly the best Daphnis et Chloe we've ever heard.

More of the music of Maurice Ravel


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Ravel / Daphnis et Chloé / Munch

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: raveldaphn_2011) 



We actually had three clean Shaded Dog pressings for our shootout of this Ravel classic (which took us somewhere between five and ten years to acquire) with this copy showing itself as CLEARLY the best, with transparency and openness not heard on the others. The sonic grade for side one was at least A++ to A+++, meaning that the sound was Hard To Fault (HTF), but of course there's no telling if a better copy exists. One must assume such a thing is possible but where would one find such a copy? Clean shaded dogs do not come cheap.
More of the music of Maurice Ravel


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Ravel / Piano Concertos / Haas

  (Item #: ravelpiano_1112) 



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

This Philips recording from 1970 on exceptionally quiet Dutch vinyl has SUPERB Super Hot Stamper sound on side one for one of Ravel's best known piano works, the Piano Concerto in G. Most Philips records are much too thick, dull and opaque to be taken seriously, by us anyway. (In this respect they have many sonic attributes in common with Londons from the '70s and '80s.)

Dropping the needle on this pressing, however, was a pleasant surprise. It's big and spacious on side one, with zero smear on a piano that is both full and clear.

More of the music of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)


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Ravel / Rachmaninoff / The Reiner Sound / Reiner / CSO

Reviewed in 2010

  (Item #: ravelreine_2183_2010) 



Wow, the first nice Reiner Sound on Shaded Dog to make it to our site. Why? Because the few copies we've run across that looked decent enough to clean and play were just too noisy to enjoy. Not many copies have survived the bad turntables of their day with all their top end and inner grooves intact, but we're proud to say that this one has!

This former TAS List record really surprised us on two counts. First, you will not believe how DYNAMIC the recording is. Of all the classical recordings we've played lately I would have to say this is THE MOST DYNAMIC of them all.

More of the music of Maurice Ravel


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Ravel / Rachmaninoff / The Reiner Sound / Reiner

Classic Records Debunked

  (Item #: ravelreine_2183_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

There is simply an amazing amount of TOP END on this original pressing. Rarely do I hear Golden Age recordings with this kind of ENERGY and extension up top. This is of course one of the reasons the Classic reissue is such a disaster. With all that top end energy, Bernie's gritty cutting system and penchant for boosted upper midrange frequencies positively guarantees that the Classic Reiner Sound will be all but unplayable on a proper system.

More of the music of Maurice Ravel


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Ravel, Falla, Weber & Berlioz - Alborado..., Bolero, more

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: ravelboler_6077_2011) 



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

Side two here has a SUPERB sounding Bolero, and an EVEN BETTER Alborado del Gracioso, possibly the best we have ever heard. True A Triple Plus sound.

As you probably know, Bolero is very hard to find on vinyl properly performed with audiophile quality sound. The sound of Bolero here is excellent: very natural, not harsh at the end where the trombones comes in, and the not too compressed. (This is probably the biggest problem with most recordings of the work. Compression makes the quieter parts ravishingly open and clear, and positively ruins the climax with distorted compressor overload.)

More of the music of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)


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Ravel, Saint-Saens et al. / Tzigane, Havanaise / Kyung-Wha Chung

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: raveltziga_7073_2012) 



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

This 1979 London original English pressing of violin showpieces has Super Hot Stamper sound on side two, which came as a bit of a shock to us after playing side one, which is as congested and opaque as one would expect from such a late London recording. Side two is fabulous -- full-bodied, rich and sweet. Even though it may have been recorded in 1977, the engineer is Kenneth Wilkinson, and the hall is Kingsway -- not many bad recordings can be attributed to either.

More of the music of Maurice Ravel


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Saint-Saens - Danse Macabre / Ravel, Debussy, Chabrier

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: saintdanse_2016) 



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

This White Hot EMI pressing has some of the loveliest orchestral music reproduction we’ve ever heard. Man, this copy sure has it going on: it’s super clean and clear, tonally correct from top to bottom, with all of the weight of the orchestra down low on both sides.

If you want a classical record to TEST your system, if you want a classical record to DEMO your system, you will have a hard time finding a better pressing than this very copy.

More of the music of Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)


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Satie, Ravel, Debussy / The Impressionists / Herrmann

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: varioimpre_4224_2011) 



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

Presenting an exceptionally rare and very good sounding Decca Phase IV pressing (with the textured cover, ooh!), the first to ever hit the site. We have been on the lookout for this album for years and somehow cannot find any clean copies, other than this one of course.

Not to worry; this one will do nicely. Three of the six works here have SUPERB better than Super Hot Stamper sound. We went through them one by one and were rather surprised that the sound quality varied so much from track to track.

More Bernard Herrmann


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Shostakovich & Ravel / Piano Concerto No. 2 & more / Bernstein

Reviewed in 2011

  (Item #: shostpiano_col_2011) 



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

Super Hot Stamper or BETTER sound for the Shostakovich Piano Concerto No.2, which is positively SUPERB on this later Columbia pressing. It's shockingly transparent, rich and sweet, with wonderful depth and clarity. Where is the shrill, upper-midrangy, glary, hard sound we've come to expect from '60s Columbia recordings like this one?

Well, dear reader, I'll tell you. Right here on this very side two, the Ravel side. It's typical Columbia from the period, with nasally, pinched upper-mids, the kind which make the strings and brass screech and blare at you in the worst way.

More of the music written or performed by Leonard Bernstein


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Various Artists - Destination Stereo

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: variodesti_2015) 



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

Side one is White Hot, with some of the best 1959 Living Stereo we've ever heard. Explosive dynamics, HUGE space and size, with unerringly correct tonality, this is a Demo Disc like no other. When "in -the-know" audiophiles discuss soundstaging and depth, they had better be talking about a record that sounds like this. Shockingly real - proof positive that the cutting systems of the day are capable of much better sound than we normally assume.

More Living Stereo


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