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White Hot Stamper

Tchaikovsky / Concerto for Violin / Campoli / Argenta / LSO

  (Item #: tchaiconce_6011_1909_) 

Our Price: $399.99

  • Another Blockbuster classical recording comes to the site - a rare and amazing Blueback pressing with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades
  • One of the best sounding copies of the work we have ever played - the orchestra is big, rich and tubey, yet the dynamics and transparency are first rate
  • The violin here is superb, as good as we've heard -- rich, smooth, clear, resolving
  • What sets the truly killer pressings apart is the depth, width and three-dimensional quality of the sound
More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)


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White Hot Stamper

Gershwin / Con. In F & Rhapsody In Blue / Previn / Kostelanetz

  (Item #: gershconce_8286_1910) 

Our Price: $299.99

  • This Columbia Six Eye has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound for the Rhapsody in Blue on side two - reasonably quiet vinyl too, especially for an original stereo LP
  • As would be expected, both sides are exceptionally rich and Tubey Magical, but the clarity, deep bass and powerful, dynamic sound of side two surprised the hell out of us - we've never heard the work reproduced with this kind of authority or fidelity
  • The first two movements of the Concerto in F found on side one earned a solid grade of Double Plus (A++) for their full brass and especially clear, solid, present piano, one with practically no trace of vintage analog tube smear
  • Performed with consummate skill and attention to detail - the results are magnificent!
More of the music of George Gershwin


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Super Hot Stamper

Stravinsky / The Firebird / Dorati

  (Item #: stravfireb_90226_1911) 

Our Price: $249.99

  • You'll find outstanding Front Row Center Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this vintage Mercury pressing - reasonably quiet vinyl too
  • One listen to either side of this pressing and you'll see why this is one of the Top Mercury Titles of All Time
  • The Heavy Vinyl reissues - at 45 or 33, on one disc or four, makes no difference - barely begin to capture the energy and drive Dorati brings to the work
  • "The magic lies in the elaborate orchestration and the excitingly uneven rhythmic writing. Stravinsky changes the orchestration of his themes at each repetition, breaks them down into their constituent parts, pushes their accents across the bar-line, and moves them out of sync with their own accompaniments."
More of the music of Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)


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Nearly White Hot Stamper

Liszt / Piano Concertos 1 & 2 / Kondrashin / Richter

  (Item #: lisztpiano_1908_1) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • This pressing has nearly White Hot Stamper (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides, just shy of our big Shootout Winners
  • The finest Liszt 1st and 2nd Piano Concertos we know of for their performances, and unquestionably for sonics (when the sonics are this good!)
  • More like LIVE MUSIC than any classical recording I have played in longer than I care to remember
  • So big, rich and transparent we guarantee you have never heard a better piano concerto recording (unless you already one of our White Hot copies!)
More of the music of Franz Liszt (1811-1886)


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Super Hot Stamper

Bizet-Shchedrin / Carmen Ballet Suite / Rozhdestvensky

  (Item #: bizetcarme_1910_1) 

Our Price: $199.99

  • An excellent pressing, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound throughout - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Both sides are open, high-rez, and spacious, with depth like you will not believe and least shrill string reproduction we have ever heard for this music
  • Side one has by far the better music - it's where the most exciting, most percussive movements can be found - and this pressing, with Beyond White Hot sound for that side, is guaranteed to be bigger and more lively than you ever imagined (because that's how we felt about it, hence the fourth plus)
  • Gloriously exciting and fun music that belongs in any audiophile's collection
More Bizet


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White Hot Stamper

Bernard Herrmann / Citizen Kane & Other Classic Film Scores

  (Item #: herrmcitiz_1902_6_11) 

Our Price: $199.99
Sale Price: $169.00 (You save $30.99 / 15%)


  • Amazing Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the first side for the Citizen Kane Suite!) and Double Plus (A++) on the second; one of the best copies to hit the site in many years
  • The brass is huge on Citizen Kane, with accurate timbre - side two offers rich strings and a powerful, weighty piano for the Concerto Macabre
  • By far the single best Bernard Herrmann disc we know of - A Must Own for any serious audiophile
  • After playing records for 50+ years this is still some of the most emotionally moving music I've ever heard
See all of our Bernard Herrmann albums in stock


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Super Hot Stamper

Tchaikovsky / 1812 Overture / Marche Slave and More / Alwyn

  (Item #: tchai1812o_decca_1812_1906_9) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sonic grades or BETTER from start to finish - hear Tchaicovsky's 1812 with Demo Disc sound - fairly quiet vinyl too
  • The 1812 is found on the better sounding side here - with nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound this British LP is guaranteed to rock your world
  • This UK pressing is BIG, lively, clear, open and resolving of musical information like no copy of the 1812 you've heard
  • The two coupling pieces, Marche Slave and the Capriccio Italien, also have rich, powerful, weighty brass and lower strings
  • The most exciting and beautifully played 1812 we know of - we encourage you to compare this to the best recording in your collection
More of the music of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)


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White Hot Stamper

Stravinsky / Petrushka / Danon / Royal Philharmonic

  (Item #: stravpetru_rdg_1910) 

Our Price: $169.99

  • With a Triple Plus (A+++) shootout winning side one and a Double Plus (A++) side two, this is a Petrushka that is guaranteed to blow your mind (just as it blew ours)
  • As good as the famous Dorati recording for Mercury may be - assuming you have one that sounds as good as the best copies can - we still this Readers Digest pressing to be superior in all the most important ways, as well as being the Mercury equal in performance
  • One listen to this famous Kenneth Wilkinson Decca tree recording with the Royal Philharmonic and you'll see why we could find no competition for it
  • The biggest problem with these wonderful recordings is the vinyl - no copy played better than Mint Minus Minus to EX++
More of the music of Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)


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Super Hot Stamper

Chabrier / Orchestral Music / Ansermet

  (Item #: chabrorche_1909) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • This superb Classical album finally returns to the site, with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it and exceptionally quiet vinyl on both sides - this is a DEMO DISC orchestral recording
  • This spectacular recording is big, clear, rich, dynamic, transparent and energetic - it's the sound we love
  • Here is the energy and power of Chabrier's remarkable orchestration, thanks to the brilliant engineering of Roy Wallace
  • Ansermet's Chabrier disc has long been a favorite of ours here at Better Records - this copy will show you why
More Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894)


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Super Hot Stamper

Liszt / Piano Concertos 1 & 2 / Kondrashin / Richter

  (Item #: lisztpiano_1910) 

Our Price: $149.99

  • An outstanding pressing of superb classical works, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from start to finish - exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • With lively, present piano and a smooth, full sounding orchestra, this is just the right sound for this music
  • The finest Liszt 1st and 2nd Piano Concertos we know of for their performances, and unquestionably for sonics (when the sonics are this good!)
  • So big, rich and transparent we guarantee you have never heard a better piano concerto recording (unless you already one of our White Hot copies!)
More of the music of Franz Liszt (1811-1886)


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Super Hot Stamper

Leonard Bernstein
Conducts Symphonic Dances...

  (Item #: bernsconducts_1908) 

Our Price: $119.99

  • You'll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it on both sides of this vintage Columbia pressing - fairly quiet vinyl too
  • The best copies are out of this world, reproducing some of the most dynamic, exciting, richest, and most spacious sound we have ever heard from the man's records
  • The music is wonderful of course, with the Suites giving you all the best parts of his marvelous compositions with none of the filler
  • Vibrant orchestrations, high quality sound and fairly quiet surfaces combine for an immersive and engrossing listening experience
More of the music of Leonard Bernstein


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Albeniz / Iberia - Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: albeniberi_2017) 



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

The sound of this copy is so transparent, undistorted, three-dimensional and REAL, without any sacrifice in solidity, richness or Tubey Magic, that we knew we had a real winner on our hands as soon as the needle hit the groove.

We were impressed with the fact that it excelled in so many areas of reproduction. The illusion of disappearing speakers is one of the more attractive aspects of the sound here, pulling the listener into the space of the concert hall in an especially engrossing way.

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz (1860-1909)


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Albeniz / Suite Espanola / De Burgos

What to Listen For

  (Item #: albensuite_wtlf) 



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

Wow, is this record ever DYNAMIC! I would put it in the top 2 or 3 percent of the most dynamic recordings we have played over the course of the last twenty five years. It also has tons of DEPTH. The brass is at the far back of the stage, just exactly where they would be placed in the concert hall, which greatly adds to the realism of the recording.

More of the music of Isaac Albeniz


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Arnold / English, Scottish and Cornish Dances

Reviewed in 2015

  (Item #: arnolengli_2015) 



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

This SUPER RARE Lyrita-mastered title is a member of HP’s famous TAS Super Disc list. It includes Eight English Dances, Four Scottish Dances and Four Cornish Dances.

The sound is uncolored and natural, with a mid-hall perspective, and very little multi-miking to be heard, all to the good.

See more entries in our Classical Commentary series


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Berlioz / A Berlioz Orchestra Spectacular

Another Dubby Klavier Mess of a Record

  (Item #: berliaberl_klavier) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Record and another Remastered Audiophile Pressing debunked. Eight spectacular shorter works including overtures, marches and excerpts from symphonic poems. Orchestral fireworks to make your stereo come alive.

But the sound is thick and opaque because the record was mastered from a copy tape, and not all that well anyway.


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Berlioz / Symphonie Fantastique / Monteux / Vienna Phil

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: berlisymph_2362_2014) 



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

Gorgeous Golden Age Tubey Magical strings, lovely hall acoustics. The size and power of a large orchestra in Living Stereo sound. One of our favorite performances of Berlioz's masterwork.

More of the music of Hector Berlioz


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Bernard Herrmann / Citizen Kane & Other Classic Film Scores

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: herrmcitiz_2013) 



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

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

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

More of the music of Bernard Herrmann


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Bernstein / The Music of Leonard Bernstein / Rogers

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: bernsmusic_2012) 



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

This London Phase 4 British import has some of the most SPECTACULAR sound I have ever heard reproduced from disc. The sound is so BIG and BOLD that it handily puts to shame 95% or more of all the Golden Age Shaded Dogs, London Bluebacks, Mercury Living Presence's, EMI's and Decca's we've ever played. If we had a Classical Top 100 list, this record would belong in a Top Ten taken from it, right near the top judging by what I heard when I played it.

More of the music of Leonard Bernstein


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Bizet & Gounod / Ballet Music / Gibson

Reviewed in 2007

  (Item #: bizetballe_vics_2007) 



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

This RCA Plum Label Victrola LP has many shortcomings, but its strengths more than compensate for them. The MIDRANGE is pure MAGIC. The sweet, textured strings, the back of the stage percussion, the placement of the orchestral sections in the soundstage, the performance itself -- all combine to make you forget you are listening to an old, somewhat flawed record. What has been captured in the grooves of the vinyl allows the listener to do what few recordings can -- suspend his disbelief.

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1875)


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Bizet - L'arlesienne And Carmen Suites

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: bizetcarme_2017) 



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

With a nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side two and an excellent Double Plus (A++) side one, this pressing is one of the best sounding Carmen Suites we have ever heard. If you're looking to demonstrate just how good '60s All Tube Analog can be, this killer copy should be just the record to do it. This is only the second Carmen Suite to make it to the site, and it was worth the wait - the sound of this vintage Blueback is absolutely breathtaking. Recorded in 1961 using the amazing Decca Tree mic setup, it's yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording.

More of the music of Georges Bizet (1838-1875)


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Bizet-Shchedrin / Carmen Ballet Suite / Rozhdestvensky

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: bizetcarme_melodiya_2011) 



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

This White Hot Stamper copy of Bizet's Carmen, rearranged by Soviet composer Rodion Shchedrin for strings and 47 percussion instruments, has two AMAZING sides back to back, which makes it only the second copy of this quality to ever hit the site, and the first to do so in two years.

Demo Quality Sound barely begins to do it justice. If you have the system to play it, this copy is a KNOCKOUT.

More of the music of Georges Bizet


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Bob and Ray - Throw a Stereo Spectacular

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: bobanthrow_2010) 



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

It's been nearly two years but the waiting is over -- we've found another copy of the famous Bob and Ray on Living Stereo with DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! Without a doubt this is the best sound I have ever heard for side one of this album. The sound here is so amazing I'm willing to go out on a limb and make the following recklessly bold statement. Buck Dance on this pressing has the most extended, natural and harmonically correct high frequencies I have ever heard from my speakers (or anyone else's for that matter).

More Living Stereo


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Chabrier / Espana & more / Bernstein

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: chabrespan_col_2011) 



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

The Chabrier side of this 360 label record has SUPER HOT STAMPER sound, which is positively SHOCKING for a Columbia recording. Dry, shrill and lean, most Columbia pressings don't last ten seconds on our turntable these days -- but this one sure did! Played it all the way through as a matter of fact. (We love Espana. Who doesn't?)

Is it as rich and tubey magical as the best Londons, RCAs and Vanguards from the Golden Age? No, not really -- that would be a bit much to expect. It does have some of that sound, and that alone is remarkable considering how few Columbia pressings have any at all.

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier


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Chabrier / Orchestral Music / Ansermet

Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: chabrorche_2016) 



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

The Espana side earned our rare and coveted Four Plus (A++++) Sonic Grade - Wow! Monstrous size and dynamic power thanks to the brilliant Decca engineering of Roy Wallace. Without a doubt the most spectacular sound we’ve ever heard from CS 6438.

More of the music of Emmanual Chabrier (1841-1894)


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Copland / Billy the Kid / Johanos

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: coplabilly_2010) 



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

AN AMAZING RODEO and an EVEN BETTER BILLY THE KID! We are BIG fans of this performance and this copy will show you exactly why. Side one (Rodeo) rates A++; it is clear and dynamic with an unusually three-dimensional soundfield, giving the instruments their own space and allowing you to hear right INTO the music. Side two (Billy The Kid) earned top A+++ honors with serious weight down low, a wonderfully sweet top end, more texture to the strings and HUGE dynamics.

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


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Debussy / Images Pour Orchestre / Argenta

Reviewed in 2012

  (Item #: debusimage_15020_2012) 



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

Presenting Super Hot Stamper sound on side two of this Stereo Treasury LP, which is where this superbly performed, wonderul sounding Iberia can be found. Although lacking in orchestral weight, from about 200 cycles up this copy is perfection. In its own way -- especially on systems with not a lot of firepower down low -- this side two qualifies as a Demo Disc.

See more of our spectacular orchestral recordings in stock


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Falla / Three Cornered Hat (Complete Ballet) / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: fallathree_6224_2017) 



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

This London is energetic, dynamic, spacious, transparent, rich and sweet. James Walker was the producer, Roy Wallace the engineer for these 1961 sessions in Geneva's glorious Victoria Hall. It's yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology,

We were impressed with the fact that this pressing excelled in so many areas of reproduction. The illusion of disappearing speakers is one of the more attractive aspects of the sound here, allowing the listener to inhabit the space of the concert hall in an especially engrossing way.

More of the music of Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)


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Gershwin / All the Works for Orchestra / Slatkin / Siegel

Not Recormmended

  (Item #: gershallth_2010) 



A Hall of Shame 3 Record set that had us asking: Why would anyone want to own it? TAS List or no TAS List, the performances are much too slow for my taste.
More of the music of George Gershwin


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Gershwin / An American In Paris & Rhapsody In Blue / Bernstein

What To Listen For

  (Item #: gershrhaps_6091_wtlf) 



This original Six Eye LP has the smooth brass and full-bodied strings that allow this wonderful music to astound the listener.

Smooth and solid, not brash or blary, what really impressed about the sound here was how full it was, yet it was never thick or murky. Instead it was transparent in the lower mids and below, and that sound was just glorious after listening to too many thin and brash pressings. The piano is solid, rich, high-rez and very percussive -- there is no tubey Old School smear to be heard, and that too was a surprise.

More of the music of George Gershwin


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Gershwin / Concerto In F & Rhapsody In Blue / Kostelanetz

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: gershconce_8286_2015) 



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

This early Columbia 360 Label pressing has Super Hot Stamper sound on both sides. Exceptionally rich and Tubey Magical from start to finish. The sound on this vintage pressing is natural and above all musical. Both works are performed with consummate skill and attention to detail, the result magnificent.

More of the music of George Gershwin


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Hovhaness / Sym. #4 / Giannini #3 / Eastman Wind Ensemble

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: hovhasym4_2016) 



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

These symphonies for winds are an audiophile delight. Mercury is famous for their wind band recordings and this is clearly one of their best.

The idea of a symphony performed only by wind instruments (with added harp and percussion) is novel, to me anyway, and I found the music nothing short of enchanting. One of the first wind recordings I fell in love with decades and decades ago was British Band Classics on Mercury with the EWO under Fennell. Whenever a copy comes in I play it and fall in love with it all over again. You may feel the same about this very record.


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Leonard Bernstein - Conducts Symphonic Dances...

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: bernsconducts_2015) 



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

One of the great Columbia recordings. I suspected it might have been done at the legendary 30th St studios in New York but I was wrong, Manhattan Center's huge stage served as the venue. Either way the sound is no less glorious.

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


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Liszt - Preludes / Wagner - Various / Mehta

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: lisztprelu_6298_2013) 



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

This Unboxed Decca Deep Groove UK pressing on heavyweight vinyl from 1967 has Super Hot Stamper sound on side one. This is the side that has Les Preludes in its entirety, and what a powerful piece of music it is.

Much of what we like about Decca/London from the period (mid- to late-'60s, in this case 1967) can be heard on this pressing: the wonderful transparency; the richly textured lower strings; the natural timbre of the instruments. If only side two sounded as good!

More of the music of Franz Liszt (1811-1886)


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Liszt, Khatchaturian et al. / Fiedler / BPO

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: lisztliebe_2546_2015) 



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

Breathtaking 1961 Living Stereo sound on side two - huge, open and Tubey Magical as all get out. Living Stereo Hot Stampers mean the hall is huge, the strings rich and sweetly textured. Vaughan Williams' arrangement of Fantasia On "Greensleeves" is especially lovely here. Fiedler and his Boston Pops play these 8 shorter pieces with great gusto and skill.

See more recordings conducted by Arthur Fiedler


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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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Mussorgsky et al. / Danse Infernale / Fiedler

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: mussodanse_2009) 



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

It took two copies -- one for side one, one for side two -- to find two sides this good. We love this album but most copies are unbelievably dreadful. (Actually, if you’ve played a fair number of DG recordings over the years you might not have any trouble believing how bad the average one is, so I take that back.)

This German Import has DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND -- of a kind. Being a DG recording, one of the things you won’t be demonstrating with this record is natural string tone -- it’s just not part of the DG sound. But, this record is ALIVE.

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


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Offenbach & Chopin / Gaite Parisienne & Les Sylphides

Reverse Your Polarity

  (Item #: offengaite_rd_2016) 



This is one of the pressings we’ve discovered with Reversed Polarity.

Amazing in every way! The top end of this record is clear, clean and correct. No other copy sounded like this one on the first side. When you hear all the percussion instruments -- the tambourines, triangles, wood blocks and what-have-you -- you know instantly that they sound RIGHT.

The overall sound is very different from many of the other recordings of the work that we have offered in the past. Rather than smooth, rich and sweet, the sound here is big and bold and clear like nothing we have ever played.

More of the music of Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)


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Paganini / Violin Concerto 1 & 2 / Menuhin

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: paganvioli_emi_2013) 



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

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

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

More recordings featuring the violin


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Prokofiev / Lt. Kije / Abbado (45 RPM)

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: prokoltkij_45_2012) 



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

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

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

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


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Prokofiev / Scythian Suite / Dorati

Reviewed in 2016

  (Item #: prokolovefo_90006) 



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

Huge hall space, wonderfully textured strings - it's easy to forget just how REAL a recording like this from 1957 can sound. With almost none of the Mercury nasality on the strings or the brass, we were knocked out by the sound and, of course, the legendary performance. My notes for side one read: Big hall! Transparent! Zero smear! Dynamic! Huge Bass! Realistic!

It that sounds like the kind of record you would like to play for yourself, here it is.

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


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Prokofiev / Symphonies No. 1 & 7

Seventies EMI Classical LPs and Vintage Tube Playback

  (Item #: prokosym1_emi) 



What to listen for on this album? That's easy: The all-too-common '70s EMI harshness and shrillness. We could never understand why audiophiles revered EMI as a label the way they did back the day. I chalk it up -- as I do most of the mistaken judgments audiophiles tend to make about the sound of records, my own included -- to the limitations of the equipment, bad rooms and poor record cleaning.

If you had vintage tube equipment back in the '70s -- McIntosh, Marantz, etc. (I myself had an Audio Research SP3-A1 and a D-75a, later a D-76a) -- the flaws heard on most copies of this record wouldn't be nearly as offensive as they are to those of us playing them on the much more revealing systems that are possible today.

See all pressings of Prokofiev's music in stock


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Rachmaninoff / Piano Concerto #3 / Janis / Dorati

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: rachmpiano_90283_2013) 



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

This Super Hot Stamper (or better) original Colorback Mercury pressing is not only the BEST sounding copy we have ever heard, it also boasts the quietest side one we've experienced, playing mostly Mint Minus. For a fifty year old Mercury that is QUIET.

Not only is the sound amazing -- yes, it's on the TAS Super Disc list, and for good reason, a copy as good as this one really is a Super Disc -- but this copy has another vitally important characteristic that most copies of the record do not: virtually no Inner Groove Distortion.

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)


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Rachmaninoff / Symphonic Dances / Johanos

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: rachmsymph_2011) 



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

This famously good sounding Vox pressing has been remastered a number of times, but you can be sure that the Hot Stamper we are offering here will beat any of those modern pressings by a wide margin in any area that has to do with sound (surfaces are another matter).

More of the music of Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)


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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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Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade - Ansermet - Paris

Not the Ansermet Recording You Want

  (Item #: rimskscheh_paris) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing.

In our experience this is not the recording of the work to buy, on either Decca or London. Of the two recordings by Ansermet, we much prefer the one made with the Suisse Romande to that of the Paris Conservatoire.

See more of the music of Rimsky-Korsakov in stock


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Rimsky-Korsakov / Scheherazade / Ansermet / Suisse Romande

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: rimskscheh_6212_2015) 



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

We did a monster shootout for this music in 2014, one we had been planning for more than two years. On hand were quite a few copies of the Reiner on RCA; the Ansermet on London (CS 6212, his second stereo recording, from 1961, not the earlier and noticeably poorer sounding recording from in 1959); the Ormandy on Columbia, and a few others we felt had shown potential.

The only recordings that held up all the way through -- the fourth movement being THE Ball Breaker of all time, for both the engineers and musicians -- were those by Reiner and Ansermet.

More music conducted by Ernst Ansermet (1883-1969)


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Rodgers / Slaughter on Tenth Avenue / Fiedler

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: rodgeslaug_2294_2015) 



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

This record is so good on side two it almost left me speechless. How is this title not on the TAS List? Why is it not one of the most sought-after recordings in the RCA canon?

Beats the hell out of me. But wait just one minute. Until a month ago I surely had no idea how good this record could sound, so how can I criticize others for not appreciating a record I had never taken the time to appreciate myself?

More music conducted by Arthur Fiedler (1894-1979)


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Rossini / Overtures / Maag / PCO

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: rossiovert_2013) 



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

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

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

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


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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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Saint-Saens / Symphony No. 3 ("Organ") / Fremaux

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: saintsym3_2016) 



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

One of Saint-Saens' greatest masterpieces finally comes to Better Records with true Demo Disc sound. Huge, lively, spacious, dynamic - both sides earned our top grade of Triple Plus (A+++). What this copy did better than any other was show us just how rich, smooth and Tubey Magical the 1973 sound could be.

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


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Shostakovich / Sym. No.1 / Age of Gold Suite / Martinon

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: shostsym1_2016) 



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

Triple Plus on side one for the Symphony No. 1 - the sound is extraordinarily big, lively, clear and above all Tubey Magical. Side two is nearly as good, with all the same attributes, as rightly befits a true Golden Age Classic from 1959. Recorded in KINGSWAY HALL with the London Symphony, this Decca licensed title has orchestral sound to rival the best you've heard.

More of the music of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)


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Sibelius / Finlandia / Mackerras / London Proms

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: sibelfinla_15159_2015) 



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

A shocking Stereo Treasury sleeper with a superb Shaded-Dog-beating side one. Side one is nearly White Hot - it's exceptionally transparent and dynamic. Real Demo Disc sound and music on side one - spectacular works played with feeling.

More of the music of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)


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Stravinsky / The Firebird / Dorati

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: stravfireb_90226_2015) 



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

White Hot Front Row Center sound on side one - amazingly lifelike. One listen to either side and you'll know this is one of the Top Mercury Titles of All Time. Dorati breathes life into the work as only he can. This is the first time the Mercury Firebird has ever made it to the site, and this copy is killer.

More of Stravinsky's music


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Tchaikovsky / 1812 / Marche Slave and More / Alwyn

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: tchai1812o_decca_2015) 



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

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

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


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Tchaikovsky / Swan Lake / Ansermet

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: tchaiswanl_2204_2012) 



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

This London Small Red Label "Whiteback" (it's white inside the box, not on the back but you get what I mean) UK Import 2 LP Set put every other recording we had of Swan Lake to shame. This is the one folks, assuming you want a nearly complete performance of the work. (We will have some single LP highlight pressings coming to the site down the road. The Fistoulari on London can be especially good on the right pressing.)

The performance here by Ansermet and the Suisse Romande I rank second to none.

See more of Tchaikovsky's music


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The Fantasy Worlds of BH and HP

Decca Vs. London

  (Item #: herrmfanta_decca) 



There’s a reason this record is on the TAS List of Super Discs -- if any LP should be called a Super Disc, this one should. (With Phase Four sound you might even call it a Super-Duper-Disc.)

But Harry is, not atypically, rather misinformed about the catalog number and country of manufacture. He exclusively admits the Decca pressing to his list, and that is clearly contrary to our experience in general as well as our findings for this shootout . The best Decca pressing we played rated no better than a B+ for either side. That’s five -- count them, five -- sonic grades lower than the A Triple Plus sides of our best London copy.

More Bernard Herrmann


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The Not So "Golden Age" of RCA, Mercury, London and more

  (Item #: rca_golden_age) 



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

We ran into a number of copies of this title that had what we like to call that "Old Record" sound, which is surprisingly common on even the most revered Golden Age labels, RCA included.

No top, no real bottom, congested climaxes and an overall shrillness to the sound -- we've played Living Stereos by the dozens that have these shortcomings and many more. Some audiophiles may be impressed by the average Shaded Dog pressing, but I can assure you that we here at Better Records are decidedly not of that persuasion. Something in the range of ten to fifteen per cent of the major label Golden Age recordings we play will eventually make it to the site. The vast majority just don't sound all that good to us.


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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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Orchestral Spectaculars

  (Item #: BR_spectacular) 


Spectacular Orchestral recordings


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