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Cat Stevens - Tea for the Tillerman

Making Progress in Audio

  (Item #: steveteafo_progress) 



The following comments were written in 2004.

Hard Headed Woman is a song that has evolved dramatically over the last 20 years. If you've been making regular upgrades to your equipment and taking advantage of all the new technologies available at the front end, such as: vibration control, electromagnetic stabilization, better arms, better cartridges, better phono stages, better motors, fly wheels, Synchronous Drive Systems, better power cords, better power conditioning, to name just a few, you are no doubt able to reproduce this song much better than you were in the old days.

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Cat Stevens - Teaser & The Firecat

One of Our Very First Hot Stampers - 2006

  (Item #: stevetease_2006) 



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

Before we start discussing this record, let’s talk about the price for a moment. I have never put a used rock record on this site at this price. I’ve sold other records directly to my best customers for this kind of money, but this is the first $500 rock record of its kind to go on this website. This is the result of three factors. First, it's the best sounding copy of this record I have ever heard (on side two anyway). Second, this is Teaser and the Firecat, one of the most important recordings in the history of popular music. Third, it's amazingly quiet. The confluence of these three factors makes this copy practically unique.

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Cat Stevens Catch Bull at Four

Congestion? What Congestion?

  (Item #: stevecatch_progress) 



The story of our latest shootout is what real Progress in Audio is all about. Many copies were gritty, some were congested in the louder sections, some never got big, some were thin and lacking the lovely analog richness of the best -- we heard plenty of copies whose faults were obvious when played against two top sides such as these.

Speaking of congestion, it had previously been our experience that every copy of the record had at least some congestion in the loudest parts, typically the later parts of songs where Cat is singing at the top of his lungs, the acoustic guitars are strumming like crazy, and big drums are pounding away are jumping out of both speakers.

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Cat Stevens Catch Bull at Four

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: stevecatch_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

If you're familiar with what the best Hot Stamper pressings of Tea for the Tillerman, Teaser and the Firecat or Mona Bone Jakon can sound like -- amazing is the word that comes to mind -- then you should easily be able to imagine how good this killer copy of Catch Bull at Four sounds.

All the ingredients for a Classic Cat Stevens album were in place for this release which came out in 1972, about a year after Teaser and the Firecat. His amazing guitar player Alun Davies is still in the band, and Paul Samwell-Smith is still producing as brilliantly as ever.

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Chet Atkins - Chet Atkins In Hollywood

Our Shootout Winner from 2007

  (Item #: atkininhol_2007) 



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

This Minty looking RCA Victor LP has an AMAZING SIDE TWO backed with a great side one. Side two is full of the tubey magic that’s missing from the Classic Records version and it has a wonderfully extended top end. Side one lacks some of the top end extension found on side two but the first track has that tubey Nashville sound that we love here at Better Records. The rest of the side is pretty damn good as well.

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs.

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Chet Atkins - Christmas with Chet Atkins

Our Shootout Winner from 2006

  (Item #: atkinchris_2006) 



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

This is a very nice looking RCA reissue LP with DEMONSTRATION QUALITY SOUND! I can’t believe how good this late reissue sounds! It may not have all of the tubey magic of the best originals, but it does have the tubey magic that Bill Porter recorded and that the RCA engineers managed to transfer accurately to this LP. I can tell you I'll never pass up another one of these. Without a doubt this has to be the best sounding Christmas record we have for sale.

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Chet Atkins - Mister Guitar

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: atkinmiste_2009) 



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

This RCA Living Stereo LP is as TUBEY MAGICAL as it gets. It seems as though Bill Porter just doesn't know how to not make a Living Stereo record with shockingly good sound. Practically anything the guy touches is GOLD!

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Chet Atkins - Mister Guitar

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: atkinmiste_2011) 



This RARE Minty looking RCA Living Stereo LP is as TUBEY MAGICAL AS IT GETS. It seems like Bill Porter just doesn’t know how not to make an amazing sounding Living Stereo recording. Everything the guy touches is GOLD! Rich, smooth, sweet, full of ambience, dead on correct tonality -- everything that we listen for in a great record is here. Note how the record has that Bill Porter extra dB or two of bottom end -- his signature sound.
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Chet Atkins - The Other Chet Atkins

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: atkinother_2015) 



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

A stunning Double Plus (A++) side one backed with a Triple Plus (A+++) side two. Rich and tubey with clarity and punch. Chet plays all acoustic on this amazing Living Stereo recording from 1960. Bill Porter All Tube engineering and a TAS Super Disc.

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Chet Atkins - Workshop

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: atkinworks_2010) 



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

DEMO QUALITY SOUND! That is, if what you're demonstrating is Living Stereo magic at its best. Certainly this is no sonic blockbuster. It's not trying to be. It's just more of that rich, sweet Bill Porter tubey magic from Nashville. Has there ever been a CD that sounds like this? If there is, I sure haven't heard it.

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Chet Atkins / Chet Atkins in Hollywood

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: atkininhol_2008) 



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

DEMO DISC SOUND! Exceptionally quiet and ususually clean for a record of its age! TAS List of course, and full of Living Stereo Magic. You can feel the cool air of the studio the minute the needle hits the groove!

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Chopin and Delibes / Les Sylphides / Maag / PCO

Reviewed in 2005

  (Item #: chopilessy_2005) 



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

A dynamic and excellent pressing. This record has lovely string tone. Lots of tubey magic. Not one of the rarest Londons, but certainly one of the most enjoyable.

[This is a very old commentary so take it for what it's worth.]

More of the music of Frederic Chopin


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Christopher Cross - Christopher Cross

Our Shootout Winner from 2019

  (Item #: crosschris_2019) 



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

A KILLER Shootout Winning copy! A+++ on both sides - this is As Good As It Gets for this Monster Album from 1979. This pressing is clearly fuller, bigger, more lively and more Tubey Magical than any other copy we played, and squarely in the best tradition of late-'70s pop productions. This one swept the Grammy awards, with great songs including Sailing, Ride Like The Wind and Never Be The Same - Michael McDonald's gorgeous harmonies are the icing on the cake.

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Christopher Cross - Christopher Cross

Ride Like the Wind

  (Item #: crosschris_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.

There's one test on side two that few copies do well on. The mostly instrumental section in the middle of Ride Like the Wind has a huge chorus singing in a wonderfully reverberant studio. Only the most transparent, most distortion-free copies let you clearly hear all their voices bouncing off the walls.

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Crosby Stills & Nash - Crosby Stills & Nash

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: crosbcrosb_depth) 



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

Although millions of copies of this album were sold, so few were mastered and pressed well, and so many mastered and pressed poorly, that few copies actually make it to the site as Hot Stampers. We wish that were not the case -- we love the album -- but the copies we know to have the potential for Hot Stamper sound are just not sitting around in the record bins these days.

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Crosby Stills & Nash - Suite: Judy Blue Eyes

Critical Listening Exercise (WTLF)

  (Item #: crosbcrosb_test) 



This commentary from an older Hot Stamper listing for CSN’s debut makes note of some specific qualities in the recording that are a good test for midrange transparency and naturalness.

What’s magical about Crosby, Stills, Nash (& Young)?

Their voices of course. It’s not a trick question. They revolutionized rock music with their genius for harmony. Any good pressing must sound correct on their voices or it has no value whatsoever. A CSN record with bad midrange -- like most of them -- is a worthless record.

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Dave Brubeck - Bossa Nova USA

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: brubebossa_2015) 



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

Who knew? Not us and not anybody else it seems. We are not aware that any of the audiophile cognoscenti have ever taken this recording seriously, but that just goes to show how uninformed -- or perhaps more likely underinformed -- they've always been.

Gems such as this sit undiscovered even after thousands of pages of audiophile record reviews have been written. Then, along come a handful of guys in Thousand Oaks, California many years later, 52 to be exact, and reveal to the world a heretofore all but unknown yet nonetheless amazing Brubeck record.

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Dave Brubeck - Countdown - Time In Outer Space

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: brubecount_2016) 



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

Clean and Clear, Yet Rich and Sweet. This copy managed to find the perfect balance of these attributes. You want that rare copy that keeps what is good about a Tubey Magical analog recording from The Golden Age of Jazz while managing to avoid the pitfalls so common to them: smear, lack of top end extension, opacity and blubber. To be sure, the fault is not with the recording (I guess; again, not having heard the master tape) but with the typically mediocre pressing.

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Dave Brubeck - Time Further Out

Our Stereo Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: brubetimef_2011) 



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

This Columbia Original Six-Eye Label Stereo pressing is the new ALL TIME CHAMPION for this album, with two INCREDIBLE A+++ sides and surprisingly quiet vinyl for a record this old! We just finished a big shootout for Time Further Out and this copy was the best BY FAR. It gives you big drums, incredible spaciousness, tight bass, extended highs and wonderful clarity. I don't think you could find a better sounding copy no matter what you did!

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Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Further Out's Engineering

When Less Is More

  (Item #: brubetimef_engineering) 



FRED PLAUT is one of our favorite recording and mixing engineers. His work on Time Further Out speaks for itself -- we think it's the best sounding Brubeck recording of them all.

We could find no information about the venue for this recording. It might be the Columbia Studios known as "The Church" -- that would explain the amazing sound quality of the album -- but it may just be Plaut's engineering prowess in another location that makes this some of the best sound to be found on any Brubeck record.

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Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Further Out

Our Mono Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: brubetimef_2010) 



A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame for this amazing MONO LP.

This Columbia Six-Eye pressing is THE BEST SOUNDING MONO COPY OF THIS ALBUM WE'VE EVER HEARD! The better Mono pressings of this album give you extra immediacy, more solidity to the drums, and energy like you wouldn't believe. That makes the drum solo on side two sound OUT OF THIS WORLD. Most copies are congested and veiled, but not this one! The sound is spacious and transparent with wonderful presence. You will not believe how lively it is!

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Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Further Out

What to Listen For

  (Item #: brubetimef_wtlf) 



The best copies such as this one demonstrate the big-as-life Fred Plaut Columbia Sound at its best (better than even Time Out in our opinion). These vintage recordings are full-bodied, spacious, three-dimensional, rich, sweet and warm in the best tradition of an All Tube Analog recording. If you want to hear big drums in a big room these Brubeck recordings will show you that sound better than practically any record we know of. The Engineering tab below has much more on that subject.
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Dave Mason - It's Like You Never Left

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: masonitsli_2015) 



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

I was a big fan of this album when it came out in 1973, used to play it all the time in fact. Now I hear why - it's big and rich with a solid bottom end and a smooth, sweet top, perfect for the big but not especially sophisticated speakers (the Fulton J System) I had back in the day.

This album has the kind of sound that the typical CD just doesn't want anything to do with. Not that the Compact Disc couldn't pull it off -- there are good sounding CDs in the world -- but it doesn't seem to want to even try.

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David Bowie - Aladdin Sane

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: bowiealadd_2008) 



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

THE BIG BOWIE SOUND for this wonderful follow-up to Ziggy Stardust! We just finished shooting out a number of imports and domestic pressings of this album, and this British Orange Label pressing was THE KING -- on both sides! This one’s got the kind of "meat on the bones" sound that takes these great glam-rock songs to a whole new level! You won't believe how dynamic the sound is!

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David Bowie - Pin-Ups

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: bowiepinup_2009) 



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

We just finished our biggest-ever shootout for this fun Bowie album and this one was DRAMATICALLY better than most other copies. We played copies from all over the world -- England, Germany, France, Canada, and the good ol' USA -- and heard all kinds of bad sound. This one is no Demo Disc (I don't there's a copy in the world that would fit that description) but it's a HUGE step up over just about anything else you could expect to find. The sound is lively, natural, and smooth with all the tubey magic you could ask for.

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David Bowie - Space Oddity

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: bowiespace_2014) 



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

One of the reasons the song "Space Oddity" sounds so amazing is that it was produced by none other than Gus Dudgeon, the man behind all the best Elton John records. It has Paul Buckmaster doing the string arrangements as well. His work on Elton's self-titled album is awe-inspiring; we know of none better.

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David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust

Breaking the Price Barrier in 2007

  (Item #: bowieziggy_2007) 



The following is our 2007 commentary for the best Ziggy Stardust we had ever heard.

This RCA Import has DRAMATICALLY better sound than any Ziggy LP we’ve ever played here at Better Records. Whatever you think you know about the sound of this record, THINK AGAIN. The sound of this copy is so far beyond any expectation I had that hearing it was nothing short of a REVELATION. It's TWO FULL GRADES better than any copy we played in our shootout.

Ater hearing this copy we had to lower our grades for every other pressing we had played. This was a completely new standard.

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David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust

Our Shootout Winning Copy from 2011

  (Item #: bowieziggy_2011) 



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

Is this one of the Greatest Rock Albums of All Time? Unquestionably. It's the pinnacle of Glam Rock. Every track is superb; not a moment is less than stellar from beginning to end.

Is it Bowie's Masterpiece? Absolutely. No other Bowie record ranks higher in my book. No other Bowie record would command a similar price, regardless of its sonic merits.

Is it amazingly well recorded? You better believe it. This is not just Bowie's masterpiece; it's Ken Scott's as well. For BIG, BOLD, wall to wall, floor to ceiling sound, look no further.

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David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name...

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: crosbifico_2008) 



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

THE ULTIMATE PSYCH ROCK DEMO DISC! Both sides are shockingly transparent with tight bass, silky highs, full-bodied vocals and TONS of Tubey Magic.

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David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name...

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: crosbifico_2016) 



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

BEYOND TRIPLE TRIPLE! This Top Copy had a side one that blew us away enough to earn FOUR Pluses!

Here it is, folks... a TRUE ROCK DEMO DISC! A White Hot Stamper copy such as this will show you why we've long considered it one of the All Time Top Ten Rock Albums for Sound and Music. You will not believe how Tubey Magical and three-dimensional this album can be when you have a pressing with this kind of sound. The harmonic complexity and extension on the acoustic guitars are absolutely stunning!

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David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name

What to Listen For

  (Item #: crosbifico_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.

Note how Crosby's voice is "chesty" -- some copies make him sound like he's all mouth and no diaphragm. When his voice is full-bodied and solid, that's when he sounds more like a real person and less like a pop recording of a person. Give credit where credit is due, to the brilliant engineering of Stephen Barncard and Henry Lewy.


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Dean Martin - Dream With Dean

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: martidream_2012) 



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

This side one gets it JUST RIGHT. My notes read, "WOW! Master Tape Sound! So clear and unprocessed. Right amount of tubey magic. Dynamic and present like no other!" -- hopefully that gives you a taste of just how much we loved the sound here. Side two is nearly as good but doesn't have quite as much presence.

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Dean Martin - Dream With Dean

Watch Out for Hard and Honky Vocals

  (Item #: martidream_wtlf) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.

Dream with Dean is great for finding any traces of "honk" in your midrange. Getting Deano's baritone to sound tubey and rich, to get the sound that Bing Crosby could get just by opening his mouth, is not all that easy on some systems, mine included. Correctly set VTA is critical in this regard, but pretty much everything must be working at its best for Dean to sound as intimate and natural as we know he can on the best pressings.

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Deep Purple - Made In Japan

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: deeppmadei_2015) 



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.

Machine Head Live? That would not be far off, and the fact they brought MARTIN BIRCH along with them all the way to Japan in order to engineer a live album that was only supposed to sell to the Japanese market (!) could not have been more fortuitous for us audiophiles.

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Deep Purple - Made In Japan

What to Listen For

  (Item #: deeppmadei_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.

We've raved about a number of live albums over the years. Some of the better sounding ones that come readily to mind (in alphabetical order) are Belafonte at Carnegie Hall, David Live, Johnny Cash At San Quentin, Donny Hathaway Live, The Jimi Hendrix Concerts, Performance - Rockin The Fillmore, Live Wire - Blues Power, Waiting For Columbus, Get Your Ya-Ya's Out and Live at Leeds. I would be proud to have any of them in my collection.

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Delibes / Coppelia & Sylvia / Ansermet

London Vs. Decca, Again

  (Item #: delibcoppe_decca) 



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

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

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


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Derek and The Dominos - Layla

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: dereklayla_listen) 



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

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

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Dire Straits - A Tour de Force by Rhett Davies

We Knew It Back in 2007

  (Item #: diresdires_davies) 



This Vertigo British pressing of Dire Straits’ wonderful debut has ABSOLUTELY THE BEST SOUND for this album we have ever heard. Folks, this one just can’t be beat. AGAIG is our shorthand for As Good As It Gets, and that’s an understatement when it comes to the sound of this copy. It blew the doors off every record we put up against it; every Vertigo pressing, regardless of country of manufacture or era. If you're looking for The World Champion, this copy holds the title and is very unlikely to be giving it up any time soon.
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Dire Straits - Dire Straits

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: diresdires_2011) 



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

The best side one we've ever heard, so freakishly impressive that we awarded it the rare A++++ (Four Plus) grade! On top of that, side two earned an A++ grade and the vinyl plays unusually quietly -- solid Mint Minus throughout. This is probably the best Dire Straits album (certainly our favorite) and definitely their best sounding album; on a copy like this one it has the power to BLOW YOUR MIND. Water Of Love, Down To The Waterline and Six Blade Knife are all STUNNING on this pressing.

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Donovan - The Hurdy Gurdy Man

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: donovhurdy_2013) 



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

The 1968 sound here is GLORIOUS — rich, sweet, Tubey Magical and very, very Analog.

Side one is where you will find The Hurdy Gurdy Man and it is crazy good sounding here. No wonder: Hurdy Gurdy was engineered by Eddie Kramer and produced by none other than John Paul Jones.

More Donovan / More Hippie Folk Rock


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Doris Day - Hooray For Hollywood

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: day__hoora_2011) 



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

This fairly rare, fairly clean Six Eye Columbia original Stereo pressing has TWO SUPERB sounding sides, each earning our Super Hot stamper sonic grade. Frank DeVol did the orchestral arrangements, and it sounds like he let Miss Day have some of the same ones he'd done for Sinatra. Don't mess with success, right?

The vintage Columbia sound is overflowing with Tubey Magic -- it's about as Big and Rich as it gets! If you don't mind some heavy-handed reverb, the kind found on practically every vintage Tony Bennett and Nat King Cole record ever made, you will find much to like here.

More Pop Vocal recordings


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Duke Ellington - Ellington Indigos

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: ellinindig_2018) 



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

This 6-Eye Stereo pressing blew us away with its superbly well recorded romantic big band jazz, of which Ellington was a master. Both sides of this pressing are huge, rich, tubey and clear. This is absolutely the right sound for this music. A near-perfect demonstration of just how good 1958 All Tube Analog sound can be - no modern record can hold a candle to a pressing as good as this one. If you like your jazz ballads performed with deep feeling, by a road-tested group of virtuoso players, this record is for you.

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Duke Ellington - Masterpieces By Ellington

Our Shootout Winner from 2018

  (Item #: ellinmaste_2018) 



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

We've known about this wonderful album for decades, since first got hold of a red label copy from the '70s. Although not in the league with the best 6 eye pressings, even that late reissue had enough Columbia magic left in its grooves to impress the hell out of me.

And the fact that a jazz album recorded in 1950 was still in print more than twenty years later is testament to the lasting power of Ellington's music. As Kenny Burrell would say, "Ellington Is Forever."

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Eagles - Desperado

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: eagledespe_2010) 



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

This Original Asylum White Label Pressing has a STRONG A++ side one backed with a KILLER A+++ side two! It's been a couple of weeks since we finished our big shootout for this great album and I still can't get over how amazing this copy sounded. Most copies are too compressed to ever really come to life, but this one is big, bold and dynamic with lots of energy. The bottom end is positively killer on this one.

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Eagles - Desperado

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: eagledespe_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series. This is the second-best sounding Eagles record of all time, no doubt thanks to the engineering of our man Glyn Johns. Of course, the best sound on an Eagles record is found on the first album. For whatever reason, that record was left off the TAS Super Disc list, even though we feel that both musically and sonically it beats this one by a bit.
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Eagles - Desperado

Which Pressing Sounds Better, the Brit SYL or Domestic Asylum?

  (Item #: eagledespe_vs) 



Short answer: They both do, or more accurately, they both can sound better than the other. It all depends on how many of each you have.

Harry Pearson famously listed the SYL pressing of this album on his TAS List of Super Discs, but most of them sure don’t sound that super to us! Play enough of them though, and if you’re lucky you just might find one like the one we did -- a lovely Brit Import SYL pressing that has SUPERB SOUND on BOTH SIDES!

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Eagles - Eagles

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: eagleeagle_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy or copies of The Eagles amazingly well recorded first album.

The Eagles first album is without a doubt Glyn Johns' masterpiece -- rock records just don't sound any better! It's exactly the kind of record that makes virtually ANY Audiophile Record pale in comparison. EVERYTHING you could ask for as an audiophile is all here and more.

More of the Eagles' first album


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Eagles - Eagles

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: eagleeagle_2011) 



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

A WHITE HOT side one that was so darn good, we had to break our own rules and give it FOUR BIG PLUSES -- A++++! This side one is a DEMO DISC like you will not believe. When the big chorus comes in on Take It Easy -- one of the toughest tests for side one -- you will be amazed by how energetic and downright GLORIOUS these boys can sound. Believe us when we tell you, it's the rare copy that can pass that test.

More of the Eagles' first album


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Eagles - On The Border

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: eagleonthe_2008) 



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

TWO STUNNING SIDES on this British SYL pressing. You Never Cry Like A Lover and The Best Of My Love have SUPERB Glyn Johns Demo Disc Sound. The LIFE and ENERGY of this copy are going to knock you out of your seat! Most copies left us with a headache, but this one had us begging for more!

More Eagles' albums


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Edmundo Ros - Latin Hits I Missed

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: ros__latin_2011) 



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

It's unfortunate that Edmundo Ros and his orchestra command so little respect these days from the general record buying public. As for audiophiles, it's doubtful that many even know who he or they is/are. We at Better Records are doing our best to change all that, continuing with this, the second Ros title we've managed to find with amazing sound and music since the first one went up in 2013. It's one of the liveliest, best sounding Phase 4 titles we have heard in quite a while. Stampers simply do not get much hotter than these.

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Edmundo Ros - Ros On Broadway

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: ros__onbro_2009) 



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

Edmundo Ros and his orchestra don't command much respect these days from the general record buying public. As for audiophiles, it's doubtful that many even know who he or they is/are. But we at Better Records are going to change that, starting with this very record, because it's one of the best sounding records we have ever heard. Stampers just do not get any HOTTER than these!

From the perspective of a level playing field, I cannot think of a single rock record that sounds as BIG and DYNAMIC, nor one that is as spacious and clear, as is the side two of this London Blueback. As good as the best German pressings of Dark Side of the Moon may be, shockingly good in fact, this recording is clearly more exciting and lifelike, with instrumental timbres that are uncannily accurate.


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Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: electnewwo_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

As a result of Jeff Lynne's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink production approach, it will be the rare copy that provides enough transparency and resolution to bring out all the elements in these incredibly dense mixes, strings included. But when you find a copy that does, what a THRILL it is. This is the band's MASTERPIECE in my humble opinion. For audiophiles ELO on LP doesn't get any better.

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Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: electnewwo_2008) 



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

Even though I am not the world's biggest ELO fan, I am a HUGE fan of this album, which is why I’m so happy to have finally found one with AMAZING SOUND, on both sides! The British originals are the only ones that can convey the sweet TUBEY MAGIC of the British Master Tapes. The string tone on the average domestic copy is shrill and smeary; too little of the critically important texture remains after the master tapes have been dubbed and the copies sent to America for mastering.

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Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Swings Brightly With Nelson

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: fitzgella_swings_brightly_2017) 



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

The sound is rich and full-bodied in the best tradition of a classic vintage jazz vocal album. You could easily demonstrate your stereo with a record this good! The space is HUGE and the sound so rich.

Prodigious amounts of Tubey Magic as well, which is key to the best sounding copies. The sound needs weight, warmth and tubes or you might as well be playing a CD.

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Elton John - Madman Across The Water

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: john_madma_2016) 



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

Shockingly good sound, the best sound for any copy that has ever made it to the site. This Madman is guaranteed to blow your mind. It certainly blew ours.

A ridiculously tough album to find with the right sound and reasonably quiet surfaces -- which is why we never have them on the site.

More Elton John


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Elton John - Madman Across The Water

What To Listen For

  (Item #: john_madma_wtlf) 



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

This is the last of the classic Elton John albums recorded at Trident, the best of which have more Tubey Magic than anything recorded afterwards. There are three amazing sounding Elton John records on our Top 100 list, two of them engineered by the estimable ROBIN GEOFFREY CABLE, Trident Studios’ house engineer in 1972.

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Elton John - Tumbleweed Connection

Elton's Masterpiece

  (Item #: john_tumbl_2012) 



The best copies of this album are so good they belong on the list of the Ten Best Sounding Rock Records of All Time, how about that!

This copy really delivers on the sound side — you get stunning immediacy, big-time presence, tons of depth to the soundfield, full-bodied vocals, amazing transparency, and BOATLOADS of Tubey Magic. Elton John fans, today is your lucky day. The vocals are full and present, with not a trace of the phony EQ that plagues the typical pressing. The entire mix is stunningly high-res, with no attendant sacrifice in richness or Tubey Magic.

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Elvis Presley - Elvis Is Back!

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: preslelvis_is_back_2015) 



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

What a great Elvis album. Fever is the killer jam on the first side and the material throughout is of very high quality.

Finding clean real Elvis records -- not those crappy compilations and vault-leftovers, but real Elvis albums from his golden period when he was the true King of Pop (sorry Michael) -- has never been a walk in the park. We do the best we can.

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Elvis Presley - Fun In Acapulco

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: preslfunin_2015) 



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

Finding clean real Elvis records -- not those crappy compilations and vault-leftovers, but real Elvis albums from his golden period when he was the true King of Pop (sorry Michael) -- has never been a walk in the park. We do the best we can.

Fortunately there are some reissues from the '60s and '70s that have the potential for excellent sound. This is clearly one of them. The originals we see are a lost cause; they're practically always scratched and full of groove damage. We'd be lucky to find a clean one every five or ten years nowadays.

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Elvis Presley - It Happened At The World's Fair

Our Shootout Winner from 2017

  (Item #: preslithap_2017) 



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

This pressing has the glorious sound of 1963 in its grooves. It has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.

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Eno - Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: eno__takin_listen) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

This album is all about sound, pure sound itself if you will: the sound of the instruments, their textures, and the textures of the soundscape Eno has created for them.

With the subtle harmonics of Eno's treated sounds captured onto vinyl intact, the magic of the experience far exceeds just another batch of catchy songs with clever arrangements. It truly becomes an immersive experience; sounds you've never heard in quite that way draw you into their world, each sound more interesting than the next.

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Eric Dolphy - Copenhagen Concert

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: dolphcopen_2010) 



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

Rarely have I heard a string bass sound better than it does here. The flute is equally gorgeous. They could record a live jazz concert this well in 1961? Apparently.

Although this is only our second Hot Stamper listing for the album, I've known about Dolphy's legendary Copenhagen Concert for close to thirty years. When an audiophile hears a bass clarinet reproduced the way it is on this record he is very unlikely to forget it.

Do the originals sound as good as these '70s pressings? Not a clue. Never ran into a clean one in my life.

See all of our Eric Dolphy albums in stock


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Esquivel and Other Vintage Recordings

What to Listen For

  (Item #: esquiinfin_2015) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your vintage '50s and '60s All Tube recordings.

Folks, I can tell you right now most original LSP pressings, of this or any other Living Stereo Popular title, do not begin to recreate the Studio Wizardry found on this album. The sound rivals the best Chet Atkins albums and Bob and Rays in all their delicious three-dimensional Cinerama staging.

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Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: fleetfleet_2012) 



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

In 2012 we noted that this WHITE HOT copy of Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled album has some of THE BEST SOUND WE HAD EVER HEARD, not only for this album, but for the band itself. As good as the best copies of Rumours are, they don’t really sound like this. Until we started doing these shootouts in about 2006 we had no idea this album was remotely this well recorded. There are layers and layers of subtle instrumental textures and recording effects throughout 1975's Fleetwood Mac that we had never even suspected were there. Then we played this copy.

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Fleetwood Mac - Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: fleetpeter_2014) 



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

We won't be surprised if you don't have this one in your collection. Let's face it, who in his right mind would keep throwing good money after bad, buying up one bad sounding copy after another in the hopes that someday one of them would sound good?

We would! Why shouldn't we? We get paid good money to do that kind of dirty work, and beyond the money, we get the THRILL of being the first to play these wonderful records, full of the music we love. (Not too many Hot Stamper shootouts get done for bands and albums we don't like. Who could get motivated enough to sit through copy after copy of some Audiophile Bullshit LP?)

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Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: fleetrumou_2010) 



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

White Hot Stampers for Rumours with UNBELIEVABLY GOOD SOUND (and quiet vinyl) FROM START TO FINISH! Folks, if you’re looking for a Demo Quality version of one of the most beloved pop albums of all time, this is the record for you! Side one was so darned good that we had to bust out the rare A++++ (Four Plus) grade, and side two is just about as amazing. It certainly ain’t a cheap record, but it’s beyond difficult to find copies of this classic with two sides that sound like this and play quietly.

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Fleetwood Mac - Rumours

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: fleetrumou_depth) 



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

The best copies exhibit the kind of presence, bass, dynamics and energy found only on the kind of Super Demo Discs we rave about here endlessly: the BS&Ts, Stardusts, Zumas and the like. When you get a good copy of this record, it is a Demo Disc. Who knew? Who even suspected? The grooves don't lie, and these grooves have a lot to say.

More Rumours / More Fleetwood Mac


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Frank Sinatra - Strangers In The Night

What to Listen For

  (Item #: sinatstran_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.

What to listen for you ask? The superb engineering of LEE HERSCHBERG and EDDIE BRACKETT! The sound is, in a word, luscious.

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Frank Zappa - Hot Rats

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: zappahotra_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

One quality that the best copies always have, and the Classic reissue has none of, is Tubey Magic. The Classic is clean, and at first that seems like a neat trick since the originals tend to be a bit murky and congested. But it's clean like a CD is clean, in all the wrong ways. This is analog? You could've fooled me.

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Frank Zappa - Hot Rats

Our Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: zappahotra_2012) 



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

It takes us YEARS to find copies that sound like this. Bernie’s version for Classic beats a lot of copies out there, but it can’t hold a candle to this one!

I've been listening to Hot Rats since I was in high school. It's still remarkably fresh and original, even now. This is not music for the faint of heart. Audiophiles who prefer a steady diet of Patricia Barber and her like will find little of interest here. But for those of you who want to explore something completely original and a bit "out there," this should be right up your alley -- and be sure to check out Waka Jawaka too.

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Frank Zappa - The Grand Wazoo

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: zappagrand_2015) 



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

The Tubey Magic found on the title cut is really something to hear. The Grand Wazoo now gets my vote as the best sounding record Zappa ever made (along with Absolutely Free).

More Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention


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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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Frank Zappa - Weasels Ripped My Flesh

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: zappawease_2013) 



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

TWO STUNNING A+++ SIDES! Nothing else in our shootout could touch this copy. The sound is incredibly BIG and BOLD throughout with shocking clarity, amazing presence, and wonderful transparency.

If you’re not already a Zappa fan, be warned that experimental song structures, feedback, dirty lyrics, avant garde jazz freakouts and gas mask solos (yes, you read that right) all figure into the mix here. I don’t know of anyone else who could shape that all into one amazing, fairly cohesive LP except for Zappa.

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Genesis - A Trick Of The Tail

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: genesatric_2014) 



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

GENESIS AT LAST! We've been trying to find Hot Stamper copies of this album for years, but it is BEYOND DIFFICULT to find copies of this album that sound great and play quietly. Here's an amazing Trick Of the Tail that absolutely blows the typical pressing out of the water!The sound is BIG, BOLD and OPEN, breaking free from the grainy and cloudly qualities that screw up the average copy.

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Gerry Mulligan - And His Concert Jazz Band On Tour

Our Shootout Winner from 2016

  (Item #: mulliandhi_2016) 



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

White Hot on side two, nearly White on side one, this live album is crazy good sounding on this copy. Huge space, size and clarity, with Tubey Magical richness befitting its 1960 recording dates. On the second track of side two the swingin' Zoot Sims is as immediate and real as any sax player can be.

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Gerry Rafferty - City To City

Our First White Hot Stamper - 2011

  (Item #: raffecityt_2011) 



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

The BEST SOUNDING City to City to EVER hit our site -- White Hot on side one backed with a nearly White Hot side two, which means that the chances of finding an overall better sounding copy than this are vanishingly small, even for us.

In addition, we are especially delighted to report that not only is the sound better than ever, the music is too. The album as a whole, unlike so much of what came out in 1978 (Do Ya Think I'm Sexy asks Rod Stewart, followed by stony silence) does not seem to have dated in the least, with the possible exception of the big hit Baker Street, which is arguably somewhat over the top...

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Gerry Rafferty - City To City

Our Four Plus Shootout Winner from 2012

  (Item #: raffecityt_2012) 



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

This Gerry Rafferty White Hot Stamper LP has THE BEST SIDE ONE WE'VE EVER HEARD. So good in fact that we had to go above and beyond our usual top grade of three pluses and award this amazing copy a huge A++++! It's guaranteed to put to shame any UK import you may have. Since those are the only pressings with any hope of sounding good, it simply means that we are very confident in the sound of this copy.

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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 / An American In Paris & Rhapsody In Blue

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: gershrhaps_6091_2015) 



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

I’ve always loved these performances, but the shrill Columbia sound has been hard to get past. So many copies suffer from upper-midrangy, glary, hard sound and blary brass. I've come to accept that this is nothing more nor less than the "Columbia Sound," and as a consequence I rarely put much effort into surveying their prodigious catalog these days.

I won't say all that's changed; it really hasn't. The vast majority of Columbia classical pressings are still going to sound as awful as they have in the past.

More of the music of George Gershwin


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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.

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Graham Nash - Songs for Beginners

Greatest "Copy" Ever

  (Item #: nash_songs_2015) 



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

WHOA! We've paired up two FOUR PLUS sides to create this stunning 2-pack with mindblowing Demo Quality sound for the whole album. These A++++ sides will show you just how amazing it can sound: super full-bodied, rich, warm and natural.

Please note that we award this very special grade so rarely that we don't even have a graphic to represent it in our sonic grade box. The scale usually only goes to three pluses, but these two sides went up to four!

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Hall and Oates - Abandoned Luncheonette

Our Shootout Winner from 2008

  (Item #: hallaaband_2008) 



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

If you’re looking for a big production pop record that jumps out of your speakers, is full of TUBEY MAGIC, and has consistently good music, look no further. Until I picked up one of these nice originals, I had no idea how good this record could sound. For an early '70s multi-track pop recording this is about as good as it gets (AGAIG as we like to say). It's rich, sweet, open, natural, smooth most of the time -- in short, it's got all the stuff we audiophiles LOVE.

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Hall and Oates

Tubes Vs. Transistors

  (Item #: hallaaband_tubes) 



Hot Stamper pressings of this album have the sound of TUBES. I’m sure it was recorded with transistors, judging by the fact that it was made after most recording studios had abandoned that old technology, so how did they accomplish such a feat?
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Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson

Jump into the Fire with Harry Nilsson

  (Item #: nilssschmi_wtlf) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series with advice on what to listen for as you critically evaluate your copy of Nilsson Schmilsson.

Jump Into The Fire is one of the best tests we used for side two. Copies that are too smooth make the "just bass and drums" intro sound thick and smeared. Too bright and the vocals will tear your head off. The "just right" copies rock from the start and never get too far out of control, even when Harry does. The best we can hope for is that the loudest vocal parts stay tolerable. Believe me, it is not that easy to find a copy that's listenable all the way through, not at the high volume I play the record at anyway!

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Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilsson

Our Shootout Winner from 2011

  (Item #: nilssschmi_2011) 



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

TWO WONDERFUL SIDES, capable of delivering the Nilsson Schmilsson GENIUS in a way few copies out there can! We’re just wild about Harry ’round these parts, but it’s unbelievably difficult to find copies of his albums that sound any good. Beyond that, most of the Nilsson records out there in used record land are noisy, thanks to that super-high-quality RCA Dynaflex vinyl. (Your sarcasm detector should be going off like crazy right about now.)

Ah, but here’s a Nilsson Schmilsson that’s dramatically more audiophile-friendly than other copies.

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Henry Mancini - Charade

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: mancichara_2013) 



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

This Living Stereo RCA LP has TWO STUNNING A+++ SIDES, giving you a healthy dose of the Living Stereo Tubey Magic we love here at Better Records. As is usually the case with Mancini's records, some tracks sound far better than others. Charade is a particularly good sounding song on side two, with superb reproduction of both female and male voices, rich and sweet in the best tradition of RCA from the Golden Age. More good stuff on side two? Drop the needle on Latin Snowfall to hear exactly what I’m talking about.

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Henry Mancini - Our Man In Hollywood

Making More Progress in Audio

  (Item #: manciourma_vta) 



The story of our recent shootout is what real Progress in Audio is all about.

In our previous listings we noted:

This is one of those odd records in which the variation in sound quality from track to track is dramatic. Take the first two tracks on side one -- they suck. They sound like your average LSP Mancini album, the kind I have suffered through far too many times. And that means bad bad bad.

See all of our Henry Mancini albums in stock


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Henry Mancini - Our Man In Hollywood

Our Shootout Winner from 2015

  (Item #: manciourma_2015) 



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

This Minty RCA Living Stereo LP (LSP 2604) has AMAZINGLY Three-Dimensional Tubey Magical Living Stereo Sound on on both sides. Most original LSP pressings, of this or any other LSP title, do not begin to recreate the Studio Wizardry found on this pressing. This wonderful recording rivals the best Chet Atkins and Bob and Rays in all their delicious Cinerama glory.

Thank Al Schmitt for delivering top quality sound on this all tube 1963 recording!

See all of our Henry Mancini albums in stock


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James Taylor - Sweet Baby James

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: taylosweet_depth) 



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.

This White Hot Stamper is GUARANTEED to BLOW YOUR MIND, as James himself so famously sings on Steamroller here, and you can be sure that he never heard it sound any better on playback than it does here. This is truly Master Tape Sound -- transparent, present and Tubey Magical, the kind of sound that only the best pressings from the era can lay claim to. If you've got the stereo to play it, this record may become your new favorite Demo Disc. Yes, it's that good.

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James Taylor - Sweet Baby James

Our Shootout Winner for 2008

  (Item #: taylosweet_2008) 



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

It took three days, sixty seven copies, and multiple rounds, but SWEET BABY JAMES HOT STAMPERS ARE BACK! Both sides of this bad boy are DEMO QUALITY and ABSOLUTELY STUNNING. Add in the fact that the vinyl is unusually quiet, and you’ve got one heck of a copy here!

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Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow

Do the Choruses of She Has Funny Cars Hold Up?

  (Item #: jeffesurre_depth) 



Presenting another entry in our extensive Listening in Depth series.

Before we get into the sound of Surrealistic Pillow, I'd like to point out that Hot Stampers for this title -- and the shootouts that allow us to find them -- are becoming increasingly rare. I'd be surprised if we can even find enough clean copies to play once a year nowadays. As unfortunate as it may be it is nevertheless a reality. With clean Led Zeppelin RL pressings frequently commanding $1000 and up on ebay, you can be pretty sure we won't have many of those to sell you in the months and years to come either.

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Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: jeffesurre_2009) 



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

An OFF THE CHARTS side one with more tubey magic than you probably ever imagined! We always have fun playing a great copy of the psychedelic ’60s masterpiece, because the sound gives you so many of the qualities we love about good ol’ analog. No one’s recording albums any more with this kind of richness, sweetness, and warmth, that’s for sure! Drop the needle on My Best Friend or Today to hear that trippy Sixties San Francisco sound at its best.

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Jethro Tull - Stand Up

Notes from 2009

  (Item #: jethrstand_2009) 



A distinguished member of our Better Records Hall of Fame.

Our last shootout for Stand Up was over a year ago, early in 2008. By some good fortune we have been able to find a number of fairly clean early British pressings, with both Pink and Sunray labels, as well as some very good sounding domestics. (Yes, they are out there. Few and far between and probably not the ones you would think to buy but out there nonetheless. Buy enough of them and clean them right and you will find some too.)

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Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick

Ruthless When It Comes to Accuracy

  (Item #: jethrthick_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.

From 2009 to 2010 this was our single go-to record for testing and tweaking the system.

Although we now use an amazing copy of Bob and Ray (the big band version of The Song of the Volga Boatmen located therein has to be the toughest test we know of bar none), we could easily go back to using TAAB. It's absolutely ruthless when it comes to the slightest hint of artificiality in the sound of the system.

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Jimi Hendrix - Electric Ladyland

Our Shootout Winner from 2014

  (Item #: hendrelect_2014) 



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

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

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Jimi Hendrix - Rainbow Bridge

Our Shootout Winner from 2009

  (Item #: hendrrainb_2009) 



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

THE NEW ALL-TIME CHAMPION FOR SIDE ONE! We played over a dozen copies this week, split evenly between domestics and Brit imports -- and this bad boy absolutely MURDERED the competition.

Drop the needle on Dolly Dagger or Pali Gap and prepare to be floored! You won’t believe the big-time presence, the mindblowing energy, or the massive WHOMP factor! This copy has the tightest bass we’ve ever heard for this album, plus an unbelievable amount of Tubey Magic.

More Jimi Hendrix


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Jimmy Dean - Everybody's Favorite

with Plenty of '60s Tubey Magic

  (Item #: dean_every_tubey_magic) 



Here is the kind of Tubey Magical richness records routinely offered in 1963. Don Law produced Everybody's Favorite down in Nashville so it's the real deal all right. If you liked our killer Marty Robbins' Hot Stampers you most likely will get a big kick out of this one too. A forgotten sound? Not at Better Records it isn't.

If you need a refresher course in Tubey Magic after playing too many modern recordings or remasterings, we have just the ticket. The records linked HERE are positively dripping with it.


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John Klemmer - Straight from the Heart

Listening for the Tubey Magic

  (Item #: klemmstrai_wtlf) 



The best copies give you dynamics and immediacy like you have rarely heard outside of the live event. Hell, this record IS live; it's live in the studio. It's a direct to disc recording, what else could it be?

There is simply nothing in the way of the music. If you have the system for it, you can recreate the live sound of this session in a way that few other recordings would ever allow you to do.

This copy had one quality not heard on most of the others: Tubey Magic. The sound is rich and full-bodied, practically free of grit and grain - this is the kind of sound one hears occassionally on the best tube equipment and practically nowhere else. Of course this is an all-transistor affair, but tubey sound is what ended up on the record, so go figure.

More John Klemmer


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John Klemmer - Straight from the Heart

Our Shootout Winner from 2010

  (Item #: klemmstrai_2010) 



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

This White Hot Stamper Nautilus Direct-to-Disc recording is an AMAZING Demo Disc, and what’s more, it’s actually REAL JAZZ -- a remarkably unusual combination in the Audiophile World, in my experience anyway. This copy takes the sound of this recording -- and the music along with it -- to another level. YOU WON'T BELIEVE how good this record sounds.

More John Klemmer


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Johnny Hartman - I Just Dropped By To Say Hello

Our Shootout Winner from 2013

  (Item #: hartmijust_2013) 



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

Folks, the best Stereo Impulse pressings are so Tubey Magical, RICH yet CLEAR, and above all shockingly natural, I defy you to find a Male Vocal record produced in the last thirty years that can hold a candle to it (outside of the Coltrane-Hartman record from the year before of course).

The Bennett-Evans record we love so much here at Better Records would qualify as a contender, but that album was recorded in 1975. And it doesn't have half the Tubey Magic this Hartman album from 1963 does.

More Johnny Hartman


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