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Commentary Overview

Audio Commentary  >  Start Here  >  Commentary Overview

Commentary Overview
Discussions of practically any subject that concerns recordings and their reproduction can be found here. If you want to collect better sounding records and hear them at their best, many of the commentaries in this section should be of interest.

And be sure to check out our new blog, On The Record!

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Jackson Browne - Late for the Sky

This Kind of Clarity Quickly Wears Out Its Welcome

  (Item #: brownlatef_wtlf) 

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

Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Just Give Up on the Sound of the Compact Disc.

It's not easy to find copies that get the tonal balance right the way the best copies do. Most err in one of two ways -- either they're rich, full and a little veiled, or they're clear and transparent, but leaned-out and boosted.

See all of our Jackson Browne albums in stock

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Elvis Costello Arrayed His Forces

and Produced His Single Best Sounding Record

  (Item #: costearmed_best) 

We consider Armed Forces to be one of the best sounding rock records ever made, and a top copy is proof enough to back up our claim. The best copies are extremely transparent and silky sounding, but with unbelievably punchy, rock solid bass and drums.

The sound of the rhythm section of this album ranks up there with the very best ever recorded. Beyond that, the musical chops of this band at this time rank with the very best in the history of rock. Steve, Bruce and Pete rarely get the credit they deserve for being one of the tightest, liveliest backing bands ever to walk into a studio or on to a stage.

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Records We've Played Vs. Records We've Heard

What's the Difference?

  (Item #: playing_vs_hearing) 

Please note that we should, but often don't, make a vitally important distinction between two words we tend to use interchangeably on the site. There is a difference between the sound of records that we've played and the sound that we've heard.

The stereo, the listening room, our cleaning technologies and who knows what else are all undergoing constant changes. This means that we may have played a better pressing in the past but couldn't hear it sound as good as it does now. The regular improvements we make in all areas of playback make sonic comparisons over time all but meaningless.

See all of our large orchestral recordings in stock

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The Who - Tommy

The Making of the Album

  (Item #: who__tommy_depth) 


Liner Notes for the Remix by Richard Barnes

In 1966, three years before the original release of this album, Pete Townshend played a tape of a spoof song called 'Gratis Amatis' to Who manager Kit Lambert. The 10-minute aria consisted of high-pitched Goon Show voices singing 'Gratis Amatis' over and over for what seemed like an hour. As they fell about laughing, a friend said, "It's a rock opera", which caused more laughter. Suddenly Lambert stopped laughing and looked thoughtful. "Now there's an idea," he said.

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10cc - The Original Soundtrack

The Best Sounding Record on the Site?

  (Item #: tenccorigi_depth) 

On any given day a Super Hot side one (or better) of The Original Soundtrack might be the best sounding record on the site.

"On any given day" being a day when we don't have a hot German copy of Dark Side of the Moon to offer, or a killer Eagles first album, or a top copy of the self-titled BS&T, or an RL Zep II, or a White Hot Teaser and the Firecat. Most days we don't have such records on the site, and on those days this 10cc album is a recording Tour De Force that would be bigger, bolder, more dynamic, and simply more powerful than any other record we could throw against it.

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Neil Young - After the Gold Rush

Heavy Vinyl Reviewed

  (Item #: youngafter_debunk) 

Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing.

I won't spend too much time discussing the sound of this new pressing because, frankly, it's just not worth anybody's time, especially mine. We know what the good pressings of the album sound like, we play them regularly, and this newly remastered vinyl is missing almost everything that makes the album essential to any Right Thinking Music Lovers collection.

See all of our copies of After the Gold Rush in stock

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Tchaikovsky / Piano Concerto #1 / Richter / Karajan

Another Audio Myth Exploded

  (Item #: tchaipiano_myth) 

The original Large Tulip early pressings are the best on this record, right?

Nope. It’s just another Record Myth, as explained in the commentary for our recent Hot Stamper 2-pack. That pair of pressings was all the proof we required to back up our contention that either label can be the best on this classic DG recording. Original is better? Again, not so much. Original can be better fits more with our experience.

See more of our classical piano and organ recordings in stock

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Linda Ronstadt - Don’t Cry Now

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: ronstdontc_debunk) 

Sonic Grade: F

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

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

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Dionne Warwick - Very Dionne

You Know What's Shocking About a Record Like This?

  (Item #: warwiveryd_wtlf) 

Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues that relate to recordings, pressings, and pretty much anything having to do with playing (usually old) records.

What's shocking about a record like this is the fact that the instruments you hear behind and to the side of Dionne Warwick are REAL instruments, and for the most part they are not really being processed much, they are simply being recorded. How many times do you hear a pop album with sound like that? Rarely in our case, and we play them by the hundreds.

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Damn the Torpedoes

  (Item #: pettydamnt_fame) 

A distinguished member of our Unconventional Hall of Fame.

MASTER TAPE SOUND. This copy truly is As Good As It Gets.

This copy has the kind of sound we never expected to hear on Damn The Torpedoes, an album that's typically bright, thin, pinched and transistory -- radio friendly but not especially audiophile friendly.

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The Three - The Three (45 RPM)

  (Item #: threethree_fame) 

A distinguished member of our Unconventional Hall of Fame.

Folks, you are looking at the BEST SOUNDING RECORD we have ever played here at Better Records, and the good news for you dear reader, whether you're a true believer, a skeptic, or fall somewhere in between, is that it can be yours. There was a time when a record like this would go directly into my collection. If I wanted to impress someone, audiophile or otherwise, with the You-Are-There illusion that only Big Speakers in a dedicated room playing a LIVE recording can create, this would be the clear choice, possibly the only choice. There is simply nothing like it on vinyl in my experience.

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Ambrosia and Its Elusive Hot Stamper Pressings

Sage Advice from Calvin Coolidge

  (Item #: ambrosomew_mistake) 

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Calvin Coolidge

If you substitute "finding Hot Stamper pressings" for the words "the human race" you will surely appreciate the point of this commentary.

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Jethro Tull Aqualung Testimonial

It was like the musicians were right in my room ...

  (Item #: jethraqual_letter_roger) 

This week’s letter comes from our good customer Roger, who was blown away by the Hot Stamper pressing of Aqualung we sent him. Roger, as expected, did a thorough shootout of our Hot Stamper against the audiophile usual suspects. The results?
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The Turn Up
Your Volume Test


  (Item #: caldeskyis_loud_1403) 

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

Carnavalito is a track that really comes ALIVE when you Crank Up the Volume. I played it FULL BLAST on two different occasions for audiophile friends of mine just to show them what happens when a Big Speaker Stereo meets a Large Scale Recording with absolutely AMAZING audiophile quality sound -- BIG and BOLD, wall to wall and then some!

It’s my favorite track not only for the album as a whole but for the band’s entire recorded output. It just doesn’t get any better than this if you have the system for it.

See all pressings of Sky Islands in stock

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Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

Music Does the Driving

  (Item #: crosbstillsandnash_overview) 

Of course it's easy to argue that finding good sound on an album with two or more members of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, in any configuration, has never been easy. It's the rare copy of either of the first two albums that's even listenable, and the CSN album from 1977 doesn't sound nearly as good as any of the first three Crosby/Nash albums (of which this is the second). Which simply means that the "good" sound of our Hot Stamper copies is far better than what most audiophiles own of any of these guys in combination.
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Queen - News Of The World

Stomping and Clapping with the Fans

  (Item #: queennewso_wtlf) 

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

The stomps and claps that introduce the former should make you feel like you are in a stadium full of people with a single goal - to rock you. Those stomps and claps need to have both weight and clarity, an unusual combination. One without the other is not going to cut it. The record needs to be able to reproduce the room everybody is in, while still conveying the tremendous impact and power. Most domestic pressings are severely lacking in these areas.

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