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Commentary Overview

Audio Commentary  >  Start Here  >  Commentary Overview


Commentary Overview
We discuss practically anything that concerns recordings or their reproduction here.

If you want to collect better sounding records and hear them at their best, many of the commentaries in this section will be of interest.

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


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Bernard Herrmann / Citizen Kane & Other Classic Film Scores

  (Item #: herrmcitiz_fame) 

A distinguished member of our Unconventional 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.

See all of our Bernard Herrmann albums in stock

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Supertramp - Even In The Quietest Moments

What to Listen For

  (Item #: supereveni_wtlf) 

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

The piano on Give a Little Bit can get buried in the dense mix. Side ones that are rich and tubey and smooth with a clear piano did very well in our shootout.

Lover Boy is a Demo Quality Track on the best copies. It can be huge, spacious and lively. Getting the strings to sound harmonically rich without sliding into shrillness may not be easy but some copies manage it. On the biggest, richest copies the breakdown at about 2:20 is a lot of fun.

See all of our Supertramp albums in stock

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Joni Mitchell - For The Roses

  (Item #: mitchforth_fame) 

A distinguished member of our Unconventional Hall of Fame.

Let's face it, we love Blue (1971) but most pressings suffer from a raft of sonic problems, as do Ladies of the Canyon (1970).

Court and Spark (1974) is up at the top up the list as well, but Roses (1973) seems to have more recording purity. Perhaps the engineers saw this as an opportunity to address the problems with Blue, its followup.

See all our Joni Mitchell pressings in stock

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Buffalo Springfield - Buffalo Springfield

  (Item #: buffabuffa_fame) 

A distinguished member of our Unconventional Hall of Fame.

This is the first White Hot Stamper pressing of Buffalo Springfield's self-titled LP to ever hit the site, and folks, you are in for shock if you know this album at all. Although for the most part this is no Demo Disc, this super-rare pressing is SO MUCH BETTER than any other version we know of that it just blows our minds. I had my mind blown about ten years ago when I found my first one, and nothing has changed. It's still the best pressing ever.

See all of our Buffalo Springfield albums in stock

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Led Zeppelin - Presence

  (Item #: ledzeprese_fame) 

A distinguished member of our Unconventional Hall of Fame.

A STUNNING A++ TO A+++ side two (where Nobody's Fault But Mine can be found, one of the best Zep rockers of all time and the best reason to own this album), with MASSIVE room-filling size and rock ENERGY like you will not believe. How did they manage to get such rock and roll power into these grooves, the way they did on Zep II and IV? We can't even imagine, but it's there all right. We heard it for ourselves. (Yes, we had the volume cranked and yes, it was a THRILL.)

See all of our Led Zeppelin albums in stock

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Count Basie - Basie Big Band

The Glorious Sound of Triple Flutes

  (Item #: basiebasie_wtlf) 

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

Check out the triple flutes on the first track on side two - on a copy like this you will hear some shockingly Tubey Magical, breathy, sweet, natural flutes. And there are three of them! Even large classical orchestras rarely have three flutes. The sound is to die for.

See all of our Count Basie albums in stock

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In the Market for New Speakers?

Will They Handle the Size and Energy of Take It Easy?

  (Item #: eagleeagle_speakers) 

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

Take one of our killer Hot Stamper pressings with you when you go shopping for speakers. The speaker that gets the POWER and ENERGY of this music right is the one you want. This record will separate the men from the boys thirty seconds into Take It Easy. It will be obvious who's got the piston power and who doesn't.

With big bass and huge scope, this may become your favorite disc for showing your friends just what analog is really capable of.

See all of our Eagles albums in stock

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Thelonious Monk - It's Monk's Time

Getting the Balance Right

  (Item #: monk_itsmo_wtlf) 

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of It's Monk's Time

There are three main elements that comprise the sound of It's Monk's Time: piano, sax and drums. You need all three to be balanced and correct. The mix is perfection on the best copies, with the piano, sax and drums clearly audible and in musically correct proportion to each other.

As we played the sides we noted how each of them fared.

See all of our Thelonious Monk albums in stock

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Carole King - Tapestry

The Piano Stylings of Carole King

  (Item #: king_tapes_wtlf_1) 

One quality that we had no trouble recognizing on the better copies was transparency. The more transparent copies made it possible to hear through the mix to Carole's piano, which is usually placed toward the back of the mix. There it serves to underpin the music, playing more of a supporting role than a leading one, very unlike the piano on a Joni Mitchell album for example.

The best copies let you easily follow Carole's playing all the way through every song, from start to finish, no matter how quiet her part or how far back in the mix she may be placed.

See all of our Carole King LPs in stock

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Gordon Lightfoot - If You Could Read My Mind

  (Item #: lightifyou_fame) 

A distinguished member of our Unconventional Hall of Fame.

Exceptionally good sound -- the best we have yet to hear on a Lightfoot album. We were certainly surprised and quite pleased with the sound of the better copies, so watch for more of Gordon Lightfoot's music coming to the site as we work through his classic catalog from the '70s.

One of the top guys at Warners, LEE HERSCHBERG recorded (with Gary Brandt) and mixed the album, along with a number of others by Gordon Lightfoot.

See all of our Gordon Lightfoot albums in stock

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Amazing Demo Discs for Bass

Peter Cetera and Chicago

  (Item #: chicachica_bass) 

First in a series of Demo Discs for Bass.

Talk about beefy bass; this album is the poster boy for rock solid bottom end. When you have a copy of Chicago's first album with a hot side three you have a Bass Demo Disc LP that's going to rock your world, not to mention the foundation of your house. (How they managed to get the bass so right and screw up so many other things I will never know.)

See more of our in-stock copies of Chicago's albums

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Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Damn the Torpedoes

  (Item #: pettydamnt_2015) 

Damn the Torpedoes is the best sounding Tom Petty album we have ever played.

Credit must go to SHELLY YAKUS, someone who we freely admit, now with a sense of embarrassment, has never been one of our favorite engineers. After hearing this beyond-White Hot Stamper side two and a killer copy of Animal Notes we realize that we have seriously underestimated the man, and for that we deeply apologize.

If your Damn the Torpedoes doesn't sound good (and it probably doesn't), you sure can't blame him -- the master tape is mind-boggling in its size, weight, power and rock n' roll energy.

See all of our Tom Petty pressings in stock

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Roxy Music - Siren

British Band, British Pressing, Right?

  (Item #: roxymsiren_2015) 

Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

Of all the Roxy albums (with the exception of Avalon) this is probably the best way "in" to the band's music. The earlier albums are more raucous, the later ones more rhythmically driven -- Siren catches them at their peak, with, as other reviewers have noted, all good songs and no bad ones.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Roxy Music's and Bryan Ferry's albums

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Lincoln Mayorga - The Missing Linc

  (Item #: mayormissi_fame) 

A distinguished member of the Better Records Hall of Fame.

Super Hot, and definitely not your typical Sheffield pressing. Some of them are aggressive, many of them are dull and lack the spark of live music, some of them have wonky bass or are lacking in the lowest octave -- they are prey to every fault that befalls other pressings.

Which should not be too surprising. Records are records. Pressing variations exist for every album ever made. If you haven't noticed that yet, start playing multiple copies of the same album, while listening carefully and critically.

See all of our Lincoln Mayorga albums in stock

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The Beatles - Beatles For Sale

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: beatlforsa_depth) 

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of For Sale. We note that Words of Love is a tough track to get right:

There are some lively, jangly guitars behind the smooth voices. Many copies seem to sacrifice one for the other, leaving you with either irritating guitars or dull voices. The better copies get them both right.

See all of our Hot Stamper pressings of Beatles For Sale

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Tell Us More About "Hot Stampers"

Straight Answers to Your Questions

  (Item #: hot_stampers_faq_2015_4) 

Many of the basic questions concerning Hot Stampers, including our grading system, 2-packs, coupons, the mailing list, as well as more general ordering and payment information, can be found in the original FAQ.

We recommend that you read it before continuing on with this one. The Hot Stamper FAQ below deals specifically with the kinds of issues that potential customers, as well as skeptics and forum posters (god bless 'em!), have raised with us over the years.

We think sitting down to listen to a Hot Stamper pressing is the best way to appreciate its superior sound, in the same way that hearing a vintage LP played back on a top quality system is the best way to appreciate the superiority of analog. Short of getting you to try one of our records -- 100% guaranteed, no questions asked -- we hope these comments will be of value.

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Led Zeppelin

on Prestigious Japanese Limited Edition Vinyl

  (Item #: ledze_japanese) 

This is a classic We Was Wrong listing from 2006.

I used to sell the German Import reissues of the Zep catalog in the '90s. At the time I thought they we’re pretty good, but then the Japanese AMJY Series came out and I thought those were clearly better.

I couldn't have been more wrong. I now realize those Japanese pressings are bright as hell. Now, not-too-surprisingly, the German pressings sound more or less right (on most titles). They tend to be tonally correct, which is more than you can say for most Zep records.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock Led Zeppelin albums

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Delibes / Coppelia & Sylvia / Ansermet

Original Versus Reissue

  (Item #: delibcoppe_original) 

The sound of the Blueback we auditioned was not impressive, certainly not on the one copy we had on hand to play. We'll probably never buy another, not while there are wonderful Decca reissues pressed on quiet vinyl to be had.

We have a number of entries in our original equals better series, in which we debunk the conventional wisdom as to which pressings are the best sounding for specific artists and titles.

See more music conducted by Ernst Ansermet in stock

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Heavy Vinyl Reviews

Obvious Differences Don't Seem to Register

  (Item #: rimskscheh_reviews) 

There is a newly remastered 33 RPM pressing of the album which has garnered rave reviews in the audiophile press. We have played it and will report our findings at the appropriate time.

Have you noticed that in many of the reviews for the new pressing, the original used for comparison is a Shaded Dog? In our experience almost no Shaded Dog pressings are competitive with the better White Dog pressings, and many of them are just plain awful, as we have mentioned previously on the site. At best one out of three would qualify to be offered as a Hot Stamper; most simply would not make the cut.

See all the music of Rimsky-Korsakov in stock

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Richard & Linda Thompson - Shoot Out The Lights

The Best Sounding Record of the Decade?

  (Item #: thompshoot_2015) 

Without a doubt this is the best record Richard and Linda Thompson ever made together, possibly the best record Thompson was ever involved with, but it also holds one other important distinction, one of great interest to us audiophiles: it's the BEST SOUNDING record he (they) ever made as well.

As I was playing the finalists for side two (at ear-splitting levels I might add) an odd thought crossed my mind. Where had I heard this kind of monstrous, punchy bass and these soaring, perfectly distorted guitars, so big and so powerful, before? There was something about the sound - the awesome energy, the freedom from compression or spatial restraint of any kind - that was strangely familiar from another shootout.

See all of our Richard Thompson albums in stock

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