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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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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.

See all of our Elvis Costello albums in stock

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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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Vertical Tracking Angle (VTA)

All It Takes Is a Few Moments of Experimentation

  (Item #: paganvioli_vta) 

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

Experimenting with the VTA for this record we found a precise point where it all came together, far beyond whatever expectations we might have had at the time, which revealed a violin floating between the speakers, an effect that as audiophiles we appreciate for the magic trick that it is.

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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.

See all of our Who albums in stock

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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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The Beatles - Please Please Me

What to Listen For

  (Item #: beatlpleas_wtlf_1404) 

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) on PPM.

The Beatles' first album is a recording overflowing with sonic qualities prized by audiophiles and music lovers alike: Tubey Magic, energy, immediacy, richness, breathy vocals; in short, all the stuff you will never hear -- or not hear to the same extent -- on anything but the best vintage analog vinyl LPs.

See other commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Please Please Me

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Steely Dan - The Royal Scam

Turning Aggressive Energy into Pure Excitement

  (Item #: steelroyal_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 The Royal Scam.

We really went overboard with the track commentary for this one. This should make it easy for you to compare what we say about the sound of these songs with what they sound like to you on your system, using the copy you own or, better yet, one of our Hot Stampers.

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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.

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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.

See all of our Linda Ronstadt albums in stock

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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.

See all of our Female Vocal albums in stock

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Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends

Save the Life of My Child Is One Tough Test

  (Item #: simonbooke_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 Bookends.

The big production songs on this album have a tendency to get congested on even the best pressings, which is not uncommon for Four Track recordings from the '60s. Those of you with properly set up high-dollar front ends should have less of a problem than some. $3000 cartridges can usually deal with this kind of complex information better than $300 ones.

See all of our Simon and Garfunkel albums in stock

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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.

See all of our Tom Petty pressings in stock

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The Cars - The Cars

Ramping Up the Horsepower Like Crazy

  (Item #: cars_cars_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 the classic first Cars album.

The best copies must have one key ingredient that we've discovered is absolutely essential if this groundbreaking New Wave album is to come to life -- a huge, spacious soundstage.

See all of our Cars albums in stock

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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.

See all pressings of The Three in stock

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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.

See all of our Ambrosia albums in stock

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