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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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Brewer & Shipley - Tarkio

Do All the Robert Ludwig Mastered Copies Have Hot Stampers?

  (Item #: brewetarki_fame) 



Even though all the original Pink Label pressings are mastered by Robert Ludwig, they have a marked tendency to be dull, thick and opaque. The sound is just too smooth. The best copies however have the top end and the transparency to let you hear all the guitar and vocal harmonics, surrounded by the large acoustic of the studio.

This time around we discovered something new: one specific stamper that seemed to be the only one with the potential for an extended top end. This special stamper did not always fare well; some copies with it were mediocre. We have always found this to be the way with the "right" stampers; they often let us down and sometimes they really let us down hard.

See more entries in our Thinking About Hot Stampers series


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Graham Nash - Wild Tales

And Their Mysteries Many and Deep

  (Item #: nash_wildt_wtlf) 



What hurts so many pressings of this album is a lifeless, compressed quality and a lack of presence. Were the stampers a bit worn for those copies, or was it bad vinyl that couldn't hold the energy of the stamper, or perhaps some stampers just weren't cut right -- these are mysteries, and they are mysteries that will always be mysteries, if for no other reason than that the number of production variables hopelessly intertwined at the moment of creation can never be teased apart no matter how hard one thinks about them. As we like to say at every turn, thinking is really not much help with regard to finding better sounding records.
See more entries in our Thinking About Hot Stampers series


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Graham Nash - Songs for Beginners

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: nash_songs_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you go about critically evaluating your copies of Songs for Beginners.

This is one helluva well recorded album. Most of the credit must go to the team of recording engineers, led here by the esteemed Bill Halverson, the man behind all of the Crosby Stills Nash and Young albums. Nash was clearly influenced by his work with his gifted bandmates, proving with this album that he can hold his own with the best of the best.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Graham Nash's albums


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Record Cleaning Advice

  (Item #: cleaning_2014) 



Disc Doctor and Walker Audio Prelude are the only fluids we recommend for serious SOUND ENHANCEMENT and cleaning of your LPs. You have never heard what's really in the grooves of your records until you've cleaned them using one of these systems. There is nothing in our experience that works as well.

We've tried many fluids over the years and a not insignificant portion of them actually made our records sound worse (most often by rolling off the high end). It's not a good idea to assume the record cleaning fluid you use is doing its job properly. Many do not, including some that are very popular.

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Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon

Quick and Easy Listening Test

  (Item #: pinkfdarks_test_2014) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

Breathe is my favorite test track for side one for any version of Dark Side Of The Moon, Half-Speed or otherwise. When the voices come in about halfway through the song, you can tell that most copies are too bright simply by listening to the vocals on this track. The cymbals might sound wonderful; lots of other instruments might sound wonderful; and there might be plenty of ambience, detail and transparency. But all of that counts for nothing if the voices don't sound right. And on most copies the voices sound bright, aggressive, grainy and transitory. (This is the case with the new 180 gram 30th Anniversary copy, I'm sorry to say.)

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock Pink Floyd albums


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Jimi Hendrix - Axis: Bold As Love

Classic Records Mono Debunked

  (Item #: hendraxis_classic_debunked) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.

One of the worst things the dummies at Classic ever did. Flat and dry with no tubey magic whatsoever. It positively screams "CHEAP REISSUE."

See all of our Jimi Hendrix albums in stock


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The Cars - Candy-O

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: cars_candy_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 Cars' second album.

This is one of our favorite recordings -- a member of our Top 100 -- for one very simple reason: it's got Big Rock Sound in spades! Drop the needle on Let's Go and check out the sound of the big floor tom. When the drummer bangs on that thing, you will FEEL it! It's similar to the effect of being in the room with live musicians -- the difference between just hearing music and also feeling it. That's what you get from a Hot Stamper copy.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of The Cars' albums

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Holst, Steinberg and The Planets

A Shootout Years in the Making

  (Item #: holst_2014) 



In July of 2005 we noted on the site that Hot Stampers for this album were discovered, and interested parties should watch the site for killer copies in the coming months. Obviously we didn’t know at the time that the number of coming months would be THIRTY TWO. That's how long it would be before we could offer our loyal customers truly Hot Stampers, but hey, good things come to those who wait, right?
See more commentaries as well as our in-stock pressings of Holst's music


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Boz Scaggs - Silk Degrees

CBS Half-Speed Debunked

  (Item #: scaggsilkd_debunk) 



Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Half-Speed Mastered Audiophile Pressing Debunked.

Ran across this listing from all the way back in 2005. It takes shots at Badly Half-Speed Mastered records like this awful CBS audiophile pressing of Silk Degrees, as well as the audiophiles who complained about plain old domestic pressings at the time. I should know; I was one of them. Ouch.

Old customers know that we have been relentlessly anti-audiophile-LP for years, since the early '90s in fact, when those awful Acoustic Sounds jazz records first started coming out.

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Stravinsky - The Song of the Nightingale

Thoughts on the TAS Super Disc List

  (Item #: stravsongo_tas) 



Some thoughts on The Absolute Sound’s Super Disc List and one of its more famous members: Stravinsky’s Song Of the Nightingale with Reiner.
See more commentaries as well as our in-stock pressings of Stravinsky's music


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Van Halen - Van Halen

What to Listen For

  (Item #: vanhavanha_wtlf) 



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

Most copies just do not have the kind of weight to the bottom and lower mids that this music needs to work. Put simply, if your Van Halen LP doesn't rock, then what exactly is the point of playing it?

The other qualities to look for on the best pressings are, firstly, space -- the best pressings are huge and three-dimensional, with large, lively, exceptionally dynamic choruses.

See all of our Van Halen albums in stock


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Harry Belafonte - Belafonte at Carnegie Hall

Our Hot Stamper Commentary from 2004

  (Item #: belafbelaf_polarity) 



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

This in-depth listing from 2004 proves that we have been serious about this Hot Stamper thing for more than ten years now, twenty if you're counting the records I sold before Better-records.com was created. Please to enjoy.

Warning: The parts of this commentary that identified specific pressings has been redacted.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Harry Belafonte's albums


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Harry Belafonte - Belafonte... Live! (2 LPs)

  (Item #: belafbelaf_fame) 



A distinguished member of our Unconventional Hall of Fame.

White Hot Stampers on sides one and three! This copy also has an A++ side two and an A+ side four, so there's a ton of good sound on this fun concert LP. This album features Harry performing on all four sides, but also includes music from some of the guests he brought along to perform with him at the early '70s shows in Toronto from which these performances are taken. The first three sides are all KILLER -- you get real-life immediacy, excellent clarity, breathtaking transparency and boatloads of tubey magic!

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Harry Belafonte's albums


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The Beatles - The White Album Testimonial

Enlightened (With No Need to Travel to India)

  (Item #: beatlwhite_testimonial) 



This week’s testimonial letter comes from our good customer Robert, who was "enlightened" -- his word, not ours -- by the Hot Stamper pressing we sent him. An excerpt:

This reminds me of a comment somewhere on your site where it is pointed out that hearing a really good pressing of a song you never thought you liked before can suddenly make you a convert. That is definitely the case with this one.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of The White Album


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The Cars - Candy-O

Nautilus Debunked

  (Item #: cars_candy_debunk_2014) 



Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Half Speed debunked.

This Nautilus Half-Speed Mastered LP, like The Cars first album they did, is pure compressed muck. Another one of the worst half-speeds of all time. For those who are interested we've reprinted a customer's letter below as well.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of The Cars' albums


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Frank Sinatra - Sinatra and Swingin' Brass

Skip the Mono

  (Item #: sinatswing_mono) 



Sonic Grade: F

A great sounding record in stereo, potentially anyway, but in mono the bad sound puts it firmly in our Hall of Shame.

Stick with stereo; the monos aren't worth anybody's time (scratch that: any audiophile's time).

Yet another public service from the record loving audiophiles here at Better Records.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Frank Sinatra's albums


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