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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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Chet Atkins - Mister Guitar

  (Item #: atkinmiste_fame) 



A distinguished member of our Unconventional 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!

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Chet Atkins' albums


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Steely Dan - Pretzel Logic

Listening in Depth

  (Item #: steelpretz_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

It’s positively criminal the way this amazingly well-recorded music sounds on the typical LP. And how can you possibly be expected to appreciate the music when it sounds like that?

The reason we audiophiles go through the trouble of owning and tweaking our temperamental equipment is we know how hard it is to appreciate good music which sounds bad. Bad sound is a barrier to understanding and enjoyment, to us audiophiles anyway.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Steely Dan's albums


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Our DOR (Difficulty of Reproduction) Scale

  (Item #: brewedowni_dors) 



We’ve mentioned how difficult some records are to reproduce: how the Revolutions in Audio of the last decade or two have profoundly changed the ability of the seriously dedicated audiophile to get records that never sounded good before to come to life musically in a way previously seen as impossible -- until now.

This is one of those records. But you have to have done your homework if you want to play a record like this, as the commentary below explains.

See more records that rank high up on our Difficulty of Reproduction Scale


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The Grateful Dead - Workingman's Dead

Watch for Strain in Jerry's Voice

  (Item #: grateworki_depth) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

High Time tells you the most about the sound of side one on any given copy. If the pressing in question is lean, bright, grainy, transistory or aggressive in any way, Jerry Garcia's voice will sound strained. Far from a professionally trained singer, he's already straining to some degree on even the best copies.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of The Grateful Dead's albums


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Joni Mitchell Blue

Play The Game, Not the Album

  (Item #: mitchblue_game_2007) 



Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises, one we created all the way back in 2007. If you want to learn more about doing your own shootouts this listing has lots of good advice.

In 2007 we mentioned to our customers that we would not be carrying the new 180 gram Rhino pressing of Blue. We noted:

Since Kevin and Steve are friends of mine I won't belabor its shortcomings. Let's just say I think you can do better.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Joni Mitchell's albums


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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's 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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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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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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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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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 have 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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