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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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Tchaicovsky / Swan Lake / Grossman

  (Item #: tchaiswanl_wh_fame) 

A distinguished member of our Unconventional Hall of Fame.

This budget Whitehall pressing is one of the most incredible SLEEPERS in the entire classical catalog, with SUPERB sound as well as performances of the highest quality from the Vienna Festival Orchestra. The sound is big and bold, spacious, open and sweet in the best golden age tradition. Superior pressings of this recording would give all but the best Shaded Dogs, Londons and Mercs a serious run for their money, beating most of them handily. Yes, it's that good. The string tone and rosiny texture on side two are especially noteworthy.

See more commentaries as well as all of our large orchestral recordings in stock

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Conversation of the Week (2008)

... they seemed to be incredulous! ...

  (Item #: Schopenhauer) 

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident."

Arthur Schopenhauer

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Spirit - Spirit

  (Item #: spirispiri_fame) 

A distinguished member of our Unconventional Hall of Fame.

We love this album around here, and on a White Hot copy like this the sound is amazing! Presence and clarity up top, weight and punch down low, and plenty of Tubey Magic in the middle -- this copy gives you everything you need! If you're a fan of guitar-driven psychedelic rock, this album is right up there with the best of the genre.

See more of our Psych albums in stock

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Sergio Mendes - Look Around

Then Listen for the Huge Room on Roda

  (Item #: mendelooka_listen_2014) 

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

If you have a good copy of Look Around and a high-rez stereo/room and want to have some fun, play the second track on side one, Roda. In the left channel there is some double-tracked clapping (or two people, how could you tell the difference?) in a HUGE room. Actually although it sounds like a huge room it's probably a normal sized room with lots of reverb added. Either way it sounds awesome.

These hand claps drive the energy and rhythm of the song, and they are so well recorded you will think the back wall of your listening room just collapsed behind the left speaker. On the truly transparent copies the echo goes WAY back.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Sergio Mendes's albums

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Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

The Earliest Stampers Sound the Best, Right?

  (Item #: john_goodb_myth) 

Nope. It’s just another Record Myth.

We had a White Hot stamper listing a while back with these comments featured prominently in the description:

This is BY FAR the best sounding Goodbye Yellow Brick Road to ever hit the site, and BY FAR the best sounding copy we have ever played here at Better Records. And for those of you who think that the early stampers must be the best, note that this killer copy had no side with a stamper under three. How about them apples? As we like to say, screw all that Platonic thinking; we find the empirical approach of playing the records works a whole lot better, thank you very much.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

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The Band - The Band

Capitol Records Debunked

  (Item #: band_band_capitol_debunk) 

Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame Pressing and another Heavy Vinyl LP debunked.

Flat, compressed, no top end, no Tubey Magic, this is Ron McMaster’s work at its worst, helped along by the fact that he does not have the original master tape or even a copy of it to work with, but instead the new remix that was made a few years back because the original tape had been lost. And somehow reviewers like it!

See all of our The Band albums in stock

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Cat Stevens - Teaser & The Firecat

Overview of the Reissues

  (Item #: stevetease_reissues_2014) 

It is my contention that there is no audiophile pressing on the face of the Earth that can compete with the best sounding originals of Teaser and the Firecat. Of ANY music. The best copies of Teaser have a sound I have never experienced with any modern-mastered record. There is a magic in its grooves that may simply be impossible to capture with the cutting equipment currently in use. Perhaps one day I'll be proven wrong, but that day is clearly not yet upon us.
See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Teaser and the Firecat

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Sonny Rollins Plus 4

Hello Hello Hello...

Is There Anybody Out There?

  (Item #: rolliplus4_2014) 

We recently awarded the 45 RPM 2 LP pressing of this album a Sonic Grade of F . But that's not enough -- I'm not letting it off that easy!

I cannot recall hearing a more ridiculously thick, opaque and unnatural sounding audiophile record in my life, and I've heard a ton of them. It reminds me of the turgid muck that Doug Sax was cutting for Analogue Productions back in the '90s. The CD of this album has to sound better than this. There's no way it could sound worse.

See all of our Sonny Rollins albums in stock

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Dirty Little Secrets of the Record Biz, Part 2

Master Tape? Yeah, Right

  (Item #: nevermind_2_tapes) 

Let me ask you one question. If so many of the current labels making 180 gram reissues are using the real master tapes -- the real two-track stereo masters, not dubs, not cutting masters, not high-resolution digital copies, but the real thing -- then why do so many of their records sound so bad?

If you're honest you'll say "I Don't Know..." because, and here I want you to trust me on this, you don't know. I don't know either. Nobody does.

Records are mysterious. Their mysteries are many and deep. If you don't know that you clearly haven't spent much time with them, or don't have a very revealing stereo, or don't listen critically, or something else, god knows what. They're mysterious; that's just a fact.

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The Beatles Heavy Vinyl Sgt. Pepper’s

Well, I Guess If You Don't Know Any Better...

  (Item #: beatlsgtpe_180_debunk) 

Sonic Grade: D

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers.

You might agree with some reviewers that EMI's engineers did a pretty good job with the new Pepper. In the March 2013 issue of Stereophile Art Dudley weighed in, finding little to fault on this title but being less impressed with most of the others in the new box set. His reference disc? The MoFi UHQR! Oh, and he also has some old mono pressings and a domestic Let It Be. Now there's a man who knows his Beatles. Fanatical? Who wouldn't be? We're talkin' The Beatles for Christ's sake.

See other commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Sgt. Pepper

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The Beatles - Let It Be

Heavy Vinyl Debunked

  (Item #: beatlletit_180_debunk) 

Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Pressing and another Heavy Vinyl LP debunked.

At the end of a recent shootout for Let It Be (June 2014) we decided to see how the 2012 Digitally Remastered Heavy Vinyl pressing would acquit itself up against the 12 (yes, twelve!) British copies we had just spent hours critically auditioning.

See other commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Let It Be

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Turning Skeptics into Believers

One Record at a Time

  (Item #: skeptic_2014) 

We recently received this letter from a fellow on our email list who finds our prices for vinyl curious, and which he considers a bygone technology at this point in time. Can’t say I agree with that assessment. It sure would be nice to demonstrate for him how much better records sound than the supposedly superior technologies that have -- for most people, perhaps even for this gentleman -- replaced them.

Wait, there is a way! A Hot Stamper, 100% Guaranteed to Satisfy or Your Money Back. One click is all it takes. Which is pretty much what I said in my reply to his letter below.

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Confirmation Bias

Why You Won’t Hear What You Don’t Want to Hear

  (Item #: loggisitti_bias) 

After doing our first shootout for this album a few years back I can honestly say I had never heard this music sound remotely as good as it did on the best Hot Stamper pressings. More importantly, from an audiophile point of view, I can honestly say that I never imagined it could sound as good as I was hearing it. The sound was just OUT OF THIS WORLD.

It’s why we link the Revolutionary Changes in Audio commentary to so many of our Hot Stamper listings. The revolutionary changes we discuss are precisely what make it possible for any audiophile (this means you) to hear better sound than you ever imagined for all your favorite albums.

All you have to do is do all the stuff we do.

See all our L&M albums in stock

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Lincoln Mayorga and Distinguished Colleagues

Implore You to Turn Up Your Volume

  (Item #: mayorlinco_loud_2014) 

S9 is hands down the best example of a recording that truly comes to life when you Turn Up Your Volume.

There's not much ambience to be found in their somewhat dead sounding studio, and very little high frequency boost to any instrument in the soundfield, which means at moderate levels this record sounds flat and lifeless. (You could say it has that in common with most Heavy Vinyl pressings these days, if you wanted to take a cheap shot at those records, which, to be honest, I don't mind doing. They suck; why pretend otherwise?)

See all of our Direct to Disc recordings in stock

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Joni Mitchell - Blue

Rhino / Warners Reviewed

  (Item #: mitchblue_debunk_2014) 

Sonic Grade: B-

In March of 2007 we remarked that we would not be carrying the new 180 gram Rhino pressing of Blue. We noted at the time:

Since Kevin and Steve are [erstwhile] friends of mine I won’t belabor its shortcomings. Let’s just say I think you can do better.
See all of our Joni Mitchell albums in stock

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Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon

... TRULY one of those rare experiences...

  (Item #: pinkfdarks_testimonial_2014) 

Dan, our letter writer, is a new convert to the world of Hot Stampers. Although his system is modest by his own admission, the sound he was able to conjure up in his living room was "...a revelation..."

A good Dark Side can have that effect on you.

See all of our Dark Side of the Moon Hot Stamper LPs as well as reviews of other pressings of the album

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