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Armstrong, Louis - The Essential Louis Armstrong - Super Hot Stamper (With Issues)

The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.

Super Hot Stamper (With Issues)

Louis Armstrong
The Essential Louis Armstrong

Regular price
$49.99
Regular price
Sale price
$49.99
Unit price
per 
Availability
Sold out

Sonic Grade

Side One:

Side Two:

Vinyl Grade

Side One: Mint Minus to EX++

Side Two: Mint Minus to EX++

  • This vintage Stereo Verve pressing is doing just about everything right, with excellent Double Plus (A++) sound or close to it from start to finish
  • Both of these sides have plenty of Tubey Magic – they’re fuller, more musical and more natural than most others we played (particularly on side one)
  • Take this one home and play it against whatever audiophile pressings you own - it's guaranteed to smoke any and all versions you have in your collection, or your money back
  • Problems in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these vintage LPs - there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
  • 4 stars: "...a definitive look at the Louis Armstrong All-Stars in their later years..."

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We’re always on the lookout for Louis Armstrong records with good sound. In our experience, finding them is not nearly as easy as one might think. Far too many of his recordings are poorly recorded, with sound that simply can’t be taken seriously -- fine for old consoles but not so good on modern audiophile equipment.

We assume most audiophiles got turned on to his music from the records that Classic Records remastered back in the mid-90s. For those of you who were customers of ours back then, you know that I count myself among that group.

Devoting the Resources

Having long ago given up on Heavy Vinyl LPs by Classic and others of their persuasion -- we refer to it as "setting a higher standard" -- these days we are in a much better position to devote our resources to playing every Louis Armstrong album on every pressing we can get our hands on, trying to figure out what are the copies -- from what era, on what label, with what stampers, cut by whom, stereo or mono, import or domestic -- that potentially have the Hot Stamper sound, the very Raison d’être of our business.

We have to play each and every one of the records we’ve cleaned for our shootout anyway, whether we think it’s potentially the best pressing or not. There is no other way to do it. Right Stamper, Wrong Sound is an undeniable reality in the world of the vinyl LP. It’s not unheard of for the same stampers to win a shootout, do moderately well on another copy and then come in dead last on a third.

What the Best Sides of The Essential Louis Armstrong Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1963
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange —- with all the instruments of the band -- especially Louis’ trumpet —- having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information. Strings and brass with get shrill and congested without enough top end air to breathe.

Tube smear is common to most pressings from the 50s and 60s. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich. (Full sound is especially critical to the horns; any blare, leanness or squawk ruins much of the fun, certainly at the loud levels the record should be playing at.)

What We're Listening For On The Essential Louis Armstrong

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren't "back there" somewhere, lost in the mix. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight note-like bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Vinyl Condition

Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)

Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.

If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.

Side One

  • Gotta Be Right To Sing The Blues
  • Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen
  • That Old Feeling
  • Body And Soul

Side Two

  • Let’s Do It
  • When Your Lover Has Gone
  • Blues In The Night

AMG 4 Star Review

Maybe it is not “essential,” but this set is a definitive look at the Louis Armstrong All-Stars in their later years, when Tyree Glenn was on trombone and the group was riding high from the success of “Hello Dolly.” Armstrong’s trumpet solos were briefer and stuck closer to the melody (age was taking its toll), yet were still full of beauty and feeling.