Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
- With KILLER Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound throughout, this mindblowing recording is guaranteed to rock your world
- HUGE, room-filling, hi-definition sound with all the Tubey Magic you could ever hope to hear, and on quiet vinyl to boot!
- Just listen to how clear the clocks are on Time, how breathy the vocals are on Breathe, how textured the synthesizers are and how silky the top end is from the beginning of the album all the way to the end
- A Top 100 album (Top Ten actually) and Demo Disc to rival the most amazing sounding records of all time
- 5 stars: "...what gives the album true power is the subtly textured music... no other record defines [Pink Floyd] quite as well as this one."
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A quick note: the sound on this side two was clearly better than our Triple Plus (A+++) reference copy, making this one of the best sounding sides (if not THE best) that we've ever heard.
The best sounding parts of this record are nothing less than ASTONISHING. Money is the best example I can think of for side two. When you hear the sax player rip into his solo as Money gets rockin', it's almost SCARY! He's blowin' his brains out in a way that has never, in my experience anyway, been captured on a slab of vinyl.
Hearing a killer copy years ago brought to mind exactly why we felt this album ranked as one of the five best Rock Demo Discs to demonstrate the superiority of analog. There is no CD, and there will never be a CD, that sounds as good as the best pressings of this album.
In fact, when you play the other "good sounding" copies, you realize their exceptional sound quality could easily be considered as good as the album could get. But now we know better. This pressing takes Dark Side to places you have never imagined it could go.
To say this is a sonic and musical masterpiece practically without equal in the history of the world is no overstatement. But you have to have a copy with sound like this for that statement to be true.
What Shootout Winning Sides of Dark Side of The Moon 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 1973
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
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.
Take the clocks on Time. There are whirring mechanisms that can be heard deep in the soundstage. On most copies, you can't even tell they are there. Talk about transparency -- I bet you've NEVER heard so many chimes so clearly and cleanly, with such little distortion, as you will on this copy.
One thing that separates the best copies from the merely good ones is super-low-distortion, extended high frequencies. How some copies manage to correctly capture the overtones of all the clocks, while others, often with the same stamper numbers, can barely hint at them, is something no one can explain. But the records do not lie. Believe your own two ears. If you hear it, it's there. If you don't, it's not.
What We're Listening For on Dark Side Of The Moon
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- 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 for the guitars, keyboards and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering -- which ties in with good transient information, as well as 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 players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt -- the legendary Alan Parsons in this case -- would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Size and Space
One of the qualities that we don't talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record's presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small -- they don't extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don't seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.
Other copies -- my notes for these copies often read "BIG and BOLD" -- create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They're not brighter, they're not more aggressive, they're not hyped-up in any way, they're just bigger and clearer.
We often have to go back and downgrade the copies that we were initially impressed with in light of such a standout pressing. Who knew the recording could be that huge, spacious and three dimensional? We sure didn't, not until we played the copy that had those qualities, and that copy might have been number 8 or 9 in the rotation.
Think about it: if you had only seven copies, you might not have ever gotten to hear a copy that sounded that open and clear. And how many even dedicated audiophiles would have more than one of two clean British original copies with which to do a shootout? These records are expensive and hard to come by in good shape. Believe us, we know whereof we speak when it comes to getting hold of original British pressings of Classic Rock albums.
One further point needs to be made: most of the time these very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy do what this copy can, it's an entirely different - and dare I say unforgettable -- listening experience.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage import pressing will play, and since only the right vintage imports 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 domestic vinyl, later 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.
The Track Listing tab above will take you to an extensive song by song breakdown for each side, with plenty of What to Listen For (WTLF) advice.
- Speak To Me
Breathe is my favorite test track for side one for any version of Dark Side Of The Moon: Import, Half-Speed, Heavy Vinyl or otherwise. On this track, when the voices come in about halfway through the song, you can hear that most copies are too bright.
The cymbals might sound wonderful, lots of other instruments might also 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 are bright, aggressive, grainy and transitory. (This is clearly the case with the 2003 180 gram 30th Anniversary pressing I'm sorry to say. It fails this fundamental test badly.)
And of course the tonality can be wrong in the other direction. Oftentimes the voices are muffled and dull, which turns out to be every bit as bothersome as voices that are too bright. Tonality on this record, like most records, is key. It's not the only thing, but it's probably the single most important thing.
- On The Run
There are subtle whirring mechanisms that can be heard deep in the soundstage of the best copies, and we'd be fairly surprised if you've ever heard them before. On most pressings -- even very good ones -- you can hardly tell they are there. And then there are the chimes. Talk about transparency -- the best copies reproduce so many chimes so clearly and cleanly, with such little distortion on this track, you feel as though you have been transported to a world inhabited by nothing but clocks.
As long as the clocks are not bright, what you are hearing is not simplistically reducible to hyped-up audiophile BS detail. It's resolution, the result of having a high-quality, exceptionally transparent pressing playing on a suitably resolving stereo system.
What often separates the ultimate copies from the merely good ones is super-low-distortion, extended high frequencies. How some copies manage to capture the harmonic overtones to the clocks, while others, often with exactly the same stamper numbers, can only hint at them, is something no one has yet explained, not to my satisfaction anyway.
But the records do not lie. Go back and forth with a few copies of your own. If you hear the harmonics each time you go back to your hottest copy, they're real. When you can't hear them on your lesser pressings, that's because those extended highs simply didn't make it onto the vinyl. Then check your stampers; they may be identical.
- The Great Gig In The Sky
On side two Money is the best example of the astonishing musical power found on our best Hot Stamper pressings. When you hear Dick Parry (the sax player) rip into his solo as Money gets rockin' it's almost SCARY! He's blowin' his brains out in a way that has never, in my experience anyway, been captured better on a piece of plastic.
After hearing a White Hot import a few years back I recalled exactly why I thought Dark Side should rank as one of the five best Rock Demo Discs ever made to show the power of analog. There is no CD -- and there never will be a CD -- that can hold a candle to our best Hot Stampers. Of that I have no doubt.
- Us And Them
- Any Colour You Like
- Brain Damage
AMG 5 Star Rave Review
By condensing the sonic explorations of Meddle to actual songs and adding a lush, immaculate production to their trippiest instrumental sections, Pink Floyd inadvertently designed their commercial breakthrough with Dark Side of the Moon. The primary revelation of Dark Side of the Moon is what a little focus does for the band. Roger Waters wrote a series of songs about mundane, everyday details which aren't that impressive by themselves, but when given the sonic backdrop of Floyd's slow, atmospheric soundscapes and carefully placed sound effects, they achieve an emotional resonance.
But what gives the album true power is the subtly textured music, which evolves from ponderous, neo-psychedelic art rock to jazz fusion and blues-rock before turning back to psychedelia. It's dense with detail, but leisurely paced, creating its own dark, haunting world. Pink Floyd may have better albums than Dark Side of the Moon, but no other record defines them quite as well as this one.