lps sound bad

I am finally listening to lps after going perhaps 20 years without, due to a recent (about 3 months) investment into a vinyl rig. I'm absolutely bummed that perhaps 30 to 40% of my collection really isn't worth playing due to sonic considerations.

I have an aproximate 2,000 lp collection, nearly all are new album, record show, or garage sale purchases dating from the early 70's thru the mid 80's. These are mostly all very well preserved, with minimal wear, dust pops, scratches etc. My problem is not with the shape or cleanliness of the records (they have been hand cleaned in accordance with 'expert' advice, then cleaned again in a VPI 16.5). Nor are they mistracked, none of that inner groove distortion.

It is also not a setup issue, cartridge setup is absolutely correct, and every other parameter of setup, from the wall shelves/isolation to power cords and ICs has had careful attention.

My issue is in the mastering and/or pressing of the lps. This 30 to 40% have issues, mostly with small soundstaging and/or lack of frequency extension, especially in the bass. They simply sound small scale and lightweight, like mid-fi to me. The other 60 to 70% of my collection sound relatively huge in comparison, large, airy soundstaging, transparent, dynamic, especially the micro dynamics.

Now, the vast majority of the 30 to 40% that sound small scale are what I believe to be, original pressings of 70's rock music. The rest, mostly 50's and 60's recordings from a huge variety of genres, sound wonderful, mostly way better than my digital.

I suspect what I'm hearing is excessive compression due to poor mastering and/or pressing. At this point I'm not sure whether the main culprit is mastering or pressings. As I previously mentioned, most of these recordings were purchased in the early 70's to mid 80's, thus, I believe they are original pressings, which leaves mastering as the culprit. On the other hand, I have digital remasters of a number of these rock recording, a small number sound larger scale than their lp counterparts, which leads me to suspect pressings in some cases.

From this, I extrapolate that mastering is the culprit in most cases. Furthermore, I believe the bad sounding lps sound bad because of solid state recording studio equipment. My 50's and 60's recordings nearly all sound big, large scale, some may not have the greatest frequency extension, especially in the highs, but they all are tonally and dimensionally full, some luciously so, in the midrange. These recordings come from the heyday of tube equipment, both in the recording studio and home audio.

I should add, I'm not trying to make a case of solid state recording studios being the sole culprit here, as a small percentage of my 70's rock recordings sound large scale and satisfying. Rather I think it is solid state done on the cheap, and with bad ears on the part of the producers and engineers that is at fault. The late 60's and early 70's had more than it's fair share of crappy solid state, and most producers and engineers didn't know the first thing about quality sound (as remains the case).

Still, it seems the 50's and 60's producers and engineers could do less harm to the sound, the tube recording equipment always had the relatively voluptuous midrange. And perhaps the tube home audio of the day let them hear at least a semblance of quality, so they tried to replicate that sound in the studio.

As things stand, I'm somewhat disappointed in vinyl at this point. I was hoping these 70's rock recordings would sound much better than their cd counterparts (remastered or not). 30 to 40% of my collection is basically throw away at this point, I don't care to go through all the hassles inherent in the playing of records that sound only as good or worse than their digital counterparts.

I'm now getting the itch to buy lps new, I'm just wondering if the newly minted rock lps of classic rock are worth buying. It seems the digital remasters I have are only marginally better, in most cases, over older digital pressings. I suspect the same will hold true for vinyl, the new remasters will only sound marginally better than my original pressings.

At this point, I'm basically writing off classic rock recordings on lp. While I know classic rock can sound good on lp, the small number of exceptions I've experienced leave me highly skeptical. Future purchases will be mostly limited to recordings (of all genres) prior to the 70's. Future classic rock purchases will be mostly in digital form, for any lp purchases I will have to rely on thumbs up by reviewers I trust. Contemporary recordings are problematic as well, sound quality is all over the place in the digital recording studios, it seems to be a crapshoot, have to rely on reviewers here as well.

Vinyl setup:
VPI Scoutmaster
JMW 10.5i tonearm
Dynavector 20XL
Cayin Phono-One
Wow...this really sounds like the antithesis of what I hear. I just played the SACD version of Dark Side of the Moon, and then played the original vinyl version. They both have huge soundstages...yes they sound different...but I have to say that the LP sound is the preferable one. The LP has a deeper and wider soundstage, although you have to A/B them to really hear the differences. I suspect that your displeasure can be mitigated...somehow. Check your cartridge setup still again.
There is a great deal of variation in recording quality brought on by when and how they are pressed. Some classic rock labels are famous for issuing dead wax in droves: ABC, RCA, to name a few. You can have thirty copies of an old record and they will all sound differently--some more alive and some dead. Same master tape--different stampers and pressings. You can grade them like comic books, mint to poor.

Some retailers are exploiting this--check out Tom Port of Better Records--his website specializes in pre-listened "better sounding" records that have been properly cleaned and have good sonic detail. It is a short cut, most of the popular titles are pricey, but you can always find some nuggets there. I picked up a nice Stevie Wonder record for about $40. Much better than the bad remasters out there.

PS: He believes that only 10% of his inventory merits his top ratings, so your percentage of "good finds" is pretty good.
Records are like any other media. Some pressings are excellent and some really stink. If they all sounded great we'd never have gone digital in the first place.
I too, returned to vinyl to see what all the fuss is about. You've hit upon the one major stumbling block in the listening aspect of vinyl. Recording (mastering and pressing), is all over the map, soundwise. It is disappointing, though things are better now that my set-up is so finely tuned. Older classical and jazz recordings generally do sound better than 70's rock recordings, as you stated.
Buying LP's is a crap-shoot, I wonder if there is a forum out there that would provide guidance for what's good, and what to avoid. Any ideas, folks?
Thanks, and regards,
Dan (and Sns)
Screw it. Sell your collection to me for 10 cents on the dollar.

Yeah, they'll sound just as crappy after I get them. Just keep telling yourself that. ;-)
I rejuvenated my vinyl rig 9 months ago and have had some of the same issues, but I'm not sure to that extent. I mostly listen to classcal and some jazz. Quite a bit of the classical sounds terrific, whether old pressings or new. (Although some of the new ones, like the RCA's on Classic Records, are spotty. But Speakers Corner has been great, as has Analogue Productions.)

I must confess that, of the few rock/pop Lps I've played, I've tended to feel somewhat ambivalent, and for that reason haven't made much effort to experiment in that direction. Stringreen, though, makes a point. You would probably find it worth your time to listen to some other vinyl rigs and see if you like their sound better (especially in the cartridge and phono-pre department). I'm using a Linn LP12, Koetsu Black, and EAR 834P w/ Mullards. As you might expect, it produces a fairly warm and friendly presentation. I've heard some other phono set ups that sounded, frankly, really unpleasant to me...very etched in detail, cold, etc.--for my taste, at least. (I'm thinking of Lyra cartridges through Sutherland phono-pre, in one instance...although who knows, maybe it wasn't set up right.)
Are any of you saying that you do not have these very same issues with digital media?
Exactly. I wish only 30 percent of my cds sounded bad.
Stingreen, you mention Dark Side of The Moon. Yes, Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, earlier Elton John, my Traffic albums, early and late Fleetwood Mac, some Fairport Convention, and some others sound pretty damn good. Examples of crap sounding albums include Guess Who-Canned Wheat, Doors-first album, Doobie Bros-The Captain and Me, Fever Tree, Roxy Music-Country Life, Genesis-Wind and Withering, Selling England By the Pound-not quite as bad, Eagles-On the Border-so,so, Three Dog Night-Joy to the World, Rod Stewart-several albums, Procol Harum-Something Magic, Pete Townshend-Chinese Eyes, Who-Who's Next, Beatles-nearly all sound lousy, Emerson Lake & Palmer-nearly all pretty damn lousy, Badfinger-Magic Christian Music, I could go on and on.

Stingreen, Eweedhome, I highly doubt any rig could make these turds sound good. These recordings simply lack any sense of scale, I could get a much more bloomy, romantic setup, and I suppose I could pretty them up a bit, but they still would have no micro-dynamics, dimensionality and sense of scale. There comes a point where you simply have to blame the recording!

I was previously running a highly modded Thorens TD160 with a modded Rega arm with Sumiko Blue Point Special, later with the Dynavector, this setup obscured enough detail that the turd recordings were more bearable, but still..... I don't consider my present VPI setup to be in the least analytical, it sounds very musical with good recordings, the 10.5i arm really helped in the refinement dept, along with a fuller tonal balance. I previously had a 9.5 arm with both Valhalla and Discovery cabled tonearms, the Valhalla is definitely a bit more analytical, but the payoff on well recorded albums is well worth it. I'm considering getting a spare 10.5i tonearm custom wired with Cardas, this may help on the mediocre albums. The Cayin phono pre is also on the warm side, likely very similar sounding to the EAR 834, it also uses the 12ax7's. I've been planning on getting some Mullards to replace the present Sovteks, should warm up things further.

Bongofury, I think Better Records may have higher standards than I, my ratio of good to bad is probably something like 20-30% good, perhaps up to 50% listenable, the rest, forget it.

Grimace and Islandmandan, I never expected all vinyl to sound good. I could hear the turds even back when I was running very mediocre vinyl setups. And yes, a forum devoted to classic rock sonic values would be nice. As it is, you have to seek out reviewers you trust for this information.
Viridian, I have the same issues with digital. Its just that with all the hoopola surrounding vinyl I expected more, unmet expectations are a real letdown!

I also expect that if we were to hear the original master tapes of many of these recordings we would be pleasantly surprised. Who knows how many of my 'original' recordings are 2nd, 3rd, who knows, pressings and/or from 2nd,3rd, or whatever generation masters. The fact that some of my remastered cds sound better than the 'original' vinyl counterparts bears this out.

The damn record companies never much cared about sonic values, and still don't. Can you imagine a world where record companies would re-release these albums, using 1st generation masters with limited pressings. These aftermarket companies selling new/old recordings may or may not be using 1st generation masters, and who knows how many pressings they go with. I suspect some of these record companies lend out later generation masters to these companies, they may not want them using the original master and/or not even know where the hell those masters are.
if you think for example the beatles sound bad on vinyl than maybe the problem is your phonostage, amp, speakers, and/or listening room setup.
sorry gotta take some issue: Yes? I'm a YES FAN since the 70's but overall recording quality SUCKS. The best sounding Yes LP's? UK pressed "The Yes Album", "Topographic.." and "Going for the One" Worst? the U.S. pressed "Close to the Edge" and "Fragile" The only listenable "Close.." is the MFSL. Genesis? "Selling England" is their best sounding record!(must have either UK original or Virgin Vinyl 1/2 speed Japan limited edition) Listen up: I LOVE Traffic but LP sound quality? really not that hot except for "Barleycorn" original UK pressed Island label. Eagles? "Border" on U.S. pressing is almost unlistenable - hashy, harsh, distorted. Eagles 1st and "One of these nights" are better. Steely Dan? I'm a BIG FAN and overlook pressing problems but really until "Aja" or "Royal Scam" some could argue these belong in your "turd" category. Elton John? I gotta say this - My Nautilus 1/2 speed Greatest Hits, "Don't let the Sun.." is IMHO a really stunning moment in pop music AND sound quality excels. o.k. fire away...
Like many have said, Tom Port at http://www.dccblowout.com is worth looking into. The website is a valuable resource for learning and research. He has sold me hundreds of records over the last 5 or 6 years. They are expensive now, but well worth it. He finds pressings with bad reputations that will blow your socks off. Sns, an example- Who's Next, a shoddily recorded record right? I have a UK Track pressing Tom sold me that will shock you. I have 7 or 8 other Who’s Next pressings (including the Classic pressing) on the shelf – there is no comparison. Or, the whole Steely Dan Catalog, and so on. Read some of Tom's commentary, he is entertaining as he rants on about his quest for great sound.
Part two: on the subject of crappy records:
Weather Report.
I'm a huge fan but having to put up with the "turd" effect of some recordings.
Bad ones:
I Sing the Body Electric, Mysterious Traveler, 1st one. After searching out pressings on Mysterious Traveler on U.K., Holland, Japan pressings, best one is the Holland pressing. But sound still sucks.
Best ones:
Heavy Weather (of course)
Black Market
Mr. Gone (I know most folks don't like this one)
I have found overall, that Columbia titles sound best on Holland pressings.
Anyone else?
Sns, thanks for your candid answer. I have missed the hoopla, as I never left vinyl and was quite slow to adopt digital media. Your suspicions are correct. Many records have been produced using safety masters, several generations removed from the master tapes. That is why, as a very broad generalization, pressings from the country where the band recorded are often best. Precious masters generally would not be sent around the world so that other countries could have the highest quality pressings; the risks were too great.

It is a shame that now, when such nice remasterings are being done by great companies like Music Matters, the master tapes for many recordings have degraded beyond help due to poor storage and the passage of time.
Xiekitchen, I never said anything about Yes albums, not even sure I own any, do have remasters on cd, not that bad.
I also agree that Selling England sounds much better than Wind and Wuthering. I still stand by my first Traffic album sounding pretty damn good, Mr. Fantasy not so good.
I stand corrected on the Eagles-On the Border, now recall, I agree, it sounds absolutely terrible. Aja and Royal Scam are the two I'm talking about that sound good. The first Elton John album, and Tumbleweed Connection sound great, Yellow Brick road sucks. I stand by my opinion of Beatles albums, White Album is terrible, Sgt. Peppers-mediocre at best, I have two different pressings, Abbey Road-mediocre at best, I have two different pressings, Let It Be-the best sounding Beatles I have, pretty damn good. Also, McCartney's first solo sounds good.

In speaking about individual albums we all need to keep in mind we may have different pressings.
Sns -
You're right about the White Album - fun stuff, but it sounds like it was recorded in someone's garage on a 4 track. plus no treble over 12K.
Sorry, but isn't Mr. Fantasy Traffic's 1st album?
I Love the MFSL pressing of "Low Spark" but really it still isn't great recording. overloads and distortions.
Sometimes...it's simply the performance and the music.
I think this may be a VTA issue. Lack of bass suggests your tonearm is too high.

The older recordings from the 50's and 60's were on heavier vinyl. If they sound good but the thinner vinyl does not, try lowering your tonearm for the newer stuff.

If VTA adjustment is a hassle or not doable on your rig, try cutting out some LP shaped pieces from vinyl inner sleeves and stacking them under your newer thinner LP's. The same effect as lowering your tonearm, You'll probably need a clamp for this to work. You may need multiple shims too. Try adding them one at a time and see if you can notice the difference.
Wow! I have the same TT and cartridge with the sig 9 arm. My phono pre is tubed as well and one I highly recommend. that said, I have the exact opposite experience. My TT most always beats cd hands down. I have a lot of MFSL cd's and they come close, but still the TT is preferable.

That said, I think there is something askew in your system. Some sort of imbalance. FWIW, I recently bought a Benz Woody cart which I had the same problem that you are having. Some albums sounded great. Some terrible. Long story short, the cart was defective.

You are right about mastering. There are some that definitely do a better job. Robt Ludwig comes to mind for classic rock. I have also found that many remasters ie Columbia Mastersound & Nautilus have left me somewhat cold. Are they better? Yes, but not by much. I've had more luck finding a better standard pressing. I've had hit & miss with Classic, MFSL and A&M Audiophile. But there again, I think it comes down to knowing the good masters & what they mastered and then finding it.

But even with all that said, I have very few unlistenable albums out of 3000. Most of them are standard pressings with only a handful of "audiophile" pressings
Artemus, I am not saying cds sound better than vinyl, I agree, lps generally sound better than cds. However, the fact that some of my remastered cds sound better than my 'original' lp recordings is evidence these particular lps sound like crap.

Some audiogoners seem to be arguing that all lps sound good, blaming my system or the music only obscures the fact that some lps sound like crap. I don't find this hard to believe, what human invention, system, etc. has ever proven to be perfect.

I also think it is a disservice to potential vinyl initiates to propogate the idea all vinyl is wonderful sounding. Future analog adapters should know up front there is bad sounding vinyl so they don't suffer a big letdown. I'm sure there are some who've tried vinyl, heard the same bad lps, and decided it wasn't for them. Believing that all lps are supposed to sound good, then hearing something else is a sure way to lose future analog devotees.

I am lucky to own aprox. 2,000 lps up front, I've been able to hear the wonders of analog with my good sounding lps. If I only had a limited number of lps starting out, and heard a relatively high percentage sound bad, I might be out of analog in a minute.
Viiu and others, to reiterate, while I am new to vinyl, I am not a dummy. I electronically set azimuth, I have all the tools to perfectly adjust cartridge on tonearm, I know all about VTA, VTF, compliance, cutting head angles, cartridge specs, tonearm specs, etc. etc. ad nauseum......I also know about system synergy, blah, blah, blah......

All these technicalities are not the issue at hand, poorly mastered and pressed lps are the issue. Can Don at Better Records be that wrong, he claims only 10% of classic rock lps meet his criteria. Either his criteria is way off, his system sucks, or his hearing is anything but golden. I doubt any of those issues are the problem, I suspect he and his customers hear exactly what I hear.

What I would like, is to hear someone's system where every lp sounds good. I would also like to bring over my bad sounding lps and hear them sound wonderful on their system. Upon hearing this, I would declare all lps sound wonderful!

I live in Michigan, if anyone near cares to take me up on my offer, send me an email, I would love to hear my bad lps sound wonderful!
SNS...this may come as a shock, but the sound quality of all software is(and always was) all over the place. if the records don't sound like you remember them sounding, thats as much a 'twenty year older you', as anything. some of my favorite albums are sonic crap, but it don't care...they are classics, and are enjoyed on an purely emotional level..not one where my equipment is even a consideration. i have to believe you where a music lover before you were an audiophile. being one who loves music and becoming an audiophile can be for some, akin to loving cows and buying a slaughterhouse. choosing a new air guitar might help.
Sorry, meant Tom at Better Records, not Don.
ps..the loch ness monster, big foot, the jersey devil, hot stampers
There are some real dogs in both CD and vinyl, there is no guarantee... Take a REALLY good LP and CD and compare that you know have the goods, then you will mostly hear superiority of the format, but there are bad ones, and there are many... Nothing is super consistent in this industry.
Sns, I am sorry you are having the problems. Its been long said that analog is not for everyone. Its a labor of love. Maybe all the labor is clouding your ability to enjoy it or maybe you just came in with expectations which were far above reality. I can only tell you of my experience and it is not the same as yours. I have probably 125 MFSL cds. None of them sound better than their vinyl counterpart. Some sound as good. But it is a minority. Some cd's sound as good as any vinyl I have. Steely Dan's "Two Against Nature" comes to mind but I don't have the vinyl and really can't imagine it sounding better. When i first started back in vinyl there more more records that sounded worse than their cd counterpart. But as i have moved up the equipment ladder than number has greatly diminished. Yes, i have some vinyl I put up with. It's not great. But I put on the cd & its as bad or worse. Sound quality is all over the map, but maybe I'm used to it. I wish all of my albums sounded great but they don't.
And FWIW better records specializes in "Hot Stampers" not Hot Masters. I have mixed emotions bout these but I haven't tried one to know so I'll reserve judgement. I once thought I had a hot stamper "Brothers In Arms" Turns out that after some investigation I found out it was mastered by Robt Ludwig. It made an original pressing look bland and sterile in comparison.
I don't think you are dumb or whatever. It's just that your experience does not match mine nor many others. But I have seen some who just didn't like vinyl. maybe you are one of them. i don't know. i hope you the best in your quest.
No, I'm not saying I'm unhappy with vinyl per se, I am only unhappy with a certain number of classic rock lps. I love the sound on my 50's, vast majority of 60's and even some classic rock lps.

Yes, I probably do have higher expectations of vinyl than digital, thus, I am more bothered by sonic issues on lp vs. digital. And I'm sure some of my disappointment comes from a purely emotional reaction. I did grow up with this music, and always had the dream (now delusion) that it would sound better with a better system.

I also grew up listening to this music on what we would now think of as a highly romanticized system. Dynaco tube amps, pre, speakers, linn tt with ortofon cartridges. But even with this, I could hear the dogs, so I always knew they were there.

I know I will never be able to listen to the crap sounding albums in my system, and it doesn't bother me one bit to say that. I have plenty of good albums to listen to, and tons left to hear in my collection. I also love plenty of other music genres and other eras of music, finally there is always Better records and others selling good sounding classic rock lps. No, I have no problem with not playing crap sounding records.

And finally, it may seem odd to some of you, but I can take crap sound much more easily on my digital. Probably something about diminished expectation, psychological claptrap. Whatever, it works for me. I have tons of prog rock, classic rock, garage rock, and just plain way obscure music on digital I enjoy immensely. I am a music lover, first and foremost, its just that I have higher expectations with vinyl.

Perhaps I listen with a more jaundiced ear to vinyl, but when I hear good vinyl, I think to myself, why do I need to hear junk vinyl. In the end, I guess its all about perception (isn't it always), some see it like me, others can't figure it out.

To me, vinyl is where I can merge the analytical and music lover sides of me, quality sonics is required for this sort of listening. Listening to digital appeals only to the music lover side of me, I can turn off my analytical side and simply enjoy the music. The less work digital requires also plays into this, up to 80 minutes of uninterrupted music can be nirvanna for me, especially with the more conceptual works.
if i look at a record and there is more than your normal amount of music on each side "most of the time" it will lack bass and sound condensed the same for greatest hits and reissue because it seems that with each pressing the music get further away.
i also had the record dealer on carmine st in new york tell me that Beatles records often have what he called brittle vinyl.
i bought new issues of rubber soul and revolver and even though they sounded clear something was off.
thats when i read in fine print it was digitally remastered.-
why do i want a CD on vinyl?
that defeats the purpose.
Not that you seem to interested in anyone's suggestions but I might offer that you would want to consider a better cartridge. You have a good one, but even the next step up in the Dynavector line is substantial. As one other poster mentioned he felt he heard the same problems you are hearing and it was the cart that was the problem. It seems like your opinion is in the minority here and maybe you should take a few of those records that sound so bad over to someone elses system and see if perhaps you have a problem in yours before you close the book on this.
As things stand, I'm somewhat disappointed in vinyl at this point. I was hoping these 70's rock recordings would sound much better than their cd counterparts (remastered or not). 30 to 40% of my collection is basically throw away at this point.
I started listening to LPs in the early '60s, and by the early '70s I had my first "real" stereo and by 1975-6 I was working in home audio shops. So I'm really familiar with the evolution of LPs through this period and the sound of mass market rock records in the mid-'70s.

The mid-'70s pop/rock records are probably some of the worst-sounding, the most compressed, and sometimes indifferently mastered. It was also the era of the worst vinyl when the first "gas crisis" enticed the record companies to use recycled vinyl to make new records. It was at the peak of the suits running the record lables as pure money machines.

This period only lasted a few years, and there are also many good-sounding LPs from this period. Outstanding examples include Supertramp and Steely Dan. It wasn't long before "virgin vinyl" became a big selling point for new records, and the LPs of the late '70s and '80s sounded great, such as The Cars, The Police, Men At Work, Huey Lewis, etc.

Even at that, however, I generally much prefer any pop/rock LP from the '70s over its CD counterpart.

What are some examples of bad-sounding classic rock you have trouble with?
Ejlif, what gives you the idea I'm not listening to other's suggestions? I am treating all ideas as credible, I simply hold fast to the idea that some lps sound like crap, it seems as if some refuse to acknowledge that.

Some have posted they can get past the poor sonics on some lps and live with it. I can totally understand that, I do the same with digital. On the other hand, some seem to trying to tell me that I shouldn't have bad sounding lps, there must be something wrong with my system or something. This, I don't get! Does every lp sound good in their system? If they do, I would surely like to hear their system, perhaps I can become enlightened.

I am simply defending my listening preferences, I do not wish to hear bad sounding lps. Take a worse case scenario, even if 40% of my records are unlistenable for me, 40% of 2,000 is 800, that still leaves me with 1,200 I can truly enjoy. I also doubt that 40% can be extrapolated to my entire collection, as I've purposely played the most suspect albums early on in this process.

Johnnyb, you agree with me there are many bad recordings from that era, thank you. This goes along with exactly what I've been saying all along. A certain percentage of classic rock era lps sound like crap. As to what percentage, that is still an open book.

Johnnyb, I mentioned in previous posts the offending lps. Just off the top of my head, I can add Eagles-Hotel California, one of the worst ever, Fairport Convention-Rising For the Moon, Bee Gees-2 Years On, one of the worst ever, Alice Cooper-Love it do Death, crapola.

The only real argument people should have with me is, my inability to listen to this stuff on vinyl, when I can on digital. Again, this is simply about perception, for psychogical reasons I can accept less on digital.

A recent post mentioned that every post about digital vs. vinyl turns into a war. I sort of feel like I'm in the middle of that war right now. I'm on both sides, I like digital for what it is, and analog for the best it can be, what's wrong with that?

I'm not being pedantic, I simply admit I can't listen to lousy vinyl. If saying some classic rock era lps sound like crap is being pedantic, then I guess I'm guilty on all counts.
If Rock was the only music that I listened to, I would not of spent a fraction of what I have spent on a system.

There are many reasons why most rock recordings are terrible.

However there are some exceptions that do stand out.

Someone in this thread mentioned a company, Better Records.
Better Records .com. I checked it out.

What he does for a on line business I have gone that route myself picking up several early or first release copies of a favorite band just to find the one to own.
Preferably recordings of country of origin.

Most recent example.
Last year while in Ireland I found a gem of an Lp, Pink Floyds Mettle, excellent condition cover and vinyl.

A very early release. The recording is miles ahead of any North American releases. Very enjoyable!

Though over the years I probably bought this particular Lp more then a dozen times, British ,German and North American releases. This is what it takes if you want that one Rock Lp.

1950s and 1960s vintage vinyl in Jazz , Classical and Folk is an entirely different story when it comes to exceptionally well recorded music.

And yes ,many of the new non rock reissues of today are exceptional.
Music Matters Blue Notes ,Speakers Corner and Cisco just to name a few.
I listen to 90% vinyl and 10% digital. And yes, I agree, there are many poorly recorded rock Lps. The guys in the recording booths were most likely just as stoned as the musicians and had no clue, or didn't care.
If I can't find a good rock LP, then the digital remains as background music because the vinyl sucks. Take many of Cream recordings, I have about 4 Disreali Gears and the japanese pressing is VG+. But the others are late pressings and they just don't have the warmth and bloom (yes, Claptons guitar and Jacks voice can sound warm).
Some old Animal LPs are horrid, but I do have a couple which are excellent- bass is articulate and engaging which provides the anchor to some great song writing and musicianship.
I tend to play a whole bunch more Jazz and Classical on my vinyl rig because they are better recordings, where the engineers tried to capture the music, not merely raising levers in the studio.
But overall, vinyl rules. No doubt.
That said, I have some excellent CDs which move me- mostly Jazz remasters.
For what it's worth, the one piece I question is your choice of phono preamp.
Also, get together with your audio friends and take your crappy records and your good records just to compare and see if you are hearing the same things.
Generally, I agree with you. 40 percent crap is about right. But these purchases were likely made before you started down this crazy path called audionervosa!
Thank you, Stiltskin. Yes, I could add my Pink Floyd's Meddle pressing to the stinker list. I've heard the British pressings of classic rock are offen superior to the US versions.

I also find jazz, classical and folk from that era sounds excellent, not one has been a bummer so far. I've also enjoyed my easy listening and country lps from that era. None of this stuff has that overly compressed sound, micro dynamics are intact, and sense of scale is nice, sounds much more like humans making music to me.

I will have to try out some of my newer acquisitions in the coming weeks. I have lots of stuff from the 80's I haven't played yet, also have some more recent remasters I have yet to play.
Well, I was there in the late 1950s, all of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s and I'm here to say the 1970s and '80s Lps were generally terrible for most pop and rock and much jazz. I jumped at D2D, half-speed masters, etc., etc. in some hopes of beating the status quo. Lot's of classical even sucked, with bad pressing made from too-tired mothers.

What I do with that part of my collection is not listen to it. I'm amazed at all the people talking about the treasures they're finding on Craigslist,garage sells, etc. I had a chance to buy that stuff new and it was mostly crap back then.

So, most remasters are better, whether they're CD, SACD or vinyl. If things sounded better in the 1970s, it was because our systems weren't as good.

I think it's got nothing to do with SS vs. tube and it's all about poor budget choices and the "give them crap, they won't care" attitude of many of the big labels back then.

Oregon, yeah, I have some older Animals albums I have yet to hear, wasn't expecting much. On the other hand, I have War's, The World is a Ghetto, very nice sounding. My Cream albums all sound mediocre at best.

As for my phono preamp, I've previously auditoned or owned an ARC SP9MkII, didn't like, Project Tube Box, not bad, just a bit too much warmth and lacking some detail, Bellari Vp 129, not bad for the cost, Jolida JD-9, didn't like at all. I have yet to see a review on the Cayin so I don't know how others rate it. It does have great build quality at the price point ($1800), the thing weighs a ton, has very good parts quality, including very good coupling transformers, it uses 12ax7s. I don't know how it would compare to something like the K&K or Art Audio phono stages I was considering purchasing. I ended up getting a great deal on the Cayin, likely because no one's heard of it. Still, considering how good it sounds with quality vinyl, I have no problem. It seems very transparent, detailed, nice soundstaging, precise imaging, engaging tonal balance with extension on both ends, just sounds real nice to me. I am going to replace the Sovteks with Mullards to warm up the mids a bit. I'm not in any hurry to replace, although I may get with Joe Fratus at Art Audio for an audition on one of his phono stages.
Misspelled the title of one of my all time favorite rock Lps...Long day...

I was back going through Better Records .com and here is something you may want to check out.

Click on Hot Stampers. click on Customer Testimonials then Customer warning\, read through it.

Also on the same page go to Bad Heavy Vinyl.

And thanks to Bongofury and GMC for the info on Better Records.
Its new to me....
pink floyd has always had complete artistic control since atom heart mother...that includes where and how their releases are manufactured. the us harvest pressing should be a dandy. i have 10 copies(yes i'm crazy), and all the opened ones are great..japan, us, german and uk. the mobile fidelity is my favorite though.
I guess my expectations were not as high as some of yours. I got into vinyl expecting much of it to not sound good but the good stuff to be worth the trouble. I was pleasantly surprised to find how much I enjoyed all of it. Some are admittedly lifeless but I find most to be very ejoyable with the occasional "demo disc" wow factor. I think this wow factor can become very addictive. Richard Vandersteen once told be it would be a shame to only play "demo music". You don't always drive a sports car flat out on the autobohn. If we only want to play the "gems" we miss out on a lot of good music. He's a smart man.
Sns, you say "I mentioned in previous posts the offending lps. Just off the top of my head, I can add Eagles-Hotel California,..."

I have never heard anyone say that album sounded bad. I know you don't want to hear it but this is so fishy it makes me believe that there is definitely something wrong in your system.
The Benz Cart I spoke of earlier which was defective was new. it took a test record to uncover that there were problems with it. But the only thing the test record showed was that it did not pan. It tracked fine and when it played good it was marvelous. But on some records that I knew were good, it played terrible while on some that had previously been bright and tizzy, it subdued and played nicely. FWIW it drove me nuts and took 2 months to finally come to the conclusion that the cart was defective. The only way I found it was to try it in another system which was quite tricky since there aren't too many audiophiles in this neck of the woods. And BTW I'd say that 30-40% of my records were unlistenable with this defective cartridge.
Bottom line is that 40 % of unplayable records is unacceptable and goes against everything I know about vinyl playback. If you had a cheap TT et al, then maybe so. But not with your setup. There's something wrong in the vinyl chain. I'm trying to be helpful and not put down your system nor your knowledge. I will say it no more.
Stiltskin, Meddle is incredible, it would be awesome to hear it on quality lp. Jaybo, I recall my Meddle (US Harvest) sounding rather lousy, however, that was in a prior vinyl setup, will have to try it again this weekend.

Thanks to all for the heads up on Better records, this guy seems to be right up my alley on evaluating record quality. The site is a fount for the analog enthusiast looking for good quality vinyl. It is sort of breathtaking to see the prices on the Hot Stampers, however.

I will definitely be purchasing some vinyl from there in the future. Looking at prices, I feel lucky to have so many good sounding lps. I paid $1 to perhaps $7 for the vast majority of my lps, I couldn't afford my collection at today's prices.
I'll pile on and say that my original "Hotel California" sucked, due to a crappy pressing, all too typical of that time. Yeah, the music was great, but there's no resurrecting that crappy pressing no matter how good your cartridge.

Don't forget, LP was the main mode of distribution, so the pressers milked the mothers (pun intended, I guess) for all they were worth and then some. As a buyer it was a bit of luck of the draw. Easily, 20% of the pressings from that era were bad and some labels were far worse than that, IME.

Don't forget, LP was the main mode of distribution, so the pressers milked the mothers (pun intended, I guess) for all they were worth and then some. As a buyer it was a bit of luck of the draw. Easily, 20% of the pressings from that era were bad and some labels were far worse than that, IME.
That's why, when I'm perusing the bargain bins, I snatch up anything stamped with "Promotional Copy: Not for Sale," because these were usually the first pressings off a stamper sent to reviewers and radio stations.

Also, some records from this era have a good side and a bad side. IME the Rod Steward LPs from his Mercury days sound pretty good, sometimes excellent. But he went to Warner at the height of their power and popularity. His first album for them, Atlantic Crossing, sounds good on the acoustic-dominated side 2, "The Slow Side," while "The Fast Side" with more electric rock, sounds compressed and hashy. I was working at an audio store in 1975 when it came out and I remember how the store mgr. commented about how crummy the mastering was.

In fact, at that store I remembered we had to play D2D Sheffield discs to show a system's capabilities--even if the music was corny.

There may be another dynamic at work here, however. LPs ruled the '70s, and classic rock ruled our lifestyles. You couldn't go to a party without a record changer playing a stack of Eagles, Jackson Brown, Yes, Elton John, Jefferson Starship, Elvin Bishop, Linda Ronstadt, etc. This stuff got the hell played out of it on record changers with dirty conical or barely elliptical stylii and heavy tracking weights. It's hard to find copies of some of the most popular music from this era in good condition.
When I first learned of better play back equipment, thanks to the Absolute Sound magazine circa 1978/79. It was frustrating show casing my Magnapan speakers to my head banging friends that only liked Rock.

The few Lps I had that were truly great sounding! I could never let my head banging friends know I liked it, they would tease the crap out of me.
Just to name a couple, Joan Baez, Diamonds and Rust on A&M,1976 ? Harry Belafonte Live at Carnegie Hall.

As a very young child growing up, I was well aware who Belafonte, Nat Cole and Ella Fitzgerald were.

I have mono recordings that go back to 1954,June Cristy the vocals are astonishing real sounding, nothing in my Rock collection can come close, nothing.
This includes many other Lps from that era that I have collected over the years.
a little history...in 1982, only about 20% of all prerecorded music sales in the US were vinyl. mass distribution to outlets like walmart, sears, kmart, caldor, gold circle, venture and a host of others helped make the audio cassette the king of the hill. At the time, even blank tape was rivaling the LP for marketshare, and return percentages of unsold vinyl were killing the labels, big and small. Now, as then, audiophiles tend to believe that if you throw enough into the equipment, the average recording will be better than it really is. Ultimately you must surrender to the music, and not let the sonic quality of each and every recording dictate what you will or won't listen to. Otherwise this fun hobby is little more than a human version of a dog chasing his tail. there are thousands of great sounding records out there, but if you will miss most the good food for your soul, if you let sonics dictate your purchases.
Thanks, this is exactly what I was trying to say. Once the left side of the brain is satisfied with set up and tweaking, you have to free up the right side to allow the music to be enjoyable. This is the same side of you that notices a sunset or a pretty girl walking down the street. If you're always waiting for perfection, you won't enjoy what's right in front of you. Have a beer(or two)if it helps. This stuff should be fun.
sonofjim...you just said it better than me. heres a story, and an example. i once was at an event in LA where there were tons of beautiful hollywood types. i was with 2 friends/associates. one said, 'don't you find it sad that beautiful actresses don't dress like stars anymore?'....my other friend said 'i always visualize them naked'....he obviously was really enjoying himself...and i admit i was too.
You guys make perfect sense on listening perspectives. Probably one big reason I can't listen to poorly recorded lps right now is that my analog setup is new and in constant flux at this point. Whenever new equipment is introduced into my system I tend to listen analytically up to the point I optimize the sound.

I can listen to my digital solely as a music lover because its been optimized and in my system for quite a while. Perhaps, at some point, when I get tt setup stabilized, I will be able to listen to lps solely as a music lover when the need arises.

Still, regardless of listening perspectives, it remains disappointing that so many classic rock lps sound like crap.
I have an original copy of Hotel California that sounds sublime. Much better than the CD that came out later.

For the most part, the redbook CDs of 1970's recordings are worse than the LP counterparts. Unfortunately, except for a few remasters, this is all we have to choose from.