are nothing more than the 4th pressing of a record which wasn't very good on the 1st pressing .
Companies could care less what you think .
Thanx for the optimism schubert. I am trying to make a list of the record companies that people have had good results with so that we can all have an idea whose products are more likely to be of a higher quality. There are plenty of small companies whose products I have yet to try and I would not mind knowing who people here think does a good job.
Analogue Productions can produce some very fine records. So does RTI Unfortunately, the sister company, QRP, will press all variations of quality. It seems the QRP sticker on the jacket indicates they actually cared enough to do it right. Records with the "Pressed by Pallas" sticker tend to be very clean and quiet, more so than RTI pressings in some cases.
As you're sure to know Mike, I am tempted to say none, because pressing is such a crapshoot. But then thinking about it some more, I have no idea who is good in terms of new or current production. Historically however, which to a certain extent carries on to this day (to the extent, if any, they are still pressing!) the good ones are:Reference Recordings
These are the only ones with consistently high quality. In my experience. AudioQuest label is not well known but they did a series with great blues men like Doug MacLeod and Sam McClain featuring all high end AudioQuest cabling in the recording chain.
Sheffield has consistently superb recording quality and flawless pressings. Michael Ruff Speaking in Melodies is a true desert island LP.
As for the worst not even the internet has room to list them all.
rshak, Acoustic Sounds is Analog Productions. MC, Reference Recordings is still going strong and making great product but the others are sadly extinct. Yes John, Ryco is now owned by Warner which is more than likely the problem. I forgot about Sundazed. I'm pretty sure all my Sundazed records are high quality. Bear Family is a store specializing in Pre Beatles music. They do not make records. Yarlung is very small doing only craft music. MoFi does OK for the most part.
Oh and MC go to Analog Productions and buy the record by Janis Ian, Breaking Silence. I promise this record will give you a new standard for recording quality never mind the 11 great tunes and her voice.
Lol! Mike I bought Breaking Silence a good 25 years ago! Yeah its a beauty! I've acquired a stack of beauties over the years but back then it was a standout. Its so good its good even on CD! Its so good I would carry it around just because it was so darn much fun to be able to make anybody's stereo sound better just by playing Breaking Silence. One time me and my wife are sitting in the back of a Subaru, I passed it forward said put this in, and then we looked at each other with the grin of people who share a secret. Yeah its so good it makes even a Subaru sound better!
But wait, there's more! You hit the motherlode, Mike! Everyone should have this on their shelf. Because it was Breaking Silence that delivered the knock-out blow that convinced me I had to go analog. Was in Definitive Audio where they had some little Linn system set up on a wall. We played some random record they pulled out of a bin. Literally a bin. Literally some random record. It was impressive how good it sounded. Deep, expansive, which even more amazing seeing how the system was set up.
Okay so then the sales guy thinking he will impress me says listen to this. And he loads Breaking Silence into this Mark Levinson CD player with Mark Levinson amps and speaker cables thick as my arm and Wilsons, easily five if not ten times the system cost of the little Linn. Knowing at this time how awesome this recording is I was shocked, stunned and blown away. Because if all this expensive highly respected gear still can't manage to make one of the all time great recordings sound as good as some random record bin LP, well then I need a record player.
And the rest is history.
Rounder and Sugar Hill. Chris Hillman has two pure Bluegrass albums on the latter, both with great music and sound quality. I tend to not include audiophile labels on these kinds of lists, for the well known reason that their musical content is most often of no interest (to me, at least). But there are of course exceptions. I'll leave those nominees to others. ;-)
Deutsche Grammophon records have given me great pleasure for classical music for over 50 years. Problems do not come to mind when I think of them, rather quality and expectation of decent sound and likely performance :) Then again, I've also been very satisfied with Herbert von Karayan's conducting, which some criticize. Perhaps I'm not as critical as some with better ears ?
While I'm on the record subject the arm of my Goldmine Studietto, bought in late 80's, is not tracking properly so can't be used. My good Thorens SME, lent to a handicapped friend, perished ( as did he sadly) in a fire - caused by a faulty electrical outlet. So I'm without a TT. Anyone know of a good TT repair facility?
When you say manufacturer it can be confusing. Most record labels do not press their own vinyl. Analogue Productions controls their pressings through QRP, as they are under the same ownership. This is important because most record labels cannot control the production side of their products, and have to outsource to various pressing plants. With the rise in popularity of vinyl, production schedules are full. This means that those labels who do not control their pressing operations might have to use which ever pressing plant(s) are available to them.
Vinyl Me Please is one to add to the list of good ones. I think most of their releases are pressed at QRP. I have not had a bad record from them.
I've heard that MoFi presses most of their stuff at RTI. I've never had a bad pressing from MoFi.
Rhino usually presses at RTI. It's obvious because of the RTI stickers they put on the covers of the LPs.
New West Records are mostly crap. I do not know where they get their records pressed but it's obvious that they don't really care about QC.
Deutsch Grammaphone is surprisingly bad. I have so many of their releases that skip like crazy. It's probably because they have to squezze too much music onto a side as they primarily do classical. Either way it's pretty bad.
Parlaphone is a very good label. I think they get theirs mostly pressed at Pallas in Germany. Their quality overall is very good IME.
I really wish there were standards for record releases, which would require that all records be labeled with important info such as, the recording source (analog, digital, or combination), where the vinyl was pressed, vinyl weight, etc. It would hold the companies involved accountable for their work. I get a lot of new records that are noisy, warped, have uncentered holes, etc. If I knew which pressing plants these were being pressed at I would be able to avoid purchasing their inferior goods. The best labels do provide details on these things.
Anyway, seems like there are two questions here: first, favorite and disliked for whatever musical or record-related reason, and; second, which labels are, quality wise, reliable and which are not: and, which are just bound to be bad. The first involves taste along with quality. The second not so much.
Here is most of what I know from my own records:
My favorite label. I love this music and I can (nearly always) count on record quality. I have hundreds and I can only think of one that disappointed- it’s just ok. Was supposed to be special on 180 gm but doesn’t sound very good.
Jazz on the above labels is fantastic.
For classical I have found that the following deliver consistently good experience:
Berliner Philharmoniker (The Orchestra’s own label)
Old RCA Victor (Red Labels/Seal)
Old London Records
The Classics Record Library
Again, YMMV. I don’t know a lot about classical record labels but really want to learn more.
Then, I have fancy “Audiophile” type records from the following and can’t say anything but good about all of them.
ORG (Original Recordings Group)
ORG (the other ORG)
The MA and Chesky that I have are truly spectacular. Some of the other fancy expensive labels that are supposed to be special have been hit and miss for me. The handful of Mofi’s that I have are mostly great.
Of the relatively larger operation labels, I feel like I can count of these:
Chrysallis is a favorite I guess because of their catalogue and I generally really like the way they sound.
Here are a few of my favorite smaller, or what’s called independent, and other labels (some have already been mentioned of course).
Sugar Hill Records
Yep Rock Records
Vinyl Me Please
Kirshner (probably defunct?)
New West is also a favorite of mine. I have a large handful of newer stuff from them and it’s all very good or great. Maybe they used to have problems but this has not been my experience.
I get terrific reissues from:
Run Out Groove
Back on Black
My categorical dislikes are few:
Geffin Records has been mostly disappointing, particularly because he had a couple of my favorite artists under contract. No more fortunately.
Jazz Wax Records and their ilk. Shady operators based in Europe take CD’s of music in the open domain and get records pressed in Russia or in other dark recesses of Eastern Europe. They always sound horrible. I learned the hard way but apparently the word has been out.
And, of the love hate variety:
Along with Music on Vinyl and Mofi,
I have learned that many records put out by Four Men With Beards (and the other subsidiaries of Runt records in San Francisco) are of atrocious quality but one that I have is great so do the research before purchase.
I have found the same to be true of Atco.
I mention these last two because they do have some temptingly great titles. I just need to remember to watch out.
Finally, regarding manufacturing, I have learned to avoid anything pressed at United in Texas.
Thanks again for the thread and all the contribution to it.
Having now finally received some Analog Productions LP’s, I too can confidently recommend them.
On it’s way is a Speakers Corner LP (Raphael Puyana’s The Golden Age Of Harpsichord Music, an original on Mercury Living Presence of which I already own), a label highly recommended by The 45 RPM Audiophile (Michael of The Vinyl Community on YouTube, a charming collector in Germany. Check out his videos.). Mastered by Kevin Gray, pressed at Pallas.
Elusive Disc is currently having a sale on LP’s: 10/20/30/40% off, and they’re good titles. Stuff like a couple of Sam Phillips (formerly a Contemporary Christian artist, then T Bone Burnett’s wife and collaborator, now on her own) titles finally available on LP, Marshall Crenshaw on MoFi, The Kinks’ expanded Muswell Hillbillies album on Sanctuary to name just a few. Free shipping on $99 orders. Hope they pack well!
I have a lot of Classic Records LP’s, a very important reissue label started in the 90’s. While MoFi at that time was reissuing some titles of debatable value (Supertramp?!), and applying questionable equalization (their Beatles LP’s are not good---I sold all mine right before the EMI boxset was released, which more than paid for the box), Classic released great titles in excellent sound.
I was a customer of one of the two founders/owners of Classic---not Michael Hobson, but rather his partner Ying Tan---who sold collectible LP’s out of his stuffed apartment (you shoulda seen the place!) just off Sunset Blvd., one block East of Laurel Canyon. I never heard why he left Classic, after which Hobson ran the label himself. Ying, where are ya?!
Oops, the Kinks’ expanded Muswell Hillbillies is coming from Amazon. Coming from Elusive Disc is the 3-LP/5-CD/3-7" expanded boxset of The Kinks’ fantastic album The Village Green Preservation Society, the original of which Pete Townshend said is better than Tommy and Sgt. Pepper. I heartily concur (though the cited competition is not imo very stiff ;-) ! On sale at ED for $109.99 with free shipping.
Thanx bdp24, spiritofradio and snackeyp. Great contributions. As for packaging. I have never had a problem with Elusive disc. Not a bent cover or a service issue. I have less experience with Music Direct. Acoustic Sounds is b generally OK. From Amazon you can count on a bent cover. They just throw the record in a box with a few balloons. So, the record slides around in there banging itself up.
I have to add Bandcamp to the very high quality side. Not had a bad one from them yet. https://bandcamp.com/
I also forgot Decca (London) great records.
I have to also say that Deutche Grammophon can be hit or miss. I have not bought a new one in years.
What can you say about the Kinks. Ray Davies is one of a kind. I believe he was even knighted.
As for criteria for the final list I think if a label is mentioned three time in either column and not in the other it will be included in that column. If it is mentioned in both it will be included in a third non committal column. So there will be three columns. Great, Bad and Hit or Miss. If you disagree with this method please speak up now:)
Wow, people....just WOW! This is the thread I was trying to or just wishing I could write. I started thinking about how some of you must be curious about our treasure finds in reissues or even originals that sound amazing and are worth the price (high or low).
The contributions above call on some very prolific labels/manufactures/distributors, etc. These are exactly the entities I'm running into when I find a new music or reissues. Some of the companies seem like they are doing good stuff. But come on, we all know the folks above were spot on correct when they first said that economic pressures and lack of a industry standard or government imposed standard in divulging key information about the pressing hurts the market---it doesn't help it.
Now that said, I've bought some stuff that was supposed to be junk and it's turned out to be fantastic.
For example, I think there are threads out there in audio forums where people pronounce RCA's "Dynaflex" as even worse than its "Dynagroove" product. I do appreciate what they say about production quality and cutting expenses. But I've bought great Dynaflex original pressings from the early 1970s that sound glorious here.
I have to say....I thought the nuances of vacuum tubes were something to master. One could argue there's more consistency amongst valve manufacturers of certain periods than record pressings. It's a jungle out there. Ugh...I thought spending money on music was going to be less expensive than upgrading a slot in my chain. Now, my system wants to dine on 4 star meals--top quality source material--every night. What happened when the hifi was a cheap date? :)
The older Pablo records could be very bad. I have a Sarah Vaughn record that hurts to listen to. It is so noisy. I stick to the CD reissues.
Damaged records are another problem. I just had an episode with Blue Note a division of United Artists. I ordered the new Ambrose Akinmusire album, On the Tender Spot of Every Calloused Moment." The firs copy came do dished I you not get it to seal on the Cosmos and it actually teeter-tottered under the tonearm. The second copy was exactly the same. I told them they had a problem with this entire batch. The third and forth copies were just as bad. They did not ask for the defective copies back so I started experimenting with a heat gun and managed to get one flat enough to play. Do not buy this record for at least a year. My guess is that one side of the press was not heating correctly so as the record cooled it dished. Nobody noticed and all their bureaucracy could do was keep sending me defective ones even though I warned them the whole batch was defective. I should have just asked for a refund.
Don't know how I missed this thread. Most of the big winners and losers have been called out. Love the list from @spiritofradio. A couple I didn't see:
Great: Acony (Gillian Welch & David Rawling's label
The Tone Poet and Blue Note Classic series
Might be great...Sam Records raves everywhere, I've got a couple on my holiday wishlist.
Underrated: OJC aka Original Jazz Classics still great values, especially used.
Bad: DOL the worst overpriced reissues.
Lately, I've been impressed with almost everything recently pressed at QRP and RTI; that wasn't the case a few years ago. QA improvements across the board! Cheers,
I don’t know how I missed it either, here goes
Friday Music- 1 star
The last 2 records were warped and unplayable, the other 2: Sonics-3 stars
Analogue Productions- 5 stars
MoFi- 5 stars
Columbia- 5 stars
Columbia/EMI- 5 stars
MCA- 5 stars
Impex- 5 stars
Geffen- 5 stars
Stiff- 4 stars
Music On Vinyl- 5 stars
ATCO- 4 stars
Chrysalis- 5 stars
Atlantic- 5 stars
RCA Victor- 5 stars
Reprise- 5 stars
Cotillion- 4 stars
Decca- 5 stars
Hollywood Records- 5 stars
DCC Compact Classics- 5 stars
I.R.S.- 4 stars
Paradise of Bachelors- 5 stars
A&M- 5 stars
Anchor Records- 5 stars
@bslon, very good list and I agree with your opinions.
By the way, yes you have to be careful with Pablo. Some great ,some not.
I like the rating system above too! So, let me offer another...
Music On Vinyl - 4-5 stars. I have Waylon Jennings Ramblin Man and its amazing!!! But I've heard others that are really good not superb.
@bslon, I am encouragingly surprised by your positive comments on so many of the big labels. Are you talking about what they put out now or the old stuff? For example, I find really good pressing from the late 60s and 70s on Reprise, Chrysalis, Atlantic. But the big label reissues pressed at places like Rainbow mostly stink.
These differences lead me to finding great value in reading up and watching videos on label variations. Here's an example:
or just ask yourself WWWD - What Would @whart Do?
A daunting topic for sure...but interesting and worthwhile. Cheers,
With regard to DOL, my personal jury is still out. I'm going to listen to 3-4 different albums I have on DOL and see if I can make a conclusion. Their packaging, vinyl appearance/weight, inner sleeve, etc. are very good to near but not quite excellent. I have several where they hand write in what number pressing yours is out of the total pressed. Very nice touch.
Now, I will say, I've had mixed results with DOL. Same with Waxtime. I think the wisest recommendation would be to avoid them IF you can't preview them.