A way to find the best vinyl pressings?

Anyone have a website or easy way to determine the best pressings of vinyl albums?

I’m trying to stop wasting money of crap pressings that sound horrible. I’ve seen how sometimes a particular album will have multiple pressing, some better than others. Please let me know if there is a way to easily determine that. For example, of I want to buy an album, is there a way to know the best pressing (if there is one) and buy that one?


There isnt one particular place to go - but the way I tend to do it is to look at which label something is on. After a while you start to know which labels have better quality control and who puts the effort in on the mastering or remastering. When I see Analogue Productions, Speakers Corner, Impex, Sam Records, or modern day Blue Note Tone Poets then I at least know I’m getting a good pressing - is it the very best, maybe/maybe not but it probably wont be crap


Maybe this would a good thread for people to list the better manufactures or labels that they have listened to.


I have found the Steve Hoffman forum to be an invaluable resource for opinions on pressings, whether digital or vinyl. Run a search on a particular recording and there will likely be a discussion thread or two on it. I have avoided wasting money on a lot of stinkers thanks to that forum.


This is the way.

European and ECM also do a noble effort in proving clean flat quality pressings in general. I know of no one website that focuses on pressing quality. Possible initiate a thread here and see what contributions you get.

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If only that would exist :wink:
It’s a matter of experience and personal listening to most of them over the years…especially what are the best pressings among the various best ones of all release eras.

But I think for the moment you’re after the best among the ones from bad to great as well as mainly REmasterings, which are currently available in stores. This would be easier.

A rough hint could be something like:
You can buy quite everything from a label like Analogue Productions and from other labels care for remastering engineers Kevin Gray, Bernie Grundman, Ryan K Smith, Doug Sax, Steve Hoffman, Bob Ludwig and certainly a few others, but with those you at least won’t make any mistake. Optimizing among all those of that caliber no matter of in and out of print then is a matter of owning all the various releases and having compared them. Searching in the forums mentioned by others here can lead to the right choice but reliability depends on the grade difference of your and the recommenders’ setup.


How I wish there was a cut a dried answer to a very good question. I’ve been burned by the same label I’ve gotten great pressings from with crap. Don’t get me started on a particularly unpleasant experience I had with Music Matters Jazz reissues. Ugh. One label I can unhesitatingly recommend as a home run every time is Speakers Corner. Every album in my collection ranks among the best I have. Alas, their catalog of reissues is pretty selective, but if you find a recording you’ve lusted for on Speakers Corner buy it. Seriously.

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In all respect my disagreement might be interesting in this very thread.

I guess your disappointment with MM must be pressing or service not sound/remastering quality related, correct?

Regarding Speakers Corner (of which I own many) I’d say it’s a very mixed bag. Nothings bad, but many of their releases (especially where US labels‘ remasterings were not done from US remastering engineers) are from tape copies where other US remastering labels released remasterings of the same albums done from original tapes. I’d say Speakers corner is absolutely not something to avoid as Pure Pleasure is, but I’d say more than half of their releases exist from other labels in better quality. Considering and knowing this, they do have many great ones, too.

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The subject of the thread is pressings. And yes, my beef with MM was and still is horrid pressings.

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I understood the original poster spoke of „pressings“ but meant „(re)masterings“. I think so because searching for a proverbial „best pressing“, regardless of (re)mastering quality, means very little for overall sound quality. A great pressing of a bad remastering doesn’t help anyone imo.


This is the way…

You bring up an interesting point. My understanding is not only does the mastering play into the sound quality difference between mediums or releases, but the actual pressing. I’m not sure what parts of the mechanical processes of pressing are subject to inconsistency, exactly, but it is not hard to image all the things that can go wrong, resulting in poorer audio quality than one might hope for.

Bottom line, if I spend the cash on a vinyl record, I want it to sound as good as possible, and not be an inferior version compared to other choices.

Yes the pressing plant (at least between the worse and the best) does matter but to a really tiny fraction compared to the different remasterings.

A noisy record certainly always annoys, but this can happen from any plant. Some worse ones, like GZ plant or often colored records in general, are mostly slightly noisy unfortunately. Still, I’d always prefer a better remastering from them to a bad remastering on a quiet record.

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IMHO as I’ve gotten quite heavily into buying audiophile reissues and originals if they’re proven to be higher quality.

A lot of labels are repeated through different genres.

All of these are 100% analogue cuts, APART from Mobile Fidelity who usually use a digital copy from the master (but are still very high quality)

For classical originals -

Decca SXL series (simply the highest quality to date IMHO but getting pricey). These were basically an Audiophile range when Stereo was brand new from 1958, when you think in those days to kit out a stereo system meant buying another amp (as they were all monoblocks) plus another speaker, it was only high profile doctors / lawyers types that could afford a stereo setup. As such, these early Stereo records were priced extremely highly, out of reach of most people, but the quality is second to none if you can find them in good condition. The Eastern Asian community snapped up an awful lot of these from the 90s onwards when vinyl started losing focus as they’re heavily into classical.

Deutsche Grammophon pre 1973

HMV (His Masters Voice) ASD series with white and gold label, extremely good

Worth noting as well as not a lot of people know this, but the London Recordings label is actually just the US releases of the Decca label and sometimes vice versa, american originals then printed for UK, they used the same metal works. Often you can find the same copy on London rather than Decca for a 10th of the price.

For Classical audiophile reissues -

Deutsche Grammophon Original Source series, new, sell out fast, all have been superb to date, these are actually performed as a new production and recorded live, I believe they’re cut direct from the 4 track masters rather than reducing them to 2 track. Amazing process.

For Rock Audiophile reissues -

Speakers Corner, do yourself a favour and find a sealed copy of their Lou Reed - Transformer, one of the greatest rock pressings of all time IMHO, can still find them out there

Analogue Productions, anything from Analogue Productions is superb, no matter what genre. Their UHQR are the super luxury pressings, everyone should own at least one to see what their system is capable of

Classic Records, went under around 2009, were bought out by Analogue Productions, they had some quality control issues, but in the main, they’re a safe bet and you can still often find their records in the market still sealed, I’ve picked up a few myself in the last couple of years. Analogue Productions often still use the Classic Records metalworks when repressing their catalogue titles.

Mobile Fidelity, a notch down from AP in reliability, but still excellent, their UD1S series is their luxury range

Vinyl Me Please, often do more modern titles that others don’t currently consider, pressed at GZMedia which used to be awful but has improved no end since the pandemic and are now quite reliable. Their luxury series are the Anthology box sets, top notch quality pressings, and include really good booklets and podcasts that make a real experience out of genres that I otherwise wouldn’t find myself. They’re also incredibly adept at restoring recording where the original tapes have been lost, such as original latin american records or Zamrock titles.

Jazz audiophile reissues -

Analogue Productions, always extremely high quality, no matter what genre

Impex, never had a bad record from them, personally I think their quality control is the highest amongst everyone

Sam Records (France), alternative french sourced recordings when big artists were playing over there, some incredible content, one man operation, as an introduction get the Nathan Davis With Georges Arvanitas Trio – Live In Paris - The ORTF Recordings 1966/67

Blue Note, their premium series are the Tone Poets, really high quality, equivalent of an Analogue Productions. Their budget range that cut down on the packaging and vinyl weight are the Classic Series, but the mastering and pressing is still incredibly high quality even though they’re only about $25. Blue Note have always retained control over their tape catalogue, and as such, they’ve managed to keep them in incredibly good shape over the years.

Cohearant Records, owned by Kevin Gray, just about to release their second title, Kevin has a completely renovated true all tube recording, mastering and cutting setup and he records live in his own studios. If you can, pick up their first title which has recently been repressed, Kirsten Edkins - Shapes and Sound, it’s a saxophone jazz record and you have to hear it to believe it, it’s just beautiful and I’m not that into jazz (although do have a real soft spot for any sax music). These aren’t reissues at all, they’re all new unique recordings commissioned by Kevin for this series.

Electric Recording Company, I’ve put them lower down, not because of their quality which is insanely high, but because of the high price point. Ultra luxury pressings, done on an all tube cutting desk, NO MASTERING APPLIED, what’s on the master tape is what’s cut to disk. Jackets are hand made. Usually, they cost around 450 Euros per record and usually only release 300 or so copies of each title, I have no idea how people actually buy them, they tend to sell out in a matter of seconds.

Mobile Fidelity, particularly for Miles Davis titles

Vinyl Me Please, they do some good Jazz titles, they’re a mark down from the above, but still very good quality.

Blues -

Analogue Productions, do quite a range of classical blues titles

Vinyl Me Please

R&B / Rap -

Vinyl Me Please, they’re simply the standout winners in this genre, they’re consistently produce the best copies available for almost all their Rap titles, mostly because no other label gives the genre due attention as yet

I’ll also add a list of Mastering / Cutting engineers who are always worth prioritising.

Current day -

Kevin Gray - The current top tier, this guy never misses, I would say with confidence that anything he’s ever put out has been a strong contender for one of the best sounding copies available

Ryan K Smith - Ready to sideline with Kevin above, Ryan is similarly standout in the lineup

Sidney Claire Meyer - She’s very young, studied under Kevin Gray, she is the cutting engineer responsible for the Deutsche Grammophon Original Source series and really showing her potential right out of the gate

Bernie Grundman - Puts out some good stuff, he’s getting on a bit though and I feel some of his later works are slipping a little, not so reliable

Krieg Wunderlich - The mastering engineer on most MoFi products, can be hit and miss, but when he gets it right, it really is superb.

Historical legends -

Bilbo (Denis Blackham) - If you ever see a record with Bilbo in the deadwax, just buy it, in my travels, I’ve never come across a bad Bilbo press, 9 times out of 10 they’re preferred over originals, or he was actually often brought in to do original cuts on Bowie and other big names.

Rudy Van Gelder - Probably the most famous Jazz mastering technician, most of the great titles were done by him in the 50s through to the 70s

A really helpful source if you’re collecting old classical originals is here: Guide to collecting | Spiral Classics: Fine Quality Classical LPs


Great post!

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I know what it’s like, it’s such a minefield and so much to learn. Classical is a complete bottomless pit. My knowledge pre Stereo is really nil, but hopefully this gives some places to check out.

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An incredibly helpful post.

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Maybe I shouldn’t, but I’d say of I have been very pleased with my Music Matters LPs in general. Their current pricing not so much, they should have stuck with original retail pricing until sold out, versus market pricing. Just my opinion. I received a couple of bad pressings which were promptly replaced. The Blue Note Tone Poet series has certainly been a welcome reissue series in comparison, especially in terms of availability, pricing, selection, remastering quality and pressing quality. I am curious as to what issues you encountered with Music Matter that caused you to sour on their releases.

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Exceptional post and most helpful for those new to vinyl or seeking the ultimate in pressing and mastering quality.

I’d add the following:

Craft Records - They got off to a shakey start, the Yusef Lateef release was a bit messy, as demand exceeded expectations. Pressing quality is good to excellent for Eastern Rebellion, which is due for a reissue this year. Their jazz reissues are all top notch, and are most valued by collectors of West Coast sound jazz on the Pacific and Contemporary labels.

More traditional Jazz Labels, these two come to mind imediately, with tme I’ll think of others:
ECM, excluding their USA Polydor pressings which are very hit or miss, the Warner Brothers pressings and German pressings are exceptional. Seek out a NM copy of Keith Jarret Survivors Suite, or Egberto Gismonti Sol Do Meio Dia.

ACT, a more recent label offering some fine performances, great mastering and dead quiet pressings. An exceptional example is Vijay Iyer Historicity.

The early Mosaic Box sets are all worth seeking out as well. Pressings are exemplary as is the remastering. One note early performances have certain sonic limitations associated with their vintage, due to recording equipment and source limitations. A great statring place is the Miles Davis Complete Plugged Nickel Sessions box set.

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