What can I say, I've been living with this diamond in the rough on my shelves for the better part of a decade and one half. Initially soured due to lack of sound quality on the 200 Gram Classic Records release of Led Zeppelin II, I admit to never giving any of the other titles I purchased a chance. Time has a way of bringing you back to re-examine and reflect on subjects you consider to be otherwise closed. Such as it is with this title and the other Led Zeppelin Classic Records releases. After decades of begrudgingly enjoying the Barry Diament CD releases, your mind gets fuzzy when recalling what came before. What I remember of my youth in the 70's more than anything was that these albums sounded great (if a little scratchy) on any stereo, even on friends parents console units. I can't remember the number of parties my original Zeppelin records followed me to. What we were smoking and drinking certainly didn't help define the details 4 plus decades later. The albums were GOOD, REALLY good, I can't remember anything negative, about them. Flash forward to 2005 or so, I'm in Long Island Sound ( now regrettable closed) with my dad looking at their records for sale when I came across almost every original Zeppelin album brand new on 200 gram, boasting their coming from original analog tapes mastered by Bernie Grundman. I grabbed every one I there, only Coda and Presence were missing. I scored them soon after in a local shop. When I finally opened them a few years on and played them, I was puzzled by what I was hearing. Certainly no analog nirvana, no amazing revelation of clarity, dynamics and soundstage spaciousness. Quite the opposite actually, I could scarce believe my ears, distortion, overdriven sound levels, sibilance, distortion. Thinking it was my cart arm or turntable, I tried again on my other table which I knew had a new cart, arm adjusted to within a fleas gonads, isolation, good tonearm cables, proper capacitance loading, etc. No dice. In fact it sounded worse than before. Every table available to me it was the same story. How could 40 year old pressings sound better? What was the answer? Aggravated and disappointed, I posted my honest opinion of how bad these sounded, that one was better of with decent original pressings, even here on these forums, I spit venom over these releases, mostly because I spent a small fortune on LP's that were a total disappointment sonically. Flash forward to 2019 . I'm looking into another new turntable and the place happened to have some of the Zeppelin 200 gram releases in the listening library. As a joke, I pulled one out and said something like, here's one album no turntable sold here can make sound good, in fact none of these albums. Next thing I know, challenge is accepted, and LZ 1 is spinning, only I'm not hearing anything near what it sounds like on my rigs. Actually it's the opposite, clean clear sound, detailed, dynamic and spacious, the best this album has ever sounded. We played thru all the titles they had, each sounding as good or better than the last. I walked away scratching my head in confusion, determined to find the answer, which wasn't held in buying a new table arm cart or phono stage. Instead it turned out to be in the setup of the table arm and cart. Taking notes of how the demo turntable was set up, I went back and tried to make meaningful comparisons to my rig. Once I did, things began to make sense. On all my carts I set the VTF in the middle of the specs, not to the high end, which many actually suggest. Next, carts that dont require more than 1.5 grams VTF tend to not always track as well as their heavier cousins do. 1.8- 2.2 is the sweet spot, and depending on your tonearm compliance, one cartridge can really work better than another. The other big question regarding setup is VTA, as well as how accurately your cart is set up, how accurately. 92* of VTA is preferrable , but it can depend on how the diamond was inserted into the cantilever, how much tracking force sounds better once broken in, and more. Starting from scratch and a new cartridge, I set out on a mission to make these albums sound as good as they obviously can, but on my turntable. A new cart, weeks of setup and break in time, I was rewarded for my effort. Starting with LZ I, I dropped the tonearm and listened. FOUR replays of both sides later, I had to force myself to move to the next album and then the next. I have never heard clarity, depth, punch, spaciousness, and life I was hearing. I played the albums over and over, scarcely believing in what I was hearing. Incredible. I am so fortunate I did not sell these albums along and pick up some of those Hot Stampers instead. Whats amazing is how quiet these albums are how flat. I could easily hear the tape hiss, the texture of analog tape in quiet portions just before the track kicked in. Robert Plant's voice was clear among a sea of music around it, the air and spit discernible. Speaking of the tape, you really do hear what being there in 68 would have been like, what these tapes sound like 5 decades later. A very strong argument for analog tape and LP playback, you get the sense of being there, the band all around you. Where the music overdrives the levels to the tape, you get that gentle compression only tape has. Bernie Grundman chose to use a Studer A-80 with special playback heads coupled to an all tube cutting chain. We have to remember, in '69, multi track was typically no more than 4 tracks, once they were full, your 'bounced them down', opening up one or 2 tracks to overdub on again, repeating over and over till the sound was what you wanted. It's nothing short of amazing any of the early recordings sound as good as they do today, which is generally better than anything being recorded today. You get a sense of the space around the players and their instruments. John Paul Jones melodic accompaniment and lead in on 'Your Time Is Gonna Come' sends chills all over my body. John Bonham's drum strikes and cow bell starting off 'Good Times, Bad Times' gives the listener a taste of the goodness her or she is about to experience. 'Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You' is another of those moments when you just know you are hearing something special, the emotion in the music and Plants voice is haunting. Staple Blues numbers such as ' I Can't Quit You Baby' or 'Dazed and Confused' are simply amazing to hear. This is an album that demands to be cranked up loud. One of my personal favorite songs on this album is 'Black Mountain Side', Tabla and guitar work is hauntingly beautiful, delicate, thick and liquidly with gooey analog goodness. An amazing though short song which ends too soon for the listener segueing into machine gun electric guitar opening 'Communication Breakdown'. Though a fairly short album, it checks all boxes any Zep listener is looking to hear on their Freshman effort, giving you a taste of a band who will define rock and roll in the 1970s and beyond. One has to wonder what would have become of them had we not tragically lost John Bonham so soon? As to the rest of the Classic records Quiex SV-P 200 Gram Led Zeppelin releases, you will have to stay tuned. Or better yet, go out and find one yourself. I'd start with this album and move forward in order, the way they are meant to be heard and played. As for me, I'm glad I didn't sell or throw these albums away. I made a huge mistake initially rating these records as all bad, not worth a look. Believe me when I say, they are worth a second look, and long listen. Make sure your rig is up to the challenge first. Prices are going up and up for these releases, expect to spend several thousand dollars or more to buy them still sealed. Or you could go for broke and buy the Classic Records Clarity Series LZ road case, each album broken down and pressed on 12" single sides played at 45RPM, 4 -single sided cuts make up each 12" LP. Look it up if you aren't familiar with the Clarity 45 RPM Road Case box set. Initially selling for 750$, these editions today price upwards to 10K$ where available. Average asking prices I have seen are around 4K$. Finding one with all the releases still sealed tend to cost more. I'm only sorry I didn't buy a set or 2 when first available . Back then, I thought 750$ was ridiculous. Now I'm kicking myself in the ASS. As all of the Classic Records Zeppelin releases are 10 years out of print, prices increase as they age. New still sealed copies online can be found, but the prices can be steep, depending on how popular each title is.