Month: March 2016

How can common rock records be worth as much as you are charging?


We freely admit that we paid south of twenty bucks each at local stores for most of the records on our site. We pay what the stores charge, and most rock records are priced from five to twenty bucks.

Unfortunately the cost of the records you see on the site is only a part of the cost of that finished “product.” The reality of our business is that it costs almost as much to find a Carly Simon or Gino Vannelli Hot Stamper that sells for a hundred dollars as it does to find a Neil Young or Yes Hot Stamper that sells for five times that.

With six people on staff, keeping the records playing, the listings going up on the site and the mailers going out to our customers runs about a thousand dollars a day. The cost of the records — the “raw material” of our business — is rarely more than 20% of that.

Someone has to drive to a record store, dig through the bins for hour upon hour, have them all cleaned, file them and then wait anywhere from six months to two years for the pile of copies on the shelf to get big enough to do a proper shootout.

Shootouts are a two man job: one person plays the record and someone else (who rarely has any idea what pressing is on the table) listens for as long as it takes to accurately and fairly critique the first side of every copy. Then we start the whole process over again for side two.

This is a huge commitment of labor, with the amount of time and effort going into a shootout obviously the same for every title regardless of its popularity or eventual value. Naturally we would like to be able to streamline the process and cut costs in order to lower our prices and sell more records. We just don’t think it’s possible. Every record must be carefully evaluated and that process is time-consuming.

No matter how skilled or efficient the musicians may be, from now until the end of time it will take at least an hour to perform Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Shootouts are like that, they simply can’t be rushed. It’s rare to get one done in under an hour, and some can even take two, which limits the number of titles that we can do on any given day.


25 More Rejects! (Albums with Either Bad Sound or Bad Music)

The criteria for inclusion on this list are simple enough: We played them and we didn’t like either the music or the sound we heard.

Keep in mind that these specific pressings are the ones we found wanting.


    Lena & Gabor

Lena & Gabor

Lena Horne & Gabor Szabo
0 0 0

Just Up Today: a White Hot Teaser & The Firecat


  • STUNNING Demo Quality sound on both sides, and relatively quiet to boot — copies like this are TOUGH to come by
  • This British pressing knocked us out with a Triple Plus (A+++) side two and a Double to Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) side one
  • One of the absolute dynamos of the whole Hot Stamper world — a record that will BLOW YOU AWAY
  • Allmusic 5 Stars: “Musically more interesting than ever…”

See all of our Cat Stevens albums in stock


Templeman, Barncard and Landee Work Their Magic


The Doobie Brothers – Toulouse Street

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) as you critically evaluate your copy of the album.

Two of our favorite engineers worked their magic on this one: Stephen Barncard and Donn Landee. This copy surely has all the Tubey Magic one could ask for, but it’s the size, space and clarity here that really shocked us. After listening to one smeary, veiled mess after another it was a thrill to hear one rock like this.

The vocals have room to breathe, the acoustic guitars are big and up front with extended, correct harmonics, and the bass has more punch and definition than we had any right to expect.

The huge bass on the better copies of this album has to be the handiwork of STEPHEN BARNCARD (American Beauty, Tarkio), although DONN LANDEE (Little Feat, Van Halen), one of the other two engineers here, likes plenty of bass as well.

Back in the day I had no idea this record could sound so punchy in the bass, be this dynamic, yet still have smooth, silky, oh-so-analog vocals.

Some copies have wonky, bloated bass. Others have a bit of a boost at 10k, adding a sparkly unnatural quality to the vocals and cymbals, somewhat like a MoFi pressing.

The best copies have none of those problems. You have never heard ‘Listen To The Music’ sound better. It’s everything a good Ted Templeman produced rock record should be.

The vocals are sweet and natural, not something you would expect on a Doobie’s record, but here they are anyway. I think you will be impressed by the quality of the production. I can’t speak for every track but the ones I played on both sides were consistently excellent.


Twenty Audio Exercises that You Can Do at Home

We have created exercises, experiments and tests that you can do at home for fun and profit. We can all agree that the better our stereos sound, the more enjoyable they become. Learning how to get better sound from the equipment and recordings you own doesn’t cost a dime. It simply requires that you improve your critical listening skills.

Those skills develop through practice, by challenging yourself to understand what is really on your records — to figure out, to the best of your ability, what is right and what is wrong on every record you own. Same with your stereo. You can’t fix a problem that you haven’t yet recognized is a problem, right?

To get started please make sure you have read our Introduction to Better Records explaining what we do and how we do it, since we feel our approach can and will work for anyone. Also the link How to Become an Expert Listener should be helpful. That should get you off to a good start.

We have another whole section of commentaries about Audio Issues on the site as well.

Happy listening from all of us at Better Records.

Lena Horne & Gabor Szabo – Lena & Gabor
Now That’s a Good Sounding Drum Kit!
by Buddah Records

The Moody Blues – In Search Of The Lost Chord
Listening in Depth
by Deram LP

The Fleetwood Mac You Don’t Know
The Self-Titled First Album & English Rose
by Epic LP

Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends
Listening in Depth
by Columbia Records

Derek and The Dominos – Layla
Listening in Depth
by Polydor LP

Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall Vs. Thriller
Who’s Got the Tubey Magic?
by Epic LP

Stephen Stills – Stephen Stills
What to Listen For
by Atlantic LP

Crosby / Nash – Graham Nash/ David Crosby
Listening in Depth
by Atlantic LP

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – 4 Way Street

by Atlantic LP

The Beatles – Let It Be
John’s Really Digging a Pony. Are You?
by Apple Records LP

Jellyfish’s Bellybutton
Not a Perfect Recording, a Good One for Testing Though
by Charisma

The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed
Listening in Depth
by London LP

Prokofiev / Symphonies No. 1 & 7
Seventies EMI Classical LPs and Vintage Tube Playback
by EMI

James Taylor – Sweet Baby James
Listening in Depth
by Warner Brothers LP

Dick Schory – Music for Bang, Baa-room and Harp
Check Your Polarity!

Badfinger – Straight Up
What to Listen For
by Apple Records LP

Christopher Cross – Christopher Cross
What to Listen For
by Warner Brothers LP

The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour
Are Your Cellists Digging In?
by German Import LP

Rimsky-Korsakov / The Tale of Tsar Saltan / Ansermet
What to Listen For – The Triangle
by London LP

Queen – The Game
What to Listen For
by Elektra LP

Latest Thoughts on Let It Be


Yet another album we are clearly obsessed with

Click on the link below to pull up the many reviews and commentaries we’ve written, as well as Hot Stamper copies that are currently available on the site.




A top copy, the MoFi, the new Heavy Vinyl pressing, What to Listen For and our take on the Bell Sound domestic original.