They’re about as quiet as vintage LPs ever are. Some surface noise is always going to be audible on an old record. We believe we sell the quietest vintage pressings in the world, but they are certainly not silent. Lately we’ve been adding this text to our listings to clarify our position on surface noise:
Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus is about as quiet as any original pressing will play, and since only the right originals have any hope of sounding amazing on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful originals. If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
We do a much better job of cleaning our records than we did even a year or two ago. In fact, any record that hasn’t been cleaned since within the last 12 months gets recleaned and replayed in a shootout, and many of them sound better and play quieter than our original grades would indicate.
How to Find Our Quietest Records
This LINK will take you to the records on the site that earned our higher play grades.
However, for those who like their records to play with minimal surface noise, I recommend a quiet cartridge and very high quality arm and table. In my experience they should be good for at least one grade improvement in surface noise. They should be able to take you from “Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus” — the grade a brand new record from the ’70s would play at — to “Mint Minus” or something very close to it.
I have heard many of my quietest pressings play noisy on very expensive equipment owned by friends and I’ve made an effort to help some of them fix their problems. (Some audiophiles have a bad of habit of getting married to their equipment, which makes it hard to find solutions to their problems. The solution is more often than not different equipment. I’ve found this especially true in the case of cartridges.)
One Further Note
The Record Cleaning Advice you see on the site talks about how we clean our records. There are some fluids on the market that may get your records to play quieter than the fluids we use, but we have yet to hear such fluids make the records sound as good as they do with the Walker System we use.
Again, it’s a matter of tradeoffs. We want the best sound for our records, period. Apparently our customers do too, as less than 1% of the records we sell get returned for surface noise.
Many of the basic questions concerning Hot Stampers, including our grading system, 2-packs, coupons, the mailing list, as well as more general ordering and payment information, can be found in our original Frequently Asked Questions section.
We think sitting down to listen to a Hot Stamper pressing is the best way to appreciate its superior sound, in the same way that hearing a vintage LP played back on a top quality system is the best way to appreciate the superiority of analog. Short of getting you to try one of our records — 100% guaranteed, no questions asked — we hope the above comments will be of value.
If you have further questions feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will do my best to answer them.