Letter of the Week – “I did a proper shootout this morning…”

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Reviews and Commentaries for Rumours

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

I’m on my fourth Hot Stamper now, and I’m having a wonderful experience overall. I wanted to touch base regarding a Super Hot Stamper (Quiet Vinyl) of Rumours. The sound is overall a delight, and although I have yet to do a head-to-head shootout with my 45rpm “audiophile” copy, I can sense I will prefer the copy I bought from you overall.

However, I really crave absolutely silent vinyl for this album, especially for The Chain. When the band comes to a halt, and there’s nothing but silence, it’s perfect. The particular copy I bought is pretty quiet when the music is playing, but the surface noise during quiet/silent passages is a bit of a disappointment for me. This leads me to believe that if a White Hot Stamper of Rumors popped up on your site, I would definitely want to buy it, in the hopes that the vinyl would be even quieter throughout. Do you think a White-Hot copy of Rumors is on the horizon?

I believe your policy is that I’ve got 30 days to return this one for money back, and then 12 months to exchange it, with some reduction. Knowing me, I’m going to want to get a white hot copy next time I see one listed, and I’d really love to do it sooner rather than later. (I say this assuming that one of the things that would separate a super hot from a white hot would be the level of background noise.)

Thank you
Aaron

Aaron,

Some thoughts:

Firstly, the surface noise grades and the sonic grades are not related as a rule. Some records sound great and are noisy, some records sound great and are quiet, and nobody knows which are which until they get cleaned and played.

My advice would be to return the record so that we can eventually get you one you will be happy with. We do the shootout once or twice a year, so we should be able to find you a better sounding copy. A quieter copy is another matter. We could do a shootout for 8-10 copies and find none that were any quieter than the one we sold you.  We know what to listen for now, the quiet parts of The Chain. But that does not mean that out of the copies we play in any given year a copy with Super Hot grades would be quieter than the copy we sent you.

To get you a quieter one is a matter of luck, it might take three or four shootouts to get that lucky.

But if you want to keep the copy we sent you and basically “rent” it until we can find you a quieter one in a year or two, that is one of your options. We are good either way, Rumours sells very quickly, lots of folks waiting for a nice copy to show up on the site.

I wrote this about your 45 copy:

Strict Quality Control? We Put That Proposition to the Test

You can find many more Letters and Commentaries for Rumours here.

Let us know what works best for you and we will make it right.

Best, TP

Hi Tom,

Thank you for this thoughtful response, and my apologies for taking some time to reply.
It will not surprise you to hear that I’ll be holding on to my Rumours, at least for now. I did a proper shootout this morning, going back and forth between your Hot Stamper and each of my three heavy vinyl pressings, and then each of my early/original pressings, from various used stores and flea markets over the years. Your copy beats them all (yes it does), and even though heavy vinyl always impresses right away with its quiet surfaces, that’s not where the magic is (as I’m finding out.)
 
I will keep an eye out for another copy of Rumours posted on your site. I assume you’re too busy to send me an email when one goes up? Short of that, maybe in your tracklist section you can mention the surface noise level during the quiet passages? Surely many potential buyers would appreciate that information, not just me. If a promising copy hits your site, I’ll probably buy it, and then sort out with you whether you’d give me anything for an exchange on my current copy. In the meantime, this copy will be kept in the same condition, and it’ll get played A LOT.
Thanks for the links to your blog. Regarding the claims to improved quality control for modern pressings, one need look no further than the current Kind of Blue UHQR debacle to debunk that myth. I was one of the early purchasers of that pressing. I waited two months for it to arrive, and then I needed to be sent a replacement, which they took another three months to do. I would have been far better off buying a hot stamper of KOB from you instead.
Aaron

Aaron,

We will get you a copy of Rumours if we can find one that is quieter, I will have Fred keep an eye out for one.

As for MoFi Kind of Blue, I would love to send you a copy of the album that shows you just how wacky their pressing is.

This guy hit it right on the head:

The MoFi Kind of Blue “It sounds f*cking atrocious.”

Anyway, hope to find you some good records and please stop buying the garbage than these modern labels spew out, you will regret having to sell them all once you recognize just how bad they really are!

Best, TP


FURTHER READING

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Basic Concepts and Realities Explained

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – A Guide to the Fundamentals

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

Important Lessons We Learned from Record Experiments 

Key Tracks for Critical Listening 

Making Audio Progress 

We Get Letters 

We Was Wrong

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