Record Collecting 101: Forget Your Theories, Just Get More Data

More Entries in Our Critical Thinking Series

Hot Stampers make more sense once one better understands statistical distributions.

Why statistics you ask? Simple.

We can’t tell what a record is going to sound like until we play it.

For all practical purposes we are buying them randomly and “measuring” them to see where they fall on a curve.

We may be measuring them using a turntable and registering the data aurally, but it’s still very much measurement and it’s still very much data that we are recording (with a healthy amount of interpretation of the data involved, but that’s what we get paid to do, right?).

Many of these ideas were addressed in the shootout we did many years ago for BS&T’s second album. We played a large number of copies (the data), we found a few amazing ones (the outliers), and we tried to determine how many copies it really takes to find those records that sound so amazing they defy not only conventional wisdom, but understanding itself.

We don’t know what causes some copies to sound so good. We know them when we hear them and that’s pretty much all we can say we really know. Everything else is speculation and guesswork.

We have data. What we don’t have is a theory that explains that data.

And it simply won’t do to ignore the data because we can’t explain it. Hot Stamper Deniers are those members of the audiophile community who, when faced with something they don’t want to be true, simply manufacture reasons why it can’t or shouldn’t be true. That’s not science. It’s anti-science.

Practicing science means following the data wherever it leads. The truth can only be found in the record’s grooves and nowhere else.  If you don’t understand record collecting as a science, you won’t do it right and you certainly won’t achieve much success.

The above is an excerpt from a much longer commentary written about the subject, entitled Outliers & Out-of-This-World Sound. Click on the link to gain a better understanding of one of the most important properties records have: unpredictability.

We wrote a commentary with much more on the subject on the processes involved in the making of records, and we called it A Random Walk Through Heavy Vinyl.

And if you think that some manufacturers can get around this reality, we discuss that subject in a commentary called Strict Quality Control? We Put That Proposition to the Test

We will leave you once again with wisdom from one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, Richard Feynman. Here he summarizes The Scientific Method in a Nutshell for the benefit of mankind, especially us record collectors and audiophiles.


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