In our experience, the Black Label stereo originals with D4/D5 stampers are terrible sounding.
With those stampers, My Fair Lady is undoubtedly a Hall of Shame pressing, as well as another early pressing we’ve reviewed and found wanting.
Both sides graded “No,” our not-especially-technical term for a record that sounds really bad.
Notes for Side One:
Track one is bright and unnatural up top. Track two is not very musical.
Notes for Side Two:
Track one is very weird sounding, thin and small.
(Obviously there was no need to play a second track.)
As you may have read elsewhere on the site, some Contemporary Label originals are very poorly mastered, which should put paid to the idea that Hot Stampers are only, or even usually, original pressings.
In our most recent shootout, the second-best sounding pressing was on the early Black Label. We would love to give out the stampers for that one, but we don’t do that.
Here is the description of our current Shootout Winning Pressing. We didn’t even give out the label of that one because it seems that copies with that label do very well and we want to be able to find more of them.
Click here to read about the various labels that Contemporary used over the years.
Some people like to search for relationships between the sound of the pressing and the label it has, but in our experience that is more often than not a fool’s game once you take into account the confirmation biases and other kinds of bad audiophile thinking that go along with that approach.
We’ve auditioned countless pressings in the 33 years we’ve been in business — buying, cleaning and playing them by the thousands.
This is how we find the best sounding vinyl pressings ever made.
Not the ones that should sound the best. The ones that actually do sound the best.
If you’re an audiophile looking for top quality sound on vintage vinyl, we’d be happy to send you the Hot Stamper pressing guaranteed to beat anything and everything you’ve heard, especially if you have any pressing marketed as more suitable for an audiophile. Those, with a few notable exceptions, are at best mediocre and oftentimes awful.
And if we can’t beat whatever LP you own or have heard, you get your money back. It’s as simple as that.
Tom Port / Better Records