Letter of the Week – “Thank you for getting me off the ‘original pressings are the best’ gerbil wheel”

Hot Stamper Pressings that Sound Their Best on the Right Reissue

Records We’ve Reviewed that Sound Their Best on the Right Reissue

One of our good customers had this to say about some records he purchased locally, not even from us! (Bolding has been added by us.)

By the way, have I thanked you yet for getting me off the “original pressings are the best” gerbil wheel? I’ve now got a stack of two-fers that I paid $15 apiece for that sound fantastic.

Yup, the very same records that Fremer ridiculed you for selling. [1]

I can buy a copy of an original pressing of Saxophone Colossus [2] for $300 on discogs with absolutely no notes on how the music sounds and no return policy. Or, I can get it for $15 in a twofer at my neighborhood shop, and I can’t imagine it sounding better. Folks just aren’t buying records for the way they sound. It’s nuts.

Tom, you’re like a consultant. It’s almost like I pay you for your knowledge and guidance by buying records from you, but you’re giving information away for free to anybody willing to listen.

In another letter Aaron added this thought after posting on the Hoffman forum and watching the LP 45 guy video with Geoff Edgers:

What a learning experience the last couple of days have been for me. I am just really surprised how little interest in evidence and objectivity my co-hobbyists have proven to have. I know we are in a very anti-objective time right now, but it’s actually almost scary how pervasive it seems to be.

For my own journey into vinyl, a tremendous amount of exploration, experimentation, and tinkering have been essential. I can’t imagine going about it any other way. I’ve begun to wonder what on earth all these other chaps are doing. I mean, does vinyl even sound better than digital on their rigs?? If you don’t try stuff out, you’ll never make progress.

Anyway, looking for open-mindedness, curiosity, and balance in this discussion is futile.

It’s time now for me to stop trying to talk some sense into these people. They are coming at this from such a different place than I am.

Geoff, I’m glad that you touched a nerve that clearly this hobby needed to reckon with.

Tom, I’m glad more people are now aware of you and what you offer now. It’s frustrating to me (although I know you’ve been here a million times previously) that the self-appointed tastemakers in this hobby aren’t even willing to risk challenging their preconceptions. They keep folks in the dark, for reasons I would consider disingenuous.

I just hope that some of the ordinary people listening in are curious enough to give better records a try. The rest of them can just linger in their bubbles of complacency and mutual admiration.



Glad I was able to help you get off the gerbil wheel!

As for Two-fers, some are excellent, including the one that has Lush Life, and some are terrible. Such is the nature of records.

Remastering is not a dirty word when you know how to do it right. Lots of good records were remastered in the ’70s. Think of all the Contemporary titles that came out in the decade before Fantasy bought the label and put all their best titles out as OJCs. Lots of Sheffield Lab Mastering marks in the dead wax, and Sheffield Labs was recutting some great records back in those days.

They don’t sound much like the records being made today, not to these ears anyway, but the typical audiophile who posts on forums — assuming that actually is the typical audiophile — seems to think the opposite is true. We would love to help them see the light, but as you say, that is just not something they are interested in seeing. More’s the pity.

[1] Fremer played a poorly mastered copy and judged the sound to be inferior. We know better than to try to sell a poorly mastered pressing like the one he played. We couldn’t if we tried. They would never make it through the shootout and would simply never qualify as a Hot Stamper pressing.

Hot Stampers of Lush Life are really good sounding records! Just as a bit of a reality check, we charge a lot of money for our top copies ($500+) and not a single one has ever been returned.

Everybody makes mistakes, but small sample sizes increase the frequency of mistakes by orders of magnitude, especially a sample size as small as one.

When you operate as a one-man band, you simply do not have the resources to clean and play enough copies of a given album to make accurate judgments about the sound.

Which is why he should stick to Heavy Vinyl reviews. You get one in, you give it a spin and you tell everybody how great it is. The advertisers like it, your readers like it, the labels like it, and everybody is happy as a clam.

When troublemakers like us come along, we upset that one-hand-washes-the-other arrangement, and then everybody gets real upset real fast. Nobody wants that. They want to keep selling Heavy Vinyl because that is what can be produced, in volume, at a reasonable cost, distributed widely and, most importantly, priced affordably. Win win win win win. So much winning!

If you want something better sounding, from us, it will cost you dearly. It will be every bit as good as we say, but it will not be cheap and it will not be collectible. The vast majority of record loving audiophiles — like the LP 45 Man — like collecting records. 95+% I would venture to guess.

The five per cent that are left are unlikely to want to spend their life savings on our pricey, uncollectible pressings. That leaves our potential pool of customers at less than one per cent of all the record loving audiophiles who want better sound and can afford it. Subtract the number of them who don’t like me personally — seems like a lot! — and you have a very small cohort of customers to draw from.

But big enough to keep our business going and food on the table for ten dedicated. music loving men and women. Nobody is getting rich, even at these prices, but we’re making a living and providing a service which some people really appreciate.

[2] We have not liked Saxophone Colossus on the Two-fer for many years. It was very dubby on the copies we played, so we gave up. Let us know what pressing you have so we can check it against our notes.

And if you can find an original Saxophone Colossus in clean shape for $300, you should jump on it. I have seen them sell for ten times that. And, just for everyone’s information, we have never sold a Hot Stamper for that price, although it is surely coming, inflation being what it is these days.

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