I wanted to comment on the discussion as to the validity of the ‘Better Records’ business model and offerings to audiophiles. As a backgrounder, I am an electrical engineer that grew up in the 60s and 70s listening first hand to many of the classic LPs that Better Records now offers for sale. I was also a musician with perfect pitch (playing French Horn in the Symphony and keyboards in various bands), I had a killer stereo and spent a lot of time in recording studios that produced some of the top acts and albums of the era so I certainly had exposure to the best equipment and listening environments back in the day.
I went on to being a CEO of various telecom/mobile software companies and somewhat lost touch with my musical purist roots. But I had 3 boys and one of them turned out to have the same music bug I had and he has gone on to pursuing a career as a recording engineer, re-introducing me to analog vinyl LPs, pushing me to re-engage in my greatest love, which I eventually did in spades: I tossed out my electrostatics and full digital sound chain and I built a set of Altec 604 monitors driven by a 300B tube amp and a killer turntable, and I went about spending about $30,000 on 1st pressing vinyl from around the world, cleaning them with an ultrasonic platform, and I learned a great deal during that process.
For one, I fell back in love with high efficiency speaker systems, for another I realized that I was spending an average of $200-300 per LP to get what I wanted and in some cases, over $1000 in total (buying 7 different DSOTM pressings and travelling to the UK multiple times to find the best pressings), and I found out that Better Records was on to something: I got burned more than once myself when I was buying clean, never played 1st pressings of some of the top LPs and ending not feeling the love for the results. I appreciate the complexities of the old school vinyl pressing sound chain and its infinite variables, and more times than not I was back sourcing additional copies of the same LP looking for that ‘magical pressing’.
I eventually got a stunning DSOTM 2nd pressing (A3/B3) and bought another only to find that the 1st one was way ahead of the 2nd so it shows that even the same pressings can be highly variable – in sound quality/feel/depth/clarity/warmth, but also noise floor. So, yes, there are magical ‘Hot Stampers’ out there, but to find them takes patience and lots of $ and effort.
When you score the perfect ‘Hot Stamper’ the result can be to draw you close to the very soul of the artist – bringing you right into the recording room with them, sometimes 50+ years after the fact. And when you put on a digital download or CD of the same LP it is a shocking insult in many many cases.
So, back to Better Records: they are doing all of the foot work for you, and as an obsessive compulsive individual, I can say without a doubt that they are providing a hugely valuable service to audiophiles. They are purists and they listen on ‘big’ speaker systems that will highlight the limitations of MOFI 1/2 speed mastered LPs (typically flawed low frequency response and some mid-range colouration).
I am very happy with Better Records and must say that they reduce my stress and have me impatiently waiting for their next shipment. 5 stars.
As an obsessive-compulsive individual myself, I know very well the suffering you must have gone through with the colorations of the MoFi pressings and what passes for audiophile “product” these days.
Glad we could help reduce the stress you felt pursuing good sounding vinyl. Finding that so little of what was supposed to sound good actually does is frustrating for anyone who is serious about this hobby.