More Letters from fans and detractors alike.
If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out the interview Wired conducted with me a few years back.
If you have some time on your hands, maybe too much time on your hands, go to the comments section and read the 300 plus postings that can be found there, the writers of which seem to be offended by the very idea of Hot Stampers. They also decry the obvious shortcomings of analog vinyl itself, as well as the ridiculously expensive equipment some “credulous, misguided audiophiles,” their terms, use to play vinyl records, as if you didn’t know already!
Here is one that I found to be especially interesting, from a psychological perspective if not from an audio one:
Bad, mismatched system setup. Customer base probably has the same. Also evaluation process is questionable. Uses a mediocre solid state amp and looks for “tubey magic” because of some misplaced concept of “accuracy” as I discussed before. [Man, this guy has got our number all right, ouch!]
Yes, there is a lot of bad stuff out there, and it does give the stereo industry as a whole a bad name. I have heard some pretty crappy, expensive setups in my day.
I was listening to Phoebe Snow’s “Second Childhood” on my best system last night. Boy, I love my new turntable!
The only problem I have with my evaluations is that I never heard his records. My comments are probably correct, but it would be interesting to audition a few of his “golden” albums just to confirm he hasn’t really found anything. The reason I am confident that he probably does not have anything is because virtually every repressing I’ve heard is better than the original. Claiming otherwise hurts his credibility.
There is one sentence in the paragraphs above that should raise a giant red flag and help you to appreciate how reliable John’s analysis of our stereo and methods might turn out to be. If you didn’t catch it the first time through, give it another shot. Okay, here goes:
The reason I am confident that he probably does not have anything is because virtually every repressing I’ve heard is better than the original.
That’s so strange! Virtually every repressing I’ve heard is worse than the original.
If I may paraphrase our writer: the reason I am confident that he probably does not know anything about records or audio is that he thinks repressings are always better than vintage pressings. We’ve critically auditioned tens of thousands of records, including many hundreds of repressings, admittedly on our “bad, mismatched system setup,” and I guess we must have gotten it all wrong over the 34 years we’ve been in the audiophile record business. The shame of it all!
Obviously, John knows he does not need to try one of our Hot Stampers. You can see him talking himself into the wisdom of doing nothing with every succeeding paragraph.
It’s easy for him to be right by simply pretending to know something he cannot possibly know.
(Knowledge that is not backed up by empirical findings  comes in for a lot of criticism here at Better Records, and for good reason. Guessing, speculating and assuming are poor approaches to separating the good pressings from the bad ones.)
And if he did ever order one, and had at least a halfway decent stereo to play it on, it would turn his world upside down so fast it would make his head hurt, and the possibility of that happening would be very, very upsetting. It makes no sense for John to risk such an outcome.
Even if our records were as cheap as the ones he is buying, even the superior sound would not justify the psychological damage that would result. He would basically have to start his collection over again, as this good customer did. A few hundred others just like him have done the same, and they’re the ones that will be keeping us in business for years to come. To paraphrase another famous saying, “They’ve heard the future, and it works!
Better for John to follow the path he is on. It’s working for him. Why would he want to rock his own boat?
We wrote about that issue on this very blog. Here is an excerpt:
Our Hot Stampers will of course still sound quite a bit better on even a run-of-the-mill audiophile system than any Heavy Vinyl pressing you care to name, but if you’re happy with a $30 reissue, what’s your incentive to spend five or ten or twenty times that amount, based on nothing more than my say-so? Even with a 100% Money Back Guarantee, why rock your own boat?
On the site we take great pains to make it clear that there are many ways that an audiophile—even a novice—can prove to himself that what we say about pressing variations is true, using records he already owns. You don’t have to spend a dime to discover the reality underlying the concept of Hot Stampers.
But perhaps you may have noticed, as I have, that most audio skeptics do not go out of their way to prove themselves wrong. And a little something psychologists and cognitive scientists call Confirmation Bias practically guarantees that you can’t hear something you don’t want to hear.
Which is all well and good. At Better Records we don’t let that slow us down. Instead we happily go about our business Turning Skeptics Into Believers, taking a few moments out to debunk the hell out of practically any Heavy Vinyl LP we run into, for sport if for no other reason.
They’re usually so bad it’s actually fun to hear how screwy they sound when played back correctly.
But don’t tell John that.
 Pretense of Knowledge
- New to the Blog? Start Here
- Skeptical Thinking Is Critical to Achieving Better Sound
- What You Can Learn from Experimenting with Records
- How to Get the Most Out of Your Records – A Step by Step Guide