*Basic Concepts Explained

How Can I Recognize What I Should Be Listening For on a Given Album?

Helpful Advice on Doing Your Own Shootouts

Hot Stampers – The Four Pillars of Success

Doing carefully controlled shootouts with large groups of records is the only practical way anyone can teach themselves what to listen for.

The advice you see below is often reproduced on our site. Here is some we recently included in a listing for Rubber Soul, with specific commentary about the song Norwegian Wood:

If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album at key moments of your choosing.

Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that others do not do as well, using a specific passage of music — the acoustic guitar John strums the hell out of on Norwegian Wood from Rubber Soul just to take one example — it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces that passage.

The process is simple enough.

    1. First you go deep into the sound.
    2. There you find something special, something you can’t find on most copies.
    3. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.

Admittedly, to clean and play enough copies to get to that point may take all day, but you will have gained experience and knowledge that you cannot come by any other way. If you do it right and do it enough it has the power to change everything you will ever achieve in audio.

Once you have done that work, when it comes time to play a modern record, on any label, it often becomes obvious what they “did to it” in the mastering, and how far short if falls when compared head to head to the pressings that were found to have the best sound. 

Our critiques are often quite specific about the sound of these Heavy Vinyl pressings. Our review for the remastered Rubber Soul is a good example of how thorough we can be when we feel the need to get down to brass tacks. 

Many of those who were skeptical before they heard their first Hot Stamper have written us letters extolling the virtues of our pressings. Here are some Testimonial Letters you may find of interest.

One Final Note

Before you try your first Hot Stamper, as long as you are buying vintage pressings in the meantime, not audiophile records, you are probably not wasting much money.

Every vintage pressing has the potential to teach you something.

A modern record, on the other hand, should never be considered anything more than a stop-gap, a kind of sonic benchmark to beat when you finally find a better sounding vintage pressing in acceptable condition.

New to the Blog? Start Here

Important Lessons We Learned from Record Experiments 

Critical Listening Vs. Listening for Enjoyment

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – A Guide to the Fundamentals

Important Lessons We Learned from Record Experiments 

In order to do the work we do, our approach to audio has to be fundamentally different from that of the audiophile who listens for enjoyment. Critical listening and listening for enjoyment go hand in hand, but they are not the same thing.

The first of these — developing and applying your critical listening skills — allows you to achieve good audio and find the best pressings of the music you love.

(Developing critical thinking skills when it comes to records and equipment is important too but that is not the focus of today’s commentary.)

Once you have a good stereo and a good record to play on it, your enjoyment of recorded music should increase dramatically. A great sounding record on a killer system is a thrill.

A Heavy Vinyl mediocrity, played back on what passes for so many audiophile systems these days — regardless of cost — is, to these ears, an insufferable bore.

If this sounds arrogant and elitist, so be it. Heavy Vinyl records are fine for some people, but for about the last fifteen years we’ve set a higher standard for ourselves and our customers. Holding our records to that higher standard allows us to price our Hot Stamper pressings commensurate with their superior sound and please the hell out of the people who buy them.

For those who appreciate the difference, and have resources sufficient to afford them, the cost is reasonable. If it were not, we would have gone out of business long ago.

Hot Stampers are not cheap. If the price could not be justified by the better sound quality and quieter surfaces, who in his right mind would buy them? We can’t really be fooling that many audiophiles, can we?

We talked about our approach to audio in a commentary we wrote decades ago:

We have put literally thousands of hours into our system and room in order to extract the maximum amount of information, musical and otherwise, from the records we play, or as close to the maximum as we can manage. Ours is as big and open as any system in an 18 by 20 by 8 room I’ve ever heard.

[We now have a custom-built studio with a twelve foot high ceiling, which, as you might imagine, does wonders for the size and scope of the recordings we play.]

It’s also as free from colorations of any kind as we can possibly make it. We want to hear the record in its naked form; not the way we want it to sound, but the way it actually does sound. That way, when you get it home and play it yourself, it should sound very much like we described it.

If too much of the sound we hear is what our stereo is doing, not what the record is doing, how can we know what it will sound like on your system? We try to be as truthful and as critical as we can when describing the records we sell. Too much coloration in the system makes those tasks much more difficult, if not a practical impossibility.

A White Hot copy should have a near-perfect blend of Tubey Magic and clarity, because that’s what we hear when we play it on our system.

We are convinced that the more time and energy you’ve put into your stereo over the years, decades even, the more likely it is that you will hear this wonderful record sound the way we heard it. And that will make it one helluva Demo Disc in your home too.

Audio Progress Is Key to Understanding and Appreciating Hot Stampers

Making progress in audio is not easy — in fact, if our experience is any guide, nothing is harder.

However, if your approach to audio is clear-headed and evidence-based — in other words, scientific — progress is not only possible, it is virtually guaranteed.

Most of the listings linked here describe lessons we’ve learned from playing so many records over the years. If you play lots of records, while listening to them critically, some of them will teach you things about audio that you cannot learn any other way.

Practically all of our audio philosophy derives from the simple act of trying to get our system to play the greatest recordings of all time with the highest fidelity possible. Every record is a challenge, and every defeat an opportunity to learn something, to see where we may have gone wrong, in order to know more than we did before.

The right vintage pressings have the potential to sound dramatically better than the mostly-mediocre records being made today. If you have made good audio progress in this hobby, this is an obvious truism.

If you doubt any of the above, we hope that the work you take on based on the advice in these commentaries will help get your system to another level, a level where there can be no doubt.


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

Record Collecting for Audiophiles

More Entries in Our Critical Thinking Series

Hot Stampers make more sense once one has a better understanding of 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.


How We Go About Evaluating Big Rock Records

More of the Music of Elton John

Reviews and Commentaries for Honky Chateau

Big Rock Records such as Honky Chateau always make for tough shootouts. Their everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to recording make it difficult to translate so much sound to disc, vinyl or otherwise. Everything has to be tuned up and on the money before we can even hope to get the record sounding right. Careful VTA adjustment could not be more critical in this respect.

If we’re not hearing the sound we want, we keep messing with the adjustments until we do. There is no getting around sweating the details when sitting down to test a recording as complex as this. If you can’t stand the tweaking tedium, get out of the kitchen (or listening room as the case may be).

Obsessing over every aspect of a record’s reproduction is what we do for a living. This kind of Big Rock Recording requires us to be at the top of our game, both in terms of reproducing the albums themselves as well as evaluating the merits of individual pressings.

When you love it, it’s not work, it’s fun. Tedious, occasionally exasperating fun, but still fun. And the louder you play a record like this the better it sounds.

More Is More

Elton John is one of the handful of artists to produce an immensely enjoyable and meaningful body of work throughout the ’70s, music that holds up to this day. The music on his albums, so multi-faceted and multi-layered, will endlessly reward the listener who makes the effort and takes the time to dive deep into the sound of his classic releases.

Repeated plays are the order of the day. The more critically you listen, the more you are sure to discover within the exceedingly dense mixes favored by Elton and his bandmates. And the better your stereo gets the more you can appreciate the care and effort that went into the production of the recordings.

His producers’ (Gus Dudgeon being the best of them) and engineers’ (Ken Scott and Robin Geoffrey Cable likewise the best) approach to recording — everything-but-the-kitchen-sink is the rule — make it difficult to translate their complex sounds to disc, vinyl or otherwise.


Better Record’s Record Collecting Axiom Number One

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – The Fundamentals

Important Lessons We Learned from Record Experiments 

In an old commentary for a shootout we did for Carole King’s Tapestry album, we took shots at both the CBS Half-Speed Mastered Audiophile pressing and the Classic Heavy Vinyl Audiophile pressing, noting that both fell far short of the standard set by the Hot Stamper copies we had been playing (and enjoying the hell out of) for years.

axiom-definition-screenshotThis finding (and scores of others just like it) prompted us to promulgate the first two axioms of audiophile record collecting.

Better Records Record Collecting Axiom Number One

The better your stereo gets, the fewer Heavy Vinyl and Half-Speed Mastered pressings you will choose to play, or own for that matter.

This assumes a fact not in evidence: that audiophiles get rid of their bad sounding records.

It has been my experience that the reverse is actually more often the case. Most audiophiles seem to like to hang on to their audiophile pressings, even the bad sounding ones. Why they do this I cannot for the life of me understand.

To me a bad sounding audiophile record is a record that has no business being played and should either be tossed or sold, with any proceeds from the sale applied to the purchase of good records — you know, like the ones found on this site.

Click here to read Better Record’s Record Collecting Axiom Number Two.

Record Collecting Advice

The Book of Hot Stampers – We’d Love to Read It

_1400755003Some Moderately Helpful Title Specific Advice

More Helpful Advice on Doing Your Own Shootouts

I received this email about fifteen years ago:

Hi Tom,

Could you please recommend a book which would give the stamper numbers associated with the different pressings of a particular record.

Dear Sir,

Let me take this opportunity to give a more comprehensive answer, since the concept of Hot Stampers is not especially well understood by the audiophile community outside of our admittedly rather small customer base. Only those who have spent a great deal of time reading the reviews and commentary on the site are likely to understand the importance of stampers. This is partly my fault, as this issue of stamper variability and quality is spread out all over the place, exactly where, no one really knows.

First of All, There Is No Such Book

I regret to say there is no such book and probably never will be. To my knowledge, we are the only guys on the planet selling records who know much about the subject. In fact, we pioneered the very concept, starting about fifteen years ago.

Back in the early ’90s I complained that the TAS Super Disc List didn’t list the “correct” stampers: the stampers (or matrix numbers if you prefer) being the individual markings associated with the actual pressing HP was calling a Super Disc. Without knowing those stampers almost any pressing one might acquire would be different from the one on the list, and quite possibly inferior (or superior; in any event, different sounding).

The catalog number or label — practically all that could be gleaned from his writings — serves as a very poor guide in this respect. Occasionally one might read a review which mentioned stampers, but any such mentions were few and infrequent. To do much good they would have had to be much more systematic, and that never happened (mostly because the reviewers making these pronouncements were of course not very systematic and never pretended to be).

So, since we do not have the time or the intention to write such a book, and no one else to my knowledge has the necessary expertise, one will probably never be written. There are at least two good reasons for not even attempting such an endeavor, however. One is selfish, one is not.

Trade Secrets

First off, when we discover hot stampers, they become the equivalent of trade secrets — we never reveal them to anyone. Over the last twenty five years of collecting we have bought hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of records and spent tens of thousands of hours of our time deciphering those arcane little squiggles in the dead wax that correlate, however imperfectly, with both the good records and the bad ones. Why would we want to give that hard-earned information away? It’s priceless, to us anyway.

Today’s Fact Is Tomorrow’s Error

Secondly, and every bit as importantly, they change, and frequently. We find new and better pressings all the time. This very subject is discussed in the commentary for David Crosby’s first album. we note in our review that we used to like a different stamper. Now, with better equipment and better ears, we prefer a new one. And tomorrow we might like still another!

The Best Sound

As we see it, our job is to get you the best sounding records we can find. That’s how we would like to think we make our living. Knowing the right stampers helps us do it, but that is only part of the process. The right stampers only sound right some of the time. The vinyl plays a big part in the sound, and we’re not talking about condition here, we’re talking about the quality of the vinyl compound itself. This unpleasant fact is the bane of our existence. So many potentially great records that we buy just don’t sound the way we know they should, even after an expensive and time-consuming cleaning.

No one can know precisely why some pressings come up short. But the ears know. Playing records is the only reliable test we’ve discovered to date. Imperfectly reliable to be sure, but markedly more reliable than any other.

Right Stampers, Wrong Sound

We could rattle off all sorts of stamper numbers that should sound amazing. We have hundreds of them memorized, so that when we go to a record store we know what to buy and what to avoid. But the LP you find on your own with the “right” stamper numbers might sound dreadful, or no better than mediocre. Naturally, you would conclude we were to blame for recommending such a bad pressing. But our copy and your copy, both with the same stampers, don’t sound the same. In fact, if our experience is any guide, they can never sound the same. Similar maybe, virtually identical even, but like two snowflakes or two grains of sand on the beach, not truly identical. And, based on our experience, often not even all that close.

So, with all that in mind, we have decided to take a different approach to the task of helping you acquire the best sounding LPs. We find them for you, clean them up, play them, and make sure they sound good before you buy them. This way, we do all the work, and you get to spend more time listening to good records and less time finding, cleaning and evaluating bad ones.


Thoughts on Becoming an Expert Listener

More Basic Concepts and Realities Explained 

More on the Subject of Developing Your Critical Listening Skills

This commentary was written around 2006, about two years after we started to put Hot Stampers on our website. Most of these kinds of commentaries from our old site can now be found on the blog you are reading. Here is one of the early ones that got the ball rolling.

For years we’ve been writing commentaries about the sound of specific records we’ve auditioned in order to put them up for sale. By now there are literally hundreds of pages of commentary in which we’ve tried to explain, often in great detail, exactly what we listened for and exactly what we heard when playing these pressings. We’ve tried to be as clear as possible about precisely which qualities separate the better sounding LPs from their competitors — what they were doing right, and how we were able to recognize those qualities.

As we’ve gained a better understanding of records and their playback, we’ve made every effort to share with our readers what we’ve learned. Although the vast majority of these records sold long ago, almost all of the commentary remains available on the blog, to act as a resource for the audiophile who owns or might want to consider buying a copy of the record discussed.

Over the years, one thing has continued to bother me (I almost wrote “vex me”) about this hobby and those who pursue it. I’m frankly still shocked at how unskilled most listeners are.

How else to explain all the bad sounding 180 gram pressings so many audiophiles embrace?

Add to the above bad half-speeds, bad Japanese pressings, bad Classic Records, bad 45s and all the rest, and you have a lot of bad sounding records that people don’t seem to have noticed sound bad. How can that be?

Finally, after years of scratching my head over this conundrum, Scientific American has come to the rescue with an article by Philip E. Ross in the August 2006 issue entitled The Expert Mind. Its subtitle explains:

Studies of the mental processes of chess grandmasters have revealed clues to how people become experts in other fields as well.

The studies have a number of significant findings which go a long way toward explaining the expertise, or lack of it, in listeners. It concludes that experts are made, not born, which means that virtually anyone can acquire the skills to become an expert listener.

But more importantly, the efforts required to reach that expert level explain why many audiophiles have not managed to acquire the necessary skills.

These studies show that two requirements must be met. The first is ten years of hard work. This means full time — not weekends, not a few hours after work to relax, but full time: forty, fifty, sixty hours a week, for years and years.

That amount of effort for that amount of time is “necessary but not sufficient,” as the logicians like to say. You can play golf all day every day and never become a scratch golfer. If you want to play at that level you have to work at it. You have to challenge yourself to play better, by whatever means necessary. You must actively approach the game with the intention to improve, not passively approach the game with the goal of enjoyment. That fundamental difference in attitude and effort results in very different skill levels over time.

As you can probably guess by now, I started to see something of myself in these findings. I’ve been listening critically to records full time for well over a decade, close to two at this point [now three and counting]. And many others who work here do the same — play lots of records and listen to them critically.

Let’s face it, we don’t play records all day because we want to. We play them because we have to. It’s how we make our living. Life would be a lot easier if we could just be one of those record dealers who throws a title up on his site with a visual grade and a high price. We can’t do that. Audiophiles come to us for superior sounding pressings, and there’s only one way to find those — by playing the records.

What’s more, you have to compare any given pressing to others you may have on hand, to see what it’s doing right and wrong, where its strengths and weaknesses lay. It’s a lot of work. This is how we’ve learned about records. We can’t imagine any other way of doing it.

After reading this article, I went back through some of my audio commentary and found this little gem from 2005.

A good record is an education for me too. This is not only how I’ve managed to learn about the pressing in question; it’s the same process that allows me to make improvements in the sound of the stereo. It’s learning how to identify what is right and what is wrong with the sound of any pressing — the same process that helps me recognize whether any change to the stereo makes it sound better or worse, and to try and figure out by how much and in what way.

And the best part is, like the practice of any skill, the more you do it, the better you get at it. I do it all day, every day. Not because I’m noble or dedicated. I do it because I enjoy it. It’s fun. It’s the most fun part of this job. Discovering great sounding recordings is a THRILL. It’s what this hobby is all about — music that sounds better than you ever thought it could.

The study corroborated what we already knew to be true. Improving your Critical Listening Skills requires the expenditure of effort, and lots of it.

The second finding of the study was corroborated in the next few paragraphs, wherein I exhorted the reader to challenge himself, to test his skills using records he already owns:

Of course, as I’ve stated elsewhere on the site, you learn almost nothing from the same record played back on the same equipment. What you must do is learn to listen for differences in the sound, and differences only come about as the result of a change. You have to CHANGE something in the system to develop these critical listening skills.

How about this example: the difference in sound between any two sides of a record. The only change there involves flipping the record over. No new equipment, no tweaks, no shootouts with dozens of alternate pressings. Just flip the record. Almost no record has the same sound on both sides, not the records we sell anyway. Where else have you ever read such a thing? Nowhere else, at least to my knowledge. Because not enough audiophiles and almost no record dealers make the effort to listen critically.

If you can’t hear the difference on at least some of your records, it has to be one or both of the following. Either your system is not good enough to resolve these differences, which is sometimes the case, or, much more likely, you simply haven’t trained your ears to listen for them. Not listening for pleasure. Listening like it’s a job. Critically. Analytically. Try to listen for one quality by itself. Listen for grain, or top end extension, or bass dynamics — anything, the list is endless. Focus in on that single quality, recognize it, appreciate it, then flip the record over and judge that quality for side two.

Although we make plenty of mistakes, we think of ourselves as experts when it comes to evaluating the sound of records and stereo equipment. (Experts make mistakes; they just make fewer of them.) The studies alluded to above make it clear that anyone can.

But the practical consequences of these findings are that few audiophiles can ever hope to achieve expert critical listening skills. It takes too much time and it takes too much work. Most people are in this hobby for fun. They already have a job. They don’t need another one.

Perhaps there’s another, better way to look at it. Most people are not going to become scratch golfers, but they can still get better at the game. There is a balance to be achieved between working hard to improve your skills and having fun at the same time.


How To Get The Most Out Of Your Records – A Step By Step Guide

My Stereo (and Thoughts on Equipment)

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve recently begun to include an info sheet with our Hot Stamper pressings which describes some simple steps you can take to get better results with our records in your home.

Since these tips really apply to all records and not just our Hot Stampers, we thought it best to outline them here and add a few additional thoughts. 

Warm Up

Warm up your stereo for at least a half hour before doing any critical listening. A full hour is even better. Make sure you have the volume raised; the speaker drivers need to be moving actively so as to loosen them up and get them in the mood to sound their best.

All Hot Stamper pressings have been thoroughly cleaned by us and there is no need to clean them again, at least not for quite a while. (After a dozen or so plays it might be a good time to think about another cleaning, especially if fingerprints or dust are visible or audible. When in doubt clean the record.)

Since many of the record cleaning fluids on the market today actually make records lose fidelity, we encourage you to clean your records only with the one fluid we recommend: The Walker Enzyme Cleaning system.

If you must clean our Hot Stamper pressings with a fluid we do not recommend, our advice would be to listen carefully to the record before recleaning, then again after cleaning, to make sure there is no loss of sound quality. If there is a loss of fidelity we would then strongly advise you to switch to the Walker fluids.

Records that have been properly cleaned actually sound even better after a few plays. After a good cleaning, playing the record helps plow more grunge out of the grooves and also helps the stylus tip to seat itself deeper into the center of the groove.

Every Hot Stamper pressing sold by us has been played through at least once on both sides. Another play or two (or three or four) on your part will help the record sound even better.


Turn off, or better yet, UNPLUG as many electrical devices as you can (appliances, microwaves, air conditioning, lights, etc.) to feed your stereo the best electricity available to you.

We cannot stress this too strongly.

Start with a Familiar Recording

Start your listening session with a record you are familiar with to ensure your stereo is performing at a high level. We all have bad stereo days. There’s no sense in judging a record — especially if it’s a new Hot Stamper pressing — on a system that’s not performing up to par.


It’s critically important to demagnetize your speakers and cables at least ten minutes before listening. (We recommend using the Talisman Magnetic Optimizer by Walker Audio. They are no longer made so you have trouble finding one but it is differently worth the effort. Same with the Hallographs we talk about in our commentary entitled Revolutions in Audio, Anyone?)

The difference in sound before and after is almost shocking. As a practical matter it would be all but impossible to conduct our super-critical shootouts with a system that had not been Talisman’d. (In the old days, before we had the Talisman, shootouts were a lot harder and a much higher percentage of them had to be abandoned. We still give up — temporarily, there’s always another day — on albums every week that don’t make the cut, but hearing what’s good in a recording is much easier now than it was years ago.)

With the Talisman the sound opens up, the extreme bottom and top extend, veils are wiped away, depth improves, soundstaging improves, dynamic contrasts become greater, and last but not least, the overall energy of the system increases substantially.

Adjust the VTA

Carefully set the VTA of your arm by ear until you find the right sound. It may take five minutes or it may take twenty five minutes but having the VTA correctly set for every record you play is absolutely critical to its proper reproduction.

Here’s more on the subject of VTA, one of the most overlooked aspects of playback in all of audio.

Check the Grades

It is helpful to check our notes and sonic grades for your Hot Stamper before listening to see what we liked (or didn’t like) about the pressing, so you can listen for those specific qualities we discussed in our commentary.

Listen Again

If you take care to do all these things properly, with high quality playback equipment you should have no trouble recognizing the superiority of our Hot Stamper pressings.

If not, run through all the steps outlined above and try listening again. Some of our customers heard a lot more the second time around than they did when first playing the album, a powerful learning experience if ever there was one.

Record Cleaning Advice

The Recordings Won’t Change, So Other Things Have To

More of the Music of Led Zeppelin

Another entry in a series we like to call The Big Picture.

It’s amazing how many records that used to sound bad — or least problematical — now sound pretty darn good. The blog is full of commentaries about them. Here’s a good one.

Every one of them is proof that comments about recordings are of limited value.

The recordings don’t change. Our ability to find, clean and play the pressings made from them does, and that’s what the Hot Stamper Revolution is all about.

You have a choice. You can choose to take the standard audiophile approach, which is to buy the record that is supposed to be the best pressing and consider the case closed.

You did the right thing, you played by the rules. You bought the pressing you were told to buy, the one you read the reviews about, the one on the list, the one they said was made from the master tape, the one supposedly pressed on the best vinyl, and on and on.

Cross that title off and move on to the next, right?

When — sometimes if but usually when — the sound of the record doesn’t live up to the hype surrounding it, you merely accept the fact that the recording itself must be at fault.

Prepare to allot a fair amount of time to complaining about such an unfortunate state of affairs. “If only they had recorded the album better…” you say to yourself as you toddle off to bed, ending your listening session prematurely, fatigued and frustrated with a record that — for some reason — doesn’t sound as good as you remember.

We did it too, more times than I care to admit.

Try It Our Way

Or you can adopt our approach and hear those very same albums sound dramatically better than you ever thought possible. Better than you remember. It happens all the time here at Better Records and it can happen at your house too. Just follow the yellow brick– uh, scratch that, just follow these four steps.

Our approach has the added benefit of freeing up time that would normally be spent bitching about the bad sound of most recordings. This in turn makes more time available for pleasurable listening to the Hot Stamper pressing you discovered on your own or the one we found for you. (It’s the same process whether you do it yourself or we do it for you.)

You also probably won’t feel the need to go on silly audiophile forums to argue the merits of this or that pressing. You will already own the pressing that settles the argument.

Keep in mind that your pressing only settles the argument for you — nobody else will believe it.

And why should they? They have never heard your copy. It would take quite a leap of faith on their part to believe that your copy sounds so much better than the one they own, when the one they own looks just like the one you own. It might even have the same catalog number, the same label, maybe even the same stampers.

But this is precisely what Hot Stampers are all about. Records may look the same but they most assuredly do not sound the same.

It may be a dead horse, but we see no reason to stop beating it: “Explaining doesn’t work. Only hearing works.”

What We Offer

Unfortunately most of what is important in audio you have to learn to do for yourself.


Tell Us More About “Hot Stampers”

More Straight Answers to Your Hot Stamper Questions

Many of the basic questions concerning Hot Stampers, including our grading system, 2-packs, coupons, the mailing list, as well as more general ordering and payment information, can be found in our FAQ on our website.

The links below deals specifically with the kinds of issues that potential customers, as well as skeptics and forum posters (god bless ’em!), have raised with us over the years.

We think sitting down to play a Hot Stamper pressing is the best way to appreciate its superior sound, in the same way that hearing a vintage LP played back on a top quality audio system is the best way to appreciate the superiority of analog.

If you want to skip all that and just buy a record or two in order to hear what you’ve been missing, click here.

To expand on the basics discussed above, you might want to check out some of these next:

  1. How can I find my own Hot Stamper pressings?
  2. Do I already have some Hot Stamper pressings in my collection?
  3. Important Lessons We Learned from Record Experiments
  4. Understanding The Fundamentals of Record Collecting