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The Three – Our Direct Disc Copy

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Jazz Hall of Fame.

DEMO QUALITY, MASTER TAPE SOUND (!) on BOTH SIDES! Hey, wait a minute, this is the direct to disc version, there is no Master Tape. How can it have Master Tape Sound?

Simple. It’s the RARE copy that actually sounds like this one. Most Eastwind pressings — like pressings on any label — do not convey all the information of the master tape that you know must exist because you HEAR it on some copies. Some Direct Discs have much more of the sound that was cut live directly onto the acetate than others. This is one of those, one of the ones with MUCH MORE SOUND! 

This is my favorite piano trio record of all time. Joe Sample, Shelly Manne and Ray Brown only made one album together, this one, recorded direct to disc right here in Los Angeles for Eastwind in the Seventies. Joe Sample for once in his life found himself in a real Class A trio, and happily for jazz fans around the world he rose to the occasion. Actually it was more like an epiphany, as this is the one piano trio album I put in a class by itself. All three of The Three are giving us the best they’ve got on this one. When it comes to piano trio jazz, there is none better. (more…)

Donald Byrd – House of Byrd

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  • Two rare Donald Byrd albums in one, both with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • The Tubey Magic is fully intact, making these two albums sound just the way 1956 RVG jazz should
  • Composed of two superb LPs, 2 Trumpets and The Young Bloods, these wonderful pressings capture some of Byrd’s best sound
  • “Art and Donald are in fine form, and if there is any competition it serves only to increase the musical yield.”
  • “… These blowing sessions (typical of Prestige’s albums of the 1950s) have their enjoyable moments with Farmer and Woods taking overall solo honors.

This reissue is spacious, open, transparent, rich and sweet. It’s yet another remarkable disc from the Golden Age of Vacuum Tube Recording Technology, with the added benefit of mastering using the more modern cutting equipment of the ’70s in this case. We are of course here referring to the good modern mastering of 40+ years ago, not the generally opaque, veiled and lifeless mastering so common today. (more…)

T.Rex – The Slider

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  • Insanely good sound throughout this early UK pressing with each side rating a Triple Plus (A+++) or very close to it – quiet vinyl too
  • These sides were bigger, richer and livelier, with more bass, energy and Tubey Magic than the other copies we played (which is why this copy won the shootout)
  • Even the best domestic pressings always sounded dubby to us – we gave up playing them years ago
  • 5 stars: “The Slider essentially replicates all the virtues of Electric Warrior, crammed with effortless hooks and trashy fun. All of Bolan’s signatures are here – mystical folk-tinged ballads, overt sexual come-ons crooned over sleazy, bopping boogies, loopy nonsense poetry, and a mastery of the three-minute pop song form.”

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are enchanting. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good a 1972 All Tube Analog recording can sound, this killer copy will do the trick. (To be honest, since I do not know what equipment was being used in the many studios this album was recorded in, better to say that this is what, to our ears, sounds like all tube analog sound.) With Tony Visconti in the studio the sound has much in common with another Glam Rock Masterpiece from the same year, Ziggy Stardust. (more…)

The Beatles – Abbey Road – Our First Shootout Winner from Way Back in 2007

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This Minty Apple British Import pressing has MASTER TAPE SOUND ON SIDE ONE! We just finished a big Abbey Road shootout (1/16/07) and this side one was IN A LEAGUE OF ITS OWN!

This is the first Hot Stamper Abbey Road we’ve ever listed … and there’s a good reason for that. It’s practically impossible to find a properly mastered copy. For whatever reasons — probably because this recording is so complicated and required so many tracks — Abbey Road is the toughest nut to crack in the Beatles’ catalog.

This copy is actually my personal Ref Copy, which I have had in my collection for many years. Surprisingly, while doing this shootout we discovered that it doesn’t have the ultimate side two, which is the side I really liked on this copy. It still merits an A+ for side two, but it’s interesting that one of the things that we often discover in these shootouts is copies that exceed our expectations and set entriely new standards for albums we’ve been listening to critically for decades. This copy turned out to have the Ultimate Side One — A+++. No other copy came close; it’s two full grades above the next best pressing.

Frankly up to now we’ve been afraid to take on Abbey Road. With recent improvements to the stereo, and knowing that I had at least one superb sounding copy, now was the time. Out of all the Imports I’ve been collecting over the last dozen years or so, only three or four copies really qualified as having Hot Stampers.

The biggest problem with Abbey Road is aggressive highs. There are so many places on both sides that can sound shrill and unpleasant. (See the Track Commentary below.) To find copies that remain sweet and smooth throughout was exceptionally difficult, but we managed to do it.

Side one is amazingly transparent, with tons of ambience and immediacy to the vocals. There’s no trace of phony EQ or bad mastering whatsoever. It rates an A+++ — As Good As It Gets. As we’ve said for some of our other White Hot Stampers, you’ll feel as though the master tape is threaded up and playing through your stereo.

Side two is wonderful as well, with SUPERB clarity. We only heard one side two that had better sound. This one has a wonderfully punchy bottom end with deep, well-defined bass.

One more thing. This is a BIG SPEAKER RECORDING. If you’re trying to squeeze the nine tracks of Beatles’ voices in the song Because through some little box, you are wasting your time. This is the final statement from The Beatles. To take away the power of this album by playing it through inadequate equipment makes a mockery of the effort they put into it.

Chet Atkins – Caribbean Guitar

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

This RCA Living Stereo LP has an A++ side two! It’s rich, warm and sweet with great transparency and clear transients — if it had just a bit more top it would be right up with the very best copies. Side one is not quite up to the same standards, and is very noisy. The vinyl plays about Mint Minus Minus on side two, but its a rare copy that plays any quieter.

Harry Pearson put this record on his TAS List of Super Discs.

This is one of Chet Atkins’ best albums. Sonically it’s right up there with The Other Chet Atkins and the Hollywood album. It seems like Bill Porter just doesn”t know how not to make an amazing sounding Living Stereo recording. Everything the guy touches is GOLD! (more…)

Gregg Allman – Laid Back

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

We were surprised at how well recorded the album is, dramatically better than the Allmans’ album from the same year, Brothers and Sisters. Full-bodied and Tubey Magical, with especially smooth, present vocals, this is the sound we love at Better Records.

AMG Review

Recorded in the same year as the Brothers and Sisters album, this solo debut release is a beautiful amalgam of R&B, folk, and gospel sounds, with the best singing on any of Gregg Allman’s solo releases. He covers his own “Midnight Rider” in a more mournful, dirge-like manner, and Jackson Browne’s “These Days” gets its most touching and tragic-sounding rendition as well. Although Chuck Leavell and Jaimoe are here, there’s very little that sounds like the Allman Brothers Band — prominent guitars, apart from a few licks by Tommy Talton (Cowboy, ex-We the People), are overlooked in favor of gospel-tinged organ and choruses behind Allman’s soulful singing. (more…)

Straight Answers to Your Questions – Are Hot Stampers Just Original Pressings?

We think sitting down to listen to 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 system is the best way to appreciate the superiority of analog. Short of getting you to try one of our records — 100% guaranteed, no questions asked — we hope these comments will be of value.

Are Hot Stampers just original pressings?

They certainly can be, but quite often are not, which of course comes as a surprise to no one who works here. Reissues come out on top in our record shootouts fairly regularly. Yes, most of the time the original will beat the reissue, but most of the time is far from always, and since we have to play a big pile of copies anyway (and always with the person doing the sound grading kept in the dark about the pressing on the turntable), why not just evaluate both the originals and the reissues at the same time, and do so strictly on the merits? (more…)

Forum Fact or Fiction? Ready. Set. Type!

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Some Forum posters at audiokarma.org were raking us over the coals a while back, questioning the legitimacy of our so-called “hot stampers”. If you have an hour or two to kill check it out. 

The first entry in the thread is from 2009. The headline reads “Hot Stampers….Anyone own any?”

Even though they were calling us every name in the book I found their comments to be so fascinating and entertaining as to be positively addicting; I couldn’t stop myself from going back over and over again to see what new foolishness might have been added since my last visit.

No wonder people love these forums — you get to rant to your heart’s content. You can even discuss the sound of records you’ve never played and yet no one finds it the least bit strange. Certainly no one will call you on it; it’s about ranting, not reality, and not even really about the sound of records, truth be told. What could possibly be more fun than that?

Hoffman Don’t Play That

There aren’t any on Hoffman’s forum because discussion of the subject is verboten

If you know of any more threads where we get dragged through the internet mud, send me the links, I’ll put them right here for everyone to read. They are a hoot! (more…)

Reintroducing Ourselves

Welcome To Better Records

No two copies of a record sound the same. That’s the undeniable reality of the analog LP, as well as the driving force that turned a hobby into a full-fledged livelihood for our staff of six.

Many people find the ideas (and the prices!) on this website shocking. Frankly, they would be shocking to us too if we weren’t hearing such dramatic differences in the sound quality of the large numbers of copies we play every day.

Our staff devotes its time to finding, cleaning and playing as many pressings of an album as we can get our hands on. We take only the best sounding copies – we call them “Hot Stampers” – and make them available exclusively to those who appreciate (and can afford) the ultimate in analog sound.

We’re unique in that we’re the only record dealers who base the price of their records on the quality of their sound. Although we’ve been finding Hot Stamper pressings for close to thirty years, it has only become the main focus of our business in the last decade or so.

It began simply enough as a personal quest to find better sounding records for our own collections. As more audiophiles have come to recognize just how impressive a Hot Stamper can be compared with any other pressing, we’ve evolved to keep up with the demand. Our staff now concentrates all its efforts into finding these exceptional copies. We are proud to have established ourselves as the team with both the resources and expertise to carry out this intensely specialized, time-consuming work.

We offer a 100% Money Back, No Questions Asked Guarantee on every record we sell. If you are not completely satisfied with a Hot Stamper for any reason, send it back within 30 days for a full refund. That’s how confident we are in the records we offer. Our return rate? Somewhere in the low single digits.

The links below should help you get acquainted with our site. We know it can be a bit overwhelming so please feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions about what we do and how we do it.

We encourage you to sign up for our weekly mailer, where you’ll find our best sounding new arrivals each week as well as special offers and exclusive discounts.

 

Thanks for checking out our site and we look forward to helping you on the journey to amazing analog sound. You can either browse our selection of Hot Stampers or continue learning more about what we do with the links below.