All About Hot Stampers

The Vintage Sound of The Genius After Hours

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Yet Another Record We’ve Discovered with (Potentially) Excellent Sound

charlgenius

Proof positive that there is nothing wrong with remastering vintage recordings if you know what you’re doing. These sessions from 1956 (left off of an album that Allmusic liked a whole lot less than this one) were remastered in 1985 and the sound — on the better copies mind you — is correct from top to bottom.

The highest compliment I can pay a copy such as this is that it doesn’t sound like a modern record. It sounds like a very high quality mono jazz record from the ’50s or ’60s. Unlike modern recuts it doesn’t sound EQ’d in any way. It doesn’t lack ambience the way modern records do. It sounds musical and natural the way modern records almost never do.

If not for the fairly quiet vinyl you would never know it’s not a vintage record. The only originals we had to play against it were too noisy and worn to evaluate critically. They sounded full, but dark and dull and somewhat opaque (hey, there’s that modern remastered sound we’ve all been hearing for years!).

And although it is obviously a budget reissue, it sure doesn’t sound cheap to these ears.

Tender Loving Care?

Was it remastered with great care, or did the engineer just thread up the tape on a high-quality, properly calibrated deck and say “Nice, sounds good, let her rip.”? Either explanation works for me, because I really don’t care who made the record or how much work they put into it. In the case of The Genius After Hours it seems they found the real master tape and just did their job right, the way mastering engineers — well, some of them anyway — had been doing for decades.

A scant ten years later Bernie Grundman, a true Hall of Famer, started cutting for Classic Records and ruined practically every tape handed to him.

Our explanation? We don’t have one! We played the records and reported our findings. We sold the ones we thought sounded good to us and didn’t bother with the rest.

Just like we’re doing now. The biggest difference here is that we are evaluating a single copy, with these specific qualities, and guaranteeing that you either love it or you get your money back. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Dire Straits, Boston and Rumours

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:  

Hey Tom,   

Just some feedback. I know its been a long time. Just always busy. Anyways, All the albums were great. The Dire Straits I thought was the best. FM was next. Boston is hard for me to listen to nowadays. I used to really be a big Boston fan, played it all the time in the car cassette deck. In fact I first heard album #1 in a friends car deck. Now, I’m not so much a big fan, but The hot stamper was great. When I first contacted you about your hot stampers you mentioned that I might not be able to notice a big difference with my setup. But I could tell the difference right away. I frequent your site at least once a week looking for something of interest and within my price range. It’s amazing what you guys do.

Anyways, I’ll keep looking and thanks for the awesome hot stampers. (more…)

Caldera – Carnavalito! Louder Is Better

Records You Can Buy that Sound Best on Big Speakers at Loud Levels

Carnavalito is a track that really comes ALIVE when you Crank Up the Volume. I played it FULL BLAST on two different occasions for audiophile friends of mine just to show them what happens when a Big Speaker Stereo meets a Large Scale Recording with absolutely AMAZING audiophile quality sound — BIG and BOLD, wall to wall and then some!

It’s my favorite track not only for the album as a whole but for the band’s entire recorded output. It just doesn’t get any better than this if you have the system for it.

Hearing the megawatt energy in the section when the soprano saxophonist jumps in, right into an ongoing orgy of wild percussion, who then proceeds to blow his brains out — now that is a thrill beyond belief. Played REALLY LOUD it’s about the closest to The Real Thing, the Live Event, that you will ever hear in your living room. (Unless you have a very large living room and lots of latin jazz musician friends.)

Even a year ago there was no way I could get that music to play that LOUD, that CLEANLY, and that tonally CORRECT, from the deepest bass to the highest highs, with the wild swings in dynamics that the recording captures so well. The Audio Revolution Is Alive and Well and making progress all the time. It’s never too late to join in the fun.

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Whomp Factor on Little Queen – Testing with Love Alive – Parts One and Two

More Heart

More Women Who Rock
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Heart’s Little Queen has long been a favorite Test Disc. It works especially well as a test for something we here at Better Records like to call Whomp — the energy found at the low end of the frequency spectrum. Some call it slam, we prefer whomp.

The commentary is here to help guide you as you make changes to your system, insuring that you end up with more whomp without sacrificing equally important qualities found in the midrange and top end of your system.

Reality Check Parts One and Two

Take the song Love Alive.

The beginning section is chock full of lovely and quite subtle details (such as the autoharp and tabla) that seem to lose their magic on most systems. The autoharp is rich and chimey, and the tabla has some real low end extension. The recorders and flutes that join them are breathy and sweet, while the acoustic guitars heard throughout display all the tubey-magical harmonic richness found on our favorite Hot Stamper recordings, from the Eagles first album to Teaser and the Firecat. These qualities easily get lost in the sauce if you’re listening to the average copy, or the typical audiophile stereo. That’s Part One of the test — the opening. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Famous Blue Raincoat

Famous Blue Raincoat

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

  Hey Tom,   

So that Jennifer Warnes blew the repress away, absolutely wiped the floor with it. I couldn’t believe the difference, sigh. I really thought that was a nice repress until I heard yours. Bloody Hell. Lol.  

Thanks as always.

T.

T.,

Some Heavy Vinyl records sound good enough to fool you. Up against a truly Hot Stamper, the differences become very obvious. That’s why we say that the only way to find a Hot Stamper pressing is through the shootout process. Any record can sound good, but up against five or ten others? That’s a test that only the best pressings can pass. (more…)

Paul McCartney and Wings – Wings at the Speed of Sound

More Paul McCartney

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  • An incredible pressing of Wings’ follow-up to Venus and Mars, with Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or very close to it on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too!
  • This copy has a “cinematic” quality – it’s just plain bigger, with more depth to the soundfield, and stronger dynamics
  • The big hits, Let ‘Em In and Silly Love Songs, as well as minor gems, such as Beware My Love, are musical here with good body and a smoother top end
  • Allmusic: “A full-band effort, where everybody gets a chance to sing, and even contribute a song.”

The better copies such as this one had the qualities that really make the songs come to life and give you a taste of the old McCartney magic. (more…)

Cat Stevens – A $100 Hot Stamper Is Now My Reference Album!

More Cat Stevens

More Reviews and Commentaries for Tea for the Tillerman

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[This letter is from a long time ago, 2005 perhaps. A killer copy may have been a hundred bucks back then, but times have changed!]

One of our best customers, Gerardo, who has to have his Hot Stampers shipped all the way to the Philipines where he lives, asked recently about Tea for the Tillerman. He wanted to know if we had something that would beat the MoFi pressing. Having recently played one (for condition; we already know how bad the sound is) we said HELL YEAH!

In fact, about the cheapest clean plain old American copy we can dig up for you will beat the pants off the MoFi. So we charged him $100 and sent it on out. Not having heard back, we followed up with this email:  

Hi Gerardo,

We were just wondering if you ever got to have the Tea For The Tillerman Hot Stamper vs. MoFi / UHQR shootout. Hope it went well!

His reply can be seen below.

Hi Tom and Crew,

I have already listened to my Hot Stamper copy and have forwarded the MFSL pressing to my friend. However, we have not done the shootout because I’m out of Manila now… We should be able to do the shootout as soon as I return.

I have listened to my copy the day it arrived. I’m not very good at describing the sound of an album, that’s why I love reading your commentaries, because it accurately describes what I actually hear. The HS Tillerman is now my reference album where I test all improvements/adjustments I make in my system or my turntable. (more…)

Terry Snyder – Persuasive Percussion – A Knockout Percussion Extravaganza from Command

More Amazing Percussion Recordings We’ve Reviewed

We’ve just created a new section. In it you will find records with exceptional sound and music that we’ve discovered over the years, records that are probably not well known to most audiophiles. You might consider it our version of 1001 Records to Hear Before You Die, except that there are only 120 titles or so, and the common theme is that the right pressings of these titles have truly audiophile sound. Please to enjoy.

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  • Persuasive Percussion makes its Hot Stamper debut with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from start to finish
  • Explosive energy, but surprisingly the sound is both relaxed and sweet at the same time, never squawky
  • Exceptional extension up high and down low — this is the copy that showed us just how good the album could sound
  • Simply amazing space, ambience and depth – if you have never heard one of these kinds of records, you are really in for a treat with this one
  • “This album was one of the early examples of “hi-fi” back in the late 50’s and early 60’s. How vivid is my memory of the bongos first playing from the left speaker…and then from the right one. And that wonderful sound! I could close my eyes now and relive a moment in time”

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Thought for the Day – Getting Older and Losing Patience

I’ve observed an interesting development in the world of record collecting, one that seems to be true for both myself and many of my customers.

As I’ve gotten older I find I have more money, which allows me to buy higher quality goods of all kinds, especially records. At the same time I seem to have much less tolerance of mediocrity, as well as less patience with the hassle of having to do  too much work to find a record that’s truly exceptional, one that actually will reward the time and effort it takes to sit down and listen to it all the way through.

As a consequence, if I’m going to play a record, I’m going to make sure it’s a good one, and I don’t want to have to play five or ten copies to find the one with the magic.

We actually do play five or ten copies of every record  because it’s our business, but I sure don’t have the patience to go through all that for my own personal listening the way I used to twenty years ago. Of course, that’s precisely what taught me what I know about records today, and how I learned to find the one with the magic, but it sure would be hard to start all over again at this age (I’m 66). (more…)

Letter of the Week – In The Wake Of Poseidon

King Crimson

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,   

Finally got the thoroughly sit down an carefully listen to the Poseidon LP.

WOW !!!! I heard the hotness of the pressing!!!

Great condition to for a vintage UK LP.

I also read about and purchased the Walker Audio cleaning system! Great system!!!!

Will be on the lookout for other hot stampers as they become available.

Lastly, it is great that you include the play grade of the vinyl too or at least note if it is exceptionally quiet!

This helps make an informed decision on what to expect.