All About Hot Stampers

The Rolling Stones / Out of Our Heads – Mono or Reprocessed Stereo?

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On this London LP, even though it says the record is electronically re-processed into stereo, the songs we heard on side one were dead mono.

So much for believing what you read on album covers. (more…)

Gino Vannelli / Powerful People – What Was I Thinking?

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Sonic Grade: F

At the time of our last shootout in 2014 I still had the MoFi pressing of Powerful People in my personal, very small (at this point) record collection. Almost all the best sounding records from my collection had long ago been sold off, going to good homes that I can only assume would play them more than I had in the last ten years. If it’s a record you see on our site, chances are good I have listened to it until I’d practically turned blue in the face.

But I had kept my Powerful People half-speed these 30+ years because the domestic pressings I’d played were just too damn midrangy to enjoy. At least the MoFi had bass, top end and didn’t sound squawky or hard on the vocals.

Well, let me tell you, played against the best domestic pressings, of which this is one, the MoFi is laughable. (In that respect it shares much with the current crop of audiophile reissues.) It’s unbelievably compressed, a problem that is easily heard on the biggest, most exciting parts of the tracks — they never get remotely as big or as loud on the MoFi as they do on the lowly A&M originals. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “Love in Vain… that particular song sounds as if they are playing live in my living room!”

More Rolling Stones

One of our good customers had this to say about a Hot Stamper Rolling Stones title he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,   

I was blown away by Let It Bleed. Despite the only noise on the record being on Love in Vain… that particular song sounds as if they are playing live in my living room! The richness of the guitars is unbelievable. And the bass on Live With Me, wow…. Great pressing! (more…)

Letter of the Week – “A very rewarding day spent visiting a remarkable piece of music.”

More of the music of Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

Reviews and Commentaries for The Planets

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

Hey Tom, 

I spent the day today shooting out various interpretations and sonics of the above, and, I must admit, the Previn leads the field. More decay, transparency, sweetness, magic and imagination than the Mehta, Stokowski and numerous others. If you have an amazing copy, especially re side two, please put my name on it and let me know. [We do this shootout regularly and will be glad to hold the next killer copy for you.]

A very rewarding day spent visiting a remarkable piece of music. The Previn should be used for proper set up of a big system because it does everything right and demands the same of your system.

Best,
Phil
And thank you

You are preaching to the choir on that one, loved it for at least the last ten years and can find nothing to compare with it.

I was very fortunate to see the work performed at Disney Hall. No record can come close but some come closer than others. (more…)

Led Zeppelin II – Stan Ricker Versus Robert Ludwig

Yet another album we are clearly obsessed with

Click on the link below to pull up the many reviews and commentaries we’ve written

Reviews and Commentaries for Led Zeppelin II

More Led Zeppelin

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Here is the story of my first encounter with a amazing sounding copy of Zep II.

I had a friend who had come into possession of a White Label Demo pressing of the album and wanted to trade it in to me for the Mobile Fidelity pressing that I had played for him once or twice over the years, and which we both thought was The King on that album.

To my shock and dismay, his stupid American copy KILLED the MoFi. It TROUNCED it in every way. The bass was deeper and punchier. Everything was more dynamic. The vocals were more natural and correct sounding. The highs were sweeter and more extended. The whole pressing was just full of life in a way that the Mobile Fidelity wasn’t.

The Mobile Fidelity didn’t sound Bad. It sounded Not As Good. More importantly, in comparison with the good domestic copy, in many ways it now sounded wrong.

Let me tell you, it was a watershed moment in my growth as a record collector. I had long ago discovered that many MoFi’s weren’t all they were cracked up to be. But this was a MoFi I liked. And it had killed the other copies I had heard in the past.

So I learned something very important that day. I learned that hearing a good pressing is the best way to understand what’s wrong with a bad pressing. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Hoodoo Man Blues on Analogue Productions Heavy Vinyl – “How the hell did this get released???”

More Analogue Productions

One of our good customers had this to say about a record he played recently:

Hey Tom,   

Not a hot stamper update, but thought to write briefly…

I’ve been experimenting a bit with some of the Analogue Productions stuff, as unlike you I’ve had some mixed success here. However…

OMG. I just opened their pressing of Junior Welles’ Hoodoo Man Blues. It’s, pardon my crudity, not fit to wipe your ass with. The most disgusting perversion of this record imaginable. I’m choking even hearing it. Rank amateurs at the controls it seems… how the hell did this get released??? Are they deaf? Are they even listening to what they’re putting out, or just pressing money? It’s too nauseating to describe, but all your usual terms fit exactly; no ambiance, bloated, unreal EQ, compressed and flat and dead, completely f*cking off. I’m just amazed.

The only reason I ventured here is that I have had some good luck with them on various jazz recordings, where the tricks do seem to help (45rpm, master tapes all analogue, etc.). Not so here. Everything you rage about holds true and is possibly the worst case of it I’ve ever come across.

Just sharing with the thought that there is a RANGE of AP stuff; it’s not all this bad. This pressing is escort-it-off-the-property-and-dispose-of-in-someone-else’s-garbage-can-bad.

C

(Meanwhile, latest box of hot stampers arrived today, and are glorious as usual.)

Conrad,

I take issue with any of AP’s records being any good.  None of their “tricks” ever managed to help them produce a record I would want to own. The best one I heard was Fragile, and even that was mediocre at best.

Here is a typical review for one of their godawful remasterings:

Vince Guaraldi – A Bloated Mess at 45 RPM from Acoustech

We flushed good money down the drain in order to suffer through the 45 Analogue Productions cutting of the album. What a mess. Ridiculously bloated overblown bass is its major shortcoming, but compression and an overall lifeless quality are obvious problems that made us give up on it pretty quickly.

This is the kind of sound that audiophiles want? I find that hard to believe. It’s what they’re stuck with because the good early pressings are just too hard to find and too noisy and groove damaged when you do find them.

Most pressings of this album, the OJC and the later reissues especially, are just plain awful, so for the typical audiophile record collector the 45 might actually be a step up over those pressings. Like so much of the heavy vinyl we have played in the last few years, we did not find the sound enjoyable or compelling. I would venture a guess that the DCC gold CD is clearly better overall.

Some audiophiles have complained that we spend too much time bashing Heavy Vinyl, but if ever a record deserved it, it’s that one. It’s a failure as a remastering and an insult to the analog buying audiophile public at large. Searching the web I am glad to see that no one seems to have anything nice to say about it as of this writing. No one should, but that has not deterred the reviewers and forum posters in the past. (more…)

Letter of the Week / Sticky Fingers – Who Should Take Credit for Knocking It Out of the Park?

More Rolling Stones

Sticky Fingers

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

  Hey Tom,   

All time world champ.  A cut above unbelievable!  All the magic sans the shrillness so common in the multitudinous copies I’ve heard.  Breathtaking finesse and musicianship exploding in holographic dynamics that are clean and tonally real and penetrating.  

What a copy.  Pure gold.  Thank you Tom.  You knocked it out of the park.

Phil

Fantastic! We loved it too.

One small correction: Some mastering engineer knocked it out of the park. All we did was find the ball, grab it and run with it.

TP

Letter of the Week – “I feel like a wasted a lot of money on inferior albums. I will continue to make wise purchases from you.”

The continuing story of one man’s quest to find better sounding Beatles albums. His story can be seen below. Here is the latest back and forth concerning The Beatles, a band we think we know something about.

Hi Tom
I think I have purchased 6 albums from you. Obviously I believe in your company! Could you tell e which Beatles albums that you test have the best sound.

We used to have a Top 100 Rock and Pop list on the site. We are building a new one that looks like this:

Top 100 Rock and Pop in Progress

There are six Beatles albums in our Top 100. Those are the best sounding.

I have the Sgt Pepper, White, Help, and a Hard Days Night. I have the Beatles Mono Box set which I purchased new. I agree with you that the stereo version purchased from you are superior.

That set is a bad joke played on the record loving public. Dead as a doornail. A complete ripoff. I have the stereo version and it is just as bad. Here is my review.

I am not impressed by the MOFI pressings. I am still checking each day hoping I won’t miss out on a good Abbey Road pressing.

They are hard to come by these days but some will come on the site before too long.

I always get great info and service from you. I feel like a wasted a lot of money on inferior albums. I will continue to make wise purchases from you. I am trying to spread the word around here to check out Better Records.

Thanks for your kind thoughts and for spreading the word. Perhaps someone you know will be saved the expense of buying inferior Heavy Vinyl pressings. We review the worst of them here, so just point him to this blog and perhaps you will be able to help a fellow audiophile get Better Records.

And of course the best way to help your fellow audiophiles is by letting them hear your Hot Stamper pressings. That’s the only surefire way we know of to convince the skeptics. One listen to your Sgt. Pepper should be all it takes.

Tom

Below is Edward’s original conversation with us. (more…)

Listening in Depth to Carly Simon’s No Secrets

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The immensely talented engineer ROBIN GEOFFREY CABLE worked his audio magic on this album. You may recall that he recorded a number of the greatest sounding rock records of all time, Elton John’s self-titled second album and Tumbleweed Connection, both in 1970, as well as this album and Nilsson Schmilsson in 1972, with Richard Perry producing.

One more note: having your VTA set just right is critical to getting the best out of this album. The loudest vocal parts can easily strain otherwise. Once you get your settings dialed in correctly, a copy like this will give you the kind of rich, sweet sound that brings out the best in this music.

(more…)

Letter of the Week – “How would you describe the sound signature of your evaluation equipment?”

Someone wrote the following to us recently:

  Hey Tom, 

I am trying to make sense of the information on your site and the asking prices for these ‘hot stampers’. In order to better understand how you assess sound quality, can you let me know what equipment you use for this purpose (what turntable, arm, cartridge, amps, speakers)? How would you describe the sound signature of your evaluation equipment?

Thanks for your help,

Bas

Bas,

Thanks for contacting us. We wrote a commentary about it, linked here:

Our Playback System – And Why You Shouldn’t Care

As for our sound signature, we’ve labored mightily over the last forty years to build the biggest, most dynamic, most powerful system that has only the colorations we don’t know how to rid ourselves of. Some thoughts on that process:

Our System Just Loves Certain Records – Why Do You Suppose That Is?

A lot of the basics about our Hot Stampers can be found here:

About Us

Our customers tend to be very enthusiastic about our Hot Stampers:

We Get Letters

Any questions, feel free to write me.  Of course, writing is one thing, but

Hearing Is Believing

Best, TP


FURTHER READING

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