We Get Letters

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…)

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…)

Letter of the Week – “The same in what sense?”

Hot Stampers of Sgt. Peppers in Stock Now

Letters and Commentaries for Sgt. Peppers

beatlessgt

 

A potential customer asked about some Beatles pressings he saw on our site:

  Hey Tom, 

I have the Beatles collection UK box set from the time frame you mentioned. [Most of our Beatles albums are from the ’70s and early ’80s.] The albums have the black Parlophone EMI label. Do you think they are the same as the album that is for sale?

Edward

Edward,

The same in what sense? No two records have the same sound, so in that sense no, they cannot ever be the same. They can have the same labels, even the same stamper numbers, but they will always sound different on good equipment, and when properly cleaned they will sometimes sound VERY different. And the better your equipment the more different they will sound.

If you absolutely love your Pepper from the box set and have played five or ten other pressings and found that it is the best sounding of them all, then you probably don’t need ours. You’ve already done a shootout and you’ve already found a winner. If that is the case, congratulations are in order.

But if you did not do a shootout, did not clean and play five or ten other copies, then our pressing should be quite a bit better, maybe night and day better. No one can know until you play our copy against yours.

Your judgment is the final say on the matter, but you need a bunch of cleaned copies in order to make that judgment, and it looks like you do not have more than the one Pepper from the box.

At this point you really don’t know how good your Pepper sounds because you need other copies to play against it in order to know.

We are happy to send you the copy we expect to be better so that you can see what the differences are. If you like yours better, send ours back for a full refund, no harm done.

A Frequently Asked Question – What if I like the copy I already own as much as the Hot Stamper I bought?

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Letter of the Week – “I never owned a copy that had as much bottom end along with vocals that seem to jump out of my speakers.”

More Jethro Tull

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

  Hey Tom,   

Just a quick note to express my complete satisfaction with my latest purchase from Better Records.

I just received my copy of the WHS of Jethro Tull’s This Was LP. Needless to say, I have several copies of this album, both domestic
and UK versions. One is a Pink Label UK which I purchased from you a while back.

I was so completely blown away at how much better this LP sounds. Both are great, but this one is simply unbelievable.
I never owned a copy that had as much bottom end along with vocals that seem to jump out of my speakers.

Thank you again for your work finding these superior copies of albums I never thought could sound this good!

Hope to purchase again soon,
Regards
D B

Dennis,

So glad you enjoyed this copy as much as we did, and you even had a Pink Label to play against it, a record not many audiophiles own.

Stand Up and Benefit are the same way, the original pressings are not the way to go, but try telling that to the average audiophile who only buys original pressings. They can read labels and they know which are the earliest ones, but they rarely have the equipment and the listening skills to know that the right reissues are CLEARLY better, something you heard right from the start I suspect. (more…)

Letter of the Week – A Ghost in the Machine Shootout, Including the New Abbey Road Reissue

Ghost in the Machine

More Sting and The Police

One of our good customers had this to say about a record he read about on the blog, the Nautilus pressing of Ghost in the Machine.

Hey Tom,   

Did you write something about the Nautilus record… I thought so, but I couldn’t find it. [The Ghost in the Machine link above will take you to it.]

This is one of my favorites from my teenage years and so I decided to do my own little test… Sterling vs. Nautilus vs. half speed abbey road reissue… it feels pretty clear the Sterling is tops with Nautilus close but I am surprised at how muddy the bass sounds on the new one. And just how tamped down the record sounds. Which is I guess your point.

Geoff

Geoff,

You now know more about this album than the typical audiophile expressing an opinion of it on the audiophile forums!

You should not be surprised about muddy bass on half-speed mastered records, they all have it.

And tamped down? Tell me about it. Compressed and lifeless are two qualities the audiophile record can be guaranteed to deliver. How these companies get away with producing one shitty remaster after another is beyond me.  They’ve been making this junk for more than forty years and they’re still making it.

Welcome to the upside down world of the modern audiophile record. The worse they sound, the more audiophiles seem to like them.

Your shootout provided you with a good lesson to learn right from the start to set you on the right path.

Try this experiment: Take four or five UK pressings, clean them up and then compare them to any of the ones you played — the sound would be night and day better. And, after doing that shootout, one of the four or five would be a truly Hot Stamper pressing.

Those are what we sell. We save you all that work and expense and give you a better record than you could probably find on your own, but if you want to do your own shootouts, we have lots of advice on this very blog to help you do that. (more…)

Thoughts on Classical Music and My Hot Stamper Collection

         Dear Tom

So what I can’t get out of my mind, you have been doing this all these years, your own personal collection must be the creme de la creme. Cannot even imagine. But sure would love to hear!

Chuck

Chuck,

I’ve had an extensive record collection for all of my life, right up until about fifteen years ago. Starting at the tender young age of 10, I bought the 45 of She Loves You on Swan records, which I still own. Can’t play it, it’s broken, but I keep it anyway. When I was a kid, I used to take my two dollar weekly allowance and buy two 45s with it. Did that for years. Still have them, close to two hundred in old carrying cases. I look forward to playing them in my retirement.

I had hundreds of amazing sounding LPs in my collection, the best of the best from more than 20 years of doing shootouts. About fifteen years ago I asked myself what were all these great sounding records sitting on a shelf for? I never played them because I got to hear all my favorite records every day, and after playing records all day, the last thing I wanted to do at night or on a weekend was pull a record off the shelf and play it.

So I put all my personal records into shootouts, and sometimes they did well and sometimes they did not. (Those of you who go back and play your old records from years past will surely find some real surprises, both good and bad.)

I sit my wife down from time to time when the stereo is at its peak playback quality after doing shootouts all day. I might put on Deja Vu or Back in Black or The Wall or some other amazing pressing we’ve just found, and I always point out to her that this is a record that will be gone next week. This is it, listen to it now because you will not have the chance again for many months, sometimes even years.

Most audiophiles outside of our customers rarely have that experience, but it’s really the only way I listen to music anymore, on the best pressings in the world.

I play mostly classical records these days, which, on the best vintage pressings are really a thrill on big speakers at loud volumes. We had to stop going to the Santa Barbara symphony because the sound was better in my listening room than it was in that hall. Practically all of the performances on vinyl were better too, to tell you the truth. I can’t compete with Disney Hall for sonics, but it takes two hours to get there and good tickets are $300-500 each. It’s tough to make the commitment at those prices, especially when you have spent your entire adult life building a great stereo and room. Suspension of disbelief is immediate and lasting.

The best classical recordings cannot compete with a good orchestra in a good hall, but it has been my experience that those two things in combination are very hard to find in the real world. Fortunately for me, the memory of the music and sound I used to hear at the Disney Hall faded after a few weeks though, at which point I could go back to playing my classical records and enjoying the hell out of them.

Best, TP

(more…)

Letter of the Week – Led Zeppelin III

More Led Zeppelin

More Top 100 Titles

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

Hey Tom,   

Wanted to say thanks for the Led Zep III, fantastic and beyond expectation. While the loud parts rock in an unbelievable way the quiet bits reveal the magic, the surreal presence, space and uncanny realism. Brilliant! I have an OK copy of Led Zep IV and the first section of Stairway to Heaven is similar in that I love hearing the acoustic guitar and then the breathy recorders (oh those recorders) and then Plant’s voice seems to appear from nowhere right before your ears. I am so lucky to have the Zep III so thanks again.

(more…)