*We Get Letters

Letter of the Week – “my stereo upgrades have widened the sonic chasm between good, old-fashioned records and their nouveau imposters.”

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – The Fundamentals

One of our good customers, Dan, found much to agree with in our recent Better Record’s Record Collecting Axiom Number One commentary and offered up his own two cents worth in the letter below. (Bolding added.)


Just wanted to affirm the new Better Records axiom of “the better your stereo gets, the fewer modern reissues you will own.” My collection has dozens of these Heavy Vinyl reissues, and none of them are holding up after a year and half’s worth of significant improvements to my stereo.

It was only at the beginning of last year that I found myself pleased with roughly 50% of my heavy vinyl purchases. Now, that number has plummeted to less than 10%. Almost everything that’s being put out today is an utter disappointment.

Of course, part of the explanation may be that my listening skills have improved. But it’s hard to imagine that I would have liked dull, dreary, lifeless vinyl a year or two ago. I like to think not.

More probable is that my stereo upgrades have widened the sonic chasm between good, old-fashioned records and their nouveau imposters.

I’d also like to second the avoidance of new vinyl purchases until major stereo improvements are made. I’m trudging through the laborious task of replacing these records with older, better sounding copies. It’s excellent advice to those new to the game or young (or both).

Amazingly, hearing the difference doesn’t even require a Hot Stamper, almost any original or early reissue will beat the Sundazed, Classic, etc. That’s how inferior they are. To borrow from The Who, the sound must change.


I agree with this bit at the end of your letter with one caveat:

Amazingly, hearing the difference doesn’t even require a Hot Stamper, almost any original or early reissue will beat the Sundazed, Classic, etc. That’s how inferior they are.

The caveat would be if you know how to clean your records right, right in this case being the way we recommend you clean them, using Walker fluids and a machine. Old uncleaned records can sound pretty bad. An audiophile pressing may beat your old original — until you clean it. It’s one of the Revolutionary Changes in Audio we  talk about all the time, and it can make all the difference in the world on some records, especially old ones.

Thanks for your letter. You are not alone in swearing off these modern mediocrities. Many of our customers went through the same process you have, and it seems they are as pleased with the results as you are.

New to the Blog? Start Here

First Get Good Sound – Then You Can Recognize and Acquire Good Records

Improving Your Critical Listening Skills Is a Good Idea Too

Below you will find our reviews of the more than 200 Heavy Vinyl pressings we’ve played over the years. Feel free to pick your poison.

Heavy Vinyl Commentaries


Letter of the Week – “The sound just LEAPS out of the system.”

More of the Music of Cannonball Adderley

More of the Music of Frank Sinatra

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

Holy Moly Fellows!

I’m playing through my most recent Better Records Short Stack ™. First up, Somethin’ Else by Cannonball and Bill, followed by Sinatra’s Strangers in the Night.

Man. The sound just LEAPS out of the system. I’m not kidding, it literally JUMPS from the speakers, smooth, clean, big, bold and beautiful. Did someone play with the volume? Did I change the gain? No man! These records just sound FANTASTIC!

Thank you gentlemen. Happy New Year!

Doug H


Thanks for writing. There is a reason that on every listing we put this boilerplate in the body of the text:

What We’re Listening For on Record X

    • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
    • Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them
    • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
    • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
    • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
    • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
    • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Exactly right: We want our records to have presence and energy, to be big and bold and jump out of the speakers.

This is the opposite of what everyone who stuck in the world of Heavy Vinyl is hearing. Virtually all of those records are veiled, recessed and compressed.

Who on earth wants that sound?  It’s beyond our understanding how it is that so many audiophiles cannot tell the difference between a good record and the mediocre-at-best product they are making today.

Thanks for your letter. Glad you liked our Hot Stamper pressings as much as we did.


Letter of the Week – “I know in one sense you’re only doing your job but who the hell else does what you do?”

Reviews and Commentaries for Deja Vu

Reviews and Commentaries for After the Gold Rush

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

Hey Tom, 

Just received Deja Vu – so good. I have never ever heard the vocals sound so natural and so full of power and energy.

The only similar record I have is After The Gold Rush and I got that from you guys too.

I know in one sense you’re only doing your job but who the hell else does what you do?

Thanks again guys for a brilliant record, a fantastic piece of history and art that I can hear whenever I want to.



Thanks for your letter. Those are two of our favorite records too, with sound that is hard to beat once you figure out which stampers are the ones with the potential for top quality sound.

These two records have a lot in common as it turns out.

Both are The Best Sounding Album by either the group or artist.

Both are Must Own Records from 1970.

Both are of course in our Rock and Pop Top 100. Deja Vu is actually a member of our Top Ten, a rarefied group indeed.

Both are Rock Demo Discs for Big Speakers that Play at Loud Levels.

Both are members of The Core Collection of Well Recorded Rock & Pop Albums.

And, lastly, both are records that sell for large sums of money and rarely can be found in stock.

If we were to compile a list of records that are worth whatever you have to pay for them, these two would be right at the top of that list too.

Best, TP

New to the Blog? Start Here

More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters

Letter of the Week – “…you sell a product that is singular and unique. And completely worth every penny.”

Beatles, Beatles, Beatles

Hot Stamper Beatles Pressings in Stock

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

Hey Tom,   

I never thought, not even for a second, that in my life I’d EVER buy a record for $300. Never Ever! But here I am. Most records I’d come across in my life were from used/antique stores, and so they were warped, brittle, noisy, or out of tune (a fact I didn’t notice until I graduated from a music college). But your Beatles “Revolver” and “Sgt. Pepper” – music I’ve known my ENTIRE LIFE- sound like new as Hot Stampers.

I appreciate the fact these records, although expensive, are sold simply on the basis of quality. In a increasingly fake, plastic “if this one doesn’t work just return it for another broken one” world, you sell a product that is singular and unique. And completely worth every penny. I appreciate the fact you evaluate the record’s sound (i.e. mastering) as a musician would – focusing on tonal correctness – prizing the record’s ability to accurately reproduce a recording of how instruments actually sound in real life. On its face, it seems so simple, yet it is of utmost importance. Thanks!

Kyle M.


If Records Are About Money, You’re Going About It All Wrong

New to the Blog? Start Here

Basic Concepts Explained

We get letters from time to time chiding us for charging what strikes some as rather large amounts of money for records that we happily admit do not have much in the way of Collector Value, the implication being that collectible records are of course worth the high prices they command in the marketplace. Hot Stampers, however, are somehow different. Clearly they cannot be worth the outrageously high prices we’re asking.

It is our opinion that the writers of these letters have made a rather glaringly erroneous assumption: That the records we sell are not subject to the same market forces as other records. This strikes us as just plain silly.

As anyone with a grounding in basic economics will tell you, we cannot force our customers to buy anything from us, especially old vinyl records, the kind of thing that most people have found they can easily do without, thank you very much.

We even take the time in many of our commentaries to advise you about What to Listen For in order to help you find your own Hot Stamper copies.

Even better, we implore you to learn how to do it for yourself. No need to spend a penny with us, just look for the Hot Stampers hiding in your own collection. Here’s how it’s done. It’s really not all that complicated. Tedious and time-consuming, yes. Hard as in finding-the-cure-for-cancer hard? Not even close. Fun? If you like that sort of thing, absolutely.

Bottom line: If you don’t like our prices, you have plenty of alternative sources for the recordings we sell. (Not the specific Hot Stampers we offer, mind you. Every record is unique, which of course means you can only buy the copy we are selling from us.)

Pricing Strategies

We price our records just like anyone prices anything: according to what we think it’s worth, what we think we can get for it, how many customers will want it, how long it will take to sell at any given price, how many we have on hand, how hard it is to find another one of comparable quality, how much better or worse it is than others we’ve played, how much work went into finding this particular one, how much we paid for it, and on and on and on until we just have to quit thinking about it and pick a number.

If we pick a good number, it probably sells right away (often within an hour of it going on the site). If we pick a bad number, it probably doesn’t. If we pick a number too low, we can’t meet the demand. If we pick a number too high there won’t be enough demand.

It ain’t rocket science, it’s just nuts and bolts business planning, the kind carried out every day by millions of sellers looking for buyers for their wares.

Money Is at the Root of the Problem

The impetus for this discussion of records as an investment was my stumbling upon a letter that a fellow named Jason wrote us all the way back in August of 2007 and the colloquy that followed. We called it Letter From a Thrift Store Junkie. Jason wrote me, I replied, and then he wrote back to make a few points, one of which was this:

3. Your records are a poor value in terms of investment. Until you convince the whole LP community that your HOT-STAMPER choices are the pinnacle of sound a buyer will never be able to re-sell B S & T for $300. Even if they swear it is the best sounding copy in the world.

Which Prompted My Reply as Follows:

With his last email, the subtext to this tirade has finally become clear. Go back and read through it again yourself. It’s about the MONEY. It’s about how much all the equipment and the records cost and why I don’t need to spend that kind of money to enjoy music just as much, if not more, than you and your customers.

Jason, if your point is that spending lots of money in audio is often foolish, I can’t say I disagree — that’s why we poke fun at reviewers and their expensive equipment.

But the most telling remark is this one: Our records are a bad investment. They can’t be resold for anything close to what the buyer paid for them.

If Records Are About Money…

… then buying them at a thrift store for a buck apiece and getting something halfway decent makes perfect sense. As the Brits say, “that’s value for money.” If we sell you a Hot Stamper for, say, $500, can it really be five hundred times better?

I would argue that here the math is actually on our side. The average pressing is so close to worthless sonically that I would say that it isn’t even worth the one dollar you might pay for it in a thrift store. I might value it somewhere in the vicinity of a penny or two. Really? Yes indeed. Assuming it’s a record I know well, I probably know just how wonderful the record can really sound, and what that wonderful sound does to communicate the most important thing of all: its musical value. A copy that doesn’t do that — make the music come alive — has almost no value. It’s not zero, but it’s close to zero. Let’s assign it a nominal value. We’ll call it a penny.

You see, when I play a mediocre copy, I know what I’ve lost. Jason can’t know that. All he knows is what he hears coming from his mediocre equipment as his mediocre LP is playing. To him it sounds fine. To me it sounds awful. I feel like I must be in hell.

If I’ve actually done all the hard work I talk about on the site, I will find myself in the unique position of knowing what he’s missing, and he is in the (to me) unenviable and quite common position of only knowing what he’s getting. (It may be a litttle or it may be a lot, but it’s certainly nowhere near what I’m getting.)

Ignorance is bliss, and he is welcome to his. Being average is the lot of most of us, right? I’m average in most areas of life and make no bones about it. But I’m not average when it comes to this hobby. Because I enjoy it so much, I’ve worked very hard, for a very long time, four decades or so, to become good at it.

More for Less?

This is precisely what Jason has utterly failed to grasp: that all the hard work we encourage you to do really does pay off. The end result is a dramatic increase in your enjoyment and appreciation of the music you play. Here his obtuseness is at its pig-headed worst. He wants us to believe he gets more out of his records by hearing less? If I understand the formula correctly, it goes something like: Mediocre Pressing plus Mediocre Stereo equals Greater Musical Satisfaction.

Uh, you want to run that by me again?

How Most Records Are Like Frozen Pizza, A Tortured Analogy

Jason, it’s all well and good to eat frozen pizza. Frozen pizza is cheap and it can taste pretty good. But it’s ridiculous to think that no one should bother to go to a real pizzeria and sit down to a lovely meal, a meal prepared by a highly-skilled chef, using the freshest ingredients, perhaps with the added indulgence of a fine bottle of wine or two. You may end up spending five or ten times or twenty times as much money as a frozen pizza would cost, but the result is much more likely to be a meal that is delicious and satisfying beyond words. Beyond even dollars, if that’s more the language you understand. The two meals may appear superficially similar — they both involve pizza — but in actuality they are worlds apart.

Which is more or less how we see records here at Better Records. Any two copies of the same LP can look remarkably similar, identical to the naked eye in fact. But the effect they can have on you the listener is so dramatically different, they might as well be different albums, different recordings, performed by different musicians even.

The group on one pressing may sound bored, just playing by the numbers, there to pick up a paycheck. The other LP’s musicians are tearing the roof off, playing out of their heads at the top of their game. Same album, same recording, different pressings. Hyperbole? Not to me. I’ve heard it. I’m a believer. (The people that make those oh-so-expensive records disappear from the site apparently feel the same way. Some of them even write me letters! And unlike our friend Jason here, they know what they are talking about; they played the record that we wrote about and heard what we heard. No hypnotism involved, not on our part anyway.)


One more thing: If you’re worried about the resale value of your records, you shouldn’t have bought them in the first place.

And Your Point Is?

Buy records for the joy the music and sound bring you. Do not buy records to collect or resell, buy them to play. They’re an investment in your present happiness and are sure to last you a lifetime. What could be better than that?

Letter of the Week – “I literally sat there with what I am sure was a dazed looked on my face, with open mouth and all.”

More of the Music of The Beatles

More Reviews and Commentaries for Let It Be

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

Hey Tom, 

They say the first time is the best…

I have now purchased and enjoy well over 50 Hot Stampers. My first one a few years ago was The Beatles Let It Be. I was very skeptical to be honest, but there was a money back guarantee, so I went for it. It was $250, I think. It was an A+ on Side 1 and A+++ on Side 2.

It arrived and I put on my serious listening ears, put on Get Back on Side 2 (A+++) and dropped the needle. Instantly, I was like a dog hearing a new sound for the first time. My head was cocked a little and I was trying to fathom exactly what I was hearing. I was hearing presence, breathing, clarity in voices before they started playing and I literally sat there with what I am sure was a dazed looked on my face, with open mouth and all. I could not believe it. Everything jumped out of my B&W’s. The sound was something that no CD could duplicate, no matter how clean the CD sounded. I have an all tube, all analog system and I sat there in amazement. I played The Long and Winding Road next and the instruments literally had me teared up from how it much jumped out at me.

Well, I was hooked and I have since bought a lot of Hot Stampers and I enjoy them all. Along with some of my Japanese vinyl [ouch], there are by far the most treasured LPs in my entire collection. You can bet when friends come over, we choose records from the Hot Stamper stack. I really have a ball watching the look on their face when they hear it for the first time.

As I once wrote, I appreciate the fact that Better Records provides a service. They go out and buy numerous copies of an LP. Then some of them sit and listen to them all to narrow down to the best of the best. I have no problem paying their price, as I know they have a definite cost involved and the end result is a phenomenal sounding LP. they provide a great service to us audio nuts.

I buy very, very few records elsewhere, mainly some import copies but by and large, Better Records are the best. Keep up the great work.

Bryan S.

Thanks Bryan, happy to be of service, as always.

Customers Weigh in on the Virtues of Our Hot Stamper Beatles Pressings

More Commentaries and Reviews for the Music of The Beatles

Letter of the Week – “As an obsessive compulsive individual, I can say without a doubt that they are providing a hugely valuable service to audiophiles.”

Pink Floyd Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for Dark Side of the Moon

I wanted to comment on the discussion as to the validity of the ‘Better Records’ business model and offerings to audiophiles. As a backgrounder, I am an electrical engineer that grew up in the 60s and 70s listening first hand to many of the classic LPs that Better Records now offers for sale. I was also a musician with perfect pitch (playing French Horn in the Symphony and keyboards in various bands), I had a killer stereo and spent a lot of time in recording studios that produced some of the top acts and albums of the era so I certainly had exposure to the best equipment and listening environments back in the day.

I went on to being a CEO of various telecom/mobile software companies and somewhat lost touch with my musical purist roots. But I had 3 boys and one of them turned out to have the same music bug I had and he has gone on to pursuing a career as a recording engineer, re-introducing me to analog vinyl LPs, pushing me to re-engage in my greatest love, which I eventually did in spades: I tossed out my electrostatics and full digital sound chain and I built a set of Altec 604 monitors driven by a 300B tube amp and a killer turntable, and I went about spending about $30,000 on 1st pressing vinyl from around the world, cleaning them with an ultrasonic platform, and I learned a great deal during that process.

For one, I fell back in love with high efficiency speaker systems, for another I realized that I was spending an average of $200-300 per LP to get what I wanted and in some cases, over $1000 in total (buying 7 different DSOTM pressings and travelling to the UK multiple times to find the best pressings), and I found out that Better Records was on to something: I got burned more than once myself when I was buying clean, never played 1st pressings of some of the top LPs and ending not feeling the love for the results. I appreciate the complexities of the old school vinyl pressing sound chain and its infinite variables, and more times than not I was back sourcing additional copies of the same LP looking for that ‘magical pressing’.

I eventually got a stunning DSOTM 2nd pressing (A3/B3) and bought another only to find that the 1st one was way ahead of the 2nd so it shows that even the same pressings can be highly variable – in sound quality/feel/depth/clarity/warmth, but also noise floor. So, yes, there are magical ‘Hot Stampers’ out there, but to find them takes patience and lots of $ and effort.

When you score the perfect ‘Hot Stamper’ the result can be to draw you close to the very soul of the artist – bringing you right into the recording room with them, sometimes 50+ years after the fact. And when you put on a digital download or CD of the same LP it is a shocking insult in many many cases.

So, back to Better Records: they are doing all of the foot work for you, and as an obsessive compulsive individual, I can say without a doubt that they are providing a hugely valuable service to audiophiles. They are purists and they listen on ‘big’ speaker systems that will highlight the limitations of MOFI 1/2 speed mastered LPs (typically flawed low frequency response and some mid-range colouration).

I am very happy with Better Records and must say that they reduce my stress and have me impatiently waiting for their next shipment. 5 stars.



As an obsessive-compulsive individual myself, I know very well the suffering you must have gone through with the colourations of the MoFi pressings and what passes for audiophile “product” these days.

Glad we could help reduce the stress you felt pursuing good sounding vinyl. Finding that so little of what was supposed to sound good actually did is frustrating for anyone who is serious about this hobby.

Best, TP

Further Reading

New to the Blog? Start Here

What Exactly Are Hot Stamper Pressings?

More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters

More Letters Comparing Hot Stamper Pressings to Their Half-Speed Mastered Counterparts

More Letters Comparing Hot Stamper Pressings to Their Heavy Vinyl Counterparts

Letter of the Week – “I assumed that there must be some better sounding pressings out there. Now here they are.”

More of the Music of Neil Young

More of the music of Leonard Bernstein

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

Hey Tom, 

The West Side Story I picked up from you a few months ago was just something else. I was sitting on my couch watching the stage as Tony and Maria sang through the WSS songbook. I mean, there they were. Sure Mono has a particular feel and you can only quiet down an old 6-eye so much, but it was just beautiful.

I was very happy with what I received. All four records sound wonderful and are well worth the outlay. I have had several copies of “El Rayo-X” and “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere”.

They sounded quite good but I assumed that there must be some better sounding pressings out there. Now here they are.

Paul S.


Thanks for your letter. We love all those albums!

New to the Blog? Start Here

More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

Important Lessons We Learned from Record Experiments

Letter of the Week – “No doubt – the best record ever played on my set up.”

What Exactly Are Hot Stamper Pressings?

More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased a long time ago. It’s been so long that we’ve lost track of what record he is talking about in his letter!

Hey Tom, 

No doubt – the best record ever played on my set up. I had a few experts in for evaluating — they all (like me) were fairly skeptical. But after just a few tracks everybody was convinced… WOW. You describe the album very well on your site. Another thing is how easy and smooth everything sounds and all the acoustic instruments… I could go on for a long time! As you understand I’m very happy with this copy.

Ebbe P.


Thanks for your letter. We’re happy that you’re happy.

New to the Blog? Start Here


Letter of the Week – “I now have twelve copies in total… eleven of them are useless.”

Hot Stamper Pressings of Led Zeppelin’s Albums Available Now

Letters and Commentaries for Led Zeppelin III

We love it when our customers take the time and make the effort to do their own shootouts, especially when we win, which is what happens about 99% of the time.

Hey Tom,   

I’ve really been enjoying the LPs that I’ve gotten from you. Especially the Led Zep 3 most recently. Mindboggingly good. My first copy of that record I got Christmas 1970, I now have twelve copies in total… eleven of them are useless.

Think of all the money wasted on bad pressings, which 98% of them are! If not bad, then certainly mediocre.

I want to thank you for this invaluable service. I tell my friends about your service but so far it falls on deaf ears.


If you want to convince them of the reality of Hot Stampers, play them that Zep III you bought. Ask them to bring over their best pressings and then blow that shit right out of the water. That ought to do it.

As I wrote to a customer not long ago, “Explaining doesn’t work. Only hearing works.

Further Reading

New to the Blog? Start Here

More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters