We Get Letters

Letter of the Week – “Everything is so clear. I can hear every word clear as day”

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

Hey Tom, 

I am sitting by the door in anticipation as I type this. It’s my birthday to boot, so it will make an awesome present, once the dang Fed Ex guy gets here. Right before I hit send, the doorbell rang. I had been playing records all day in anticipation, warming up my system for this album. Everything was sounding great, and my stereo was begging for some Supertramp.

I was going to listen to my old copy first to compare it. Ah, NO F***ING NEED. Holy hell. This copy you just sent me blew the windows out of my house, and didn’t rip my head off while doing so. Everything is so clear. I can hear every word clear as day, the bass is tight and clear, every instrument in its place and sounding magnificent.

This is truly an incredible pressing and it is night and day [better] even though my old copy was still a $250 Hot Stamper. Thank you. Your services are greatly appreciated. (Not by my neighbors however). Looking forward to my next one already.

Jeremiah H.

More Letters

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…)

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…)

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…)

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.

Letter of the Week – “The sound just LEAPS out of the system. I’m not kidding, it literally JUMPS from the speakers, smooth, clean, big, bold and beautiful.”

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

Doug,

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 lousy sounding crap they are making today.

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

TP

(more…)

1A, or Is 1B Better? – Your Guess Is As Good As Mine

More Simon and Garfunkel

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Before we go any further, I have a question: Why are we guessing?

I received an email recently from a customer who had gone to great pains to do his own shootout for a record; in the end he came up short, with not a lot to show for his time and effort. It had this bit tucked in toward the end:

Some of [Better Records’] Hot Stampers are very dear in price and most often due to the fact that there are so few copies in near mint condition. I hate to think of all the great Hot Stampers that have ended up in piles on the floor night after night with beer, Coke, and seeds being ground into them.

Can you imagine all the 1A 1B or even 2A 2B masters that ended up this way or were just played to death with a stylus that would be better used as a nail than to play a record!

As it so happens, shortly thereafter I found myself on Michael Fremer’s old website of all places, where I saw something eerily similar in his review for the (no doubt awful) Sundazed vinyl. I quote below the relevant paragraphs.

So how does this Sundazed reissue hold up next to an original 1A Columbia pressing that I bought new when it originally was released (it still has the Sam Goody “C” Valley Stream sticker on it, with the $2.49 markdown written in pen)? Well, for one thing, when people say records wear out, I don’t know what they are talking about! Since it was first released more than forty years ago, I’ve played this record a hundred times at least, in Ithaca in my fraternity house, in Boston, in Los Angeles, in Hackensack and now and it still sounds fantastic. It’s quiet, it’s detailed, it’s three-dimensional and it still has extended, clean high frequencies.

No reissue could possibly touch an original 1A pressing of just about any Columbia title and that goes for this reissue, which is very good, but not as open, spacious, wideband, transparent and “tubey” as the original.

He later goes on to give this piece of advice:

If you can find a clean, reasonably priced used original 1A pressing, it’s definitely going to sound better, but if you can’t, this reissue sounds very good and you’ll not know what you’re missing.

The entire review can be found on his site for those who care to read it. If, as MF seems to believe, you won’t know what you’re missing on the Sundazed LP, you need to find yourself another hobby. If it’s anything like most of their cardboardy crap, it’s missing more than it’s finding. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “I would have paid $15,000 for this feeling had I known it was there”

One of our good customers had this to say about his Hot Stamper copy of Let It Be that he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

Wow, yep! This Let It Be Hot Stamper is doing what it’s supposed to. I haven’t felt this way in a long time. It’s INSANELY good!

I would have paid $15,000 for this feeling had I known it was there. No, I’m not going to. I’m just sayin’. (more…)

Cat Stevens Teaser & Tea on CD – So, How Do They Sound, Anyway?

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This letter from our good customer Gary references the Hot Stampers he bought from us and subsequently played for a CD-only audiophile friend with a megabuck stereo. This is his story, followed by my commentary about the sound of Cat Stevens’ music on disc.

The Cat Stevens Hot Stampers are just amazing. The dynamic range is almost shocking on my rig. It’s like a car with the ability to go from 0 to 60 in 2 seconds… It is so cool to turn up the music really loud and still converse with people if you want. The quiet is dead quiet. That is the sign of a good record.

I had a visitor from Chicago with more money in his system than most houses, no vinyl. He is now looking into it. Teaser busted him. I think I might have cried when I heard Father and Son on Tillerman, just beautiful. Thanks and keep up the good work.

Gary, I have a long history of challenging audiophiles who hold that the CDs of those albums do them justice sonically. Prove it I say. The difference between the good LP pressings and the best CDs is NIGHT AND DAY. Anyone playing the CDs of those albums is in the presence of a pale shadow of what’s really on that tape. (more…)

Chicago Transit Authority on MoFi – Or Is It The Glade Spray Mist Septet?

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ADDENDUM 2020

The last time I played a copy of the MoFi Chicago debut was about twenty years ago. My all tube system was much darker and dramatically less resolving than the one I have now, having made score upon score of improvements since then. I suspect I would not be so kind to the MoFi today, and in that way I would surely be much more in agreement with Roger than I was about ten years ago when his letter arrived.


Our good customer Roger wrote to tell us of his Chicago shootout which included the MoFi, some later pressings and our Hot Stamper. Here is his story.

HI Tom

Got a chance to listen to your Chicago Transit Authority hot stamper and compare it to regular US and MFSL pressings. It has been a while since I last listened to this recording, but I listened to a lot of Chicago; Blood, Sweat, and Tears; and The Ides of March when I was in high school and college. I loved this music back then, as short-lived as it was, unfortunately.

Maybe this was because my two brothers played horns in concert bands, as does my youngest son now. A real shame that Chicago, at least, morphed into a whiny, wimpy, sappy Top 40 radio ballad band after their first two records. Anyway, it was fun listening to it again.

I recently picked up a couple of US copies of CTA to compare against my Mobile Fidelity version and the hot stamper. Both regular US copies had later Columbia labels, and had I only heard these, I might never have listened to this record again. Dull, compressed, murky, detail-challenged would be descriptive words for both copies. Muddy bass and absolutely no highs, I mean none.

The MFSL version did not have this lack-of-highs problem. In fact, it sounds like a lot of MoFi’s, the treble completely overcooked, sounding like cans of spray mist being actuated and overwhelming the rest of the music. This has to be one of the most hideous recordings in existence. With the MFSL version, Chicago has been transformed into the Glade Spray Mist Septet, with a psst psst here, a psst psst there, here a psst, there a psst, everywhere a psst psst. Arrggg! I was getting more and more psst off listening to this sonic detritus. Unless you have a Mattel Close-And-Play record player, how can anyone listen to this thing? Did MFSL engineers moonlight as gunnery sergeants on the artillery range? And the MoFi’s complete lack of bass left the overwhelming treble out to hang and dry. Unreal.

So the Hot Stamper was next, and you know what, it sounds like my son’s high school concert band (only a lot better but don’t tell him). After the MoFi, the highs sounded somewhat recessed, but more in line with the rest of the sonic spectrum. There was real bass weight, maybe not the lowest bass, but good just the same, and the midrange was much more full and weighty, something this recording needs. Trombones sounded like trombones and saxes like saxes. So perhaps the hot stamper will make my new regular record rotation now and my listening room won’t smell like a Glade pine forest. (more…)