We Get Letters

Letter of the Week – “Everyone is Amazed and Surprised”

One of our good customers who runs his own stereo store in the Netherlands had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently as demo discs for his customers:

Hey Tom, 

It is really great to play your records and explain how it works for you. Everyone is amazed and surprised. Our presentation is still small in relation to covid rules. But I hear that a number of customers are already finding their way to you and that is good news. I will make a newsletter to my customers about you early next year. We’ll stay in touch.

Greeting
Harry

Harry,

Glad you are enjoying our amazing and surprising Hot Stampers! So much better than all that crappy Heavy Vinyl they play in audio salons these days.

(more…)

Letter of the Week – After the Gold Rush and Beatles For Sale

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

Hey Tom, 

Just wanted to write and tell you how much I love that Neil Young After The Gold Rush White Hot Stamper I picked up last week. Really awesome. This ranks up with the best I’ve bought from you guys.

The sound is incredible. Neil’s voice is right in the room. The guitar sounds real and that harmonica is super. I love when he performs, just him and nobody else. I’m really stuck on Neil’s albums. The sound is just soooo good. I’m working on my system to get more out of these records.

Oh yeah, I picked up one of your “Beatles for Sale” albums for $65. Really nice for the money. Those Beatle albums can really be awesome. Have to get a White Hot Stamper Beatles album someday. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “Dropping you a line to tell you that these two Hot Stampers have four of the greatest sounding sides of music I have experienced.”

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

Hey Tom,   

Dropping you a line to tell you that these two Hot Stampers have four of the greatest sounding sides of music I have experienced. The new HS Aja and Fragile blew me away. I often start a listening session with the good intention of documenting the experience for you. I quickly blow that idea off and just start falling into the music. It would take thousands of words to explain the total experience. These two records have a presence and soundstage that put me in the studio (again, like your Sgt. Peppers) or feet from the stage.

In your description of Aja, you commented on Becker’s guitar floating on a bed of cool studio air front and center on “I got the news.” I became more interested and awed at the controlled pressure he was using on the strings with his left hand. The “harmonic” sounds of the notes were completely narcotic. With Fragile, the translucent layering of instruments and their note decay, danced across the room like sparks, making my head swim. At times the soundstage of Fragile extended well over my head. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “I just had a chance to listen to the Please Please Me record you sent me. WOW!”

Please Please Me

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

Hey Tom,  

I just had a chance to listen to the Please Please Me record you sent me. WOW! It is sooo much better than the tinny sound I remember. The tonality of their voices is incredible. And there’s background detail that I never heard before. (more…)

Originals vs. Reissues

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The letter below sheds some light on a vitally important mastering issue: specifically the answer to the question, Which are better sounding, originals or reissues? The letter finishes this way.

Incidentally, just a couple of days ago I conducted my own shootout between the Red Label “Mingus Ah Um” I bought from you a few weeks back and my pristine, Six Eye White Label Promo original. To my surprise, you were absolutely right about the greater clarity of the former (starting with the snare drum on the first track).

If I had to choose between them when selecting half a dozen “desert island” LPs (and “Mingus Ah Um” would definitely be one), the Red Label version would be the pick. Much obliged for the edification.

We of course could not agree more. We wrote back:

Once you hear the sound of “old school mastering” and get to know it, you can recognize it for what it does right and what it too often does wrong. Then, and only then, can you appreciate what is really happening when switching from newer to older pressings, what is being gained and what is being lost. It’s the kind of Home Audio Exercise we constantly talk about on the site. And there’s a good reason for that.

As we never tire of saying, hearing is surely believing. (more…)

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

Led Zeppelin III

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

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.

ATB,
Fred

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 their shit right out of the water. That ought to do it.

Cat Stevens Testimonial – One of the Best Recordings in My 10K LP Collection

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Roger is up to his old tricks again, doing shootouts with our Hot Stampers and all the great pressings he already owns, in this case putting our humble Brown Label A&M domestic LP up against the legendary Pink Label Island British Import and a couple of MoFis. We’ll let Roger tell his own story, since by now we all know he does it as well as anyone.

Hi Tom,

Just a note on another hot stamper shootout I recently did, this time on Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman. It was interesting comparing itto the regular MFSL half-speed, the MFSL UHQR pressing, and a UK Pink Island 3U pressing, which was my all-time champ.

The regular MFSL was up first and I now remember why I don’t like this pressing: the guitars are entirely too bright, forward, and stand too proud of the rest of the mix, completely overwhelming the other instruments and voices.

When I had a detail-challenged stereo 25 years ago I recall thinking that MFSL really improved the detail on the guitars and the highs were more crystalline, but with a vastly improved stereo I can see what MFSL was doing in artificially hyping the details.

After taking this ear-bleeding pressing off my turntable and replacing it with the UHQR, I was actually relieved that the UHQR was not as annoying as the regular half-speed, although the UHQR had its faults also. The tonal balance was weird, thin and bright, and dynamics were suppressed, the worst of the four pressings I had. Also, the bass on both MFSL versions, as you often say, was an amorphous blob with little dynamics, speed, and extension.

Sometimes I wish I kept my old crappy stereo to see if I could now tell what it was that made these audiophile pressings so attractive then. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “I’m hooked on the Hot Stampers. Wish I had the money to buy more than I do.”

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

Hey Tom, 

I’m having the time of my life with the new speakers and the VPI turntable. Before I stumbled across your website I was using the bottom of the line Rega turntable and my speakers were so small I don’t even want to mention them. Although they had ribbon tweeters and excellent sound they were nothing like the Legacy Focus. So I thank everyone at Better Records for all that I have learned. You guys steered me to the right equipment.

I used to go to the used record store every weekend and buy a handful of records. I won’t be doing that anymore. I’m hooked on the Hot Stampers. Wish I had the money to buy more than I do. I think it’s better to treat myself to one good Hot Stamper than a bunch of cheap used records. You don’t get tired of listening to them. There’s no listening fatigue. I find it hard to stop and eat while I’m listening. Anyway you can tell I’m thrilled.

Steve E.


More Letters

Letter of the Week – “You are right, it is expensive, time consuming and an obsession.”

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

Hey Tom, 

Your Thursday flyers are one of the highlights of my week. Some people think I don’t have a life… and they’re probably right. I’ve found myself steadily gravitating towards Hot Stampers. A large part of this has been because the majority of the LPs Better Records offers contain music I like.

Because funds are limited a tension arises in allocating expenditure on hardware and software (i.e. the LPs). But only with continuous (but judicious) improvement in the hardware can one truly appreciate how good each Hot Stamper is. You are right, it is expensive, time consuming and an obsession. Just keep those insightful random thoughts coming along. I have been at this for 25 years and am still learning. (more…)

Boston Hot Stamper Testimonial – Shooting Out the Big Three

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This week’s letter comes from our good customer Roger, who did a little shootout of his own among three very different sounding pressings: two Half-Speeds, one by MoFi and one by CBS, probably the two most popular pressings among audiophiles, and our very own Hot Stamper LP. Here are his findings. Keep in mind that Roger bought a copy priced at $125, half the price of the best copy in our shootout.

Hi Tom,

I got your Boston hot stamper today and enjoyed comparing it to MFSL and CBS half-speed versions in a shootout. I had long since given up on listening to this record since it became part of a communist ploy to brainwash us by playing Boston repeatedly on the radio until we would give up any information they desired. “Deep Purple Lite” was what my college buddies and I used to derisively call it. Now I only wish we had this type of music still around. So I had fun reliving my college days and listening to this LP.

For a pop recording, it is a pretty good recording soundwise, and all 3 pressings were indeed good, if not interesting. I tried the CBS half-speed first, and it was tonally lean with good speed and detail, and bass was extended and quick. However, its Achilles heel was that it had too much energy on top and excessive brightness, something that couldn’t hide from my speakers’ ion tweeters.

Roger, you seem to be using the phrase “tonally lean” unpejoratively (if I can make up such a word), whereas for us here at Better Records, that is the kiss of death for Half-Speeds, and in fact Audiophile Records of All Kinds. Lack of weight down below, lack of Whomp Factor, is the main reason half-speed mastered records are so consistently and ridiculously bad. If not bad, certainly wrong. You can be very sure that Boston would not want, nor would they put up with, that kind of anemic sound for a minute. (more…)