More Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Finding Hot Stampers is all about doing shootouts for as many different pressings of the same title as you can get your hands on.
There are four basic steps you must take, and you have to do right by each of the four if you are going to be successful at discovering and evaluating your own Hot Stampers.
We discuss every one of them in scores of commentaries and listings on this blog. Although none of it will come as news to anyone who has spent much time reading our stuff, we cobbled together this commentary to help formalize the process and hopefully make it easier to understand and follow.
If you want to make judgments about recordings — not the pressing you have in your collection, but the actual recording it was made from — you have to do some work, and you have to do it much more thoroughly and carefully and above all scientifically than most audiophiles and record collectors we’ve met apparently think is necessary. Don’t be one of those guys. Do it right and get the results that are simply not possible with any other approach.
The Four Cornerstones of Hot Stamper Shootouts
The work of finding these very special pressings is made up of these four parts.
- You must have a sufficient number of copies to play in order to find at least one “hot” one.
- You must be able to clean your copies properly in order to get them to sound their best.
- You must be able to reproduce your copies faithfully.
- You must be able to evaluate them critically.
There is a clear benefit to doing it this way, and it’s something you should consider when tweaking your system too.
Lately we have achieved the best results by going about it like this:
If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album at key moments of your choosing.
Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that others do not do as well, using a specific passage of music — the acoustic guitar John beats the hell out of on Norwegian Wood just to take one example — it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces that passage.
The process is simple enough. First you go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can’t find on most copies. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.
Admittedly, to clean and play enough copies to get to that point may take all day, but you will have gained experience and knowledge that you cannot come by any other way. If you do it right and do it enough it has the power to change everything you will ever achieve in audio.
This hobby is supposed to be fun. If you’ve been in it for any length of time you know that sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. But if you enjoy doing it at least some of the time, and you devote the proper resources to it — time and money — you will no doubt derive much more pleasure from it, especially if you use our approach.
It works for us and there’s no reason it can’t work for you.
Some Listening Basics