Top Artists – Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti

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  • Outstanding sound can be found on all FOUR sides of this killer double album
  • Transparency, the ability to see into the mix, and the other side of the Vintage Analog Richness coin, is key to the better pressings of this album, as well as many of our other favorite demo discs
  • Of course the main attributes that set the best copies apart from the also-rans are size, energy, weight, vocal presence and an overall freedom from grit and grain
  • In light of all that, we guarantee that this copy will do better in these areas than any pressing you have ever heard
  • 5 stars: “Physical Graffiti captures the whole experience of Led Zeppelin at the top of their game better than any of their other albums.”
  • Maybe, but if were to rank the first six Zeppelin albums in order of quality, Physical Graffiti would come in at number six
  • This is a Must Own Title from 1975, which turned out to be a great year for Rock and Pop music

A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume .

If you’ve been waiting for a seriously powerful Kashmir Experience, today is your lucky day. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “What a revelation compared to every other copy I have heard.”

More of the Music of Led Zeppelin

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Led Zeppelin

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

Hey Tom, 

Just had a chance to listen to my new hot stamper. Wow! What a revelation compared to every other copy I have heard. Quiet vinyl, huge soundstage, great tonal balance, amazing level of detail. Sounds even better when cranked up as you know : ). Been waiting for this one for a while and it has been so worth it!

Thanks again!



So happy to hear that you liked it as much as we did. Like you say, the louder the better, and only a top quality pressing will let you turn up the volume as loud as your system can play.

One reason Turning Up Your Volume is such a great test is that the louder the problem, the harder it is to ignore.

Like Rob, some of our other customers have written us letters about our Hot Stamper pressings being revelations, and we know exactly what they mean. We heard them ourselves, in a shootout, head to head with other copies. That’s the only way to know if any copy is the real deal.

In the past, we’ve stumbled upon plenty of copies of famous albums that blew our minds. We call them breakthrough pressings, and they are the kinds of records we live for around here.

The fact that they are often not from the “right” country, or far from original, as was the case with the Zep record we sent Rob, demonstrates that most of what passes for Collector Knowledge is absurdly incomplete, or downright wrong. Either way, it is without question unreliable, regardless of what the posters on the various audiophile forums may tell you.


Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy

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  • You’ll find superb Double Plus (A++) sound throughout this vintage Atlantic pressing – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Only the pressings mastered by Robert Ludwig have any hope of doing well in our shootouts, and those are the only ones we have ever offered, beginning all the way back in 2006
  • Wall to wall, floor to ceiling Led Zeppelin power – this copy delivers like you will not believe, or your money back
  • A Better Records Top 100 album (along with 4 other Zep titles), 5 Stars in AMG and a True Zeppelin Must Own Classic
  • The Tubey Magical acoustic guitars heard here should be a wake up call to every audiophile that trying to remaster this album is just not in the cards
  • 5 stars: “Jimmy Page’s riffs rely on ringing, folky hooks as much as they do on thundering blues-rock, giving the album a lighter, more open atmosphere…”
  • If you’re a fan of the band, this title from 1973 is clearly one of their best, and inarguably one of their best sounding

This copy has the kind of BIG, BOLD ROCK SOUND that takes this music to places you’ve only dreamed it could go. The HUGE drums on this copy are going to blow your mind — and probably your neighbors’ minds as well.

And what would a Zep record be without bass? Not much, yet this is precisely the area where so many copies fail. Not so here. The bottom end is big and meaty with superb definition, allowing the record to ROCK, just the way you know Zep wanted it to.

The vocals too are tonally correct. None of the phony upper-midrange boost that the Classic Records reissue suffers from is evident on this copy. The louder Robert Plant screams, the better he sounds and the more I like it. The Classic makes me wince. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “I need to catch my breath here.”

More of the Music of Led Zeppelin

Reviews and Commentaries for Led Zeppelin II

One of our good customers had this to say about the Hot Stamper Zep II he purchased recently, and we exchanged quite a few emails about his findings. 

As promised, we had given him a free copy of the Jimmy Page remaster so that he could compare the two, something we have always encouraged our customers to do, especially in this case.


I need to catch my breath here. I rushed home to compare the two Zep 2s you sent. I played Whole Lot of Love on the Jimmie Page cut, then on the WH stamper. I was…stunned. Then I  asked my wife to come in to listen. She’s not a Led Zeppelin fan, so I said “Just listen to a minute of each track”. I played a minute of the Jimmie Page, she nodded, shrugged, and said “It sounds good”. Then I played the WH stamper. About 15 seconds in she exclaimed “What the F*CK?!?!”, and smiled. And wanted to hear the rest of the song.

You guys are geniuses to send the Jimmie Page LP with the WH. My friend insists on comparing it to his Classic Records copy, which we’ll do this weekend. I don’t think it will be a fair contest.
Is it worth $2,499? I know many people would say no. The vast majority. So I’m in the minority on this one.



Such great news! It seems that even people who don’t care for Zep can’t resist the power of a hot copy of Zep II!

I will have more to say, and I wanted to let you know that we still want to hear from those who have compared the two pressings. If you feel like it, tell us what you think the differences are.

And the same with your friend and his Classic repress. That record was so bright it practically peeled the paint in my room. I doubt if it has changed much.

But you can tell me!

As we have said time and time again, the number of people that have ever had the privilege of playing a killer copy of Zep II like the one we sent you is small. It’s like owning your own rocket to Mars.

It would be worth $2500 to me too! Double that.

Thanks for your letter,



Before making my first purchase from Better Records, I scoured the internet to learn about you and your company, devoured your blog (which I continue to do), and read the Washington Post article [1] and watched the accompanying video. In the end, it came down to “Well, he sure is enthusiastic, he makes a lot of sense, and it is a money back guarantee, so what do I have to lose?” Turns out I had nothing to lose and much to gain!

To be honest, after comparing the two pressings on Whole Lotta Love and Heartbreaker on side 2, I stopped comparing them. I just wanted to listen to the entirety of the hot stamper pressing. And I did, twice. It’s just an incredible immersive experience. However, when we have our Led Zeppelin “boys night” in a week or so, we’re going to compare all of the tracks, as well as the Classic Records version.

I didn’t describe my wife’s entire reaction. By the end of Whole Lotta Love, she was jumping up and down and singing the lyrics and just having a great time! Quite a reaction from someone whose musical tastes lean more towards Lionel Richie and Johnny Hartman.

Oh, she also preferred the Rumours hot stamper to the 45 rpm. [2] She couldn’t pinpoint why, except to say that with the hot stamper it seemed like they were in the room.

I have enjoyed being the beneficiary of your skill and efforts. And I’ll let you know how the Led Zeppelin shoot-out night goes!


Pay special attention in your shootout to The Lemon Song. I am going to discuss some things I learned about it recently.

See how all your versions do on the song and what you think each version is doing right and wrong.

Enjoy and have fun.


[1] The shootout video can be found here.

[2] A discussion of the 45 RPM remaster oF Rumours can be found here.

New to the Blog? Start Here

Customer Letters for Lez Zeppelin II

Customer Letters for Rumours

Helpful Advice on Doing Your Own Shootouts

The Kinds of Things You Too Can Learn from Experimenting with Records


Led Zeppelin – Our Old Shootout Winner and Some Lessons We’ve Learned

More of the Music of Led Zeppelin

Reviews and Commentaries for Led Zeppelin I

A textbook case of Live and Learn.

In 2007 we simply had no idea just how good this recording could sound on vintage vinyl. We needed to do a lot more homework, a subject we discussed in some depth here for Led Zeppelin III.

My guess is that we discovered the right pressings, with the right stampers, pressed in the right era, and mastered by the right guy, sometime in 2014. That was the year this copy came along.

Which, according to my audiophile math, means we needed 7 more years of buying, cleaning and playing copies of the album until we stumbled upon the hottest stampers of them all. And in the many years since, nothing has come along to take the crown away from this bad boy. Our customers seem pretty happy with the pressing we sold them, too.

Yes, it turned out to be quite the breakthrough, and it could not have happened to a better record, as Zep’s first album is my favorite rock album of all time.

Our Commentary from 2007

YOU WON’T BELIEVE HOW HARD THIS ZEP I ROCKS! It’s exceedingly tough to find great copies of this album, which is why you’ve never seen a Hot Stamper copy on the site before. We went through more than two dozen copies looking for The Real Sound, and this copy’s got it big time… ON BOTH SIDES!

For the real Led Zep magic, you just can’t do much better than the debut — and here’s a copy that really shows you why. From the opening chords of Good Times Bad Times to the wild ending of How Many More Times, this copy will have you rockin’ out!

Two Superb Sides

Side one has got THE BIG ZEP SOUND. Right from the start, we noticed how clean the cymbals sounded and how well-defined the bass was, after hearing way too many copies with smeared cymbals and blubbery bass. When you have a tight, punchy copy like this one, Good Times Bad Times does what it is supposed to do — it REALLY ROCKS! It’s just a bit bright, and there’s a little spit to the vocals, but with this much life, it’s light years aheads of the typically dull, dead, boring copy. The drum sound is PERFECTION.

Drop the needle on Babe I’m Gonna Leave You to hear how amazing Robert Plant’s voice sounds. It’s breathy and full-bodied with unbelievable presence. The overall sound is warm, rich, sweet, and very analog, with tons of energy. Dazed and Confused sounds JUST RIGHT — you’re gonna flip out over all the ambience! We rate side one A++ — incredible!

As amazing as side one is, side two is EVEN BETTER — it’s got MASTER TAPE SOUND with amazing tubey magic. What do you get on an A+++ Zep I side? Uncanny presence, clearer harmonics and transients, a fully extended top end, astonishing clarity and transparency and a WHOLE LOTTA BASS. You get all the texture, detail, and ambience that are missing from the average copy. Communication Breakdown sounds superb — the sound of Jimmy Page’s guitar during the solo is Right On The Money! You won’t find a better side two for this album, and we’ve rated it accordingly, A+++ all the way.

Imports — As Always, A Mixed Bag

I have numerous early pressings from England and Germany and, of course, no two of them sound the same.

My A1/B1 British Plum and Orange label turned out to be very good, but not in a league with the very best. Other British originals didn’t even make it past the first round. It just goes to show (again) that you can’t figure out too much about a record by looking at the label — you’ve got to play ’em to know how they sound.

Where’s The Beef?

Like any Zeppelin album, this music absolutely requires BIG BASS. Yet so many copies are sorely lacking in that area, suffering from a lack of weight in the bottom end. When some of the deep bass is missing, the tonal balance shifts upwards and the sound can become upper midrangy and bright. That was my first impression of side one, but I realized the bass was at fault, not the highs. When you get a copy without the kind of big, meaty bottom end a track like Dazed and Confused demands, you’ll be left cold — just as we were from all the weak copies we heard this time around.

Further Reading

In 2007, we were roughly in the same position as most audiophiles find themselves in.

We had auditioned a number pressings of the album and thought we understood the pros and cons of the sound well enough to pick a clear winner.

Of course, like most audiophiles, we made our judgments at the time with an insufficiently large sample size. This resulted, as it most often does, in us being completely wrong.

In 2007, we hadn’t stumbled upon the best pressings, because we hadn’t put enough effort into the only approach that actually works.

What approach is that, you ask?

Why, it’s trial and error.

Trial and error would eventually put us on the path to success. We had simply not conducted enough trials and made enough errors by 2007 to find out what we think we know now.

Maybe tomorrow another pressing will come along that’s even better.

New to the Blog? Start Here

Helpful Advice on Cleaning Your Records

Helpful Advice on Doing Your Own Shootouts

The Kinds of Things You Too Can Learn from Experimenting with Records

Led Zeppelin – A Classic Records LP that Beats Most Pressings (!)

More of the Music of Led Zeppelin

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of Led Zeppelin

Sonic Grade: B

Considering how bad (or at best mediocre) the average copy of the first Zep album sounds, let’s give credit where credit is due and say that Bernie’s remastered version on Heavy Vinyl is darn good (assuming you get a good one, something of course that neither I nor you should assume).

It’s without a doubt the best of all the Classic Zeppelin titles, most of which we found none too pleasing to the ear.

Our Thinking Circa 2010 

[The last time we played a copy.)

We like the Classic, albeit with reservations. It’s without a doubt the best of all the Classic Heavy Vinyl reissues of the Zeppelin catalog, most of which are not very good and some of which are just awful.

Why is this one good? It’s tonally correct for one thing, and the importance of that cannot be stressed too strongly.

Two, it actually ROCKS, something a majority of pressings we’ve played over the years don’t.

Three, it’s shockingly dynamic. It may actually be more dynamic than any other pressing we have ever played.

[It might have been back in the day, but it’s highly unlikely we would agree with that assessment in 2023. Like this record, we had a lot of R&D ahead of us before we could know just how dynamic this recording could be.]

If you aren’t willing to devote the time and resources necessary to acquire a dozen or more domestic and import copies, and you don’t want to spend the dough for one of our Hot Stamper copies, the Classic is probably your best bet.

We would agree now with almost none of what we had to say about this Classic title when it came out back in the day. We’ve reproduced it below so that you can read it here for yourself.

It’s yet another example of a record we was wrong about. Live and Learn, right?

Our (Somewhat Mistaken) Commentary from the ’90s


Led Zeppelin / Self-Titled

More Led Zeppelin

Reviews and Commentaries for Led Zeppelin I

  • A truly excellent import of Zep’s amazing debut with outstanding sound from first note to last – quiet vinyl too
  • Arguably the biggest, clearest and most Tubey Magical Zeppelin album ever recorded, thanks to the engineering genius of Glyn Johns (and production genius of Jimmy Page, who paid for the whole thing out of his own pocket)
  • Just look at the track list – the lucky owner of this LP will be hearing those songs come to life like never before
  • The band’s first album is a permanent member of our Top 100 and a Big Speaker Demo Disc like you will not believe
  • 5 stars: “Taking the heavy, distorted electric blues of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, and Cream to an extreme… But the key to the group’s attack was subtlety: it wasn’t just an onslaught of guitar noise, it was shaded and textured, filled with alternating dynamics and tempos.”

For the real Led Zep magic, you just can’t do much better than their debut — and here’s a copy that really shows you why. From the opening chords of “Good Times Bad Times” to the wild ending of “How Many More Times” (“times” start the album and end it, too, it seems) this copy will have you rockin’ out!

Both sides have the BIG ZEP SOUND. Right from the start we noticed how clean the cymbals sounded and how well-defined the bass was, after hearing way too many copies with smeared cymbals and blubbery bass.

When you have a tight, punchy copy like this one, “Good Times Bad Times” does what it is supposed to do — it really rock! With this much life, it’s lightyears ahead of the typically dull, dead, boring copy. The drum sound is perfection.

Drop the needle on “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” to hear how amazing Robert Plant’s voice sounds. It’s breathy and full-bodied with in-the-room presence. The overall sound is warm, rich, sweet, and very analog, with tons of energy. “Dazed and Confused” sounds just right — you’re gonna flip out over all the ambience!

“Communication Breakdown” sounds superb — the sound of Jimmy Page’s guitar during the solo is shockingly good.


Led Zeppelin / II – Stan Ricker Versus Robert Ludwig

More of the Music of Led Zeppelin

Reviews and Commentaries for Led Zeppelin II

Here is the story of my first encounter with an amazing sounding copy of Zep II back in 1995 or thereabouts.

I had a friend who had come into possession of a White Label Demo pressing of the album and wanted to trade it in to me for the Mobile Fidelity pressing that I had played for him once or twice over the years, and which we both thought was The King on that album.

To my shock and dismay, his stupid American copy KILLED the MoFi. It TROUNCED it in every way. The bass was deeper and punchier. Everything was more dynamic. The vocals were more natural and correct sounding. The highs were sweeter and more extended. The whole pressing was just full of life in a way that the Mobile Fidelity wasn’t.

The Mobile Fidelity didn’t sound Bad. It sounded Not As Good. More importantly, in comparison with the good domestic copy, in many ways it now sounded wrong.

Let me tell you, it was a watershed moment in my growth as a record collector. I had long ago discovered that many MoFi’s weren’t all they were cracked up to be. But this was a MoFi I liked. And it had killed the other copies I’d heard in the past.

So I learned something very important that day. I learned that hearing a better pressing is by far the best way to appreciate what’s wrong with the pressing you think sounds right.

In this case, I used to like a very bad pressing, the Mobile Fidelity, but I really could not tell what was wrong with it because I had nothing better to compare it to. [1] (And I had never developed much in the way of critical listening skills.)

More evidence, if any were needed, that the three most important words in the world of audio are Compared to What?

Needless to say, the trade didn’t go through: he kept his copy and I was stuck with mine. But I knew what to look for. I knew what the numbers were in the dead wax. And I started hunting them down.

Our Review of the Mobile Fidelity Zep II


Houses of the Holy on Classic Records and About 156 Other Records No Audiophile Should Want Anything to Do With

More of the Music of Led Zeppelin

Reviews and Commentaries for Houses of the Holy

This is another one of the VERY BAD records Michael Fremer put on his 2009 Top LP list, while passing over one of Classic’s better titles: the first Led Zeppelin album. (We don’t like it as much as we used to, but it is still a good record if you get a good pressing of it, something that can never be guaranteed. We link to our review of it below.)

Michael Fremer’s web site used to be called called musicangle (now defunct). On this site you would have been able to find a feature called157 In-Print LPs You Should Own!”

Surprisingly the link still works! If I had made a list this misguided, it would have become a Live and Learn commentary, out of sheer embarrassment if for no other reason. But back to our story.

I can’t begin to count the bad records on this list.

There are scores of them — albums that are so bad that we actually created an Audiophile Hall of Shame section to help you avoid them.

But Michael Fremer holds just the opposite view; he thinks these are records you should own. Now I suppose we can disagree over the merits (or lack of them) of a title such as Houses of the Holy on Classic (reviewed here). It’s a free country after all.

But the reason this list does such positive harm to the record-loving audiophile public, in my opinion, is that MF passes over one of the best records Classic ever cut, Led Zeppelin’s Self-Titled First Album, in order to put the ridiculously bright and aggressive Classic Houses of the Holy on the list in its place.

This is further evidence, as if more were needed, of two things that I believe are true for audiophile reviewers in general:

  1. None of them appear to be able to tell when a specific pressing of an album sounds bad. From this fact it follows that:
  2. None of them must be able to tell when a specific pressing of a given record sounds good.

Other than that they are doing their jobs just fine. They are paid to get audiophiles to buy audiophile magazines and go to audiophile websites and youtube channels. Mission accomplished.

In the area of helping audiophiles find good sounding records and avoid bad ones, they are failing miserably and have been for a very long time.

In these four words we can describe the sound of the average Classic Records pressing.

Not all Heavy Vinyl pressings are as bad sounding as Houses of the Holy. We favorably review some of the better ones here.

Reviewer malpractice? We’ve been writing about it since the ’90s.

If you want to know more about Houses of the Holy, you can learn a lot by cleaning and playing a big pile of copies. That’s how we did it and what works for us can work for you.

New to the Blog? Start Here

Basic Concepts and Realities Explained

Important Lessons We Learned from Record Experiments 

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

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More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters