Top Artists – Pink Floyd

Letter of the Week – “I needed a day to fully pick up my jaw from the floor after hearing Revolver and Dark Side…”

Reviews and Commentaries for Revolver

Letters and Commentaries for Dark Side of the Moon

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

Hey Tom, 

I needed a day to fully pick up my jaw from the floor after hearing Revolver and Dark Side…

Now that I‘ve given them both a few listens to fully absorb how revealing these recordings I thought I knew so well really are, I just have so many questions. 

How much better sounding can the respective White Hots really be?????

As far as Dark Side, I’m finding out for myself. Just ordered the white hot stamper. Most likely will be returning one of them, but I hope that after this, I will finally be able to stop looking for “the better sound” on this one….

Regarding Revolver, will the A++ side of my Revolver Super hot sound the same as the A++ side of the WHS? Or is the A++ grade on the WHS relative to its A+++ side, and still better than the SHS? What I am getting at is, will both sides blow me away in comparison to my SHS, or is it better to be patient and hold out for a two-sided A+++? Btw, regardless of your answer, you cannot have this copy back, it is simply fantastic!

I know these kinds of questions are quite relative to a number of variables, but any enlightenment you can provide is welcome…. I appreciate what you do, you have gained a very happy customer. (more…)

Pink Floyd Sounds Terrible on this Japanese “Audiophile” Pressing

Pink Floyd Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

Letters and Commentaries for The Wall

This Japanese Import is one of the dullest, muddiest, worst sounding copies of The Wall we have ever played. It is clearly made from a second generation tape (or worse!).

And somehow this pressing, or one very much like it, ended up as on the TAS Super Disc List. I would hope that the copy Harry played sounded a whole lot better than this one.

And the CBS Half-Speed is every bit as bad!

How is it that the worst sounding pressings are so often marketed to audiophiles as superior to their mass-produced counterparts? In our experience, more often than not they are just plain awful, inferior in every way but one: surface quality.

Dear Audiophiles, stop collecting crappy audiophile pressings with quiet vinyl and just switch to CD already.


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – Japanese Pressings

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – A Guide to Understanding The Fundamentals

Pink Floyd – “…never heard the details in the guitars and cymbals and keyboards like this.”

Pink Floyd Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

Letters and Commentaries for Wish You Were Here

One of our best customers, Roger, received his $150 Hot Stamper [those were the days!] ’Wish You Were Here’ and went straight to work comparing it with the various other pressings he owned: two different CBS Half Speeds. The not-so-shocking results are presented in detail below.

Hi Tom,

I received your Pink Floyd ‘Wish You Were Here’ Hot Stamper and compared it to my CBS Half-Speed (I found a bunch of these Half-Speeds in a bargain bin years ago and did a shootout to select the best one) and the pressing that I considered the best, the Japanese Mastersound Half-Speed, for which I paid dearly.

Drum roll, please while Vanna hands me the sealed envelope………… and the winner is: Surprise — the Hot Stamper!

And it wasn’t even close.

Once I heard the center-of-the-earth bass on the Hot Stamper ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, it was all over. I was amazed at how bright the CBS was, transparent yes, but bright and no bass and no body to the saxophones and voices. The Mastersound was better-balanced in that the highs were tamed, but no real dynamics and the bass was flabby.

I have heard this record hundreds of times, but never heard the details in the guitars and cymbals and keyboards like this.

And did I mention the huge, huge soundstage with a wall of sound like that of other Pink Floyd records? Nice job as usual.

Roger,

Thanks for verifying the accuracy of our Hot Stamper claims once again. The decent sounding Half Speed Mastered records, CBS and otherwise, can be counted pretty easily on one’s fingers. We could debunk them all day long if we wanted to (and had ten times the staff). It doesn’t take long to hear how anemic the sound is compared to The Real Thing, the real thing being, of course, a vintage pressing.

The copy you bought was rated A Plus on both sides, two full sonic grades below the best, so you can imagine how good those copies sound. But since neither you nor I are made out of money, for $150 you now own a copy that will trounce anything you throw at it, especially if what you throw at it is an audiophile pressing.

Those moribund LPs belong on Ebay where all the Technics turntable owners of the world can find them in order to complete their — let’s be honest — silly and ultimately pointless audiophile collections.

Modern equipment shows half-speed foolishness for what it is. You heard it, we heard it, and slowly but surely we are spreading the word to the rest of the audiophile community.

Thanks again; it’s a big job and we need all the help we can get.

Best 
TP


Letter of the Week – “absolutely blew me away.”

Reviews and Commentaries for Meddle

Reviews and Commentaries for Pink Floyd

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

Hi Tom,

Got the Meddle album already. I sat down as soon as I opened it and listened to both sides with the volume up. Absolutely blew me away. I heard things on there that I never heard before. Or I just heard them better.

I didn’t have to listen to my other copies. I knew right away this one was IT. Listening to a record like this just gets me thinking what the other Hot Stampers sound like.

Steve


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters

Letter of the Week – “…the WHS is huge and clear. It had ALL the positive attributes I heard in the others.”

Pink Floyd Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for Dark Side of the Moon

More Customer Letters for Dark Side of the Moon

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

Dear Tom and Fred,

Just a note to say I’ll be keeping the White Hot of DSOTM. Fred, thank you for reaching out to me about it. I really appreciate that.

This is one of those records where I already had a handful of well-regarded pressings. How intriguing that it was such an obscure pressing that won your shootout! [1]

I compared the WHS to my early US pressing (Ken Perry mastered [2]), my MoFi [3], a Japanese “blue triangle” pressing, and of course, the 2016 remaster [4].

Sure, there are tons of sought-after pressings that go for prices even more exorbitant than what I paid you, none of which I’ve heard, so I guess it’s not a proper shootout. But, at least among the ones I have, the WHS bested them all handily. In each of the others I was able to find something that I could appreciate, that on its own compared well to the WHS. This is such a great, and well-recorded, album that any pressing of it is going to have something worthwhile to offer.

The Japanese pressing came closest to the WHS. At the other end of the spectrum the 2016 remaster, noted for its great bass, just sounded clogged and thudding [5].

Compared to each of them, the WHS is huge and clear. It had ALL the positive attributes I heard in the others. Is it 15x better than my next-best copy? Objectively, probably not. But, subjectively, it must be, since I’m keeping it.

Since the hot stamper arrived the day after my Legacy Signature III’s got here, it was one of the first records I played on them. What a great pairing they are! 

This was of course the first mini-shootout I’ve done using the Legacys. What a great window into a record these speakers provide. I switched back to my Bowers and Wilkins 805s and re-ran the shootout, just to see if my impressions would still align. They did, with the hot stamper providing more vividness and a bigger sound than the other pressings did, even on the B&Ws.

But on the bigger speakers the hot stamper stands apart from the others by a wider margin.

Thank you both for all the great records you find, and thank you Tom for the stereo advice. You keep doing what you’re doing, and I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.

Aaron

Aaron,

Glad to hear you are a Legacy man now. We love our Legacy Speakers and can’t imagine doing shootouts without them. (The old ones, not the newer models.) The Big Speaker sound, at loud levels, is what allows a record like Dark Side of the Moon to be every bit the immersive experience we know it can be if you have a top quality pressing to play. Now you know it too.

And thanks for doing the shootout so that you know exactly what our best copies of Dark Side are capable of. If you make any improvement to your system, be sure to go back to this Dark Side and hear the change for yourself.

Then play any of these other pressings and note how the gap has widened. That is our experience and we expect you will find the same differences in your listening room as well.

The following notes may be of general interest:

[1} Obscure pressings that sound better than all others are our bread and butter here at Better Records! There are only two sets of stampers for the record you bought that win shootouts, and without those exact stampers you would not have heard the sound you so clearly heard. There is a stamper for the pressing you bought that has the same cover and the same label, made in the same country, but with sound that is pretty subpar. We bought some because we owed it to ourselves and our customers to try every potentially good stamper we knew was out there. We bombed, but we do that a lot and never worry about it. At these prices the winners more than pay for the losers.

This is why it is difficult to take anyone seriously who thinks they know the right pressings of DSOTM. We had to play a dozen or more different ones in order to find the killer copy you now own. Who in his right mind would do such a thing?

[2] As a rule we very much like Ken Perry‘s work for Capitol, but it is doubtful that anyone ever gave him a master tape of DSOTM to work with.

[3] Many, many years ago we did a little shootout for the MoFi, which you can read about here. We should note that the last time we dropped the needle on one we found it way too bright. The Crime of the Century MoFi that I used to sort of like was the same way, way too bright. Our system ten or twenty years ago used to be darker and much more forgiving. Those dark days are gone and they sure won’t be coming back, which simply means that it is the rare MoFi record that we can tolerate anymore. (Here are some of the ones we found the least irritating.)

[4] The Heavy Vinyl pressing that Doug Sax cut may have been made from the real master tape, but it had to go through Kevin Gray’s cutting system, and it’s the rare record that survives that trip. We reviewed his version here, almost twenty years ago now.

[5] We thought it sounded very bright. I didn’t pay much attention to the lower frequencies, the higher ones were just way too boosted.


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – A Guide to the Fundamentals

Making Audio Progress 

Pink Floyd – Way Back in 2007 We Discovered the Hottest Stampers of Them All

Reviews and Commentaries for Meddle

Reviews and Commentaries for Pink Floyd

More Breakthrough Pressing Discoveries

Want to find your own shootout winner? Scroll to the bottom to see our advice on doing just that.

This review from 2007 describes our experience of having stumbled upon the right stampers for Meddle. To this day, only precisely these stampers have won the many shootouts we’ve done for the album over the ensuing years, perhaps as many as a dozen shootouts or more. These stampers are also very hard to find, which is why you have not seen a copy of Meddle hit the site in a while.

To see more albums with one set of stampers that consistently win shootouts, click here.

This Harvest Green Label British Import pressing has a side one that goes FAR beyond anything we’ve ever heard for this album. We had no choice but to award this side one the very rare A with FOUR pluses A++++. We’ve never given any side of any other Pink Floyd record such a high grade, so you can be sure that you’ve never heard them sound this amazing!

We’ve been buying up every clean copy we can find with good stampers since we found our last White Hot Meddle back in March. Unfortunately, most of them left us a bit cold. Most copies just don’t have the kind of magic that we know is on the tape. Beyond that, many of them are too noisy to sell — even the minty looking ones. 

The Best Side One Ever

Side one here is OFF THE CHARTS, OUT OF THIS WORLD, DEMO DISC QUALITY. Everything you’ve ever wanted in a Pink Floyd album is here in generous quantities — transparency, breathy vocals, HUGE bass, warmth, richness, ambience, and depth to the soundfield. A copy like this allows you to hear INTO the music in a way that would never be possible with a lesser pressing. The presence and immediacy are staggering, and the bass is going to blow your mind. There’s TONS of life and energy, and the highs are silky beyond belief. This is tubey magical analog at its best, folks — it’s an A++++ side without doubt. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “…there is no comparison to the experience of this record vs any other of the ~15 pressings I have.”

Pink Floyd Hot Stamper Pressings Available Now

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

Hey Tom, 

I was finally able to give the white hot stamper a listen.

I was blown away.

This record sounds so amazing. The sound is expansive….big, wide, and deep. With higher highs and extended lows that are still clear and pure.

It’s such a huge difference, there is no comparison to the experience of this record vs any other of the ~15 pressings I have, including one super hot stamper.

Awesome, Thanks
-Alex

Alex,

Glad you liked it as much as we did!

White Hot means it won the shootout and had the best sound of any copy we played.

It sounds like that’s what you heard too.

Thanks for your letter.

TP


FURTHER READING

New to the Blog? Start Here

More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters

Basic Concepts and Realities Explained

Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

  • This Pink Floyd classic is back on import vinyl that boasts excellent Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
  • The vinyl has some issues, so those of you looking for a quieter copy may want to wait for one of those to hit the site
  • If you are looking for a shootout winning copy, let us know, with music and sound like this, we hope to be able to do this shootout again soon
  • Demo Disc Quality Floyd Magic — our Hot Stamper pressings are bigger, richer, more dynamic, have better bass, more immediacy, and more of just about everything that makes a Classic Pink Floyd album a listening experience like no other
  • 5 stars on Allmusic, a Top 100 title and one that is tough to find with sound this good and surfaces this (relatively) quiet
  • “Showcasing the group’s interplay and David Gilmour’s solos in particular… the long, winding soundscapes are constantly enthralling.”
  • If you’re a fan of the band, and what audiophile wouldn’t be?, this classic from 1975 belongs in your collection.
  • The complete list of titles from 1975 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
  • A permanent member of our Rock and Pop Top 100 and, on big speakers at loud levels, a Demo Disc of the Highest Order

The sound of this very special import pressing is HUGE, open, and spacious like nothing you have ever heard.  It’s also exceptionally transparent, with substantial amounts of depth and three-dimensionality.

There is a huge room around the drums that we guarantee you have never heard sound as big and real as it does on this very record.

Tubey Magical Acoustic Guitar reproduction is superb on the better copies of this recording. Simply phenomenal amounts of Tubey Magic can be heard on every strum, along with richness, body and harmonic coherency that have all but disappeared from modern recordings (and especially from modern remasterings).

Here is the size, energy, and presence to bring the music out of the speakers and right into your listening room! (more…)

Pink Floyd – Meddle

  • An outstanding British copy of this very well recorded album, engineered by the enormously talented Robin Black
  • Here is the Tubey Magic, presence, size and space we guarantee you have never heard on Meddle no matter what pressing you may own
  • An audiophile Demonstration Quality Recording on a par with Dark Side of the Moon, which is really saying something!
  • 4 1/2 stars:”Pink Floyd were nothing if not masters of texture, and Meddle is one of their greatest excursions into little details, pointing the way to the measured brilliance of Dark Side of the Moon and the entire Roger Waters era.”
  • More Recordings brilliantly

(more…)

Which One’s Pink? – And What Do All Those Numbers Mean?

An erstwhile customer wrote to us a while back asking a question about Dark Side of the Moon: “What is the FULL stamper matrix for this record… all the way around the dead wax?”

I replied that we never give out stamper numbers for the records we sell. The only way to find out the stampers for our records is to buy them.

He then countered with this bit of information:

Well, ok. I don’t understand the logic, but it’s your show.

Floyd stampers are probably the most uniquely well documented stampers on [a site that no longer exists] that they’re pretty much common knowledge. If I understand your logic, a first pressing may not be a “Hot Stamper” while a 3rd, 4th or 5th might be. Just a function of the stars aligning when that record is pressed. So what’s the diff?

I would think this would be pretty obvious. If we say pressing X is the best, this is information that you cannot get anywhere else, certainly not on the site you linked to. The day that such a site tells you which stampers sound the best is the day that such a site will have any value to those who are not collecting for the sake of collecting, but actually want to find pressings with the best sound to play

The information on that site has absolutely no value to me, or to any of my Hot Stamper customers, of that I can assure you. [It no longer exists by the way.]

If you told me what the stampers were and it was a first pressing and /or issue, it would enhance the marketability of that particular record and I would be more inclined to buy it…not that I would sell it, but just knowing it was a first press would have more value to me.

Why would you want a first pressing if it didn’t sound as good? Or, if a later pressing sounded better, why would that make any difference in your desire to buy it? Isn’t the idea to get good sound?

If you buy records principally to collect original pressings, you will end up with one awful sounding collection of records, that I can tell you without fear of contradiction.

On the other hand, if you want the best sounding pressings, we are the only record sellers on the planet who can consistently find them for you. This is precisely the service we are able offer, unique in the world as far as we know. 

Anyone can sell originals. Only we can sell the best sound. (Others could of course, but none of them have ever bothered to try, so the result is the same.) Finding the best sound is far more difficult and far more rewarding to both the seller and the buyer, as any of our customers will tell you.

I guess the only problem for the “collector” who cares about sound as well as rarity is that your “Hot Stampers” aren’t “certified” in any way. That is, if I went to re-sell a Hot Stamper I bought from you, no one else would know it to be different from any other pressing of the same record. Ever thought about coding your records so that individual record had some kind of verifiable marking that it was a certain level of “hot stamper”???

We do have a customer who makes us fill out hot stamper certificates, but they are really of little value for resell in the real world.

Records aren’t to sell, they are to play and enjoy.

Btw, I collect for sound first, but “collectability / rarity” is up there too. My stone mint MFSL Muddy Waters Folk Singer #0005 / 5000 might fetch a couple more bucks on ebay than number 4999 say, right? I know, 4999 might sound better, but hey, a lot of people don’t have the equipment to tell the difference.

[This is where I got a little fed up and a little testy, or maybe I should say testier than usual.]

Since that is an AWFUL sounding pressing, I hope your equipment is able to tell you what is wrong with its sound. Mobile Fidelity is one of the worst labels in the history of the world; surely you don’t buy their lousy sounding records to play them? Collect them all you want, it’s your money, but who in his right mind thinks they sound any good? There are tons of commentaries on the site detailing their deficiencies. Please take the time to read them.

The fastest way to improve your record collection is to get rid of all your audiophile pressings, since only one out of every ten or twenty is even passable. If your stereo isn’t showing you how wrong the sound of those records is, it’s time to make some serious changes.

Best, 
TP


FURTHER READING

The collector game cannot really be played with Hot Stampers. If anything they are just the opposite of a collectible, due to the fact they have practically no established or verifiable value. Their value is purely subjective; they exist only to provide listening pleasure for their owner. No other concerns have any real bearing on their worth.

I can understand why a record collector would be confused by this notion of subjective and limited value.

Collecting records is mostly about buying, selling and owning various kinds of records, and the ones that are worth the most money are typically considered the coolest ones to collect.

Who wants to collect worthless records?

Collecting records is not primarily about playing music; this seems to be a less important aspect of collecting. (I’ve known record collectors who didn’t even own a turntable!)

So all those funny numbers in the dead wax and on the label and the spine of the cover are just numbers, man.

They don’t mean anything to me (other than helping us recognize the best pressings) and they shouldn’t mean anything to you — that is, if you care about the sound of your music. If you want to collect a record because it has one set of numbers in the dead wax or the label or on the cover rather than another set of numbers, that’s your business. I guess that’s what most record collectors do. I, for one, want no part of it. I just want good sounding records. They can have any numbers they want.

To be clear, we here at Better Records very much want copies of the records we sell with the right stampers, the stampers that win shootouts, because that makes our job a lot easier.

As listeners, we don’t care about the numbers and neither should anyone else who is serious about listening, not collecting.

The Elephant in the Room

One more afterthought, which may sound like a cheap shot but still needs to be said, because, from my point of view, it is clearly the elephant in the room and very probably the underlying cause of this man’s troubles. If Muddy Waters on MoFi is your idea of a good sounding album, you have plenty of work ahead of you.

You need one or more of the following three things:

  1. better quality playback,
  2. a better room,
  3. or better-trained ears.

Without some or all of those, Hot Stampers are going to remain very much a mystery.

The Opposite of a Hot Stamper

It’s easy to be a collector; you just collect stuff. To get your stereo and room to sound right, and to be able to recognize when they do, that is very very hard. I’ve been at it for thirty-five plus years and I still work at it and try to learn new things every day. I know there’s a long way to go.

Until you get your stereo, room and ears working, collecting good sounding records is all but impossible. You will very likely waste a fortune on “Collector Quality Pressings:” the kind with Collector Value and very little else. These records are the opposite of Hot Stamper pressings: All their value is tied up in their Music and Sound, which is where we think it should be.

(more…)