Hot Stamper Pressing of Miles’s Albums Available Now
More of Our Favorite Jazz Test Discs
One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:
Listening to Kind Of Blue. Who needs an equipment upgrade with records like these?
Our reply at the time:
But on further reflection, it became clear to me that there is more to this idea than one might think upon first hearing it.
When records sound as good as Kind of Blue on vintage vinyl (not this piece of trash), it’s easy to think that everything in the system must be working properly, and, more to the point, reproducing the sound of the album at a high level.
If only more records were as well recorded as KOB, we could save ourselves a lot of time and money, time and money that we’re currently spending on tweaking, tuning and upgrading the various components of our systems. (Assuming you are in fact doing these things. I certainly hope you are. Achieving higher quality sound is one of the greatest joys to be had in all of audio.)
This is undoubtedly true, as far as it goes. But we must live in the world of records as we find it, not the one we want to exist.
Finding good sound for most of the records you wish to enjoy takes a great deal of effort, assuming you are setting your standards for sound at an exceptionally high level. Yours don’t have to be as high as ours — we’re the guys who put their reputations on the line for extravagantly priced Hot Stampers, not you — but the records you are playing have to sound good enough to allow you to forget they are records and just get lost in the music.
With every improvement you make to your system, you eventually will find yourself banging your head up against the psychological effect of Hedonic Adaptation.* Once you have achieved better sound, it doesn’t take long before you get used to it, and now your much-improved “new normal” isn’t as thrilling as it was when you first experienced it.
It’s a common misconception among many audiophiles that if you can make a record like KOB sound great, you must have a good stereo system. Some of them write to us to tell us that the so-called Hot Stamper pressing we just sent them didn’t sound good, which must be the record’s fault since so many of their other records sound just fine.
A certain Bob Dylan record came back to us, twice, something that has never happened before or since. One customer said it just didn’t sound good enough to qualify as a Hot Stamper, and another said it was full of distortion.
In both cases, once the record had come back to us, we immediately played it to see where we might have gone wrong. In both cases it still sounded fine. We realized there was something about it that made it difficult to play, but since we were able to reproduce it properly, there was no way for us to even know what that might be. Eventually the next person to buy it found it to his liking and that was the last we heard of it. Since then no copies have been returned.
A great deal of this blog is devoted to helping audiophiles gain a better understanding of the vagaries of high-quality record pressings and the difficulty of finding and setting up the equipment needed to play them.
To this end, we have created a number tests to help improve your playback. Kind of Blue is a phenomenally good sounding jazz record. You can certainly use it as a test disk, but only if you go about it the right way, by setting very, very high standards for it.
Rather than play a record that tends to sound good in order to improve your stereo, set up, etc., why not play something that’s difficult to get to sound good? Once you have improved the sound of such a record, then it will be much more obvious that your efforts were actually successful. (Here are some of the toughest test discs we’ve encountered over the years.)
We live the challenges posed by difficult recordings, not the ones that are easy to reproduce.
If you want to test the limits of your system, here are some difficult to reproduce records that will allow you to do it.
And if you want to buy some records that sound great but are difficult to reproduce, these Hot Stamper pressings should do the trick.
*Psychology Today explains one aspect of the Hedonic Treadmill this way:
What are examples of hedonic adaptation?
After moving to a new house or apartment, one may revel in the extra room, the higher ceilings, the improved view to the outside, or other features—only to stop appreciating these things as much as the months wear on. The same could be said for the mood boost we might receive from other new possessions or highly anticipated experiences… such that eventually, their level of happiness returns back to where it started, or at least closer to the baseline than immediately after the event.