We Get Letters

Ella Fitzgerald – Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie – Our Favorite Female Vocal Album of All Time

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A distinguished member of the  Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

The first “Triple Triple” MONO copy to ever hit the site — A+++ from start to finish. Our knockout mono pressing here was fuller, more natural and more involving than any copy we heard in our shootout. with immediacy to put Ella practically in the room with you, it’s her performance that really comes to life. It’s our single Favorite Female Vocal album here at Better Records, one that gets better with each passing year.

Check out what the lucky owner of this copy had to say about it.

PR Writes

As you probably know, I own superb copies of the stereo. They both fade into pastel in comparison with this mono. (more…)

Jethro Tull – Aqualung – An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

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AQUALUNG is an album we admit to being obsessed with — just look at the number of commentaries we’ve written about it.

We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands — maybe a bit too much time on your hands — please feel free to check out our commentaries.

This week’s testimonial letter comes from our good customer Roger, who was blown away by the Hot Stamper pressing of Aqualung we sent him. Roger, as expected, did a thorough shootout of our Hot Stamper against the audiophile usual suspects. The results?

Another knockout for our Hot Stamper pressing!

“Hi Tom,

I have to tell you that I was floored at the sound of the hot stamper Jethro Tull Aqualung I just bought. Darn you again and your hot stampers.

To give you some idea of how many times I have heard this album, backtrack to 1971 when it came out. On a Boy Scout trip a friend of mine had a portable 8-track tape player and this one tape, Aqualung. I remember sleeping on one of the seats in a car with the Aqualung tape on infinite repeat all night. In high school I had the 8-track and listened to this record hundreds of times.

Through the years after becoming an audiophile I bought many different copies looking for the ultimate-sounding LP, finally settling on the MFSL version, which I bought when it came out. So I had a good time comparing 4 copies: the MFSL half-speed, the DCC version, the 25th anniversary digitally remastered copy, and the hot stamper.

First I tried the 25th anniversary and it was just as I remembered it — it sounds digital, like a CD. Lots of detail, but hard, hyped, edgy, flat soundstage, compressed dynamics. As digital usually sounds, guitars were harsh and jumped unnaturally out of the mix. The DCC version was surprisingly bland and undynamic as compared to the 25th, but smoother. Neither copy had any bandwidth, no bass at all and no highs whatsoever. Maybe they remastered the LP from an 8-track tape, LOL.

When I heard the MFSL version, it came back to me why I liked this reissue so much; there was lots of bass and highs, but as on most MFSL recordings, they sounded equalized like the MFSL engineers simply took a graphic equalizer and pushed up the 20-40Hz and 5-10kHz controls. I know this sound as I once had a graphic equalizer and used to do this. There was no midbass, just the lowest bass, and it just overwhelmed the rest of the sonic spectrum, which was thin and compressed. And drumsticks on cymbals and the high hat on the title song were pushed way forward in the mix and too prominent.

It has been a real disappointment to have found out in the past 5 years or so that all of the money I spent on audiophile versions has not given me the ultimate-sounding copies. I am sure I can sell them for big bucks, which I may indeed so someday.

So again, it was a real revelation to hear the hot stamper. I have never heard a copy with the space and detail of this record like I did with the HS. It was like the musicians were right in my room with amazing presence, weight, and space. The transparency was simply unreal. And the highs and lows were balanced with the rest of the spectrum. Drums and voices jumped from the speakers, but were not overhyped, and I heard details I had never heard before. It was like hearing this vastly familiar recording for the first time, kind of like hearing the sinister laughs on Dark Side of the Moon inside my head on the HS copy of that record. Nice job on this one.

Roger

Roger, thanks as always for the insightful review. We debunked those cruddy audiophile pressings ourselves, as you can see by the listings to the left, and we’re glad to see you heard how much better the real thing is just the way we did.

The Who Letter of the Week – No Record I Own Ever Did That!

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This week’s letter came from a long time customer of ours, Dan. When he ordered this album he left the following note in his order comments – This is one of my favorite albums of all time!! One of my personal desert island discs. Can’t wait to hear it!. I’m not sure his ears were prepared for what was about to happen though. Read on to see what Dan thought of his Very Hot Who’s Next.(We have added the headings you see between the paragraphs.)

Hey Tom,

Just listened to the Very Hot Stamper of “Who’s Next” and thought I’d drop a little note: Holy FUCK that was POWERFUL!!!

No record I own ever did that

And I’m talking bone-rattling, earth-shaking, sock-you-in-the-gut POWERFUL. I’ve always known that The Who were one of the most intense bands in the history of rock n’ roll. Hell, everybody knows that and it’s part of the reason we love ’em so much. But with this record, I experienced the sheer physical force of their music like I NEVER have before. I couldn’t believe I heard bass notes hang in the air and resonate for long stretches. Bass notes never just hang like that! No record I own ever did that. (more…)

Record Collecting Axioms

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In an old commentary for a shootout we did for Carole King’s Tapestry album we took shots at both the CBS Half-Speed Mastered Audiophile pressing and the Classic Heavy Vinyl Audiophile pressing, noting that both fell far short of the standard set by the Hot Stamper copies we’d discovered. This finding (and scores of others just like it) prompted us to promulgate the following axiom of audiophile record collecting, which we are calling…

Better Records Record Collecting Axiom Number Two

The better your stereo gets, the fewer Heavy Vinyl and Half-Speed Mastered pressings you will want to play, or own for that matter.

(This assumes a fact not in evidence: that audiophiles get rid of their bad sounding records. It has been my experience that the reverse is actually more often the case. Most audiophiles seem to like to hang on to their bad sounding audiophile pressings, Why they do so I cannot for the life of me understand. To me a bad sounding audiophile record is a record that has no business being played and should either be tossed or sold, with any proceeds from the sale applied to the purchase of good records — you know, like the ones on our site.)
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Steely Dan – Katy Lied – An Album We Are Clearly Obsessed With

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KATY LIED is an album we admit to being obsessed with — just look at the number of commentaries we’ve written about it. And scroll down to see a wonderful testimonial from one of our good customers about a killer copy we sent him years ago. 

We love the album and we hope you do too. If you have some time on your hands — maybe a bit too much time on your hands — please feel free to check out our commentaries.   

This link will take you to all of our other STEELY DAN albums.

This week’s letter is from our good friend Roger, who, like us, is a GIANT Steely Dan fan. Apparently he had tried every copy of Katy Lied he could get his hands on and practically had given up on the album — until he decided to shell out the princely sum of Three Hundred Clams ($300, probably not the last piaster he could borrow, but a pretty hefty chunk of dough for a fairly common used LP from 1975) to Better Records, with the hope that we might actually find a way to put him in touch with the real Dr. Wu.

Let’s just say it seems that Roger got his money’s worth — and maybe a little more.

The title of his letter is: 

Katy Lied? Are you sure?

I tried your Hot Stamper Steely Dan Katy Lied. You gotta be kidding me. Are you sure this is the same recording? I remember your saying that this one is your favorite SD record and I could never understand why, at least until I heard this secret recording. Other than the HS copy you basically had a choice between the dull and lifeless bland US pressing, or the Mobile Fidelity version, which has those undescribable phasey, disembodied instruments and voices that sound unmusical to me.

I even tried British and Japanese pressings with no luck. I just figured this was just a bad recording, which made sense in light of all the press about the problems during the recording and mixing sessions, and I don’t think I bothered to listen to it again for at least the past 5 years.

But wow, this is clearly in another league. The voices and instruments are in three dimensions, the bass and dynamics are far far better, the saxes are up-front and breathy. I couldn’t believe how good Daddy Don’t Live in that New York City No More and Chain Lightning sounded. Even my subwoofer that I roll off at 30Hz got a good workout. It sounds like live music. So how did you sneak your tape recorder into the studio sessions, anyway?

Roger, we’re so happy to know that your love for Katy Lied has finally been requited after all these years. The reason we go on for days about the sound of practically every track on the album (the green commentary below) is that we love it just as much as you do. (more…)

Turning Skeptics into Believers, One Hot Stamper at a Time

Straight Answers to Your Hot Stamper Questions

Turning Skeptics into Believers

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Years ago we received a letter from a fellow on our email list who found our prices for vinyl curious, as he considered a vinyl a bygone technology. Can’t say I agree with that assessment. It sure would be nice to demonstrate for him how much better records sound than the supposedly superior technologies that have — for most people, perhaps even for this gentleman — replaced them.audiophile label on the planet, I don’t know who it could be, and I don’t want to find out.  

Wait, there is a way! A Hot Stamper, 100% Guaranteed to Satisfy or Your Money Back. One click is all it takes. Which is pretty much what I said in my reply to his letter which you can read below.

Tom,

I receive your HTML email regularly. Along with the curious prices of your offerings, I occasionally wonder about the opinions expressed in your e-missives. A Roman senator once said that all mortal things are ‘only perfect in death.’ Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust aside: vinyl (of which I own a considerable library) is merely a bygone technology at this point in time. The opinions expressed on your website rarely credit the writer. Whose words are these? And why should I accept the opinions of someone who only stands to profit from their fanaticism? (more…)

Letter of the Week! No, I Take That Back – It’s the Letter of the Week!!!!

WHERE DO YOU GET THESE PRICES.!!!!!!!! Talk about overcharging customers…..
I’ve been collecting vinyl for over 35 years… Have Never seen such ridiculous pricing…!!
Even from Elusive Disc.!!!
What a joke.!!!!

Yes, we admit it, we are more expensive than Elusive Disc.

But their records don’t sound good. Shouldn’t that count for something?

Here are some of the most expensive records we have in stock at the moment.

If you would like to write us a letter about them, please use as many exclamation marks as you need sufficient to express the outrage you must be feeling. (Letters like this are the main reason we do allow comments on this blog.)

Curtis Counce LP Testimonial – Wow, It Beat the Fantasy 45!

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More Wow, It Beat the Fantasy 45!

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Our good customer Victor sent us this note to tell us how much better his real Contemporary jazz album sounded compared to the Fantasy 45 180g pressing he owns.

“Hi Tom,

Wanted to let you know I did a comparison between the yellow label Contemporary label Curtis Counce, Counceltation Vol. 2 (which I bought sealed from you) and a Fantasy 45 rpm from Analogue productions: Curtis Counce – You Get More Bounce With Curtis Counce – which is in fact the same album but with a different title and cover. 

Well I was very anxious to try this comparison, but was not expecting the results. The yellow label was so transparent and tonal weight to the Fantasy 45 rpm there was no contest. The 45 rpm sounded like someone turned on a high bypass filter. The yellow label was balanced throughout. Clean. (more…)

Chicago and The Hottest Stampers – Are You a Thrillseeker Too?

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More Chicago VII

 

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When it comes to sound, I’m a Thrillseeker. I want to hear it LOUDER and BETTER, with more ENERGY and EXCITEMENT, and the reason I spent so many hundreds, even thousands, of hours working on my stereo is that that kind of sound doesn’t happen by accident. You have to work your ass off to get it. And spend a lot of money. And dig through a lot of dusty record bins buying LPs until you find one that sounds the way you want it to.

I don’t play records to drink wine and smoke cigars. I play records to ROCK. Whether the music is rock, jazz or classical, I want to feel the power of the music just as you would feel it at the live event. To me that means big speakers and loud levels. We played Chicago VII as loud as we could… (more…)

“NEVER would I have thought a single record could make this kind of difference…”

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Dan, our letter writer, is a new convert to the world of Hot Stampers. Although his system is modest by his own admission, the sound he was able to conjure up in his living room was “…a revelation…”
A good Dark Side can have that effect on you.

Hi Tom,
I received this DSOTM yesterday…

First I played the 180gm 25th anniversary release, so I listened to the first side. While it didn’t necessarily ‘grab’ me, I sat through and listened, with the assumption that I really needed to get a feel for this to do a somewhat critical A/B listening experience.

Then I put this Hot Stamper on.

From the very beginning, I heard vocals I never heard before, in my 12 years of listening to this album. There was such a dramatically engaging ‘dreamlike’ flow to the music, that I have never experienced before! The soundstage was so 3-dimensional, the speakers disappeared, and moment after moment, I completely forgot I was sitting in my living room!
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