We Get Letters

Letter of the Week – Sgt. Pepper

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

Hey Tom, 

My younger brother came over for dinner a few years ago. As usual, he asked to have a listening session. He is a dedicated Beatles fan and he prefers to listen to them in mono.

After warming up the system, I played a stereo copy of side two on Sgt. Pepper I purchased from Better Records that was graded A+++. We listened to the first cut and he asked that I play it again. Then again. Then again.

After listening to the rest of the side, we were interrupted by my wife calling us to dinner. He told me he couldn’t make small talk at dinner so please let him lie on the couch and excuse him from the meal. We ate dinner without him.

After the meal, I approached him on the couch and he said he had to go home. He said he was stunned by the sound and that it had put him in a mesmerized state where he needed to be alone so he could contemplate what it had done to him.

This is a true story. To this day, he refers to the wondrous sound he heard that night every time we get together. And no, now I don’t ever play that recording for him before dinner.

Phil R.

More Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Letter of the Week – Livin’ On The Fault Line

More Livin’ On The Fault Line

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

Hey Tom, 

The Doobie Brothers album “Livin’ on the Fault Line” has been my favorite album from one of my favorite bands of all time. It is full of great songs, phenomenal musicianship, and Michael McDonald at his best. As a retiree who has very modest means today I have “shot out” more than a dozen copies of this lp and have a very good copy and backup. So last week Tom put up a double sided Triple Plus White Hot Stamper of “Livin’ on the Fault Line”. Could it be THAT much better than my best copy considering that my copy was the best of over a dozen and when played really sounds great? AND the Better Records copy would be almost 100 times the cost of my used record store “finds”.

But I couldn’t resist so I pushed the button and the Better Records White Hot copy arrived yesterday. I couldn’t wait to play it. It was in minty condition. I heated up the rig and sat down and laid my Jan Allearts “needle” (economy model $3000 cartridge with its Fritz Geiger stylus, ruby cantilever and hand wound gold coils that extract just about everything a record groove contains) on the band of the song “Little Darlin”. Suddenly Michael McDonald was in the room in front of me. The sound was simply amazing! TOTALLY transparent. Dynamics were fantastic…..harmonics were great without losing the high end or low end to the midrange. I was listening to the master tapes! (more…)

Jethro Tull – Aqualung – A MoFi Disaster (But Don’t Tell This Guy)

More Jethro Tull

More Aqualung

xxxxx

Sonic Grade: D

We noted in our Hot Stamper review for Aqualung that the MoFi is a disaster, with the murky bloated DCC even worse. (We didn’t like the Classic either.) 

But we used to like the MoFi and DCC just fine. What could possibly have changed?

It’s a long story, and a pretty long commentary, which we have excerpted from a customer’s letter, along with our reply.

We have edited our original commentary and his letter for the sake of brevity.

Now the letter:

To: Tom Port,

As far as “Aqualung” is concerned, I have a Mobile Fidelity issue of this album which sounds great and being pressed on some of the best vinyl in the world by people who are known for their meticulous care with records, I don’t think that there would be much difference at all in the quality of different Mo-Fi pressings of this or any of their records.

The key phrase here is “I don’t think that there would be much difference at all…”. You see, this is not something to think about, this is something to test. Thinking got this gentleman nowhere; testing might have had the opposite effect.

How About Abbey Road?

And speaking of MoFis all sounding the same, we had a MoFi that we called “the Killer MFSL Abbey Road of All Time” which sold for $500. Our average copy is about $75. Which one do you think sounded better? And how can there be that big of a difference in the sound of one MoFi relative to another?

Don’t ask me; we just play them and price them according to the sound. Those big questions I defer to Joe. He thinks he has the answers.

Old Hot Stampers

There were no Hot Stampers ten years ago. This is a process that has been evolving over the course of many years, more than ten certainly, but for all practical purposes Hot Stampers as much more than a concept didn’t exist back then.

With continual improvements in our equipment, room acoustics, electrical quality, cleaning techniques and last but not least, listening skills, our audio world has turned completely upside down. 180 gram? Half-Speed Masters? Don’t make me laugh. We can beat that junk with one arm tied behind our back. It’s like taking candy from a baby.

Twenty Five Years Is a Lifetime in Audio

As for the MoFi being better than a record he used to have, ouch. Does Joe ever upgrade his equipment? Does anything ever change? I never liked the original domestic Aqualungs either, but as my stereo got better my views changed one hundred and eighty degrees. The site is full of commentary to that effect for records too numerous to mention.

The MoFi is a twenty five year old record. If you’re using a twenty five year old system to play it, you might not notice all its faults. A stereo like that is so antiquated it can actually succeed in hiding them. But any decent modern system should make the shortcomings of that pressing woefully obvious and unbearable. Joe, buddy, time for some new equipment. Toss that Technics and start hearing what’s really on your records. (On second thought, considering his approach to record collecting, that may not be such a good idea. Not to worry. Read below; Joe is totally on board with not doing anything.)

I’ve spent many years and good money obtaining the records in my collection. I don’t need to spend lots more replacing them with “hot stampers.”

Joe, you don’t need to replace your Aqualung or any other record you own with another copy. You don’t need to do anything, especially if you think it’s impossible for any pressing to sound better than the one you have. That seems to be the proposition you are putting forth — you have the best, and that’s all there is to it. You “think” nothing can be better, therefore nothing can be better.

We, on the other hand, learn new things about records and equipment all the time; it’s what makes the hobby fun. The site is devoted to the idea that what we thought yesterday may not be true today.

Doing the Work

I may come across as a Know-It-All, but Know-It-Alls can’t learn anything, and I learn new things about records with every shootout. I can’t say I learn much from other audiophiles; a bit here and there. Mainly I learn what I learn by doing the work that nobody else seems to want to do: playing scores of records against each other until the winners show their true colors. It’s a lot of work but how else can it be done? By thinking about which one should sound the best? Now do you see how silly that sounds?


The Mother Goose Test

For those of you who have the MoFi, here’s a little “challenge”. I’m not sure if that’s really the right word. It’s actually more of a test, truth be told. But I’m guessing most people don’t like being tested by their record dealers so we’ll call it a “challenge”.

Play Mother Goose. If you don’t find anything seriously objectionable about the sound, if you don’t find the kind of MoFi EQ I decry at every turn, then something is very very wrong with your stereo, your room, your hearing or some combination of the three. In my humble opinion.


More on Aqualung

There are a number of Letters, Testimonials and Commentaries associated with Aqualung which may be of interest to you.

Unfortunately we almost never have any Hot Stamper copies in stock that can back up our claims. They are getting awfully hard to find these days and sell as fast as we can shoot them out and list them.

 

Letter of the Week – Dreamboat Annie

Dreamboat Annie

 

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

Hey Tom, 

I put on side one of my A+++/A+++ “Dreamboat Annie.”

I’ve found my new Demo Disc.

The drums are from another world. Cranked to the halfway mark on my preamp, I feel the drums and bass in my chest like they’re right here in my living room.

The guitar solo on “Magic Man” is intoxicating — especially the twisting interplay when the second guitar comes in. And when the synthesizer comes in and slides down the scale to hit that low note, I swear the hair on the back of my neck stood up!

The air around the vocals on “Dreamboat Annie” was unbelievable. There’s an ethereal reverb in the opening stanza, just a hint, that i’d never really noticed before. And then the acoustic guitar on center stage grabs you by the lapels, before moving to the right channel so the drums and bass can take center stage and the electric guitar can come crashing in from the left side. 

I can actually hear the bass so well, I’m convinced now the bass player is using a pick, rather than just strumming with his fingertips.

This just became my new favorite record. At least, that is, until I try another of my White Hot Stampers … ha!

Thanks for all you’re doing to help me build the right system.

Bill P.
Alexandria, VA

 

Letter of the Week – Days of Future Passed, World Machine and Picture Book

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

Hey Tom, 

Just thought I’d drop you a line on the two albums I just received yesterday. I had some free time on my hands today so I was able to do some comparisons. I have an original Days of Future Passed, which sounds about as dull as they come. I have that reissue I bought from you years ago and the mofi. The reissue was pleasing to the ear but lacked that lifeforce which makes listening to records so involving. The mofi was always my favorite, but this Super Hot Stamper I was hearing the whole recording studio. There was a lot more depth and realism which I didn’t hear in the other records.

The Level 42 World Machine was always a fun record to listen to. The cd was just bright and bass heavy, so I bought an import lp off you years ago. It sounded pretty good until you turned it up, then it became so shrill I had to turn it back down. The Super Hot Stamper sounds great and I can turn it up as loud as I want. The sound stage is deep and believable which for an 80’s record is a rarity.

That Simply Red Picture Book Super Hot Stamper I purchased last year was a gem also.

Shane

More Days of Future Passed

More World Machine

More Picture Book

Turning Skeptics into Believers, One Hot Stamper at a Time

Straight Answers to Your Hot Stamper Questions

Turning Skeptics into Believers

xxxxx

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 – Steve Winwood

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

Hey Tom, 

Tom, had a couple of copies of Traffic’s Shootout at the Fantasy Factory on hand but none them came even close to this Hot Stamper copy that I purchased from you. Stevs Winwood’s voice sounds great on this copy not strained or harsh. All of the instruments sound great too. I want to thank you and The Better Records Crew for all the time and dedication that it takes to find such wonderful recordings as this.

Jim S.

 

More Steve Winwood

Letter of the Week – Red Rose Speedway

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

Hey Tom, 

Got my “Red Rose Speedway” today. OMG. OK, this was the FIRST album I EVER bought – new from the store, as a 12-year old kid just beginning to buy his own records with his own money. I haven’t heard this in 30 plus years. SUCH GREAT SOUND!!! The first is a series of fantastic songs, from start to finish, and you guys DID IT AGAIN – simply superlative sound quality.

You have NO idea how much joy you’re giving me!!!!

Steve M.

 

More Red Rose Speedway

Letter of the Week – Ziggy Stardust and Freak Out

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

Hey Tom, 

Picked up your SHS of “Ziggy” last week–my daughter is 13 and starting to get into Mick Ronson, and I got this to show her what I think is his best work, not just on guitar, but in essentially creating the overall sound for the “Ziggy Stardust” album. What I didn’t expect was how fantastic this album sounds. I’ve had other copies and they sound like I’m wearing a blanket over my head. Alongside my HS copy of “Freak Out” (first record I ever bought from you guys, I think), this has to be the most dramatic improvement over a typical recording I’ve ever heard! Records like this justify Better Records in spades–wow!!

Stephen F.
Fortville, IN

Ziggy Stardust

Freak Out

Letter of the Week – Remain In Light and Station To Station

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

Hey Tom, 

Just got my Super Hot Stampers of Remain In Light and Station To Station;. I was very much looking forward to the arrival of theses LPs…I was not disappointed. Verily, I was completely floored!

First, my apologies. I have been reading your website for over two years, gleaning information to help me find Hot Stampers, or at least good sounding records. I had not made a purchase until this past week. I was starting to feel guilty; you have given me so much great direction and guidance over these years, and I had not supported you in the proper way.

So I made a modest purchase of these two records, to assuage my guilt and support your efforts. You will be getting much more business from this satisfied customer.

I have Remain In Light on LP, CD and even the FLAC file release. My new Hot Stamper truly puts these recordings to shame. No, really, TO SHAME! If this ever gets on the Better Records Testimonials: “People let me tell you…it’s sent a chill up and down my spine…”!

I really can’t believe how well balanced the sound is: great bottom end, mids are pronounced and the shrillness is GONE! No smear anymore! Breathtaking.

My copy of Station to Station is just as wonderful.

I’ve been convinced of “Hot Stamper” recording for quite some time now, thanks to Tom and the BR crew; I’ve found some great recordings after conducting my own modest shoot-outs. Found some real gems. But the best results that I have ever got, and there are only a few, have now been easily matched and outstripped by my first BR purchase!

Rob
(more…)