We Get Letters

Letter of the Week – Abbey Road, Magical Mystery Tour, Blue Valentine

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

Hi Tom,

Just wanted to provide a little deeply appreciative feedback. A few months back, I ordered 2 White Hot Stampers of Abbey Road and MMT [MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR]. (the German press of MMT is amazing btw).

Abbey Road had a distracting level of surface noise, and it is the first time I have returned a record but I did send that one back. The other day, you had a Hot Stamper ++ copy of Abbey Road, and it was very reasonably priced at $170. It was delivered yesterday, and my goodness, it is truly wonderful. Demo Disc level fantastic. For my ear, it sounds better than the $750 copy I returned. A fine addition to my Beatles collection…Thank YOU!

Also in this order I purchased a Hot Stamper ++ copy of Tom Waits, Blue Valentine. It too is amazing, warm and deeply moving.  

Have a great weekend Tom, and thank you to you and your team.

Best,
Rick

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Letter of the Week – Tapestry, What Were Once Vices…, Sweet Baby James, McCartney, Houses of the Holy, Countdown to Ecstasy and The Nightfly

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

As a newcomer to your business, and to the entire concept of “Hot 
Stamper” records, I was naturally skeptical. Many of us have invested in 
a wide variety of vinyl that simple failed to live up to expectations. 
Initially I was going to order one and only one record from you, and 
test your bold promises. Instead, I ended up ordering a nice variety to 
truly put it to the test… investing a couple thousand dollars on faith. 
In short, I am now your customer for life.

As a point of reference, my system includes a pair of Wilson Audio 
Alexia powered by 2 mono-block McIntosh tube Amps and a Mc-tube preamp. 
Most importantly, a Brinkmann mag drive turntable with a Sumiko low 
output moving coil cartridge. So, not the world’s best system, but 
enough to discern what is to follow.

I ordered the following:
* Carole King Tapestry, ((White Hot Pressing)
* The Doobie Brothers, What Were Once Vices (White Hot Pressing)
* James Taylor, Sweet Baby James (White Hot Pressing)
* Paul McCartney, McCartney (Super Hot Pressing)
* Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy (Super Hot Pressing)
* Steely Dan, Countdown to Ecstasy (Super Hot Pressing)
* Donald Fagen, The Nightfly (White Hot Pressing) 

I warmed up my amps with the tuner for an hour or so and then sat and 
listened to some of my other records and reacquainted myself with the 
music from my system. First up was “What Were Once Vices…”. It was 
immediately apparent that I was getting a range as wide, if not wider 
than anything I had ever heard from my stereo. Then when I got to the 
last song on side one, “Road Angel” the guitar and drum interplay in the 
instrumental jam completely blew me away. Midway through I took the 
volume from loud to louder, and it exposed nothing but pure, sweet rock 
and roll. Literally gave me goose bumps. (more…)

Letter of the Week – Abbey Road, Ziggy Stardust, Purple Rain and Zep 1

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

Hey Tom, 

I’ve been meaning to write to thank you for the magic you and your team create. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but it is mind blowing to hear the music that comes from even just Hot and Supers. I still haven’t crossed the rubicon into Whites. 

I have been lucky enough to have vintage pressings passed down to me from family. And while I started hearing the difference as soon as I started cleaning those old presses vs. new “remastered” ones, this small sample from your team is incredible!

Abbey at Hot is incredible! Frankly I admired the album, now it’s one of my favorites! I’m not even a huge Beatles guy, haha (Thanks for that!)

Purple Rain at Super knocked out the vintage and remastered copies that I own.

Zep I is terrific (Weirdly on my system, “Good Times” is the least mind blowing, but “Dazed” and all of Side 2 is crazy!)

Perhaps the best sounding so far is “Ziggy,” like you said. I own a pristine vintage press passed down and this copy I got from you blows the sonics of my old press away.

Anyway, thanks again!

Best,

Francis

 

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More Purple Rain


More Ziggy Stardust


More Led Zeppelin I

 

1A, or Is 1B Better? – Your Guess Is As Good As Mine

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More 1A, or Is 1B Better?

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Before we go any further, I have a question: Why are we guessing?

I received an email recently from a customer who had gone to great pains to do his own shootout for a record; in the end he came up short, with not a lot to show for his time and effort. It had this bit tucked in toward the end:

Some of [Better Records’] Hot Stampers are very dear in price and most often due to the fact that there are so few copies in near mint condition. I hate to think of all the great Hot Stampers that have ended up in piles on the floor night after night with beer, Coke, and seeds being ground into them.

Can you imagine all the 1A 1B or even 2A 2B masters that ended up this way or were just played to death with a stylus that would be better used as a nail than to play a record!

As it so happens, shortly thereafter I found myself on Michael Fremer’s old website of all places, where I saw something eerily similar in his review for the (no doubt awful) Sundazed vinyl. I quote below the relevant paragraphs. (more…)

The Cars Candy-O Is Yet Another Awful Nautilus Remaster

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Half Speed debunked.

This Nautilus Half-Speed Mastered LP, like The Cars first album they did, is pure compressed muck. Another one of the worst half-speeds of all time. For those who are interested we’ve reprinted a customer’s letter below as well. 

So I put on my Nautilus SuperDiscs (Listen To The Difference) pressing of The Cars Candy-O.

Sounds okay. But this is supposed to be a “SuperDisc”. Okay does not cut it.

So I put on my Better Records A+++ copy of the same title. Voila! The sound became magical.

Maybe some Nautilus pressings are very good? Maybe my copy is a lemon?

Thanks, again, for making my stereo perform at its best!

Craig D.

The Beatles White Album 10 Copy Shootout – “I was near a nervous breakdown.”

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More The White Album Testimonial

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Our good customer Erik in Germany purchased one of our hottest Hot Stamper White Albums ($700) and decided to do his own shootout with the ten — count ’em, ten — copies he had on hand.  

He makes a point to mention that it’s worth the seven hundred bucks he paid (plus international shipping and customs, let’s not forget, so add another 20-25% on to that figure). Some skeptics may think he’s suffering from Cognitive Dissonance, but we say there’s nothing dissonant about the kind of sound Erik describes hearing in the testimonial he sent us, as follows.

[We should note that we now prefer the right UK pressings of the album over our previous favorite, the right German pressing. Live and learn.]

Hello my friends,

I want to say THANK YOU for the Beatles White Album Hot Stamper. I’m so amazed and lucky – I can’t describe it. You graded it correct (A+/A++/A++/A++ to A+++) and it is worth the price, the sound is exactly “sweet, breathy vocals; well-defined bass; stunning clarity; warmth and richness; immediacy; astonishing transparency and spaciousness; clear transients; loads of ambience and more.”

I’m at the source here in good old Germany concerning the German Apple pressings, collected 10 copies (also a UK first issue and one in a box). 4 were crap, half a dozen had the condition for a shootout. But not one single side reach a rating above A-, I was near a nervous breakdown. Now this problem is solved and I can simply enjoy the album in the future.

Kind regards

Erik

Erik, so glad to hear our copy of the White Album so easily vanquished all comers, especially considering you had mutliple German pressings to play. Wow, that is quite a compliment.

Best, TP

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

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An erstwhile customer sent us an email a while back asking this question: “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. And while we’re on the subject, you might enjoy reading this commentary I wrote a while back pointing out how misleading the matrix numbers can be: The Book of Hot Stampers.

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 sent us a link 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 (more…)

Kenny Burrell – Midnight Blue – One Customer’s Take on the 45

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A good customer had this to say about a recent shootout:

“By the way side 2 of Midnight Blue bested every other copy I played including the 45 RPM Blue Note [Analogue Productions] reissue. The 45 RPM is very good. You know that technically it is right, but at the same time it’s missing something. When I listened to the [Hot] stamper copy you dug up for me I found it a little noisy at first and wasn’t sure if I could live with it. However after returning to the 45 RPM there was no enjoyment, so I dropped the needle on the stamper one more time, and then I heard it…”

I know what you mean about these modern reissues “missing something”. No matter how well mastered they may be, they’re almost always missing whatever it is that makes the analog record such a special listening experience. I hear that “analog” sound practically nowhere else outside of the live event. 

Thanks for your letter. 
TP

Our Classic Review

Pretty flat and lifeless. You would never understand why audiophiles rave about this recording by listening to the Classic Records pressing.

We played it up against our best, and as expected it was nothing to write home about. Since Rudy has remastered and ruined practically all the Blue Note CDs by now, you will have your work cut out for you if you want to find a good sounding version of Midnight Blue. This sure ain’t one.

Of course we would be more than happy to get you an amazing sounding copy — it’s what we do — but the price will be five to ten times (or more) what the Classic costs. In our opinion it’s money well spent, as you will see in our review below.

Since the Classic conveys very little of what the musicians were up to whilst recording the album, our advice is to cross it off your list of records of interest. It’s thirty bucks down the drain.

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. (more…)