Welcome To Better Records
No two copies of a record sound the same. That’s the undeniable reality of the analog LP, as well as the driving force that turned a hobby into a full-fledged livelihood for our staff of six.
Many people find the ideas (and the prices!) on this website shocking. Frankly, they would be shocking to us too if we weren’t hearing such dramatic differences in the sound quality of the large numbers of copies we play every day.
Our staff devotes its time to finding, cleaning and playing as many pressings of an album as we can get our hands on. We take only the best sounding copies – we call them “Hot Stampers” – and make them available exclusively to those who appreciate (and can afford) the ultimate in analog sound.
We’re unique in that we’re the only record dealers who base the price of their records on the quality of their sound. Although we’ve been finding Hot Stamper pressings for close to thirty years, it has only become the main focus of our business in the last decade or so.
It began simply enough as a personal quest to find better sounding records for our own collections. As more audiophiles have come to recognize just how impressive a Hot Stamper can be compared with any other pressing, we’ve evolved to keep up with the demand. Our staff now concentrates all its efforts into finding these exceptional copies. We are proud to have established ourselves as the team with both the resources and expertise to carry out this intensely specialized, time-consuming work.
We offer a 100% Money Back, No Questions Asked Guarantee on every record we sell. If you are not completely satisfied with a Hot Stamper for any reason, send it back within 30 days for a full refund. That’s how confident we are in the records we offer. Our return rate? Somewhere in the low single digits.
The links below should help you get acquainted with our site. We know it can be a bit overwhelming so please feel free to drop us a line if you have any questions about what we do and how we do it.
We encourage you to sign up for our weekly mailer, where you’ll find our best sounding new arrivals each week as well as special offers and exclusive discounts.
Thanks for checking out our site and we look forward to helping you on the journey to amazing analog sound. You can either browse our selection of Hot Stampers or continue learning more about what we do with the links below.
Some copies are poorly mastered, so poorly that Ray Brown’s bass all but disappears from the trio! Other copies made Thigpen’s snare sound hard and too forward in the mix. This is obviously just a mastering EQ problem, since the good copies, such as this one, get all those elements to balance beautifully.
One of the Strobe label copies we played had such a boosted top end it was positively distorted. (The RIAA curve does not allow that kind of top end boost without causing serious problems.)
If you have big, full-range speakers one of the qualities you may recognize in the sound of the piano is WARMTH. The piano is not hard, brittle or tinkly. Instead the best copies show you a wonderfully full-bodied, warm, rich, smooth piano, one which sounds remarkably like the ones we’ve all heard countless times in piano bars and restaurants.
In other words like a real piano, not a recorded one. This is what good live recordings tend to do well. There isn’t time to mess with the sound. Often the mix is live, so messing around after the fact is just not an option. Bad mastering can ruin the sound, and often does, along with worn out stampers and bad vinyl and five gram needles that scrape off the high frequencies. But a few — a very few — copies survive all such hazards. They manage to capture these wonderful musical performances on vinyl, showing us the sound we never expected from Verve. This is one.
The trio is made up of Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen, here recorded live at the height of their respective powers. Peterson really puts on a great show. He’s made an awful lot of records during his career and most of them aren’t very good. This is one of the exceptions. “If You Could See Me Now” is another one.
Click on the link below to pull up the many reviews and commentaries we’ve written, as well as Hot Stamper copies that are currently available on the site.
Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with specific advice on What to Listen For (WTLF) on PPM.
The Beatles’ first album is overflowing with sonic qualities prized by audiophiles and music lovers alike: Tubey Magic, energy, immediacy, richness, breathy vocals; in short, all the stuff you will never hear — or not hear to the same extent — on anything but the best vintage analog vinyl LPs.
This is another one of the Pressings We’ve Discovered with Reversed Polarity.
This IMMACULATE Sheffield Direct-to-Disc LP with Very Little Sign Of Play (VLSOP) is one of the best Sheffields. Lincoln Mayorga is an accomplished classical pianist: this is arguably his best work. (I had a chance to see him perform at a recital of Chopin’s works early in 2010 and he played superbly — for close to two hours without the aid of sheet music I might add.)
You might want to try reversing the phase when playing this LP; it definitely helps the sound, a subject we discuss below.
Reversing the absolute phase on this record recently was quite interesting. The sound of the piano itself was already very good. With the phase reversed what really changed with the sense of space surrounding it, which immediately became much more palpable. The piano, though tonally similar to the way it sounded with the phase left alone, came to life more — more solid and punchy and percussive.
How do you change the absolute phase you ask? You must either switch the positive and negative at the speaker, the amp, or at the head shell leads, or you must have a switch that inverts phase on your preamp or phono stage. If you can’t do any of those, or are unwilling to do any of those, this record will still sound good. It just won’t sound as good.
Kiln House is one of the all-time great Fleetwood Mac albums. It’s the first album they recorded after Peter Green left. With Green gone Jeremy Spencer’s influence came to the fore. Apparently he was quite a fan of Buddy Holly. His songs are excellent: straightforward and unerringly melodic.
The co-leader for Kiln House is Danny Kirwan, and he rocks the hell out of this album. Three of the best songs Fleetwood Mac ever did, regardless of incarnation, are here: Tell Me All The Things You Do, Station Man and Jewel Eyed Judy, all written by Kirwan (with the help of others). His guitar work on these three songs is blistering.
Any Fleetwood Mac greatest hits collection would be a joke without these tracks. Of course they are consistently missing from all such compilations, at least the ones with which I am familiar. The sad fact is that few people miss them because few people have ever heard them.
The closest thing I can think of to the kind of music the new Mac plays is moody rock of the middle-period Beatles. Kiln House is similar to Beatles ’65 in its dual concerns with vintage rock ‘n’ roll and muted, romantic pieces.Jeremy Spencer took care of the former area, while Danny Kirwan extended the style best represented by McCartney’s “I’ll Follow the Sun.”
To that end we have created exercises, experiments and tests that you can do at home for fun and profit. We can all agree that the better our stereos sound, the more enjoyable they become. Learning how to get better sound from the equipment and recordings you own doesn’t cost a dime. It simply requires that you improve your critical listening skills.
Those skills develop through practice, by challenging yourself to understand what is really on your records — to figure out, to the best of your ability, what is right and what is wrong on every record you own. Same with your stereo. You can’t fix a problem that you haven’t yet recognized is a problem, right?
Here’s a fun one for Queen’s Jazz album
Rockin’ Out with Fat Bottomed Girls
A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock Hall of Fame and another in the long list of recordings that really comes alive when you Turn Up Your Volume.
There is a tendency in the recording to be a little “hot” tonally on the vocals and snare. The better copies like this one keep it under control, with the lesser copies getting much too lean and gritty to play loudly. What good is a raver like Fat Bottomed Girls if you can’t turn it up and really rock out with it? (more…)
- This early pressing on the rainbow label earned excellent Double Plus (A++) grades for its wonderful sound
- Both sides here are BIG, rich and Tubey Magical, yet clear and not the least bit thick or opaque
- Turn down the lights and drop the needle to hear a living breathing Nat King Cole singing right in your very own listening room
- “Highlights include “The Very Thought of You,” “But Beautiful,” “This Is All I Ask,” “For All We Know,” and “The More I See You”.
We are HUGE fans of the album at Better Records, but it’s taken us a long time to pull together enough clean copies to make the shootout happen. Boy, was it worth all the trouble.
The presence and immediacy here of Nat King Cole’s vocals are ’50s Capitol Recording Magic at its best. Set the volume right and Nat is right between your speakers, putting on the performance of a lifetime. The selection of material and the contributions of all involved are hard to fault.
The sound is big, open, rich and full, with loads of Tubey Magic. The highs are extended and silky sweet. The bass is tight and punchy.
Midrange Magic to Die For
This Rainbow Label Capitol LP also has the MIDRANGE MAGIC that’s missing from the DCC reissue (and no doubt any others that will be coming down the pike). As good as some think that pressing is, this one is dramatically more REAL sounding. (more…)
- The best copy to hit the site in close to two years, with both sides rating at or near our top grade of Triple Plus (A+++)
- Huge, spacious and three-dimensional with plenty of rich Tubey Magic – who knew it could sound this good?
- 75% of the songs on both sides are absolute Little Feat Classics. What other album can boast such consistently good songwriting?
- Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt and Fran Tate (the future Mrs. Billy Payne) contribute the lovely background vocals
- “If Dixie Chicken represented a pinnacle of Lowell George as a songwriter and band leader, its sequel Feats Don’t Fail Me Now is the pinnacle of Little Feat as a group, showcasing each member at their finest.”
It’s getting mighty hard to find clean copies of practically all the pre-Waiting For Columbus titles.
The good news we have to offer this time as opposed to last is that we can now clearly say that Feats Don’t Fail Me Now is the best sounding album of the first four the band recorded. We think the songs are great too; we would hope that goes without saying. Waiting For Columbus — their live masterpiece and inarguably the definitive recording statement by the band — has at least one song from this album on each of its four sides. That ought to tell you something. If only we could find good sounding copies! But enough about that album. Let’s talk about this one. (more…)
Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises with advice on what you should be listening for when critically evaluating your copy (or ours) of the album.
Want to hear what the best copies of Mr. Tambourine Man can do? Play Chimes of Freedom, one of the best sounding tracks on side two, if not THE best. Listen to how breathy Jim (later Roger) McGuinn’s vocals are. Byrds records almost never sound like that.
I Knew I’d Want You is another one that sounds amazingly Tubey Magical on the best pressings. (more…)