Letter of the Week – “Your discovery is easily the most amazing thing of all the amazing things this audiophile has come across in 30 years of amazing things.”

More of the Music of Fleetwood Mac

Reviews and Commentaries for Rumours

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

Hey Tom,   

Friend over recently, played Fleetwood Mac Rumours, 45RPM. He says that’s gonna be awful hard to beat. “With one arm tied behind my back! Watch this!”

Wow, that was more open….!

Your discovery is easily the most amazing thing of all the amazing things this audiophile has come across in 30 years of amazing things.

Keep at it, no one else can, we are counting on you.


Thanks for the kind words. Finding a pressing with amazing sound is our top goal in every shootout we do. It is not hard to beat the 45 RPM 2 disc set that Steve Hoffman mastered. This story has many similarities to the one you recount.

Best, TP

Further Reading

New to the Blog? Start Here

What Exactly Are Hot Stamper Pressings?

More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters

More Letters Comparing Hot Stamper Pressings to Their Heavy Vinyl Counterparts

Letter of the Week – “my stereo upgrades have widened the sonic chasm between good, old-fashioned records and their nouveau imposters.”

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – The Fundamentals

One of our good customers, Dan, found much to agree with in our recent Better Record’s Record Collecting commentary and offered up his own two cents worth in the letter below. (Bolding added.)


Just wanted to affirm the new Better Records axiom of “the better your stereo gets, the fewer modern reissues you will own.” My collection has dozens of these Heavy Vinyl reissues, and none of them are holding up after a year and half’s worth of significant improvements to my stereo.

It was only at the beginning of last year that I found myself pleased with roughly 50% of my heavy vinyl purchases. Now, that number has plummeted to less than 10%. Almost everything that’s being put out today is an utter disappointment.

Of course, part of the explanation may be that my listening skills have improved. But it’s hard to imagine that I would have liked dull, dreary, lifeless vinyl a year or two ago. I like to think not.

More probable is that my stereo upgrades have widened the sonic chasm between good, old-fashioned records and their nouveau imposters.

I’d also like to second the avoidance of new vinyl purchases until major stereo improvements are made. I’m trudging through the laborious task of replacing these records with older, better sounding copies. It’s excellent advice to those new to the game or young (or both).

Amazingly, hearing the difference doesn’t even require a Hot Stamper, almost any original or early reissue will beat the Sundazed, Classic, etc. That’s how inferior they are. To borrow from The Who, the sound must change.


I agree with this bit at the end of your letter with one caveat:

Amazingly, hearing the difference doesn’t even require a Hot Stamper, almost any original or early reissue will beat the Sundazed, Classic, etc. That’s how inferior they are.

The caveat would be if you know how to clean your records right, right in this case being the way we recommend you clean them, using Walker fluids and a machine. Old uncleaned records can sound pretty bad. An audiophile pressing may beat your old original — until you clean it. It’s one of the Revolutionary Changes in Audio we  talk about all the time, and it can make all the difference in the world on some records, especially old ones.

Thanks for your letter. You are not alone in swearing off these modern mediocrities. Many of our customers went through the same process you have, and it seems they are as pleased with the results as you are.

New to the Blog? Start Here

First Get Good Sound – Then You Can Recognize and Acquire Good Records

Improving Your Critical Listening Skills Is a Good Idea Too

Below you will find our reviews of the more than 200 Heavy Vinyl pressings we’ve played over the years. Feel free to pick your poison.

Heavy Vinyl Commentaries


Jethro Tull – “I have to tell you that I was floored at the sound of the hot stamper Aqualung I just bought.”

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 [many, many years ago].

Roger, as expected, did a thorough shootout of his own, comparing of our Hot Stamper against the audiophile usual suspects. The result? Another knockout for our Hot Stamper pressing.

Note that a well known audiophile reviewer did his own shootout for the album years ago, failing miserably, very unlike our good customer Roger, who succeeded admirably.

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:

    1. the MFSL half-speed,
    2. the DCC version,
    3. the 25th anniversary digitally remastered copy,
    4. 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. [We call this the Smile Curve and lots of audiophile records have a bad case of it.]

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

Letter of the Week – “…if you want to pay $700 for Aja, go right ahead.” I took his advice, and I’m glad I did!

More of the Music of Steely Dan

Record Collecting for Audiophiles – A Guide

One of our good customers recently watched a video on Steve Westman’s youtube channel of an interview he conducted with Michael Fremer. (I appeared with Steve back in October of 2022. You can find the interview here.)

This video upset my customer so much that he felt he needed to get a few things off his chest, which he did in the letter you can find right after my commentary below. He does not pull many punches.

I would like to comment on some of the points he makes, points which I hope will be of interest to our readers. That is what you see here at the top.

At the end of my comments I have reproduced the letter, so if you don’t care to see Fremer raked over the coals, please feel free to stop reading at the end of my comments. Mike Esposito, the guy who exposed MoFi’s duplicity, comes in for some criticism as well. (Justified in my opinion, because Mr. Esposito sure likes some bad sounding records. But why pick on him? Modern audiophile reviewers seem to like nothing but bad sounding records, the same way I did in 1982. Except it’s not 1982 anymore, and there is simply no excuse for having equipment that cannot help you tell a good sounding record from a bad one.)

Our customer, let’s call him Mr. A, had this to say in Point No. 2:

[Fremer] says old records in good shape still sound the best. [Which is true.] He says the playback gear back in the day could not even reveal how great those albums actually are. [Also true.] He says that there are significant variations from one stamper to another and you need to get the right stamper. [True again.] (In his view of the world, there’s no variations in pressings within the same stamper. Apart from this detail, he supports every point you make. He even says, “if you want to pay $700 for Aja, go right ahead.” I took his advice, and I’m glad I did!)

I don’t think he says any of these things nearly as often as they need to be said, or with any real conviction. They are footnotes, a kind of anodyne lip service. They’re the fine print that nobody reads. They’re boxes that get checked off so that we don’t have to talk about them anymore.

I don’t think his readers think any of the statements above are relevant to their ongoing pursuit of high-quality vinyl. They want to know how amazing the new pressings are so that they can be assured that buying the record they were going to buy anyway is clearly the right choice. There’s a name for this kind of biased thinking. [1]

Making generalizations about records is rarely of much use. The devil is in the details. Let’s take a look at what Fremer has written recently about originals.

In his review for the new Stand Up on Heavy Vinyl from Chad, he notes that it has great “transient clarity on top and bottom,” and the original has hyped-up mids and upper mids. This is because he is making the most obvious mistake any record collector could possibly make.

He thinks the original pressing is the standard against which the new pressing should rightfully be judged.

But this is out and out poppycock, the kind of conventional wisdom that new collectors might fall for, but only the most benighted veterans would still believe nowadays. We discuss this myth here and in hundreds of reviews on the blog.

There are currently about 150 listings for reissues that beat the originals, compared to 700 or so listings for records in which the early pressings — not necessarily first pressings, but the right early pressings — can be expected to win shootouts.

Stand Up is one of the titles we have found to be clearly superior on the right reissue. After playing dozens of copies over the course of about twenty years, something that no individual audiophile could be expected to have the wherewithal to pull off, we’ve heard our share of great Stand Ups and awful ones.

Fremer makes the common mistake of stopping with his one original. Thinking inside the box, he naturally gets it wrong. It’s a mistake that few record collectors don’t make. I should know. I was one of them.

A big part of the fun of record collecting is learning about them, a subject I have devoted all of my adult life to. There is precious little learning going on when you buy an original and simply assume you now know what the album really sounds like. This blog is practically dedicated to the proposition that nothing could be further from the truth.


Letter of the Week – “After playing a few very smooth and quiet bands I put on my excellent vintage copy of Aja that proceeded to destroy the Cisco.”

More of the Music of Steely Dan

Reviews and Commentaries for Aja

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

Hey Tom,   

It’s amusing that even Golden Ears who have the attention of large readerships can miss and misunderstand so much. You don’t have to understand the technical why of the variability of LPs to appreciate just how profound the audible differences can be from stamper to stamper. Even in acknowledging that differences are present, they do not seem to appreciate the extreme degree of the variation in sound among LPs from different stampers.

As so many of us have learned from you, a “hot stamper” LP is simply in a whole different league in sound quality. A good sound system is necessary to realize just how big that difference is and the more optimized that system is the better.

Beyond the audible reality and the technical issues, it is the subject of value that is not understood or appreciated. The ability to simply find a nice playable copy of a vintage LP is a major task. So many LPs have suffered the gouging of what must have been a rusty nail used as a stylus as well as all the other sins that can be wreaked on the plastic disc. Then the incredible task of assembling enough different copies to be able to do the “shoot-out” would seem impossible.

I have, as many now may have tried, done a simple “shoot-out” of a few copies of a favorite LP. Among those I have always found the “better” of the bunch. Now and then and just by luck (since the statistics of not having enough samples was not working in my favor) I have found what must indeed be a “hot stamper). And WOW …..what a difference!

The number of times this has occurred fits on less than one hand yet when you hear an LP that has been mixed and mastered really well and then “transferred” with care and quality via an excellent stamper, there is an epiphany. Suddenly you hear what you often refer to as “master tape” sound. As I have said before, this is really a sad statement about the quality and consistency of record production throughout its history.

The “Audiophile” Half-Speed thing only piles it on top of this with the way mastering at half speed seems to extract the dynamic life and frequency response from an album in contrast to a standard copy. The logical intention that mastering at half speed would allow the cutting lathe tool to have “more time” to lay down more of the music signal just never really worked. You would think the “Golden Ears” that developed this idea would have compared the result with real-time cutting speed (not brain surgery). I never wanted all this to be the way it is and didn’t even know it until I stumbled upon Better Records one day. But it is the way it is!

There seems to be a focus on the “wear” of the stamper as the primary cause of differences in the quality of the vinyl LP. My sense is that there is much variation over time in the production of stampers regarding the audio mastering and transfer in tonal balance and especially in the degree of compression used for a specific stamper that can destroy the “life and transparency” of the sound. This has nothing to do with stamper wear or physical variation but can vary from stamper to stamper over the duration of being in print and production and in some cases, never get transferred correctly.

I purchased the new Cisco Steely Dan “Aja” album hoping it would deliver perhaps even greater sound than the original and the hype regarding the remix quality, heavy virgin vinyl, etc, etc. certainly suggested that. After playing a few very smooth and quiet bands I put on my excellent vintage copy of Aja that proceeded to destroy the Cisco. The life, dynamics and transparency were in a totally different and superb league above. I very carefully returned my now even more precious copy to its sleeve. A few dealers that sell reissues like Aja will sometimes admit this but they certainly don’t want the world to know it. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “The transparency on this copy is superb!”

Hot Stamper Blue Note Albums Available Now

Reviews and Commentaries for Blue Note Records

Hello Gentlemen,

I have to commend you once again. I have never heard Maiden Voyage like this before. The transparency on this copy is superb! I gave up listening to my reissue a while back. It had a heavy veil hanging over it that was obvious. Yet as the listener I yearned to hear past it because the music itself is so wonderful. Thanks for digging up this treasure. It will bring many hours of enjoyment now and in the future.

Records are a tangible investment for the listener. When you find a great copy you hang on to it because it engages you. It moves you in a real sense.

A collector who collects for value of first issue is a collector too. However they collect as one would coins, stamps or baseball cards. The value is attributed to what is perceived, not what is experienced. I do not slam anyone for this. If joy is found in this manner then, so be it.

I collect records to enjoy the music and if that means digging thru a number of pressings to find the best one or paying the bucks from someone like Better Records, so be it. If a reissue is better than an earlier pressing I will hold on to the re issue. This is a rarity but does happen. I can think of at least 20 LPs I have that I still favor the reissue over all others.

Both collectors are valid. They simply have different goals in mind.



Thanks for your letter.

We know what you mean by records that have heavy veils hanging over their sound.

Here are some others we’ve found to be similarly veiled and here are some that are good for testing transparency.

Blue Note got into the Heavy Vinyl game back in the ’90s, in the days when we here at Better Records were still selling in-print Heavy Vinyl, but we thought very few of them were of much value to those looking for audiophile sound.

At the time I didn’t know it, but it turns out Maiden Voyage was mastered by that notorious hack, Ron McMaster, which explains our antipathy at the time to the Blue Note series he cut.

As I recall, the sound of his remastered pressings was clean and tonally correct, but his records were missing the analog qualities the better vintage pressings have in such abundance. In other words, his records sounded like CDs.

Who can be bothered to play records that have so few of the qualities we audiophiles are looking for on vinyl?


Letter of the Week – “The differences between all the copies was even far more obvious the second time I did the shootout.”

More of the Music of Dire Straits

Reviews and Commentaries for Dire Straits’ Debut

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently. (Bolding added by us.)

Hey Tom, 

I’ve got to admit that I was skeptical when I purchased your Hot Stamper Dire Straits album. I told my brother I just paid $400 CAD (shipping and duties included) for a used record. Of course he thought I was nuts! I have an original Mercury copy that I bought in 1978 plus an audiophile copy mastered by Bernie Grundman from the original analogue tapes and plated and pressed at Pallas, Germany.

I finally got the chance to do the shootout between all copies. The original totally sounded like shit. It was bright sounding, noisy and lacked bottom end and dynamics. The Grundman mastered copy was much quieter, it was much smoother and more dynamic but it didn’t sound great. When I put on the Hot Stamper, within a few notes I knew it was far superior. It was far more dynamic as if I turned up the volume. It was also quiet and far more transparent but had that great bottom end.

My brother came to visit me a few days ago and I did the shootout between all the copies again. The differences between all the copies was even far more obvious the second time I did the shootout. I can tell you that my brother doesn’t think I’m nuts any more. I hope I can purchase more albums from you in the future.



We love it when our customers take the time and make the effort to do their own shootouts, especially when we win, which is what happens about 99% of the time.

It is not the least bit unusual for our customers to take another listen and become more aware of the superior sound of the Hot Stamper pressings the second time around.

When we do lose a shootout, we promptly refund the buyer’s money and wish him or her a nice day.

What do we do with the record, assuming the customer had no problem with its playing condition?

We put it right back up on the site to sell to the next customer who orders it. In only two or three cases that I can recall did it ever come back to us again. Two or three out of thousand and thousands of Hot Stampers sold. Not bad.

New to the Blog? Start Here

More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters

Letter of the Week – “The most remarkable drums I’ve ever heard, especially on side two.”

More of the Music of Santana

Reviews and Commentaries for Abraxas

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

Hey Tom, 

[The Abraxas White Hot Stamper] is a monster. Practically tore down the walls. The most remarkable drums I’ve ever heard, especially on side two. The sound is completely circumambient, completely enveloping, but always musical with lovely harmonics even when blasting in the tuttis.

The Mobile Fidelity, which I own, is an attenuated portraiture of the real thing. I will soon be dropping it off at the local Salvation Army store.



Quick question: Did you buy your MoFi before or after I put it in my Mobile Fidelity Hall of Shame?

And wrote this review of it? MoFi Manages to Disgrace Itself Even Further

See what happens when you don’t read my blog? You end up with crappy remastered records like the ones Mobile Fidelity has been spewing out for more than forty years.

Some forum posters take us to task for criticizing the old MoFi that everybody knows made lousy records, not the new MoFi, which they believe — for reasons that I cannot begin to understand — makes good sounding records.

If this is the pride of the new MoFi, and it seems to be, I will leave it to those who post on forums to defend it. I certainly am not up to the task.


Letter of the Week – “The WHS made the music sound more natural and more involving.”

More of the Music of Steely Dan

Reviews and Commentaries for Aja

One of our good customers recently bought a Super Hot pressing of Aja, and wasn’t quite sure if he loved the music enough to keep it, so he wanted to try a White Hot Stamper pressing to see if that would win him over, the idea being that the better sound of the White Hot copy would communicate the music better and let him appreciate every aspect of the music, no matter how subtle. This is his story.

Dear Tom,

Probably my favorite thing to do in audio these days is putting on a record of yours for the first time. When the Aja White Hot Stamper came, I had to wait a few hours until after the kids were all tucked in. I listened with headphones for a change, and right away I could tell how clear and intricate this copy was. Knowing how my other copies sounded, I knew no shootout was going to be necessary.

I also really love doing mini-shootouts of my own. It’s a great way to really sink in to listening for a while. I don’t have 16 other copies of Aja, the way your other customer described, but I could still stack your WHS up against three other ABC pressings with identical-looking labels and nearly-identical deadwax, along with a MoFi and a Japanese pressing.

It proved to be the most beguiling shootout I’ve ever done. Each copy had merits, and among the ABC pressings, I was hearing clear similarities to the WHS. This is such delicate and full music, so obviously well-recorded, that I guess it’s hard for any pressing to completely muck it up.[1]

I’ve heard you say that a white hot stamper is a copy that just does everything right, and that was completely true in this case. The differences were subtler, but also more important, than they usually are in my mini-shootouts. The WHS made the music sound more natural and more involving. All those crazy details, present in the others if you really pay attention, came right up to the surface when the WHS played.

I really can’t claim it trounced the others, but I can certainly say that it had the best aspects of each of them, while in turn not being improved on in any aspect by any of the others. Sure, it would be fun to get to hear one of the sought-after pressings, like a Cisco, but with prices verging on hot stamper territory, it’s not like I’m going to go track that down. I’ll just content myself with your word that this one would beat one of those.[2] Since I’m not feeling anything lacking here, I have no reason to keep going.

After almost every purchase from you, I ask myself, “is it worth what I paid?” This was a funny one. I don’t love Steely Dan, even though all indications are that I should. I’ve always dug Aja, but not to the obsessive levels I know others to be (and that I am with other records). I was curious to own a WHS because I know it’s such a well-recorded album, I knew I’d love the sound, and as you suggested when I asked you about it, I wanted to see if a great-sounding copy could help me get into the music.

So far so good. I appreciate the virtuosity of the musicians, the touch they’ve got on their instruments, the clever wordplay (now that the vocals are so easy to make out), and the communication among them, like a great jazz session. Is it worth what I paid? Well, I’m not sending it back, even though I know you wouldn’t mind if I did. So, thanks for another gem in my collection.

Thank you,



Thanks for your letter. A few thoughts:

[1] Yes, an early ABC pressing is unlikely to sound wrong or terrible in our experience. Of the hundred or more that we’ve played, a don’t remember one that did not at least sound good enough to sell, earning perhaps our lowest Hot Stamper grade.

You’ve recently upgraded your system quite a bit. If you keep going that way, in five or ten (or two!) years you may want to revisit the WHS copy relative to your other three ABC pressings (forget the others) and see what changes you have wrought, although I do not recommend you use Aja as a test disc, for the simple reason that extremely artificial recordings can often sound amazingly good, but when your system goes off the rails a bit from some new tweak or change, they will sound different, but not necessarily better or worse, more right or more wrong, and then you don’t know whether the change was a good one or a bad one.

Different means nothing. Things sound different all the time. More right or more wrong should always be your focus.

Test discs like the ones we recommend should make it easy to distinguish better from worse, right from wrong. Test discs that don’t are simply not good test discs and should not be used for that purpose.

[2] Don’t take my word for how bad the Cisco pressing is. We have letters from customers who say the same thing.

The Cisco is so bad we call it a Pass/Fail record.  We describe Pass/Fail records this way:

Some records are so wrong, or so lacking in qualities that are crucial to the sound — qualities typically found in abundance on the right vintage pressings — that the advocates for these records, reviewers and audiophiles alike, have clearly failed to judge them accurately.

Tea for the Tillerman on the new 45 may be substandard in almost every way, but it is not a Pass/Fail pressing. It lacks one thing above all others, Tubey Magic, so if your system has an abundance of that quality, the way many vintage tube systems do, the new pressing may be quite listenable and enjoyable. Those whose systems can play the record and not notice this important shortcoming are not exactly failing. Audiophiles of this persuasion most likely have a system that is heavily colored and not very revealing, but it is not a system that is hopeless.


Letter of the Week – “The WHS stamper just pulled you into those songs, so you could feel every little dynamic shift and tonal change…”

More of the Music of Steely Dan

More of the Music of Cat Stevens

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently. [The bolding has been added by us.]

Hey Tom,   

A friend and I just did a shootout of 16 copies of Aja, plus one of your White Stampers, which easily trounced them all (including some DJ 12″ singles from the album) [1], and in exactly those areas that you cover in some of the WTLF descriptions you have for that album. Just a great big, open and lovely-sounding record–what a thrill!. And thanks very much for those notes–they help clarify the critical listening process.

We also listened to 16 copies of Tea for the Tillerman. Among those (UK pink rims, German, Japanese, and many US labels) were two excellent early brown label A&M pressings, which I saved for the end of the shootout.

And we had the Analogue Productions 33 rpm pressing, which has been a big disappointment since I first heard it. [2] Those two original A&Ms both sound so much more natural, with more delicacy, extension, air, presence and energy than the AP version. My listening buddy said they sounded as if they were cut at 45 rpm; and neither of us really expected your White Hot UK pink-rim pressing could be a significant improvement over those.

But, as good as those are, it was also obvious that your WHS brought the music several steps closer. The A&M brown labels both added some thickness and over-emphasized the low range of his voice–which (until we heard your WHS) was a pleasant coloration.

But as you frequently mention, the biggest issue, once you’ve heard a great copy, is how much more energy and flow the music has. The WHS stamper just pulled you into those songs, so you could feel every little dynamic shift and tonal change that the musicians were bringing to the table. It allowed that music to breathe in a way I’ve never heard before. What a record!

The BIG thing your Hot Stampers do is present the music in a perfectly balanced way–no frequency range is emphasized, which also means none are compromised. I think this is why you can always turn up the volume on a Hot Stamper. If you’ve got a bad mastering or bad pressing, at some point, turning up the volume only make parts of the recording more unlistenable. Turning up a Hot stamper makes it a bit louder, sure. But it also brings you further into the studio, and closer to the music–and that’s we really want, right?



Quite a shootout! I see you learned a lot. That’s what shootouts are for, to teach you what the good copies do well that the other copies do not do so well. As you well know, going deep into the sound the way you did is a thrill, one we get to enjoy on a regular basis. Maybe not every day — not every record is as good as Tea for the Tillerman – but multiple times a week. It’s what make the coming to work every day fun for those of us on the listening panels.

Thanks for your letter.


[1] I remember playing those Aja 12″ records back in the ’80s. I never thought they were all that good sounding. DJ appeal, not audiophile appeal.

[2] We couldn’t stand the AP pressing either, as you may have guessed by the title of our review: Tea for the Tillerman – This Is Your Idea of Analog? It’s the poster boy for records with No Tubey Magic Whatsoever.

Without Tubey Magic you might as well be playing a CD. The well known reviewer who has so many nice things to say about this pressing — I quote him at length in my review — apparently cannot hear that the new Heavy Vinyl pressing sounds more like a CD than the actual CD of Tea for the Tillerman does.

This self-described “champion of analog” is single-handedly guilty of more reviewer malpractice than anybody I can think of this side of Julian Hirsch, so it should come as no surprise to anyone — especially anyone who reads this blog — that the Heavy Vinyl Tillerman is yet another in a very long line of records he has been dead wrong about.

If your goal is to promote vinyl, at the very least you should know better than to do it with a record as lacking in analog virtues as this one is. We listed them chapter and verse in our lengthy review. We had no trouble identifying and calling them out, and we frankly still don’t understand why so many analog devotees have such a difficult time with the kind of in-depth critical listening that shows up the faults of junk vinyl such as this misguided remaster.

And just in case you are wondering, I happen to know that the Sterling mastered CD from many decades ago sounds better, because I still own mine and play it in the car from time to time.

If you are stuck in a Heavy Vinyl rut, we here at Better Records can help you get out of it. We did precisely that for these folks, and we can do it for you.

(You may of course not be aware that you are stuck in a rut. Few audiophiles are. The best way out of that predicament is to hear how mediocre these modern records sound compared to the vintage Hot Stampers we offer. Once you hear the difference, your days of buying newly remastered releases will most likely be over. Even if our pricey curated pressings are beyond your budget, you can avail yourself of the methods we describe to find dramatically superior killer pressings on your own.)

Reviews and Commentaries for Aja

Reviews and Commentaries for Tea for the Tillerman