Letter of the Week – “I had NO IDEA there was this much difference between copies.”

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

Hey Tom,   

Wow! this copy of Exile on MS is amazing! It sounded fantastic before my amps even were warm.

The drums sound like they are in the same room as the room with the microphone; the horns sound like……. well like… horns.

The copy I had before was brand new and sucked. This $350 copy is worth the dough and I am surprised. I am tempted to stop buying vinyl at all unless it has been pre-tested by your team (this will be tough). 

I had NO IDEA there was this much difference between copies.

Brian S. 


Thanks for your letter. Now you know what we know, that there is a huge difference between pressings of an album like Exile, and the only way to find the good ones is to play them until you luck into one.


Further Reading


The Rolling Stones – Exile On Main Street

  • With roughly Nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on all FOUR sides, this copy is close to the BEST we have ever heard, right up there with our Shootout Winner – remarkably quiet vinyl too
  • This is Exile raw and real the way it should be – with full-bodied, immediate vocals and plenty of hard-rockin’ energy
  • The better copies are also much less gritty and hard, but manage to keep the raw, grungy, heavily tube-compressed sound the Stones and their exceptionally talented engineer, Glyn Johns, were going for
  • 5 stars: “Few other albums, let alone double albums, have been so rich and masterful as Exile on Main St., and it stands not only as one of the Stones’ best records, but sets a remarkably high standard for all of hard rock.”
  • If you’re a Classic Rock fan, this Must Own Classic from 1972 surely belongs in your collection.
  • Exile on Main Street is a founding member of our prestigious None Rocks Harder Club. The sound may be too grungy for some, making Exile fairly difficult to reproduce, but the best sounding pressings, played at good, loud levels on big dynamic speakers, in a large, heavily-treated room, are a blast.

The harder you work to get distortion out of your system and room, the more enjoyable you will find this album, which is exactly the reason you want to do all that work in the first place, in order to get the most out of difficult-to-reproduce albums like Exile.

All four sides here have the kind of bass, energy, and presence that is essential for this music to rock the way it wants to. A copy like this conveys the emotional power of The Stones’ performances in a way that most pressings simply fail to do.

This shootout is always a struggle, an uphill battle all the way. You’d have to find, clean and play a ton of copies to come up with four sides that can do this music justice. We’re sure that Stones fans and Hot Stamper die-hards are going to be very pleased with this copy.

This vintage Artisan mastered pressing (the only ones that have any hope of sounding good) has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound. (more…)

Letter of the Week – “When I think of all the money I’ve spent on those sites…”

More of the Music of The Rolling Stones

Reviews and Commentaries for Exile on Main Street

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

Hey Tom, 

I just wanted to thank you for the expedited shipping for The Stones Exile on Main Street that I recently purchased (UPS delivered on time for once!).

I look forward to my next purchase from you, especially since I never buy from Acoustic Sounds, Music Direct, or eBay anymore. When I think of all the money I’ve spent on those sites…



Happy to get you the record quickly, glad UPS is doing its job.

As for the other record dealers you mention, it is indeed sad that so much money is being wasted on so much bad vinyl.

But whose fault is that, really? How many audiophiles have heard of us and yet never tried one of our Hot Stampers. At least 95% would be my guess.

Mediocrity is the operating principle by which the world is governed. Most folks will never go beyond the average, and as far as I can tell, that’s just fine by them.

Some come to know better, and it’s good that you are one of those lucky few. Hearing is believing, and once you’ve heard the difference, buying Heavy Vinyl pressings from the hacks who sell them would be like taking a giant step backward in your audio journey. Almost like starting over.

The audiophiles who can’t or won’t put in the work to get their stereos and their ears working right deserve the sound they’ve settled for. It’s no more complicated than that.

We can save a few — here are some that have written us letters thanking us for doing so — but most will simply never find out how mediocre most of the records in their collections are.

And now you have a killer copy of Exile on Main Street. What could be better?

Best, TP

Further Reading

The Rolling Stones – A Good Test for Grit and Grain

More of the Music of The  Rolling Stones

More Records that Are Good for Testing Grit and Grain

Reviews and Commentaries for Exile on Main Street

The best copies will tend to have the qualities detailed below, and the more abundant these qualities are on any given pressing, the higher its grade will be.

Yes, it is a science, an empirical one, which can only be carried out by the use of strict protocols and controls, but it sure ain’t rocket science.

All you need is the system, the room, the records, the time and the will to do the painstaking critical listening required to carry out the task.

It can be done, but you could spend a lifetime meeting audiophiles of the vinyl persuasion and never run into a single one who has made the effort more than a handful of times.

To be honest, shootouts are a bitch. If you aren’t getting paid to do them the way we are, finding the motivation to devote the time and energy required to do them right — not to mention the piles of copies of each record you will need — is daunting to say the least.

So, back to the question: what to listen for? (more…)