Our customers tend to be very enthusiastic about the sound of our White Hot Stamper pressings. Here is a sampling of the letters they have written us over the years.

Letter of the Week – “…the $900 White Album is blowing my mind…”

More of the Music of The Beatles

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of The Beatles

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

Hey Tom, 

Loving the recent records… the $900 White Album is blowing my mind… keep thinking I’m going to have to wipe Paul McCartney’s spit off my toes…

And the K. D. Lang… words fail for the sound here (not to mention the music) – it’s MASSIVE and lush.

Also, I’ll include the new AP Kind of Blue UHQR with this return for you to hear. I have been burning in a new phonostage, and my previous impressions were a bit rough and ready given that I was having to use a temporary phonostage at that time… so now I’d say that while yes there is more air in this issue/pressing than the claustrophobic and downright weird MoFi, this doesn’t sound natural; instruments (esp. horns) have no edge to them; piano and horn fade together in a single midi-like tone… see what you think and let me know.

Dear C.,

Looking forward to hearing it. Nothing could be more wrong sounding than the new MoFi Kind of Blue, but AP could certainly give it a run for its money in the weird Audiophile Remastering Race to the Bottom that these labels are currently engaged in, owing to their production of one awful Heavy Vinyl LP after another.

What you describe are the trademark sounds of bad mastering choices, which are the only kinds of choices that Analogue Productions makes it seems.

As you may have read elsewhere on this blog:

As long as Analogue Productions is around, at least no one can say that Mobile Fidelity makes the worst sounding audiophile pressings in the history of the world. They are certainly some of the worst, but not so bad that they have never made a single good sounding record, which is the title that Chad Kassem holds (to the best of our knowledge. Obviously we have only played a small fraction of the records released by him. In our defense let me say that that small fraction was all we could take.)

Thanks for your letter. That White Album was indeed killer. For $900 it had better be!


Letter of the Week – “The 3+ sides really light up the room and at times have me shaking my head in disbelief at the musical presentation. Holy smokes!”

More Hot Stamper Testimonial Letters

Hot Stampers and Audio Progress Go Together

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

Hey Tom,  

You know I am a Better Records believer having purchased hot stampers over the past decade and having over 90% of my collection hot stampers.

I only play vinyl and recently got some upgrades to the system. I’ll save you all the audiophile jargon and simply state my system sounds better.

What I have noticed, as good as the albums have been, I’m hearing an even greater delineation in the grading. The 2+ and 2.5+ are good, but the 3+ sides really light up the room and at times have me shaking my head in disbelief at the musical presentation. .

Holy smokes! Thanks, Tom


Dear Mike,

Glad to know you made improvements to your stereo and things are cookin’ now, so much so that the White Hots truly shine the way they should. They sure shine over here.

It took us a long time to get to get them to sound that way, forty plus years of messing around with equipment and rooms and cleaning techniques.


Letter of the Week – “To this day, he refers to the wondrous sound he heard that night every time we get together.”

More of the Music of The Beatles

Customers Weigh in on the Virtues of Our Hot Stamper Beatles Pressings

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.


Stunned and mesmerized are the effects we were going for. Thanks for writing!

Money Can Buy You Happiness, You Just Have to Spend It Right

Letters and Commentaries for Deja Vu

More Crosby / More Stills / More Nash / More Young

A testimonial from a customer for his Hot Stamper Deja Vu discusses what it takes to get good sound from your stereo. (Hint: it starts with a good sounding record.)

An excerpt. (Bolding and highlighting added.)


I received my Deja Vu 2 Pack yesterday. Even though I have not yet listened to all of the mother load that I got on Marathon week – I had to take a listen to this tonight.

Whew – Mother of God!

I have never heard even a semi-decent copy of this album before on either LP or CD – although the music is outstanding and chock full of memories for anyone my age. This white hot stamper is transcendental nirvana. Tom was not kidding when he said master tape sound. The vocals and instrumentals were so alive it was unbelievable. Some of the songs were so good that I just tilted my head back and opened my mouth real wide and just zoned out. Crosby’s vocal on Almost Cut My Hair is masterful. I took your advice and played it twice at even louder volumes. Yikes – better than acapulco gold. Neil Young’s Country Girl was so huge – a vast wall of sound with every single voice and instrument standing out.

This album is even better than I ever thought it was. I was just not prepared to hear how it really sounds after all that crap I had been listening to for 30 years.

I have come to a conclusion – no matter whether I had the best $50,000 amps in the world or a $29,000 phono supply or the $150,000 Wilson Alexandria speakers or all that other incredible stuff that audiophiles lust for – not one of those items can make a shit record sound anything but like a shit record. There is no overcoming the original source material that you play on your stereo system.

Buying a hot stamper for what can seem like a lot of money – especially if you want a whole lot of them – is really a bargain for those who have invested in a super audio system (with analog capability of course). It is true that the better your system is the more you will get out of hot stampers – but at some point in the process it is more effective to spend available resources on the LPs rather than on more better mega equipment. I just don’t believe an additional $20,000 spent on a better amplifier can deliver as much as $20,000 spent on Super or White Hot Stampers played with my current amplifier. Additionally, I do believe that even a modest analogue system will sound fabulous when you have master tape sound coming out of it.

Bless Tom and all the folks at Better Records. My system enjoyment quotient has increased dramatically this year since I have been buying the good stuff to play on it. Keep up the good work.



So glad to hear you loved that Deja Vu as much as your enthusiastic letter indicates you did. When we come across a copy as good as the one we sent you, it is indeed a cause for celebration here at Better Records: We know someone is very likely going to have their mind blown, and soon. Obviously, in this case the mind that was blown was yours.

As far as megabuck equipment is concerned, we discussed the subject in a commentary entitled Money Can’t Buy You (Audio) Happiness in which we noted that a certain reviewer’s very, very expensive equipment did not seem to be helping him tell the difference between good sounding records and bad. From our perspective, there’s little difference in the sound of the Heavy Vinyl pressings he seems to like so much from Classic, Sundazed, Speakers Corner and the like. To us almost all of them leave a lot to be desired.

Play Them? Why?

We actually created a section called the Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to point out the many shortcomings — and, to be fair, the occasional strengths — of these pressings. It’s hard for us to get motivated to play any of these records. The vast majority are barely even mediocre and oftentimes they’re downright awful, so what’s the point?

John brings up a related point: No matter how expensive your equipment, you just can’t make your stereo sound good unless you are playing a good sounding record. Placing a Sundazed or Classic record on a $100,000 turntable is — to our way of thinking — audio insanity.

If that turntable is any good, it’s simply going to make the shortcomings that exist in the mastering of these two famously badly-mastered label’s records even more obvious.

If, on the other hand, it’s hiding those flaws, that’s strong evidence that someone may very well have figuratively flushed a hundred grand down the toilet.

Cost Effective

Good turntables aren’t cheap, but you don’t need to spend six figures to hear good sound. What will sound good is a good sounding pressing, and that’s where John hits the nail right on the head.

Putting twenty more grand in an amp that’s going to be used to play modern pressings is not a cost-effective approach to better sound.

The amp may actually have no effect on the sound, or even a bad effect on the sound.

There is one obvious exception to that adage however: money spent on good sounding records can buy you plenty of audio happiness. When you hear one of our Hot Stampers go head to head with the best pressing you own, it will not take you long to recognize that, for some set of recordings at least, a world of sound exists that you were never aware of before.

Thirty years’ worth of crappy Deja Vu’s wiped away in an instant? Yes, it can be done. Happens all the time in fact.

Few audiophiles have the opportunity to experience such a revelation — it does come at a price to be sure — but for those few it may indeed be described truthfully as “transcendental nirvana.” That’s the way we feel when we stumble upon these amazing pressings in our shootouts, and there’s simply no good reason why your experience should be any different.

That “nirvana” feeling exists in the grooves of the record. You can write your local audio shop twenty thousand dollar checks until you’re blue in the face, you’ll never have that experience until you play the record that has that kind of sound in its grooves. (We have a catchy name for such records. We call them Hot Stampers.)


Letter of the Week – “I need to catch my breath here.”

More of the Music of Led Zeppelin

Reviews and Commentaries for Led Zeppelin II

One of our good customers had this to say about the Hot Stamper Zep II he purchased recently, and we exchanged quite a few emails about his findings. 

As promised, we had given him a free copy of the Jimmy Page remaster so that he could compare the two, something we have always encouraged our customers to do, especially in this case.


I need to catch my breath here. I rushed home to compare the two Zep 2s you sent. I played Whole Lot of Love on the Jimmie Page cut, then on the WH stamper. I was…stunned. Then I  asked my wife to come in to listen. She’s not a Led Zeppelin fan, so I said “Just listen to a minute of each track”. I played a minute of the Jimmie Page, she nodded, shrugged, and said “It sounds good.” Then I played the WH stamper. About 15 seconds in she exclaimed “What the F*CK?!?!”, and smiled. And wanted to hear the rest of the song.

You guys are geniuses to send the Jimmie Page LP with the WH. My friend insists on comparing it to his Classic Records copy, which we’ll do this weekend. I don’t think it will be a fair contest.

Is it worth $2,499? I know many people would say no. The vast majority. So I’m in the minority on this one.



Such great news! It seems that even people who don’t care for Zep can’t resist the power of a hot copy of Zep II!

I will have more to say, and I wanted to let you know that we still want to hear from those who have compared the two pressings. If you feel like it, tell us what you think the differences are.

And the same with your friend and his Classic repress. That record was so bright it practically peeled the paint in my room. I doubt if it has changed much.

But you can tell me!

As we have said time and time again, the number of people that have ever had the privilege of playing a killer copy of Zep II like the one we sent you is small. It’s like owning your own rocket to Mars.

It would be worth $2500 to me too! Double that.

Thanks for your letter,



Before making my first purchase from Better Records, I scoured the internet to learn about you and your company, devoured your blog (which I continue to do), and read the Washington Post article [1] and watched the accompanying video. In the end, it came down to “Well, he sure is enthusiastic, he makes a lot of sense, and it is a money back guarantee, so what do I have to lose?” Turns out I had nothing to lose and much to gain!

To be honest, after comparing the two pressings on Whole Lotta Love and Heartbreaker on side 2, I stopped comparing them. I just wanted to listen to the entirety of the hot stamper pressing. And I did, twice. It’s just an incredible immersive experience. However, when we have our Led Zeppelin “boys night” in a week or so, we’re going to compare all of the tracks, as well as the Classic Records version.

I didn’t describe my wife’s entire reaction. By the end of Whole Lotta Love, she was jumping up and down and singing the lyrics and just having a great time! Quite a reaction from someone whose musical tastes lean more towards Lionel Richie and Johnny Hartman.

Oh, she also preferred the Rumours hot stamper to the 45 rpm. [2] She couldn’t pinpoint why, except to say that with the hot stamper it seemed like they were in the room.

I have enjoyed being the beneficiary of your skill and efforts. And I’ll let you know how the Led Zeppelin shoot-out night goes!


Pay special attention in your shootout to The Lemon Song. I am going to discuss some things I learned about it recently.

See how all your versions do on the song and what you think each version is doing right and wrong.

Enjoy and have fun.



As for the idea that our Rumours made your wife feel as though the band was in the room with her, that is the whole point of having a top quality pressing to play.

That is what it should sound like. That is what the group, their producers and engineers were aiming for by recording the album the way they did and letting Ken Perry master it the way he did.

The copies that do everything else right always have the most presence and immediacy. That can’t be an accident, regardless of whether a select group of audiophiles in thrall to their fearless leader see it that way or don’t.

[1] The shootout video can be found here.

[2] A discussion of the 45 RPM remaster of Rumours can be found here.

Further Reading


Letter of the Week – “I was swept up, and able to relax and enjoy a stupendous album again.”

More of the Music of Michael Jackson

Reviews and Commentaries for Thriller

Dear Tom and Fred,

I surprised myself by buying a White Hot Stamper of Thriller. It’s an album that struck me as a particular challenge to your business model. This is probably the most-pressed record in existence. A hot stamper has to be a needle in a really big haystack. And besides, how much better can they be, really? Isn’t any old copy of Thriller a pretty awesome-sounding record?

And, what’s more, why do I need an expensive copy of an album that I could happily live my entire life without ever hearing again?

But hey, I’ve returned records to you before, and you’ve never once tried to convince me to keep it, or given me any headaches about a return, so why not explore the limits of what your business can provide?

The first time I put it on, I could already tell it was special. It’s not like I was “hearing new details” or something like that. It’s that I was swept up, and able to relax and enjoy a stupendous album again. Listening to this copy of Thriller brought me as much joy as this music used to.

We’ve written about this experience before. If your current copy or some new audiophile pressing doesn’t bring you the joy of the music you remember feeling back in the day, it’s not the music’s fault. It’s the record’s. Or the stereo’s.

Aaron, you have taken your system to new heights. Your ears don’t work the way they used to. While you weren’t looking, the bar somehow, rather mysteriously, reset itself. Now it’s much, much higher.

You’re simply a lot harder to please than you used to be. You have a much better understanding of how high is up, and up is a lot higher than it used to be, whether you like it or not. Good isn’t good enough anymore.

And you will never be able to go back, even if you wanted to. You could no more go back to those days than you could become a child again. [1]

Welcome to my world, post 2007.

That’s why we tout Beatles albums as being critically important for testing and tweaking your system. We know they have the life of The Beatles’ Music in their grooves, giving you the sound you remember falling in love with all those years ago.

If you’re not getting a thrill from your Beatles records, something is very, very wrong — precisely the reason their recorded oeuvre is a true audiophile wake up call.

Aaron continued:

A few weeks later, on the eve of the closing of the return window, I shot it out against the best of my other copies. They range from the copy I grew up with, one of the few records from childhood that I held onto, to a pricy Japanese pressing in great shape (purchased long ago, when I thought Japanese pressing were where it’s at), to some copies I’ve picked up over the years because they looked to be in good shape and they were just five bucks, and a pressing that the forums told me was the “holy grail.” None stacked up to the white hot stamper. In fact, they really weren’t even close. Here’s what I found:

The copy I grew up with is bright and edgy. To think, I spent all those years playing and re-playing a record that was bright and edgy, none the wiser to matrix numbers and pressing variations. Some other lucky kid back then was surely listening to the copy I now own. I wonder if he ever said to himself, “wow, there’s something about this record. It sounds really special.”

The pressing with a sought-after matrix code had phenomenal bass, but the vocals were recessed. I’d so easy to be impressed with those huge drums on Billie Jean, but that alone is not enough to tell you it’s a great pressing. A lot of pressings seem to get that right.

My Japanese pressing was clear and full. But too smooth. The guitars don’t bite. Also, it fatigued me by about halfway through the side. This is energetic music. It might exhaust you, but it doesn’t have to fatigue you. This is an example of where if you don’t have a white hot stamper to compare it to, you’ll just assume your version sounds as good as it can get.


Japanese pressings are almost always made from dubbed tapes. You’re describing the smeary, distorted sound you get from a second-generation tape. Less bite on the guitars, more fatiguing harmonic distortion everywhere else, these records are only playable on modest, unrevealing systems.

After getting my system to a higher level and playing the imports I owned head to head against good domestic LPs, I got rid of my Japanese pressings. That was more than 30 years ago. It was simply no contest. I was actually embarrassed to have them in the house. What a fool I had been.

So, at one end of the spectrum, I have my Ricci hot stamper [shown here] that I could sell for what I paid you for it, and now at the other end of the spectrum I have a hot stamper that you probably paid $5 for, but is a true “needle in the haystack.” I wonder how many $5 copies (now, $20) I’d have to buy on my own to find one that sounds this good, and how many hours that’d take me, and what would I do with all the copies I wouldn’t want to keep? I’ll leave all that hassle to you, and I’ll be keeping this copy of Thriller. The price I paid is worth it to me to again love and enjoy this truly phenomenal album.

This is a common criticism levelled at us by audiophiles on forums. They find our pricing of common records outrageous. They seem to think we buy our records for dollars and sell them for hundreds, with percentage markups typically in the thousands.

There was a time when Thriller in Los Angeles might have been a ten or fifteen dollar record. Those days are long gone. A clean pressing would easily run $40-50 and maybe even more if it were still in the shrink with the stickers. (At Amoeba records, where we used to shop, a so-so record in a clean cover would always be priced higher than a clean record in a ratty cover. We think that speaks volumes about record buyers and record collectors these days.)

We hear there are stores that have records like Thriller for cheap, but we are not able to drive to those stores, many of which are in other states. We willingly pony up the fifty bucks we have to pay because we love the record and so do our customers.

Our hottest stamper copies have the sound you always wished it had, the perfect sound that really only existed in your head back then. Think of all the money and time you had to put into your stereo to get that perfect sound to come out of your speakers.

And no matter how good your equipment, only a top quality pressing could possibly turn that idea into a reality.

Your experience proves that all the money, time and effort you put into your system was justified, many times over. Without all of your work, and our Hot Stamper, Thriller would just be another album you used to like, one you kind of grew out of, one that doesn’t sound the way you remember it sounded, and it would be sitting there on your shelf collecting dust.

The work you did (with some help from us) paid off. Now Thriller is back, and better than ever. What is that worth?

A PS from Aaron

I’m really surprised how much I like it. It’s an even bigger “delta” from the run of the mill copies than most of my hot stampers, even white hot stampers, are.


Summing up, we thank you again for another wonderful letter. 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.

A few other thoughts, on and off the subject.

Thriller is a tough record to master. Lots of boosted EQ in places, hard to get right. Bernie can take great pride in a job well done.

Some of these things are system dependent. Some records “lock-in” to a system in surprising ways and just really take off.

That’s what Bob and Ray does for my system, it just takes off like crazy.

Recently a good Brothers in Arms did the same thing. I put it in our Top 100, the first time it ever impressed me that way. It sounded as big as a house.

(And the Chris Bellman recut is excellent, about A+, maybe 1.5, about as good as heavy vinyl gets. I would put it in the Top 1%. To say that we are rarely impressed by any album on Heavy Vinyl these days is the understatement of the year.)

Best, TP


Letter of the Week – “I literally sat there with what I am sure was a dazed looked on my face, with open mouth and all.”

More of the Music of The Beatles

More Reviews and Commentaries for Let It Be

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

Hey Tom, 

They say the first time is the best…

I have now purchased and enjoy well over 50 Hot Stampers. My first one a few years ago was The Beatles Let It Be. I was very skeptical to be honest, but there was a money back guarantee, so I went for it. It was $250, I think. It was an A+ on Side 1 and A+++ on Side 2.

It arrived and I put on my serious listening ears, put on Get Back on Side 2 (A+++) and dropped the needle.

Instantly, I was like a dog hearing a new sound for the first time. My head was cocked a little and I was trying to fathom exactly what I was hearing. I was hearing presence, breathing, clarity in voices before they started playing and I literally sat there with what I am sure was a dazed looked on my face, with open mouth and all. I could not believe it. Everything jumped out of my B&W’s. The sound was something that no CD could duplicate, no matter how clean the CD sounded. I have an all tube, all analog system and I sat there in amazement. I played The Long and Winding Road next and the instruments literally had me teared up from how it much jumped out at me.

Well, I was hooked and I have since bought a lot of Hot Stampers and I enjoy them all. Along with some of my Japanese vinyl [ouch], there are by far the most treasured LPs in my entire collection. You can bet when friends come over, we choose records from the Hot Stamper stack. I really have a ball watching the look on their face when they hear it for the first time.

As I once wrote, I appreciate the fact that Better Records provides a service. They go out and buy numerous copies of an LP. Then some of them sit and listen to them all to narrow down to the best of the best. I have no problem paying their price, as I know they have a definite cost involved and the end result is a phenomenal sounding LP. they provide a great service to us audio nuts.

I buy very, very few records elsewhere, mainly some import copies but by and large, Better Records are the best. Keep up the great work.

Bryan S.

Thanks Bryan, happy to be of service, as always.

Further Reading

Letter of the Week – “Suddenly Michael McDonald was in the room in front of me.”

More of the Music of The Doobie Brothers

Reviews and Commentaries for the Music of The Doobie Brothers

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

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…)

Letter of the Week – One Customer’s Ten LP Shootout for Abbey Road

Reviews and Commentaries for Abbey Road

More of the Music of The Beatles

More Letters from Customers Who Did Their Own Shootouts

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

Hey Tom,   

I just played a couple of songs from the Abbey Road album $850.00 I just purchased and I am blown away by the sound. The texture and clarity of the bass drum in Come Together is much more pronounced than any of the copies of the 10 Abbey Road copies that I have including the MoFi and [Japanese] Pro Use albums. The album is so much better in all areas.

It was well worth the money and I am grateful to have it as it is my favorite album.

I like forward to hearing all of the songs. Wishing you all the best.



That’s great news. Looking back through some of the emails we’ve exchanged, I see that I told you we would send you the best sounding Beatles records you ever imagined, and by the looks of it, that has turned out to be the case. Glad to hear you like our records as much as we do. We charged $850 for that copy because it sounded like at least $850 worth of great sound and music.

Enjoy your new Beatles records and thanks for your business and support.

Best, TP


The Doors – “Holy smokes, the 3/3 copy transforms the musical experience.”

More of the Music of The Doors

Reviews and Commentaries for Morrison Hotel

A letter from a good customer tells of his experience playing a top copy of the album.

Hi Guys,

Just when I thought you guys could not surprise me, you did it again. Morrison Hotel was not in my collection when I was growing up although I was familiar with some of the tracks on the album. I picked up a SHS 2/1.5 copy; it was good and I added it to my collection. I saw the WHS 3/3 copy come up on the site and thought I would give it a try because of my past experience (Jackson Browne, Beatles – White Album, Crowded House).

Holy smokes, my intuition was correct: the 3/3 copy transforms the musical experience. I don’t know how or why this happens; how a SHS side 2 that sounds good goes exponentially up with a WHS 3 copy; it just does. When one gets a WHS 3/3 in single album as opposed to a 2 pack; it is a musical treat beyond compare. Thanks as usual. (more…)