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 The Ultimate Audiophile LPs and CDs

The Ultimate Audiophile LPs and CDs

 Maintained by:
 We specialize in finding the best sounding LP pressings in the world, which can be found on our website, better-records.com. On ebay we sell mostly what's left of the DCC CDs we acquired in 2002, as well as audiophile vinyl, record cleaning machines & fluids, and a selection of audio equipment.
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Here are a few highlights from some of the great letters we've received from happy customers. Click on any of them to read more!

"... the look on his face when I dropped the needle was absolutely priceless!"

"I sat there with jaw slack, repeatedly shouting expletives"

"Transparency, timbre and weight are all balanced beautifully."

"...I know the sound of an ‘in tune’ guitar, the way it just rings..."

"I am rocking at a different level now."

"You guys are real treasure hunters!"

"A Better Record DEMANDS attention!"

"This copy you just sent me blew the windows out of my house."

"That Better Records sound is unmistakeable."

"Didn't expect it to sound so amazing."

"I think it's better to treat myself to one good hot stamper than a bunch of cheap used records."

"What I now have is better than 99 44/100% of the populace"

"My friends have a "problem" understanding what I am talking about..."

"The Hot Stamper copy went WAY beyond what I expected."

"There aren't too many records that can create a mood like that."

"Just when I don't think it can get better a 3+ copy shows me how wrong I am."

"Maybe the best sounding record I’ve ever heard."

"The energy, the bass, the clarity was all there. I still can't get over it."

"I didn't have to listen to my other copies. I knew right away this one was IT."

"You've provided me with a life experience, worth every penny and more."

"The overall sound is like as if I have upgraded my entire system"

"The records are so good I cannot concentrate on anything else while they are playing..."


... the look on his face when I dropped the needle on my record was absolutely priceless!

Todd

I really wanted to thank you for The Cars. What a sweet-sounding record! Everything about that one is so right; the guitars, the bass, the drums, the vocals, everything sounds completely natural.

I have a good friend whose favourite band are The Cars. He has an expensive high-end system, but doesn't want the "hassle" of vinyl. Swears blind that nothing beats the DCC gold CD of 'The Cars', so I invited him round at the week-end and asked him to bring his DCC CD with him to compare on my relatively modest system. After we had heard his CD, the look on his face when I dropped the needle on my record was absolutely priceless! A big thank you for the heads-up on that one.

Owais

Owais,

I sure would have liked to have seen your friend's face! I've been there when a great record murders even a CD as excellent as Hoffmann's Cars disc. No CD I've ever heard can do what a truly Hot Stamper analog pressing can, not by a long shot. And you were indeed fortunate to have a ringside seat for a demonstration of that very fact. Glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Thanks for your letter.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about The Cars.


...listening to “Long Distance Runaround,” I sat there with jaw slack, repeatedly shouting expletives.

Hey!

Got my albums today, and I’m stunned, flabbergasted, and amazed. I purchased a “Hot Stamper” Yes Fragile, and immediately spun Side B (the far superior side musically, IMHO).

For the first two minutes, listening to “Long Distance Runaround,” I sat there with jaw slack, repeatedly shouting expletives. My son finally came downstairs to see what was going on. I simply couldn’t believe my ears. I have never, ever, heard as good a recorded rendition – and I’ve heard (and owned) numerous copies over the years.

I literally heard stuff I’ve never heard before – for example, in the last chorus of “Heart of the Sunrise” (arguably their finest recorded song), I could (for the first time ever) CLEARLY hear Wakeman’s Minimoog layered on top of Anderson’s vocal. I knew it was there in the front part (“Sharp…Distance”) but never knew it was there on the “How can the wind with its arms…” part. Amazing.

I’ve been doing the audiophile thing for 20 years now – exclusively analog. And for the last many years, I’ve read your website, but remained skeptical. This is my first purchase! But it most certainly won’t be my last. My only lament is that I lack the funds to buy all of the albums that I now realize I MUST have!

So, THANK YOU – for your dedication to finding (and making available) high quality recordings; and for bringing such incredible music into my home space!!! I look forward to doing much business with you in the future!

Warmly,
Steve :-)

Steve,

Steve, so glad to hear it. We love convincing the skeptics. All it takes is one good record, right?

Two points:

Michael Fremer is dead wrong about Fragile. Not too surprising as he is wrong fairly consistently. Here is a quote from his review of the Hoffmann-Gray Heavy Vinyl Remastering, a record we found to be mediocre at best.

But here’s the deal: this was never a very good recording to begin with. I don’t know what happened to Offord and Advision studio between the sonic grandeur of The Yes Album and this cardboardy, compressed and somewhat cloudy and distant affair, but something and not the original or new mastering engineers are to blame. Perhaps they “upgraded” to a newfangled solid-state board? Whatever happened, the drum recording is flat and dry, with the bass drum sounding like a rubber toy and cymbals devoid of air and shimmer. If you listen to the depth of the bass and the stentorian dynamic swings found on The Yes Album, you’ll exclaim “What the fuck?” as I did back in 1971 when I plopped the original Fragile on my Dual 1219.

Really, is that the deal? Seems like a raw deal to me.

Really, if you had paid the slightest attention to this man, one we've previously mocked as The Savior of Analog, a man whose "mockability" is practically off the scale (and in the world of audio that is really saying something), you would not now be in a position to hear all that wonderful sound coming from a record "that was never a very good recording to begin with."

You would have believed him and not us. And, as a skeptic, nothing to be ashamed of, you barely believed us. But records don't lie. The sound is in the grooves of the right pressings and no reviewer can change that fact, not even one as respected as MF.

How would he know it's a bad recording anyway? Mikey can tell us about the bad pressings he might be reproducing correctly, or the good pressings he might be reproducing poorly, but it seems patently obvious to me he is in no position to tell us about the recording itself, as he has never heard it.

Have we? Of course not. We don't need to. As long as we have amazing sounding pressings of it to sell, what difference would it make? It's idle speculation, fine for audiophile reviewers I suppose, but it no bearing at all on what we actually do all day, which is find great sounding pressings. The sound of master tapes we leave to those who have actually heard them.

The copy you bought earned a sonic grade of One Plus (A+) on each side. Imagine what the Triple Plus copy sounds like! Those White Hot Stamper copies are the ones that can really set you back on your heels. I can't afford them either but it is a thrill to hear them.

Thanks so much for your letter. If you have a want list and a budget in mind we would be happy to work with you directly; it saves us writing the listings so we can usually do a little better on the price.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about Fragile.


Transparency, timbre and weight are all balanced beautifully.

Hi Fred/ Tom/ Todd

I am going to keep the Reiner Scheherazade. After listening a few more times it reveals itself to be a very organic pressing. Delightful!

Transparency, timbre and weight are all balanced beautifully. Everything is in correct proportion. I listened to a copy of the 45 RPM of this title in comparison. The more I listen to 45 RPM reissues the more it becomes apparent, lower frequencies are boosted and dynamics seem to be the order of the day.

Don't get me wrong, the dynamics are outstanding, but at the end of the day dynamics alone don't get me to that place where I listen to a piece of great music with an expression of 'ahh" as opposed to just "wow". That "ahh" makes you want to revisit the experience as a whole. That is why I think "organic" is the correct term in this case.

Immediacy is foundational. It's like glue holding dynamics, timbre, and the transparency of a performance together. These attributes balanced and as a whole are what truly draws us back to the listening seat again and again. Thanks for digging up another treasure.

Best Regards, Mark

Mark,

I was digusted with the 33 RPM pressing of the Classic. I gave it an "F", put it in our Hall of Shame, and said lots of mean things about it:

The sound on the reissue is simply AWFUL.

There is no transient information anywhere on that heavy vinyl pressing whatsoever! No instruments have any texture -- not the strings, not the woodwinds, nothing. There is no air going through the flutes. There is no rosin on the bow of the solo violin.

The tympani are a blurry mess. Triangle: okay. Bass drum: okay. Everything else: FAIL.

Not having played it in years I could not believe how much worse the record sounded than I remember. The gulf between the real thing and the Classic wannabe was now so huge that the reissue was nothing less than positively UNPLEASANT to listen to. Enjoyment? Out of the question.

TAS List? The original is, but the Classic is too. Now how messed up is that? Disgraceful, that's all I have to say about it.

Granted, you have the 45 to play, which you say is quite a bit better. But all the "wrongness" of the sound cannot be rectified by cutting it at a faster speed it seems to me. The bad EQ Bernie uses is still bad EQ, and the opacity of his cutting chain is still opaque.

The 45s I've actually had the opportunity to play lately have been positively dreadful. Our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard has some in there and there are more coming.

Those interested can click on this link to read more Classic Records Heavy Vinyl Reviews. As you may know, Classic is a label which we found very hard to like right from the beginning. We like it even less now.

Thanks for your letter.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about Scheherazade.


...I know the sound of an ‘in tune’ guitar, the way it just rings...

Dear Tom,

Last night I finally got a quiet moment in my house to crank up side 1 of the Eagles LP you sent me. It really made me laugh at first because I have an Eagles promo with the dj sticker and saw mark BUT different stamp letters, E not D (if my memory serves me). The one that I have sounds pretty good.

The one I bought from you totally peeled a layer of gauze off and the acoustic guitar on ‘Take It Easy’…. I play some guitar (albeit poorly!) so I know the sound of an ‘in tune’ guitar, the way it just rings. Well that is what I got with the new copy. I just played side one….like a nice wine I didn’t want to gulp it down. Awesome! Another great lesson in the variations between similar LPs!

Take care.
J.D.

J.D.

The Eagles' first album is a favorite with us too. We wrote:

The Eagles first album is without a doubt Glyn Johns' masterpiece -- rock records just don't sound any better. It's exactly the kind of record that makes ANY Audiophile pressing pale in comparison.

You may have seen our Top 100 list of the best sounding rock records elsewhere on the site. We picked out a Top Ten from that list and you will not be surprised to learn that this record made the cut. (Top Two or Three is more like it.)

At one time this was my single favorite Demo Disc. A customer who bought one of these told me it was the best sounding record he had ever heard in his life. I don't doubt that for a minute. It's certainly as good as any rock record I have ever heard, and I've heard hundreds if not thousands of awfully good ones.

Thanks for your letter.
TP


I am rocking at a different level now.

Hi Tom:

As I wrote earlier today, I was only able to listen to "Get Back" after I received the Let It Be LP this afternoon, but was just now able to give this album a thorough listen. I really sat back and put my listening ears on, as I have listened to this album a lot, both on vinyl and on CD.

It took about three songs into the LP before I was truly able to comprehend what I was hearing and how different it was compared to any other copy I have heard. I still am not sure exactly how to described it in words, but it is amazing and unlike anything I have ever heard before. Not only did I hear things I haven’t heard before, the things I have heard hundreds of times prior reached out and grabbed me like I couldn't ever foresee. I heard a voice in the background of the opening to "Get Back" in clarity this time, where on other copies it was not much more than a mumble. I guess the closest I can describe it is that this LP has a combination of punch, clarity and realism that I never knew existed on any recorded media before. Some of the guitar riffs were beyond description. The voices are "live" and the bass is incredibly tight.

Over the years, I have steadily upgraded my stereo to a very high level and have done it with one sales rep at a locally owned audio shop in the Colorado Springs area. My sales rep would constantly mention "Soundstage" and "Presence". I usually gave him a hard time, saying he was using salesman's buzz words to help close the sale on me. Well......he is cordially invited to come up and listen to this marvelous system playing my White HOT Stamper of Let It Be. He will lose his mind when he hears this "Soundstage" and "Presence".

Now, being a collector of records for both listening pleasure and sheer collectability, I have paid a lot for some rare stuff. Because of that, I was very leery of paying this crazy price for this copy. Even after listening to it twice, I was still wanting to tell you that it sounded amazingly good, but I was going to send it back because it was just too much money. But, I then asked myself, do you want to send it back? My immediate answer to myself was hell no, it sounds way too good and I need to have this for my demo disc to my friends.

Anyway, I am impressed, Tom. I will be an avid watcher going forward and will be picking off some additional Hot Stampers as they show up on your site. Someone wrote you a while back and said he was better off getting a few Hot Stampers instead of a bunch of run of the mill vinyl. I agree!!

I am rocking at a different level now.

Thanks,
Bryan

Bryan,

You put your finger on the very thing that is so shocking about the best pressings. Again and again, we have the same experience you had: "Not only did I hear things I haven’t heard before, the things I have heard hundreds of times prior reached out and grabbed me like I couldn't ever foresee." Happens to us practically every shootout!

Thanks for your letter.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about Let It Be. (Bryan's was a White Hot Stamper copy by the way.)



You guys are real treasure hunters!

Hi Fred,
Hi Tom,

Well, I feel there is little I can say that could do justice to how this copy of the White Album sounds. It is simply mind-blowing! And it's exactly the kind of sound reproduction that this masterpiece deserves. I've listened to quite a few pressings of this album before, including a German white vinyl DMM pressing, but I have never heard such a transparent, full-bodied sound on any previous copy. And of course, the White Album is not exactly the most transparent recording to begin with.

Truly marvelous, and a privilege to be able to listen to the best sound of the best music there is!

You guys are real treasure hunters! Many thanks for the great service!

Best,
Bogdan

Bogdan,

As we said in our commentary, pressings other than the right German ones can never give you that AGAIG (As Good As It Gets) White Hot Stamper experience. And DMM sucks, always has and always will, so although it may be German, it is never going to cut it up against the real thing. More from our listing:

I've known about these hot German pressings for more than ten years. As I'm sure you've noticed, we're currently devoting a great deal more of our labor and effort into finding, evaluating and offering for sale albums such as these.

Your Other Options: Not So Hot. The British copies don't ever seem to reach the heights that the best Germans are capable of. The domestic Apple pressings are a joke, as are the few Japanese pressing I've heard. (I can't recall ever liking any Japanese Beatle album for that matter.)

The MOFI is of course a real mess. No doubt many of you own one, so here's a little test. Which of the four sides is tonally correct? In my experience only one is, and after dropping the needle for a minute or two on each side it should be obvious which side that is. If it isn't you need to seriously consider some upgrades to your equipment. (We can help!).

Thanks for your letter.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about The White Album. (Bogdan's was an $850 White Hot Stamper copy by the way. Not cheap but we have to agree with him that it was worth every penny to hear this wonderful and important music sound right for once.)



A Better Record DEMANDS attention!

Hi Tom,

I just wanted to say something about your records. In my collection Better Records now occupies the main shelf as 90% of the time your records are on the turntable. The shelf next door has the few records I have collected that approach the quality of your records. Then there is the other 80% of my record collection which really just serves as an example of the music.

I have met so many hi fi/music enthusiasts that don't believe me when I go on about your records and the importance of good source material. They buy new records by the truckload and have a vested interest in believing they're good. They go on about their systems and nothing else but surely if you have bad source and a good system you will just end up with perfectly reproduced bad sound.

Before Better Records I used to return so many new records as they were lifeless and sonically bad. Reading your site I now know why. You guys should write a book on record collecting!

One last thing you might like to hear. We had friends over for dinner awhile back and one was from Liverpool and old enough to remember the Beatles first hand. When I put on Magical Mystery Tour and it got to Penny Lane, she had tears in her eyes. She said had never heard it like that before, and she must have heard it a million times. The music had got through and connected with her past in a very real way. She now knows what I'm on about!

A Better Record DEMANDS attention!

Thanks, Tom, and all at Better Records.

Peter

Peter,

We love to hear about it when a member of the non-audiophile public actually gets to listen to a vintage analog recording and has the kind of emotional response to the sound that your friend from Liverpool did. That connection to the music is everything we strive for. When you say the new records you've bought were lifeless, this is precisely what we have been saying for years now, and the main reason we stopped carrying them. We discussed the issue in our commentary for Revolver back in 2007, and it's every bit as true today as it was then.

As to your suggestion that we should write a book about record collecting, we addressed that issue in our commentary that's linked immediately below. We don't think it can be done, and sure don't have the time to do it, but thanks for asking anyway.

Thanks again for your letter.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about The Book of Hot Stampers and why it is taking so long.



This copy you just sent me blew the windows out of my house ...

Tom:

I am sitting by the door in anticipation as I type this. It's my birthday to boot, so it will make an awesome present, once the dang Fed Ex guy gets here. Right before I hit send, the doorbell rang.

I had been playing records all day in anticipation, warming up my system for this album. Everything was sounding great, and my stereo was begging for some Supertramp.

I was going to listen to my old copy first to compare it. Ah, NO F***ING NEED. Holy hell. This copy you just sent me blew the windows out of my house, and didn't rip my head off while doing so. Everything is so clear. I can hear every word clear as day, the bass is tight and clear, every instrument in its place and sounding magnificent.

This is truly an incredible pressing and it is night and day [better] even though my old copy was still a $250 hot stamper.

Thank you Tom. Your services are greatly appreciated. (not by my neighbors however). Looking forward to my next one already.

Take care.
Jeremiah

Jeremiah,

What you are describing -- somewhat colorfully, which is just fine by me -- is the sound of a White Hot Stamper pressing of an amazingly well-recorded album. When you find the right pressing of that record it's almost shocking how good it can sound. About side one we wrote:

Side one is ALIVE! It has BIG, PUNCHY sound that will fill up your living room and then some. It's exceptionally transparent with superb clarity and lots of extension on the top end. The vocals sounds AMAZING -- natural and correct with lots of texture. It's a high-definition, high-resolution side one cut just right with super low distortion -- you can really appreciate every last detail of this recording. The saxophone on The Logical Song sounds amazing. On a great copy like this one, it really brings to mind the big, ballsy sax solo on Pink Floyd's Money. We rate this side one an A+++ -- that's Master Tape Sound, folks, As Good As It Gets.

We were apparently pretty enthusiastic about it ourselves!

Thanks for your letter.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about Jeremiah's Breakfast In America.


That Better Records sound is unmistakable.

Well you guys did it again. I had a good promo copy of Baddest Hubbard, lively and big soundstage. I was listening and questioning how much better can it sound. I put on the WHS and found out exactly how much better it could sound. More natural, more relaxed, just better any way you cut it. I knew it in the first ten seconds of track one; that Better Records sound is unmistakable.

Mike

Mike,

I'm glad you enjoyed the Freddie Hubbard LP. We love those funky CTI records and it's truly amazing how wonderful the best copies can sound. The misled audiophiles of the world can keep paying big bucks for noisy original Blue Notes or, worse yet, 45 RPM "limited edition" heavy vinyl reissues, but there's definitely real magic on some of those '70s pressings that most jazz purists turn their noses up at.

Regarding your old copy, it's easy to be happy with the sound of any given pressing, but you never really know what you're missing until you've bought, cleaned and critically evaluated a bunch of copies. Of course, that's a lot of work that not everyone has time for (and I know in particular that you don't have that kind of time, given your busy schedule). I'm glad we can help you find Hot Stampers that show you things you never heard on even the better-sounding records from your personal collection. That way you can spend your limited free time enjoying the ultimate pressings rather than searching for them. Leave the dirty work to us -- here at Better Records, we play mediocre copies so you don't have to!

Thanks for your letter.
Todd


Didn't expect it to sound so amazing.

Received my Chicago 2 hot stamper last night. Played side 4 A+++ first. Didn't expect it to sound so amazing. Reminded me of my Miles Davis Kind of Blue where you say zero distortion, zero compression. No shrillness, no muffled vocals just clear music. All instruments come through with clarity. Relatively quiet too. And this goes for most of the 4 sides of the album. I played the hell out of my CTA and Chicago 2 back in the day when they came out. Never sounded anything like this.

Thanks for a super record,
Steve

Steve,

Isn't it great when a record that used to sound dreary comes to life on a Hot Stamper? We have that experience all the time here at Better Records. We'll pull out an album for a shootout and feel like it's going to be a very long day, and then out of nowhere a pressing comes that shows us something we've never heard before. All of a sudden, we're nodding our heads to the beat and rockin' out to copy after copy. It's too bad that most records are so far off sonically from the very best pressings, but of course if that wasn't the case, there wouldn't be any reason for our business to exist!

Thanks as always for your letter.
Todd


I think it's better to treat myself to one good hot stamper than a bunch of cheap used records.

I'm having the time of my life with the new speakers and the VPI turntable. Before I stumbled across your website I was using the bottom of the line Rega turntable and my speakers were so small I don't even want to mention them. Although they had ribbon tweeters and excellent sound they were nothing like the Legacy Focus. So I thank everyone at Better Records for all that I have learned. You guys steered me to the right equipment. I used to go to the used record store every weekend and buy a handful of records. I won't be doing that anymore. I'm hooked on the hot stampers. Wish I had the money to buy more than I do. I think it's better to treat myself to one good hot stamper than a bunch of cheap used records. You don't get tired of listening to them. There's no listening fatigue. I find it hard to stop and eat while I'm listening. Anyway you can tell I'm thrilled.

Steve

Steve,

We're so glad to hear that our Hot Stampers and equipment recommendations have brought you so much happiness. I like the point you make about no "listening fatigue" on Hot Stamper pressings, because that's something we discuss around here all the time. It might sound like an easy gig playing stacks of records all day, but when most of them are mediocre -- the nature of the game -- it can be an extremely taxing, tedious job. Of course, it's all worth it when we finally hear that As Good As It Gets copy... and then doubly so when we know it goes to a good home such as yours.

Thanks for your letter.
Todd


... better than 99 44/100% of the populace...

Tom, loved the Close to the Edge!!! More to come but I'm confident that what I have now is better than 99 44/100% of the populace re: Close to the Edge!!!!!

Bruce

Bruce,

You may very well be right about that -- your White Hot Stamper copy was awfully good, played it myself. My guess is that most people have CDs and MP3s of the album, with the rest settling for mostly bad reissues, so, yeah, 99 44/100 could be right!

Thanks for your letter.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about Close to the Edge.



My friends have a "problem" understanding what I am talking about....

Hi Todd...

I have listened a GOOD few times to my Hot Stamper ELP....TARKUS... which has CD-Like clarity, yet retains the powerful Beauty of the Analog Original on vinyl -- you sold me a UK First press... and it sounds Fantastic... every few days that gets a playing... Reminds me what YOU Guys strive to DO ! None of my Other copies I have play Like this !

Johnny Cash Hot Stamper comes out often too... Live at San Quentin... This always sounded poor before I heard your Hot Stamper... Never as OPEN and ALIVE as your copy...

Many of my friends have a "problem" understanding what I am talking about....the Hot stamper Phenomenon! But when I put on 3 different copies -- and say, same issue... and all sound different -- they suddenly are at a LOSS to explain WHY this is ! Then I PUT on the same issue HOT Stamper... and it BLOWS them away! Off the Charts ! And they offer no explanation... but I DO! They just find it... ILLOGICAL! Until I explain about the laws of manufacturing... ANYTHING!

I will be back to you soon.... Regards to Tom n All...

Michael,

Entertaining as always!

Thanks for your letter.
TP

Michael actually lives in England, where one would imagine British pressings of Tarkus are plentiful, but the copy we found for him biew away the pressings he owned. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about Tarkus.



The Hot Stamper copy went WAY beyond what I expected.

Hi Todd,

I got the shipment today and it was meticulously packed. It all got here in perfect shape.

I am leaving for a business trip so I won't have a chance to listen to a lot until I get back on Sunday, but I could not resist doing a little side-by-side comparison of Aja tonight, as I have several copies. When I realized that different pressings sounded different (before I found your site) I began accumulating multiple copies, but I find it quite difficult to get loads of mint minus copies of anything. [It's not as easy as it used to be, that's for sure.]

Anyway, I was totally blown away. The Hot Stamper copy went WAY beyond what I expected in terms of the sonic shortcomings I could hear on the other pressings. Just... amazing... music.

The good news is my record collection should shrink by at least 75% in size as I sell off all the old multiple copies!

Adrian

Adrian,

Aja is one of those records that we've played and played and played, well over a hundred copies by now and approaching two hundred. When you play that many you chance upon copies with MINDBLOWING sonics, the kind of sonics that not many audiophiles and/or music lovers ever have the opportunity to hear. Even with as many copies as you had.

So glad to hear you liked the copy we sent you as much as we did! A Hot Stamper pressing of Aja is a THRILL, that's for sure.

Thanks for your letter.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about Aja, a record we have written extensively about.



Got it "Going On"

Tom:

About a year or so ago I had been searching for a really good sounding copy of one of my all time favorite albums by Marvin Gaye, "What's Going On". During a brief telephone conversation I mentioned my search and frustration to find even a decent sounding US pressing after going through about 6-7 copies. They were so bad I thought that this might just be an album that never had a good sounding "stamper".

I will never forget your response. You said "Well I haven't heard all of them yet so I don't know". This was such a perfect statement of your philosophy on the search for "Hot Stampers".

So last week what do I see on your Wednesday night listing of new arrival Hot Stampers but THAT album and listed as a "Super Hot Stamper". So there really was one out there! ....and now I am its proud owner!

I can't express just how great it sounds... as you already know. I appreciate that as you expressed in your review, it seemed like it was hopeless and then...wa la....there it was.

As you also said, it isn't a demo disc but when you put on side 2 "After The Dance" with the lights low, there aren't too many records that can create a mood like that. This is one special record and one very rare copy. WORTH EVERY PENNY!

Thanks Tom

Ed Z

Ed

You are so right about every record not being a demo disc but still being able to create a mood. If you play enough copies of an album such as this it's not that hard to tell the ones that are basically "right" from the ones that aren't. So many audiophile records sound "funny" in some way, but old records almost never do. Bad, sure, plenty of those out there. But when you get relatively good transparency, real highs and bass, correct tonality, and presence in the midrange, that's 90% of the battle.

It's also true that some titles manage to resist all our efforts at finding better pressings and just plain don't sound as good as we want them to. Fortunately, enough do so that new titles are coming to the site every month, and someday we hope to do more Marvin Gaye. His music is so good!

Thanks for your letter.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about I Want You.



Just when I don't think it can get better a 3+ copy shows me how wrong I am.

Todd,

The Van Morrison blew me away. The difference between a 1 [Hot Stamper A+] or 2 [Super Hot Stamper A++] and the WHS 3 [White Hot Stamper A+++] is staggering. I have consistently been amazed at the improvement with the 3+ copies. Just when I don't think it can get better a 3+ copy shows me how wrong I am.

My listening is improving as well, or more accurately I'm getting spoiled.

Mike

Mike,

As one of our customers who is actively "upgrading" his collection of Hot Stampers as suitable candidates come along, you are in the unusual and enviable position of actually getting to do your own comparisons among the various grades of copies -- Hot, Super and White -- we've sent you. The Three Plus copies are indeed pretty amazing; we're often shocked at just how good some of those records sound, especially considering how lacking the average copy is.

Add to that all the changes we've made to the stereo since the last shootout and suddenly the A+ copies from last year are sounding like A++ copies now. The Triple Plus copies get better too, but there's no grade higher to go to, so we just lower the grades of everything else we played until it forms a nice classic bell curve distribution. Grading on the curve so to speak.

Those Triple Plus copies are indeed very special. We don't find as many as we would like, which means the prices can often be dear, but when you critically evaluate as many records a week as we do, over a hundred these days, you always find some. This link takes you to the White Hot Stampers In Stock.

Thanks for your letter. Glad you are enjoying your Hottest of the Hot Stampers.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about Saint Dominic’s Preview.



Better Records' Amazing Show -- Great Jobs!

Hello Tom, Todd, Fred and all at BR,

I want to say a big THANK YOU for the Hot Stampers you sent to me. Wish You Were Here is maybe the best sounding record I’ve ever heard (as you know I have a lot of hot stampers). I’m so amazed and lucky – I can’t describe it. The copy sounds out of this world with soooo well-defined bass, stunning clarity, warmth and richness, immediacy, astonishing transparency… It murders my old copy. Another Passenger and Honky Chateau are also Demo Discs of the highest order.

Great jobs!
Take care,
Erik

Erik,

We were just as amazed as you were, and we feel lucky to have had the opportunity to play such a wonderful sounding pressing. It's a FLUKE when a record sounds that good. Which is good in a way; if more copies sounded like that we'd be out of business!

And of course two of our favorite records here at Better Records are Another Passenger and Honky Chateau, especially the latter. It's shocking that no one talks about how well-recorded the album is. (Ken Scott don't you know.) Is it because no audiophile label has seen fit to reissue it? (Maybe the tapes are lost. The CDs I've played are uniformly awful.)

Thanks for your letter.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about Wish You Were Here;

and Honky Chateau which was engineered by the amazing Ken Scott, the man behind classics such as Ziggy Stardust., Tumbleweed Connection, Crime of the Century, A Salty Dog, Magical Mystery Tour, America's first album and too many more to list.



Step up to some new stuff please!?

Please, for the love of all things pure and holy, can you get some records from the last 3 decades? America? Dan Folgerberg? Billy Joel? Steely Dan?

Ever hear of My Morning Jacket, Radiohead, REM, Pavement, The Pixies? You guys have a great rep, but I already had 90% of the vinyl you sell ....about 27 years ago.

Step up to some new stuff please!?

Thanks,
Bill K.

Bill,

Thanks for your letter. A few thoughts:

If you're looking for stock copies, ebay is probably the best place to go for this kind of music. If you are looking for Hot Stampers, the problems are two:

One, these records are not easy to find, or cheap when you do find them. I almost never see anything by these artists (outside of REM) in my local stores, which is where 90+% of our records come from. We need at least five copies of any title to do a shootout, ten is even better, and five or ten copies of most of these artists' albums would take many years to find and cost many times what we might pay for a dozen copies of Aja or The Stranger.

Two, and much more importantly, I am not aware that these records have much sonic potential. The REM and Radiohead albums I've played were heavily processed and digital sounding. We do the music you already have partly because it's well recorded. Our Top 100 is all from the '60s and '70s for a reason: that's when recording technology was at its peak. It's all downhill from there, for mainstream artists anyway.

Like any well run business, we want to serve our customers, which means we go where the money is. If there were a demand for these artists' albums and we could supply it, believe me, we would love to.

Like you, everybody bought their America and Steely Dan albums years ago. What our customers have discovered is that they didn't buy very good copies of those albums. We came along with our Hot Stampers and showed audiophiles around the world just how good records by these artists could sound. I doubt that we could really do that with Radiohead no matter how many copies we cleaned and played.

Good sound has to be on the tape to start with; our job is to then find pressings that convey the good sound of the tape. We can't fix a bad tape. There's plenty of great jazz from the '40s, but the sound leaves a lot to be desired so we almost never do shootouts for that music. Same problem, different decade.

Wish we could help but don't think it's very likely at this point, sorry.

Thanks for your letter.
TP

P.S. Click on this link to read more about our Rock and Pop Top 100.



The energy, the bass, the clarity was all there. I still can't get over it.

Hi Todd,

Hope you don't mind me E-mailing you with comments on my recent purchase of Dreamboat Annie but I'm busting to tell somebody.

Now for the comments. I am stunned. I had one " run of the mill" copy and one of the Nautilus albums which I thought was pretty good. It's good if you never hear a Hot Stamper. The Hot Stamper just blew them both away. I read the description of the HS on your site and every word was spot on. The energy, the bass, the clarity was all there. I still can't get over it. Near the end of Magic Man the synthesizer goes down to a very low octave and just drags you with it and keeps you there. It's amazing.

It's hard to understand why these people on the audio forums mock and degrade you guys. I guess they are afraid to spend a little money and see what a hot stamper sounds like. I have a feeling even if they knew how good the HS was they still would not buy one simply because it's more money than they are willing to part with. So to justify not buying one they put the hot stamper down. It's just my opinion. They sure don't know what they're missing. Only bad thing about you guys is once you hear how good a record can sound the rest of your collection kind of takes a back seat to the hs. Oh well, I can't stop now.

Thanks for a super record. Talk to you again.

Steve E.

Steve,

We think your take on the Forum Mockers and Degraders is pretty much spot on. (Let me take a moment to give thanks to those of you who supported us on the forums against the forces of darkness.) If you have some time to kill this link to threads on Audiokarma and Audio Asylum are highly recommended if you want to get a better idea of what passes for audio in the internet world. These posts are often wonderfully entertaining as well.

Thanks for your letter.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about Dreamboat Annie.

Steve also wrote us the letter below.



I didn't have to listen to my other copies. I knew right away this one was IT.

Hi Todd,

Got the Meddle album already. I sat down as soon as I opened it and listened to both sides with the volume up. Absolutely blew me away. I heard things on there that I never heard before. Or I just heard them better. I didn't have to listen to my other copies. I knew right away this one was IT.

Side one was supposed to be the best side but when I heard that driving beat on side 2 about an inch in from the start I was really hooked. I can't pick which side is best. I even liked that dog howling on Seamus. I don't know why they put that on the album. Just for your own knowledge my worst copy was a domestic Capitol and my best was an import from GB SHVL795 like the Hot stamper. Interesting.

Listening to a record like this just gets me thinking what the other hot stampers sound like. I was tempted to get one of those Dreamboat Annie albums. I have the Nautilus album that is stunning. I'll bet the Hot stamper is just awesome. [Yes it is. See Steve's letter above.]

You guys made my day. Great album. I will treasure it. Thanks Todd and All,

Steve

Steve,

Meddle blows us away too, pretty much every time we do the shootout for it. Your copy being from Britain and having the same catalog number as the copy we sent you, the copy that beat the pants off yours, points out something about record collecting that we think bears repeating: those things don't matter. It's not about the country of production and it's not about the catalog number on the jacket and label. It's about the sound of the specific record sitting on your turntable and nothing else. All the British green label Harvest copies look pretty much the same, but they sure don't sound the same, a reality to which your letter bears honest witness.

And you are so right about the domestic copies of Meddle. Not good. Thanks for your letter.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about Meddle.



"You've provided me with a life experience, worth every penny and more."

Hi Todd

The MIB's are everything you guys said they were. I put them on my Scout, went straight for the recording that had been giving me fits and voila' ---perfection (the recording, by the way, was Abbado's Lt. Kije, which I think you sell--it has been one of my reference recordings for 10 years, and I was gratified to see that you think highly of it also)! I then put "Paradise and Lunch" (Cooder) on and the previously spotty and smeary bass tightened right up. I played Dusty's "The Look of Love" (from Casino Royale) for my wife and she was enthusiastic about the difference--Dusty's voice was immediately more intimate and warm, just as it should be on that recording.

Third, a little tip that might help others thinking of putting the MIB's on a Scout. I needed 5/8" of shim to get everything right once I removed the tip-toes, and I didn't want something that looked half-assed. I went to a hobby store that specializes in those little pewter military figures that retired VFW types (and 40 year old virgins) like to paint and found nice little oak display stands (3" x 3" x 5/8") that had chamfered sides (they had them in cherry too). They worked perfectly and provided a nifty aesthetic also.

Freaked Out about "Freak Out":

Who could imagine that I would freak out in Indianapolis? It was a real roll of the dice to pony up the $125 for a Hot Stamper of "Freak Out"--this is a notoriously poor sounding record, and I've had 3 cracks at it already. However, it is also one of the 50 most important records of all time -- its influence in 1966 on the burgeoning idea that pop music could be treated as an art form, and specifically its influence on pretty much every mover and shaker in music at the time, belies its technical shortcomings. If there was ever a case study in everything you folks profess to be about it is this record.

Wow. For the first time ever, and I've had this record for almost 30 years, I felt like I could actually hear Zappa's musical vision for this project. I had no idea it was even possible for this album to sound even remotely this good. All of the percussion, the intricate orchestral arrangements, the imposingly powerful bass on "Who Are the Brain Police," it's all there like I'd never heard it before!

"How Could I be Such a Fool?" is astonishingly beautiful (indicating that Zappa's dismissive liner notes were perhaps a reflection of his insecurity). There was so much care taken on this album, and I feel like I may be one of a handful of people in the world who's really heard it. You've provided me with a life experience, worth every penny and more. Now do "Absolutely Free!"

Thanks so much,

Stephen F.

Stephen,

Thanks for the tip about the Aurios, and glad to know you like the Abbado performance as much as we do. I've been playing that record for twenty years and with every advance in my system it shows itself to be an even better recording than I thought it was.

Freak Out is an interesting situation. The original pressings, at least what we think are the original pressings, were by far the worst sounding of the lot! So much for that old canard Original Is Better. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.

We would love to do Absolutely Free again. I played that record scores of times with my Zappa and Beefheart crazed friends in high school, mostly under the influence of one controlled substance or another, but fortunately for all of us it holds up just fine when you're sober as well. This is not an easy record to find lots of clean copies of, and the prices are getting out of hand as you can imagine. (Like we should talk.)

Anyway, hope to do it one day. Thanks for your letter.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about Aurios and Freak Out.



...the overall sound is like as if I have upgraded my entire system

Hi Tom,

I just wanted to thank you and Todd for helping me own my first "White Hot Stamper." I have had two copies of After the Gold Rush and none of them comes close to my WHS copy. I'm perfectly happy owning hot stampers and a few super hot stampers, but this WHS is really different. To begin with, it is a quiet copy that allows you to hear and almost feel the texture of the instruments. It also has lots of energy, tight bass, big sound stage, and most of all a silky top end.

To get the optimum sound, I decided to re-calibrate my tonearm before playing the album. I checked the arm/cart overhang, tracking force, VTA, azimuth, including anti-skate and turntable speed . In addition, I used my TTweights package of copper/carbon fiber mat, copper hold down ring and aluminum clamp. Thanks for testing the combinations and for coming up with this package. Honestly, it doesn't only improve the sound but it is also gorgeous.

Without exaggeration, the overall sound is like as if I have upgraded my entire system.

My biggest challenge now is, with few exceptions, all my favorite non-hot stamper albums need upgrading too. But with you guys around, I just have to wait till my favorite albums show up on your Hot Stampers list.

Best Regards,

Gerardo

Gerardo

White Hot Stamper pressings can indeed be "game changing" in audio, making other records sound awfully flat in comparison, even very good records such as those you had previously bought from us. And now with all your new TTWeights turntable upgrades and the effort you put into recalibrating your system, everything you play is going to sound better.

This is the two-pronged approach that's worked for us and the one we recommend: improve your stereo so that all your records sound better, and find better sounding pressings so that individual albums can sound their best. There are at least a dozen letters and commentaries below to that effect. It works. Just ask Gerardo.

Thanks for your letter. More of your favorite albums with Hot Stampers are on their way.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on this link to read more about After the Gold Rush.



The records are so good I cannot concentrate on anything else while they are playing...

Tom:

In the fall of 2007 I ordered my first hot stamper from you, Please Please Me. Since then I have bought several more hot stampers from you, and occasionally you or Todd have written me asking how I like them. I have always replied saying I haven't listened to them yet, because I'm waiting to buy a good enough turntable to do them justice.

Good news: I now have a very good turntable. Even better news: I have now listened to the first few hot stampers, and the combination of my new turntable and your hot stampers is heavenly. The records are so good I cannot concentrate on anything else while they are playing, I just have to listen, and I want them to go on for ever. The detail and clarity are breathtaking and it's difficult to believe the sound can be really that good, but it is. It's like the musicians are there in the room, it's amazing. For example, Please Please Me and McCartney's Unplugged are stunning, but in truth all the ones I've listened to so far are stunning. I'm really looking forward to listening to the rest.

Please keep on finding those hot stampers.

Best regards,

Rich F.

Rich,

We're frankly both humbled and flattered that you would put so much faith in us over these many years, buying records -- expensive records no less, claimed to have exceptional sound quality -- you could not play, until now of course. It seems they sound as good as we said they would. Maybe BETTER even! This is indeed good news. The skeptics have been proven wrong once again.

Some accuse us of hype, of getting so worked up about the sound of our Hot Stampers that we end up making claims for them they cannot possibly live up to. Now that you have a good turntable you know just how good these Hot Stampers sound. What we say about them is of little import. The records themselves are surely proof, the only proof worth seeking, of the reality of Hot Stampers. Your enjoyment is a vindication of our approach.

Furthermore, unlike audiophile records, the better your playback system gets as you continue winding your way down the audio road, the better our records will sound. Audiophile records show up their flaws and hi-fi-ishness as your stereo improves. Our records show off their MAGNIFICENCE as your stereo improves. That is the Better Records difference in a nutshell.

Thanks for your letter.
TP

P.S. Those of you who are interested can click on these links to read more about Please Please Me and Unplugged.


See our previous Customer Testimonials page, featuring tons of great letters. w01-02-04