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Dopey Record Theories Part 2

Putting More Bad Ideas to the Test

  (Item #: book_2) 

A well-known audiophile expert once wrote the following, which I quote:

But just because you find a “360 Sound” label doesn't mean you have an “original” pressing. -1A is an original. Then -1B, etc. Past a certain number it goes to -1AA, etc. There's great variability to the sound of these different pressings with -1A being best, of course.

Of course!
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After You've Played 100 Copies of the Album...

What's Left to Learn?

  (Item #: wrong_1410) 

A common misconception of many of those visiting the site for the first time is that we think we know it all.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We definitely don't know it all. We learn something new about records with practically every shootout.

Case in point: the record you do not see pictured to the left. (The record we recently learned something new about -- this, after having played scores and scores of copies over the years -- will remain a secret for the time being. At least until we find another one.)

More from our Thinking About Hot Stampers series

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Don’t Kid Yourself

Records Are Not That Kind of Investment

  (Item #: money_2014) 

We get letters from time to time chiding us for charging what seems like rather large amounts of money for records that admittedly do not have much in the way of Collector Value, the implication being that collectible records are of course worth the prices they command in the marketplace. Hot Stampers, however, somehow are different. They tell us that our Hot Stampers can't possibly be worth the outrageously high prices we're asking.

It is our opinion that the writers of these letters have made a rather glaringly erroneous assumption: That the records we sell are not subject to the same market forces as other records are.

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The Music of Leonard Bernstein

Hot Stampers Revealed

  (Item #: bernsmusic_stampers) 

Looking to pick up a Hot Stamper locally on your own? Easy -- all the best Decca and London copies (UK pressed only of course) are 1L on both sides. I suppose it's only fair to point out that all the worst copies are 1L on both sides, the reason being that all the copies are 1L on both sides, regardless of how they sound. And here you thought we were actually trying to be helpful.

But we are being helpful. We're being honest with you. Stamper numbers are often misleading. They're misleading in the same way that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. The numbers only tell a part of the story, and more often than not they tell the wrong part of the story.

More from our Thinking About Hot Stampers series

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Building a Top Quality Record Collection

Step One

  (Item #: collecting_step_one) 

Get Good Sound, Then Good Records.

Until you get your stereo, room and ears working, collecting good sounding records is all but impossible. You will very likely waste a fortune on "collectible records", the kind with Collector Value and very little else. These are in fact the very opposite of Hot Stampers: All their value is tied up in their Music and Sound -- which is where we think it should be.

It's easy to be a collector; you just collect stuff. To get your stereo and room to sound good, and to know the difference when they do, that is very, very hard. I've been at it for thirty-five years and I still work at it and try to learn new things every day. I know there's a long way to go.

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A Word or Two About Vintage Pressings

  (Item #: vintage) 

For those of you who have tried '50s Capitol pressings in the past -- such as those by Frank Sinatra perhaps? -- you know that finding clean copies with audiophile sonics and quiet surfaces is almost impossible.

There are three major hurdles that any pressing from the era has had to overcome over the course of the last fifty or so years, each of which is discussed below.

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The Beatles' Sgt. Peppers on LP

Practical Advice on What Pressings to Avoid

  (Item #: beatlsgtpe_rules) 

Chris, our erstwhile customer, sent us a letter a while back describing his search for a good sounding Sgt. Pepper.

The first thing that comes to mind when reading his letter is that many record collecting rules were broken in going about his search the way he did. But then I thought, What rules? Whose rules? Where exactly does one find these rules? If one wants to avoid breaking them they need to be written down someplace, don’t they?

See all of our Beatles albums in stock

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Building a Serious Record Collection

Hot Stampers Versus Collector Pressings

  (Item #: record_collecting) 

This commentary discusses why collecting as it is commonly understood by record collectors is not something I have much interest in these days, and never really did from the start. And it's certainly not an endeavor we recommend to our customers, "as it is commonly understood" being the operative phrase that's the key to our point.
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Compromised Versus Purist Recordings

If It's About the Music, the Choice Is Clear

  (Item #: doobicapta_vs_dd) 

A while back one of our good customers wrote to tell us how much he liked his Century Direct to Disc recording of the Glenn Miller big band, one of the few really amazing sounding direct discs that contains music actually worth listening to. Which brought me to the subject of Hot Stampers.

Hot Stamper pressings are almost always going to be studio multi-track recordings, not live Direct to Discs. They will invariably suffer many compromises compared to the purist approach of an audiophile label trying to eliminate sources of distortion in the pursuit of the highest fidelity.

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Making Audio Progress

Step One: Weed Out the Heavy Vinyl

  (Item #: weeding) 

In his latest letter Dan tells us of his disappointment with the new reissues he's been trying:

... And thanks again for that amazing "Who's Next" record. It was startling to hear the difference between that and the Classic - and that was one of the better modern audiophile records!

I can't tell you how many modern reissues I've bought over the past couple months that have lost, and lost badly, to just my one single original or early pressing of an album. Reissues by AC/DC, The Who, ZZ Top, The Rolling Stones, and Patti Smith have all failed miserably against my merely average sounding originals.

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Free - Fire and Water

on a Mythical Pink Island

  (Item #: free_firea_myth) 

Free’s Third Album on the Original British Island Pink Label — Wow!

Found one at a local record store a while back. It was the first one I’d ever seen in nice enough condition to buy. Checking the dead wax was a bit of a shock though. Guess where it was mastered. Right here in the good old U S of A. In fact, at one of the worst mastering houses of all time: Bell Sound in New York.

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Better Records’
Record Collecting Axioms

  (Item #: axiom) 

In an old commentary for a shootout we did for Carole King’s Tapestry album we took shots at both the CBS Half-Speed Mastered Audiophile pressing and the Classic Heavy Vinyl Audiophile pressing, noting that both fell far short of the standard set by the Hot Stamper copies we'd discovered. This finding (and scores of others just like it) prompted us to promulgate the following axiom of audiophile record collecting, which we are calling...
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1A, or Is 1B Better?

Your Guess Is As Good As Mine

  (Item #: simonparsl_fremer) 

Before we go any further, I have a question: Why are we guessing?

I received an email recently from a customer who had gone to great pains to do his own shootout for a record; in the end he came up short, with not a lot to show for his time and effort. It had this bit tucked in toward the end:

Some of [Better Records'] Hot Stampers are very dear in price and most often due to the fact that there are so few copies in near mint condition. I hate to think of all the great Hot Stampers that have ended up in piles on the floor night after night with beer, Coke, and seeds being ground into them.

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Audiophilia 101

What Kind of Audio Fool Was I?

  (Item #: audiophile101) 

Today’s audiophile seems to be making the same mistakes I was making as a budding audiophile more than thirty years ago. Heavy Viny, the 45 RPM 2 LP pressing, the Half-Speed Limited Edition -- aren’t these all just the latest audiophile fads, each with a track record progressively more dismal than the next?
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Building a Store of Knowledge

One Record at a Time

  (Item #: knowledge) 

We recently ran across the commentary below in a reply to a Hot Stamper testimonial for Honky Cat. Based on our own experience, we give a quick and dirty primer on how one can build up one’s knowledge of records, stampers, labels, pressing variations and the like.

We don’t really give out much in the way of specific information about any of those things; we just tell you how it can be done. It’s your job to go out and do it. It's simple; just follow our lead. How tough can it be?

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