Better Records White Hot Stampers: Now the Story Can Be Told!


Just got shipping notification, so now the story can be told!

  Better-Records.com is a small, incredibly valuable yet little known company run out of Thousand Oaks, CA by Tom Port. The business started out many years ago when Tom Port noticed no two records sound quite the same. Evidently Tom is a sound quality fanatic on a scale maybe even higher than mine, and he started getting together with some of his audio buds doing shoot-outs in a friendly competition to see who has the best sounding copy.   

Over time this evolved into Better-Records.com, where the best of the best of these shoot-outs can be bought by regular guys like me who live for the sound, but just don't have the time or the drive to go through all the work of finding these rare gems.

The difference in quality between your average pressing and a White Hot Stamper is truly incredible. If you don't have the system or the ears of course you may never notice. If you do though then nothing else comes even close.   

Tom will say things like only one in twenty copies is Hot Stamper worthy. This doesn't even come close to conveying the magnitude. Last night for example, wife and I were listening to our White Hot Stamper of Tchaikovsky 1812. Then we played another White Hot Tchaikovsky. Then we played the Tchaikovsky tracks from my copy of Clair deLune.  

Without hearing a White Hot you would think Clair de Lune is about as good as it gets. After two sides of Tom's wonders it was flat, dull, mid-fi. Not even in the same ball park. And yet this is quite honestly a very good record. How many of these he has to clean, play, and compare to find the rare few magical sounding copies, I don't even know!  

Copies of Hot Stamper quality being so hard to find means of course they are not always available. This is not like going to the record store. There are not 50 copies of Year of the Cat just sitting around. Most of the time there are no copies at all. When there are, they get snapped up fast. Especially the popular titles. Fleetwood Mac Rumours, Tom Petty Southern Accents, whole bunch of em like this get sold pretty fast even in spite of the astronomically outrageous prices they command. Then again, since people pay - and fast - maybe not so outrageous after all.   

So I spent months looking, hoping for Year of the Cat to show up. When it did, YES! Click on it and.... Sorry, this copy is SOLD! What the...? It was only up a day! If that!  

Well now this puts me in a bit of a spot. Because, see, besides loving music and being obsessed with sound quality, I'm also enthusiastic about sharing this with others. With most things, no problem. Eric makes an endless supply of Tekton Moabs. Talking up Tekton or Townshend or whatever has no effect on my ability to get mine. With Better-records.com however the supply is so limited the last thing I need is more competition. Bit of a bind.   

Even so, can't keep my big mouth shut. Been telling everyone how great these are. One day someone buys one based on my recommendation, Tom finds out, next thing you know I'm a Good Customer. What does that mean? Well is there anything you're looking for? Year of the Cat. That's a hard one. Tell me about it. Might take a while. Take all the time you need. Just get me one. Please. Okay.  

That was months ago. Other day, hey we're doing a shoot-out. No guarantees but should be able to find you one. So for the last few days I was all Are we there yet? Are we there yet? And now finally, like I said, shipped!  

So now I have my Grail, and the story can be told. Got a nice little collection of Hot Stampers, and will be adding more, but this for me is The One. Might not be for you, but that is the beauty of it all. Many of us have that one special record we love. If you do too, and you want to hear it like listening to the master tape, this is the way to go.
5c19db42 db1e 4039 96f2 9d2ae7c37947millercarbon

Showing 50 responses by glupson

For starters, it is not a poster.

I assumed it was a price tag. Like millercarbon's record that still had price tag from Sam Goody.
"Don't forget to thoroughly clean the copies you already have, to put them on a level playing field."


Houston, we have a problem.

Not much in a way of cleaning machines/equipment. Luckily, my two copies are visually good, one looks near mint although not as good as this new one. As millercarbon mentioned, I thought mine looked like new, but this one looks newer.

I will have to pretend that we are comparing real life situations. Decently-maintained random copies with White Hot Stamper. Scenario that would be applicable to most. I will pretend that none of you have fancy cleaning equipment.
skypunk,

"Carbon discs are CD,s you know in that horrible digital domain."

Not to go into bigger discussion, but you may want to brush up on chemistry as it applies to the manufacturing process of carbon discs (records). Pay special attention to molecular structure of polyvinyl chloride.

Only the facts Mam.
millercarbon would never buy $1.99 White Hot Stamper from Goodwill. He only appreciates $2.99 White Hot Stampers from Sam Goody.
"Send a "WHITE HOT STAMPER" to the milliercarbon-gratis."

With a nice thank you note.
Someone came back and posted that they bought one based on my review............ Tom saw that and said, "Anything I can do for you?" So I said, can you find me.....

Feel free to remind him that someone (me, in this case) ordered a record just because the person read your advertisement/thread. Maybe you can get another record of your choice.
tomic601,

I have never seen a mint copy of Some Girls. Every copy I have seen has been played ad nauseam. Including mine.

Having said that, how is the actual recording on a good sample? In my mind, and experience with overused records, it always sounds like, well, overused record that needs replacement.
"You learn something new here everyday."
You mean Picasso vs. Van Gogh? You think he learned?
"I think that GK is out there somewhere having a belly laugh ."

At least, geoffkait did not snoop on me.

It may seem innocent, but it is seriously concerning if someone from an audio forum can go checking your purchases. Not to start with, hopefully silly, motifs behind such an activity.

I am just hoping it is yet another one of millercarbon's fabricated stories of importance.
Isn't The Night Cafe also Van Gogh?

How did Picasso get dragged into all of this?
"Do you print money, anyway ?"

I paid with credit card.
I think I bought three new records in 2019 with another two new ones in 2020. In 2021, one more new one although that one was because of this thread and from Better Records so I am not sure it would qualify for the statistics above.

How many new records have you guys bought over the last two years?
"Things like the importance of warming up and demagnetizing."

Cartridge? Record? Amplifier?
I found what better-records.com has to say about demagnetizing.

"It's critically important to demagnetize your speakers and cables at least ten minutes before listening."

What is that all about? Aren't speakers supposed to function on magnetism, some of them at least? What material are those cables made of? How does their magnetism work?

"...it shows once again ingenuity and quality wins in the end."

Does Tom know Eric?
"Often I have to resort to other means like drag and drop to get things autotagged"

This may be the world's first opportunity to use the word "semi-autotagged".

I did not even know that such a program exists so I always write all the metadata in by myself (Korg Audiogate and Mp3tag).
"I play records only once these days.......to convert to digital for future playback while I listen."

I used to do that and then I read somewhere, probably on Audiogon, that I should play it two times. First pass to remove whatever minuscle debris is left from stamping, then clean the stylus, and only then play the record for posterity. Not that I can hear the difference, but it makes me feel knowledgeable. Finally.
"Or Nilsson Schmilsson, Coconut, holy crap!"
Coconut, Better Version, in digital...

The Muppet Show: Put the Lime in the Coconut - YouTube
"Digitizing vinyl? Ugh...it defeats the whole purpose of buying vinyl."

Many (most) people are not buying vinyl anymore. They are digitizing collections that they already have, often only records that are not commercially available in digital format. They want them digitized for all of the conveniences that mapman has mentioned. It is nice to have your whole collection of music on one little SD card in the car. If you listen to the music in the car, that is. Take it all with you on the plane, while jogging, leave a copy at work. And sound difference is much less than one would be led to believe.
"On side two, a group of marks make 20 moderate to light pops on Track 1"

This is probably what "with issues" designation means on "mint minus minus" record. Understanding that these records are hard to find as it is, how many are not bothered by knowing the record will come with pops? The one I referred to is $99.99 and may be forgiven by most.

At the same time, $649.99 will buy you...

  • On side two, a light mark makes 10 moderately light intermittent pops, followed by 5 light ticks at the end of Track 1, Have a Cigar.

It has been a long time since whenever it was made so some blemishes are understandable, another copy is not just around the corner so this may be as good as it gets. $40 per pop and tick, though.
"Of course I would keep her around for the company- and thanks a lot for that! But I would listen to the record."
And this would be the record...

Warnes, Jennifer - Famous Blue Raincoat - White Hot Stamper (Quiet Vin – Better Records (better-records.com)

Credit card out and the post becomes a reality. "You’ll have a living, breathing Jennifer Warnes singing her heart out right between your speakers."

Still, Better-records’ description may be slightly misleading...

"What the Best Sides of Famous Blue Raincoat Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear...

  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes even as late as 1986"
Except that for this particular album "Tubey Magic that was on the tapes" was really " Tubey Magic that was on the digital tapes". At least that is what the rumor is.

millercarbon, if you do not already have it, try this one, actually these three, they are quite good...

Jennifer Warnes - Famous Blue Raincoat (The Songs Of Leonard Cohen): 3xLP, Ltd, Num, RE, RM For Sale | Discogs

Back to sound quality of Better Records records.

Could it be that superiority of Better Records compared to what one already owns is due to the comparison difficulties?

From what I understand, Better Records records are virtually new. Barely played, if at all. How many will compare such a record at home with an unplayed record from a different retailer source? Could it be that Better Records records really do sound significantly better than what one is used to at home due to, in part at least, that record at home being old and physically damaged to some extent over the years?
"Don't know. Not like I keep a list or anything. Going from memory..."

That is about twenty. At a going rate of $350 a record (not adjusting for double albums) it is around $7000. Which is respectable sum for a few fews of records. In fact, it is almost as much as stock Tekton Moabs and Raven Blackhawk together.

So, surprise, millercarbon is an audiophile music lover after all. He does put more into records than into his equipment. Hats off.
skypunk,

I am actually familiar with DB.
skypunk.

"Many (most) people are not buying vinyl anymore. They are digitizing collections .

@gulpson you could not be more wrong. In 2020 vinyl out sold carbon discs. CD plants are being closed....."

I am just guessing, but that guess would be that vinyl records are a subtype of carbon discs.

Check with people on the street, ask how many are buying records. Even in "audophile" world records are probably not as strong as streaming and other digital formats.




I go to Goodwill and buy real Cool Black Stampers there. It is mostly classical music that I find perfectly preserved. Some are in unopened shrinkwrap.
skypunk,

Thanks for the links, I am glad I inspired you to learn something. Now dig deeper into chemistry and the secret behind "carbon discs" will reveal itself to you.
skypunk,

Check with people on the street, ask how many are buying records. Even in "audophile" world records are probably not as strong as streaming and other digital formats.

LOL very scientific your marketing analytics are...not.

I did check your (sort of) reliable marketing analytics reference and I do have to agree with it. Try with the second paragraph.

"Most of us are streaming our music instead of buying it outright."

Record Roundup Volume 6: Vinyl Outsells CDs For The First Time Since The 1980s (forbes.com)
Success! Advertisement worked and I just ordered one White Hot Stamper, apparently without issues. I wonder how it will compare to a memory of the same record.
"... there is no way that I could convince myself to pay $300 -$500 for a record, no matter how good it sounds."

It is a bit steep, but if the record is what you really like, well, you only live once. I once wanted a Procol Harum record in mint condition together with a limited bonus single. I bought it without actually looking at the price. I think it was about $200-300. It ended up being new, still sealed, and it got digitized at its second spin and it has not been touched since then. After fifteenish years of intermittently wanting it and realizing that the bonus single was limited to 1000 copies, any price would have been diluted.

It was an interesting read, indeed, so who wouldn't have gotten interested?

Listening #9 | Stereophile.com
Starry Night is Van Gogh.
"...devote 3 to 5 hours a day posting millercarbonesque level commentary and see where that takes you."

Please don't. Such places are running out of capacity.
"Tom said get ready to be slashed to death. Then said pleasantly surprised it hasn't degenerated quite as fast or as much as usual."

You could have skipped this part. It is not a great PR.
bluemoodriver,

"This is a great business model."

Seems like it. From the buyer's perspective, though, it is a one-stop deal. No need to waste time and effort.

Marketing approach is another interesting piece of the puzzle. To start, you gain perceived legitimity by having your own website as opposed to Discogs or eBay. Sell expensive ones on your website and the rest on Discogs, or wherever else. Nothing wrong with that. It does not seem there is a bad record sold on better-records.com. Where do losers from shoot-outs go?
Look, when the entire human race was sending the first Voyager spacecraft.........and we wanted to communicate, how did we do it? Put a record on it. Because Carl Sagan knew it would not degrade, and anyone anywhere could play it. Cool as cool can be.

It would have been quite unexpected to put FLAC files on it in 1977. Or a CD, for that matter.

"Carl Sagan knew it would not degrade, and anyone anywhere could play it."

Carl Sagan must have been hopeful that Martians’ would adjust VTA properly.

Even if all of that were true, it seems that Carl Sagan did not believe in non-degradable record technology Mike Lavigne, millercarbon, me, or anyone else, have at home...

"The record is constructed of gold-plated copper and is 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. The record’s cover is aluminum and electroplated upon it is an ultra-pure sample of the isotope uranium-238. Uranium-238 has a half-life of 4.468 billion years."

Voyager - Making of the Golden Record (nasa.gov)

There are some instructions on the cover, and it does seem that the turntable is included...

Voyager - The Golden Record Cover (nasa.gov)

"Each record is encased in a protective aluminum jacket, together with a cartridge and a needle. Instructions, in symbolic language, explain the origin of the spacecraft and indicate how the record is to be played. The 115 images are encoded in analog form."

"The remainder of the record is in audio, designed to be played at 16-2/3 revolutions per minute."
"Well, here is the golden opportunity for analog lovers to further enrich their collection"

Huh, that would take a lots of time to digitize.

Back from romance to records.

I am waiting for my White Hot Stamper to arrive. So far, order has been confirmed and credit card charged. Hopefully, it will ship soon.
millercarbon,

My stories always check out  Boy, would I have surprising stories for you. You would happily make them your own and then some.

More of a concern is how you were able to check my story about buying it beyond what I wrote here. I will give it benefit of the doubt, with a capital Doubt, that none of my information has been shared by better-records.com. Still, it is very concerning if you could have, in any way, checked the details of my purchase. In fact, it would border with criminal activity.

I will report about the record the way I will hear it. If it is great, you will read it. If it is less so, you will read it. The benefit of my report should be that I have no vested interest in promoting Better Records. I had not heard of it before this thread. I have no love and admiration for it, nor do I have any reason to be against it. Prices are steep, but nobody is holding a gun to anyone's head.
"...so are as a matter of fact blathering pure ad copy and amply embellished imaginings."

Isn’t that what the premise of this thread, its original post, is all about?

"That is the whole point of the thread."

I have a feeling that those discussing, rather than religiously promoting, circumstances around Better Records records are trying...

"To let people know and make them aware the ad copy is just that: ad copy!"

 "Of course I have never heard one and so have no idea what I am talking about BUT.." and then continue on with your uninformed opinion piece.


Wrong thread. That must have been meant for the OP of Tekton Moab thread.



Cable thread. We will all migrate.
Does Better Records source their candidates from different geographical areas, or it is only/mostly U.S.A. oriented?

I have records from a number of different countries and I, and not only I, overall found German-made ones (regardless of if bought in Germany vs. Austria) better than their Italian counterparts. So I still look for German ones. I did buy a few of the same records from the same era, but made in U.S.A. and I, again very subjectively, found them to be inferior to German "stampers". Maybe some International Tom could elaborate on my observations. Maybe a regular German pressing is equivalent to U.S.A. White Hot Stamper? In which case, I just wasted money. Well, we will hear...
I bought The Rolling Stones Emotional Rescue. I was considering Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here, too, but it says it has pops and clicks so it defeats the purpose, I think. Had it been without it, I would have bought that one, too.

I am very familiar with Emotional Rescue, I already have two different ones from different countries and neither is from the U.S.A. so it comes in handy that better-records.com had it available. CD is, actually, not that great (whatever it was, the first German release on CD).

Despite arguments about The Rolling Stones recordings quality, I am wondering about comparison with those records that I have, not with some better recordings. I did not buy it to indulge in it, I doubt I will listen to it much after the trial. I bought it out of curiosity.

EDIT: If it is really that great, I will copy it into digital and abandon the CD rip.
"Remember that guy you hooked me up with?"

?????


"Just trying to set some people straight."

Is anybody else confused by this post above?

Seems like a start of a beautiful new thread.
"When Paganini is ready to be recorded I will happily pay $600 for any reasonably good pressing."

Let her know so you can be the first to know, she has connections...

Maria Elena Paganini | Facebook
"Angels on the head of a pin."
The Devil is in the details.
oregonpapa,

"That’s what I look back on with satisfaction knowing that I’ll be leaving this earthly place better off than how I found it. :-)"

If you have been collecting records for 70 years, you were likely born when Earth was an unpleasant mess. Major wars, economic crises, something must have been around during those times.
"And to this day, I don't know how I made it out of high school,."

Statute of limitations has likely expired by now.
Just got shipping notification, so now the story can be told!

Ok, it cannot be told yet. I cannot sing accolades, much less start a thread, about the quality of something I have never laid my eyes or ears on.

I expect that millercarbon will inform me when my record arrives.