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

Just got shipping notification, so now the story can be told! 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, 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 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.
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Showing 18 responses by mapman

Who’d a thunk this would ever have such a happy ending? It’s a new day dawning!
Personally, I have yet to shell out $30 bucks for any new vinyl release. So I’m not likely to shell out even more for an old one. But that is just me. I wish all my records could be magically and instantly converted to CD res FLAC and streamed. I’d still keep the records but perhaps never play one again.

Does that make me a bad audiophile?
Thanks Glupson for that nice, detailed, balanced review.

That is about as close as I’ve ever heard Glupson gush about anything hifi! So that record must have been totally awesome!

HE even cleaned the old copies for God’s sake. Well done!

Seriously though, I have ER CD and record. Haven’t spun the record in ages. THE CD is ripped to my library. A favorite track of mine is "She’s So Cold" which frankly sounds great for a recording of its kind and to me is just the Stone’s at their purest rocking/disco-y best! Awesome!

Take note SIr Glupson. This is how to gush on a high end audio site properly! Proper restraint and fairness may get you nowhere.

Also worth noting that mixes can be different on different releases of an album. CD or vinyl. So comparing two copies from two different releases, say one domestic and one foreign, may not necessarily be apples/apples in terms of comparing merely the physical quality of the record as opposed to the mastering that went into the recorded source material.

IS ER available on new vinyl? Probably digitally remastered if so. That versus a "white hot stamper" would be an interesting comparison. I’d wager old geezers would prefer the old copy and young whippersnappers the new one.

Poor man’s very effective manual record cleaning process:

Any good quality record cleaning solution will do but must use distilled water and something along the line of a old fashioned dishwasher brush. 
It’s not going to be a fair comparison between a newly cleaned record in good shape and older ones that have never been cleaned? Maybe a record cleaning machine is a good investment before spending hundreds on another copy of the same record?  

Or it can be done manually quite well with just a few tools and the right process.

Or some may prefer to just replace rather than clean.   Whatever works best. 
How do the grooves look compared to your other copies?
You learn something new here everyday.
You might find "Starry Night" by Picasso at never know...
Yup those + pretty much anything orchestral based made by any major label at the time.

Don’t say you never learned anything valuable on A’gon.....

I have a few CD quality flac files I’ve made of tracks off many now quite obscure  recordings of that time if anyone interested.
Goodwill can be a goldmine for old very high quality recordings from the real golden age of vinyl in the late 50 and early 60 that nobody wants anymore except audiophiles because they were very high quality recordings.

hifi and stereo was a new thing back then.  People cared about the promise of better sound back then in the beginning  so the recording industry did too.   

PS the Goodwill gold mine for "white hot stamper" recordings is OUR little secret......don't tell anyone!!!

Elvis, The Rolling Stones, Elton John and even The Beatles all had some very good recordings.  
Fact is I get a lot more mileage out of my vinyl by digitizing and tagging it in my music library. It’s at my fingertips to play then wherever I go. Anywhere in the house or outside, in the car via CarPlay via Plexamp streamer or away typically with headphones. It’s a slam dunk. Sound quality is not an issue. I still keep all my records and CDs that I convert. Not getting rid of anything. Just no reason to bother to playa record more than once anymore which the records tell me they approve of. They are not fond of going through the ordeal of being played with that nasty stylus digging in throughout 🙏

They also stay clean longer this way. They are neat freaks you know! Delicate little buggers.

The only down side is it is still a time consuming process to do right but I got it down pretty good. I play both sides and it’s all a wrap within 15 minutes or so after. So many records still to go though. I only bother to convert the best copies.

Maybe I will see if I can stash and share a file somewhere so people interested can give a listen. 
Try Musicbrainz Picard. Free and very handy.
Glupson almost every record I own or buy is used and played but yes sometimes NEW vinyl historically may require a few plays to be their quietest. It depends.

I do clean most used records thoroughly before the big play unless on inspection it looks and then sounds like it is clean to start with.  I hate when my digitized vinyl includes noise from the vinyl. It’s the only dead giveaway what the source was. 
Then it’s always interesting to see if my Picard auto tagging software is able to scan and recognize the track I digitized and auto tag it.  Sometimes yes sometimes no. Often I have to resort to other means like drag and drop to get things autotagged 
I play records only once these convert to digital for future playback while I listen.  
Some records are just too valuable to put through the ringer of being replayed repeatedly and risk of damage.

Does that make me a bad audiophile?

Once properly tagged the files link to a myriad of related information on the internet. I learn a lot about what I am listening to that way.

I can usually tell which version of a release I have several copies of is which by listening even when streaming off my music server.  
Never dreamed these things would be possible back as a kid. 
If you like a record enough of course you could buy many copies, keep them all and decide for yourself what to listen to and why. I have a few of those in the works. Maybe even sell your own designated “hot stampers”. You might decide that some are even “white hot”. No keeping the best one for yourself though. That would be very naughty!😼
Or if you want to pay top dollar for someone else that you trust to do that for you, then more power to you there as well. Enjoy!
Don’t look now but I think someone is virtue signaling.  😱. Guess who?