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.
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Showing 6 responses by maroneofferring

A tp of Combat Rock I own was $325 USD from the UK.

An A+++ better records of that title is $299.

So their pricing is completely aligned with the market.

And keep in mind 2500 of my lps are all thrift store finds at 10 cents to $1.99.

So, I am not "rich" - I just prefer to buy outstanding copies of my favorites.
Quality isn't unknown.
Their business model would collapse if they lied.
I have a dozen Hot Stampers and all of them sound much better than 95% of my 2800 lps.
It took 10 seconds of hearing the first one to realize it is real.

I buy lots of white label promos and an A+ to A++ is better than most of them in sound quality.
The test pressings I own also are at A++ level.

The price isn't excessive.
To get an A++  requires buying 50 copies and listening to them all. Perhaps 3 can be sold and the rest go on eBay at $10.

The A+++ show up once a year or less for many titles.

This is why an A+++ copy of Abbey Road will sell for $899. Perhaps once ever 2 years will one show up.
I have cleaned Toms WHS when they arrived, listen before and after, and my final step removes a veil layer.

I have done this with records cleaned ultrasonically, and extra cleaning helps them, too.

Clean your records. This step is very important.
Benjie,
I have a dozen along with other copies of the same albums.
All dozen sound better that my other pressings.
WL promos are usually A+ to A++.

I also have stumbled across WHS in the bargain bins. They are put on the shelf next to Toms.

You are *one* who disagrees.
Whilst a dozen posters such as myself state that WHS sound great.

You are an outlayer.

Your one example does not refute the data from a dozen people and one hundred albums.

Anecdote is not the plural of datum.
I found another HS. Paul Simon there goes rhymin Simon.
99 cents thrift store find.
About 10 records I have found like this, not from Tom.
But the % is the same.
That is out of 2800 lps, of which 2000 are from thrift stores.
So 1 out of 200, similar to figure Tom states when they do a shootout.
That is a lot of crate digging and time...or one could spend 1099 to 699 for a WHS that shows up once every 5 years.

Hours invested calculates out to a good value.
Definitely.
Benjie found a WHS in his collection that rates higher than what Tom found among. his 50.
I have many WHS in my collection that are just "regular" records bought for $1 ir $10.
We all do.

That doesn't negate Tom's records he finds.

Stampers usually ran 5000 presses before swapping in new metal dies.
Pop rock obviously much higher for 20 million sellers.
The early part of stamper run will sound best and the later part sound worst.
Even within identical matrix numbers.

This is why I collect WLP.
In the USA in the 1970s, about 750 to 1000 would be pressed after the test pressing run was approved.
AOR stations, newspapers, college radio, reviewers all received a copy.

These all sound better than the average pressing, but Toms A++ usually sound as good or better.

White labels go for $40 of a rock title, and A++ are $79 and up.

Again, prices make complete sense.

If you have never heard an A+++, it is an eerie experience.
As though everyone took one step closer to the Mic.
Vocals and guitars especially.

Far far superior to nearly all of my lps.
Except for that BL SS of LZ2...