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.
5c19db42 db1e 4039 96f2 9d2ae7c37947millercarbon
Starry Night is Van Gogh.
millercarbon would never buy $1.99 White Hot Stamper from Goodwill. He only appreciates $2.99 White Hot Stampers from Sam Goody.
Doug Sax was one of the greatest mastering engineers in history.
In the mid ‘90s I almost bought Sheffield Labs and had the pleasure of being close to Doug and Lincoln. Speaking of Doug’s gear at The Mastering Lab in Hollywood, one day he opened up his control panels to show me how they were full of tubes!
His Wikipedia page has all of his hundreds of mastered albums.
Could this be a gauge for Better-Records buys?
You might find "Starry Night" by Picasso at never know...
The only thing I’ve ever bought from Tom Port was a few CDs from his inventory of DCC CDs. Those are some fine-sounding CDs.

On the vinyl records ... there is no way that I could convince myself to pay $300 -$500 for a record, no matter how good it sounds. I’m not knocking Better Records here, or Tom’s customers in any way. I know how good they sound because I’ve heard them. And besides ... Tom is a hard-working person who really tries to get the best sounding recordings to those who want them.

After so many years of record bin diving, thrift store capers, and garage sale rummaging, I’ve accumulated my own stash of "Hot Stampers." They reside on my "demo" shelf. Oh, they may have a tic or a pop or two, but still ... they are great-sounding records.

Dean Martin’s "Dream with Dean" is one for sure. So is Doris Day’s "Day by Day." Then there is that Brubeck promo titled "Jazz Impressions of The U.S.A. Oh, and lest I forget, there’s Jo Stafford's "Jo Stafford Sings The Blues." How about Norman Luboff’s "But Beautiful?" There’s plenty more like these in the collection. I think the most I’ve paid for any of them was the six-bucks I paid for the promo Brubeck album. I bought it still sealed from a used record store.