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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  • Hi Frank!
  • Do you have any idea as to the oldest album in your collection?
  • I know by what you’ve posted, you have quite an eclectic and enviable stash.
  • Just wondering if you can share any rare goodies from the 40’s or 50’s.
  • Hope you are doing well!

Thanks for the good wishes...

Man, ’O Man ... where do I start?

For the "oldest," you’d have to get into the small 78 rpm collection I have.

My main focus as a teen and young man was jazz. So, for the 40s, we can start with the Big Bands and the Big Band singers. Stan Kenton (also 50s & 60s), early Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee, Chris Connor, LIonal Hampton, Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker, Chu Berry, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Zoot Sims, Stan Getz (Getz could play anything. A true genius) and tons more. Even The Andrew Sisters and Doris Day.

Morphing away from rhythm & blues as a teen, I left Earl Bostic, Big Jay McNeely, and Joe Houston behind. I still have their recordings in the collection, to be played from time to time to remind me of the transition. Kind of like a history lesson, or a step back in a time machine taking me all the way back to Junior High School.

The collection is full of excellent mono jazz, and jazz vocal recordings. For those who shun mono recordings, you are really missing out on some great-sounding records and performances. One of the keys is to find a cartridge that really digs down into the grooves of those mono records to extract what hasn’t been extracted before. I’ve found the Audio Technia OC-9 MK III to be such a cartridge. At $500.00 from LP Tunes, it is a bargain.

Some of my favorite mono jazz records are early Brubeck, Miles, Clifford Brown, Chet Baker, Jerry Mulligan, The Montgomery Brothers, Howard Rumsey’s Light House All-Stars, lots of Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderly, Sonny Stitt... and way too many more to post here. I admit that I lean toward the West Coast jazz sound. It is just more melodic than the East Coast stuff. I’m addicted to the great vibes players too, especially Cal Tjader, who I consider the best in a long line of "bests."

On the stereo recordings ... I’ve avoided early Blue Notes because of their dual-mono presentations. I think that’s one of the reasons the mono Blue Notes command so much money.

I came late to classical and really late to classic rock. The classical guitar section is pretty impressive. I absolutely love the great guitarists John Williams and Julian Bream. For flamenco, check out Manitas de Plata - one of the greats, if not the greatest. Lots of other great ones, but those are my favorites.

There are tons more ... I could go on and on.

I wonder who will end up with the collection when I finally check out of here. My kids and grandkids aren’t interested. Heck, there isn’t even a CD player among the bunch. I can’t even burn them a CD of any of my music. What a shame.

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  • A deeply meaningful statement that resonates like few in recent memory.

  • Thank you.

You’re welcome, tvad ...

Yes, it is food for thought. Almost 70 years of putting this collection together and no one in the family cares. In fact, they think I’m nutz.

It will probably be a really good day at the Goodwill store.


Your collection is for yourself. You have enjoyed it for 70 years. You did not start it thinking of some grandkid lugging your records around. Still, as much of an effort and love you have put in, I highly doubt you would put it as the top achievement of your life. Your kids and grandkids would probably come higher on that list. Your record collection is surely impressive, but remember it is only a record collection. Pieces of plastic in paper, not much more than that. Life should not be about what, it should be about who.

Enjoy your grandkids. You know they are nutz with their cellphone addiction, anyway.

Is it safe to assume that some/many of the records in your collection have never been released in digital form? With every passing day, there is less and less physical copies of your records in the world. That may be a nice project as you have a good playback system. Copying true rarities into digital format (files, not CDs, if possible) for grandchildren’s grandchildren.

I am not sure how to go around making sure that it does not get deleted by someone disinterested at some point. Maybe contact one of the streaming services? Maybe some of those records fall into public domain now?

Just ideas, I am not sure how interesting or feasible they are.