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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I think, Tom Port is correct and we should be glad that someone is out there who uses his ears. Rare enough.
and there is always someone who get money for something…that is our economy system. But we have the chance to check it …. there is a risk for everything …also for buying new reissues for example.
of course we can see it from the other side … reissues are bad for dealers who make money with originals … so, bad mouthing them is more or less normal. But we can compare those too and after all those years I can say, a lot (not all) of reissues are nothing to write home about.
What is worse? His prices or those from dealers who sell crap records and don‘t care for anything? I am not a customer from him but I read some of his statements …. A have a few old VICS from the same title in 1S or 2S or other stampers and made my comparisons. In general, the 1S pressings have the highest ratings and everyone thinks, that’s the one to go. Yes, the 1S from mine was good …. But then a higher code was below my diamond … and my cup of coffee went cold. Much more clear, a presence to die for etc. A killer.
A possible explanation
From a 1S a batch is done until the cutter head is dead and will be replaced. But before that will be done, a few hundred will be made with this dead unit, and it still is 1S.
Now 2S will start and when you have luck, you can get a early 2S, can be possible it will sound better than a later 2S ….
i think, TP does it that way…..and then there are country differences ….
when I go out and buy 10 or 15 cheap records with shipping etc…..at the end of the month i can have luck and there is a hot stamper among….or not….
and a Hot Stamper from TP can be better than my description of hot stamper….so i think, i will go for his when i am ready to pay his price.

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...




@maroneofferring

I think that there is a little confusion about what I am stating. I have many hot stampers in my record collection. Some are original pressings and others are remasters. I was curious as to what Better Records classified sound wise as a "hot stamper". That is why I purchased the Super Hot Stamper " Breakfast in America ". I have several versions of this album so I thought it would be a good example to benchmark against. My original pressing sounded just as good, maybe a little better because it has only a few ticks. The Mofi's (early pressing from 1980 ?) and the most recent one 2019 did not sound as good. The true bell of the ball was the test pressing I have, amazing sound, very lifelike presentation.
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.
I think you are spot on in your statement above. I am not saying the albums that Better Records sell are not good, I saying that people have hot stampers in their collections and probably don't realize it. They are not the unicorns that Tom Port makes them out to be.

The one disagreement I have with Better Records is that only original pressings are the best examples of an album. In my 50 years of being an audiophile, I have come across many examples of hot stampers made by companies such as Quality Record Pressings (Analog Productions), Mobile Fidelity (old and new releases), Classic Records and Speakers Corner to name a few.

When Tom Port makes the statements that all of these remasters sound horrible and are not worth the plastic they are stamped on is an insult to all of the people who work in these projects. These mastering engineers are some to the best in the industry. They know how to work the console. They are not just slapping something together to send out. They take pride in their profession and put out the best sound reproduction that is possible. They are at the top of their game. And we know why Tom Port says things like that. Someone above stated
Yes, but Tom Port is also a businessman....:-))
Right.If he came out and said that these other record companies make great sounding records, he would be out of business. Why would you spend hundreds of dollars for a used album that sounds good when you can buy a new album for $50 that sounds just as good or maybe even better.

There are many examples of great sounding records. Let me share one with you. I was able to purchase some records from the Michael Hobsen Classic Records Collection. It is a pressing of Tommy by The Who. It is a 45 rpm pressing on Clarity Vinyl, 8 records, single sided pressings. This was a test pressing and is 1 of 1. It was never produced in this format. I will say that this is the BEST sounding rock album that I have ever heard, period. Words can not begin to describe the sound, it is truly amazing. There will not be an original pressing "white hot stamper" that would even come close to sound that is on this album and I do not make that statement lightly. It is kind of ironic that same people that Tom Port discredits in their abilities to remaster albums are the ones that created this masterpiece.
No offense, but you're conflating a trademarked and graded product "Hot Stamper" with records you have that sound good. I have been down this road, and all I can say, if you really do have copies that good you would be selling like Tom, because they are worth a pile of money. This is like the DIY cable guys who pretend to have turned $150 worth of parts into a $2500 cable. Why then are you telling us? Prove it. Go sell em.  

I got sucked into that con one time, a guy convinced me he knows what is Hot Stamper quality because he sold some to Tom. So hoping for a deal I bought one of his, what you would call hot stamper. I have lots of records that good. I have maybe one or two that are as good as a Hot, let alone White Hot. Zero White Hot. 

As for reissues, I once sent Tom a MoFi just so he could get some laughs with his staff. A more awful record I never heard in my life. And no, I am not saying they are all that bad. Sheesh!

There is another issue and I can only be blunt about it, both your ears and your system have to be up to it. We are not talking about ticks and pops. A lot of White Hots are actually pretty noisy. As Tom says repeatedly all over the site, the best sounding copy isn't always the quietest. I have lots of quieter pressings. I have none better sounding. When you get to where you can hear it you will know.

When your system improves- as hopefully it will over the years- I think the difference between your better than average pressings and your genuine Hot Stampers will grow increasingly clear.
No offense, but you're conflating a trademarked and graded product "Hot Stamper" with records you have that sound good.

No offense, but you have no idea unless you’ve heard (presumably not but correct me if wrong) the poster’s records.