You might find this interesting:http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?gmusi&1194982702&openfrom&1&4#1
Posted a few years back here on this forum.
I have several copies of at least three of my favorite albums. They all sound different. I would not doubt that some copies that have been produced have even better sonics than others. No two of anything is ever exactly alike. There must be many variables that can alter the sound from one copy to another.
You have to be an "audiophile" to hear a difference. Most people would say that they sound the same and wonder why you have more than one copy.
The hot stamper phenomenon is not a myth. I've done shoot outs myself with different pressings of the same title, different countries (UK vs. Holland vs. USA pressings for example) plus different sound from different pressings (early vs. later pressings of same title; for example I listened to 3 different eras of UK pressings of Jethro Tull's "Stand Up" and they all sound different) NOW I have also discovered that what is sold as a Hot Stamper MAY NOT be the best sounding ... I compared my MFSL pressing of Alan Parsons "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" with a costly Hot Stamper and the MFSL won hands down. BUT some costly Hot Stampers are the real deal and blow the pants off my MFSL pressings (Steely Dan's "Katy Lied", Crusaders "Chain Reaction" for examples). NOW the question is, after spending $10 K on a phono section, $20 on a table, $20 K on a tube pre.. $$$$ on cables, is it worth it to you to find and obtain the best pressings of your favorite records for a couple of hundred dollars?
I agree that some Lp pressings sound better than others.
Would I PAY a premium for the better pressings? NO.
Mainly I would say if you have plenty of money you can throw away. then go forthem. No one cares if rich people burn money. Forthe rest of us... I would say be happy with what you have as far a which copy you own.
Partly I say this becasue the folks selling them want an extrordinary premium for them. Well over what they are worth. (basically one more form of 'bling' for the wealthy IMO)
Yes, I have no doubt that some pressings may be better than others. The question is: How do you know which ones they are? It's not like these Hot Stampers are identifiable because they are from master tapes, like MoFi, or heavy vinyl, or whatever. It's seems to be more like a hit or miss, no? If someone is selling a Hot Stamper at an exorbitant price b/c of its superior sonics, then wouldn't every LP from that pressing also have superior sonics?
The only one who sells Hot Stampers is Better Records. It's a name they coined and it doesn't exist anywhere else. They claim to do listening shootouts between numerous copies and they select the best-sounding copies to sell as Hot Stampers. They do offer money back if not satisfied.
I personally believe there are large differences between pressings. This includes record plants of first issues ie monarch vs presswell Sticky Fingers. This is why it is so fun collecting records. I have picked up some "hot stampers" from the bargain bin and they always sound very good. I don't think you need to pay the premium, as these are regular pressings they have just done the work for you. The process of mechanically cutting and pressing records creates very audible differences that imho can change a record from dull and flat to thrilling and involving.
I think Chayro is correct, that the term is used by Tom Port at Better Records to market particular copies that he and his staff have determined, based on listening, sound better than other copies of the same record. Without getting into the subject of copy to copy variability of the same exact pressing, there are huge differences in different pressings, and no general rule of thumb (well, maybe a couple), as to which pressings of a particular album have the 'best' sonics. You can do your due diligence through a number of sources, including Discogs, for listings of various pressings, (which sometimes, but not always,include matrix numbers and other deadwax information); Steve Hoffman forums, where folks will weigh in on the sonic differences between different pressings identified by deadwax info (largely of rock and pop from the 60's and 70's) and a few other fora where people who have listened and compared different pressings have weighed in, based on their listening comparisons. (Mike Fremer does this too, in some of his vinyl reviews).
My own experience has been that getting the 'right' pressing of particular record can make a dramatic difference in sonics. In many cases, these are not 'audiophile' pressings, but early pressings of 'regular' records that benefit from good mastering, an earlier generation of the tape or a confluence of other factors that make the particular pressing 'special' sonically. Unfortunately, for some of the most desirable rock records, this becomes expensive because there is a knowledgeable market for these pressings. But, there are many good 'standard issue' records from the late 60's and early 70's that sound great and don't cost a fortune.
I have, in a number of instances, a half dozen or more different pressings of the same record; even among the more desirable pressings, there are often trade-offs (e.g. an early UK Island Pink Label may sound more immediate but have more surface noise than a later pink rim). And, buying used records, you are always at risk on condition. Not visual, but what's in the grooves. Visual grading is almost useless.
Every record collector or anyone in pursuit of the best pressings should watch this in it's entirety. A Hot Stamper refers to the level of the volume the presser used the day he cut the master lathe. An amplified volume would in most cases sound better,an under amplified volume makes for a dull flat pressing where as there is a standard industry norm which is used mostly. Micheal Fremer weighs in on this on this link,he also weighs in on why you should avoid Record Club Pressings (Columbia,RCA and BMG)
I have certainly heard the term 'hot' applied to a particular mastering, the best example of which is probably the 'RL' cut of LZII. It sounds dramatically different than every other copy of that record I have heard.
>Qdrone: thanks for that link, great video, plus a good critique of Hot Stampers!
I didn't watch the video. Does Michael use the term 'hot stampers' in the context of Tom Port's offerings or generically, to refer to recordings that were mastered 'hot'?
I don't think he uses the words, but he does mention Tom and what he sells. It's good to watch the video, very informative.
I went to the site. The price of those lps are way too HOT!!
As most know records are made from stampers which are made from mothers which are made from the master. The closer you get to the master, the better the pressing. You surely don't want the 10,000th copy from the 6th mother if you can get one that is fresher and nearer the master.
Now, I'm heart broken! I decided to look in my pile of older, not so clean LPs and there it was: Led Zepelin II with the now infamous "RL" in the dead wax! Son of a **%**. Does that qualify as a hot stamper? Duh, I guess so.
I've had it sitting these all along since when it first came out.
Now I've gotta try my best to clean in up.
Ebuzz- there is a fair amount of discussion on the web about the 'RL' cut of LZ II. The biggest issue with these is that many are trashed. Check to see if it is inscribed 'RL' on both sides- some copies are not. The preferred copy is apparently one with the RL and 'SS' (Sterling Sound) markings on both sides, and with narrower deadwax on side two. It took me a while to find a quiet, minty copy, but even one that is VG+ will give you a sense of what this record can deliver. It's a good one.
PS There are also RL mastered copies of The Band's self-titled album with the lime green Capitol label - another jewel, musically and sonically.
Good article from Wired
on hot stampers. What do you think about the playback system used?
It was a pretty balanced article, i guess. Tom Port is not without controversy and this didn't really stir up anything new. As to the system, doesn't surprise me- there were a lot of well-known engineers who monitored over pretty middle of the road speakers to make sure what they were hearing reflected the 'average home stereo'; however, I would assume that the folks who are paying for Port's selections have systems that are far more than average; on the other hand, since every system has its own sonic signature, maybe this mid-fi receiver approach really is, if not "neutral" in a musical sense, then truly middle of the road in terms of sonic character (neither warm nor analytical). I don't subscribe to the 'old pressing is always best' but I do find, more often than not, that the right old pressing has a quality that is more 'of a piece' than a lot of remasters, which may sound more "audiophile" and impressive, but less musical. Perhaps just a matter of taste. I've never bought anything from Port and for those who do buy from him, more power to you. I guess I'd rather go to the trouble of sourcing multiple pressings and do my own leg work, at far less cost. (Of course, that means in some cases, that I have many copies of the same record).
Hot stampers feed on the worst part of being an audiophile... That is our own insecurities and futile quest for perfection. Is that $500 copy of Rumours that good? This actually keeps some people awake at night.That being said, all used los vary to some degree... How much is up to the beholder.One never knows what equipment or how many hours are on a used pressing... which is kind of the brilliance/arrogance of Hot Stampers...those who buy assume they are getting a superior pressing because they are getting a superior pressing.However, from what I gather there is no background information on the pressing which is no different than shopping on your own.To be fair, they do offer a money back guarantee, or some I'm told.
Correction... Those assume they are getting a superior pressing because they are TOLD it is superior.
A very interesting article and probably Tom Port is the most serious audiophile among those who live from it. He listens to the records and knows very well what awful stuff is hyped and sold. What is worse? His time to find something and make some money with it or the endless monthly hype from awful recordings our beloved reviewers rave about? I sunk 15k in this reissue crap, now I think, when I would have bought some stampers from TP, I would have done a better investment.
My choice is TP and his opinion to show the longest finger of his hand to others is ok. There should be more out there. But this is my private opinion.
A System is a System, some are good, some not. When his System sounds good enough for his ratings, fine.
I think that he could do a lot better on the system. I'd bet that there are current amp/preamp combos or integrateds that would allow differences between lps to be heard a lot more clearly than a 70s receiver would. His receiver seems to get the job done for him though.
I liked the 50/50 split on the heavy vinyl/hot stamper test. It's more evidence of how big a role personal preference plays in audio matters.