Hot Stampers from a customer perspective
Like many others, I was curious about this business for quite a while. I already have duplicates of some lps in either British or Jap or Dutch or NoFi or DCC pressings or whatever, and know there is quite a variance in pressing and recording quality.
First of all, I had bought from Tom P from back when everything he sold was the absolute best, and it was almost all DCC. I bought a CBS Mastersounds copy of Boston's 2nd album from him back in about 1998 (which at that time he said was just to die for). Well we all kn ow about the sound quality from Vlado Meller and his Discoputer.
That being said, I got the itch to give Tom a try. So I picked an album that I like really well (Peter Frampton's second studio Lp) I heard it before it was released in early 1975 and have always liked it better than his live set (I thought he sucked in concert from a sound board point of view).
So Tom sent me one that was a Super hot on one side and a Hot + or some such on the other. The first thing I can tell you is that the condition grading stunk. He said it was VG++ and I wouldn't have bought it at a Goodwill just based on condition and I told him so when I returned it. So that's a caveat. I learned to grade out of my old man's Schwann and Phonolog catalogs in about 1968 when there wasn't any such BS record grading as today. UNless it was a thousand dollar Royal Ballet or something the grading was M-, VG+, Trash.Mint just meant it was sealed in which case it could be anything including dished, warped, dimpled, resealed, scuffed, or perfect.
As far as the Hot Stamper stuff goes: The side he graded as hotest, I didn't like as well as my old A&M-4512 from high school. The side he said wasn't as good I thought was very sweet sounding compared to the other 2 copies I have (original and a Brit). There is always going to be a subjective point of view as far as what he likes or sounds good to his hearing and system and listening room etc as opposed to anybody else's preferences.
It wound up for me being $110 for a record I would have passed up at a rummage sale just on condition. Later I went and bought 8 copies of Question of Balance, because it is one of my favorites. I cleaned them all and never listened to them. I decided in the end that if I sat and listened to them one after another and tried to hear differences I would go batty and also never want to hear the silly thing again .
You are buying purely Tom Port's opinion and nothing more or less and also his extremely generous lp grading system. To me that is not a value. If I have a copy of a record that I love, I may pick up another pressing if I happen on one, but otherwise the enjoyment I have for what I have already is quite sufficient.