I have looked at Better Records and their belief is they have actually found the holy grail of vinyl geeks. The mysterious hot stamper. A record that has no outside evidence what actual number pressing it is. 1000 records can be pressed from a stamper before it degrades the sound. Some manufacturers go up to 1500. I have a DCC Van Halen # 778 on the record jacket and it sounds phenomenal and it should by DCC. Of course if you have Led Zep II and Bob Ludwig is in the dead wax you have a winner. I bought a Marvin Gaye "What's Going On" this year and its sounds really amazingly good. I have the 2 CD extended set and best of on record and SACD. The record not only slays them but cuts it them up into little bits pieces and feeds it to the wolves. No contest. The sax is smooth and detailed as silk and the intro to "Inner City Blues" just makes me want to hear that over and over again. Ok I assume it was a well engineered album to begin with. Chime in on the engineering. Does anyone else believe in the hot stamper and do you think you have one in your collection???????
Tom Port's business is discussed here, Steven Hoffman and others. Whether of not his copy of Steely Dan's Aja is worth $500, is up to the buyer. It's simplybusiness filling a demand. Does it sound "better?" Subjective, like the evaluating systems.
My neighborhood record store would get visits by his scouts for those pricey listings on his site. I have plenty of "stamper" quality albums, purchased for a couple bucks. IMO, it just make sense to get as close to the source recording. Particularly, if you listen to music that originally was released before 1980-90? Reissues and even period "greatest hits" have been off my radar for many years.
When I see a copy of VH's debut album listed for $200, I shake my head and roll my eyes. I have my $3.99 copy purchased in 1978, somewhere.
Ah, the hot stamper, the one thing the record does not reveal. But there's nothing mysterious about it.
Most record companies have - sometimes elaborate - information on the dead wax that will tell you what cutting engineer, lacquer, mother and stamper you are dealing with. But for the 'position' of a particular copy within each production run from the same stamper there's no way to tell. Except by listening, which is what Better Records purports to do. This time consuming and therefore costly service should provide you with the better samples from each pressing run. Presumably the first few hundred copies pressed from a fresh stamper, before the first signs of stamper wear or overheating.
But I honestly think that the sonic difference between the first and last copy pressed from one stamper should not be overestimated. With previously owned records - which is what we are dealing with mostly - the playing history of the record is of much greater importance. This is another unknown factor, except of course for obvious signs of frequent play (lack of lustre, sleeve removal marks, spindle marks, etc.) or misuse (feelable needle marks, etc.).
blue, you realize of course that "hot stamper" is a marketing label utilized by a dealer. It is not an industry term.
This is not to say that some pressings won't sound significantly better than others. Comments made so far support that and I expect anyone with a collection of any size would agree.
My issue is with those who argue for searching out low stamper numbers. Would you rather have an LP which was the 900th stamped by S-2, or one which was the 4th stamped by S-12? I'd choose the latter if I could. But since we don't know the number stamped that becomes a moot point.
I think what it boils down to is just how many times will you play a $500 recording before "buyer's remorse" sets in. As with most any recording it can go high on one's crap list if played 15 times in a row. Just say'in..
I paid a visit to Tom Port's apartment/business when we lived two blocks apart in Sherman Oaks, CA in the late-80's/early-90's, and bought a copy of the German pressing of Magical Mystery Tour. Let me just say I was quite surprised by the Hi-Fi system he was using to evaluate the sound quality of LP's, and not in a good way.
@bdp24 Funny how what you observed is fairly common even today. There are a bunch of folks who are self proclaimed ‘experts’, who are using very ...shall we say...’marginal systems’ to determine the value of their findings. Having stated that, I think a great piece of gear, or recording, is going to shine through regardless of the quality of the playback system. OTOH, I well remember a certain reviewer at Stereophile who gave a rave review of a POS, leading me to unfortunately buy into this piece. Result, was I heard all of its faults and had to dump it at a loss. My fault...as I should have realized that this particular reviewer had no way of really hearing what this POS sounded like. Stereophiles fault for allowing such a rave review from a guy who had absolutely no business reviewing anything with his system and frankly...with his abilities!
I bought 2 of the 2nd best sounding records they sell--not the White Hot Stampers, but the next ones. I can’t remember what they’re called. I had regular copies of the exact albums from when I was in college in 1970-75. Yes--Close to the Edge and Steely Dan--Aja were the albums. I had good friend over and we listened to them both. Without a doubt, both of my albums sounded much more live and clear and more dynamic than either the Better Records ones did. Back to BR went the records and I can’t see myself buying another one from them in the future unless they drop their prices to about 1/5 of what they are now. Almost all the MF albums I have sound very good and BR says they generally suck. All my albums have been cleaned with a brush and some fluid, then LAST applied to each side. None of them have been cleaned on a machine. Sue me! Either my copies are better or the LAST is making them so. It really wasn’t a contest at all. I was surprised and disappointed at the results. The albums I bought from BR were about $140 each on a good sale ($199 normally). This happened about 4 years ago.
My analog portion of the system is Super Lenco rebuild with most of Jean Nantais’ upgrades, Pete Riggle Woody arm, Benz Micro Ruby 3, and Whest 3.0 RDT SE phono pre. I have VMPS RM40 BCSE MLS speakers, Nuforce Ref 9 V3 SE mono amps with TDSS level 3 upgrades, TRL DUDE preamp and upper mid cabling that sounds very good with the system. The ICs are double Teo GCs and many of there PCs are Core Power Equi=Core 150s. The SCs are Cerious Technologies Graphene Extreme plus their jumpers. All contacts now have the PPTC on them and there are 5 SR Blue fuses in the components. Everything is one 2 Sistrum racks and have RTS couplers clamping them to each platform. It sounds pretty darn good.
I believe there as really great copies of most albums. Are you lucky enough to get one of these? Of course, all of my direct-to-disc albums sound fantastic, but I have copies of many others that are at least their equal. The DTD albums are not necessarily the music I want to hear on a regular basis, however.
The fact is, finding great sounding copies of a particular title is not as easy as it may seem. This is the reason we have companies like MoFi and Analogue Productions. Companies such as these are trying to give audiophile record buyers what they really want, a reliable source for good sounding vinyl. The trouble is, these companies fail more often than they succeed, and this leaves collectors that are serious about finding good sounding copies looking for better options. Tom Port and the folks at Better Record are essentially saying, "let us do the work for you and we will deliver," which they do. And make no mistake, it is a ton of work to do shoot outs and find truly great sounding records. Who else plays so many different pressings of the same title? And if anyone does, who does shoot outs of so many different titles? No-one. So many titles have a ridiculous number of releases and dead wax variations. Furthermore listings are so often not accurate, or a given listing may have several runout variations requiring many emails to grumpy record sellers with very few answers. IOW, even if you know the pressing that will likely sound good, it can be a big challenge just to get a hold of one, not to mention one that is graded properly! The long and short of it is, you may or may not want to pay the premium that Better Records charges for their Hot Stampers, but I challenge anyone to make a strong case that the folks at BR are not earning every penny.
Can someone define "hot stamper" and explain how to identify/determine whether you have one, the differences between versions, and why anyone should care? What makes a "hot stamper" different from other pressings of the same LP?
Sorry but I see this term thrown around here and there but don't really understand what all the fuss is all about.
Its not a myth. Its a misnomer. Or whatever the word is for a term being misused. The stamper must always be hot. Vinyl simply will not flow properly with a cold stamper.
As for the rest, if you really want to understand then I suggest you spend an afternoon tracking down and reviewing MF videos. Those little codes scratched into the vinyl on the inside close to the label? They identify which stamper was used. So you can tell just by looking if your LP came from the original or one of the later copies.
Sorry I don't have a link, but you could do worse than spend an hour listening to Mikey.
There have been many threads, here and elsewhere, on Better Records and Tom Port. I have never bought a record from him (for reasons explained below), but do agree that the latest audiophile remaster of a well-worn warhorse may not sound better than an earlier standard issue pressing. The problem is, it’s case by case and there are few rules of thumb to ascertain this based on data, short of listening to the records in question. My experience is that first pressings aren’t always the best sounding, that factors like mastering engineer and record pressing plant can affect the sonic outcome, sometimes to a considerable degree (things you usually can ascertain from the deadwax), but there are always exceptions. And buying old, used records invariably involves issues of condition. Grading is a haphazard enterprise at best. I’m not against spending money on a record, but I already have most of the "better" pressings of mainstream rock/pop/soul records that I care about, sometimes, multiple copies. So, buying more of those is of little interest to me at this point. I suppose if you didn’t have the time and energy to buy 1/2 dozen or more copies of a common record and compare them yourself, and had a deep pocket book, Tom may be the way to go if those are records you need to fill in, or start, a collection. There are copy to copy differences, to be sure, even among records that are otherwise identical, but that way lies madness. I find the best representation I can, often by buying multiple copies and comparing them myself. That means I have a lot of duplicates of some records, but in many cases, the difference between two different pressings may be one of emphasis, rather than one that is an absolute "best." I do think the term ’hot stamper’ or ’white hot stamper’ is marketing speak from Tom Port and does not reflect anything other than his (or his staff’s) determination that a particular copy, based on their sampling and comparisons, sounds demonstrably better than another. Anecdotal reports from people who have made meaningful comparisons on Hoffman is instructive, at least in older threads where there were thoughtful, detailed comparisons, rather than conclusory declarations about a single "best" sounding copy. And, of course, on some records, there is a general consensus of ’known’ good sounding copies based on deadwax, pressing plant and mastering engineer. The best way to ascertain this, in my estimation, is to do the comparisons yourself if you have time. Sometimes, early pressings are now so valuable that the objective is to find a good sounding less expensive copy and that can be an interesting process as well. Some of it is about trade-offs, rather than absolutes. And, there are times when the audiophile reissue does sound better than an "original" pressing (whatever that means based on country of origin, mastering engineer and plant). I will share records among a few friends sometimes for these comparisons so I’m not out of pocket all the time.
I think Tom Port's main interest is to make a living. Charge what the market will bear. How many of his records are you willing to buy at those kind of prices? I think the law of diminishing returns starts to set in somewhere here. I would think you have to be a real vinyl junkie or have too much money to keep buying records at those prices. IMO.
Are "Hot Stampers" a myth ? An urban legend ? No. However, even careful examination of deadwax information will only take you so far. You must, unfortunately, listen through many different copies of the same title to find that holy grail, that 1 in a million copy that just sounds better. Yes the better copies are out there in the wild, just waiting for you. I have found my share, as have others. But it has been hit or miss. BR takes the time to sort through different copies to find the ideal copy that sounds best. Their time, money and effort equate to the cost they charge for a given title. You pay their price from the comfort of your home, or you spend the (considerable) amount of time to track down your hot stamper copy. For some people time really is money, and their money is better spent by purchasing the "best" copy from a vendor.
All of us need to remember that every time we find a copy that sounds better, we tacitly acknowledge the business model of BR.....
Disclaimer- I am not a customer of BR, nor do I expect to be in the future.
Many of us have copies of these timeless classics. All my copies have been through 2-4 copies to get to my "hot stamper." Totaled, I may have spent up to....$150? I wonder if any of my copies are "WHS" grade? My Yes and EJ had an Audio Desk cleaning, they are quite impressive!
$1000.00 for the White Album...ouch!
I'm sure whoever purchases it, they have the system to appreciate it.
Up until recently I doubt I would have noticed differences among LPs of the same title and pressings. However with the upgrades to my system this year I can now hear much more easily,wear on records, and differences in quality of the record sound. So I can see how someone with a lot of money to burn might want to skip the tedious effort of checking many copies of an Lp to choose the one that sounds best. that some DO SOUND BETTER, particularly with used LPs no question. Would I pay $500? not a chance.
I totally agree with the above that the deadwax will only take you so far. The point being that you never know where a copy was on the pressing number of a stamper. If at the end of the run, it cannot sound as good as the first few pressed with that metal. Yesterday I found what visually, in good light, appeared to be an excellent, clean UK import of a Roxy Music album, and when I go it home, vacuum cleaned and played, despite it being absolutely free of pops and ticks, much of the high end was missing, implying that someone had played it with a very heavy VTF and likely a conical stylus. Even after swapping out for one of my shibata stylus carts, the highs had been significantly wiped. Oh well.
Ashamed to say it but I must now admit to having contributed to the misinformation that comprises the majority of this thread. My mistake was taking "hot stamper" literally and missing the meaning of the people who quite correctly pointed out that in this case hot stamper is a term of marketing. Now having educated myself let me make amends and share the news.
Some years ago this fellow Tom Port and a few other equally obsessed audiophiles began noticing that no two pressings, nor even sides, are ever exactly the same. Every once in a while lightening strikes, the heavens align, and one comes out the stamper sounding so close to the master tape you can hardly believe it. But, contrary to the majority of comments above, you cannot tell this by engineer, stamper, wax, or any other means whatsoever. Only way to tell is to play the damn thing.
Being competitive obsessed audiophiles they started getting together to see who had the best of what. Cream rises to the top, and eventually they have lots of cream. Not to mention, along the way, a whole system approach to it all. The exercise of meticulously comparing the sound of each side of each LP leads to scrutinizing cleaning methods, cleaning solutions, etc.
Now I yield to no man when it comes to skepticism. Grandma hails from Missouri. The Show Me state. Case in point, someone says they bought a couple of these didn't sound any better than what they had, I am equally as skeptical of their claim as Tom Port's. I look for revealing little details. One I found on the Better Records site really got my attention.
There's a lot of info on Better Records on how to listen, how to get the most from your records, etc. What got me the most was when they said go around and unplug as many appliances as you can. Now, okay, always possible they load their site up with stuff like that as bait to snare the credulous audiophool. Except, far as I can tell, most don't believe this and think its crazy. I've mentioned it a few times and have yet to hear from anyone who actually tried it. (Who hadn't already, I mean.) For Better Records to include it on a list of frankly really good recommendations (warm up your amp, play a few sides to warm up the cartridge, demagnetize your system- another bit of rare advice btw) is telling.
Also telling is the frankness. Buried in among all the other info is the frank admission that they pay less than $20, often less than $6, for the records they turn around and sell for up to $600- and more. They make no bones about it. They also make no bones about not being for everyone. You have to be able to hear the difference. There goes 90% of the market. You have to be able to appreciate the difference. There goes another 90%. And you have to be able to afford it. Clearly Better Records is marketing to the .1%ers. No wonder hardly anyone even bothers trying to understand what they're doing. Like FranknFurter said, "I didn't build him FOR YOU!"
Maybe not even for me. I spent hours combing Better Records, first trying to understand what they were doing, then trying to see if they had anything to offer a guy like me.
Along the way it dawns on me, I have lots of records with music I love that I hardly ever listen to because the recording, or the pressing, is crap. Almost all the recordings I really love, its because of the music AND the recording AND the pressing. Two out of three just don't cut it with me.
Which as luck would have it I came across the eponymous Fleetwood Mac. Already have one, a (maybe) early issue copy bought used for a few bucks. Kind of noisy and sounds like not the greatest recording although lately between the Koetsu and the Herron its been sounding pretty good. There's only a few others they have that I would even consider. Linda Ronstadt For Sentimental Reasons, Sinatra Francis A & Edward K.
I went with Fleetwood Mac. Worth the money? Guess I will find out Saturday.
At least you can return it if it doesn't play as advertised.
What grade is it...hot, super hot or WHITE HOT?
Unless the copy you purchased hasn't been taken off the site, I see a super hot for $250. Considering an average copy will go for at least $25+, it might be worth it to someone who doesn't have accessable B&M stores.
If indeed it IS a keeper, I would value it more than a perfect reissue.
I have mentioned in threads that Tom Port scouts have visited my neighborhood store for these unicorn presses.
Looking forward to your review. Please list pressing info-jacket # and any deadwax info if possible.
Its a White Hot Stamper Fleetwood Mac. Last I looked it showed as sold.
I just checked and found a few dupes in my collection. Dreamboat Annie, Captain Fantastic, Tumbleweed Connection, Madman Across the Water, Equinox, and Aja. Mostly these were accumulated friends and family who tossed them years ago, which I hadn't bothered cleaning and playing because just looking at them it seemed the ones I had were in better shape.
So I cleaned them up and last night after getting everything all nice and warmed up and demagnetized I compared a couple. Dreamboat Annie, the easiest thing is to say the ocean waves sounded on one like real ocean surf, with the full range including that subtle low-end component that tells you its far away and powerful. On the other it sounded like white noise. These two copies by the way, unless you know how to decipher dead wax script I don't know how you'd tell them apart- exact same cover, label, etc. Not so Tumbleweed Connection, one on the original MCA label, the other Uni. Not only did the newer Uni sound much worse, it was down a good 4dB in level!
Captain Fantastic, I really wanted the newer looking and much quieter sounding copy to sound better. But it was no contest. The noisy one that nevertheless sounds so much better goes back on the shelf. It really does sound good! I mean just amazingly good!
Madman, my older noisier original MCA is down a good 4dB in level compared to the new 180g, but the heavier one has a hard aggressive edge and lack of harmonic development and depth. Adjusted for volume its not even close.
Now while these differences definitely do exist the difference between the worst and best sounding of them is worth nowhere near $300. So Tom Port has his work cut out for him. On the other hand, all these examples are me comparing between just a few copies. Can't rule out that given enough examples a few might turn up that are far and away better than any that I have.
Seems to me I can't lose. If the White Hot Stamper sounds only a little better than what I have then great, I've got the satisfaction of knowing my copy is about as good as anyone's anywhere. Never gonna waste my time buying 180g or 45 reissues, they will only be more quiet not and really not sound any better, and I get my money back. But if the White Hot Stamper really does sound incredibly closer to the master tape then even better. Now I've got a real stunner.
Hard to see the downside here. Saturday night we will find out.
"Captain Fantastic, I really wanted the newer looking and much quieter sounding copy to sound better. But it was no contest. The noisy one that nevertheless sounds so much better goes back on the shelf. It really does sound good! I mean just amazingly good!"
millercarbon- What kills me is a Tom Port "WHITE HOT" grade,$300 Tumbleweed Connection isn't necessarily going to play noise free! I believe he once had a Elton John(2nd release) for $600!
FWIW, I've gone through several iterations of this great album, the domestic UNI 73090(dead wax:dtl ps 406)IMO is very good.
Fortunately I too, can hear through some rough spots, if the music and recording is great.
Anyone seriously bothered by surface noise can easily eliminate it. But then they have to be able to tolerate listening to CDs.
One of the recommended listening tweaks on Better Records is to demagnetize before listening. They recommend the Talisman, basically an egregiously overpriced demagnetizer. I already have the more powerful, effective, and much more affordable Radio Shack Bulk Tape Eraser, which for years I have used on records and CDs. While I haven't the foggiest idea why (there is nothing in vinyl to demagnetize) the fact is it does work- but not for long. Which is why I found it very interesting that Tom Port says they always demagnetize within 10 minutes of critical listening.
For years I thought about using this on my speaker cables, etc. But I never bothered because I already have the XLO test CD with its demagnetizing tracks that work on the whole system. So why bother? Well last night I did bother and wow, what an improvement! Takes a while because its designed for 1 min on 30 min off, shutting itself off it it gets too warm, so that it took a while to do the whole system. But just doing the speaker cables was enough to keep me going. Could not believe how much it cleaned up and extended across the board but especially the top end.
Its the stories like this, telling people to disconnect appliances, and warm up the system, and demagnetize within 10 minutes, that tells me the guy is legit. But still, to be worth it, its got to be way more than the difference between normal crap pressings and some of the really good ones I already have. For that you only need to try a few examples, or just buy the MoFi or whatever. For the money I paid it needs to be well and truly beyond a shadow of a doubt beyond that.
I have the system. I have the ears. Tonight we find out.
Okay so here's the deal on the Hot Stamper. Its a made up marketing phrase that Better Records uses to grade their premium grade vinyl. Hot Stamper is the lowest, then Super hot, and White Hot Stamper is their highest, supposedly the next best thing to the master tape. The Fleetwood Mac I'm reviewing is a White Hot Stamper.
One of the core tenets of this whole thing is the belief that no two records are the same. No two sides either, for that matter. As unlikely as this seems it's certainly been demonstrated to me very clearly. Over the last week or so I have compared copies of some dupes and even when everything looked like it should be the same it wasn't. Plus wait till I tell you what I heard on Fleetwood Mac!
But first, the unpacking. The record comes in a bubble-wrap lined box and securely sandwiched between two sheets of cardboard. The LP in its own excellent sleeve is outside the cover, the cover and the sleeve both within a thick mil clear plastic sleeve. Unlike most outer sleeves this is the kind of thing you might actually want to keep and use.
Inside this was the most time-capsule preserved album cover you ever saw. Seriously. The original owner, whoever it was, had carefully cut along the edge leaving the original shrink wrap in place. Definitely the original shrink wrap. It had the look and the feel. Just one tiny little tear on a corner. Unbelievable. The artwork, everything about it, couldn't have looked any better back in the summer of 75. Wouldn't surprise me if some would consider it worth the money just for the cover.
The LP itself wasn't nearly as impressive to look at. Came out of the sleeve clean as a whistle but showing a patina of spidery hairlines. But I bought it to play not look at.
My system's been tweaked and tuned a lot the last few months, but not the last week or so as I've just been listening and enjoying and getting used to the fruits of all that tweaking and tuning. The Herron has been on since I got it about two months ago, I turned the amp on a good hour before, demagnetized, and then played a side of The Ghost of Tom Joad to make sure the Koetsu was nice and ready.
Should probably mention a list of recommended listening tips including warm-up, demagnetizing, and more came with the LP.
The first track, Monday Morning, never has sounded that great to me and didn't here either. Definitely better than the vintage copy I have, for sure, but nothing to write home about. Warm Ways always sounded a lot better on my copy and does here as well. There's a lot more "there" there, especially in terms of detail and vocal presence. Its just a lot more believable presentation.
I want to take a minute and explain what I mean by that. I hadn't bothered to demagnetize my system in quite a while. Oh, I played the XLO demagnetizing tracks recently. Definitely makes a difference. But I also have the Radio Shack Bulk Tape Eraser, a powerful handheld unit that can be used to demagnetize everything from speaker cables and interconnects to tubes, records, and CDs. When I used that for the first time in like forever the improvement was .... a lot.
In other words, Side One of the White Hot Stamper was better than my old vintage copy by about the same amount as I can get by demagnetizing everything. A really nice improvement. Definitely noticeable. Not great. A lot.
Side Two, according to Better Records, is supposed to be a little better.
No, don't think so. Not even close. Side Two to my ears is a LOT better. Hugely better. Like two completely different LPs better. Better dynamics, better bass, midrange, better detail. Not all the way across, but not by some small amount you could match with a few tweaks either. Or any tweaks! Side Two is just a whole different animal.
The first track, again, not quite so much. But Landslide, oh my God! I was darn near agape at the sound of that guitar, the vocals, everything. Only thing I have even comes close to this is the MoFi 45 of Brothers in Arms. Even then its apples to oranges, Knopfler not as palpably "there". Probably shouldn't even mention it, except I'm scrambling for something, anything people might be familiar with to use as a reference. When the truth is, honestly, its hard to believe any record could ever sound this good. All I can think is, every over the top glowing review you can find on Better Records, this must be what they're talking about.
The next track, World Turning, is just as good. Rythmic bass drive like I never heard. Right up there with Landslide. The rest of the side, hard to say. Overshadowed comes to mind. Or as Tom Port puts it, Landslide is a masterpiece and "a real high point for side two." For sure.
So there's one White Hot Stamper experience for people to consider. Just below White Hot is Super Hot, and then Hot. Keep that in mind. The copy I had was purchased used based on appearance not sound, yet one side of my White Hot Stamper wasn't really a whole lot better. The other side though, two tracks anyway, darn near priceless. It seems clear there is a lot of variability even after going through their selection process. This combined with the fact some people may by sheer random chance have managed to score a really good pressing is enough to account for dorkwads experience, as he describes above.
Yeah. Like all you have to do is find a copy from the same pressing run. Like its that easy. That was my hope too. Eagerly writing down every detail, trying to take a picture (etched in glossy black, next to impossible), convinced this was all I needed.
Then I pulled out my very average sounding copy. Every little detail. Exact same. In fact I am dead certain if I handed any one of you both copies you would all pick the crap one. Because they look the same, except one is all scratched up, and you would never guess the one with all the scratches sounds the best and by a margin that varies from large to impossible to believe until you hear it.
Good luck with the wax guys. Total waste of time but good luck. Anyone really determined to waste their time and money chasing the wax theory even after its been debunked by my exact same pressing reality, here's how easy it is to start throwing your money away. Simply go here https://www.discogs.com/Fleetwood-Mac-Fleetwood-Mac/release/12774916 With that you can throw money at even more identical looking but worse sounding pressings! There's probably even more. Discogs has them all nice and organized but you are kind of at the mercy of sellers bothering to look at such details. Still, there's no shortage of people willing to take your $30 or whatever. The link above is just one of many. Don't forget you want the POGO heart thing, which looks incredibly Dan Brown-y, you just know its gonna lead you to audio fortune, maybe even a monstrously global conspiracy. Or KENDUN which is stamped not scribed, got to be Davinci Code for sure. But no, there's a million of em.
I knew the wax thing was a non-starter from the start. All you have to do is know enough about how these things are made to know its a non-starter. The marks in the wax only tell enough to know who did what with which equipment. If that's all that matters then my old copy would sound as good as this White Hot Stamper. After all they are the same according to the wax!
But in reality? In reality you have vinyl plugs. Nothing in the wax about the plugs. Which can come from any of who knows how many suppliers, and even if you track that down no guarantee all the pressings from a given stamper were from that supplier. Or that the supplier didn't change something. But let's say you track that down and its all the same. Then the plugs have to be warmed to a temperature range in order to flow properly. What's the ideal temp? Does anyone even know? Not until you in your best Tom Hanks chasing the grail impersonation track it down and decipher it. So you do that. Then it probably had to come off the first few pressings when the faintest squiggles in the stamper were still nice and fresh. Probably. Unless that's when its not so good because there's also the mold release that has to be sprayed on, and who knows maybe it takes a while for the process of stamp/clean/spray/stamp to reach a sort of equilibrium of chemicals that magically results in the perfect pressing. When the vinyl is just right. And the temp. Oh, and the pressing rate. How its handled when it comes off the press. Warehouse temp and humidity.
@millercarbon- I'm well aware of copy to copy variations. I simply asked whether the deadwax on the copy you got from Port was obscured. FWIW, there is no spray on mold release. Glad you are enjoying your copy.
Kent Duncan was a mastering engineer, he didn't press records. I think better US pressings of that Fleetwood Mac album were done by Columbia's Santa Maria plant, before Warner-Reprise shifted to Capitol for pressing. Also FWIW, that Discogs link miller carbon posted is a little wacky- it shows a US pressing by Orlake- which was a British plant. Some early Island pink labels were made by Orlake- they are very visceral sounding- tend to be noisier than the Polydors or later EMI pressed copies.
I think it is safe to say if they are charging $500 for a record, they probably spent $300 worth of records and time finding this one $500 record. Would they buy my -1A/-1A records for $200 and I save them some work?? Prolly not.. ...Buying 50 records for $40 and finding a VG++/NM copy and cleaning the krapp out of it and charging $400 for it is the better model.
IF I wasn’t drinking and playing Vinyl, I would put all that statistics and design of experiments education to work but as I stare into the deep well of Noir, my hunch is that n = 30 ain’t going to cut it for finding anything white hot, except within the same stamping lot....