Very best sounding Vinyl


So first I did search back to 2014 to see if there was a thread on this subject but only found threads that dance around the topic but not directly on point. If I missed then copy the link here and I’ll delete.

Started building my record collection and have about 20 so far but clear and away the two very best recordings are Joni Mitchell’s Blue and the infamous Come away with me Norah Jones. Of course its the vocals and the acoustic instruments but no denying the top notch quality recording.

So what else is out there on that level - any genre? To show off your system....similar to the home theater bluray lists. 

aj523
The most commonly available, accessible, and affordable awesome sounding vinyl I know is the Dire Straits Brothers in Arms MoFi 45.

Very close, Jennifer Warnes comes in with The Well and Famous Blue Raincoat, both on 45. But really there’s a whole slew of them could fill the bill, all around the same general level of sound quality. Michael Ruff Speaking in Melodies on Sheffield is certainly in there.

On the subject of the "very best sounding vinyl" this will trigger a few but I must say the very best sounding vinyl is always going to be a White Hot Stamper from Better Records. Anything Super Hot will blow out any and all reissues- yes including even the BIA45. A White Hot Stamper is so good its almost impossible to describe, except to say its like I would imagine maybe the actual master tape would be.  

I had a guest one time requested to hear for himself. Played him my second best copy of Rumours, the reissue 45. Sounds great. He said, "That is gonna be awful hard to beat." Then my nearly WHS. He agreed its no contest.

Yes they are used. Yes they are expensive. Very, very expensive. They are also "the very best sounding vinyl."
The whole premise and business model for the "white hot stamper" is simply too incredulous to be taken seriously.

IMHO of course.......
Yes. That’s what I thought too. But their 30 day no excuses guarantee is plastered all over the site. So I tried one. Really wanted to send it back. I mean, who really wants to pay $350 for a record? A record you already have three copies of?!?! Not me! So I emailed Tom Port. Sorry Tom, I mean its good and all, but not $350 good.

Fine. No problem. Send it back. Okay I will.

Only funny thing. Instead of shipping it just sat there in the box all ready to ship. What is wrong with you Miller? Send it back! Okay, but one more listen, just to be sure.

And after that one more listen I knew the truth. That it sounds so much better its hard to believe. That I not only cannot send it back, I want more!

Peter Gabriel So is incredible. Tom Petty Southern Accents is out of this world. Tom Petty! Never in my life would have believed Tom Petty had a bona fide genuine demo disk. Neil Diamond Taproot Manuscript, Nilsson Schmilsson! Coconut is a stop the presses DEMO DISK!!!

Every time I say something about this a bunch of people who have no idea what I’m talking about nevertheless opine on how I don’t know what I’m talking about. All I can say, buy one, play one, then get back to me.
The absolute best sounding vinyl recording I own is the MFSL One-Step version of Yes Fragile.  Nothing else I have comes close.  It's also one of the nicest in terms of presentation - the box and contents are first class, well worth the asking price.

All of the Dire Straits MFSL 45 RPM releases are fantastic and I love the Cars S/T and Heartbeat City MFSL releases.

A friend gave me a copy of Hall & Oates Abandoned Luncheonette that was a Hot Stamper from Better Records.  I was really disappointed.  It had a fair amount of surface noise and the sleeve wasn't terrible, but was a bit worn.  All I could think was how mad I would have been had I actually spent big money on that record.

Some time later, I decided to give it another listen and compare it to some of the other copies I have, including a MFSL.  I was surprised to notice that while it was a little noisy, it certainly did have much better sonics and dynamics than the other pressings I owned. 

I can appreciate that the business model requires the purchase of multiple copies of a pressing and time spent listening to them all.  Taken in that context, the prices are not really that high.  It all comes down to what it's worth to you to have the best listening experience.  I bought 10 copies of Fly Like an Eagle trying to find one that sounded great and got close to great with one the MFSL copies I found.  It would have been easier and probably not have cost a lot more to just buy one from Better Records. 

I still haven't been able to bring myself to actually buy anything from Better Records, but I wouldn't just dismiss what they're doing out of hand.


Never heard of Better Records and their grading system. Is the happy medium just to buy those recordings on Ebay ? I assume people resell them there.
last time i visited Tom Port (Better Records) in his garage was 1999, and bought 10-15 records. not much impressed with his turntable. but i was happy with the pressings i bought. it was before he came up with the ’Hot Stamper’ branding.....and quadrupled his prices.

as far as best sounding vinyl predictably as a group; it’s certainly NOT early 80’s digitally recorded rock’n roll (Dire Straits). agree that they do sound good......but not great. got to go back 5-7 years to mid-70’s analog based masters (Eagles, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac) and find an original pressing. i’m not saying digitally sourced pressings are bad, just not top level.

but easily the best sounding records as a large group are the Classic Records late 90’s and early 2000’s single sided 45rpm’s. and then certain Analog Production and Music Matters subscription based 45rpm series pressings. these recordings were the top ’Golden Age’ performances (Classical, Jazz and Rock) and all analog. and the quality of the mastering and production is outstanding. and this was 15-25 years ago and the master tapes were in better shape than now.

i have almost 100% of these 45’s; a whole wall. i could list 200 of them and all would be winners. trying to find original pressings of all these recordings would run you hundreds of thousands of dollars if you could find them. and in many cases (not all) the 45 rpm reissue would sound better. try a few and see what you think. they are findable and predictably excellent.

if you are a Led Zeppelin fan; see if you can listen to the Classic Records 45 rpm single sided box set. these are absolutely astonishing. not cheap; but unless you have the master tape the best you will ever hear LZ.

direct-to-disc can also sound very good; but most are not the best performances. so you many times get great sound and second rate music.
Oh yeah, in terms of vinyl sound quality alone would have to agree. In terms of "to show off your system" though BIA is hard to beat. Between you and me, I would go for the ones you mentioned.
 I don't think anyone here can tell you what the "Very best sounding Vinyl" is.

I agree with Mikelavigne's assessment of a where a good sounding record comes from. 

45 rpm Classic Zepp recordings-I would love to hear LZI-3 and HOH on system like Mikes. I'm a period press guy, but I've heard raves from others. I have a nice 33rpm Classic HOH, but it doesn't hold up to my RL press.

My collection is essentially 1980 and backwards. Really, it's more apersonal preference of music. Anything beyond that on an LP is because it was originally offered as both CD or LP. Those records however, generally sound no better than a good file or CD.

Better Records is for the person who doesn't want to put in the time to bin dive. You're paying for the service of going thru 3+ copies of a great Rock, Jazz or Classical to find the "Goldilocks"  stamper press. Original period press is only a start to finding "the best". SQ will vary with each copy.

If you want to "show off your system" get some of those tired artists I hear at shows or demos. Do a check on Discogs to reference the period press to see what to look for. It's not 100% accurate, but pretty close.

Diana Krall
Jennifer Warnes
Eagles
Miles KOB
Dave Brubeck Time Out
Steely Day AJA or Gaucho
Dire Straits...someone complete the list, I'm getting nauseous.

Ugh...I truly enjoy hearing those artists, but not for "audio geek" listening sessions. 
The "audiophile" dilemma-- buying records that make your system sound good, or because you like the music? Granted, some records are great music and great recordings, but part of that depends on your taste, your pocketbook and where you are in accumulating LPs.
I eventually found the "sonic spectacular" stuff to be a dead-end; musically, just not interesting to me and I'll include within that, lots of soft jazz, classic rock warhorses, etc.
I know Mike likes the Classic 45s. I have two of the 45s- I didn't buy the road case when it came out. On LZ 1, I actually prefer an early Japanese pressing, but that may be subjective and based on system. I find a lot of audiophile reissues emphasize detail and have a somewhat 'tipped up' top end. 
If you are buying for sonic spectacularity, there are endless resources on the audiophile fora. Much of this stuff gets reissued repeatedly because it is a safe bet for sales--
I've fallen into the trap just like others- in some cases over a dozen pressings of a particular album. 
I think it is a journey of exploration for me at this point in my life. I'm interested in more different music. As one example, Cochemea Gastelum's All My Relations on the Daptone label is a mix of Native American chants, electric sax, BIG drum sounds and is a cool listen. It will set you back 20 bucks.  There's all kinds of deep jazz- not necessarily straight ahead, but a little more challenging- that you can find for almost nothing if you are willing to explore-- but that may not be your thing. Classical- the market is dead, except for a handful of high value records and there's a lot of good stuff if you know what you are after. 
Since it sounds like you are just building a collection, I would start with music you like and then research what the best pressings are; the Steve Hoffman forum is good for classic rock. If you are going to buy older records, you'll need to educate yourself. There is consensus on the audiophile favs but most of it is stuff that I don't listen to at this point- not b/c I'm a snob, but because it doesn't do anything for me. In other cases, it goes back to what you are after- AJA, to my ears, is a very dry sounding record; the Cisco, which everyone raved about is even more antiseptic sounding. Some people think this is great. Who am I to say. It's not my cuppa. (the AB press sounds better, standard issue stuff if you like that record). 
I actually managed to avoid listening to Dreaming with Dean or whatever it is called for a year or more, but got caught out one afternoon when invited to hear a very fancy system and the moment the needle came down, I knew what it was. Kinda broke my avoidance streak on that one. 
You'll also wind up playing in collector territory if you go deep enough. They aren't audiophiles. These are blue chip artifacts collected by geeks in band T shirts that are two sizes too small. Who knows if they'll be worth the kind of money they are currently fetching in some cases. I've spent serious money on some records... because I liked the music. Buying records is generally not a good investment, ,but if you are starting out, I understand why you want to be blown away. Just keep in mind that at some point, you may feel like you've been eating at an amusement park and there is far better fare elsewhere if you care to look. Hell, if you ate at 3 star Mich restaurants in France for a couple weeks, you'd get sick of it too. So, while you build your collection, read, listen, research, and surf artists. There's a ton to learn, and that's where a lot of the fun is, for me, anyway. 
Agree with the premise of what Michael said. My Stan Ricker Brothers in Arms is really good, but of course, digital. Doesn't compare to my original presses of other Dire Straits titles, especially my Love Over Gold (Masterdisk) stamper press. Agree with the above about the RL HOTH, which I prefer to the Classic. Houses is my least favorite of the Zep Classics... sure glad I own them though. I have a taste of what Mike's talking about with the 45's...I have the Stairway To Heaven 45, which came with my Classic 200 gram set of Zep I- IV...AMAZING. I have Rumors on RL, but just discovered the Winchester stamped press, and that's unreal...much better than my RL. Just recently realized I had 5 pressings of Joni: Court and Spark, and opened and cleaned a 1st US press with raised design on front cover. Just blew me away. Hejira is also fantastic, even the Rhino. Aja: best I have heard is my Cisco, or my original AB stamper press. Haven't determined which I like better, but would never part with either. Hank Mobley: Soul Station on Music Matters 33 is also one that I think is so good. There's just so much great stuff if you can find it. Test press of Tom Petty's first LP has something very special going on. The following not great sounding, but for me great music, and the best it will likely ever sound. My new (Old) pressing of Black Sabbath: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath on WWA label, a later UK press. The Vertigo may be better, but big bucks. The Sabbath may not belong in this group, but my point is choose the music that stirs your soul, and then find the very best sounding LP of it. I mean, Led Zeppelin sure isn't AUDIOPHILE sound, yet I could never live without my best sounding pressing of Graffiti or Zep III. Sorry, I RAMBLE ON when I'm tired (-:
Norah Jones as mentioned 
Walter Susskind conducting the London Philharmonic Crystal clear direct to disc everything you would want in a classical record.
Charlie's Byrd Crystal clear also d2d the drums are in the room.
The Band brown LP 45 rpm
I use these to demo my system.
@fjn04 -Bloody Sabbath was not released on Vertigo but their first album on the WWA label- the first four albums were on Vertigo and the cheap trick was to find those earlier albums on the WWA label bearing the Vertigo matrices that had been crossed out but used the Vertigo metal parts. Sabbath was my entry point into the Vertigo catalog which has some wonderful, obscure and well recorded prog rock.
I would recommend old mfsl vinyl, preferably mastered by Stan Ricker.  
For analog recordings the general rule is to find pressings from the home country of the label in question. The golden age for analog sound was late '50s to mid '60s. So for classical recordings from Decca or EMI get UK pressings, for RCA or Mercury get US pressings. For American jazz get US pressings (blue note, Prestige, Riverside et al). The earlier the pressing, the better the sound.

From the late '60s multi tracking became the norm, which changed the game with new engineering and production challenges. Some labels were more succesful than others in creating great sonics. Still, for British rock get UK pressings, for US rock, well you get the idea.

The most likely explanation is all record companies kept their original master tape and sent copy tapes to other countries. This quality step down at the source is elementary and can never be undone, no matter how good the engineering.

During many years of collecting vinyl records I've discovered that pressings which seem to be identical can differ greatly in sound. In some cases the matrix info on the deadwax with stamper codes and such can help explain these differences (the earlier the lacquer, mother and stamper, the better the sound). But many labels don't offer this kind of info, in which case comparative listening is your only option. This requires multiple copies (preferably in EX or NM condition), which is time consuming and costly.

This situation has created the business model of Better Records, who do all this work for you. I've never bought anything from them, but I'll bet their hot stampers are early copies from the country of origin. 



I guess I should say that in theory the Better Records business model could work,never having bought one and never likely too it's hard to be sure.

Just for myself I would derive little pleasure from the knowledge of having spent $400 on just one record....ever.
It would seriously outweigh any possible SQ uptick and would do a number on my mind that would never relent.

Just my 2 cents
Finding a lp that songs good and recorded well is like finding treasure. You guy most of you even say most of these new recordings that cost big bucks don't  sound as good as the orginal. Are you hoping to find treasure ? I will play the orginal lp or cd and for a lot of alot Cheaper.To me that's bliss......
If you stick to the general rule of original pressings from the country of original, you have the biggest change of getting the best sound. Collectors know this, which is why these pressings are usually the most sought after and expensive.

First pressings may have great snob appeal, but the smart audiophile collector should look for second pressings that are often very close in sound to the original and cost much less. Good example is Blue Note. Original label pressings made by Plastylite (identified by the ’ear’ in the dead wax) cost a small fortune these days, but slightly later new york or liberty pressings (without the ’ear’) sound almost identical. At least as long as they were mastered by engineer Rudy van Gelder (identified by ’RVG’ or ’vangelder’ stamped in the deadwax). These pressings can still be found at reasonable prices. This high quality ’second pressing’ option applies to many other labels as well.

With this strategy you can find your own hot pressings, which is much more fun than having someone else do it for you.

Good points indeed edgewear.

Discogs and Google are your friends in this endeavor.

Stay safe!
"A Meeting By The River" is a very natural sounding lp/s.
Anytime I run across a WLP of music I like, I snap that up
Jennifer Warnes - Famous Blue Raincoat (45rpm, Cisco I think) is very pleasant.

Ferit Odman - Dameronia With Strings sounds quite good.

Procol Harum - Procol Harum (2003 Classic Records, I think) is the one that matters.
White label promo are also a great idea, thanks brother Slaw for the reminder!

Bought a wlp of Ghosts by Strawbs very recently and it is stunning.
Hey Chuck,

My experiences with Better Records were a different experience than yours.  I bought Yes--Close to the Edge super hot stamper and compared it to the copy I had since college that had been given LAST treatment and played a ton.  I had a good friend over when I did this and we listened to both a couple times through.  I did the same with another album, but can't remember which album it was.  It was a super hot stamper also and my copy was again from college and had LAST treatment and had been played a bunch.  In both cases, my copy sounded better in all ways--not night and day better, but better.  I sent both of those back and haven't felt the urge to try again since.  That was about 6 years ago.  Both of my original albums were just OK to pretty good recordings typical of most of my collection.  Most of my albums are quiet with only occasional pops or none.  I purposely chose albums that were just typical of my collection rather than sonic spectaculars.  

Bob

Some good recordings & music:
Supertramp--Crime of the Century   (MF)
Loggins & Messina--Sailing the Wind
Blood, Sweat & Tears II
Michael Franks--Passion Fruit
War--Why Can't We Be Friends?

More to come--I have to arrange my albums after building cabinets to put them in again.

Super Hot is the lowest level of Hot Stampers. The thing about vinyl, quality does vary from copy to copy. There'e nothing magical about a Hot Stamper. They do after all come from the same pool of records as everyone else has. So odds are any given record in your collection could be Hot Stamper quality. In other words just because you have a random copy does not mean you have an average copy. Could be better, could be worse.  

The one Super Hot that I have is clearly a better than average copy, but its not rock your world better. White Hot, pretty much all of them are. Some of them- Tom Petty Souther Accents, Nilsson Schmilsson, Rumours- are absolute knockouts. Had a Audiogoner over he compared WH Rumors to 45, not even close. 

Not familiar with Yes. But you said you purposely chose average not exceptional recordings. That probably would have a lot to do with it. I have a White Hot Beatles Help and it sounds great, but it is what it is if you know what I mean. The better recordings tend to make for better Hot Stampers. 

In any case that's what they have the return for!😁
Am I the only one who thinks Dire Straits "Brothers In Arms" album is too hot? I wanna love the recording, I love the music, but it’s too sibilant for my taste....maybe its just my copy. On the other hand, Dire Straits debut album, "Dire Straits" is an incredible recording in comparison IMO.

-Norah Jones "Come Away With Me" (its darn near perfect)
-Chuck Mangione "Feels So Good"
-John Fogerty "Blue Moon Swamp"
-The Notting Hillbillies "Missing and Presumed Having a Good Time"
-Blue Note 86 "A New Generation of Jazz"
-Simply Red "Picture Book"
-Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto w/Itzhak Perlman (London Symphony/Chesky Records)
-Chet Baker and Bill Evans "Alone Together"
-Chet Atkins and Mark Knofler "Neck and Neck"
-Willie Nelson - Super Hits
-Amanda McBroom - "Dreaming"

"Am I the only one who thinks Dire Straits "Brothers In Arms" album is too hot?"


No, there is at least two of us.
"Am I the only one who thinks Dire Straits "Brothers In Arms" album is too hot? I wanna love the recording, I love the music, but it’s too sibilant for my taste....maybe its just my copy. On the other hand, Dire Straits debut album, "Dire Straits" is an incredible recording in comparison IMO"

I have the debut album, sounds pretty good. Never got into their music after that.

Wiki:

"Brothers in Arms was one of the first albums directed at the CD market, and was a full digital recording (DDD) at a time when most popular music was recorded on analog equipment. It was also released on vinyl (abridged to fit on one LP) and cassette. Producer Neil Dorfsman says the digital multitrack was mixed on an analog board with the resulting two track mix re-digitized via a Prism A/D converter and recorded on a DAT machine."


May as well play the CD but on better gear.

Just IMHO I feel BIA sounds better on cassette tape than it does on record, at least to my ears in my system.
Do not care for the CD at all though.
UJQRs of Supertramp Crime of the Century and Earl Klugh Finger Paintings are amazing as are the others (Dark Side, I Robot & Sgt Pepper). I have to say though, I never bought the Cat Stevens one (got all these back in college) and recently got the Acoustic Sounds QRP one and it sounded great to me - maybe UHQR level.

I had the regular MFSL Finger Paintings and Dark Side and own the Beatles MFSL collection, (which of course has Sgt Pepper) and I would say the UHQRs are noticeably better, but I am not as critical a listener as Miller Carbon or Mike Lavigne and haven't gone out to look for a better sounding copy of an album I already own that I like (except back in the day with the UHQRs).

The only exception to that is Kind of Blue, which I owned on 200g Classic Records and then bought the MFSL 45 box set (second release which supposedly sounded better than the first) which I like more. In general the 45s are better, but you have to get off your butt twice as often. It's worth it. My brother in law has the 4 LP single sided version of it which I haven't asked to borrow to test, but I've heard that is the best one.

I am not a collector looking for investment gains - I listen to all of them, but I did sell the Kind of Blue one to a record store and the owner was just going to keep it for his collection. The records should be enjoyed - they are not stamps or coins or baseball cards!
  
I do have the occasional regular release and I am sure several of those are white hot stampers (maybe they were the first pressings off the plate) Pat Metheny Offramp and Earl Klugh/George Benson - Collaboration come to mind. Some Japanese pressings are great too, but they vary (as I guess all do).
So in my role as the OP, I took the Better Reords plunge and tried out A Night at the Opera, Super Hot Stamper A++ both sides. Original 1975 pressing. $150.

All I can say is Wow! Dynamic, raw, clean. Freddie came alive in my living room. Loud. I can barely turn the volume up. 45 year old record kept in great shape by its previous owner(s).  I can not imagine what a White Hot Stamper of this vinyl sounds like. 

Thx @millercarbon

I won’t be buying many of these but will pick and choose my most favorites for my birthday or other special occasion/gift certificates. And to look out for special pricing, I was told.

"So in my role as the OP, I took the Better Reords plunge and tried out A Night at the Opera, Super Hot Stamper A++ both sides. Original 1975 pressing. $150."

Not surprising.

I've mentioned a few times(like a broken record) that my local store would have Better Records scouts going thru the bins for that $400 copy of Steely Dan's "Pretzel Logic."

I have many copies of recordings that are at least "super hot" and maybe a few "white hot" keepers.

It's just a matter of wanting to put in the time. Or in this case, depending where you are, it's the ONLY way to get a stamper, since stores are closed.
@tablejockey 

Yup. Kinda like baseball cards at a garage sale (years ago).  
Now you're enlightened.

Perfect excuse to find a Pete Townsend white jumpsuit for bin diving.

http://www.citizenthought.net/images/SGandPete.jpg
So in my role as the OP, I took the Better Records plunge and tried out A Night at the Opera, Super Hot Stamper A++ both sides. Original 1975 pressing. $150.

All I can say is Wow! Dynamic, raw, clean. Freddie came alive in my living room. Loud. I can barely turn the volume up. 45 year old record kept in great shape by its previous owner(s). I can not imagine what a White Hot Stamper of this vinyl sounds like.

Thx @millercarbon

To the OP: You're welcome. 

To the doubters: Tol' ya so!
I won’t be buying many of these but will pick and choose my most favorites for my birthday or other special occasion/gift certificates. And to look out for special pricing, I was told. 

That's the way to do it. Only problem, depending on what you want it can be almost impossible to do it that way. Many times I have seen mailers with something I wanted and as fast as I can get there its gone. There's one I've been wanting enough I bookmarked the search and would look just about every day. One day I didn't look and the next day there it was- SOLD! Arrgh! 

Then on the other hand there are plenty of good ones that turn up fairly regularly, you just have to become a watcher over time to realize this. Keep coming back you will notice the titles everyone wants can go for crazy money. There was a better than White Hot (A++++) Pink Floyd DSOTM recently for $800! I post this partly for you, partly because I know it will trigger someone. (And oh how I do love to trigger someone.) 

Tom makes the argument his nearly White Hots are a great bargain, because they are very close to A+++ but for a lot less. My experience has been when the truly White Hot ones, as expensive as they are, are so good they are totally worth it. Super Hot some dumpster diver can probably scoop one up and after hours cleaning and comparing 20 copies come up with one just as good. White Hot, put down the pipe, you are dreaming. 

It depends on the recording of course but some of these are absolute jaw-droppers. Never in my life would have dreamed Tom Petty Southern Accents was a freaking demo disk! Always liked the music, never dreamed it was so well recorded. Now its one of my all-time faves. And according to Tom Port its not even the best Petty, that honor goes to Damn the Torpedoes. Both recorded by Shelley Yakus. Which they happen to have in stock right now. 

Er, did. Heh.



@millercarbon

Can’t see how there are doubters. I have zero hidden agenda other than trying to build a vinyl collection about 35-40 years too late. Lol. And its capitalism supply vs. demand at its most exaggerated level.

Now Im sure there are duds and you have 30 days to return no questions asked. I have about 20 other records so far from other popular sites. Of those 20, Joni Mitchell Blue and Norah Jones Come away.. are top notch that i bought elsewhere, the other 18 suck and prob spent $450. Would I much rather have instead 3 reference quality stamper recordings? Yeah maybe, probably. The Queen vinyl is that good and I had it in cd and cassette which wasn’t even close to the realism of this vinyl record.
I have a TP Damn the Torpedoes on a MCA Masterphile album release  (they made a handful of these titles back in the early 80's - I also have Who's Next) and the Petty one is amazing. Not sure if it's "White Hot" but it's up there. Who's next is nice, but I think the original recording just wasn't that great. 

MFSL Aja has been played so much that the jacket color is gone at certain areas from handling, but the vinyl still sounds great to me. Especially drums and effects on the title track. Signal to noise is kind of low as it is on some of the MFSLs. On the other hand, I have the MFSL of Katy Lied (big collector's item) and it stinks - original tapes must have had some problems. Japanese pressing of Gaucho is amazing, better sounding than Aja (but not as good an album, but still up there).

Maybe one of these days I'll consider a Better Records one, but I've never paid more that $50 for a record, so it will take a mind set change. Fagen Morph the Cat could be a consideration - haven't been able to find that.
aj523,
Sound quality on vinyl is very complicated. At first glance the BR concept seems preposterous. Anyone buying vinyl has come across some that are noisier than others, sometimes so bad they get a refund or replacement. Happens a lot. Almost always the replacement seems identical except for surface noise.  

Reading about Hot Stampers made me curious. There's several dupes in my collection. Never thought to compare them. Sure enough, no two really do sound quite the same. Okay most the difference was slight, but one it was big enough to really make me think there might be something to this.  

Now with around a dozen I have to say, no duds. Of course, all we can really do is fine exceptionally good pressings. In this respect records are just like everything else. The perfect component does not make the recording sound good. It merely allows the really good recordings to shine through unmolested. The really good pressing is just the same. So the quality depends first and foremost on the underlying recording.  

That said, it is sometimes shocking to hear how much better the original recording was than we thought. Tom Petty is a good example. Never in my life imagined his recordings were any good. They certainly don't sound great on anything else I ever heard. But the White Hot Stamper of Southern Accents is mind-blowing in its dynamics and sized. I mean its just huge! And Damn the Torpedoes is supposed to be even better??! We will just have to see!
I don’t know if like classical. But if you want a recording that sounds like a real orchestra is in the room with you. Find a reissue of the DECCA Mahler Symphony No. 2 Restoration, with Heather Harper and Helen Watts by Georg Solti and The London Symphony.
Gerald
So I dropped in today on Generation Records on Thompson Street, West Village NYC. I used to pass by that place all the time but not this time.

Only had an hour but could have spent 3-4 hrs going through their two huge floors of vintage used records and some new ones both at great prices.

Thinking about Better Records and finding that diamond in the rough Stamper quality but wasn’t fully prepared with a list or even know what pressings i was looking for exactly, so I’ll be back. They get used records coming in daily - most are $5-$10.

Purchased
Damn the Torpedos. Tom Petty
Hard Promises, Tom Petty
Night and Day, Joe Jackson
Caribou, Elton John
Jump Up, Elton John
Victim of Love, Limited Edition,, Elton John
Frontiers, Journey
Carole King greatest hits (new).

Cleaning them now. Sunday Funday.

Wish me luck!