Tom is first and foremost an opportunist... he saw a niche market with a high disposable income that will pay for anything commissioned the best...even if unfounded...so Port has managed to find some stellar copies of some of the best selling lps of all time...guess what...so have many...myself included... Although it has taken me years...but that's the appeal..finding a diamond in the rough on your own accord ...some people can't or don't want to do the leg work...and that's up to them...and to be fair...he does offer a money back guarantee...and reports are his products are of merit...but he has somehow mystified the process while touting his "hot stamper" rhetoric ...and along with exorbitant prices...kinda ruined the fun of it...he also was a proponent of DCC recordings but changed his stance...bit ofca charlatan move.
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Some years ago I was invited to listen to an Audiophile's System and after a while the owner brought some records he bought from TP, really outstanding sonics.
Very impressing indeed.
And for his pricing, well try it on your own, buy 5-8 identical records to find the one and only, you won't get those 8 for free ...
I do my own scrounging for used records ... and even if I could afford Tom's prices I wouldn't pay them, preferring to scrounge on my own.
With that said, a good friend of mine, a total vinyl guru, shops garage sales, estate sales and thrift stores to find great stampers/recordings to sell to Tom Port. I've heard a ton of them through my system before they get to Tom. I've compared them to the copies I own ... with few exceptions, they all surpass my copies in silence, dynamics, sound stage and tonal balance. If a person can afford the price ... I say enjoy them and more power to you.
In the late 80's Tom's apartment and mine were a couple of blocks apart, his very near the corner of Ventura Blvd. (as immortalized by Tom Petty in his song "Free Falling") and Van Nuys Blvd. It was a great neighborhood---locals like Johnny Ramone, Dave Edmunds, and Billy Swan could be seen getting a coffee, bagel, or newspaper on the street. Sherman Oaks has now joined the rest of the Valley in becoming a ghetto.
Both Tom and I moved away, and it looks like he's done pretty well for himself, as his current room is much bigger than his tiny apartment in Sherman Oaks was. Back then his prices had yet to escalate to where they are now; I got a "hot" pressing of the German "Magical Mystery Tour" LP for something not-too-bad, maybe twenty five bucks, I don't remember. Luckily (I guess!), I have more records now than I have hours left in this lifetime to listen to! So Tom will have to get by without more of my money.
Yeah, weird to see those kind of components in a system used to evaluate the sound of LP's. He's obviously never heard a high performance system. I should have had him over to hear the Quad ESL/ARC/VPI-Rega-Grado rig I had when he was down the street. Looking back at him now, I do seem to recall he struck me as a know-it-all kinda guy. I remember he made very little eye contact, always a sign that something is not quite right with a person. He also never stopped moving, very fidgety, with a lot of nervous energy. Other than that he was cool ;-).
I wonder if those who shell out the ridiculous amount of money for Port's hot stampers ever stop to think about the sheer absurdity of what he purports to be selling. I do agree there are differences in sound between pressings of the same record or even within the same pressing. However, there were hundreds of thousands of copies pressed, if not millions, of many of the most popular records he sells. The idea that you can go out there, find a few copies of those records, do a "shootout" and find a "white hot stamper" over and over again with different titles based on his resources and process is statistically impossible.
What I suspect is happening is that he obtains several copies of a title and grades them within that batch based on their sonic merit. The best sounding of the batch gets a white hot stamper rating and a ridiculous sticker price to go with it. But in the absolute sense, another copy may sound just as good or better than his white hot stamper, based just on the number of copies pressed and the impossibly monumental task of listening to enough copies of the same record to label any of them superior to other copies. You can only compare among the copies you have. How many does he use in his shootout? 5, 7, 10, 15 (doubtful)? Never enough to be able to legitimately declare something is sonically superior to the 99% or even 75% copies out there that he'll never listen to.
Then the insecure and lazy well-off audiophiles pay the crazy price and blindly content themselves with the idea that their copy sounds better than any other copy out there, because a guy with no basic understanding of audio equipment told them so. Just sad.
The Dynavector 17D3 Phono Cartridge has a diamond cantilever and has a ruler-flat frequency response out to 30Khz. It was also an Absolute Sound Editor's Choice in 2014 and got their Golden Ear award in 2007. Maybe it's a good choice for an evaluation tool.
Also, Legacy Focus speakers and a Wheaton Triplanar aren't exactly meh.
Many of us tune our systems to sound good with as many records as possible. He needs his system to do the exact opposite. Maybe our gear selection choices are different because our goals are different.
For me, Johnny, it's not his system that gives me pause (the Townshend tweeters are fantastic. The low powered 70's receiver, not so good), but rather his opinion that tube amps make everything sound warm and snuggly. That view of how things sound brings into question Tom's qualifications to judge the sound of LP pressings.
I've discussed Tom's use of the DV-17D with my friend who sells TP records. You are exactly correct in your assessment. Tom uses the Dynavector cartridge because it is ruler flat. Its great for assessing the true sound of a record. This is for analysis purposes and not necessarily for audiophile music enjoyment.
I went to Tom's one time years ago when he was using the Legacy Whispers. I didn't like the sound. IMHO the Legacy Focus is a better sounding speaker. Personally, I've been using the Legacy Signature III's for years now. Very similar sound to the Focus, except the Focus is more relaxed in its presentation. I'd go for the Focus, but I'm afraid they would overpower my room.
On Tom's electronics: I don't see a problem there either. We have to consider that Tom uses his system mainly as an analytic tool. Some of the solid state amps and receivers built back in the 70's and early 80's can be quite remarkable. The early Yamaha stuff comes to mind. Sony too. Oh, and if your ever setting up a cheap bedroom system or a dorm system ... check Ebay for a Sherwood 7100 or 7100A receiver. For under a hundred bucks for a mint one, you can get some crazy good sound. VERY decent headphone amp in them too. I have one in my bedroom system ... 20 bucks at a local thrift store.
Speaking of older SS electronics, in the late 70s I had to downsize my system and ended up with a Sansui 717 integrated amp driving used Maggie MG1s. I wouldn't suggest the Sansui would work well with all speakers but that match was very musically satisfying.
I also agree with Oregonpapa about those Sherwoods. I helped more than one friend in that era put together a system with the Sherwood receiver and Dynaco A-25/35, Advent, or KLH speakers.
BTW, most of my systems since the Sansui have included tubes.