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Hot Stamper issues

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Initial post: Jan 16, 2009 6:50:53 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 16, 2009 6:51:41 PM PST
DKPete says:
Over the course of the last year or so, I have fallen knee deep back into vinyl. I began (concienciously) collecting record albums in the very early seventies and own , still, many of my original copies as well as reissues thereof, imported copies, MFSL goes on and on.

I thought I was onto something "hot" when I discovered the surge of 180g reissues that were out there. Needless to say, I have bought a few-some are worth their hype (the ones on Classic Records and some of the MFSL in particular) and others have been a pretty big disappointment (the 180g Capitol reissue of Imagine...full of clicks and pops galore).

Now we get to what are known as "hot stamper" pressings which sell for far beyond anything I can afford at this point in time. My goal is to one day own at least ONE of these: The Beatles White Album...but before even setting out to "achieve" this ridiculously massive purchase (or, at least, what APPEARS to be "ridiculous" for a record album), I ask anyone who knows...are these things worth the hundreds of dollars they are selling for? And the folks who are behind these are also VERY quick to put down nearly every other format of vinyl re-issue out there. Can anyone shed any light for me as to why these "hot stampers" are supposedly the end all and be all of vinyl pressings? Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2009 9:22:15 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 23, 2009 9:28:03 PM PST
Roger Lawry says:
Dear DKPete: I have known Tom Port of Better Records for almost 20 years now and bought many audiophile pressings from him over the years. Some time ago Tom started to advertise that he had better versions of many titles than the audiophile records he was selling. I just wrote it off as a small wannabe record dealer looking for a trick to allow him to play with the big boys, so I resisted it for many years. Finally, I decided to try one of what he now was calling hot stampers and charging big bucks for it. Blood, Sweat, and Tears, I believe. I was surprised to hear it eclipse the DDL and MFSL half-speed versions I had. So I now have about 90 hot stampers, and found in all cases except one, they sound better than any other version I had heard. In fact, I am now disappointed to find I paid big bucks on "audiophile" records that, in most cases, are not the best versions of a record. So are they worth it? Tough question. If you are willing to pay big bucks on stereo hardware to improve the sound of recordings, why not on software? They are worth it to me. Hope this helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 29, 2009 11:49:00 PM PST
Trent S. says:
That would be the very last part of the equation I would recommending spending money on.

I believe you would almost certainly get far more result from spending that money on upgrades to your hardware (Turntable/ arm/ record cleaning system/ amplification/ speakers/ etc).

And whereas money spent on a "hot stamper" may bring a difference you might hear on that ONE ALBUM, money spent on your hardware will bring benefits you hear on EVERYTHING you listen to.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 30, 2009 2:53:45 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 30, 2009 3:01:02 PM PST
DKPete says:
Trent S...excellent point. I'm obviously letting my fanaticism about certain albums get the best of me. In saying what you state, however, I don't know what your experience with Hot Stampers is, but even with the equipment upgrade, shouldn't the HS's sound that much BETTER above and beyond the other pressings?

This is what I'm trying to understand; the reviewers on the STAMPER sites, go out of their way to demean almost every other type of "high quality" pressing around in comparison to their product. Given, then, the same level of equipment for ALL albums, do the STAMPERS outdo the others so massively...if so, how? "They" state that you've never heard The Beatles (for instance) till you've heard them on these very expensive pressings...I am dying to know how...they don't talk in specifics...tell me how the texture of the cymbals or the vocals sound (hundreds of dollars worth) THAT much different...the best way is to "invest" in one of these things and decide for myself because, for all the writing in the world, HEARING is believing...but, alas, my bank account does not allow me that luxury.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 31, 2009 9:46:04 AM PST
Roger Lawry says:
Trent, yes I also agree that money spent on hardware has a positive effect on every record in your collection. I just upgraded my phono stage to a Manley Steelhead and am re-discovering every record I have. And no doubt, the resale value is really only a few bucks to almost every person in the world, if anything at all. My rule of thumb is that if I don't like a record, buying a hot stamper will not suddenly make me like the music, i.e. I would rather listen to a favorite artist on a boombox than listen to a hot stamper on my big rig of someone I really don't care for. However, I have been amazed to find great recordings of some of my favorite records that I had trouble warming up to because the recording was so mediocre. If I had to characterize what I generally hear in HS pressings over other standard or "audiophile" versions is that the music seems to come alive, a lot more dynamic and punchy, easier to follow instrumental lines, a lot more presence and immediacy, and a lot better bass. Once I go back to the other pressing it just sounds dead, bland, blah. Does it make me hate the music, absolutely not, but the HS communicates the music so much more. So, yes, I don't buy HS pressings of every record Tom finds, only my favorite recordings. I mean, what good is buying a hot stamper of Girl Scout Troop #657 singing the Girl Scout Theme Song of I will play it once and put it on the shelf forever? However, I have spent tens of thousands of $ on hardware, so why wouldn't I spend a few hundred on a favorite record--hardware won't make a crappy record sound good no matter what you do--if the info isn't there in the first place, nothing will put it there. Just my $0.02.

Posted on Feb 5, 2009 8:22:49 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Sep 1, 2010 6:21:59 AM PDT
Tom Port has long sold what he calls "hot stampers" (as far back as the early 90's). Being in CA, He has available to him alot of used vinyl, he plays around 30 or more copies of a record and designates the best ones "Hot Stampers". His marketing premise is that regular pressings often sound better than their 180g audiophile counterparts. 180g records marketing and hype often eclipse their actual sound quality, not to say some don't sound good, but alot don't. A friend who worked in the business told me this a long time ago, I doubted it at first or maybe the whole idea of buying used Vs. new vinyl seemed unattractive to me at the time since I'm particular about condition. An above average regular pressing bought at a used store for a few bucks will usually be better than the 30 dollar 180g version. Though there are exceptions where it would be very hard to outdo the 180g version. On the other hand Port's hot stamper prices are absurd, he does have his "money back guarantee", so DK Pete I suppose you can order up that White album with "nothing to lose" as he says. DK pete, some love his Hot stampers and have no problem paying several hundred dollars though I know of at least a few people that tried a hot stamper- one guy thought his $2 copy he bought at Tower records sounded better than Tom's $200 dollar hot stamper. Another guy heard some differences but did'nt think it was worth the money, and another guy did'nt like the hot stamper at all and sent it back and Tom told him something is wrong with his stereo. I don't doubt the "hot stamper" records sound good but I'm always amazed at how audiophiles need someone to tell them something sounds good (whether it be equipment reviews or Lp reviews, or Tom Port's "master tape sound" declarations and other hyperbole, unless he happens to have the master tape of that recording, and obviously he does'nt). Any Lp mastering engineer will tell you it is immpossible to get the exact sound of the master tape onto an Lp, but Tom's records must be that impossible exception. He says on his site he thinks MFSL is one of the worst audiophile labels, but yet he sells them himself and not for cheap, usually a hundred bucks, while simultaneously claiming he is keeping you from bad audiophile records. Why not have some integrity and not sell the same audiophile records you denounce? The long and short of it is anyone who collects records for a long time will learn how to find good sounding ones, which is all Tom Port is doing. Nowadays Tom likes records that have a strong bass and smooth clear top end. At least that's how all of his "recommended" records sound. Around 15 years ago he recommended some records that were kind of thin and bright, because he used to have a warm sounding system. Now he uses a different system and favors records that sound good on that set up. Saying there are not variations in Lp pressings is like saying all bread tastes the same. However, the very same record played with a Grado Statement moving iron cartridge will sound different than when played with an Ortofon or Clear audio moving coil cartridge or Goldring moving magnet cartridge, btw Port uses a Dynavector cartridge- what Port discounts is your own musical preferences, system and room acoustics will not be the same as his, but hey he's got stuff to sell you to fix that too! so buy a magic pillow along with that hot stamper.

Posted on Apr 9, 2010 9:02:59 AM PDT
It wouldn't surprise me a bit to discover that the "hot stamper" a.k.a. "regular" pressings of albums sound better than the special "audiophile" versions put out by MFSL and other hi end companies. Vinyl manufacturing methods are not the be-all-and-end all of quality sound. MASTERING is probably as important (if not more so) than the weight of the record and whether it is half-speed mastered or direct-to-disc. A poorly mastered lp will still sound like crap regardless of how well the disc itself is manufactured. So a "hot stamper" that is well-mastered could certainly sound better than an "audiophile" version that was created from a later-generation tape.

The prices for those "hot stampers" are indeed quite high, even ridiculous in some cases. But since many of these "hot stampers" were churned out by the millions, there's no reason you can't find a copy at a much lower price elsewhere. I recently found a "hot stamper" edition of Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk" album for 13 dollars at a local junk store. In pristine condition, too.

Posted on Apr 9, 2010 10:48:03 AM PDT
Jaykayess says:
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Posted on Apr 15, 2010 11:00:32 AM PDT
MC says:
DKPete-I've had some experience w\ Tom PORT,and I've liked some of the records from him; but, his prices have just gone through the roof, $500 for an exile just this week and his critisism of other lines is very self-serving and sometimes just wrong... More fun to go to a used store and find that special copy on my own, now that is a thrill!!
Believe the best thing I bought from him was a fleetwood mac "future Games" that did indeed sound better than the other four copies I had( a personal fav)

Posted on Apr 25, 2010 5:51:21 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on May 9, 2012 3:06:05 PM PDT]

Posted on Aug 25, 2010 9:03:40 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 25, 2010 9:35:01 AM PDT
Yes many popular records were pressed by the millions and had several different cuts/masterings. Rumors by Fleetwood Mac for example, Ken Perry at K disc cut this many times. Putting aside the concept of "Hot stampers" i.e there is that one of millions that is a miracle of sound- there is no denying pressing variations, which btw are not limited to "first" or "original" pressings versus all others. Port's basic concept can be tested in your own home, all you have to do is buy several copies of Fleetwood Mac "Rumors" and play them all, while your at it throw on the audiophile Nautilus version- if they sound all the same to you then forget it and soldier on- or maybe you think one sounds better than the others.

Posted on Aug 27, 2010 4:38:01 AM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Aug 27, 2010 6:34:39 AM PDT
Carl, no he's not selling any hot stampers as new. He gathers around 30 or more used copies of a record and plays them all, cleans them, then grades them by condition, then he gives them a grade for sound quality, ones he thinks sound the best he grades A+++ calls them "white hot stampers" and charges around 500 dollars. He's been in business for over 20 years, so somebodys buying them.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 27, 2010 7:20:47 AM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Aug 27, 2010 7:22:57 AM PDT
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In reply to an earlier post on Aug 27, 2010 8:37:26 AM PDT
Yep, not a bad profit margin. I used to get regular records from him before he started in with the 500 dollar hot stampers and started acting like you're wasting his time unless you were a hot stamper customer.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2010 8:32:49 AM PDT
Jaykayess: With all due respect, you need to listen to the same music played on a high end analog playback system vs. a comparable digital system using the same amps and speakers. We have done it many times over the years with SACD and DVD audio and other high resolution digital media and the vinyl wins every time no exception.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 8, 2010 12:44:03 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 24, 2010 6:32:54 AM PDT
PJ I'd agree analog is still the state of the art, but the catch is it costs alot to fully realize what's in the grooves of a well made Lp, at real world price levels digital will often outdo analog or maybe their turntable/cartridge isnt situated and aligned precisely. Port says if you are using an under 1000 dollar turntable by Rega, Technics or Project then you don't need to buy records from him. His marketing is aimed at well heeled audiophiles, actually he is now part of the high end audio snobery- makes fun of people who enjoy records on affordable turntables on his site.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 8, 2010 3:03:12 PM PDT
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Posted on Sep 8, 2010 3:05:31 PM PDT
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Posted on Sep 9, 2010 3:52:00 PM PDT
D. Solomon says:
People. In case you haven't figured it out, we are all listening to Analog. Your Speakers are analog. The only difference between a turntable and a CD, SACD, is the way the music is extracted. Every tone arm adds its own signature sound, as do speakers and room acoustics. Digital music is an exact recreation of the original wave form produced by a laser, but it still must be converted to analog before you can understand it as music. So which is better, analog or analog? This whole argument is silly, because it is all analog. The argument should be which method of extraction is superior. Seeing as turntables and tonearms use a form of friction to extract music from the grooves as opposed to the more refined method of using a frictionless laser beam, I believe the superior method is the laser.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 9, 2010 4:29:48 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 9, 2010 4:30:24 PM PDT
KBIC says:

Then go and find the CD forums. This is the vinyl forums. I have said this to CE many times and have since started ignoring his posts because he refuses to take heed.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 9, 2010 4:50:27 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on May 9, 2012 3:07:04 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 9, 2010 6:05:02 PM PDT
D. Solomon says:

I was commenting on all of the Analog vs. Digital posts in this "Vinyl Forum". Your rude little rant shows you off for what you are. I will continue to post wherever I choose. If you don't like it, you can always ignore my posts the way you say you ignore CE.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 9, 2010 6:16:23 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on May 9, 2012 3:07:05 PM PDT]
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Discussion in:  Vinyl forum
Participants:  29
Total posts:  154
Initial post:  Jan 16, 2009
Latest post:  Oct 9, 2014

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