A recent debate I had on another forum regarding the MFSL Beatles box set versus the 2012 remasters saked my thirst to delve further into the world of ' best vinyl'. A few threads/posts on there positively trash Better Records, and their business, which is finding so-called hot stampers and selling them for, well,I guess whatever they can get for them. Personally I don't have the time or inclination to buy up dozens of the same title and listen to them all to choose the best. I guess Tom and his team does and boy does he charge you for the privilege.
Now, there are a few records that quite finally I just could not live without and if I could get mind blowing versions of then then yes I would pay through the nose for them. They include Revolver Mono, The Blue Nile Walk Across the Rooftops, Stravinsky Firebird, Joni Mitchell Ladies of the Canyon, Miles Sketches of Spain,Rubber soul, Sgt Pepper, Aretha Young Gifted and Black,M Jackson Off the Wall,Nat King Cole Love is the Thing, Bowie Ziggy...you get the picture.
So I emailed Tom with this challenge:I believe I own a true reference music system. I believe this because I can compare the records I've been involved in at home versus how they sounded when I produced/ mixed them
Bottom line I think my system is accurate and allows me to hear pretty much everything on the record - and because of my ears and experience I believe I can sort right from wrong
Here's my system photo enclosed.):http://www.ecossecables.co.uk/why-ecosse.html
Here's the challenge. You say this and that about hot stampers versus 'audiophile' heavy vinyl, half mastered etc. I'd like to prove it for myself. Let me listen to one of your hot stampers and let me compare it to something I own. If what you say is right I'll prefer your version(s), in which case I'll buy it! Simple as that.We could try any Beatles, or Bowie Ziggy, or Hotel California, or NKCole vs my DCC, or Revolver Mono, or Sketches of Spain, or a Doors versus my DCCs, or Firebird, Stravinsky or ladies of the canyon or court & spark or Blue Nile Walk across the rooftops, Genesis:Selling England Elvis is Back...plenty plenty more but that's a good start. Interested?
Well I didn't hear back from him so I sent him a follow up: hi
I'm wondering if my challenge is too much for you but at least a response would be nice. If not, I'll presume the stuff on your website re " hit stampers" is without merit, or debatable at best
Then, he emailed to say he HAD responded but I didn't get it. This is what he resent:'xxxxxx, thanks for contacting us. We are happy to make you the same offer we make anyone and everyone who comes to our site -- our pressing will kill whatever you own or your money back. In your case I'll even pay the return shipping!
Pick any record you like and pay for it. If you are not thrilled we give you all your money back; you have literally nothing to lose. Try a Beatles record. You have two sets there that we don't think too highly of, happy to take them on, if they sound anything like the sets I've auditioned it should be a wipe-out.'
I responded : Hi Tom
That's fighting talk my friend. So yes I will take you on. You may not like my box sets. Personally I don't like the 2012 remasters ( too harsh which clouds micro details) and I don't care what ( some) xxxxxx on the forum say about the MFSL. As a whole it's very good
One thing I'd like to reiterate. With me you get studio experience mixing and producing experience, and multi award winning HiFi cable manufacturer An unusual combination I'm sure you'll agree. My system trounces every system I have heard anywhere in the planet. One day you should come hear it. Others have travelled from far and wide and confirm my experience. In a small ****** listening room with ZERO acoustic treatment windows on one side and speakers less than 3ft from either wall it is truly a wonder.
He came back with:'Xxxxx, we are happy to let anyone write anything they like about the records they have received from us, we have plenty of critics and defenders alike. Our take is that the records speak for themselves, at least on any system worth a damn. (The vast majority of our critics have never heard one of our Hot Stampers, as any casual perusal of a forum thread about us will make abundantly clear.) Even Michael Fremer has admitted that we sell damn good records -- never thought I would hear that from him!
We honestly can't predict what any person will hear on our records, if only because audio systems as a rule are so idiosyncratic, but with a return rate of about one per cent we haven't found it to be too much of a problem. We let people decide for themselves if our service is of value, and have no idea what they are listening for on any given record, or even what they think they are hearing. After being heavily involved in audio for most of the last forty years I have given up trying to figure out why audiophiles like what they do. We just sell the records we think sound right and hope our customers hear what they like. So far so good, especially considering the prices we charge.
OK, ready to rumble. Do you have a record in mind, or would you like us to help you pick a winner? We are happy to help in any way we can, it's part of our service. (Most of our sales are done outside of the site to our best customers who simply tell us what albums they would like to hear with better sound than can be found elsewhere.)
Get back to us with your thoughts or order something off the site, whatever works best for you.'
Here is my reply:Thx. Tom
For the sake of spreading the word I may well post this on the site. The naysayers can just suck it up eh? Of course I may turn out to be a naysayer too lol
I'm thinking my favourites would be Joni Ladies of the Canyon and Court and Spark or Revolver mono, or Stevie Wonder Innervisions then Blue Nile walk across the rooftops. Carpenters 69-73 Sgt Pepper mono Stravinsky Firebird Miles Sketches of Spain Eagles Hotel C and Hits. Let me know of ANY you think I should listen to - of course I'll only evaluate if I have something to compare against
My system is I assure you no way idiosyncratic. I can compare the records i made to the tapes I personally mixed. Its as neutral as hell and frighteningly revealing! If the records eqd crap it sound crap in my system - visa versa and it fills the room yes even behind your head. Over to you
His response"xxxxxx, we are down with whatever you choose to do, we trust your judgment in the matter (as if we have any real say over what you may or may not choose to write)..We do have a top Pepper in stock; of course it won't be mono, never heard a good one and doubt such a thing exists, old cutter heads being full of distortion:
Not sure what kind of price range you want to be in, our top copies of famous albums often exceed $500, but of course those are the records that really make our case as Sellers of the Best Sounding Vinyl on the Planet (or something like that).
The only killer Joni we have in stock is Blue, but we have very good copies of her other albums as you can see:No Firebird, although I did have this to say about the Classic, a record I found plenty of fault
No killer Hotel Ca but some good Eagles records:
This copy would be quite good on side one, a good test for not too much money:
Anyway, this should give you some good choices
And now we're up to date.
Anyone bought a hot stamper from Tom? Anyone care to comment on Toms ideas. No I don't want to get into a slanging match with anyone who disses him because of price. That's NOT the point. The question is are 'hot stampers' of originals better than say half speed masters, 180/200gm remaster virgin vinyls etc etc