"Better Records" website and their business practices as they apply to our hobby*

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by violetvinyl, Jul 14, 2014.

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  1. Sheik Yerbouti

    Sheik Yerbouti Forum Resident

    There may be "hot stampers" or even "white hot stampers", but there are many cases of albums in which they sort of have a natural limitation and can't turn s**t into gold.
    Jrr likes this.
  2. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Sweet VA.

  3. Bill Hart

    Bill Hart Forum Resident

    Doing your own listening comparisons can be very rewarding. I did a shoot-out of the Lynyrd Skynyrd "Pronounced": early SOS, MoFi, a few other copies. The one that stood out was a later MCA "rainbow" pressing. There was nothing about it that said "killer"- truth is, I don't even remember why I bought it, or when. Granted, even buying non-super-collectible copies can add up, but it is nowhere near these prices. And, if you are inclined, you can sell off the less preferred copies- something I neglect to do, which is why my shelves often have multiple copies of the same record.
    Jrr, Moonbeam Skies and trumpetplayer like this.
  4. Anton888

    Anton888 Well-Known Member

    Could you give some information concerning that certain pressing of "Even in the quietest moments", please?
  5. Anton888

    Anton888 Well-Known Member

    Could you give some more information concerning these two pressings, please?
    Thank you.
  6. bibijeebies

    bibijeebies Forum Resident

    Amstelveen (NL)
    He first needs to find his own 'Even on the Quietest Surfaces'.
    Jrr likes this.
  7. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher

    New York, NY
    He doesn't need to reveal the matrix info, just show the label at the very least. I still wouldn't be a customer of his because I'm capable of doing what he does on my own and I do currently do what he does on my own, but showing the label would make it seem less shady to someone like me anyway...for what that's worth.
    Daryl Broussard and Shawn like this.
  8. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    That has to be totally correct. Though I believe there can be ten of the same exact pressings with the same matrix info, and one can sound better than the other nine, if the mastering sucks it doesn't matter. So, I have to believe they have a very nice list of magic matrix numbers. Now, if he would sell THAT, you would really have something! You would still have to go out into the wild and find those records though. Not easy. But also not worth $750 or whatever, at least not to me.
  9. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    Are you kidding? For free? That's proprietary information. I can't just give that away. It takes months and months to go and find all those records and then sit down and go through them all. But, we are running a special! I can sell you the record for $2000, or I'll give you the matrix info for $1995!! Or, with all our artificial retail prices, you can wait for our email coupon and we'll give you a generous 10% off! Yea. I think that's what I enjoy more than anything about his site (as a business owner)....making up his own retail prices (which he has to....he doesn't have a competitor to base anything on) and then having his "sales". Love it. Wish I could get away with that.

    Or, I can just give you the numbers because I have been helped immeasurably around here and I don't make a living finding the best stuff, I just obsess over it! Side one: SP-5005-P1 and side 2: SP5006-P5. That is all that is in the dead wax. Do any forum members know what the A&M codes mean? I would love to know as this blows away all my other substantial number of copies. Anton, let me know if you find one and what you think! I just love this album, it is what got me into Supertramp (Breakfast in America wasn't out yet) and I got to go backwards and discover them more. And then America came out...wow, who saw that pop masterpiece coming! Good luck on your search. I found mine in the forum classifieds. Maybe you can go and post a wanted ad. I think I paid $10. Cover was rough and the record isn't in the best shape, but man, what a listen if you are really familiar with that album.
    Daryl Broussard, JimD and Anton888 like this.
  10. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    Exactly. Like I just did with the Supertramp album for another member. I need to remember to do that myself. Wouldn't that be an awesome thread? List the top 100 albums on vinyl, and then have folks here list what they think is the best pressing. Better than flying blind in a store that might have 8 copies used. I would start it but I just wouldn't have time to maintain it. But I think it's a great idea.
  11. Anton888

    Anton888 Well-Known Member

    Is it this version you are referring to?


    The AMLK 64634 should be the same as the SP 5005 I guess?
    DangerousKitchen likes this.
  12. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Sweet VA.
    Absolutely!!! The first 1A pressing can sound very different that the last 1A from that same stamper, A 1C may better the 1A pushed past the end of it's life. How many does he reject? And where do they go?:shrug:
    Anyhoo, no doubt have I that his costs are high.....and his profit margin higher! But it seems to work for him, and until I am forced to buy from him, no problem have I....or do his prices influence the bigger web sellers, who in turn influence local stores, and..so on and so on...oh well........:kilroy:
    Bigbudukks and Jrr like this.
  13. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    It is a ton of fun....anyone that hasn't tried it should, using their favorite album as the test. Get 5-8 copies, and try to get them all cheap. It really is rewarding when that magic one pops out...it will! As Sheik said up wind, sometimes it just doesn't exist...the recording is simply lousy. But I think that's the exception. That said...wow...I can't believe you found anything with the MCA rainbow that sounded remotely as the best. I can't think of a worse US label. I have countless Elton John and Olivia Newton John albums on that label and not a one is quiet and sounds good. To obtain good copies, I had to get imports on vinyl and all of those were great. I did get something last week that I'm shocked is excellent on MCA though, but not the older rainbow. Elton's Greatest Vol II. First, I didn't even know you could get a fantastic copy of a greatest hits album because of the way they compile them. Second, well, it's on MCA and I've owned at least five copies and all of them have been terrible. This one is the magic secret sauce guard the matrix with your life (if you're Tom) copy!! I don't know how they mastered it, but it's fabulous. Yes, I'll share the matrix if anyone cares. I did get another mind blowing comp a couple weeks ago at my local store. They had an old sealed copy (they got a bunch of old sealed vinyl from the 80's apparently all from one guy since they put it all out at once) of Carly Simon's Greatest Hits, on the original Elektra label and it's just stellar. So, however they did it, there is a way to make compilation albums on vinyl that can sound fantastic. I don't own too many more that I would label as such, however. I wish they would release every compilation Steve our host has done, on vinyl. I got the 70's comp he did; broke down and got it on CD since it's the only way to get it. Wow. Simply stunning...showing you can make CD's that sound superb. I just haven't heard many that imo are as such...just prefer vinyl I guess.
  14. Moonbeam Skies

    Moonbeam Skies Forum Resident

    Phoenix, Arizona
    As I understand it, the matrix number and pressing info are not the important factors. The reason Port doesn't put that info out there is because it is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the sound quality. You could know the matrix number of one of his hot stampers and buy one somewhere else for $2, but it would probably not be a hot stamper. It's a 1 in 100 proposition, based on countless factors that come into play when the disc is pressed at the plant. The discs pressed immediately before and after a hot stamper could be duds. At least, that is Port's contention. ;)
    Bigbudukks likes this.
  15. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    Sorry...the actual matrix numbers on the vinyl are different. The first few are the catalogue number, and that's probably going to be on all the copies so you have to be careful. Look for the last three digits that I gave you...I believe that's what matters but there are a ton of people around here far more knowledgeable. If you find a copy on a site like that, and there are two, can you let me know? I would love to get a really clean copy. Thanks!
  16. Jrr

    Jrr Forum Resident

    Well, that could be very true but I would be very skeptical because I trust people here a whole lot more than I would trust a guy that makes a living believing what he says. No offense to him. I just see too many album in our classifieds here that contain the holy grail matrix numbers and a ton of people agreeing to not believe that you have a better chance if you stick to those numbers.

    To be fair, the only way to dispel or prove it is to get two copies of the same album with the same numbers and give it a listen. Based on his comments about just about every audiophile pressing being a joke, or whatever word he cares to use, I just don't take anything he says as fact. I have plenty of MFSL that completely smokes other copies. It's too bad...a lot of what he says is correct, but it isn't good for his business that all this stuff is being rereleased and it's to his benefit to dispel any notion that anything other than the copy he holds in his hand isn't up to snuff. Some of it is, some of it isn't. Like anything, it's our responsibility to figure out fact from fiction, not depend on someone else to do it for you. At the end of the day, I couldn't agree with you more. It's all about the sound. To most of us here, that's all that matters.

    I have read a couple times that Tom was a member here at one time. Wow, wouldn't that be an interesting read. I think he would last about 48 seconds around here unless he has the thickest skin one could have. Can you imagine a more contentious thread? I almost feel sorry for whatever he must have gone through back then...lol!
    Moonbeam Skies likes this.
  17. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Sweet VA.
    The matrix number and deadwax info gets you in the room, along with label and pressing country. All I have found of great import. And yes, some do just seem to have pixie dust sprinkled on them.
    Gardo and violetvinyl like this.
  18. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher

    New York, NY
    ...and this, in a nutshell, is both the gift and the curse of the vinyl format.
    chili555 likes this.
  19. Slick Willie

    Slick Willie Decisively Indecisive

    Sweet VA.
    Wurd brutha'!!!!!!!!!!!Wurd!!!
  20. Bigbudukks

    Bigbudukks Older, but no wiser.

    Gaithersburg, MD
    Deadwax numbers can help but, as has been said, if you have one that was pressed toward the end of the stampers life (or beyond) it doesn't matter.

    I have a first pressing of one album and the stamper was clearly used way past it's useful life and it sounds terrible. In fact, the only reason I keep it is to show others how bad a record can sound regardless of it's "pedigree".

    Having said that. it can still be useful to know of a pressing that produced really good sounding records because often there are pressings that aren't "audiophile" pressings or first pressings that sound nothing short of astounding and if others know what pressings they are they can often get them on the cheap before word gets out and the price rises along with it's desirability.
  21. 2xUeL

    2xUeL Forum Philosopher

    New York, NY
    I know I've made this point in this thread already many pages back, but for vintage pressings, how can one know if the differences they are hearing between two copies of a record with the same matrices are due to worn factory equipment or wear from past playback? If we are comparing brand new copies of two records, I would love to hear a comparison online where two copies of a record are brand new and have sonic differences that are undoubtedly due to stamper wear.
    Moonbeam Skies likes this.
  22. TLMusic

    TLMusic Musician & record collector

    It may not ever be practical to quantify stamper wear and stylus wear with regards to vintage records.

    The only definitive method I know to evaluate a record's performance is a complete and thorough playgrade of both sides.
    Bill Hart likes this.
  23. gkfan338

    gkfan338 New Member

    that's funny
  24. Sean Sweeney

    Sean Sweeney Well-Known Member

    As a long time collector, I've done the same thing TP has done for YEARS, with full disclosure, denoting the matrices, notes on what pressing, who did the mastering and other minutia. I don't begrudge him for what he's doing, but I DO begrudge his business for taking advantage of other knowledgable sellers and abusing returns and at worst, swapping a different record when returning it, which I have heard from a few different people! I personally have had three records bought from my various sites and he ALWAYS sends them back, saying that they were THREE or FOUR grades south of what I had listed, an assertion ONLY he has ever made about any record I've ever sold. Being super conservative on ratings is fine, as long as that's the method you employ on your own sales, which I have NOT heard is the case with his records. Right now I have a Led Zep II that was graded in VG/VG+ bought from him for $300 being returned currently because it didn't sound NEAR MINT… how should it??? My guess is the rating was dead on, and he realized he couldn't make twice the amount he paid and decided to cut his losses.

    Another thing that I've read on this site, and excuse me being critical here, is a large amount of anecdotal information on LZII that's been generally accepted for years, being somehow solidified into fact. I've never bought into the folklore and or the better and worse versions of that first pressing from Sterling, so I wrote Bob and asked him point blank about things that I believed weren't true. Being the nice guy that he is, he wrote me back. I may have published this letter elsewhere on here, but I think it has some relevance in this category, as the price of a copy with RL on both sides is usually about twice the value of one with LH on side two… or something of that nature. I think these are simply instances of people getting the wrong info and or snobbery… ALL PRESSINGS FROM STERLING ARE FIRST PRESSINGS from the SAME MASTER and USING THE SAME NOTES… IE: THEY ARE ALL THE "Hot Mix" even if some of them don't creep right up to the label…

    Here is Bob's Reply to me:
    Hi Sean,
    I'm surprised about Lee Hulko's initials being on some of the parts. In all these years I had never come across any copies with his initials before.
    When there were big orders of certain titles and there wasn't physically enough time for one person to crank out the lacquers as fast as the record company wanted, sometimes we would help each other out.
    For instance, my initials might appear on a Beatles record that Lee mastered.
    In every case, compared to now, those titles were relatively easy to master. Once one of us mastered an album and it was approved, we made careful notes, either one of us could cut it and it should come out the same. Back then, Lee and I shared the one room and worked different hours so it is possible one of the plants blew a part and needed a replacement right then with no delay.
    So after I mastered the album (which Eddie Kramer & Atlantic approved) it was shipped to all the radio stations and the initial pressing was all from me and Sterling Sound.
    Amhet Ertegun at Atlantic heard the album (which Eddie demanded be as hot as possible) and apparently it skipped on his daughters little turntable. Instead of calling us at Sterling and asking us to lower the level a little and telling us where it skipped, they had the disk cutters at Atlantic use my EQ'd cassette file copy and they cut it WAY lower than my original cut plus, in my opinion, it sounded dull and generally not very good sounding in comparison.
    So all the disks that were played at the radio stations and all the initial pressings world wide came from me (and apparently Lee cut a part or two) and that was what "sold" the record and made it a hit. A year later, whenever I visited someone I would look at their Zeppelin II album to see if it was my cut or Atlantic's cut. It was easy to see by eye, the Atlantic cut ended much farther from the label and the grooves to the naked eye looked very conservative.
    I still got to Master "Houses of the Holy" later on, no skipping problems with that as far as I know!
    I hope this clears this up for you.
    All my best,
    Bob Ludwig
    Gateway Mastering Studios Inc
    428 Cumberland Ave
    Portland Maine 04101
    207 828 9400
    baconbadge, Gardo, Dave and 7 others like this.
  25. MMM

    MMM Forum Hall Of Fame

    Lodi, New Jersey
    Wow, that's ridiculous, using a cassette.
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