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Important please see "TOM PORT OUTED SPECIAL REPORT - August 19, 2007" at the end of this article.

The Truth about Tom Port and Better Records

Tom Port and Better Records are to be found at www.dccblowout.com. He was the one who wisely bought up the stock of the out-of-business DCC Classics. In the beginning his LP prices were very reasonable and I was a regular. That is until he started to get greedy and to attack some of my very favorite LPs. Many of these premium audiophile LPs are among the most realistic recordings I have heard in any format. Why has he done these things? We shall soon see, read on!

He pushes the "voodoo" Hallograph Soundfield Optimizer’s at an unbelievable $1,000.00! More than the total cost of many normal listeners entire music systems! 

Then he has the audacity to charge $49.99 - $849.99 for what are basically $5.00 LPs! He calls these "Hot Stampers" I know from experience there are differences in pressings. For example with RCA Living Stereo LPs the matrix numbers 1S/1S generally sound the best. Also many times the tape is remastered for a later pressing as well. Also the first few hundred off a new stamper have much lower distortion than the last hundred. But this is very important, a "Hot Stamper" of a commercial pressing is still a commercial pressing with rolled off low and high frequencies, a squished soundstage, poor to average imaging, noisy recycled vinyl and all the ills that caused the birth of the "Audiophile LP". To really hear what is on a recording it takes an uncompromised, Virgin Vinyl pressing from the Original un-equalized 2 Track mix-down Master Tape. If such a tape does not exist than it is necessary to go back to the Original un-equalized multi-track Master Tape and follow the original engineer’s notes for the mixed without using any EQ. If EQ was applied to the Original Master Tape then it is necessary to use "reverse to EQ" in an effert to undo the damage to the sound caused by the original engineer.

The best option if you can start fresh with a correctly made recording from the ground up using no EQ, and no processing such as what Analogue Productions Originals, Reference Recordings, Telarc and Crystal Clear do.

Classical LPs Tom Port Does Doesn’t Recommend

With my comments in italic on the true sound quality of these wonderful LPs Tom Port doesn't recommend.  

MASSENET: La Cid-Ballet Music; Scenes Pittoresques; The Last Sleep of the Virgin from "La Vierge" Louis Fremaux, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra - Klavier Patrician 180 Gram LP KS 522 - In reality this is one of the most realistic and exciting recordings I own. The way Tom Port describes the sound makes me believe his VTA is set too high.

MOUSSORGSKY: The Power of the Orchestra - Pictures At An Exhibition, A Night On Bald Mountain. Leibowitz - Chesky Records 180g LP CR-30 - I personally do not like Rene Leibowitz arrangements however the sound is excellent!

OFFENBACH: Overtures - Louis Fremaux, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra - Klavier Analog 180 Gram LP KS 517 - A very enjoyable and realistic LP, nearly anything by Klavier is highly recommended by me. Most of these appeared as EMI HMV-Greensleeve LPs in the 1970’s. Those original Greensleeve LPs often showed up on HP’s Super Discs lists and these new pressings are even better.

RESPIGHI: Pines of Rome; Fountains of Rome - Fritz Reiner, Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Chesky 180 Gram LP CR-5 - What is Tom’s problem with this one? IMHO this is the best performance of Pines of Rome ever and the sound is only surpassed by the Classic Records reissue. Tom Port also hates most Classic Records reissues!

RESPIGHI: Pines Of Rome, Roman Festivals - Maazel, Cleveland Orchestra - Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab / London MFSL 1-507 - Now Tom is dumping on one of the great LPs of all time and the Roman Festivals is to die for! Also this LP has some of the lowest bass you are ever likely to hear. This is very highly recommended by me!

SAINT-SA╦NS: Carnival of the Animals / LITOLFF: Scherzo from "Concerto Symphonique" No. 4 / FAUR╔: Ballade - Louis Fremaux, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra - Klavier Analog 180 Gram LP KS 527

SAINT-SA╦NS: Symphony No. 3 "Organ" - Christopher Robinson, Louis Fremaux, Birmingham Symphony Orchestra - Klavier Analog 180 Gram LP KS 526 - These two Klavier LPs are must have if you love Saint-Saens. Superb sound and excellent performances. Tom why do you hate these so?

STRAUSS: Ein Heldenleben - Reiner, Chicago Symphony Orchestra - RCA Living Stereo / Classic 200 Gram LP LSC 1807 - Sorry Tom this one is superb musically and sonically!

SULLIVAN: Merchant of Venice Suite; The Tempest; "In Memoriam" Overture - Vivian Dunn, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra - Klavier Analog 180 Gram LP KS 521 - Wrong again Tom, this is one of my very favorite LPs. There is some deep, deep low organ tones and if you have plenty of power and a low frequency speaker that reaches down there I promise some major goose-bumps. The midrange and high frequencies are equally impressive as is this mostly unknown music. Highly, highly recommended by me!

TCHAIKOVSKY / Symphony #6 - Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic - Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab MFSL 1-512 - I have not heard this one but if Tom Port hates it, it’s got to be good! I will be looking for a copy at reasonable price.

STRAVINSKY: Song of the Nightingale / PROKOFIEV: Lt. Kije - Reiner, Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Chesky CR-10 - This one I actually like better than the newer Classic Records version, one of Chesky’s best efforts and the LP that got me interested in RCA Living Stereo! Bravo Chesky, big boo to Tom Port!

Even though his prices have gotten way out of hand, I still check out Tom Port’s web site from time to time as I have discovered if Tom Port dislikes and does not recommend an LP it is a good indication that it will be fabulous. The LPs he recommends range from fair to excellent, sometimes he does recommend an excellent LP. My best luck has been going with the ones he does not recommend!

The weirdest of all Tom Port hates most audiophile LPs and actually thinks they sound worst than commercial LPs. And get this he likes "Simply Vinyl" LPs which to everyone else including me feel sound as bad or worse than CDs!!!!! Indeed we believe most "Simply Vinyl" LPs are from Digital Masters, or late generation analog masters. Simply Vinyl LPs are so poorly mastered it really doesn’t matter whither they use analog or digital they are masters at destroying the music. On Simply Vinyl music sounds cold, sterile, lifeless and totally devoid of any emotion! In the case of Simply Vinyl the original commercial LPs are preferable. The real audiophile companies (see my list) are vastly superior to their commercial counterparts at least 99% of the time. So the companies he bad mouths produce superior products to the overpriced "Hot Stampers" he hawks. It is my firm belief that he purposely discredits audiophile companies that push analog playback to it’s limits by offering the most realistic sound from the source material while promoting audiophile companies, such as Simply Vinyl which do a poor job and are NO competition to his commercial LPs and "Hot Stampers"! Tom Port by his actions on his web site has proclaimed himself as the enemy of true analog lovers everywhere. I do admit it would be very hard work to listen to dozens of LPs of the same recording to find the best sounding one but Tom Port doesn’t know good sound so he is wasting his time.

Help me fight high LP prices by posting your favorite discount audiophile LP sites on the world wide web.  We don't have to pay Tom Port's blood money, let's keep LPs affordable!

TOM PORT OUTED SPECIAL REPORT - August 19, 2007

I love it! Jason K. exposes Better Records "hot stamper" program as the scam it is and Tom Post tries unsuccessfully to bash the writer’s music collection and system in a sad attempt to save face! Tom calls his letter "Ignorance, Obtuseness and Mediocrity". I call Jason K.’s letter the truth.

I've been debating whither to send this for a while. I have been visiting the dccblowout site for almost a year and I've sent links to most of my friends who are musicians, sound engineers, and music collectors of all kinds so they too could marvel at the maniacal madness you folks call audiophile record collecting. It's far more exciting and fun than professional wrestling, and we actually consider you folks the Kings of a kingdom littered with people that clearly have too much money and time on their hands. (Or suffering from a form of O.C.D....more likely!)

I'm reluctant to enter an arena such as yours to voice my opinion because ultimately you are far better equipped to verbally cut me to shreds, much the same way the radio personality Dennis Prager could argue nearly any challenger down to a shriveled point, even when Prager’s position was so obviously obtuse - but such was his gift. A genius debater with an uncanny ability to shoot down even the most sensible and (to many of us) truthful positions. He would defend his right to smoke cigarettes as much as he wants at a party in mixed company with almost any caller, even when common sense dictates it's a nasty offensive habit that should be practiced where it won't affect other people. He could even argue down the health implications. Prager is always right, just as you folks are.

But don't get me wrong, I LOVE your site. Every time you post a testimonial from the poor schnook (or should I say "rich" schnook) who has spent $300 on a $1.00 thrift store record testifying to the vastly superior fidelity it has over (probably) every other record in the rest of our sub-standard collections it makes me truly proud to be an American. That's what I call entrepreneurship. You guys are the audiophile equivalents to P.T. Barnum and I think it's awesome. I especially admire the way you cut down nearly every reviewer, almost all vinyl mastering engineers like Bernie Grundman, Steven Hoffman, Kevin Gray, and even laugh in the face of the recording ears of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, not to mention their engineer Elliot Sheiner. You have an "Emperor’s New Clothes" stance where everyone else is somehow not hearing what you guys are and even if they take a stand against you or try to defend their product they just plain don't have your advanced ears, or gear to properly judge anyway.

I, for one, am truly grateful not to be cursed with that kind of advanced hearing ability. Every time you folks post a new $300 "hot-stamper" I will pull the allegedly inferior copy I have off the shelf and revel in the fact that the Blood Sweat & Tears LP roaring through the house only cost me $1.00, and it sounds AWESOME to my unenlightened ears. I usually have a copy of at least 75% of the new vintage albums you post and it's become a bit of a favorite ritual. Who knows? Maybe some of my copies are "Hot-Stampers" too and although it only cost me two bucks at a thrift store I could be inadvertently building a trust fund for my kid’s college tuition!

To me, the gag is that, in fact, YOU are the "Emperor". You speak endlessly about whither side A or side B has enough oomph in the bass or a muddy horn section - and then try to convince your followers that unless they have the proper gear ($20,000 I believe was the price) or the advanced ears to appreciate a lousy pressing from a great one they are not TRULY enjoying the music. To the contrary, I think it is YOU folks who have lost all touch with what the love of music is all about. In my opinion it's NOT about the world’s most perfect copy, it's about slapping that record on your turntable and listening to what the artist is trying to say. When you are so focused on the aural specifics of a record it must be hard to just enjoy it, and forget all about the ticks, the midrange, the oomph, the tambourine’s brittleness etc. It's a bit like a film editor going to see a film everyone is enjoying but he can't deal with the sub-standard editing, that no one else even noticed. (i.e. my friend Mike!) I would almost feel sorry for you guys except that you are (presumably) making big bucks from this enterprise... and again, more power to ya, Phineas! While you guys spend all day dissecting 20 copies of "Gorilla" to sell for $99 the rest of us will be gently grooving away to our $1.00 thrift store copy and just diggin' the music, James.

I wish you could too!

I will brace for a response, if you care to.

Perhaps you could post this in its entirety on your opening page? I think it would make a nice intro.

P.S. I DO agree that some Japanese pressings suck. But I rarely come across them in the thrift store anyway!

Cheers! Jason K.

Now read Tom Port’s very sad attempt to address Jason’s issues but attacking his music and system. Letter, Tom Port’s response and follow-up’s

Tom Port I will say one thing you are an arrogant fooled headed wannabe supremacist! How do you know Jason’s system doesn’t sound as good or better than yours? How do you know many of his $1.00 LPs are NOT hot stampers, you are not the only person on the planet with access to multiple copies of the same LP. Lastly any audiophile LP from any real audiophile company (see my list) will be sonically superior any commercial pressing no matter how hot the pressing!

I personally have always considered the source. Anyone who thinks Simply Vinyl LPs sound good would be happy with the vilest most strident sounding CDs made. With a few exceptions he hates audiophile LPs and I know why, because the audiophile reissues sound better with there restored frequency extremes, dynamic range, larger soundstage and much lower distortion as well as new quiet vinyl pressings. The best of these audiophile LPs are the real deal, check out my "Quest for that elusive 1% of great sounding LPs"

All that can be hoped with a "hot stamper" is a pressing that is "smoother" with more impact by being one of the first off the pressing plates. But it does not solve the problem of the compromises made in the production master to make LPs playable on the least expensive equipment. This was done to lower the number of returns, which are costly to any record company.

While I agree "original issues" usually sound superior to later pressings done by the commercial record label, they are inferior at least 99% of the time to correctly made "audiophile" re-issues. He wants to keep alive the incorrect myth of the "original issues" sounding superior to "audiophile" re-issues and his "hot stampers" is simply his latest manifestation of this lie! Engineers in many interviews have confirmed what compromises had to be made to LPs to make them playable on most listeners cheap turntables, yet he ignores this logic and proceeds with this fallacy. He discredits any audiophile company whose products are superior while promoting an audiophile company whose LPs are inferior to the original issues, for example Simply Vinyl. Or to put it another way companies such as Castle, Get Back, Earmark, Scorpio and Simply Vinyl and Sundazed which are NO competition to his commercial pressings or the "hot pressings" of them! But he does also sell audiophile LPs he hates and says he is willing to take money for them but warns people first. Well he does often sell these at a good price and I recommend purchasing from him anything he hates as it is usually at an excellent price and they will be a superb recordings as well. Especially get all the Klavier 180-Gram LPs he has for cheap, they are among the most realistic recordings on his web site. He does also like a few good LPs as well, he has nice things to say about the Cisco 180 Gram LPs and I actually agree with him this time which proves he cannot be wrong 100% of the time!

Besides my recommendations throughout the AnalogLovers web site including the LP Page where I list 10 recommended Audiophile and 10 recommended commercial LPs , I also recommend Arthur Salvatore’s Audio Critique  as an excellent place to start in building a superior LP collection. He is among the excellent resources I have listed in my links page.

Kindhearted listeners there are excellent LPs out there, and you won’t have to take out a mortgage to buy them. Stay tuned the best at AnalogLovers.com is yet to come!