Better Records vs MoFi

I’ve read about Better Records on the site. They listen to endless copies of records & separate out the amazing sounding pressings. I can understand because of many variables, some sound better than others. But, can a great sounding regular pressing sound better than a half speed master? Doesn’t a HSM have more music data on it?

I don’t want to go down a rabbit hole. If the BR premise holds up then there are certainly better pressings of Dark Side of the Moon etc. I’m not concerned with that. I’m also not interested in cost or “X sucks, I’d never buy one.”


But, can a great sounding regular pressing sound better than a half speed master?

Yes. Much better. Not even close. Takes about 5 minutes to demo, after which you will never be the same again. 

Doesn’t a HSM have more music data on it?

No. Probably you are thinking of bandwidth. Higher speed, greater bandwidth. 30ips better than 15 ips. 45 better than 33. All things being equal. Which they never are. Hence, see first Q&A.

I bought a copy of The Band's Music from Big Pink from Better Records and it blew away my MFSL version. I have purchased several other titles from them that had no half-speed master version that were likewise much better than I could find otherwise.

It was particularly difficult for me to find Fleetwood Mac's Future Games in either LP or CD format that didn't sound muddy and veiled. I found one on Better Records which was much better than my three LPs and two CD's of the title.

I couldn't afford their prices for everything, but they definitely do what they say they do.

Their latest mailer had half a dozen White Hot Stampers $600-900. They were all SOLD. Within like a hour. So yeah we can't afford many, but someone sure can! 

Study the discogs info on the album you want.

It's all in the deadwax.

It's simply effort, luck and timing to find a good condition 1st/early press.

Some genres/artists are unobtanium now due to demand and age.

Nothing special about Better Records except the effort is done for you and you're gonna pay the price for it.

My local store has had Better Records scouts going thru the bins for years.



The Better Records process (shoot outs) is about a strong as one could use to find outstanding sounding copies of LP’s. One just has to read their blog consistently. They have the most valuable information advantage and historical knowledge of anybody in the world on LP’s that fit their model. 

I would argue that their best values are albums like Led Zep 2, Sticky Fingers, Ziggy Stardust, etc…. Generally even with the pressing (stampers) identified to likely win a shoot out you still need a number of clean copies to find the Hot Stamper, Nearly White Hot, and White Hot. 

There are plenty of great LP’s that don’t fit their model, Big Star’s LP’s as an example. 

Even though there are good, better, best, I can’t get into which pressing

but, after finding a performance of great musicians at the top of their game:

It’s the engineering, whether the people setting up the recording room, # and type and placement of mics; later decisions about imaging and volume levels,

’they sure knew what they were doing’ comes out of my brain/mouth when it’s great.

I’ve heard terrific musicians, great trios, different venues, awesome live recordings, some wandering imaging, some disappearing instruments, some drums right side then moved to center for solo.

The better your system ’images’ the better/worse is revealed.

When I inherited 4000 lps, I quickly divided them into two categories: sell/keep, blend with mine, pull more to sell.

If I saw Rudy Gelder’s name, KEEP!!!


Other Opinions: Other great engineers (especially Jazz) ________?


 "They have the most valuable information advantage and historical knowledge of anybody in the world on LP’s that fit their model."

Good grief...nice plug. Lets all shill for Better Records!

There's nothing special about what Better Records does. Buy 20 copies Aja AB 1006 and listen for the best condition/sounding one.

No hate on the guy, he had a vision and it sells.

Some of the "sizzle" hype /superlatives is nonsense, but clearly, it's working for him.


Shill? No, just a fact. Their pressings of Aja are relatively more expensive because it is a $10-20 record. When the source LP is $50-100 plus (sticky fingers) it is a different story. 

Do I have to pay an annual membership to be part of the Golden Ear Club?  When I read about $900 LPs I want to scream "Stop The Madness".  But wait, why not just start buying all your records from who are producing brand new limited edition pressing from the original tapes for the low cost of +/- $500 each?  I know it's your money and I have zero right to tell you how to spend it.  But be honest.  Don't you get just a little embarrassed even talking about $500 records?  🤔 

"White Hot Stampers $600-900" - just the thing for new millionaires to play on their new $60K Linn Sondek 50th Anniversary TT's.

Clever marketing can turn a $2 Goodwill LP into a $600 White Hot Stamper! The gold rush is on!

OP, It all starts with THE original master tape as the source. Did the big music companies really use THE originals to press 100k copies? No. They made safety copies.

The BR website currently has two copies of Beatles for Sale listed at ~$170 & $300 (rounded up one cent), so I pulled my copy off the shelf and gave it a spin. 

I rate both sides as "Mint Minus" (BR term, $300+), with just one light tick in the dead-wax.  [Sonically it is compressed, but after all these years I still get lost in the fun/beauty of the music.]

Then I recalled hearing more noise during previous playings. So, what changed? (It was not cleaned between playings).  I recently installed a better cartridge.  More specifically, I moved from an elliptical stylus to a micro-line stylus

A friend told me to expect quieter backgrounds, and he was right.  Moreover, this was not an isolated incident.  Over the years I have kept play-grading notes, and now each LP seems quieter (as compared to my notes).

I have a large LP collection, and at $300, I would need to spend ~$1M to replace all of them.  A better stylus is not a 'cure all', but I am glad I upgraded my cartridge instead of replacing excellent LPs.


it goes both ways. Some records, original, pristine condition sound dull, surprisingly uninspiring. And some, from the bottom of Goodwil’s bin, cover falling apart, crystal clear, rich and mesmerizing level of detail

I read the BR blog all the time and appreciate what I have learned. It is just one, but an important data point. To date I have not bought one as I have acquired most of my albums years ago….What pressing/stamper might have the best average sounding copy and the right tail Hot Stampers. 

The way I look at it, if someone is looking for a great sounding copy of a favorite LP their pricing model seems fair… Example…


They know from history only (only they know this true along with a few buyers) the US Sticky Fingers 1971 ATCO/Broadway OG from Monarch or Sonic win shootouts… This is an important edge.*assumption as example


The cost today to buy 8-10 copies in real VGplus condition or better is probably $100 per record, maybe more..They expect the shootout to yield 2 Hot Stampers, Those get sold for $700 on average and they lose a bit on the other LP’s. 
Sometimes they have one LP they sell for over $1000, they can also have a failed shootout, even the winner does make the grade..

Just trying to highlight the information edge..

The buyer gets money back if not happy. Clearly only for someone that wants this best sound…


I personally have 10-12 copies of the album, my favorite. Probably bought at $25 average cost over the years. Half because of condition issue would not qualify. With my remaining 5-6 clean copies I don’t even know if even one has a chance of winning a shootout. 

Someday they will get cleaned again and if can get somebody to help me with a shootout, compare them to one of theirs…

You all have been great thank you. Edisoncarter, thanks for explaining its bandwidth for a HSM. I’m now curious, if there’s a white hot stamper for a regular pressing of an album. Not that they sell them but, if I gathered 50 Mofi copies of Dark Side of the Moon, would there be a white hot stamper of them? Or, does their QC weed out the non WHS quality pressings? Just Curious 

Tochsii - 

Funny thing, I sold my Old-School Harvest DSOTM about two weeks ago.

But before I did, I did a full length, side-to-side comparison against my MoFi copy.  It was not even close.  The MoFi was so much better.  Better clarity, better dynamics, and quieter.  Sorry if this muddies the water, but the data are what the data are.


Why versus only MoFi? Analogue Productions has reissued far more titles than has MoFi. And better titles, too. There are many other reissue labels doing better work than MoFi.


Sorry, I simply can't agree with "There are many other reissue labels doing better work than MoFi."  It simply to broad a statement. 

MoFi, Speaker's Corner, VTL, Tacet, etc. all produce high quality LPs that are as good and, and many times better than, AP.  It varies from disc to disc.

In general, I avoid AP if a similar/better product is available.

Thank you to the originator of this thread and to all those contributing.

I was not aware of Better Records. I have since been in touch with them to see if they ship to the UK which they do so about to sign up

You all have been great thank you. Edisoncarter, thanks for explaining its bandwidth for a HSM. I’m now curious, if there’s a white hot stamper for a regular pressing of an album. Not that they sell them but, if I gathered 50 Mofi copies of Dark Side of the Moon, would there be a white hot stamper of them? Or, does their QC weed out the non WHS quality pressings? Just Curious 

This will find you the best sounding of the 50. Doesn't mean it will be a White Hot Stamper. Doesn't even mean it will compare to a Hot Stamper. All it means is you have found the best of the 50.

What if all 50 suck? What if the whole entire run MoFi made of it sucks? If Tom's proved one thing, that would be it. I mean think about it. All he does (the haters say) clean used records and mark em up 1000%. If MoFi are White Hot Stamper level he would buy em, clean em, play em a few times and they would sell for $800. 

Which he doesn't. I've never seen a single MoFi on his site. But we know he plays em, he compares. Because: 1000% markup! If he could make a buck, for sure he would. I would! Anyone would! 'cept for one thing, unless they really do sound good his customers would complain and send em back. Refund! 

So my answer is forget 50, you will go through everything MoFi ever pressed, every single copy, and not find one. Not a single one. Not from MoFi.

" if I gathered 50 Mofi copies of Dark Side of the Moon, would there be a white hot stamper of them?"

"So my answer is forget 50, you will go through everything MoFi ever pressed, every single copy, and not find one. Not a single one. Not from MoFi."

You might find a copy that's a copy of what a WHS is supposed to sound like?

That would make it a WHSC-white hot stamper copy

The BR biz model is going thru copies of the earliest press and finding the copy that stand out. Then Tom Port does the write up with goofy audio descriptors that clearly sells.

Let's not forget the MoFi scandal- are these recordings REALLY from the master tape?

MoFi Faces Fraud Lawsuit for Selling Vinyl Reissues as “Purely Analog” While Using Digital Masters | Pitchfork

If anything you get a great sounding CD to play on your table.


For those who care, not all MoFi titles have gone through digital conversion. But as @slaw correctly pointed out, just as with almost all original pressings and reissues, the lacquers of the all-analogue MoFi LP’s are cut not from the master tape, but from a "safety" (aka "production") copy. One notable exception is the Analogue Productions Kind Of Blue album, for which Bernie Grundman used the original 3-track master tape to cut his lacquer, way back in 1997 (for Classic Records). Numerous guys have compared original 1950’s pressings of KOB with the versions of MoFi, Classic Records, and Analogue Productions. Guess which version came out on top? ;-)

MoFi is of the opinion that their digital step produces a better sounding product than does using an analogue safety tape as the source. But there are other considerations. Just as with the making of all lacquers, equalization may or may not be used. Some of the dissatisfaction with MoFi LP’s---even by those who like many of their titles---is due to equalization choices made by the MoFi engineers.


LOL this is just nut spending that much for an LP. Just another audio product that smacks of conspicuous consumption. But hey if you got the coin to spend and yourself indulgent go chase the windmill.

2 recent acquisitions sound astonishingly good  relative to other copies I own:  A re-mixed 2 disc 45RPM of "The Band" (Brown Album) from the boxed set, and a recent remastered "Waltz For Debbie" vinyl that Fremer was all excited about. 

Not sure if it was pointed out that Better Records offers no-questions-asked, full refunds, if you are not happy with what you received for your money - just pack it up well and send it back - so it's not like you're spending all that money on a gamble. 

Good one (The Band) wolf_garcia. Even the original pressing is pretty good (I have a U.S. and a U.K.), as is the MoFi. The 45RPM format allowed Robert Ludwig (mastering) and Chris Bellman (lacquer cutting) to maximize the potential of the simple recordings John Simon made back in 1969. Plus the album is one of the greatest Rock ’n’ Roll records ever made (imo of course).

Though LP pressings are too variable copy-to-copy to say definitively, @minkwelder’s praise for an original Capitol pressing of Music From Big Pink surprised me. It is well known that the original mix and mastering severely rolled off the bass frequencies contained in the master tapes, greatly emasculating Rick Danko’s Fender bass and Levon Helm’s Gretsch kick drum. That’s true no matter how "hot" your pressing is. Another problem with original Capitol pressings is the vinyl they were using: some of the noisiest of the time (late-60’s). For some reason MFBP is generally noisier than is the brown album.

I hope @minkwelder knows MoFi did two versions of MFBP. The first (MFSL 1-039) is not good, though the vinyl is excellent (JVC’s Super Vinyl). The second (1-346, pressed at RTI)) is better. He mentions half-speed mastering, which leads me to believe it was 1-039 he heard. It was mastered at half-speed, 1-346 wasn’t. Again, a fantastic album of music, though to some people less accessible than the brown album.

By the way ya'll, the boxset containing all The Band albums on LP was pressed at QRP (Quality Record Pressing), the manufacturing arm of Analogue Productions. The box is a great value.

I'm really tempted to try comparing one from BR against one of my original pressings that I find to be exceptional.  Gonna need to keep an eye open for one that would be a good comparison.  Mostly just for curiosity's sake.

If you do, it will destroy whatever you thought was a good pressing. De. Stroy. 


I bought my MFSL copy of MFBP back in the mid-80's so it was definitely the 1-039 version. Not being very knowledgeable about MFSL, I thought all of their stuff was half-speed mastered.

The copy I got from Better Records is an EMI/Capitol (ST 2955), made in UK. I didn't find much info about it.

Now ya got me going on that box set. I'll probably have to get that one!

So I just ordered "Heart - Dog and Butterfly - Super Hot Stamper (Quiet Vinyl)".

Can't wait to compare it to my original copy that I purchased new when it first came out. 

@minkwelder: Oh, a UK copy of Music From Big Pink! I still have the one I bought in 1970, having given up on finding a quiet USA pressing.

One thing to be aware of is that any foreign pressing is going to have its’ lacquer cut from a tape another generation down from the tape used by the country of origin (in this case the USA). Record companies would never send an original master tape to another country! If a record sells enough copies to warrant it, multiple safety/production tapes are made from the master mix tape, at least one for each pressing plant, which are spread throughout the US (one reason why copies of LP’s sound different from one another). MFPB sold enough to earn a Gold Record award.

Another consideration is the condition of the original multi-track master tape (recorded in 1968, MFPB was most likely made on a 4-track). I frequently see people claiming tapes that old have probably deteriorated due to just age. In a long interview, mastering engineer Bernie Grundman stated that the tape used in the late-60’s is very stable (the binder that holds the oxide onto the plastic tape does not dry out), the only deterioration coming from the playing of the tape. Playtime = wear (just like miles = wear with automobile tires). Chad Kassem (owner of QRP) goes to extreme lengths to acquire first generation master tapes, from which he has Grundman (or any other engineer working with him) make a production tape.

This has got me thinking. Being made and released in 1968, I wonder if there was a mono version of MFPB? Discogs here I come!

Search around, it's not about "check the deadwax", and its not "about finding the quiet copy". Man trying to get even simple facts straight around here is like you know what into the wind.

Disc format and recording methodology has little to do with resulting sound quality.  Every company presses turkeys from time to time.  Some press mainly turkeys.  Sound quality is achieved by skill, care and investment in top quality machinery.


... be honest. Don't you get just a little embarrassed even talking about $500 records?

Why do you think anyone here should be embarrassed?

Don't often post on here but interesting thread about BR.  I don't think I'd ever pay more than $100 for a record,  even if I could afford it.  But I learned that my first pressing of Aja may be worth $500?  Crazy.....  It's the AB 1006 issue that I bought right off the delivery truck at the wholesale record and tape whse I worked at in '77.  It's still pristine and has been cleaned every play.  Jacket has some wear but that's cool....  The BR prices seem to justify the 'law of diminishing returns' phrase.  Guess if you're running a $50k system, you might notice a difference.  But then you don't have 50 other copies to compare to like BR does.  Just my thoughts....

What Better Records does can be done for far less $. Find clean, not abused early pressings of your favorite titles and have them Ultrasonically cleaned or buy a ultrasonic machine and do it yourself. On 95% of said titles this will result in better sound on many systems than MOFI pressings. If you are lazy, go ahead and pay for the Better Records service, your choice.


If Better Records was merely looking for the quietest pressings they could find and cleaning them, I could partially agree with you. Over the last several years, I purchased four copies of Jethro Tull's Stand Up and finally found one quiet enough to suit me. But BR goes through the extra step of listening carefully to all of the quiet ones in the hopes of finding exceptional sound quality.

The process of starting with a tape and ending with the final LP product is fraught with numerous potential mechanical problems along the way from cutting the original acetate, making the stamper, properly heating the stampers before pressing and on and on. Sometimes one side of an LP has much better sound quality than the other so BR will pair it up with another copy on which the other side is the better sounding one.

Over the years, I bought three LP copies (two of them were sealed) and one CD copy of Fleetwood Mac's Future Games and they all sounded murky and veiled. I had resigned myself to the fact that it was just recorded that way and there was nothing to be done about it. When I saw a copy on Better Records, I figured I would take a chance and purchased it. It is a white-label promo copy that actually has an extra level of high frequency detail that is missing from my other copies. I still think the original recording is compromised, but this LP copy stood out from the rest. It sounds better.

How many copies are you prepared to buy and how much time are you willing to spend carefully comparing the sound quality? I was happy to pay the $129.99 for Better Records to do it.

I have sold about 18,000 records in the last 3 decades (I'm a listener, not collector per se).  Tom Port's hot stamper LPs generally (95% of the time) are superior to MOFI reproductions.  This is unfortunate because they do press quiet LPs.  I've acquired probably 40 MOFIs and kept 2 (most from collections at $1 to $5 each).  The Maazel Respighi LP is a great example of a totally failed remastering.  YUCK!  It was a numbered copy that I sold for $295 with a no. 40? (low) when others were advertised on Ebay for $400-500+.  I sold Tom another MOFI for $300 sealed (rock) which he resold for $500-600.  He told me it wasn't really exciting music so no loss there.  

I'm not indicating that all MOFI LPs are worse sounding than a well pressed original hot stamper LP, but it is too often the case.  Often, CD copies sound better than original pressings (especially if they aren't hot stampers).   Tom agreed on such LPs as Down to Earth by Ramsey Lewis (I have 3 original and early LPs differently pressed yet the CD is superior).  

If one can afford to, buy the Better Records LP.  

Child level statistics and some knowlege about the record mastering / pressing process ( mother …stamper…press, cycle time, day, temp…etc will tell you the deadwax is a good place to start…. Many variables are NOT discernible via deadwax….. start w deadwax and listen……

And Port and company can’t hear them all…. nor can we mere mortals…

Record prices, even without Better Records or MoFi, are inflated. To me, those enterprises are two different things.

I never doubted that sample to sample variations, even with the same dead wax inscriptions, could sound different.

I was a MoFi customer in the original era. Today, not so much simply b/c I have good pressings of all the warhorses (or at least those I care about).

I’ve done shoot-outs --sometimes, 12 different copies.

I did buy one record from Tom Port- Tons of Sobs, "Free"’s first album which is a favorite in the electric blues genre. His copy does sound better than two others I own with the same dead wax. (One is a pink label, 3rd pressing not the bulls-eye, and a pink rim label). His was a UK pink rim label, super hot white ultra stamper whatever, in mint- condition. I liked the record enough to buy it from him, but I don’t think that’s his usual fare.

The price of standard vinyl from the old days has gone up in price by multiples, and early pressings simply aren’t available easily in M- condition. Look up a relatively rare copy and see the condition rating.

I’m usually chasing small/private label stuff that isn’t on anybodies’ radar. That stuff is not reissued by MoFi and usually not Tom Port’s fare.

I just got an email for Horace Tapscott’s Live at the IUCC. I have an OG, an original, that didn’t cost crazy money 5 years ago. Side 3 is amazing.

I’ll let everyone in another secret, if one doesn’t know already. CDs don’t all sound alike, even though they could be from the same master digital copy. Especially from different pressing plants. I’ve been through sometimes six copies of a favorite CD and three or four will sound quite different, generally the dynamics and body of the sound. I use the same Furutech D-Stat III gun. Prior to that I used a Kilowat destat gun. I tried the Audiodesk audio lathe (trimmer) for a few months. Differences remain between stamped CDs. Tom Port pointed that out back then as well but he doesn’t care about CDs and we had a shoot out of some Capitol pop CD.

Most of my records were purchased used (maybe once played). Probably 8,000 were given to me free. Most were purchased between $1 and $5 from the 1960s. My $10 to $25 records are rarer stuff. My best friend only collected Jazz LPs from the 50’s to 70’s and his collection of 3,000 LPs has mostly $50 to $500 LPs. He stopped purchasing LPs for more than $35 a couple of years ago and purchases only CD reissues now. So do I.

Most of my LPs are worth under $2. About 1,000 are worth more than $50 each, up to $500 (mostly classical). My typical classical and opera LP is not worth much anymore (about 20,000 LPs worth). My pop and jazz LPs are worth more. My ethnic music LPs are worth $5 to $10 each generally with some titles exceedingly rare in mint condition-basically priceless to me (100 to 500 pressed per title in the 50s and 60s) with few collectors for them.

I just don’t purchase LPs for high amounts despite being capable of doing so. The music I listen to often is rare and unavailable and the reissued LPs often don’t sound as good on more common pressings. I find that MOST high value LPs may have the distinction of being a first stamper, early pressing, or other attribute but the variability is sufficiently great that the particular LP being sold may not be a "hot stamper" quality. At least at Better Records, he listens to them and informs on what he hears. It is a crapshoot to purchase used older LPs otherwise for high prices. Of course, they could also be just bad reissued LPs like the MOFI Respighi.


Most of the old LP’s I’m looking for these days have not been reissued by any audiophile company, and aren’t likely to be. And the ones I’m looking for can sometimes be found for peanuts, sometimes not.

I went into one of my used records stores last week, and was surprised to see a Mint copy (still in shrink wrap!) of Church Street Blues by Tony Rice (Art Dudley’s favorite guitarist, an opinion shared by many pro players) on the collectibles wall, priced at $75 (Tony’s records have gone up in value since his passing in 2020). And two more of his albums (also still in shrink) in the small (about a hundred LP’s) Bluegrass section for half that.

I have a Mint copy (played only once. It’s not very good ;-) UK 1st pressing of The Sex Pistols only "real" studio album (with the blank rear cover), which I recently learned has become worth some serious money (over $300). I had been considering selling it, but thought the store owner (we’re on a first name basis) might be interested in doing a trade (I am leery of dealing with buyers of rare collectible LP’s ;-). He looks up everything on Discogs, and if he knows you are aware of the value of any particular LP will tell you what he’s going to price it at, and how much he’ll give you for it in cash or trade (more in trade of course). If he knows you are not aware he will of course take advantage of your ignorance ;-) .

Sure enough, I guess he realized he’d resell The Pistols album far quicker than he would the three Tony Rice albums. I walked out of the shop the next day with the three Rice LP’s and a few more: a Clarence White & The Kentucky Colonels album (Clarence was Tony Rice’s favorite guitarist), the 2-LP live album by Ry Cooder, Best Of Hank Thompson Vol. 2 in mono, Cheap Trick’s s/t debut, and Feelin’ Groovy by Harper’s Bizarre.

Feelin’ Groovy was produced by Lenny Waronker, engineered by Lee Herschberg, with musical arrangements by Leon Russell and Randy Newman. Randy and Van Dyke Parks play piano on one song each. That’s a lotta talent on one album! Harper’s Bizarre were originally an instrumental Surf Band outta Santa Cruz (the Central California beach community named in "Surfin’ U.S.A.") named The Tikis, and were the very first band I saw and heard live when they opened for The Beach Boys at The San Jose Civic Auditorium in the Summer of ’64. They wore matching black suits, the pants of which were cut off at the knee! Harper’s Bizarre drummer John Petersen had earlier been in The Beau Brummels. Also a member of The Tikis/Harper’s Bizarre was Ted Templeman, later of course gaining renown as a record producer (Van Morrison,The Doobie Brothers, Van Halen).


At the other end of the scale, at my local Antiques Mall I just yesterday found a Mint mono 1st pressing (with the beautiful gold Warner Brothers center paper label) of the Harper’s Bizarre album for $12 (the stereo one above was only $4.99). And for $10 a Mint mono pressing of Just Like Us! by Paul Revere & The Raiders (Columbia "2-eye" label). The song "Just Like Me" contains one of my favorite guitar solos, double-tracked by Drake Levin. Other songs include great versions of "I’m Cryin’" (the equal imo of the version by The Animals), the instrumental "Night Train" (every USA Garage Band played that song in 1962-5), "Baby Please Don’t Go" (not as good as the version by Them---featuring Van Morrison of course, but that’s an awfully high bar to reach), and the other hit single on the album, "Steppin’ Out".


So many records, so little time (left ;-) .


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