Now I get it...

Hey everyone, long time listener first time caller.  I sold a bunch of used gear and recently updated my vinyl front end to a Feickert Woodpecker, a Soundsmith Paua, and a Pass Labs XP-25 (I feel blessed).  As a result, I discovered I own some truly awful pressings.  Seriously, never knew some of my records were so darn terrible.  The good ones, though?  Absolutely magical.  This was a pretty cool moment in my audiophile journey.  Now I finally get why some system reviews describe the components as “unforgiving to poor source material”.  Awesome.
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Congratulations on your sonic breakthrough!! In my experience the most common reason for a recording to sound bad is that it is not a first pressing.  That is not to say that bad recordings don't exist-there are a lot of them.  But, the least crummy sounding will be a first press, and sometimes the differences are astounding. Discogs is a great site to determine true first pressings. I truly enjoy "the hunt" in finding replacement vinyl for my non-first presses. I agree with Uberwaltz that you need to stick to EX/ NM grading when purchasing used records on line, and even so, most grading is visual and doesn't always translate into a quiet record. I agree with the advice to largely avoid reissues.  With tape degradation many have lost the magic.  The Beatles reissues however are glorious!  Ultra clean records are also a must.  Besides removing a lot of noise, a veil is usually lifted revealing more detail and a better sense of "being there". Having gone trough the entire spectrum of cleaning options, I feel comfortable stating that Ultrasonic cleaning seems to work the best, but that is a topic for another thread.  Enjoy!!
With my new set-up I am astounded about how some of my albums just make me go "Holy S***!" While the others, most often the reissue 180 gram "audiophile pressings", are enjoyable but sound less alive. There are exceptions to that rule, of course, but I think you all understand. In other words, I now finally get the value of consideration paid in searching out really good vinyl.

How right you are. You will know when you have a really fine system because everything will sound better than you ever imagined, and some really good recordings will sound better than you ever even imagined was possible. If you want to know what I mean, I highly recommend spending some time searching around It takes some time to search around and you might have to wait a while for a record you really want to come up but when you do it will be worth every penny. I have several and every one of them is on a whole other level even compared to some of the best ones I had before. Or if you disagree, send it back. But I doubt you will be able to do that. I never can.

My first was Fleetwood Mac Rumours. I have an early issue original, Nautilus half speed remastered, and the 45 reissue. Tom Port’s White Hot Stamper blows them all away. Its not even close. Played the 45 for a guy one time he said, "That’s gonna be hard to beat" and then could not believe how much better the White Hot Stamper was. Its laugh out loud silly how good some of these are. Tom Petty, never even knew he had genuine demo disc quality material until I heard the WHS of Southern Accents. Nilsson Coconut is another one. Freaking insane sound quality! Hot Stampers- best kept secret in audio!
Hi @millercarbon, funny you should bring that up!  I just ordered my first LP from Better-Records, an early release White Hot Stamper of Black Sabbath's self-titled debut.  I am so excited to hear it, especially after your comments above.  Will report back once received (should be here next week). 

@mammothguy54, my copy of SRV's In Step from Analogue Productions is on the way!

To everyone else who has been responding to this post... THANK YOU!  I have thoroughly enjoyed your insights.  
White Hot Stampers (A+++) cost a small fortune but to me are totally worth it. This is just me, but I've had enough now to be able to do a fairly good comparison. Which is hard, because ultimately its never just the pressing being compared, you are also to some extent comparing the recordings. Which are all different. Many times you have no way of knowing how good the recording really was until you find that one special A+++. Like happened to me with Southern Accents. 

All of these Stampers are of course nothing more than the same records you could find at your local store or garage sale. Nothing special other than Tom has culled through who knows how many record store records and compared them side by side and found the very best examples. So you could do the same. Probably if you bought 20 to 50 one of them might be A+. Logically then if you have a couple hundred records in your collection it stands to reason one or two, maybe a few, are this good.  

In my experience though none of my records sounds as good as the lowest A+ Hot Stamper I've bought from The White Hots are way above that in a class of their own. They sound so much better that to me the exorbitant price is well worth it. Many times a mailer comes out and a White Hot I'm interested in is there and as fast as I can go look its gone. 

Incidentally, Tom recommends the Walker Enzyme cleaning method. This one uses dry enzyme you mix (and use within 24 hours) followed by a more conventional detergent cleaning followed by 2 rinses. The whole kit is kind of spendy so I bought just the enzyme and cleaner. Haven't compared many cleaners but Walker is way better than the Disc Doctor solution I was using before. My Walker Enzyme cleaned records sound similar to Toms, just not quite as good of course. 

I've never heard that Black Sabbath so interested to know what you think. Got a hunch you didn't fork that much dough for music you don't love to death, and so my bet is your jaw drops when you hear what it sounds like now.