The All Music Guide is a comprehensive website database for music, indispensible for reviews, commentary and track listings: http://www.allmusic.com/.
Cutout CDs and LPs are identical to the factory fresh product produced by the label, with one, and only one, difference: there is a cutout hole or sawmark somewhere on the item, hence the name.
These marks are put on the product (by the distributor typically) when an item is no longer in print. Once deleted and "cutout" it can no longer be returned to the distributor or label for credit, which is the reason for marking it. The mark has nothing to do with the quality of the product, only its status as overstock or deleted. The mark does not affect the play quality of the item in any way.
Cutout marks are also used to signify a Promotional Copies. "Promo" copies are usually given away, and therefore are marked so as not to be returnable either to the label or distributor for credit.
Demonstration Quality in the commentary means exactly that: this is a record that sounds so good you could use it to show off your system.
DJ Timing Strip
This is a white sticker usually about as wide as the cover listing all the songs on the album with their track lengths. Sometimes the more commercial "radio friendly" tracks are noted. Most of the time the label of the record will be white as well, either WLD or WLP.
Fold Open Cover
Hot Stampers refers to the actual metal parts, called stampers, which press the record. When a record is mastered, there are many things that can go wrong between the time the acetate is cut and the record is pressed. I won't go into all of them here; suffice to say that when the record sounds good, lots of things went right. And when the record sounds especially good, we call the stampers that must have stamped it out Hot Stampers.Stamper Numbers are also known as Matrix Numbers. This Wikipedia entry has a basic explanation as to what they are and where they can be found.
Little Sign of Play (also VLSOP: Very Little Sign of Play)
The record appears to have been played very little. It may have superficial marks, but normally a record picks up noise from play, so this record should be fairly quiet.
No Bar Code
The record was pressed before the advent of bar codes on jackets, meaning the pressing is from a fairly early era.
No Sign of Play (Also VNSOP: Virtually No Sign of Play)
The record shows no signs of ever having seen a turntable.
The OBI on a Japanese pressing is the paper strip that encircles the cover. An OBI is the sash that encircles the waist of a geisha. The paper strip, which adorns the record in the same decorative manner, simply appropriated the name from its clothing ancestor.
The Mastering Lab
The Mastering Lab was started by Doug Sax (of Sheffield Labs fame). Many of the most amazing rock records of the '70s were mastered there. Finding TML in the dead wax of a record is usually a good thing. Part of TML's superior sound can be attributed to the fact that Doug used tube amps to drive his cutter, which were built by his brother and must have been awfully good because they cut a huge number of awfully good sounding records!
Sadly, in the '90s when Doug was cutting for Acoustic Sounds he cut some of the worst sounding records of all time. His mastering chain had obviously undergone some changes, and not for the better.
VLSOP / VNSOP
Very Little Sign of Play / Virtually No Sign of Play
This is the most important criterion we use here at Better Records. If a record has a few paper scuffs or is dusty but has almost never been played, it will probably clean up very nicely. A record that has been played a lot on the average turntable, no matter how well it was cared for, has probably been worn irrevocably and no amount of cleaning will bring the grooves back to life.
So we look for records whose owners didn't play them. A run through the machine with the Disc Doctor fluid and voila -- you have yourself a real nice record. (And of course all of our open records are 100% guaranteed to satisfy or you may return them, no questions asked.)
White Label Demo
The label is white and marked Demonstration Copy or something to that effect.
White Label Promo
The label is white and marked Promotional Copy or something to that effect.