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Mobile Fidelity, ‘One Step’ etc

Discussion in 'music' started by Tony L, Jul 15, 2022.

  1. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    A very disappointed Mike from The In Groove is now pretty convinced all Mo-Fis for several years now have been cut from a digital source.

    Here’s some earlier speculation from Michael ‘45rpm Audiophile’ (everyone is called Michael, expect Fremer to pipe in soon!). His logic stands up IMO, and it sounds like Mike at In Groove has some sources he trusts that back it up.

    Obviously whether it matters or not is a whole other thing, and there is no doubt a lot of MoFi pressings are very well liked, some such as the Santana legendary, but they should be clear and unambiguous about what they are selling.
  2. RickyC6

    RickyC6 Infuriate the frog-men

    I had a MoFi Sgt Pepper and I hated it. It sounded utterly wrong. Sold it for a good few quid and bought a nice early mono and then later a decent stereo. Both far more enjoyable.
  3. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Yes, some of them do sound very, very wrong IMO. I get the impression the early ones were a flat master transfer, i.e. totally lacking any cutting room mastering (compression, EQ, limiting etc) and tended to be cut very low. The only one I’ve directly compared is Floyd’s DSOTM and it sounded hopeless compared to a bog-standard late-70s UK repress. Just flat, gutless and wrong. The Aja is meant to be bad too. The only one I have myself is a late ‘90s copy of Very Tall by Oscar Peterson & Milt Jackson and that is pretty decent, though I bet I’d swap it for a US Verve original. Apparently the ones from this century are very different and I’ve heard a lot of very good reports about the Miles Davis etc. The very expensive ‘One Step’ seem well liked on the whole too, though I get the impression there were a lot of returns for some titles, e.g. the KoB which I think had non-fill issues or something. They seem very good investments for sure, though it will be interesting to see what happens now.
  4. Weekender

    Weekender pfm Member


    Tl:dr - he's going for a meeting with MoFi on Tuesday.
    ToTo Man likes this.
  5. Martin M

    Martin M Crueller than April

    @Tony L MoFi vinyl went through a 'boom & tizz' period from late seventies to late 80s. I believe that this a dictat from the then MD and Stan Ricker did what he was told. For example, all the Beatles records are beautifully pressed and cut, but with odd EQ. Aja is very weird sounding. A few before that seem to be very system fussy. Waiting for Columbus sounds flat on most systems I have heard, but comes back to life on 'big' systems. The original TML cut is always good though. Sadly none of them can get rid of Bill Payne's godawful Kurzweil synth. The mid to late 90s Anadisk 200 series and the early 2000s vinyl seemed pretty poor to be. Low cutting level and noisyish vinyl don't go too well together. Hence the Bob Marley and Aimee Mann issues are pretty ropey to my ears. The later stuff (no longer half speed mastered) seems good to me...for example their Bill Withers seems very good. Main issue for me are the release we really need another Abraxsas?
  6. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    It is always an interesting question with audiophile releases. My attitude has always been that I’ll buy them if I have next to no hope of finding a mint 1st press from country of artist/label origin, e.g. I have a ton of audiophile jazz and comparatively little rock. By saying that the audiophile rock I do have (Nimbus Floyd, DCC Doors, Purple, Beach Boys, Classic Zep, Hendrix etc) are some of my most valuable records now.

    The MoFi Abraxas is interesting in that Mike at In Groove reckons it absolutely slays all other pressings of this title. I don’t agree with him on all his shootouts by any means (e.g. I think he is very wrong about ‘70s Japanese pressings, which I tend to rate very highly, and certainly higher than most current audiophile stuff), but he seems absolutely convinced this One Step Abraxas is amazing. I’ve got a mint UK 1st press which is good enough for me to consider it done though.
  7. Woodface

    Woodface pfm Member

    I do think a lot of audiophile releases are edging ever closer to foo. I just try to get the best condition presses I can, the biggest killer of enjoyment for me is surface noise these days; I have a very low tolerance these days.

    A lot of the better sounding ones often contain rather mediocre music. Tony’s approach is bang on as you would expect.
  8. ToTo Man

    ToTo Man the band not the dog

    Can't comment on the MoFi vinyl releases but I own plenty of their UDCD and UDSACD releases and I definitely hear a house sound. "Thick and creamy" is how I'd sum them up. Easily noticeable if you A/B them against the original CD releases. Three of the top of my head: Doobie Brothers Toulouse Street, Marc Cohn S/T, Robert Cray Strong Persuader, there is a 16 year spread between these three MFSL releases yet all share this house sound IMO. They sound great on bright systems but are syrupy on darker systems. The 2022 release of Eagles Desperado was a big surprise to me as it is the sonic antithesis of "thick and creamy", so perhaps there is no longer an MFSL house sound?...
  9. myles

    myles Intentionally left blank

    Notwithstanding the fact that MoFi might have neglected to tell everyone they've been using digital sources for years, what happens to Mike's (and other reviewers) positive comments about previous MoFi pressings? They were happy at the time and it looks as though it's a bit of embarrassment on their part that they've been lauding digital media.
    It all makes a bit of a mockery of the analogue Vs digital debate.
    A confused record enthusiast.
    narabdela and allthingsanalog like this.
  10. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Mike has made it pretty clear his recommendations still stand, but he’ll remove them from his ‘top analogue records in print’ list for obvious reasons. That’s exactly the way I’d approach it too. If its a great sounding record it is a great sounding record. As an example my promo-stamped UK 1st press of Donald Fagen’s Nightfly is one of the best sounding records I’ve ever heard and that is an early digital recording. Another truly spectacular sounding record is the 12” ‘Armageddon’ mix of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Two Tribes and much of that is a Linn Drum, Fairlight CMI and a Synclaviar, i.e. very early digital workstation technology, a lot of it likely 8 or 12 bit! Doesn’t stop it sounding incredibly good off vinyl!

    As ever mastering > format. The issue here is honesty and whichever way this goes Mike has acted with real integrity IMO. He’s put his customers first and not attempted to hide anything.
    crimsondonkey likes this.
  11. myles

    myles Intentionally left blank

    I've never got too excited by digital recordings on vinyl. As you say, if they sound good they sound good.
  12. mikeyb

    mikeyb pfm Member

    Not surprising really. Remember the Universal Studios fire that destroyed 1000s of Master tracks a few years ago. Some estimated as many as 500,000 tracks lost. How true that is I've no idea because Universal execs said the figure was only a few thousand.

    There will be albums out there with NO analog master available.

    A lot of Masters get lost too, Thin Lizzy Master tapes were found in an old rain flooded lockup before they were resissued by Back on Black.

    I'm sure many artists/producers are just as careless.

    Mick Fleetwood told me when I met him that the only thing they recorded to analog tape was his drums everything else was digital. So, does it matter?
    myles likes this.
  13. Martin M

    Martin M Crueller than April

    @Tony L The Frankie track is a digital recording too. Sony PCM 3324. Hence its a digital recording of a digital recording....
  14. ToTo Man

    ToTo Man the band not the dog

    Presumably he was referring to FM's recording workflow post-early-1980s or indeed later? I was under the impression that Tango In The Night was their first "all-digital" album? It certainly sounds like it, either that or it was mastered on speakers with blown tweeters! :D
    mikeyb likes this.
  15. ToTo Man

    ToTo Man the band not the dog

    Speak of the Fremer and he's sure to appear!...

    Weekender likes this.
  16. myles

    myles Intentionally left blank

    Candyman style.
  17. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    This is long but quite interesting. I’m only about half-way through. Still obviously some friction between Michael Fremer and In Groove Mike, a few rather petty jibes being thrown which doesn’t help Fremer’s case, though he does come out an injured party in the wider story as MoFi strung him along. A story of Michael trying to apply ‘journalistic integrity’ and not commenting until he has facts vs Mike just calling things out how he sees them. In 2022 the latter is the correct approach IMO. As German Michael said social media has totally changed accepted timeframes. No one has time to waste waiting for carefully curated PR statements, just tell the truth and move on!
  18. krenzler

    krenzler pfm Member

    From the horses mouth.

    ToTo Man likes this.
  19. hockman

    hockman pfm Member

    Oh this is great. I can just see all these audiophile collectors squirming in their seats and having their delusions shattered upon hearing the words 'digital master'. Oh no, my 'investments' have just taken a dive, those MoFi reissues can't really sound that great given that they are from a hi rez digital master, I've been duped! :(:D

    The insanity and absurdity of the myth around audiophile reissues. As far as I am concerned, the only thing that's important is how they sound to your ears.
    kjb, Sean K, narabdela and 5 others like this.
  20. allthingsanalog

    allthingsanalog pfm Member

    DSD - Vinyl never sounded better

    I have a fair few mofi releases, digital and analogue and there's no doubt many sound great, however I can see this being an issue industry wide and not just for mofi.

    When CD arrived I was still an advocate for cassette, when DVD arrived I still liked VHS and the same is true for digital photography, preferring 35mm.

    Now we have HD TV, you would now have to be crazy to think analogue TV is better, digital photography is now streets ahead and now we have this bombshell.

    I never thought I'd not own a cd player, I know own a Melco but still buy cd's to rip and buy hires downloads as I outright refuse to stream.

    I have many new lp's that I know are all digital and many times it's harder to decide if the HD download or vinyl is better. I know if I start playing vinyl it's hard to stop, especially with non digital vinyl but now I'm left looking at my tt and record collection and wondering should I get rid of all Analogue and put the money into the best digital front end I can afford?

    I can certainly see mofi, if not the whole analogue market imploding after this.

    It seems as if even though digital has got off to a slow start it's managed to win the race at the last moment with many formats and it now has vinyl well and truly in its sights.

    I could play my original 1960's pressings buy wait, they were 'limited' to be able to be played on the systems of the day'.

    The hifi business had been fooling us for years and we in the most part fall for it.

    When I worked for Sevenoaks I was buying stuff at 45% to 70% off retail with the lower figure being typical trade prices. I was buying Audiolab and later TagMclarem at 70% off I'm some cases for staff discount with interconnects having the biggest markup. It's about what they can get away with unfortunately.

    We even had a 'duck 'n' dive' trade list (still have an 'XLS' copy) which listed all the percentages off profit should a customer ask for discount so we knew exactly what we were making. This why the franchisees were driving around in porches and TVR's with holiday homes in Spain etc......

    The most difficult part is possibly having to admit my wife was right all those years about it being one all big con?

    Micheal 45 said it best '"every album release ever is technically a Master recording from the original tape".
    Sloop John B likes this.

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