Analog * Analog * Analog vs. Analog * Digital * Analog
what do you think? Are you more a „first press guy“ or do you accept well mastered reissues?
I’ve NEVER liked the sound of Mobile Fidelity records…..
I own only one (which I never play) but have heard many…on my system and others.
You can fool some people some of the time etc etc…..🤥🤥🤥🤥
The reason is of course the option to alter / “correct / improve” certain frequencies / sections by pepping up bass / removing excessive tape hiss in the digital process.
Making the recording sounds more “modern” and “better”…….
While I very much support producing great reissues, I have a big problem with this altering by will.
ERC shows that it can be done all analog and faithful to the original.
There is a similar discussion going on in the videophile community about excessive removing of film grain in analog shot movies in UHD editing.
If I want Sunday at the Village Vanguard with 50% less tape hiss (and 20-30% less small ambiance details coming with it ….) – that’s ok.
It is not “better” – it is a different approach.
You know that I am an avid “original pressings-guy” ….. as the Japanese say: ‘an original is an original is an original’ ……
This and the inevitable fact that magnetic tapes do age and are loosing their peak saturation very fast (see comments about this by Robert Fine back in the very early 1960ies) – make later digital edited reissues, especially if sold for prime price !!!- not really worthwhile for me.
Never liked Mofi and really dislike anything pressed on 180g vinyl. For me it’s all shit.
When I am copying my analogue master tapes to DSD 5.6 via miniSD card onto my Astell & Kern 240 I do hear a superb quality. Or are my ears going weak? 😂 Do not think so.
It depends on the masterings engineer to balance the process. Go to listening ABBA ´s half speed mastered Abbey records. So much better than the originals.
What is a real problem is that MOFI did not tell the truth about their mastering process.
And Fremer wasn ´t really clever in argumenting.
Unterstand „the first press position“. Nevertheless there are many ways in today´s audiophile reissue process which will lead to a good result.
I know we all have mixed feelings about how this was handled, but one thing I’d like to suggest, which could make a lot of people happy: some of the One Steps sounded INCREDIBLE (such as Abraxas). There was digital in the chain but still — these were mind-blowing disks. Since I have to assume the digital file was preserved, why not make another batch of those One Steps? Sure, that’s going to annoy a few people who are selling them for big bucks… but it will make a lot more people very happy. I’d even pay the current price ($125-150) over the original 1Step price ($99).
Editor’s note: Jim Davis, president of Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, posted an official statement yesterday about the company’s mastering process, following a recent spate of customer concerns about the possibility of digital steps in said mastering process. We are including his statement here verbatim, and invite your Comments below. —MM
We at Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab are aware of customer complaints regarding use of digital technology in our mastering chain. We apologize for using vague language, allowing false narratives to propagate, and for taking for granted the goodwill and trust our customers place in the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab brand.
We recognize our conduct has resulted in both anger and confusion in the marketplace. Moving forward, we are adopting a policy of 100% transparency regarding the provenance of our audio products. We are immediately working on updating our websites, future printed materials, and packaging — as well as providing our sales and customer service representatives with these details. We will also provide clear, specific definitions when it comes to Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab marketing branding such as Original Master Recording (OMR) and UltraDisc One-Step (UD1S). We will backfill source information on previous releases so Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab customers can feel as confident in owning their products as we are in making them.
We thank you for your past support and hope you allow us to continue to provide you the best-sounding records possible — an aim we’ve achieved and continue to pursue with pride.
President, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab
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no record company will allow MoFi to torture a 60 year old original master tape by playing it back 20 or more times on a tape machine with analog preview. but that’s what is neccessary to cut the neccessary amount of lacquers for a production of, say, 5000 LPs in one-step plating. plus, as mastering from tape is a real-time process, the mastering engineer would have to replicate his changes (which not all last for the whole LP-side; some are only for a couple of seconds during one song) with 100% precision 20 times. which will also not be possible – so the 5000 LPs would be inconsistent tonally.
it is obvious that MoFi *had* to duplicate the original master tape in some form. an analog tape duplicate would deteriorate the sound a lot more than a properly made digital duplicate. that MoFi chose DSD actually proves that they do care about sound – after all, DSD was developed originally as a medium for long time archival of analog tapes. in a way, DSD is also less “digital” than PCM.
they were ill-advised not to be more transparent about their production process. it could be made completely understandable that you can’t press thousands if LPs with one-step plating without somehow duplicating the original tape. and it can also be explained (and/or demonstrated) that a DSD duplicate is actually less detrimental to the sound than an analog copy.
but what counts in the end is whether their super-duper Ultradiscs sound better than the original LP. which they mostly do – not the least because MoFi can be sure that their LPs will be plaid back on a capable turntable whereas the LPs in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s had to play without skipping even on the cheapest low-end gramophones. so a modern remastering can apply more gain, the cut can be hotter (i.e. the average loudness is further away from the noise floor), they can use less noisy mastering equimpent etc.
i have never read a claim from MoFi to use a 100% analog process. so they didn’t lie. and the buyer does not have a right to know whether any form of bits and bytes were involved or not. if you like the sound, it also doesn’t matter how it was achieved.
seen from that perspective, the scandal is not that MoFi uses a DSD-copy to press their one-step LPs. the scandal is that the Washington Posts writes an article scandalizing a completely legitimate production process without providing any background information about one-step or DSD. the damage to MoFi’s reputation is immense – and completely unjustified. in that light, the next scandal is Michael Fremer’s role. i am convinced that he – as a vinyl specialist and industry insider – knew (or should have known as a thorough journalist) that MoFi does not cut the lacquers for the one-step disks from the original master tape. by bad-mouthing Mike Esposito, by blaming the messenger, he ultimately damages his own reputation and disqualifies himself as the authority he claims to be.
so the whole story is more a textbook example of how scandalization in times of social media works. and how it can hurt even perfectly legitimate businesses like MoFi. and once the damage is done, it can’t be made un-done. and in the end, the journalist will even be awarded a Pulitzer for his investigative writing…
(PS i know what i’m writing about – the proof is the booklet of the LP you discussed in your blog of march 20. i wrote it and i was present at all steps of the production of this LP. i can vouch that there was not a single bit involved in the soulful journey. but plenty of lacquers and broken stampers…