MoFi controversy

I see this hasn't been mentioned here yet, so I thought I'd put this out here.  Let me just say that I haven't yet joined the analog world, so I don't have a dog in this fight.

It was recently revealed that Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs one step LPs are being cut from digital masters (DSD) rather than being straight analog throughout the chain.

Here is one of the many Youtube videos that discusses it


To me, it seems that if MOFI is guilty of anything, it's "deception by omission."  That is, they were never open about the process and the use of digital in the chain. 

One thing to mention is that hardly anyone is criticizing the sound quality of these LPs, even after this revelation.  Me personally, I wouldn't spend over one hundred dollars for any recording regardless of the format.



There is a long thread on this same subject over at Audio Asylum in the Vinyl forum. The guy who explains it best is Tre’, who is himself a recording engineer and a consummate audiophile. The best question and answer is between Tre’ and Flood2. As a big time vinylphile, all I care about is how does the final product sound. Most or all of my "original" Mofi’s are fantastic. None are bad sounding and none are warped or noticeably off center. In recent years, I have bought a few of the "new" Mofi’s, and some are a bit disappointing in SQ, certainly compared to the Mofi's marketed in the 90s and early 2000s. I really don’t care how they got that way.

Dear @ftran999  :  Thank's for your thread because it's a true fact confirmation that in the last 10+ years digital already outperformed the analog " dinosaur ".

Analog lovers ( I'm one. ) normally say analog still is at the top and all are wrong because there is no single fact/objective that can prove it when digital have a lot of facts that proves its superiority and this MoFi issue is one of those facts.


" To me, it seems that if MOFI is guilty of anything, it's "deception by omission."

Well in reality not even that. For years other LP recording manufacturers used digital sources and for some of those years the analog lovers not even took in count ! !  but " die for analog ", go figure.

"  I wouldn't spend over one hundred dollars..." certainly me neither when you can have by almost free been digital.


Regads and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,





IMO, the $125 price tag is ridiculous. Many complain about the "Hot Stampers" price. But I have seen no complaints about the absurd price on these albums. I realize that a business HAS to make a profit to survive. But this seems like gouging to me. However if they came with a 30 day trial, I would try one just to see how it compares. But quite honestly, most of my records sound excellent now. But I'm always willing to learn. I'm not sure I want to spend $125 on an album for that education. Besides, I can't afford them as a diet anyway

I don't get using digital in analog chain, much prefer my vinyl analog mastered. To pay these prices for analog/digital hybrid doesn't make sense. Get a real nice streaming/cd setup and hear these recordings with both excellent sound quality and at reasonable cost.

What costs $125? You can by Mofi LPs for $35 and less, last time I looked, unless you’re referring to out of production re-issues which do sell for high prices owing only to the collector market. That’s not Mofi’s fault or intention. The vendor is up charging, not Mofi.

Please read Tre’s description of what’s going on; they are not selling “a vinyl pressing of an SACD”.

I don’t buy vinyl but there are some facts that should be stated before this takes off.

MoFi takes a modified tape deck to wherever the master tapes they are going to reissue are stored (I’m sure that most labels don’t let the master tapes of their best selling albums out of their sight any longer). They play the tapes on their tape player/analog to digital recorder and record them at 4X DSD. The guys that do this are very highly regarded mastering engineers. 4X DSD is very transparent digital. It’s not like CD quality.

The MoFi engineers say that this gives them a better quality recording to work with than making a tape to tape copy would.

The albums made this way are said to sound very good, for the most part, and nobody has said that they don’t sound right until the digital step was revealed.  Michael Fremer had some of them on his 100 best records list.  He has since removed them.

Now, many people are very angry and say that they were duped into buying records they thought were all analog but now find included a digital step in the process.

It is true that MoFi did not tell people about this digital step and gave the impression that it was an all analog process.

The records sound the same as they did before the revelation, but some people want MoFi’s head over the deception by omission.

That’s what I know about this and I don’t buy vinyl so I’m not taking sides.

The price of the ’One Steps’ has a lot to do with the packaging (box) and the expected profit. Whether they are originally cut from a digital file is questionable, but as the gentleman in the video states, in order to make 40K records, something has to give...and in the case of the ’Thriller’ LP, that is not going to be the master tape.

The Fagen release on the ’One Step’ is absolutely digital, as it is known that the master tape was recorded digitally. The question of whether the others still unknown. However, personally I have no issue with whether the ’One Step’ is cut from a digital file if it sounds superb and better than any other release. My Allison Krauss ’ARKUS’ MoFi is cut digitally, yet it sounds superb and is one of my best sounding LP’s.

The issue of ethics does play into this, as the OP brings up the aspect of ’deception by omission’, which is a very good point. The question of full disclosure when it comes to these vinyl a’phile limited edition releases is where I think maybe MoFi has erred....maybe??

@lewm The MOFI LPs in question here are called “Ultradisc One Step” and do indeed sell for $125 new and sealed from the usual new LP vendors.

@lewm The MoFi One Steps are typically $125 for a 2 45rpm box set. The single 33 ONE STEPS are $100. 

The One Step is a higher end product over the General $40 Mofi Lp

In order to be transparent (very important in this discussion),, I have learned that Chad Kassem, owner of Analogue Productions, only does reissues of albums that he can get the master tapes for at his facilities. So, I was mistaken in my earlier post when I said that most labels wouldn’t let them out of their sight. Chad has said that his request for the masters does get turned down, though, and in those cases he just won’t do a reissue.


Sounds like a lot of assumptions were made by the consumers and those assumptions weren’t correct. Not defending MoFi by any means, they could’ve been a bit more transparent. But the bottom line is the sound quality is superb. The prices are higher than what they should have been (think Analog Productions 45rpm pressings price range). If all this results in reissues of some of their out of print titles it’ll be a win, at least for those who care and are looking to enrich their collection with these fine sounding records. Just my take on it. 

Really what does this say about the vinyl vs digital debate? Evidently it's quite possible people are paying $2k for a MOFI one step record on the secondary market that is essentially the same product as a $30 MOFI SACD. Everyone agrees one step vinyl is superior, the best available version, until this new information is presented. Now comes a reevaluation. What if this information never came to light? If the one step vinyl is digitally sourced it is, in essence, the sacd pressed onto vinyl, no? The ramifications are interesting, particularly for the wallet. 

If only irt was the same jdm11! Add to the LP tracking and speed errors and the value proposition looks even worse.

"MFSL engineers begin with the original master tapes and meticulously cut a set of lacquers"

A quote from the sheet that MoFi explain how they're doing the one step process.

To me it is not omitting anything when it is a clear lie. And saying omitting is to be nice in my opinion.

How one feels about vinyl vs digital, about prices for 1-Steps, or about the sound quality of MoFi products isn’t the point, compared to the issue of the little banner across the top of MoFi albums....there are 2 and they used to have a meaning....

"Original Master Recording" meant it was sourced from the original master tapes, and the other banner "Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab" meant they had to use something else as the source (often a duplicate "safety tape", or the master was lost/damaged and all that is left is digital, for examples) and now their third category, super duper 1-steps , (because it was digitized somewhere in the process) and suddenly all of those distinctions are meaningless. It’s a big omission to people who care about transparency in the process.

For me it isn’t about the "quality" of the sound (they’re incredible most of the time) it’s just not 100% analog which is deceptive when Master Tapes are part of your brand identity. It’s a small but very competitive segment of the market. And obviously the consumers care.

I think the only people who are upset are the ones that have been:

1. Screaming (loudly) that analog is the only way to go and that digital sucks.

2. Extolling the virtues of MoFi’s products and using it as a basis to support point #1.

I’m a digital guy, but we all have an audiophile friend who meets the above criteria.

As for the controversy itself, I think MoFi has made a fortune using misleading advertising, as well as playing to the "word of mouth" movement during the analog resurgence of the last 15 years or so. But hey, it’s a business.

Caveat Emptor.

There’s no doubt that MoFi recordings are absolutely top notch. I’d be a little salty, too, though if I paid $100+ for a "One Step" pressing of what amounts to a SACD that you can buy for $30-$40.

If you like your MoFi recordings, great! Keep playing them. I certainly wouldn’t be mad enough to go smash the record in the street or anything like that, lol.

If you’re an analog only guy, perhaps re-evaluate the what’s and why’s and where you stand, and let’s all move on.

Happy Listening!


Consumers felt that MoFi was not transparent and the fact that they charge $125 for what is essentially a digitally sourced pressing is what rubs people the wrong way. I have no dog in this fight. I get all my high quality records from Analogue Productions whose owner Chad is a very passionate individual and made it his life long mission to bring the best of what vinyl has to offer.

The other dogma about analog being better than digital ????  Personally, I enjoy both.... All depends on the material and the rig matters a ton !

This is old news, records have been cut from digital recordings primarily for 3 decades. But these records still sound like “vinyl.” Perhaps there are distortion characteristics built in to record playback that are pleasing, and that has been the secret sauce.


 I have listened to very high end digital and very high end record playback systems, and I have felt for a good 5 years that records smooth off the top and add warmth. I find that MQA adds a very similar tonal characteristic, making recordings sound like records. Thus, I prefer the high resolution recordings streamed by Quboz as they sound more like the real thing. 

At my level, where I have similar investments into digital streaming and record playback (Aurender N100H and Schiit Yggdrasil vs Ariston Rd11s and modified Grace 707 and Benz Ace with Hegel V10), the digital side does everything better, especially spatiality, dynamics, and inner detail).

It will make a lot of harm for the record industry. Especially for premium products. Sales was rising so well especially for premium records, now this trend can change.



I love my 2K+ vinyl but I confess, I don't own any MOFI ultradisk. I was about to purchase Hendrix are you experienced for $125, but then I thought of jasonborne and ended up buying a cable for twice that money. 


"In order to be transparent (very important in this discussion),, I have learned that Chad Kassem, owner of Analogue Productions, only does reissues of albums that he can get the master tapes for at his facilities."

You are correct in the strictest sense of the word "reissue".  In the case of the AP release of SD Two Against Nature there never was an analog release.  In fact the entire original chain was digital.

I know this because I happen to know Scott Hull at Masterdisk and was at the studio when he received the first TEST pressing of the analog that he mastered and cut on his lathe.  Scott also mixed the original digital and won a Grammy for it which is why SD came back to him to remix for analog and cut the original lacquer.



jasonbourne is exactly like my brother.  Why would you spend hundreds or thousands for a cable when this $12 cable already sounds good?

Anyone who has watched early James Bond movies knows that master tapes can be digital.

MOfi’s statement: “utilizing original master tapes” would not be misleading if those master rapes are digital.  

I have $0.00 in Mo Fi in my collection. I also not seeing what the big deal is?

Is it questionable truth in labeling? Yes it is. 

MOfi’s statement: “utilizing original master tapes” would not be misleading if those master rapes are digital.  


Only in a literal sense, wink, wink, nod, nod. They know their market is people looking for finest analog reproduction, digital masters makes it something different. These are now hybrid recordings and should be marketed thusly.


And I have vinyl mastered or remastered digitally, does not have unique sound qualities of my thousands of full chain analog vinyl.

DSD is the best format for capturing sound from microphones. Period.


I have 3 PS Audio Octave Studios vinyl LPs, and 6 SACDs/CDs. They are of exceptional quality! They capture using DSD, then mix in PWM or analog. The Octave Records LPs are my references for testing and comparing cartridges/styli. PWM captures are obsolete. Too many digital artifacts, no matter whether CD/streaming/SACD/vinyl.

Sorry, I have to put in my 2c worth. 
  What’s the deal with the pricing, compared with the original mf pricing back in the 70’s and adjusted for todays prices, the $100 mark is about right. For those who moan and groan, don’t buy new. Buy pre owned. 
  Remember, most of these artists are either dead or to old to make “new” albums, recordings, etc. for example, would you buy a new release of thriller for a hundred dollars? I wouldn’t! I already have 2 sealed and one I listen to. Bought smart for the future. 
  It’s not all about the pressing of the lp. It’s packaging, box art, liner notes, and more. I’m new to streaming, and my wife asked me “where is the liner notes and all the good stuff”. Couldn’t answer.

For those who still complain, think about this. What did direct to disc (Sheffield labs) lps cost back in the 70’s and 80’s? Or ( for those who know gale recordings). Anyone remember Pablo recordings? It wasn’t the 10 or 12 dollars that typically lps cost at that time.

Yes, the technology and tools have changed. Don’t begrudge a company producing a lost product for a fair price. That’s why they are in business. I remember when cds came out to “replace” lps. We all complained. For awhile no one made lps. Never going to come back they said. Well they have. Now some complain about the cost/quality of the product. If that’s you don’t buy . It’s as simple as that.

one final thought, what’s coming in the future of our hobby? Only electronic music? No true musicians, just a computer. For those who haven’t noticed, look at the size of their local symphony orchestra. The last time I went to a concert, the musicians were fewer in number by at least 50%. 
  The thing is , buy what you want, listen to what you want, if you don’t like it don’t ruin it for others by complaining about what you are not going to change. Make it better if you think you can. 
  Sorry for the rant, complainers kind of get to me.

FWIW dept:

I ran an LP mastering operation for about 10 years. LPs get mastered from digital source files all the time. The trick is to make sure that the file you're working with does not contain the DSP stuff that the digital release file does. So you often have to go back to the label and request such a file. The reason is simple: digital release files are compressed since there is an expectation they will be played in a car.

For this reason the LP frequently has greater dynamic range than the CD (or other digital format). About the only way you're going to get that is if you get an LP that was mastered without the compression.

For those that argue that digital has greater dynamic range, why would anyone do that, that sort of thing; in theory yes in practice no.

Also FWIW dept,: master tapes from 50 years ago may no longer exist or might be in dreadful condition. Labels are not always that great about master tape storage. Years ago we tried to reissue a title that was on CD to LP; turned the label had recorded over the master tape for use on another project...


+1 @atmasphere  As ususal, a caim voice of Reason and Information...

MOFI should expect a hit in sales due to over-reaction... Price adjustment to follow...

Post removed 

if they come from digital masters (and no wonder) I don't think it is necessary to spend a lot of money on vinyls with those characteristics but I buy the cd or sacd and save.
I believe that Mofi with this revelation / non-revelation whipped herself.

I think the bottom line is that the vast majority of studios are all digital.  And almost all remasters (and wow have they improved some classic rock!) are performed digitally.  So all they will have to work with, are 24 bit/96-192 ksps masters.


Now i think this is a good thing.  There is ample evidence that digititis is not actually a fault of the digital process, but of lousy implementations, errors, etc.


As to why one would want an analog rendition of a digital original - aside from the cuddly reasons, some may like analog artifacts the same way many like tube artifacts.


I see nothing wrong with this.

A friend of mine, who cuts lacquers with a Neumann VMS 80, has explained to me in the past that it is much more difficult to get a good cut with an all analog master tape than a digital one.  Most lathes preview the a digital file which allows the lathe to cut within its safe parameters. All analog cuts that turn out great might be "minor miracles".  I'm sure @atmasphere can explain the preview process better. 

  Good luck finding any vinyl (from the last 10? 15? years) that wasn't pressed from an original digital master. I'm sure someone, somewhere, is still using tape but they would be the rare exception proving the rule.

Most lathes preview the a digital file which allows the lathe to cut within its safe parameters. All analog cuts that turn out great might be "minor miracles".  I'm sure @atmasphere can explain the preview process better. 

The preview process is simply looking for the quiet and loud spots so you can speed up the lead screws that drive the cutter head so as to prevent over-cutting (overwriteing a prior groove) and also so as to take advantage of space that is possible when the music is quiet.

The 'preview' can be done several ways. One way if you have a reel to reel machine is to place a tape head about 2 seconds upstream from the playback head- this head is often referred to as a 'digital preview' head because its output is used to digitally create the correct speed for the motor driving the lead screws. The Compucut system made in the 1980s used this technique.

You can also create speed information by playing the project first and then playing the speed file back while synchronized with the actual audio. That is the technique we used.

There are other techniques as well.

The reason its harder to do an analog master tape is the tape does not have normalization like is often found with digital source files. Its important to understand that an LP mastering lathe is almost impossible to overload. IOW the cutter head can easily cut grooves that no cartridge has a hope of tracking. So you have to be careful to not exceed playback limits. Especially if you are not using compressors or limiters this can be tricky and may require a bit of engineering time working with the project doing test cuts to see how problem areas work out.

@atmasphere Thank you for the post.  I learned something today.

@sns I agree with you related to Mofi's "questionable" marketing where the expectation is established that their customers are going to incorrectly "connect the dots" and assume their analog product is "pure" analog.

I've developed a term I call "Factually Correct, Intellectually Dishonest Reporting", or "True Lies". Simply stated, if there is some factual information in a statement, the broad consensus is that the presenter is not technically "lying" even though information can be taken out if context, other relevant information excluded, or quote "others" statements as fact without verifying the information to be true or false.  Political pundits are masters at this.  It's called "propaganda."

In Mofi's case, their statements are, in fact, "True Lies" in that they omitted relevant information that should have provided "informed consent" to their customers.   Such as: "These are hybrid recordings". This is covertly manipulative and, yes, intellectually dishonest.

English is not my first language so it is possible that I may not be the best to examine, review, and evaluate the topic under discussion here but I see nothing at all misleading, deceptive, or dishonest in Mobile Fidelity’s advertising, marketing, or packaging it looks to me like some people here like to play "judge jury and executioner" all at once and they are doing a fine job of it!


i cant figure out the  crux of this here: did mofi keep it a secret? did they release digitally done (editing, mastering, whatever, processing) records they claimed were analog? 

Good luck finding any vinyl (from the last 10? 15? years) that wasn't pressed from an original digital master. I'm sure someone, somewhere, is still using tape but they would be the rare exception proving the rule.


several prints of the tonal poet are analog master and are shown on the back cover or inside as almost all the houses that print vinyls report whether the master is analog or digital.

@clearthink I agree that my comments were a bit heavy-handed.  Probably about 6db too loud.  I'm just a believer in authenticity. Mofi is right on the edge of not respecting the wants and needs of its customers.

Whether MoFi has done unique mastering of a digital file or an analogue tape, whether the analogue playback chain alters the sound in a way some people prefer such alteration, what matters is whether one likes the end result.  I've heard several one-step recordings and they ARE very good sounding.  In the Abraxas example, it does sound at least as good as an original Columbia recording of that music, which is WAY better than any subsequent reissues in any format that I've heard.  I don't know why it is the case, but, a lot of high quality vinyl reissues seem to be more lively and dynamic than the digital reissue--that is even the case with MoFi digital vs. their LP reissue; is it distortion I am hearing and liking?  Perhaps, but so what?  

I am not at all religiously attached to analogue.  I listen mostly to digital music because of convenience and because newer classical releases are never offered in an analogue format.  There are plenty of outstanding digital recordings that I really like for sound quality.  But, there are so many amazing sounding analogue recordings that I have so I cannot say that one format is decidedly superior to the other.

In fact, when I want to demonstrate how little the recording and playback technology has advanced in the past 60 years or more, I will pull out certain original issue records from the late 1950's that are in stereo that are shockingly good by any standard.  I have an original Ellington "Blues in Orbit" in stereo that stomps all over the Sony SACD reissue that was suppose to showcase what the technology can do; is it vinyl superiority or the tape has deteriorated in time?  I don't know, but I do know that the original six-eye Columbia is the one to have.  On just the Columbia label, you can do a shoot out of original Brubeck "Time Out," Santana "Abraxas" Benny Goodman albums from the late 1950's and shock people on how good early stereo sounds.

MoFi releases what it thinks are essential albums is higher quality vinyl. I have seen nothing in their marketing that says they stick to analog masters. That would be hard to do anyway as most everything has been converted to digital. Digital has one major advantage. It does not age. You can also do processing in digital that is impossible to do in the analog world without distortion. 

I am totally with @rauliruegas on this one. I love records. I buy at least 1 record a week. I am in the process of spending $30,000 upgrading by vinyl rig. However, digital, from a strictly performance angle is superior. Where vinyl wins is in the psychology of the collector/gadget freak . Records are simply more fun from a sociological perspective. From a sonic perspective, the most jaw dropping recordings I have are in digital files. I will toss one more hand grenade while I am at it. In order to build a SOTA system in this day and age you have to use digital signal processing. There is no system that is totally free of problems that stand in the way of the absolute sound. Few of these problems are not amenable to digital processing. 

Amen to Larryi. Listen to frank sanatra recordings from 50’s to 60’s. Far better than todays redux.

This thread brings back a memory of attending a meeting prior Covid that featured a rep from MoFi who discussed their new releases, including the ’One Steps’. The rep did answer questions about the mastering and the ability to use the original master tapes. I remember him stating that in the event the original master tape was available, and not too deteriorated that they would use this. The rep also stated that they would even occasionally go to the trouble of ’baking’ the master to improve the transfer ( which at the time i thought as odd). Many of the tapes that are available to them are not usable, due to noise and age. Also, i think I remember him saying that master tapes from the likes of Apple and the Beatles were never going to be available again; as Apple would never allow them to go out.


Nonetheless, the question is whether all of the ’One Step’ release have been mastered from a digital file? This is unclear to me. Also, if that is the case, did MoFi intentionally leave out this info, knowing how much negative impact it would have on their new ’One Step’s' desirability.

Along these lines - the best sounding versions of the first 4 Led Zeppelin albums I have (including all of Page's remasters) are from recent Japanese needle drops of the 1st vinyl pressings from back in the day sold on cds. Digital doesn't automatically mean lesser quality if the source is excellent.