Mofi Controversy

I agree that Mobile Fidelity should have been more upfront about their recording process. I have heard that there may be some class action lawsuits in the works. I have to ask what this will accomplish besides putting money in lawyers pockets and potentially driving Mobile Fidelity out of business? I have enjoyed many of their records and I  hope to do so in the future. 
Some of you probably feel that they should be punished for what they did and if you feel that way simply stop buying their records. A drop in sales would be a very strong message for any business.


Alas, a lot of these people already bought their records and paid a lot more for them than they feel they should have as they feel they were misled. 

@Iwin - I agree with your assessment. In my view, this whole affair is the definition of a tempest in a teapot. People are getting wired up about nothing.

It also reflects something that's been increasing for years: Audiophiles confusing how something is made with how good it is. Anyone still interested in music?

I am lucky to own all 22 MoFi Ultradisc One-Step LPs. To me the only criteria that matters is SQ. Some of these disc sound as good as it gets IMHO. For example; Eric Clapton Unplugged, Muddy Waters Folk Singer, Bill Evans Sunday At The Village Vanguard etc. Sure MoFi have been a little deceptive in having us think the lacquers were cut direct from the master tape when in fact they are cut from a very high quality DSD copy of the master tape. All the same, like I said, SQ is about as good as it gets for an LP and as an added bonus, original art work and packaging is wonderful. The only source material that can have better SQ is a 1/4" 15ips tape that is a first generation copy of the master tape. But these tapes are very expensive at $500 upwards. For example, Lyn Stanley; London With A Twist - Live At Bernie’s. As close to live music I have ever heard, albeit at a high price ($750 per tape). The music is wonderful and the recording, quite simply the best I have ever heard! 

It’s bewildering that some still don’t get it. MoFi was asked point blank if their LP’s were made purely analogue, with no digital transfer involved. The answer was an unequivocal yes. That was a deliberate, intentional lie.

For the record ;-) : MoFi LP’s continue to sell. The Bob Dylan soundtrack to Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid---out of stock at Music Direct for a long time---was just repressed. I don’t know how many copies were produced in this run, but they all sold within a week. If I hadn’t already found a sealed copy from an earlier run I would have bought one. Dylan & The Band’s Before The Flood has also been unavailable for quite a while, but is slated to eventually be repressed. I didn’t want to wait, so recently bought a sealed copy off ebay for ten bucks above retail.

One point that should be made is that almost NO LP’s are made from a master tape. Even in a pure analogue LP, the source used to cut the lacquer is almost always (see below) a "production" or "safety" copy of the master tape, a first generation dub. It is MoFi’s contention that a DSD copy is superior to an analogue tape copy. It’s fair to then ask: if that’s the case, why not proclaim it? You know the answer: MoFi is aware of the fact that many audiophile LP buyers won’t buy an LP made from a digital source. To prevent a loss in sales, they hid the fact that they were cutting their lacquers from a DSD file, not an analogue tape. Is that a crime? I don’t know, but it sure sounds like a clear case of fraud to me. Whether or not MoFi LP’s "sound good" is a separate issue.

As alluded to above, while most pure analogue LP’s are made not from the true 2-channel master tape (either 1/4" or 1/2", and 15 or 30 IPS) but rather from a production copy, there are exceptions. In rare cases the actual original 2-channel stereo master tape has been made available to an audiophile reissue company, most notably Analogue Productions. In fact, their reissue of Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue was cut from not a 2-channel stereo mix tape made from the original 3-channel multi-track tape, but from the 3-channel multi-track tape itself! Mastering engineer Bernie Grundman---instead of mixing the 3-tracks and making a 2-channel stereo master tape from which to cut the lacquer, cut the lacquer directly from the 3-track master tape, eliminating the normal generation of analogue tape copying!! That was done back in 1997, when Sony was at that time allowing some of their master tapes out of their vaults. That is no longer the case. Even when it was, it was as I have explained most often not the original master tape itself which was the source for cutting a lacquer, but rather a production copy tape. Eliminating a stage of copying---whether analogue OR digital, is obviously superior.

So you would be OK if a gas station told you it was high octane gas, charged you the high octane price and it was really low octane? I’d bet you’d be really angry.
It’s fraud. It doesn’t matter that you could not tell the difference, it’s fraud. It’s a crime. 

Today's TAS newsletter includes a good interview of Music Direct/MoFi owner Jim Davis by Robert Harley. Just about every issue is brought up and answered, save one: Why did he keep the DSD step secret for 15 years, lying the whole time that MoFi LP's were made in a purely-analogue manner? If MoFi's dirty little secret hadn't been revealed by someone else, he would still be lying about it.

Do the recordings sound any different to you now that you know a digital step may have been added ? I will take the one step Abraxis over any other recording of that album I have heard. I am really looking forward to the one step Michael Jackson. He was very fussy about his recordings so this will be an interesting one.

In the TAS interview with Robert Harley, Jim Davis states than the MoFi engineers found that a lacquer cut from a DSD copy of the analogue master tape sounded better than a lacquer cut from the analogue master tape. Do you believe them?

Here’s a simple (though not inexpensive ;-) way to test their assertion: Compare the MoFi Kind Of Blue (cut from a DSD 64 file)---two 45 RPM discs priced at $69.99, to the Analogue Productions Kind Of Blue (cut from the 3-track analogue master tape)---one 33-1/3 RPM UHQR disc priced at $100 (though now out of print), or the AP two 45 RPM UHQR disc version priced at $150. Let us know what you hear.