The MoFi Mess and TAS rolling over for them

Totally disgusted with TAS opinions on the mofi mess. They're basically saying it was okay to dupe us.  Jonathan Valin actually says as long as it sounds good...

What a sell out to the audiophile community.  TAS is nothing but a glorified product catalogue for their advertisers.  



I haven't read the article yet but was afraid that would be the outcome. Power protects power at every level. 

The articles were right inline with the soft-balled interview they conducted with Jim Davis. The interview was nothing more than a venue for MoFi to plead its case; there were no questions that pushed Davis on the lack of transparency and pricing. The articles effectively downplay the lack of transparency; and pricing gets sloughed off by Harley in 6 words.

 Valiin's statement in the editorial shows exactly TAS position:

"My bottom line is this: After MoFi spent decades keeping the LP alive and kicking - releasing many, many sonic triumphs pver that span (including several of the One-Steps) - it would be worse than ungrateful of audiophiles not to show some charity here."

"ungrateful of audiophiles" - guess everyone didn’t realize the largesse of Mofi. Valin certainly missed that Mofi produced records to make money.





A well known audio designer and manufacturer writing in another forum has accused TAS of corruption on more than one occasion.  So all of this is no surprise.

But why post this here instead of at Analog?

TAS is nothing but a glorified product catalogue for their advertisers.

Big +1.  TAS reviews read like product ads and nothing more.  Shameful and utterly useless drivel. 

To me, the MoFi debacle is a big reveal not only about a reissue house that cloaks itself in the mantle of "industry leader" but also about how incestuous the relationship is between the legacy press and industry.

Valin's comment that you should show some gratitude for all MoFi did to keep vinyl alive during the nadir is false in two respects- MoFi was not churning out vinyl during the '90s (well, Anadisc, but that wasn't much) and oughts--(they didn't resume vinyl until much later); and that you owe them a debt of gratitude for this, once it was revealed that they were being deceptive. You are an ingrate unless you go along. 

The legacy press is tied at the hip to the manufacturers and other industry players; they are not focused on issues helpful to the consumer. This, to me, should be a eye-opener for anyone who relies on the mainstream audio press (such as it is) for accurate, truthful assessments about product. 

It is precisely why a record store owner was able to open up this can of worms. I was never much for watching YouTube videos about records or hi-fi, but that seems to be where a lot of audiophiles go now. And it doesn't bode well for the established audio press, especially as the demographic changes and loyal readers of the old TAS and Stereophile age out and younger buyers become more important. Shilling for manufacturer advertisers is not a formula for success. It takes us back to the early days when J.G. Holt started Stereophile because Stereo Review and others at the time refused to be critical. 

FWIW, why might you think that Sterophile and Absolute Sound practically give away subscriptions. Subscriptions don't pay for these magazines - mostly all they do is support the readership numbers the rags need to keep advertisers on the hook. They serve the manufacturers not the public. They have lacked any credibility for years (if they ever had that much to begin with). A few 'honest' reviewers have published therein but, IMHO, not often in The Absolute Sound, at least in post Pearson days. On-line reviewers can be just as crass and often they are - their names would be obvious to anyone paying attention. 

Reminds me of the old saying about Time/Look magazines. Look is for those who can't read, Time is for those who can't think. Stereophile and The Absolute Sound would succeed as a composite of both.  


At least Stereophile does measurements and usually compares a review product to something comparable.  TAS?  Nuthin’.  Hell, many times they don’t even bother listing the gear in the reviewer’s reference system.  What???  Pure advertising and utter garbage and totally worthless “reviews” IMO. 

Yeah Valin is just another low life human being. No morals or ethics. Remember the "loaner" cables he tried selling! I've stopped reading TAS many years ago.

Facts known by most, not all.

1. Mobile Fidelity owns & distributes a number of audio brands:

2. Mobile Fidelity is owned by Music Direct, who distributes and deals a whole lot more audio brands:

I encourage people to flip through TAS and see what the percentage of ads come from one of the brands that are listed in the two links above and come to your conclusions on whether there is any true separation between church and state in the support for the brands covered in editorial vs the advertising.

So, we owe Mofi a debt of gratitude for keeping vinyl alive?  No, Mofi owes me/we audiophiles who buy their way overpriced reissues.  I won't be buying any more.  How many different copies do we need of Santana Abraxas or PF DSOTM?  Lie to me once, shame on you, lie to me twice, shame on me.

I'm really curious as to why Fremer left Stereophile for TAS. They must have made him an offer he couldn't refuse.I gave up on TAS when Robert Harley took over.

I'm really curious as to why Fremer left Stereophile for TAS. They must have made him an offer he couldn't refuse.I gave up on TAS when Robert Harley took over.

@bdp24 I’m sure they coughed up big bucks for Fremer to lower his standards and dumb down his reviews to TAS’ “standards.”  Sad really. 

"The proof is in the pudding" is a featherweight re-write of "the end justifies the means."  It is amazing that JV, the TAS editorial staff, the Stereophile editorial staff, et al. are so amazingly ignorant of even the most basic foundational principles of ethics.  I began writing a reply to the JV stupidity, only to realize I could not dumb down ethical reasoning to a sufficient level to address the inanities that comprise his "defense." 

And yet, I guess I'm part of the problem: I still subscribe to both mags, because I really want to learn more about technological developments in the audiophile universe.


I have bought a couple MO Fi products.  LP and CD.  Can't see, or hear, what all the fuss is about.  I have 40 year old vinyl that sounds every bit as good as the MO FI original masters re issue.  Maybe if I upgraded my amps power cord it would all become clear? 🤣

The whole digital debacle is an issue that could be forgiven over time, but MoFi putting themselves on a pedestal as industry leaders of audiophile vinyl is grossly overstated.

  The last several years of MoFi pressings I purchased have been hit and miss at best. The quality control is non-existent. I have received some truly horrendous sounding/looking albums. This is an area they need to prioritize first. 

What do you expect from an audio magazine that gives every product they review a glowing review, the best of the best. This MoFi issue just makes my point that hires digital sounds as good or better than analog, that's why I sold everything analog years ago.

Back to Valin and Fremer: these 2 reviewers are so biased in their fields, you just can't read any of their reviews. Valin is biased toward Magnepan speakers which I think sound pretty bad for the money especially the 30.7's and he is biased toward analog. Which brings me to framer which is off the wall biased toward analog. I have read Fremers reviews on non-analog products and his bias comes out in these reviews, can't red them, These are the reasons I cancelled my subscription

No @hotei, and no one is saying that. But their ethical behavior over the past 15 or so years certainly has been.

It doesn't matter anymore, there are plenty of audiophile LP reissue companies putting out fantastic product: Analogue Productions, Speakers Corner, Vinyl Me Please, Intervention Records, Sam Records, Run Out Groove, Light In The Attic, Jackpot Records (a new label out of Portland, Oregon), Blue Note, Exhibit Records, Anti Records, a dozen more.

The Absolute Sound piece was a disgrace. And anyway, if Mobile Fidelity believes that its DSD are so good (which, by the way, I have no reason to disbelieve) it begs the question as to why they are being released in vinyl rather than exclusively on in a native DSD format.

I heartily concur with every post here, except with the MoFi defender.

@yoyoyaya The reason why MoFi won’t release DSD files in native format is because the Analog or Die! Crowd won’t shell out $125 for a 40 minute download.

They prefer those files embedded in a slab of petroleum and extracted with with a needle.  However, they prefer to pretend that those files are purely analog.  

  The relationship between review magazines and manufacturers is truly incestuous.

Gave up my subs to TAS and Stereophile a few years back. Too much BS. The Mofi mess? Could care less. Fermer and all the so-called experts? Could care less what they say/think. They don’t have my ears, budget, room, or taste, so it’s irrelevant to me. Never thought Mofis sounded that good…bloated bass, no top end air…only bought a handful over the years. Got a couple that sound ok. Analogue Productions and Music on Vinyl much better to me. Journalism today? What a joke. 

Just maybe the creation of the vinyl record creates pleasing distortions, and maybe the revelation here is that the purported superiority of vinyl over digital is an emperor with no clothes. That’s what my ears tell me, anyway.

@mahler123. I was being polite in not stating the obvious - that the motivation for pressing a digital file into a piece of plastic is profit. There's nothing inherently wrong with a profit motive but passing off a digital product as purely analogue is another thing altogether - literally and metaphorically.

Wow, in must be national "kick TAS in the nuts day."   I subscribe to both Stereophile and TAS, and prefer TAS.  Any publication that is selling advertising space to a company and reviewing their products, is not going to be capable of stating the unvarnished facts. As long as one understands that both of these mags will be very enjoyable.  If you can't deal with that, why waste your money on a subscription.

What I have found interesting about the MoFi issue is the level of indignation - and even outright anger - that it has prompted from some. And I have to wonder: Have any of them actually ever bought any MoFi LPs?

It will be interesting to see if the suit by Tuttle, Collman is granted Class Action status, and to what extent plaintiffs can show damage.

disgusting. well, runnin a con and pre-paying to validate, justify or cover it up. that advertising money, huh?

Complain, whine, bitch and moan.  Repeat.

How many threads on the same topic do we need?

Tired of this crapola.  If you don't like it, don't buy it, but get off your high horses.

Yeah, not buying MoFi products anymore. If a brand lies to its customers and responds as MoFi has, then it's a sign that they really don't give sh**. 

A lot of people don't understand how important public trust is to a brand. The power of a brand is its product and its message. If they lie...they tarnish the brand.

They lost me forever. I gladly paid the premium...specifically to get true analog. If you make me pay a premium for something I'm not getting, then I will be mad. Then if you say you were doing me a favor all these years and I should get over it. Yeah, see how far that will take you 

What a bunch of morons. Someone needs a grt a better PR solution.

Also glad I didn’t buy very much MoFi. Glad I trusted my instincts. I also won't buy from Music Direct anymore either. 

The TAS and STEREOPHILE are just ENTERTAINMENT too me! BLISSHIFI said it all, $$ talks! I thought the 1-Steps I bought (Fragile, Blood, Portrait) sounded sterile, JUST LIKE CDs on VINYL! I shrugged it off as the product was deliberately equalized for lesser than full range highly accurate and transparent systems than my Sound Lab Maj 845s or SASHAs driven by a ARC REF 5SE/PHONO 2SE/REF 150/SOTA NOVA/SME IV.VI/dyna vt-1s). I have pristine OGs of  Fragile (bought as a teen in 71) and a small label DG Portrait. These OGs may not have the vinyl of the one step, but on  my system they sound correct and just more real than the MoFi VINYL CDs!

Anyone who has been around this hobby long enough to remember Stereophile and TAS from the early years (1980s) understands and is sickened by what has happened to these publications. Unfortunately, it's part of a broader trend infecting journalism and society as a whole--it's all about the money. I used to enjoy reading TAS when it was pint sized and packed full of informative reviews that were (somewhat) balanced and took pains to inform readers rather than shower products with useless accolades. There were thought provoking essays on music and hifi and strict prohibitions on the use of quotes in advertising. There were ethical standards designed to promote integrity within the field. Look what we have now--pretty pictures, sensational headlines, and useless content. Is it any wonder they "rolled over" for a company whose products are routinely advertised in their pages? As someone mentioned, they give away the magazine to boost their subscription numbers so they can charge more for the ads. The manufacturers pay those inflated ad prices with the understanding that their products will receive positive exposure. It works for everyone--except us. Why do I continue to subscribe? The record reviews and the rare instance when a review will mention a recording I may be interested in buying. Where it took me weeks to get through an issue in the late 1980s now I'm done in an hour. 

I’ve been reading both of these mags for years and not taking them so seriously as to harsh my entertainment mellow. Who cares really? If you need another Magico rave there ya go! The only thing recently that brought me unbridled happiness and glee was when 2 of my own pieces of gear made the Class A designation in Stereophile...a Freya and a Pass I’m TOTALLY in agreement there. Fremer, who if nothing else provides a detailed 156 step guide to azimuth setup requiring microscopes and other bits of lab gear ad nauseum, once gave a rave review to the utterly worthless $200 Synergistic Research "PHT" (phony hyper trash?) turntable accessory aluminum jujubes, and proceeded to never mention using them again. I prefer actual jujubes as at least they’re edible. If your own ears can’t help you choose gear and you wait breathlessly for each A’sound or S’phile issue for guidance...well...that’s OK. Otherwise you can only hope for entertaining reading and some music reviews. Speaking of which, some AS reviewer noted Joni Mitchel’s guitar sounded very different from James Taylor’s on the classic Blue album. Outraged, I sent a message telling them she was primarily playing an Appalachian Dulcimer. Outraged!

For many years now, I've considered The Absolute Sound simply to be a "high end" boutique magazine like the fancy design &  fancy boating - mega yacht publications. They're fun to look at & see what's out there but offer little to no objectivity on what they review even though TAS has made an effort to regularly cover more reasonably priced stuff in recent years. 

How can you truly learn anything useful from a review that doesn't mention what ancillary equipment is being used & never makes any direct comparisons to similarly equipment in design/ build and/ or price?

The only occasional exception is Steven Stone who can be better at that & now seems to primarily focus on "bargain priced" equipment which I think is appreciated by many of us. It's to bad too because I think many of the TAS writers do know a great deal about hi fi & have lots of experience that would be helpful to many of us. 

@yoyoyaya   I figured you were being sarcastic but I felt an  urge to complete the circle.  I have really enjoyed the help you gave me in my Direct Drive thread.  

@wolf_garcia   I lost respect for Stone when he declared all non MQA DACs were obsolete

I lost respect for Stone when his review of the JA Pulsars was mostly done using them as desktop speakers in his computer setup.  Who does that???  What an utter joke. 

Thanks Mahler - and I loved your embedded in a slab of petroleum and extracted with a needle reference!

My Cannonball Adderley One Step is pre-sold out and not even shown to be able to be preordered anymore. Mofi is overwhelmed with demand and every One Step ever made in the last 5 year has sold out. Maybe this nonissue (to me) will cause the resale market to drop, which I would certainly welcome.

I only care about sound quality, and even Analogue Productions is making some of their highest end records with digital tapes involved. They had a major announcement today that they are releasing all Steely Dan studio albums on 45RPM UHQRs at $150 a pop. A few are not totally AAAAnalogue. I couldn't care less. Make the best sounding records you can. Luckily, I have almost all their albums on Speakers Corner, Mofi, or Japanese pressings, so I won't be buying any UHQRs (unless I have a really weak moment and go for Royal Scam or Pretzel Logic).

The packaging drives the prices WAY up. Luckily, they will be releasing them all on 33 1/3 with digital files from Bernie Grundman that I am sure will be excellent with original packaging. No word on pricing for those, but hopefully they will be similar to other AP pricing - $40 for 33s and $60 for 45s.

For those who care more about whether the sound is 100% complete analogue than how it sounds, enjoy paying more for less and thanks for staying out of the resale markets.

I left a comment  on Micheal Fremer's YouTube site about how much  I was disappointed  with MoFi deceiving its customers and he shot back in a very rude fashion and in so many words said I was full of it. I was taken aback to say the least. 

In the October Stereophile Industry Update, it also rolls over on the issue.  Evidently both mags' vested interests are pretty much the same.

I don’t understand why Jonathan attempts to create a balancing equation such that the apparently knowingly misleading statements by Mobile Fidelity (Jonathan: “Indeed, Mobile Fidelity‘s publicity has, I think, deliberately left the impression that everything is accomplished in the analog domain.” “Anyway you look at it, this was not full disclosure.“) somehow are offset because, or should be forgiven because, Mobile Fidelity profited from the business of re-mastering, pressing and selling LPs to consumers through the 1980s to the present day (Jonathan: “MoFi spent decades keeping the LP alive and kicking — releasing many, many sonic triumphs over that span . . . it would be worse than ungrateful of audiophiles not to show some charity here.”). I don’t think this proposed equation nets out to inculpability.

Jonathan appears not to consider that if consumers had known the truth about the digital step, then perhaps Mobile Fidelity would not have been as successful in business for decades selling its records and “keeping the LP alive.” I am not sure Jonathan should encourage Jim Davis to break his arm patting himself on the back for building a business, and even for helping to sustain an industry, based on a misrepresentation.

Is Jonathan suggesting that the end of keeping consumers buying records through the dark days of digital justified the means of the misrepresentation to sell re-issues? Numerous other companies were manufacturing and selling re-issues during the years in which Mobile Fidelity was selling its digital step vinyl records.

I see the misrepresentation issue as completely separate from the issue of “keeping the LP alive,” and as completely separate from the issue of the sound quality of Mobile Fidelity’s digital step vinyl records. I think that the former issue should not be conflated with, or means/ends justified by or excused by, either of the latter issues.

I give Jonathan credit for making the same point I made upon reading Jim Davis’ answers to Jonathan and Robert’s written questions: “If MoFi is as convinced of the sonic superiority of digital duplication and mastering as Jim Davis claims it is . . ., why conceal the fact?”



Great point yoyoyaya! If these recordings become digitized anyway, why then go to the trouble to "store them" on vinyl at all? It's probably the worst medium to do so that can add nothing but distortion. I guess it's all about appearances & perception.......

I did not renew my TAS and Stereophile subscriptions this year. Enough said about that.

As for MOFI, there are some real good

early ones, like Supertramp crime of the century and Little Feat the live Columbus album. Luckily, with my 2K+ vinyl collection and the new world of streaming entering my life, I no longer buy any vinyl. So rest in peace MOFI, you're dead to me.