Washington Post article on MoFi vs. Fremer vs. Esposito

Here's a link to a Washington Post article on the recent dustup with MoFi. The comments section (including posts by Michael Fremer) are interesting.

Disclaimer: This is a "public service announcement, a point Im adding since some forum members complained the last article I referenced here was "paywall protected", I'll note that, for those who are non-subscribers, free access to limited numbers of articles is available by registering (trade-off: The Post will deluge you with subscription offers)


It seems I need a subscription to Washington post, a paid prescription, no thanks. 

Here's an excerpt for you but The Post does have a "free trial" offer (and I don't work for Bezos, WAPO, or any other entity that might benefit from your money, Bruno): 


"In a sometimes halting video posted to the YouTube channel of his Phoenix record shop, the ‘In’ Groove, Esposito said that “pretty reliable sources” told him that MoFi (Mobile Fidelity), the Sebastopol, Calif., company that has prided itself on using original master tapes for its pricey reissues, had actually been using digital files in its production chain. Shane Buettner, owner of Intervention Records, another company in the reissue business, defended MoFi on the popular message board moderated by mastering engineer Steve Hoffman. He remembered running into one of the company’s engineers at a recording studio working with a master tape. “I know their process and it’s legit,” he wrote. Michael Fremer, the dean of audiophile writing, was less measured. He slammed Esposito for irresponsibly spreading rumors and said his own unnamed source told him the record store owner was wrong. “Will speculative click bait YouTube videos claiming otherwise be taken down after reading this?” he tweeted.

But at MoFi’s headquarters in Sebastopol, John Wood knew the truth. The company’s executive vice president of product development felt crushed as he watched Esposito’s video. He has worked at the company for more than 26 years and, like most of his colleagues, championed its much lauded direct-from-master chain. Wood could hear the disappointment as Esposito, while delivering his report, also said that some of MoFi’s albums were among his favorites. So Wood picked up the phone, called Esposito and suggested he fly to California for a tour. It’s an invite he would later regret.

That visit resulted in a second video, published July 20, in which MoFi’s engineers confirmed, with a kind of awkward casualness, that Esposito was correct with his claims. The company that made its name on authenticity had been deceptive about its practices. The episode is part of a crisis MoFi now concedes was mishandled."

Post removed 

The crux of it is this:

"The fallout of the MoFi revelation has thrown the audiophile community into something of an existential crisis. The quality of digitized music has long been criticized because of how much data was stripped out of files so MP3s could fit on mobile devices. But these days, with the right equipment, digital recordings can be so good they can fool even the best ears. Many of MoFi’s now-exposed records were on Fremer and Esposito’s own lists of the best sounding analog albums."

I won't be buying any other Mo Fi records.  Man, do I feel duped!  You can't even trust the companies that claim they do things the right way, then this.

Any mention of MoFi offering to buy back the albums they lied to us about being all analog, at full price or better yet for the premium we may have paid for certain albums???


I'm with Stereo5 on this one. No more!


Disappointed in Massachusetts...

I was able to read the article because my wife has a Washington Post subscription.

I am a confirmed digitalphile.  Some years back it was revealed that many lp reissues that were lauded to the skies by the likes of Fremer and Art Dudley were using digital masters due to the sticky tape phenomenon.  Basically this means that master tapes over the years tend to congeal into a sticky blob and the tapes were prone to fracturing , thus limiting the ability to use them for new issues.  Instead many of these reissues were pressed from digital transfers made in the nineties when the tapes were more useable

.  When this was revealed the analog gurus didn’t miss a beat.  They either chose to ignore this or somehow claimed that embedding a digital file in a slab of petroleum and extracting that file with analog players was superior to leaving the same file in the digital domain.


I only own one of the "One Step" albums by Eric Clapton Unplugged. I am very pleased with it and even the wife who is not into audio thought it sounded fabulous. Will I buy others? Possibly if it is something I really like. I am curious to see if they lower the prices going forward.

I get everyone's feelings about the obvious misreprentation, but going forward shouldn't we ultimately judge them by the value proposition of their products, i.e. the incremental quality relative to the incremental price?

Going forward simply stream the digital. Band limiting the digital to fit on vinyl in order to charge more is ridiculous. If you want to reduce fidelity , limit it with EQ. 

Given the excellent reviews on the MoFi albums, the experts involved, and the astronomical bit rate now possible, I would say that gerryah930 is likely correct that "the digital masters probably sound better than the aged tapes."  Even though I don't own any MoFi albums, I have no doubt they sound fantastic, and as they say, "It's hard to argue with results."

In general, my preference is for clean original copies, as they were likely all analog (depending on the era) and produced when the tapes were in the best possible shape.  In the case of Thriller, which is cited in the article, a NM original can be had for less than $30, maybe even less than $20.  Given how good my copy sounds (which cost less than $5 more than 20 years ago), it's hard to believe it could be significantly improved on.  So the justification for the price of a one-step reissue isn't clear (at least not to me).


As the article mentioned through a quote, anyone who believed 40,000 copies of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" were all done through the "one-step" process needs help. They obviously don't understand the limitations of analogue tape. Put differently, most of us who are vinyl fans knew that digital was being used. Fremer wrote about this again, again, and again. Were you folks that are now complaining not reading?  Granted, the marketing terms and the one-step diagram ARE misleading. Absolutely. But the reality was there for all to see. 

As the article also points out, MoFi got rescued/revived after BR by Music Direct and though profitable now has only a "handful of full-time employees". Being a small operation without good management leads to this type of publicity debacle. 



Going forward simply stream the digital. Band limiting the digital to fit on vinyl in order to charge more is ridiculous.

You have it backwards. LP has a much wider bandwidth than CD.

Certainly Mofi didn't disclose info, but has sound quality suddenly diminished since the revelation? No, so what's the big deal if sound quality is value proposition here, only diminished value due to anti digital beliefs.


On the other hand can understand feeling of being duped, authenticity at this price level is critical. Goes to show honesty is always best policy. Wonder how this will affect mofi long term? Imagine digital masters all that will be left as analog tape continues to deteriorate.

Just curious!

Old master tapes, especially of famous albums & artists, are usually kept in temperature and/or environmentally controlled vaults ... are they not?  As such, doesn't that prevent or, at least, seriously mitigate aging & deterioration of the tape and recording quality over time?

Regardless, doesn't all of this debate really come down to sound quality or fidelity, regardless of how these recordings are engineered and reproduced? Even great vinyl recordings of old, from original master tapes, were subject to the quality of the PVC compounds used, quality of the pressing process, mold release compounds employed, environmental controls and quality control employed by various pressing plants, number of copies made, post-production storage & shipping methods employed, etc., etc., etc.

I just recently purchased a MoFi original master recording ultradisc one-step pressing of "Desperado" by Eagles. I haven't played it, yet, because I need to run it through my ultrasonic cleaning system. Nothing goes on my TT, now, without going through my ultrasonic cleaning system first.  I have an original pressing of "Desperado" that I purchased in 1972 and cleaned with my ultrasonic system last year. I cleaned it again this year, using a Degritter that I demoed.  Couldn't really tell any difference between my lash-up ultrasonic cleaning system and the Degritter, which is why I ultimately chose not to fork out 3 grand for the Degrittter (now, even more expensive). If Degritter lowers the price significantly, I may reconsider that position because of its sheer convenience and speed over my lash-up system. My original copy of "Desperado" and all my vinyl has always been lovingly cared for. "Desperado", one of my very favorite works, has always sounded great on my previous TT & sound system and on the new TT and system I have now. My original vinyl copy has been played many, many times. This is why I chose to spend so much money to buy this new pressing of it. The original pressing sounds noticeably better since ultrasonic cleaning. I'm anxious to see if this new MoFi pressing will live up to my expectations after I run it through my cleaning system. If any of you are interested in my two cents on this, I'll be happy to oblige.

As for the justifiability of the retail cost(s) involved in replacing your most treasured recordings with ones with quality fidelity that will truly knock your socks off, that all comes down to how much that really means to you, doesn't it? Isn't that why audiophiles spend so much money on their toys?

👉 READ IT FOR FREE. My Washington Post subscription allows me to share this gift article, at no cost to you: https://wapo.st/3BIg0jG

MoFi Records claimed its expensive reissues were purely analog reproductions. It had been deceiving its customer base for years.

"The fallout of the MoFi revelation has thrown the audiophile community into something of an existential crisis. The quality of digitized music has long been criticized because of how much data was stripped out of files so MP3s could fit on mobile devices. But these days, with the right equipment, digital recordings can be so good they can fool even the best ears. Many of MoFi’s now-exposed records were on Fremer and Esposito’s own lists of the best sounding analog albums.

Jamie Howarth, whose Plangent Processes uses digital technology to restore sound and whose work has earned praise for Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen reissues, wishes MoFi had come clean years ago and proudly told its customers that their prized records sounded best because of the digital step. He understands why it didn’t. It was terrified of being attacked by analog-or-bust audiophiles.

“One of the reasons they want to excoriate MoFi is for lying,” says Howarth. “The other part that bothers them is that they’ve been listening to digital all along and they’re highly invested in believing that any digital step will destroy their experience. And they’re wrong.”

Wood says that MoFi decided to add DSD not for convenience but because its engineers felt they could help improve their records. He remembers hearing MoFi’s reissue of Santana’s “Abraxas” in 2016. “My mind was blown when we got the test pressings back,” he said.

Wood says MoFi takes great care in capturing the digital file. It won’t simply accept a link from a record company. If a master tape can’t be couriered to Sebastopol, MoFi will send engineers with their equipment to capture it. Having a file allows them to tinker with the recordings if they’re not pleased with a test pressing and make another. He says he is disappointed in himself for not being upfront but that, from here on out, MoFi will properly label its recordings. A revised One-Step card has already been crafted for upcoming releases featuring Van Halen, Cannonball Adderley and the Eagles."...

The Emperor's clothes have been exposed! 

One more victory in the D vs. A war,

Meantime does this mean MoFi's venture

in the loudspeaker market is DOA?

Andrew where are you now???

There was a time when I considered getting into real to reel and buying music from the tape project. I inquired about the price, thought it was a little expensive but maybe I could swing it, and then I found out that the price was per minute!

I would like to get as close as possible to the original master.  I would be just fine with a DSD recording straight off the master, no more generations than that. I truly think that is the sweet spot. Mobile fidelity should be selling their high resolution DSD recordings straight off the masters. Why no mention of this?

Aside from fidelity as being the issue, that hard fact remains, that the customer was told that the product was one thing and not the other. Simple as that.

@4krowme , +1

Though I am using digital streaming, I will say that if you are advocating/offering analog pressings, then you should be upfront about where your albums are being made-especially if the cost more than two decimal places.

Boy, am I glad I bought records at Barnes and Noble for under $3 in the 70's. Unfortunately, the majority were poorly pressed -Remember Dynagroove?



My aunt used to head up the accounting department at London Records and I once asked her who owned the master tapes, she said that varies from artist to artist, even contract by contract for an individual artist.  She also said that she remembered, at times when a pressing was beyond end of life, they sometimes had to remaster an album, so they could recut the pressings.

I have purchased vinyl that was cut from digital--like Steven Wilson remasters that are excellent. I’m not against such a purchase. But with MoFi, we were lied to--flat out. The One Steps contain an insert that purports to provide all of the steps in the reproduction chain. The insert and advertising were designed to extract more $ from the customer due, in whole or part, to what the consumer was led to believe was the purity of the process. Most importantly, MoFi knew that if it revealed that DSD was part of the process, some  customers would avoid the purchase and others would not pay the enhanced price--so they purposely left that information out. Most state Consumer Fraud Acts provide that such an omission is a violation subjecting MoFi to enhanced damages on an individual or class action basis.

I suggest that MoFi offer exchange refunds or credits to any customer who wants to return a digital One Step to avoid such liability. Just sayin.

While I never bought any MoFi LP’s, I’ve bought quite a few newer release LP’s made years or decades after the CD, manufactured by the same company that manufactured the CD and made from the digital tapes.  I play the CD and the LP in immediate succession, and the LP always sounds a lot better…so, while MoFi might have acted like a MoFo, I don’t think their actions have necessarily detracted from the SQ experienced.

Sad but not surprising if true. However, I’ve never been that impressed by Mofi…they’ve seemed dubious since the”half speed master” days…and their  recent expensive reissues I’ve purchased are inferior to the originals.

To me…Mofi is pure hype and I would not be surprised if they were knowingly deceiving.

The biggest crime is …some people are apologists for them…saying “oh well they’ve done the best they can”…which would be fine if their business model and inflated profit was not entirely based on their use (and mysterious/exclusive access to) key master tapes.

Your opinion may differ.




MoFi was never a big part of my diet. I had quite a few of the old MoFi catalog that I bought new back in the day, and in most cases, the records sounded fiddled with-- some did have more bass, which worked fine when I was running a mini-HQD system, but you can hear the difference between the old MoFi and the "right" OG--sometimes just a bog standard US issue, without a lot of trouble.

I bought a few One Steps and a couple of Chad’s UHQRs more for curiosity than anything else. Other than checking that they weren’t damaged on arrival, I have not really played them at length, let alone compared them to other copies I have.

I think the "limited edition" "deluxe" vinyl is marketed to capture those who don’t want to go to the trouble of messing with older copies, dealing with sorting through different pressings, and having to come to grips with the condition and grading of old records. They are intended to appeal to someone who wants a "definitive" edition and is willing to pay for it. The marketing (and MoFi is not unique in this) also plays upon the FOMO, and gotta have it. Abraxas One Step is now $2,000 in the secondary market- a boon for flippers or someone who bought 2 copies, one to keep, another to flip.

I think what MoFi did was appalling, as I said upthread. Whether they can restore their customer base’s confidence is a different question. Some people won’t care. They have been cagey about this since it was revealed, but if it was no big deal, why did they not only fail to reveal it, but make affirmative representations, in writing and on video, that it was "all analog"? I think people will be more skeptical now, even where analog is overtly claimed. Where it is not, the assumption is there is digital sourcing or process.

There is an interesting sub-discussion within the SHoffman thread (huge, like over 700 pages) over the "road not travelled." If MoFi had introduced Abraxas, the first One-Step, by explaining that a combination of things: their ability to capture on 4xDSD a transparent copy of a true master, not a safety or copy tape, their proprietary mastering gear, tricked out by the late Tim de Paravicini, their ability to master the record to extract the most, plus the elimination of a couple metal plate steps in manufacturing and their "better" vinyl formula---led to a qualitative improvement in SQ, they were at little risk- they pressed, I think, only 2,500 copies of this first One Step; given the reception to that record, word of mouth (and positive reviews) would have done the rest.

FWIW, the 4xDSD process is not limited to the One Steps. The company is currently correcting source info on the new and forthcoming releases and is supposed to correct their back catalog as well. 

I don’t know if it will be a turning point for the industry, but it seems like many people are using this as an example of the analog or die! camp not being able to tell the difference. I don’t know about that-- I have records that were taken from a digital source- King Crimson’s Live in Toronto 2016 sounds wonderful, and I listened to it the night after hearing them in a 2,000 seat hall. I can’t play as loud, or scale to full size of that hall at home, but sonically, a very convincing reproduction.

This is an embarrassment, not only for MoFi, but to some extent, the legacy audio press.

And let’s not get started on “Hi-Res” downloads….


Be interesting what happens…but this seems prime for a class action lawsuit… (make sure to look for your receipts 😙).  You’ll probably get your settlement check the same day as the Equifax check…

I have only 12-18 MoFi, but some of those sound really good.  The current release Alan Parson's Project would be a good example.  I'm not so crazy about the album Thriller, so will cancel preorder, but not because of the digital/analog thing.  I wonder if these revelations will reduce demand and lower prices.

WPO is not my favorite news source.  Michael Fremer's response was rightfully critical of this "journalist".

1) MoFi lied in order to dupe the Analog or Die! Consumers.  They Knowingly committed fraud

2). Many recordings they made sound excellent, apparently due to the DSD process



1) MoFi should be punished. They didn’t commit murder or child abuse, and the duped audiophiles probably aren’t going to miss any meals, so in our current environment of of Law Unenforcement I don’t expect any significant Legal Penalty.  However their Customers can vote with their wallets.  Music Direct, the parent company, should be included in the boycot.  I say this with distaste as I live a few miles from their headquarters and have bought several times from them, but they have abused our trust

2)  As for the Analog or Die! Crowd-isn’t it about time to admit that Digital can sound excellent?  Does this make any sense to take a digital file, convert it to analog, bake those files into a petroleum product, extract those analog file with an expensive needle slashing through the grooves with each playing, spend tons of dish on products that attempt to miniseries the artifacts in the entire process?  Really, it’s o.k. Folks to buy equipment that keeps the file in the digital domain and free of all the artifact.  Unless you live for the artifact



Washington Post isn’t my preferred source of reading either, and I had to use my wife’s pw to read the article.  However they seem to have gotten this right, and I suspect that MF probably approves of most of the content of the paper.  Fremer has a lot to lose financially if the taste for vinyl were ever to recede


I don’t think people are going to stop buying vinyl. What transpired at MoFi is sad and hopefully we can expect complete transparency moving forward with their process and origin of the recordings. And this incident sets a precedent for others to be transparent. We still have folks like Chad Kassem that deeply cares about origin and restoration of our recorded music. I always appreciated his efforts and believed their recordings, digital or analog are more faithful to the source.

I appreciate the link to the Washington Post article which I found to be quite informative and to-the-point after listening to Michael Fremer rant on for 45 minutes about how Mike Exposito wasn’t a professional interviewer, as if having professionals involved would somehow mitigated the problem. Hell, it was the professionals that created the problem in the first place by keeping MoFi’s secret for them (or at least for not calling out loudly their deceit). 

Just curious again!

Even though I'm about to do this A/B comparison for myself, as soon as I get my butt in gear and run my new MoFi one-step through my ultrasonic cleaning system, I'm wondering if anyone else out there has compared the sound quality of one of these one-step pressings to a regular MoFi re-pressing of the same album(s). Don't be afraid to burst my bubble! Tell it like it is! Depending upon my own experience in this regard, this will have a major bearing on whether or not I replace or, rather, back up some of my very favorite albums with one-steps or just a regular re-pressing. For example, next on my agenda will likely be the Allman Brothers live at the Fillmore East. 

There are a number of other reissue companies doing superior work, most notably Analogue Productions. Chad Kassem’s reissue of Kind Of Blue was made from the original "father" created by Bernie Grundman in 1997 for Classic Records (who issued it in an UHQR version, I believe). Bernie cut his lacquer (from which the metal father is made) directly from the 1/2" 3-track tape that was running as Miles & company played in the studio!

That’s right, at that time Sony allowed Bernie access to the original 3-track 1/2" master tape, and rather than making a 2-track master-mix tape from the 3-track master, he cut his lacquer directly from the 3-track master. Very unusual, almost unheard of! What commonly happens is the 2-track final-mix master tape is used to make numerous copies, in the industry referred to as production masters (and/or safety copies). The original 2-track final-mix master is very rarely what the lacquer is cut from. The reason being each play of a tape creates wear; no one wants the original 2-track master to wear out, so multiple production masters are made, each used to cut a lacquer (from which a father is made, from which a mother is made, from which stampers are made). Grundman went a step further than using the 2-track master-mix tape, and cut his lacquer from the 3-track master! He mixed the three tracks to two himself, using an original-pressing LP as his model for instrumental balances. I’ve heard of no other LP made in such a fashion. If YOU have, let’s hear about it!

Analogue Productions reissued the entire Capitol Records Beach Boys catalog (with the exception of Wild Honey, for some reason), many in both mono and stereo, some in both 45RPM and 33-1/3 versions. The AP website and each LP cover clearly, unambiguously states the source used to make each album. Brian Wilson always mixed to mono, and for AP's mono Beach Boys LP's Mark Linnet used the original mono tapes (analogue, of course. This was the 60's ;-). To create stereo versions of mono-only LP's (which excludes Surfer Girl, which was originally released in both mono and stereo), Linnet and Wilson used some digital editing to create new stereo mixes. That is clearly stated, with no attempt to create the impression the stereo LP's are pure analogue. Unlike MoFi, who intentionally concealed their use of digital files as the source for making their LP's for the past fifteen years! 

Band limiting digital to fit on vinyl as another points out shows a complete lack of understanding of the realities of the process and the debate. 

I retubed the EAR equipment used by MoFi in the remastering process.

Let the market decide and let this be the final judgement. 

I think many of us have had enough of professional reviewers like Fremer. I am far more interested in the opinions of some of the experienced people on this forum.


The MOFI Gold CDs and even the MOFI SACDs were and are completely outclassed by the Japanese SHM SACDs and they were issued 12-15 years ago.

Glad I loaded up on them and got nearly all of my favourites and transferred them to digital files.

Look on the bright side, since all the shyte with MQA it's got really good now. Time to move on.

In my experience, it's been the Japanese SHM SACDs that are on the "bright side".  All of the MFSL SACDs I have are much easier to listen to. 

The MOFI Gold CDs and even the MOFI SACDs were and are completely outclassed by the Japanese SHM SACDs and they were issued 12-15 years ago.


Glad I loaded up on them and got nearly all of my favourites and transferred them to digital files.


Look on the bright side, since all the shyte with MQA it's got really good now. Time to move on.


There's already been a lawsuit filed. Gonna cost them a fortune in lawyers.

@djones51: I fully expected to hear of a class action suit being filed. It wouldn't at all surprise me if this puts MoFi out of business. If so, they have no one to blame but themselves.

I myself own far more Analogue Productions, Speakers Corner, Intervention, Classic Records, Chesky, Water Lily, Reference Recordings, Lyrita, North Star, ARK, Sheffield, Wilson, Performance Recordings, etc. LP's than MoFi's. But their numbers are dwarfed by those of my standard non-audiophile LP's (including RCA Living Stereo and Mercury Living Presence originals). I now buy good reissues if originals are either too expensive or too difficult to find in Near Mint condition.

No one has talked about it, but one reason the MoFi's sound as good as they do is because the late Tim de Paravicini designed and built the electronics in the MoFi mastering/production chain. He did the same for Pink Floyd's London recording facility. Paravicini's EAR-Yoshino consumer hi-fi products are readily available, but for some reason are owned by few audiophiles, especially in the U.S.A. 

Well I mentioned above that I retubed the equipment. Dan Meinwald from EAR USA sent MoFi my direction. I have sold a number of the EAR phono preamps and am contemplating the line.

I spent a number of hours with Tim at the various shows. Both of us were, at the time, smokers and he always knew which floor of the hotel we could smoke. Dan from EAR USA is a credit to this business!

In a class action suit, the attorneys will make millions and we will all get $5 gas cards for each one step we own. Looks like I will get $5...!

There's already been a lawsuit filed. Gonna cost them a fortune in lawyers.

I feel bad for all the people that got cancer from the fake MFSL recordings. And from windmills. 

Seems Fremer was mostly pissed that MoFi invited a "non-journalist" - a store owner and amateur vinyl reviewer popular on YouTube to meet with them and discuss the issues instead of a "legitimate" journalist like him or others (whatever passes for that these days). Sorry, I haven't seen an example of real journalism in the last 25 years and that is rather sad.

I hope they patch things up and get on the same page. There’s enough needless strife in this world already, let alone the amount that IS necessary.

I bet John Wood was taken to the woodshed by the owner for not informing him about the invite or video till too late for him to rescind it...A huge Mea Culpa for sure on his part. LOL

This whole thing is very unfortunate and  the last thing this hobby needs. Certainly a sin of omission by MoFi that warrants punishment, but if I couldnt tell the difference then that is on me.