Thursday, August 4, 2022

The debacle keeps on giving

So, perhaps I was too understanding of MoFi's use of DSD in their much touted One Step releases. As the fall-out continues, am now reading customer service notices that buyers received which apparently assured them there was no digital step. MoFi seems to be making an effort to rewrite earlier social media postings, stating earlier messages or replies to customers were 'unauthorized' etc. This whole mess seems like a case study in mismanagement.   Meanwhile, folks are having a field day posting videos of claimed all-analog processes from a couple of years ago, or quoting 'expert' reviews that raved about the sonics being evidence of all-analog superiority, sharing promotional material that touted the MoFi process and in which there is not a single mention of a digital step. Ah, the internet, history is there if you know where to look.  Am even seeing  reports of price drops on the used market for some of the MoFi collection  (though given the asking prices from before the news broke, any adjustments are hardly at the fire sale level). 

It all has the hallmarks of a road crash. You hate to see it but can't look away. And in there are other nuggets -- like Analog Planet's tour of Music Direct's record storage where the company head not only pushes the party line on all analog goodness, but when Mikey Fremer mentions that he does not have a copy of one record there, the owner basically says he must have it as they send a copy of every release to him. Now that's music direct!  Not a dig at Mikey, he has been an advocate for good sound, and let's face it, who would say no to such a deal?   But I am less impressed with his response to the mess in this next video where he basically argues Mike Esposito, who exposed the story, did not sufficiently act "like a journalist" and was "rolled" by the MoFi team. That's not how I view it. And the comments about Esposito's background? That reveals more about Mr. Fremer's personality than it should. Mikey does admit on camera that he basically covered up for MoFi in some of his columns though! Oh dear. Is that how a real jourmalist should act? I suspect some rewriting of history is actively ongoing, and not just on the MoFi website.

In the end, I feel for the engineering guys at MoFi who are doing their best to release great sounding records. And I have sympathy for people who did spend tons of cash for a form of record they feel was misrepresented, often directly and in response to inquiries they made prior to purchase. This is not a scenario that makes the audio industry or even the press look good. I still feel that if you love the sound of your MoFi LPs, and many people do, then that's what ultimately matters but I don't expect everyone to feel the same. We can but hope that going forward, all releases will clearly describe what you are buying and maybe the pricing will adjust accordingly. I wonder sometimes if history will view the limited edition LP craze of our time as another tulip moment. In 50 years, will any of this seem more than a silly old guy's indulgence? Thoughts for another time...


Darryl Lindberg said...

I think at least some portion--maybe most--of the reaction to the MoFi kerfluffle is prompted by the fact that MoFi clearly deliberately deceived and/or obfuscated the provenance of their pricey LP releases. Let's face it, the audiophile community is a relatively small, relatively close-knit, and importantly, trusting group. Our relationship with manufacturers and dealers is closer than, say, that with a kitchen appliance purveyor. And we feel personally let down. It's not the sound of their releases as much as MoFi's breach of trust; at least, in my opinion.

That brings me to Michael Fremer and audio journalists. According to Fremer, there had been rumors of MoFi's use of a digital step (or steps) for quite a while. Where were the audio journalists following up on this potential story? Answer: blindly accepting MoFi's blatant--and let's be frank--lies. Fremer excoriated MoFi for not including a journalist for Esposito's visit. And yet, it took a non-journalist to reveal the facts of this case. That's why, as disappointed as I am with MoFi's behavior, I'm at least as disappointed with the conduct of our audio journalists.

PatrickD said...


Thanks for the comment. I agree with your assessment, and it is true, the audiophile community is quite small and close, which adds to the feeling that trust was broken here. The issue of the audio press and how 'in' they may be with manufacturers is one that always raises suspicions given the nature of the relationship and I fear this current issue won't lessen those.

I have a side interest in the collectibles market and have seen a fair amount of fakery and price fixing there for artworks and antiques so I suppose it's no surprise that the audiophile market would be susceptible too. It seems hard to think that MoFi did not understand what they were doing here.

Steve H said...

Patrick, I’ve read the complaint in the class action suit. A reasonable person would not believe in the providence of any recording they purchase. If the MQA debacle taught us anything you should not trust the audio press. And trust manufactures of audio equipment? Sorry I need to measure and listen myself. Any speaker I’m considering will be sent to Redrock Acoustics and be tested with their Klippel.