Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Mobile Fidelity - just where is the debacle really?

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth happening right now on audio forums over the apparent revelation that Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs vinyl might actually not be quite as analog as imagined. What? You paid a shitload of money for the Santana One-Step or whatever (or you bought two copies in the hope of making a killing, er, I mean just to make sure you had a back-up) and now you find your prize product is not as 'pure' as you imagined? Hmm..many collectors seem to be taking to the forums to rant, to call it a 'debacle', to claim they were tricked into overpaying by promises of an all-analog production etc. 

I understand some of this purist-disquiet. The marketing of many releases certainly suggested you were paying a premium for an all-analog release, but how often have we heard analog fans saying something like 'I don't know why but I just find the sound of LPs to be better'?  So now it appears that some releases may sound better because of a digital step in the process. Does that make it sound less impressive? Apparently for some it does and it devalues in their minds their expensively curated collections. But what if one didn't know? Does a record by any other name sound as sweet? 

So confusing....see if this helps (clue, it won't much but at minute 41 you get some explanation). So is it all about the quality of sound at the end of the day, not the marketing? From the sound engineering side, it makes sense to go with what works. But, were buyers deceived intentionally? You have to wonder just what the marketing folks and management were thinking here. Who in the industry knew about this and kept quiet?  Welcome to 2022. Transparency is in short supply. 


Matt said...

Well said. We can all agree more transparency is a good thing, but the way folks have been gnashing teeth about this you would think Mofi was mastering records from a ripped CD and a Macbook. The Abraxas one-step sounds exactly the same as it did a month ago.

uncommon_ar said...

If I pay the upcharge for a "Kobe Beef" Burger as I am told its harder to source but it taste better...I do, I like it, and then the seller says, "oops..it was regular ground round, but it still tasted good so no big deal", I disagree. Send me back the upcharge (one-steps cost more than double) and then we can talk about what is fair.

PatrickD said...

Agree on the charge being set based on the ideal of a pure, hard to do, completely analog chain. The company certainly encouraged this belief too and consumers lapped it up. So yes, people are justified in being pissed off. But a broader issue relates to how good the music sounds. Ultimately, we all want the best sounding version, right? If those producing these releases determine that a digital step gets this result, then it would seem strange to settle for less. Nothing about this feels good however, and I do understand how those who have paid handsomely for what they believe to be an entirely analog process are feeling duped.

Anonymous said...

Along with all the nattering about the digital step (btw, is the MoFi transfer from the leased master or safety tape made to a computer drive once then "remastered?" MoFi throws up de Paravicini's equipment for cred but surely that digital transfer isn't being made to tape? They've never gone into detail re their digital equipment and that bothers me. Incidentally shouldn't we and audio media demand more transparency on the actual remastering process? Would be interested in all the EQ-ing, limiting, and other manipulation that the remastering covers.