Mobile Fidelity Shares Statement About the Company’s Mastering Process

Editor’s note: Jim Davis, president of Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, posted an official statement yesterday about the company’s mastering process, following a recent spate of customer concerns about the possibility of digital steps in said mastering process. We are including his statement here verbatim, and invite your Comments below. —MM

We at Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab are aware of customer complaints regarding use of digital technology in our mastering chain. We apologize for using vague language, allowing false narratives to propagate, and for taking for granted the goodwill and trust our customers place in the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab brand.

We recognize our conduct has resulted in both anger and confusion in the marketplace. Moving forward, we are adopting a policy of 100% transparency regarding the provenance of our audio products. We are immediately working on updating our websites, future printed materials, and packaging — as well as providing our sales and customer service representatives with these details. We will also provide clear, specific definitions when it comes to Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab marketing branding such as Original Master Recording (OMR) and UltraDisc One-Step (UD1S). We will backfill source information on previous releases so Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab customers can feel as confident in owning their products as we are in making them.

We thank you for your past support and hope you allow us to continue to provide you the best-sounding records possible — an aim we've achieved and continue to pursue with pride.

Jim Davis
President, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab

rich d's picture

Not at all. They lied. Plenty of folks have published recent emails from MoFi in which they deny employing any digital steps and confidently state that their records are all analog unless the original master was digital.

I've purchased and enjoyed quite a few records which have a digital step or two in their so it's not like I'm too doctrinaire about it, but taking people's money (and lots of it) under false pretenses is simply beyond the pale. If they had been up front about it folks would've still bought their records, though perhaps not at those prices...

rich d's picture

I wonder if the powers over on the dark side of the analog planet might consider adding an editing function so those of us who type in haste can return at a later time and amend errors in spelling, grammar and (perish the thought) facts?

Jusst a thot.

Analog Scott's picture

And IMO the idea that the product should be cheaper because there is a digital step makes no sense. That aspect of Mofi's or any other audiophile label's cost of producing a record is really small.

volvic's picture

So far, not even a peep. Sometimes my typing is faster than my train of thought. Need to be able to revisit and edit.

dconsmack's picture

Well, that is an opinion. Tape can take a lot more time to master. Also, One Steps literally have 2 time consuming steps removed. So a digitally sourced one step should cost even less to produce than a standard release.

Analog Scott's picture

What 2 time consuming steps are removed?

volvic's picture

Be truthful to your customers, don’t be coy and evasive when questioned.

richiep's picture

Vague understanding of MOFI today not one in 70's. Their success is OMR Gold CD's (digital) in the 90's. One letter from CS rep without description of the specific item referred to? Lied, strong accusations, every recent description never states analog or digital mastering. One Step states, Original Master Tape, MOFI's propriety unique mastering, Lacquer cutting, Stamper=Record. If anyone thinks they need additional information for the decision to purchase any product, it's the individuals responsibility to seek that out! How does anyone know their current manufacturing cost are cheaper having to travel engineers, equipment and time to find a useable master tape and take back to their lab and produce a product to MOFI's quality standard! This was FOMO and resellers seeking profits off what everyone confirms are great sounding records for the music!

rich d's picture

Proper sentence structure eludes them, and they just type whatever asinine notions leap into their heads, fact-checking be damned. I blame the parents (and the parlous state of our educational system).

JEB-42's picture

I agree it was out and out deception. They know full well that a premium is placed on an all analog release in the minds of the consumer. They have gone on record to clients saying there is no digitization involved in their vinyl pressings. As recently as the July/August 2020 issue of TAS #328 pages 132 through 135, there is a four interview with MOFI. Again completely deceptive to again feed back into the minds of the customers to falsely allow them to believe it is an all analog set up.

Does this make the records they have produced sound any worse now? NO! They are still great pressings. I do believe that they can be better still.

What can they do? Do it all analog from the tapes or a at least do a 1st gen direct tape transfer to cut them. Run the DSD in parallel when doing the tape transfer. They have the ability to run tape in their mastering chain once they return with the tape transfer.

Sorry not interested in purchasing records I'm not personally really invested in musically from a digital source. I will purchase music I am less interested in knowing it is really going to be as good as it gets.

Even with their apology they continue to try to deceive their outright deception. I think it's time for a second take on this from MoFi.'s picture

I agree with Rich D.
It´s not about having used a digital step (or two) in the process; it´s about never having declared it and selling very expensive albums (One Step...) for a very very expensive Price, "because it is an All Analog and expensive process".

Analog Scott's picture

It's the one step plating process that makes the One Step LPs substantially more expensive. It has nothing to do with the lacquer being cut from an analog tape or a digital file. they still have to cut new lacquers for every 500 LPs pressed as opposed to one lacquer for the entire issue.

Radyson's picture

I also agree with Rich D.

rich d's picture

And to the Half-Speedwit Mastertroll afflicted with the need to have the last word even if that word is ill-informed: I never said a digital step makes it cheaper. I did say that people are not likely to countenance exorbitant tariffs for it.

ivansbacon's picture

The apology means nothing after the amount of time (Public pressure) it took to FORCE an apology.
I am surprised that they are smart enough
(all indications were to the contrary)
to know that they need to be 100% transparent on all product going forward.

ivansbacon's picture

"Allowing false narratives to propagate" ?
How about apologizing for - Not being 100% honest, clear and transparent about the processes used in the pressing of the expensive products.

Analog Scott's picture

none of these labels are 100% transparent. And no one really is seeking 100% transparency. What some vinylphiles want is a heads up so they can nurture their digiphobea safe from accidently loving records with a digital step in the mastering. Because that destroys the myth about analog and digital. If it really were an issue no one would need disclosure. They'd just hear it.

supamark's picture

what is the point of a digitally mastered vinyl record? Just give me the digital file minus the RIAA curve etc, it will sound better and I get to choose the DAC.

My AAA vinyl from the 60's to 80's is quite enjoyable, and often better in my opinion than modern remasters regardless of format. I have a few 80's records that went through a digital step during mastering and they sound like 80's coverters which sound like ass.

Unfortunately, due to the chemistry of analog tape and other things like the 2008 Universal Studios fire, true all analog vinyl reissues will be few and far between.

Mark Phillips,
Contributor, Soundstage! Network.

Straywulf's picture

Came here to read mobile fidelity's statement and after scrolling through the comments I definitely felt like creating an account to respond. You seem to be ALL over the posts attacking people. Your attitude definitely sidesteps the issues of lying and goes on and on and on (too much wow and flutter. I am guessing if your wife or girlfriend lied to you, that would be alright as well?? The point of the whole fiasco is that Mofi has been completely deceptive and claimed to be analog when they weren't. I am guessing you don't own any mofi products or you would notice the ANALOGUE (ULTRA ANALOGUE) bull thats always adoring their later vinyl copies? Or maybe you are simply a troll. You clearly make yourself out to be an unlikeable ass and I doubt seriously anyone would base their decisions on the crap you are spewing. Have a nice day trollboy :)

Straywulf's picture

and in case you couldn't figure out that the comment was directed at you "SCOTT", I am
letting you know that it is.

gbougard's picture

The biggest problem in this mini-issue is that self appointed experts cannot tell the difference between a digital source and a tape source.

That's why they get mad!

You been feeding yourselves this BS about AAA sounding better than digital, but you could not even tell the difference despite claiming you had perfect ear!!!

Last, most of you are over 45 years old, so your hearing is not perfect, get real

gbougard's picture

The biggest problem in this mini-issue is that self appointed experts cannot tell the difference between a digital source and a tape source.

That's why they get mad!

You been feeding yourselves this BS about AAA sounding better than digital, but you could not even tell the difference despite claiming you had perfect ear!!!

Last, most of you are over 45 years old, so your hearing is not perfect, get real

garrard701's picture

I know we all have mixed feelings about how this was handled, but one thing I'd like to suggest, which could make a lot of people happy: some of the One Steps sounded INCREDIBLE (such as Abraxas). There was digital in the chain but still -- these were mind-blowing disks. Since I have to assume the digital file was preserved, why not make another batch of those One Steps? Sure, that's going to annoy a few people who are selling them for big bucks... but it will make a lot more people very happy. I'd even pay the current price ($125-150) over the original 1Step price ($99).

Analog Scott's picture

has nothing to do with it being digitally sourced

Analogue+Fan's picture

As customers we feel scammed with the use of that supposedly imprecise or vague language.

Like this kind of language:

Hosta3's picture

***Limit 2 Per Customer***
Mastered from the Original Analog Master Tapes and Pressed on MoFi SuperVinyl: Crosby, Stills & Nash 180g UD1S 45RPM 2LP Box Set Is Ultimate Version of the Landmark Album
Virtuosic Playing, Homespun Arrangements, Resonant Lyrics: Harmony-Rich Record Includes "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," "Long Time Coming," "Marrakesh Express," and "Helplessly Hoping"
Lavish Packaging Includes Opulent Box and Special Foil-Stamped Jackets: Deluxe Audiophile Pressing Strictly Limited and Numbered
1/4" / 15 IPS analog master to DSD 256
The enduring charm, contemporary relevance, and harmonic convergence...

JEB-42's picture

Thank you I see that MOFI has also added it to their (MORE THAN) One Step Process explanation sheet. Also to their listing:

sq225917's picture

Maybe people aren't as suspicious as me. But when i read..

"Mastered from the Original Analog Master Tapes and Pressed on MoFi SuperVinyl: Crosby, Stills & Nash 180g UD1S 45RPM 2LP Box"

I'm not seeing a statement that says this was full analogue from tape to cut, it just say it was was mastered from the OAMT, it doesn't say it wasn't transferred to digital for transportation, the inference could be that it wasn't mastered from a 2nd or 3rd generation transfer of a long degraded master.

If we let companies get away with flowery marketing descptiptions of engineering process and choices then they'll pull the wool over out eyes.

All we need is a list.
Source - 1st gen analogue masters.
Mastering - 24 bit 192 DAW transfer.
Cutting- half speed.

Honestly, if anyone thinks that remastering from original tapes in an all analogue process will produce better results than using the earliest, best quality digital transfer of those original analogue tapes they're having a laugh.

The reason the old Decca and Mercury pressings were better is because they cared about the sound, not because of any magic in analogue mix and mastering.

spencer1's picture

Begs the question - Would they be "adopting a policy of 100% transparency regarding the provenance of our audio products" if they hadn't been caught?
I don't think so.

Rashers's picture

Non Apology. Several days of crisis talks (presumably) with lawyers and consultants and that was the best they could do. “…allowing false narratives to propagate” is a euphemism for “there was a conspiracy theory that our products were all analog…we apologize that we did not dispel the myth earlier.” How about “we are scared stiff that there is going to be a widespread cancellation of forthcoming one steps, consequently we are going to obfuscate as the company may be rendered insolvent.” Beyond insiders there is absolutely nobody who believed that the one steps were anything other than AAA. They will likely have to go all Facebook and change the brand name.

Rashers's picture

Have some humility and appeal to peoples sense of greed and goodwill simultaneously. Open up a web portal and have MOFI record owners register the records that they have previously bought (send a picture of the number on the back of the record as proof). Then offer them a 30 or 40% discount on the same number of future One-Steps as they already own, or a 25% discount on a specific number of future "Original Master Tapes." This whole digital thing could bring down the company and they need to re-build goodwill or the brand will collapse. I like their inner sleeves. Others have bought their hardware.
They seem to have bet the brand on the "One Steps" and this (totally forseeable) disaster could bring them down. At some stage there must have been a discussion along the lines of "we really should tell the customers about the digital step" - the decision was made to "keep them in the dark." There is no way around that fact.
The Music Direct company must have cartloads of money - they need to use their financial leverage and the fact that they already have an online store to sort out this problem.

xtcfan80's picture

Blah, blah, blah....bitch, bitch bitch...Enough already on this subject...hint...BUY CLEAN ORIGINAL PRESSINGS and get them VRC and ultrasonically cleaned. Save $ and enjoy knowing where our "drugs" come from and how they were produced/mastered/manufactured etc.

Analog Scott's picture

that were EQed,compressed to hell and rolled on the top and bottom with little attention to tape set up or tape head demagnetizing? Yeah, that's a good call.

xtcfan80's picture

And if we want to rant about the current state of vinyl why not get our panties tied in a knot over The Beatles Mono vinyl and other popular titles not being currently in print. THEY WOULD CONTINUE to SELL year after year. Music business suits have seldom been hailed for honesty or keen insight into what the listeners really want. XTC "...who only want bread but are force fed cake"....."The music business is a hammer to keep You pegs in your holes"....

azmoon's picture

They misled their customers for decades. Both with their literature and words in videos. People paid very high prices thinking they were buying AAA LPs and it was all a lie. They need to pay for this.

I will no longer buy their product and just cancelled preorders for 10 of their "coming soon" LPs.

Analog Scott's picture

Is this about sound or is this about a bruised ego when you found out that some of your favorite records weren't all analog and you couldn'tell?

azmoon's picture

Its about not doing business with liars.

Analog Scott's picture

might have a lot of spare coin on your hands.

DaveyF's picture

In most fraudulent circumstances, an admission of guilt like the one posted from Jim Davis would be followed by a consequence…in some cases severe enough to truly punish the offenders. I wonder if this will happen in this instance…?

Analog Scott's picture

for making the best records they could but not informing all the analog nuts on something that makes no difference? This is only an issue because so many vinylphiles believe in B.S. If all vinylphiles understood that a digtal step was no more significant than the color of the shirt the mastering engineer was wearing they'd realie this should not have been news worthy.

DaveyF's picture

I guess it depends if you think bait and switch and/or fraud is a criminal activity?
Oh, you are right, MoFi now has numerous satisfied customers who are happy that they bought a pricey product from them under false pretenses and now realize they were sold something different! Vinylphiles believe in BS...only if that is what is fed to them with bad intentions!!

Analog Scott's picture

I never read their ad copy to mean they were using an all analog mastering chain. And I assumed (how dare I) that given the house rules with the big three labels that Mofi and others had to use digital files. I was actually pleasently surprised that Mofi was going through a verification process and bringing their own custom modified tape machine and doing their own transfers. IMO that would have been a real selling point. Damned liars never disclosed that either until now.

DaveyF's picture

MoFi were for years stating to anyone that asked that they were using the original AAA master tapes and cutting from those, if at all Possible!
This was not only a total lie, but was utilized to garner sales from unsuspecting consumers who were relying on what they were told as justification for MoFi’s higher pricing points..Most particularly with their Uber ‘One Step’ releases.
If you cannot see the ‘bait and switch’ here…

Analog Scott's picture

It's the sound quality they achieve through their best efforts. Mofi mastering engineers were not vague about this, they didn't do a digital step just because they had to. They did it because they thought it allowed them to make better sounding records. The justification for the near doubling in price for the One Steps is the plating process and the packaging. Not being all analog. Anyone who thought the justification was an all analog chain clearly isn't familiar with Donald Fagan's the nightfly. I don't recall any customrs clamoring about MoFi lowering their prices for that title.

Montpier's picture

First, regarding Mofi sound quality - off the top of my head I can think of at least two instances where (and I'm sure many more) where Stereophile affiliated reviewers were not especially complimentary about Mofi product: Fred Kaplan on Mofi's Kind of Blue and Fremer on their Love's Forever Changes (vs. the latter's Rhino release). It's not as if Mofi releases were coming out to universal acclaim, and questions were being raised about their approach (and provenance).
Second, the amount of time it took for the new Analog Planet regime to even acknowledge this brewing firestorm (warranted or not) and then taking the "bold" move of offering the manufacturer's response without comment.
Guess CYA is now the guiding philosophy of this website...

Analog Scott's picture

1. It's subjective and here is rarely if ever a concensus. Fremer liked the Rhino Forever Changes better. It's one person's preference. It says nothing about Mofi using a digital step. By the same token Fremer said Santana Abraxas One Step may have been the best sounding record he has ever heard. That one has a digital step too. So if we use Fremer'sopinion as a reference (something I would never do) then it's hard to point a finger at Mofi using a digital step as a source for sound degredation. Kind of Blue was literally two different mixes.

The Pressman's picture

Your right-as a record pressman yrs ago the most highest Freq. on Vinyl is 15khz-no matter quality of cartridge or turntable.DSD when applied right is the future of vinyl.Again most people buying these High Priced Albums can not hear above 14hkz

gMRfk6LMHn's picture

A Press Release isn't sufficient to clear up the MoFi mess. Jim davis needs to go online and speak to his customers personally. Two and a half lines of a half hearted apology followed by Moving forward...

Just not good enough!

James, Dublin, Ireland

DigitalIsDead's picture

I can't believe people believe that the copy to DSD and then cutting from it is somehow cheaper ... which implies that the myth is more important than matter (substance) ... well folks, it isn't. The religious zealotry is appalling. We were undoubtedly lied to and that is wrong. People need to start seeing beyond the tip of their noses AND ask bigger picture questions. Have we reached a point where, god forbid, a vendor has created a process that harnesses the best of analog and digital and created a superior sounding product than pure digital or analog? What about the marketplace convinced MoFi that they needed to behave deceptively? Reading many of the comments here its clear that MoFi believes that the religious nature of audiophilia is such that the word digital is a dirty one. They acted accordingly

quad57fan's picture

Is based on creating an analog 'mystique' and creating inflated prices due to artificial scarcity. People should just STOP BUYING $125 records. It's crazy.

The Pressman's picture

I agree-Modern Pressing are not worth $100.00 -Pricing is for Collectors of rare recordings that are next to impossible to purchase in NR or Mint condition usually Classical or Jazz//Lately old rock records are fetching stupid high pricing for rubbish-The only rock records that should fetch a good honest price are the MO-FI UHQR from early 80s @ least the copies I own personally

otaku2's picture

I have purchased several of the One Steps, and even though they sound great, I am very disappointed, for two reasons:

One is that I thought I was purchasing an item that had a direct physical connection to the master tape ("this disk is only three generations away from the original master tape"). It may be irrational, but I feel that closeness is lost when mastering from digital. A digital scan and print of a Rembrandt etching may be indistinguishable from an 'original' but no one would argue that it is the same thing.

The other is that due to the limit on the number of times that a master tape can be used, I thought that I was purchasing something that could not be mass-produced. Obviously, based on the Thriller reissue, that is not the case.

I doubt very much that I would have purchased these had I known that they were mastered from an SACD, no matter how great they sound. (Yes, I know, it was quad-rate DSD, but the impact is the same).

Rashers's picture

These are the points that the begrudges don’t seem to get. People who bought One Steps believed that they were getting a direct print of the master tape. Instead they bought a copy of a copy. Nobody would buy a one step if they had the offer of a three step that was absolutely guaranteed all analogue (e.g.Stevie Ray Vaughan’s albums came out on AP in the same time window).
You can travel all over he world and buy local first pressings of your favorite vinyl LPs and, derived from multigenerational copies, they often sound horrible - compared with the original country of recording. That is why”,From the Original Master Tapes” costs a premium. Practically every CD you buy came from the original masters. Without an all analog chain the OTM does not have premium value.
To use another analogy - if you were a wine buyer and only 5000 bottles of a great vintage were released and you bought a bunch from the vineyard that looked like it was the wine in question and priced at that level - and then discovered that you were getting a mass produced wine in the same bottles at the same price - you would be upset. The non apology “AAA” was fake news thing really irks me and I only bought 3 one steps - one of which - “The Nightfly” was acknowledged digitally sourced.

Analog Scott's picture

"People who bought One Steps believed that they were getting a direct print of the master tape."

There is no such thing. Every analog step involves added noise and loss of information.

"Instead they bought a copy of a copy."

No, there is a transparent digital step. What Mofi did was a more direct and accurate way of mastering than any all analog chain.

"Nobody would buy a one step if they had the offer of a three step that was absolutely guaranteed all analogue"

I absolutely would all, else being equal. I'd rather not have the added noise of a tape dupe and two added pressing/plating steps.

The Pressman's picture

Most people buying these over priced ANALOG or DIGITAL vinyl products are fooling themselves-If they were honest and use THERE ears instead of written articles,they would be happy.NO now that they hear DSD was used in the chain all of a sudden their records sound awful-Let's all get real and trust YOUR EARS not what you read

xtcfan80's picture

Your problem, NOT MD / MFSL....As I mentioned years ago..If you can sell 30 year olds Cadillacs by using Led Zeppelin music you can sell anyone anything...Does the 2016 General Election come to mind????

powermatic's picture

...we need to sell 40,000 copies of an album that is as dated musically as the 'moonwalk' is to choreographed dance moves! Can't we put all of this behind us and move on?"

mtglass's picture

Looking at the updated Mofi site it appears many titles (maybe most) of the vinyl is cut from DSD files.
While I’m a fan of DSD, Mofi surely new it’s customer base thought they were buying vinyl mastered directly from tape. The vinyl often sells out so I have settled for SACD, in the future I’ll save money by skipping the digital vinyl. That being said they have fooled a lot of the reviewers and “experts”!

amudhen's picture

Buyer beware

PeterPani's picture

Vinyl that impressed me more than an early reissue.

Catcher10's picture

All of those people citing we have a problem with a digital step are wrong! It simply has to do with misrepresentation of a product. There are laws against doing this period.
What you need to understand is this MoFi debacle has a serious chance of affecting prices from other mfgs in higher prices. MoFi sold $125 records with the caveat they were all analog. And now want to sell $125 records that are digital. Why then should BlueNote not start charging $100 for their records??? This is why consumers should not buy MoFi records for their price you will only inspire other labels to start charging way more……Go ahead and do that and we’ll see a huge drop in vinyl market and production. In this case the digital file did not kill vinyl, MoFi killed vinyl.
Their records are simply not worth $125.

DietChapstick's picture

They are liars. There was no vague language. Everything in their marketing materials and anything printed with the LPs deliberately tried to hide the use of digital sources. No matter how they dance around it, once a tape is digitized, it is now a DIGITAL SOURCE.

They did this because for better or for worse, record nerds and audiophiles want AAA LPs. They knew they would lose sales, so they tried to hide the ball. While they were at it, they created a FOMO product to take advantage of that market. To Mo-Lie, customers are just punters lining up for P.T. Barnum's circus.

And it wasn't just the marketing material. I was one of the people that Mo-Lie lied to over email. "We do not use digital sources except where the original master is digital" is what they said to me. This was about a year ago. Of course they lied to me.

Unfortunately in their short-sighted behavior and greed they've harmed the industry as a whole. I find it laughable that they still have $125 records up on their site for "preorder" and "coming soon" but refuse to state the source. They also have albums from the back catalog at inflated prices on the Music Direct site and have not updated those.

All we can do as consumers is vote with our wallets. Lots of competition for record $ now and Mo-Lie is far from the only game in town. If you feel lied to, don't spend a red cent with Music Direct and Mo-Lie. They don't deserve your money.

I'm sure Mo-Lie will be directing apologists and "influencers" all over social media to throw down red herring arguments and promote their product, hoping this all blows over.

Keep the pressure on, buy other products elsewhere. They deserve all the blowback they get.

SkepticalEye's picture

DietChapstick's post says it all (and says it well). It's not about whether DSD is better or worse. It's that Mobile Fidelity intentionally misled consumers about the product being sold. That's it. Aggravating matters is the weak Jim Davis "apology" that avoids true responsibility for what happened under his watch (and potentially happened at his direction).

Static's picture

Ok. So I was finally convinced to purchase a Eagles One Step. 125$ for a vinyl (I dont have a mega analog front end..only about 7K with cables). Never even paid that for PF or Beatles vintage releases! But I wanted to try it. I was really not impressed by the sound. It really was not much better than my cd release. I decided I wasted my money and would never do that again. Fast I find out that the cash I paid was for for a DSD file...not a bad thing overall...BUT. For digital vinyl- I would not pay 125$..for any reason. Recent releases from PF were digital but hi res and IMO sound absolutely fantastic (25$). Lets be honest ..the person cutting the record is HUGE part of how it sounds. I have some Beatles MOFI and Echo and the Bunnymen (actually the best sounding copy I have). Unlike many I really enjoy the MOFI Beatles box. Sounds different..but that is good. Why listen to the same thing on different wax? I enjoy different thats why I have multiple copies. I will be honest..if the Eagles pressing was listed as DSD I would not have paid for it fact I would have just kept my cd or purchased a 24/192 download which is avail everywhere. Again I was not impressed by the Eagles issue and blamed it on the master tapes- why was the distortion not dealth with which in digital domain? Basically IMO if its a digital master it should not cost more than 29 to 50$ (due to 2 discs and special vinyl) otherwise buy the SACD or the download. Sad stuff here. And seems like the end of an age.

Static's picture

I will give MOFI credit. Although the releases are not AAA...they are at least (mostly) the highest DSD possible. At least its not cd quality or 24/44.1. So. It could be worse.

xtcfan80's picture

Ya bought an Eagles LP and expected an audiophile experience??? Your bad mate!

GinoV's picture

Apart from the “communication issue” that MoFi has demonstrated, I am interested in the variation in DSD sampling rates they have used in their mastering which is now up on their website. I had assumed that the older titles would have been DSD64 and then they would have moved to DSD256 once that became available. However, it looks like Abraxas-their first UD1S was a DSD256, so time of release doesn’t seem to correlate! From various reviews and my own experience in listening to my various MoFi UD1S and Supervinyl releases it sounds to me that the DSD256 titles do sound better than the DSD64 (although I haven’t heard any of the Miles Davis MoFi’s which are supposed to sound very good and are DSD64). I wonder what was the basis for use of the two sampling rates for MoFi’s DSD mastering? By the way, Eric Clapton unplugged UD1S seems to be a pure analog issue based on their website. Sounds pretty good to me but not heads and shoulders better than titles that have been DSD256 mastered (eg David Crosby- if I only could remember my name.

Static's picture

I though all the Unplugged MTV shows were recorded in 16/44.1. I may be wrong.

Mark_Wieman's picture

MoFi lied for over a decade. They only stopped because they were caught. I will never purchase anything again from MoFi or Music Direct. If they go under as a result of their deception, good riddance. There are plenty of honest reissue and hifi companies who deserve to succeed instead.

Andrew L's picture

It sounds like MoFi will need a change of identity soon, a rebrand as their name will be sullied forever in the eyes of record buyers.

BroLip's picture

The bottom line is that a company we trusted lied to us for monetary gain.

xtcfan80's picture

Who would have ever thought that possible?? Welcome to the real world vinyl newbies….

kozakjj's picture

Stop trolling

avanti1960's picture

after looking at ~ 5 titles not a one mentions a digital to analog conversion in the manufacturing of the record.
For example, the Elvis Costello Imperial Bedroom numbered set.
Not a mention of an D to A process in the chain.
Since it retails for $200 US, I would want to know if there was.
Since it isn't specified, I will not buy it.

charliepress's picture

So it IS possible this was all AAA--this record is out of print and from 2011, which appears to be the date when MOfi started transferring to DSD. On discogs is says nothing about DSD, but to Mofi's credit, they edited there 2013 discogs entry for the Carole King Tapestry to say it was a DSD transfer. All that said? DON'T give Musicdirect, the owners of Mofi, $200 for a record I purchased from then for $20 not all that long ago when they were unloading the Costello Mofi releases. They don't need to charge that much, and you can find it cheaper from other sellers.

HoDu's picture

I've bought MoFi records and have enjoyed them. Will I never buy another again after learning of their lies? Can't say. I'm surely less likely to, though,. Because no one likes being lied to.

Michael Bear Arlt's picture

Forgive me if I'm treadcrapping here,
is the whole One Step, Small Batch,UHQR brouhaha the 2020's answer to DMM? I mean with DMM you cut the master, plate it and press records from it. With those fancy 200 gram UHQR One Steps, you cut the lacquer plate it and press records. Just curious??

Russo7516's picture

How many other record companies are doing this ?????
Their trust is out the window. Sorry.
How many times has Stereophile praised Mofi ? I brought some lp just on your recommendation. LP’s 2 DiE 4 . I could have saved a bundle.
You also have been hoodwinked by the man.How will you go forward when you review an LP ?Over sized CD’s @ 125 per . HA . Has the CD revival begun?
Also those you tube critics, have got their hand in this. What are their credential’s ? Many of them should stop posting videos . In Groove , Mazzy , Mike 45 etc. I wonder if they go promo’s ?They influenced many .
Another lesson learned many of us can not hear the difference between a digital or analog copy and Mofi just proved that. That DSD is something else.

mtglass's picture

But that’s not the point! I checked a couple of recent Mofi releases in my collection, the say they were mastered using the “Gain 2 Ultra Analog System” but they mastered them from DSD. There is no way Mofi didn’t know their customers assumed this meant an analog chain. Sure DSD mastered vinyl can sound great and I have many records knowing it was mastered from DSD. The recent Nilsson vinyl sounds really good regardless of the source. The proof is in the pudding, Mofi let us to believe we were buying all analog and charged accordingly. If I know it’s a DSD file they are mastering from I will just buy the SACD in the future at 1/2 the price of the 45. ( that’s if I continue buying from Moflie )!

Russo7516's picture

Yes it is I will buy their SACD from now on. I have the Nilsson SACD also and it sounds fantastic.
Records Anonymous did a listening event this weekend in Ridgewood Queens .Santana Abraxas , They used the One Step $125, 1/2 Speed Master by CBS $ 15 , SACD $30and Gold CD from 91 $ 17 and a 1970 pressing $5 Most picked the CD and the 1970 pressing.
Proving once again not many can tell the difference.

Analog Scott's picture

The DSD file is audibly insdistinguishable from the source signal. So given the fact that the vinyl will sound the same either way why would it matter?

mcrushing's picture

Lots of folks have lent me their electronics expertise in this space over the years. So as a marketing communications guy, I thought I'd return those favors by providing this handy "Crisis PR to Plain English" phrase book:

"Aware of customer complaints" = PR and Legal are freaking out

"Using vague language, allowing false narratives to propagate" = Lying

"Taking for granted the goodwill and trust " = Caught lying

"We are adopting a policy of 100% transparency" = 100% chance lying was once an affirmative policy

"We recognize our conduct" = Boy howdy, we *really* hope you don't realize vague admissions of misconduct are a classic damage control tactic companies use when more bad news is still out there

"Hope you allow us to continue to provide you the best-sounding records possible" = Look, we hate to break it to you like this but we secretly switched your fresh-brewed coffee with Folger's Crystals and y'all didn't notice. Turns out, a lotta people *LIKE* the sound of records produced with a digital step in the mastering chain so we're gonna keep making them and a lot of you are gonna keep buying them

vince's picture


This thread is alarmingly negative and backward-looking. Is there some pent-up anger here?

> Moving forward, we are adopting a policy of 100% transparency regarding the provenance of our audio products.

I think what is on offer is excellent. I own a number of MoFi products, including some one-steps. I would love to know the provenance. And not just for MoFi, I'd like to know it every time I am considering parting with my money for an LP or CD and every time I play a record or CD. Yes, it would be nice if the music industry was more transparent, but MoFi can only answer for MoFi.

I will be looking at MoFi products more often because of this.

Thank you, Mr. Davis.


Lazer's picture

I agree with you completely. I own most of the one-steps and am very happy. I,too, will be buying more from MOFI in the future because they are now going to be completely transparent. I appreciate that this scandal has led to something positive.


mtglass's picture

This is reasonable anger at paying premium prices for what was thought to be an analog “one step”. And yes, looking backward at the deception they created. Mcrushing’s coffee analogy makes the point. If Mofi thought this was all ok why didn’t they tell the truth about the mastering source?

Analog Scott's picture

these LPs ARE sourced from the original analog master tapes and done so with extreme care and expertise. These are one step pressings which does cost a great deal more to press. "If Mofi thought this was all ok why didn’t they tell the truth about the mastering source?" Probably because they were leary of audiophile mythology that a digital step that does not make an actual difference in the sound would lead to unreasonable negative bias against their product

charliepress's picture

MOFI isn't the only one who does One-Steps. Craft Recordings, Analogue Productions do them too, and they are transparent about sourcing. IF you watch the mea culpa video with the engineers, it's quite clear they knew consumers assumed it was an all analog chain, and they exploited that to charge $125 for something that others charge less for and cannot press as many copies because they are actually using the master tape, so are making less profit. Imagine if they WERE trasnparent and how much they could have done for vinyl records being cut from digital sources? Particularly with Abraxas--which frankly never sounded that good to begin with in all it's earlier incarnations. But they chose to mislead instead of lean into what they were doing.

OldschoolE's picture

I never bought into the whole MoFi and other “audiophile” record companies. First of all, I know there is no such thing as an audiophile record. Secondly, most stuff I want to own has not been redone by such companies (yet). Third, records are not worth much, especially current reissues! $125 for a single LP is beyond overly ambitious. I’m into original pressings, I don’t care about the claims of not sounding good and all that. It is not the point, I want to hear the original way the record was done despite the tech or lack thereof at the time. It is the way it was meant to be, at least with the era of music I listen to mostly. For me, the sentimental and historical value of original pressings the music they contain can not be priced and should not cost a kidney to obtain. I mean we humans are only about $12 worth of chemicals, so why should a record (about $2.30 worth of chemicals), cost $125 and more?
I’m not a record collector, I’m a record preservationist. I buy original pressings to preserve and listen to. I keep what I buy. I have zero interest in digital on vinyl and the rest of it, no interest in buying computer files, etc. That is another reason I don’t buy modern records and reissues, no provenance. With original pressings sometimes the provenance is right there in the credits!
Like I said, I have no dog in this fight, but there is an ethical principle that is true no matter what one sells or makes, etc. and that principle was violated without shame and the “apology” letter underscores that! There was no apology in it, just excuses and an attempt to shift blame.

xtcfan80's picture

Good lord the 21st Century consumer is fickle and clueless....Repeat after me....1. Buy recorded music . 2. Listen to recorded music 3. Keep/Trade/Sell recorded music based on your preferences and $ value of recording. Some here are really screwing up a wet dream....Practice listening and develop preferences for some pressings/masterings. Learn from experience and MOVE ON folks...The enjoyment of recorded music and gear is not a pissing/bitching match.

mtglass's picture

The problem is the consumers here are not fickle and clueless. A company charges premium price for a product they have falsely represented, that is never acceptable! If you don’t try to find the best sounding records that’s your choice. People come to “analogplanet” because they are interested in the best analog has to offer, equipment and records. If you don’t care about the quality of how and what you listen that’s your prerogative. This isn’t!

Analog Scott's picture

But most of the customers who are so angry about this actually are fickle and clueless. And sadly you have just demonstrated that you are one of them. Your anti digital rant shows it. I bet you thought some of these Mofi one steps were slam dunk proof that all analog mastering was the only path to superior sound.....before you found out they were using a digital step. And *that's* why you are pissed off. Your ficklness and cluelessness has been exposed. I do care about sound quality. I'm just not so clueless as to buy into audio myths. The digital step made no audible difference. Do yourself a favor, process that reality and make better educated buying choices from now on as opposed to choices based on mythology.

charliepress's picture

So I agree that the analog vs. digital debate is a bit ridiculous in terms of what sounds better (though Michael Fremer has been notably silent in all this debate probably from getting egg on his face for criticizing Mike Esposito for spreading rumours). For me personally, the issue is that that MOFI is exploiting the fickle and cluelessness for profit. Other "audiophile" companies are more transparent. Just imagine if MOFI were too--and instead of never mentioning DSD, advertised by saying "we dare to you to compare this one-step to any all analog cut on vinyl. Ours will sound better. Listen without prejudice and you will see" or soemthing like that.

mtglass's picture

I have many known DSD mastered vinyl. But I knew what I was buying, it doesn’t matter if you can tell the difference or not! It wasn’t a rant but a statement, yours was a “rant”! I have a bridge for sale at a good price if you are interested.

mtglass's picture

I have many known DSD mastered vinyl. But I knew what I was buying, it doesn’t matter if you can tell the difference or not! It wasn’t a rant but a statement, yours was a “rant”! I have a bridge for sale at a good price if you are interested.

mtglass's picture

Never bought a one step, just don’t like liars!

Analogue+Fan's picture

And Frank Sinatra's are all digital too.?

xtcfan80's picture

"You Said it Sister!"

mschlack's picture

I've never quite gotten the Mobile Fidelity mystique. The first product of theirs I ever bought was their CD of Aretha's I Never Loved A Man. I found it odd and unlistenable -- Aretha's voice was too recessed on many cuts and I found it bass heavy. Other releases, vinyl and CD, ranged from great to average.

I frankly find the whole vinyl thing weird these days. Groups record, mix and master on ProTools (or equivalent) and then release it on vinyl. How is that analog?

I tend to stick to used LPs or reissues of old analog that have been reviewed as being as good or better than the original in mint condition. If they've used some digital this or that to get there, I don't really care. I have plenty of hi-res digital recordings that are wonderful and I also love my Music Matters 45-rpm reissues, among many others.

That said, lying is not a good thing and they deserve to take the heat. But I think we also have made this too much about stuff that you actually can't hear and too little about what we do hear. I grew up with vinyl and I know every LP was not a great recording (much less the music itself). I also know that every digital recording is not a disaster. I have a few albums on both 180 gm vinyl and 192-24 digital and while they don't sound identical, they both sound great and not different enough to worry about.

Steelhead's picture

Thanks for the translation. Still chuckling internally

Dinosaur here, have real mo-fi's, musicdirect mo-fi's, mo-fi gold cds, and use mofi record cleaning products so have invested lots of coin into the mofi mystique.

I used to think digital vinyl was buying an overpriced cd with free added inconvenience. However when I purchased the Trinity Sessions by Cowboy Junkies I kind of relented and thought Man this sounds fantastic.

It was disingenuous in their marketing for sure. I won't be burning my mofi's but will definitely be paying more attention to what they are putting out in the future on vinyl.

Oh and maybe MoFi should hire MCRUSHING!!!!!

John Macca's picture

Ok, a lie is still a lie, though a thousand true pleas come to life. I want my bucks back.

my new username's picture

And I hope to never see an ad for Music Direct again. Life's too short for this kind of bullshit.

Analoguedude's picture

"How a Phoenix record store owner set the audiophile world on fire.
MoFi Records claimed its expensive reissues were purely analog reproductions. It had been deceiving its customer base for years."

Russo7516's picture

If you search your MOFI LP's on Discogs .Look at the notes parts. They are now telling you how they were sourced .
Some LP's were made from DSD and other from Dobly A masters, etc .
So not all were digital .

Tom L's picture

Used on all the Spinal Tap releases.

Tom L's picture

all MoFi one-step releases from now on will have a digital "step".
Just by chance, the only MoFi LPs I own were made prior to the introduction of DSD.
My ears and eyes can't hear or see any difference, but they do detect lies and greed.

xtcfan80's picture

First there was the attempt to get hip with the young people hiring and then neglecting to serve as the adult editor for ML....
Then two public pissing matching matches with Mike E. in AZ which did not show him in the most flattering light IMO. As much as Mikey has done for the analog cause all these year, it may be the best favor he could have offered to AVTech Media by leaving the site and paper magazine.

Tom L's picture

...and will check in on his new site when it's active. Yes, he upset some people, but his strong opinions and distinctive point of view made the site more interesting. Also, it seems petty to go on slamming Malachi-he's gone from here, folks!

mtglass's picture

If you can tell the difference or not. If you have been paying more for premium gas and thought your car ran great but found out they were actually selling you regular would that be fair?

xtcfan80's picture

I hope you are kidding with the class action lawsuit solicitation…1. It’s a joke right? 2. The firm is located in Fresno, right?

xtcfan80's picture

No matter what….He is a funny guy who gives a great deal of time and love to analog/hifi…. Love him!!!

PeterPani's picture

Everything he recommended and I bought was excellent!

labjr's picture

Apologize for the "confusion"?? There's no confusion here. Only deception. This is bad for high end hi-fi industry which, IMO has been on the ropes for a while with all the claims of magic pixie dust. I'm not a viny user. However, I did buy a couple one-step records for collectability.

My view has always been that any record that's mastered with a digital file is no better than the digital file itself and probably worse. I'd rather playback the original digital file with a DAC than the same digital file through umpteen stages used in vinyl masterering, pressing and playback on a turntable, preamp etc.

The Only question I have is "When do I get my money back?" Can Mo-Fi/Music Direct survive this? Will they bail out?

Bskeane's picture

Based on the outright lies that they have been promoting for a number of years I have cancelled all the vinyl I had on back order with them. Will I buy again from Mofi/Music Direct? Maybe but not for the foreseeable future.

rwwear's picture

Face it MoFi vinyl has rarely been better sounding than most early original pressings. And their artwork and packaging is usually subpar.

Japanese pressing usually sound better and not by a small margin. Plus the vinyl is usually less noisy. I believe what made some of the early MoFi vinyl better in quality is that it was pressed by JVC.

And it doesn't take a genius to figure out you can't make 40,000 one step analog recordings from the master tape unless you have 40,000 master tapes or 40,000 record cutting machines.

Happy Listening


jbmitchellcolo's picture

I had never tried an ultradisc recording until earlier this year. I was not impressed and could not figure out why the sound was not quite right (Carol King). I chalked it up to sub par original recordings.

So now this makes sense, and I am offended that I was under the misconception of an all analog process. I had an Eagles Ultradisc on back order and just called and cancelled it.

I have many other re-issues of various artists that sound terrific, mostly by Quality Record Pressings and by Blue Note, so yes there is a huge difference if your system is of reasonable quality.

Regardless if you like or don't like the Ultradisc sound, I agree with others that there is no excuse for misleading advertising. Honesty and integrity seem to be going by the wayside these days, for many other things as well. Truly disappointing.

Nightcrawler's picture

I rarely comment on things like this but I have a few thoughts I'd like to share. Off and on I've bought MF pressings since Supertramp's "Crime of the Century" - I even have a Mystic Moods LP! In general, I enjoyed most of the mastering jobs and quieter vinyl. But when I bought David Crosby's "If I Could Only Remember My Name," there was something in the sound that was off to me. I dragged out my mint copy of the original release on Atlantic and did a quick comparison. The elements I enjoyed most about the original were entirely missing - the transparency, the naturalness the purity. I eventually discovered the MF copy was from a digital master! The pressing WAS quieter, but that's all. It was around that time other companies sprouted up to give MF some stiff competition, so I started spending my money elsewhere. Now I have no interest in entering the "DSD Quality Debate" making the rounds here, but I can tell you I was (and still am) mostly interested in buying analog recordings/pressings. If it's a digital master I'll simply buy the CD or SACD. Mobile Fidelity lost my patronage years ago and I've had little interest in pursuing the provenance of the remastering chain just to see if I could find a few recent ones that were ALL ANALOG. I've always assumed the digital step in their mastering process was more a convenience than a quality decision (I might be wrong!). But rather than argue about it and make wild accusations, I just decided to take my money elsewhere. It's their business - they can run it any way they want to - but I try to learn from my mistakes. If you like what you hear, then by all means continue buying their LPS! If you are unhappy for any reason then don't. I met Jim Davis years ago when I was writing for TAS and he's a genuinely nice man. Was he intentionally misleading his customers? I have no idea. Am I interested in his current Mobile Fidelity products? Not at all. I've taken my money elsewhere. That's capitalism folks! Vote with your wallet. That's what I do...

ilbiffo's picture

Dear Nightcrawler,you could save yourself the comment.
If I Could Only Remember My Name is one of the few MFSL titles really AAA...

mtglass's picture

Well said!

Tom L's picture

I'll bet there are a LOT of people who have decided to "vote with your wallet" as Nightcrawler says. MoFi sold their "all analog, we're better" mystique quite effectively, and now it's evaporated. They're just another reissue company.

dcbingaman's picture

So......when we people admit that a good 'ole SACD is just as good as the BEST vinyl if not better ? I have a lot of old vinyl and three turntables, BUT my SACD's just plain sound better and they don't suffer from watery bass as a result of the damn hole on the record ALWAYS being off-center.

Vinyl is absorbing money, BUT its time has come and gone. Its just too bad the Luddites in this hobby decided SACD was old news BUT Edison's record was still too cool to abandon nearly 20 years ago.

The mind boggles, and this MoFi situation should not be surprising to anyone who is not digi-phobic to begin with. I have a Sound80 record from 1980 that STILL sounds better than nearly all my Living Stereo records and it was recorded and mastered using an all digital system. It was good then and it is even better now. Pick up a Bluesound streamer and compare your best vinyl to the SAME cut in HR on your streamer......don't say I didn't warn you.

Vinyl is great theater and essential for records that never made it to digital, but for 21st century recordings - it is not the best medium for your music. It's just not.

Carceses's picture