Mobile Fidelity's Kind of Blue  Test Pressing Played at CES

One of the most long awaited reissues will soon come from Mobile Fidelity. Selected room visitors had a chance to listen to a test pressing of one mastering of the legendary Kind of Blue most likely sourced from Mark Wilder's 1997 mix to analog tape from the 3 track safety copy.

Wilder used a GML custom line mixer, an all-tube Presto 3 track playback deck from which he made a flat copy onto an Ampex ATR-102 with Dolby SR using no EQ or compression. That tape became the new two track master, a copy of which was probably used for this test pressing and for what will be the final release.

The folks at Mo-Fi seem to be "walking on eggs" about this release both because of its historical importance both musically and sonically. They really want to get this one 100% correct—even more so than their Foreigner or Mastadon reissues (just busting balls).

There's certainly some stiff competition from the 1990s Classic Records edition, reputedly mastered from the 3 track tape and mixed down "live" by Bernie Grundman. The 3 track tape is apparently no longer useable and Sony/BMG policy no longer allows masters out of the east coast.

So this reissue will, by definition, not sound identical to either an original pressing or to Grundman's mix down reissue but if the HDTracks digital version is any indication, this one could and should be sonically superb.

What was heard in the noisy CES room on an unfamiliar system was promising but there's no point in "navel-gazing" comments at this point and this test pressing is from a lacquer cut that may or may not be the final production cut so why get into the sound other than to say it didn't sound bad!

chris8519's picture

I saw a mint Classic pressing of KOB at my local shop (the 33rpm edition). $60... but never considered buying it because I am waiting for the MoFi pressing.

...or should I be waiting? Live from the 3 track? Sheesh!

Jay's picture

The Classic pressing is seriously good, but I think I'll have the 45RPM Mo-Fi as well. Their Ricky Lee Jones was out of this world.

jeffpartyka's picture

I have the 2-LP 180gm Classic edition. I have to play it again soon (it's been years!), but if it's as good as I remember it, the MoFi may be a tough sell for me, even though I love what they have been doing lately.

DigMyGroove's picture

While I'm certainly looking forwars with the 1963 mono repress, Columbia CL 1355...WOW!

my new username's picture

"Sony/BMG policy no longer allows masters out of the east coast."

So unless there's a place nearby who could ever make proper use of the tape, they might as well destroy it. It's pointless to keep masters if they can't or won't be used for important projects. For everything else, I'll rip a copy of my old CD for them, no charge!

Is this tape being kept at an Iron Mountain facility? I know they have their own production services but if the record labels were serious about not only preservation but preservation for future use (two distinct things, apparently) they'd park a studio nearby so that FedEx CustomCritical or UPS Professional Services wouldn't have to be trusted. Just walk it over.

Or maybe MoFi could just do what Chad Kassem does, and see if that doesn't unlock the vault.

Michael Fremer's picture

That is why Ryan K. Smith at Sterling cuts for Analogue Productions when the original tape is located on the east coast.... he cuts from the original tapes.

Catcher10's picture

Is this the one that is available for pre-order on Acoustic Sounds with arrival date of TBA?? Or will this only be available from MoFi website....Tough trying to figure out which to buy

Martin's picture

I'll most likely pass on this one.
It's a tough sell, for anyone with the Classic Kind of Blue from Bernie Grundman. That reissue, to me anyway, is superb. Maybe a little tweaked on top, but on my system that sounds quite ok.
I would have a hard time believing that what is basically three generations down is going to sound better than the classic, even at 45rpm.

By the way, I REALLY like Bernie Grundmans job and the Classic reissue, great sounding, dead quiet vinyl.

The RSD mono reissue from 2013 is really good too. Some people say that was done analogue, some say digital. I can't tell. It sounds great.

audioholic63's picture

One could drive themselves insane. I've been very happy lately with the Sony mono pressing. Any notion on how it compares?

DigitalIsDead's picture

Not holding breath anylonger but still think tihs will be worth the wait.

vinyl listener's picture


jazz's picture

Is it correct, that all the current Mofi reissues are expected to have Hires Digital as source?

Michael Fremer's picture

Analog tape. The Sony monos are 96/24 based on what I've recently read...from a direct source....

jazz's picture

Thanks for this info, I thought they are all hires.

Hires from a direct source means what (hires from analog master)? Sorry for my disknowledge

Martin's picture

That Sony I thought sounded very good.

jazz's picture

Michael, could you shortly explain what it means in Terms of audiophile quality, if such a reissue if from 3 track or any other mix and what it means that Grundman mixed "live"? Wrere there different master tapes (3 track and others)?

Do you know, of what mix other reissues like the one of Kevin Gray for Sony was?

tremaindous's picture

The Classic Records 4-LP 45rpm is my serious-listening KOB. I look forward to a long awaited comparison with the MoFi version.

oregonpapa's picture

I found an original six-eye stereo in near mint condition about 20 years ago in a local Salvation Army thrift store for .... ready? ... fifty cents. I have a number of reissues including a dead silent Japanese reissue. So far, the original has the best and most defined bass lines. I love this music so much, I may be tempted to buy the MoFi reissue.