Mobile Fidelity - the digital step in MFSL vinyl debacle

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ssully

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All you need to know about this entire thing is that before someone told them there was a digital step, none of the people convinced that a digital step means "bad sound" could tell there was a digital step.

But, but...when they learned about it, suddenly *veils descended*. :(

It's very much like when one of the most famous hi rez (SACD, DVDA) versus standard rez (downconverted to 16/44) blind tests was published, reporting the predictable 'no difference' results, those results were challenged on the basis that quite a few of the SACDs and DVDAs used *were sourced from analog tape* -- they cannot reveal the true glory of hi rez!

Oh dear.

Did the challengers not see what this meant, following the logic of their objection? It meant:

-- all the rave reviews of those DVDAs and SACDs that attributed the improved sound to hi rez -- as virtually all did -- were laughably misguided
-- all-digital really is better than digital with an analog step

:LOL:
 

ssully

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Why source vinyl from digital when you can simply have the digital recording?

Often digital has been manipulated in some way {worst case brickwalling}, records made from such sources will not sound good.

I thought Mofi said they made their own digital masters from the OMTs?
 

windhoek

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that's a fantastically subjective opinion stated as fact.

And does 'modern' since the early 1980s?

It's true I don't have any data to back up my claim that in general older mass-release records sound better than modern mass-release records but if you disagree or don't want to take my word for it then fair dos. Either way, I've got a lot of records that tell me I'm right, and I know a few hi-fi enthusiasts who feel likewise about modern versus old records.

This aside, is the rest of my post acceptable? You know, the issue being that Mobile Fidelity deliberately withheld the fact from its customers that it was cutting records from digital files and all the wordplay involved etc, and not, as you had previously suggested, that the reason the debacle has occurred was because of "the pearl-clutching hysteria of vinylphiles whenever the word 'digital' appears".
 

par4ken

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Those vintage LPs sound good more because of no brickwalling effects rather than because the digital step (of new vinyl) sounds bad. I would have to agree that digital mastering using today's equipement will not impair the sound in any noticeable way.

Early digitally recorded LPs however did have that "digital" sound similar to the sound of the early CD players. Digital sound was criticized by the high end audio press for good reason back then; but I'm digressing slightly from the topic at hand.

the reason the debacle has occurred was because of "the pearl-clutching hysteria of vinylphiles whenever the word 'digital' appears".
To be fair to those "pearl-clutching vinylphiles", they are expecting an all analogue product. MoFi is being dishonest leading them on. To have been totally upfront would have cost them some sales.

Remember those direct to disc LPs from labels such as Nimbus 9. I'm thinking of "Rough Trade Live!", an excellent sounding LP with no intermediate tape or digital step involved! Maybe true audiophile labels should bring that idea back!
 

kfbkfb

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OT...it would be fun to have all the versions of this album done needledrop -> Blu-ray TrueHD, I have one of the early LPs from mid-1970s, a CD version from an analog tape and I recently bought a used LP copy (needs cleaning).

[kind of too bad that Umbrella didn't build a simple Stereo-4 encoder and make this album in matrix quadraphonic sound]


One important thing is that even the best all analog magnetic tape system w/Dolby A NR adds some noise (distortion, phase shift, frequency response errors).


Kirk Bayne
 

ar surround

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I still have this one even though my turntable is long gone. The problem with this record is that every song is played way too fast to accommodate the time constraints of the direct-to-disc medium. But the sound quality is stellar.

glenn.jpg
 

TVB

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I have to chime in on this. I have enjoyed my original master recordings since they first came out in the 70's. I even have a nice collection of the mfsl cassettes. Still enjoy them to this day (I hope they were never digitized). My understanding is that they were taken from the original master tape and are all analogue. This makes sense to me because records and cassettes are analogue formats. I have never bought one of the super expensive one step discs because I prefer to spend my hundreds on surround recordings....but if I had.... I would be TOTALLY TICKED OFF. I don't care how good they sound. In my mind once you put digital in the loop its not pure analogue and you might as well by the digital disc instead. I have many records that say digitally processed and I am happy with them. A record being digitized does not bother me but you better tell me its digitized before you try to sell it to me as analogue, especially at the prices the one steps go for.
 

Sonik Wiz

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With audio subjective opinion trumps all else. Measurements and technical specs are but a tool. If it don't sound right it isn't right!
Yes Sir. And my corollary would be: "if it sounds bad but measures good then your measuring the wrong thing."

This whole MoFi thing is far from a debacle, more like a tempest in a tea pot. DSD was invented by Phillips for long term archiving where if there is data corruption it can never be more than one bit off. Easy to correct. DSD is transparent in function & I'll agree that MoFi should have been also. In fact it could have worked to their advantage. Always returning to an analog tape for new releases will inevitably bring degradation to that original source. Digitizing freezes that audio quality at an optimum point
 

marpow

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This is Snood's dilemma and think it is evident - watch through the end for them bald facing lying


I am reading and studying all that is said on this fascinating thread with all the great comments and videos. I must say this video that my buddy Snood showed us was hard to watch as the guy took up 20 minutes of saying MOFI lied, 1 minute would have been good enough.
 

marpow

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Whew, finally finished all this. Page 1-4 good reading, after that all the usual players start there shenanigan's.

I thought it was very interesting the video with the 3 MOFI guys, clearly they are at the top of there game in delivering a high quality product. Very interesting how they received a master tape box for each track of the first Pretenders release. How some tracks are good and some horrible within the same tape. How you don't dare keep selling and offering the tape around the world as it just wouldn't last. It seems there approach is very good, although there is a digital step an what is a perceived all analog process.
I am not a vinyl person, but I could definitely see and feel for people who think they have been mislead by MOFI.
In the video article with the 3 MOFI's I was disappointed that at least not one moment was left for comments on SACD's. Do they like them, do they prefer them, do they sound different better?

But I wanted to take this information to how it directly effects me as a digital buyer.
If MOFI as they claim are to become completely transparent, than I hope they do all this with there SACD's also.
I was confused with MOFI's statement regarding the Studer capturing the 4 X DSD from the analog source. MOFI only releases 1 X DSD with there SACD's, out of my ignorance does that mean they could release DSD256 on SACD's? Not sure I own any DSD256 SACD's, I do own plenty of DSD256 downloads however.
Can a SACD play greater than DSD64?
I, like many others suffer from inadequate funds and mostly inadequate time to listen to every version of whatever and make a decision based on the way I hear things, not the way others hear things. I stand with others, best mastering trumps best format.
Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits is basically reference in any version, same with Robert Plants Manic Nirvana.

Thanks for your digital time on this digital format about this digital story about digital audio.
I hope you believe me that I am typing via skin and bones, maybe some day not?
 

4-earredwonder

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Whew, finally finished all this. Page 1-4 good reading, after that all the usual players start there shenanigan's.

I thought it was very interesting the video with the 3 MOFI guys, clearly they are at the top of there game in delivering a high quality product. Very interesting how they received a master tape box for each track of the first Pretenders release. How some tracks are good and some horrible within the same tape. How you don't dare keep selling and offering the tape around the world as it just wouldn't last. It seems there approach is very good, although there is a digital step an what is a perceived all analog process.
I am not a vinyl person, but I could definitely see and feel for people who think they have been mislead by MOFI.
In the video article with the 3 MOFI's I was disappointed that at least not one moment was left for comments on SACD's. Do they like them, do they prefer them, do they sound different better?

But I wanted to take this information to how it directly effects me as a digital buyer.
If MOFI as they claim are to become completely transparent, than I hope they do all this with there SACD's also.
I was confused with MOFI's statement regarding the Studer capturing the 4 X DSD from the analog source. MOFI only releases 1 X DSD with there SACD's, out of my ignorance does that mean they could release DSD256 on SACD's? Not sure I own any DSD256 SACD's, I do own plenty of DSD256 downloads however.
Can a SACD play greater than DSD64?
I, like many others suffer from inadequate funds and mostly inadequate time to listen to every version of whatever and make a decision based on the way I hear things, not the way others hear things. I stand with others, best mastering trumps best format.
Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits is basically reference in any version, same with Robert Plants Manic Nirvana.

Thanks for your digital time on this digital format about this digital story about digital audio.
I hope you believe me that I am typing via skin and bones, maybe some day not?
As you reiterate Markie, the Major studios in this day and age are NOT going to jeopardize their 'fragile' master tapes by jockeying them around the globe and if carefully DSD remastered utilizing the latest technology and fixing any anomalies present in those masters in the process can and does produce a mirror image of the masters ....what's the BIG deal?

And I'm sure all those MoFi SACDs are produced from those same DSD masters ..... and to my ears they sound fantastic!

I just ordered a bunch of FIM [First Impression Music] DSD mastered CDs from elusive disc and IMO, they are SENSATIONAL! Deep bass and NO signs of compression and IMO, they beat the pants off their RBCD counterparts.

As far as MoFi LYING ......... analogue purists in 2022 cannot expect an ALL ANALOGUE chain like 10 or 20 years ago when there were NO supply chain issues and the majors were more amendable to lending out their precious analogue masters .......which in some cases are 40~50 years OLD......
Sometimes the absolute TRUTH ...is better left UNSAID!

But when they're charging $100~125 for their one step Vinyl discs.....I will OPT for the $30 Stereo SACD, whenever available!

And seriously folks, when MoFi does audition their one step vinyl they're utilizing MEGABUCK TT arms/cartridge set~ups with pricey 'step up transformers...' and SOTA pre~amps .... IMO you'd probably be better off with the SACD [if available] unless you can check off all those boxes.
 
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marpow

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My last question/comment, is the contiuation of "is there transperency on all things recorded/remastered/remixed? Well we all know that in the world of CD's Remastered basically means severley compressed.
I have noticed on my MQA CD's (please no comments) that in the liner notes they always have source. For instance in my newest Leon Russell collection all discs say:
"Tape Research: Peter Macchia and Steven Hernandez (universalMusic Group, USA)
DSD flat transferred from analogue master tapes by Brett Zinn at Iron Mountain Studios, Boyers, US, in 2022.
Edited in DSD by Manabu Matsumura at Universal Music Studios Tokyo, in 2022."
Now, you probably know better than me, but I read this as a transparent process. It tells me the master tapes where available, they where copied to DSD and re-released in this MQA process.
Every MQA disc has a 6 page explanation of the MQA process. PLEASE NO COMMENTS, I AM NOT SAYING MQA IS GREAT OR NONSENSE. I AM JUST USING MY RECENT MQA PURCHASE AS A REFERENCE OF DISCUSSION. REGARDING TRANSPERENCY.
As a consumer of digital music I feel pretty good that this statement is at least enough to tell me the masters where involved. As to the process of the master to this MQA release or in some cases SACD release we have learned form the 3 MOFI engineers in the video there is a tremendous amount involved, months to years of work.
This statement on the Leon Russell MQA disc makes no mention of quality, work, etc, so that said, is this basic statement good enough for the average audiophile?
I find Japanese releases seem to be more transparent overall.
 

humprof

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For me, that article only really gets down to brass tacks in the last five paragraphs, starting with this:

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.”​
 

ubertrout

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Not a vinyl guy, so I can perhaps be a little detached from some of this, but it's always been pretty clear that good vinyl needs the clearest possible source and good mastering by someone who understands vinyl. A lot of vinyl fans have convinced themselves that the format really sounds better, and that it's about getting the purest mastering chain to get the best sound. As you can tell, pretty much all the pros view this attitude with barely hidden contempt, because the secret sauce of vinyl isn't actual analog purity but the way it gives a sound that's almost sweeter than the real thing due to the EQ and distortion.

We have the same attitude in digital, with questions of whether something is pure DSD, etc. And a lot of folks take a while to figure out that yes, all things being equal a higher sample rate is better, but it's low on the list of things which significantly impact sound quality. Mic placement and recording engineering and mixing matter far more.

Perhaps this will educate consumers better, but there will always be holdouts. And they'll simply be looking for increasingly rare vintage copies while everyone else enjoys better sounding modern ones.
 

windhoek

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I was just about to post that link myself as it's a very interesting article for sure. Indeed, one of the really interesting things from it is the fact that John Wood, the guy who invited Episito to come for a tour, didn't exactly have clearance to go ahead and do that. If Jim Davis, the owner, had been consulted on that first then I guess we might well have had another stage-managed response, with Mobile Fidelity perhaps inviting someone like Michael Fremer to pop in for a friendly chat instead. Had that happened, I doubt we would have gotten that somewhat spontaneous but most revealing interview with the engineers (and thankfully, or thanks to chance, rather Jim Davis couldn't be there in person for Espinito's visit due to travel issues so he didn't get to manage Espinito's visit once that wheel had been set in motion).

It just goes to show, that doing the wrong thing by not following protocol is sometimes the right thing to do... for a greater good!
 

ar surround

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Yes Sir. And my corollary would be: "if it sounds bad but measures good then your measuring the wrong thing."

This whole MoFi thing is far from a debacle, more like a tempest in a tea pot. DSD was invented by Phillips for long term archiving where if there is data corruption it can never be more than one bit off. Easy to correct. DSD is transparent in function & I'll agree that MoFi should have been also. In fact it could have worked to their advantage. Always returning to an analog tape for new releases will inevitably bring degradation to that original source. Digitizing freezes that audio quality at an optimum point
That I had never heard before, Wiz. That's very informative and probably the best justification for DSD that I've heard.
 

marpow

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I wasn't going to say anything, but felt the need to be transparent. I have had for many years the Japanese SHM SACD's of Dire Straits and the Analogue Productions SACD Box Set of Stevie Ray Vaughn. Also for years I have seen the MOFI sale of these two bands in there catalogue, I have shyed away, why double dip on a SACD.
Well, after watching the video I was so impressed with the three engineers, there miticulous aproach to recovering the best sounding music they possibly can, that I purchased these two bands from the MOFI site plus a couple others.
It was over $300.00. First I am a collector and audiophile geek, I like to experiment and find things out for myself. When taking risks there are rewards and failures that is the nature of a collector.
Will I prefer the MOFI HYbrid SACD's over the SHM SACD's and the SACDs?
As negative as the MOFI press appears to be, I am sure I am not the only one that the articles have an opposite effect.
If the average audiophile collector wants the best sounding LP of Abbraxas they are going to now buy it in a second, most people with any intellect will find that saving the orginal master tape from future degradtion using a DSD process of recovery will not care.
The reason, very plain and simple, is we all want the best version of whatever,
For us here on QQ who primarily listen to digital formats, if this Blu Ray or that DVD, or that SACD is considered the best, I have never on QQ seen anybody write " OK, you say it is the best, but I can't buy it until I find out how it was transfered" that is absolutely ridiculous on our digital realm, at least since my 2014 experience.
I have heard many on QQ after the fact, who have a long history with a certain release be able to comment on what in there opionion is the best version, this is a bonus of being a member of QQ.
 
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