Many audiophiles are still operating under the misapprehension that Mobile Fidelity, what with their strict ’quality control’, managed to eliminate pressing variations of the kind we discuss endlessly on the site.
Such is simply not the case, and it’s child’s play to demonstrate how false this way of thinking is, assuming you have these four things: good cleaning fluids and a machine, multiple copies of the same record, a reasonably revealing stereo, and two working ears (I guess that’s actually five things, my bad). With all five the reality of pressing variations for ALL pressings is both obvious and incontrovertible.
The raison d’être of the Limited Edition Audiophile Record is to take the guesswork out of buying the Best Sounding Pressing money can buy.
But it just doesn’t work that way. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our entire website is based on the proposition that nothing of the sort is true. If paying more money for an audiophile pressing guaranteed the buyer better sound, 80% of what we do around here would be a waste of time. Everybody knows what the audiophile pressings are, and there would be nothing for us to do but find them and throw them up on the website for you to buy. Why even bother to play them if they all sound so good?
I was guilty of the same Bad Audiophile Thinking myself in 1982. I remember buying the UHQR of Sgt. Pepper and thinking how amazing it sounded and how lucky I was to have the world’s best version of Sgt. Pepper.
If I were to play that record now it would be positively painful. All I would hear would be the famous MoFi 10K Boost on the top end (the one that MoFi lovers never seem to notice), and the flabby Half-Speed mastered bass (ditto). Having heard really good copies of Sgt. Pepper, like the wonderful Hot Stampers we put on the site from time to time, now the MoFi UHQR sounds so phony to me that I wouldn’t be able to sit through it with a gun to my head.
Badly Mastered LPs
Visit our Hall of Shame to see what are in our opinion some of the worst sounding records ever made.
Note that most of the entries are audiophile remasterings of one kind or another.
The reason for this is simple: we’ve gone through the all-too-often unpleasant experience of comparing them head to head with our best Hot Stamper pressings.
When you can hear them that way, up against an exceptionally good record, their flaws become that much more obvious and, frankly, that much more intolerable.
…along these lines can be found below.
Here are more records that will help you avoid listening for phony detail when evaluating equipment or tweaking your system.
The most important advice on the site can be found under the heading Hot Stamper Shootouts — The Four Pillars of Success.
Record shootouts are the fastest and easiest way to hone your listening skills, a subject we discuss often on the site and directly address in this commentary from way back in 2005.
Here are more entries in our ongoing Shootout Advice series.