Skeptical Thinking – The Key to Better Sound
Record Collecting for Audiophiles – A Guide
And we don’t need to know anything about how it was made in order to judge it!
For those of you who did not follow this story last year, you may want to catch up here.
Although it’s behind a paywall, you can get a free test drive easily enough.
Now that you are up to date on the overall contours of this mess, here is another one of the many thoughts I have had concerning the revelation that Mobile Fidelity has been secretly sourcing at least some of their masters digitally since 2015.
Back in August of 2022, I wrote what you see below to Geoff Edgers, the reporter who exposed this ridiculous mess. (I toned it down quite a bit. The original version was not suitable for publication.)
Earlier that same year he had visited me at my studio, where I played him the awful Dire Straits first album that MoFi remastered, one of the worst half speeds ever made (review coming, but you can get a good idea of my take on it here).
By August of 2022 he was starting to see just how crazy the world of audiophiles actually is, and the more he learned about some of these people, the crazier they seemed. And he was not wrong about that. My letter:
Jim Davis (of MoFi) is not one to be trusted and would have loved to cover up this whole thing if he could have figured out how to do it. It got away from him, and as far as I’m concerned, good.
And you heard how shitty their Dire Straits record is. Who cares if it’s digital? The sound is bad. Why bother trying to figure out the reasons this crappy label doesn’t know how to make a good record? It’s just a fact. Accept it.
Many of MoFi’s now-exposed records were on Fremer and Esposito’s own lists of the best sounding analog albums.
From the article:
“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.
“These people who claim they have golden ears and can hear the difference between analog and digital, well, it turns out you couldn’t.”
The best ears? Are you kidding me? In their dreams. These guys give every indication that they are virtually devoid of critical listening skills. The evidence has been laid out in this very blog, chapter and verse, for years.
Yes, a perfect blinded test was conducted, the kind we run day in and day out, and every one of these so-called audiophile authorities failed it completely.
Here’s an idea. Test us! We can tell a good record from a bad one, digital or no digital.
We do it for a living.
Based on everything that has happened, here are the conclusions we would draw from this sorry episode revealing the fraud that is at the heart of the Modern Remastered Vinyl LP.
The digital process MoFi used probably resulted in a loss of subtle musical information.
Many audiophiles can’t hear what they are missing on these remastered pressings on account of their untrained listening skills and their playback systems’ relative lack of quality. (Audio is hard.)
We hear what’s missing because we have the records that are overflowing with all that information.
If it goes missing, it’s obvious to us that something is wrong. It may not be rocket science, but it is a science of a sort, and the scientific method has been crucial to our success. You just have to learn how to do it properly in order to set you on the right path.
Some of our customers who own Heavy Vinyl pressings are in the enviable position of having in their possession a record that can show them what is wrong with the ones they own. It warms our hearts when they write to tell us of the lessons they learned playing our Hot Stampers against their remastered LPs.
What could be simpler or more obvious? Until now all I had was my opinion about these guys, and let’s face it, talk is cheap.
Finally the facts have come out and they support everything I have been saying for years about this label’s awful records and the misguided souls who collect them.
You really made my day. A great article that lays everything out clearly with just the right amount of information. I hope the article you do on me is as good. (It was.)
One final thought.
Anyone who has been on their audio journey for any sizeable length of time has made a lot of mistakes along the way.
Uniquely among reviewers and record dealers, we go out of way to admit when we’re wrong.
You might even say we are proud of the fact that we used to get so many things wrong about records and audio.
Our experimental, evidence-based approach, requiring that we not only make mistakes but that we embrace them and learn from them, is surely key to the progress we have made in understanding recordings and home audio.
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