This is one of the MoFi LPs we’ve reviewed on the site. This MoFi link will take you to reviews of more than 90 more.
We also have a Hall of Shame for bad sounding records such as these. It currently has 250 members but could easily have double that if someone wanted to take the time to make entries for all the bad audiophile pressings we’ve played over the years. (That person would have to be me and I don’t want to do it.)
Santana is a record we admit to having liked a bit when it first came out. Since then we have changed our minds. As embarrassing as it may be, clearly We Was Wrong.
It’s just too damn compressed and lifeless. The Whomp Factor on this pressing is Zero. Since whomp is critical to the sound of Santana’s music, it’s Game Over for us. The review below is exactly what we wrote at the time the record came in. We tried to like it, but it’s clear to us now that we tried to like it too hard. Please accept our apologies.
Genesis – A Trick Of The Tail
Sonic Grade: F
A Hall of Shame pressing and another Half Speed debunked.
The last time I played the MoFi I could not believe how ridiculously COMPRESSED it was. On top of that, the midrange is badly sucked out (as is the case with most MoFi’s) making the sound as dead as dead can be. You think 180 gram records are lifeless? Play this piece of crap and see just how bad an audiophile record can sound.
And to think I used to like this version! I hope I had a better copy back in the ’80s than the one I played a few years ago. I’ll never know of course. If you have one in your collection give it a spin. See if it sounds as bad as we predict it will.
Steely Dan – Aja
Sonic Grade: F
More Mofi Bashing, But Boy Does The MOFI Deserve It.
I remember back in the ’70s when I thought this album sounded pretty good on my plain old ABC original. Then I got a copy of the Mobile Fidelity pressing and I thought it sounded even better. Side two of the MoFi had bass that was only hinted at on my domestic copy.
Sometime in the ’80s I realized that the MoFi was hideously phony sounding, and that all the bass on side two was boosted far out of proportion to what was on the master tape. The song Home At Last must have at least an extra five DBs added at 40 cycles. It’s ridiculous.
And that’s just the bottom end; the highs are every bit as wrong. (more…)
Skip the Mono
This album is more common in mono than stereo, but we found the sound of the mono pressing we played unsatisfying. Where is the wall to wall space of the live club? It has been drastically shrunken into the area between the speakers. Much of the ambience disappeared with it, destroying the illusion the album was trying to create, that you are there.
In mono, you really aren’t.
Here are some other records that we don’t think sound very good in MONO.
Here are some we think can sound amazing in MONO.
OUR HOT STEREO COPY
- An excellent copy with both sides rating a Double Plus (A++) or better
- It’s taken us years, but Lewis’s breakout bestselling album The In Crowd finally makes its debut at Better Records
- If you want to know what jazz at an intimate nightclub would have sounded like in 1965, play this record – this is that sound
- AMG raves “…this is the moment where Lewis shined the brightest, the “in crowd” at the club was verbally into it, and the time for this music was right.”
This original Argo Blue Label Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in a real jazz club, this is the record for you. It’s what Vintage Records are known for — this sound. (more…)
Originally posted in 2015
We are so excited to tell you about the first of the Heavy Vinyl Beatles remasters we’ve played! As we cycle through our regular Hot Stamper shootouts for The Beatles’ albums we will be of course be reviewing more of them*. I specifically chose this one to start with, having spent a great deal of time over the last year testing the best vinyl pressings against three different CD versions of Rubber Soul.
The short version of our review of the new Rubber Soul vinyl would simply point out that it’s awful, and, unsurprisingly, it’s awful in most of the ways that practically all modern Heavy Vinyl records are: it’s opaque, airless, energyless and just a drag.
I was looking forward to the opportunity to take Michael Fremer (the champion of thick vinyl dreck from sources far and wide) to task in expectation of his rave review, when to my surprise I found the rug had been pulled out from under me — he didn’t like it either! Damn it all.
Cat Stevens – 200 Grams of Tea for the Tillerman
Dear Record Loving Audiophiles of Earth,
I’m afraid we have some bad news. Regrettably we must inform you that the 2011 edition of Tea for the Tillerman pressed by Analogue Productions on Heavy Vinyl doesn’t sound very good. We know you were all hoping for the best. We also know that you must be very disappointed to hear this unwelcome news.
But the record is what it is, and what it is is not very good. Its specific shortcomings are many and will be considered in at length in our review below.
Mussorgsky – Pictures at an Exhibition
Classic Records Debunked
Sonic Grade: F
A Hall of Shame pressing and another Classic Records LP debunked.
The shrillness, the hardness, the sourness, the loss of texture to the strings, the phony boosted deep bass — this is the kind of sound that makes my skin crawl. After a minute or two I’ve had it. And the performance is dreadful as well.
HP put this on his TAS List? Yes he did!
More Pictures at an Exhibition
What do you get with Hot Stampers compared to the Classic Heavy Vinyl reissue? Dramatically more warmth, sweetness, delicacy, transparency, space, energy, size, naturalness (no boost on the top end or the bottom, a common failing of anything on Classic); in other words, the kind of difference you almost ALWAYS get comparing the best vintage pressings with their modern remastered counterparts, in our experience anyway. (more…)
Steely Dan – Can’t Buy A Thrill
Speakers Corner Debunked
This has to be one of the worst sounding versions ever pressed. You think the average ABC or MCA pressing is opaque, flat and lifeless, not to mention compromised at both ends of the frequency spectrum? You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!
As bad as the typical copy of this album is, the Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl is even worse, with not a single redeeming quality to its credit. If this is what passes for an Audiophile Record these days, and it is, it’s just one more nail in the coffin for Heavy Vinyl.
But that’s not the half of it. Go to Acoustic Sounds’ website and read all the positive customer reviews — they love it! Is there any heavy vinyl pressing on the planet that a sizable contingent of audiophiles won’t say something nice about, no matter how bad it sounds? I can’t think of one.
To sum up, this record is nothing less than an affront to analog itself. I guarantee you the CD is better, if you get a good one. I own four or five and the best of them has far more musical energy than this thick, dull, opaque and boring piece of audiophile analog trash.
It was probably made from a digital copy of the master, or more likely a digital copy of an analog dub of the master — three generations, that’s sure what it sounds like — but that’s no excuse.
If you can’t make a good record, don’t make any record at all. Shelve the project. The audiophile vinyl world is drowning in bad sounding pressings; we don’t need any more thank you very much.
Sonic Grade: D
Another MoFi LP debunked.
The last time I played a copy of the MoFi I could not believe how ridiculously phony and compressed it was. And to think I used to like their version when it came out back in the ’80s!
A good example: on Yer Blues, the MFSL pressing positively wreaks havoc with all the added bass and top end The Beatles put on this track. The MoFi version is already too bright, and has sloppy bass to start with, so the result on this track is way too much BAD bass and way too much BAD spitty 10k-boosted treble, unlike the good imports, which have way too much GOOD bass and treble.
Yer Blues ROCKS! Listen to the big jam at the end of the song, where John’s vocal mic is turned off but his performance is still caught by a room or overheard mic. They obviously did this on purpose, killing his vocal track so that the “leaked” vocal could be heard.
Those crazy Beatles! It’s more than just a cool “effect”. It actually seems to kick the energy and power of the song up a notch. It’s clearly an accident, but an accident that works. I rather doubt George Martin approved. That kind of “throw the rule book out” approach is what makes Beatles recordings so fascinating, and The White Album the most fascinating of them all.
The EQ for this song is also a good example of something The Beatles were experimenting with, as detailed in their recording sessions and interviews with the engineers. They were pushing the boundaries of normal EQ, of how much bass and treble a track could have. This track has seriously boosted bass, way too much, but somehow it works!
Sonic Grade: D
A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.
Those of you who have had the misfortune to play the MoFi LP know that they absolutely ruined this album. They boosted the hell out of the top end, the last thing in the world this recording needed.
Actually, that’s probably not true. People who collect MoFi records probably like the kind of phony sound found on the MoFi of this title.
To the extent that a MoFi collector is not happy with the sound, my guess is he would more than likely place the blame on the recording, not the mastering.
Of course, since such a collector would never lower himself to buy a plain old domestic copy of the record, he would have no way of knowing that it trounces his so-called audiophile pressing. If your stereo likes that MoFi sound in this day and age, you shouldn’t be buying records. You should be buying new equipment. (more…)