Half-Speed Masters

Muddy Waters – Folk Singer – Another Muddy MoFi

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked. 

The MoFi is thick, fat and murky, with much less transparency than the Classic release (which is no award winner either).

Check out our Heavy Vinyl Scorecard to read all about the latest winners and losers. 

 

 

Kansas – Leftoverture – CBS Half-Speed Debunked

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame Pressing and another Audiophile Record debunked.

Way too bright and thin. What were they thinking?

It’s the sound that most audiophiles are fooled by to this day! Brighter and more detailed is rarely better. Most of the time it’s just brighter. Not many half-speed mastered audiophile records are dull. They’re bright because the audiophiles who bought them preferred that sound. I did. Hopefully we’ve all learned our lesson, expensive and painful as it may have been. 

The average copy of this record is so bright, thin, aggressive and transistory it will peel the paint in your living room and leave your ears bleeding.

Unmusicality

The best copies get rid of a problem that quickly becomes irritating as you play track after track: a certain “squaky, pinched” sound to the guitars. Bad copies of the album have that sound through and through, along with excessive amounts of grain and grunge. The guitars are very prominent in the mix on practically every song here, so when the guitars sound sour, the track as a whole does too.

These mastering and pressing problems make the overall sound simply UNMUSICAL. The way we found that out was simple. We cleaned and played lots of copies, and every once in a while we heard one that allowed the music to breathe, open up, sound balanced, make sense even.

Those copies showed us a Leftoverture we didn’t know existed and gave us a goal to shoot for with all the other copies we played. After hearing such a truly killer copy we often go back and downgrade the ratings for the copies we thought were the best. Such is the way with these shootouts. (more…)

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II – MoFi Debunked

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

This pressing has to be one of the worst audiophile remastering jobs in the history of the world. There is NOT ONE aspect of the sound that isn’t wrong. Not one! The highs are boosted, the upper midrange is boosted, the mid-bass is boosted, the low bass is missing — what part of the frequency spectrum is even close to correct on this pressing? The answer: none.

If you’re in the market for a Hot Stamper pressing of Led Zeppelin II, there is very little chance that we can help you; the good copies are all but impossible to find. However, if you would like another Led Zeppelin title with Hot Stampers, we might have something of interest. (more…)

Little Feat – Time Loves A Hero – Another Bad Nautilus Pressing

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Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame pressing. After playing a killer Hot Stamper pressing of the album a few years back we wrote the following: 

If you own the Nautilus Half-Speed, a record we actually liked years ago even when we had long since forsworn those kinds of pressings, you are really in for a treat. THIS is what the band sounds like in the REAL world, not the phony audiophile world that so many seem to get stuck in.

Just listen to how punchy the drums are, a perfect example of what proper mastering does well and Half-Speed mastering does poorly. When you listen to a top quality Hot Stamper pressing you feel that you are hearing this music EXACTLY the way Little Feat wanted it to be heard. I just don’t get that vibe from the half-speed. It sounds like someone messed with it, and of course someone did. That’s how they get those audiophile records to sound the way they do. For some reason some audiophiles like their records to sound pretty and lifeless with blurry bass. That is not our sound here at Better Records.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Hi Roller
Time Loves a Hero
Rocket in My Pocket
Day at the Dog Races

Side Two

Old Folks’ Boogie
Red Steamliner
New Delhi Freight Train
Keepin’ up With the Joneses
Missin’ You

 

Peter Gabriel – Direct Disk Labs Half Speed Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: D

Another Half Speed Mastered Record that belongs in our Hall of Shame.

The Direct Disk Labs half-speed here is thick, compressed and lifeless, though fairly rich. You could do worse I suppose, but too much of the life of the music will be lost when playing their poorly remastered pressing.  Did they have a good British tape to work with? It doesn’t sound like it.

The Doors – The Doors – MoFi Debunked

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Sonic Grade: D

Another MoFi LP debunked.  

If anyone still thinks that this pressing is anything but a bad joke played on the audiophile public — so sucked out in the midrange, bass-shy and compressed to death — that person has a way to go in this hobby. A very long way. You can hear how bad it sounds from another room.

But wait a minute. I liked the MoFi just fine when it came out. I guess I had a way to go in this hobby too. That was back in the early ’80s. I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two in the last thirty five plus years. I’m pretty sure we can offer you a better record now. (more…)

Pink Floyd – Meddle – Another Lifeless Mess from MoFi

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Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

Same problems as the MoFi Thick As a Brick: The MoFi is super-TRANSPARENT and OPEN, and the top end will be lush and extended. If you prize clarity, this is the one!

But if you prize clarity at the expense of everything else, you are seriously missing the boat on Meddle (and of course Thick As A Brick too). The MoFi is all mids and highs with almost nothing going on below. 

This is a rock record, but without bass and dynamics the MoFi pressing can’t rock, so what exactly is it good for?

Another Half-Speed Mastered Pressing Debunked.

Santana – Abraxas – MoFi Disgraces Itself Further

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Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi Half-Speed Mastered Audiophile LP debunked

The remastered Abraxas never got past the first elimination round; it had to have been one of the worst half-speeds I have ever heard. Dead dead dead as a doornail.

Santana’s first album on MoFi is a record we admit to having liked a bit when it first came out. Since then we have changed our minds. 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.

I noted in my old blog: “But now I would have to say that the MoFi LP is far too lifeless to be acceptable to anyone, even those with the worst kinds of audiophile BS systems.”

We also mentioned a while back (4/29/08) on our blog how bad the latest crop of MoFi vinyl was, with the heading: “Mobile Fidelity, Ouch.

On another note, we played some godawful sounding MOFI pressings over the last few weeks: Linda Ronstadt (which appears to be out of phase, more on that down the road); Metallica (with blobby bass at 45 RPM no less; only half-speed mastering can guarantee muddy bass under any and all circumstances!); and Rush (nothing even resembling a top end. How do these things happen?).

These three albums have to be some of the worst sounding vinyl I have ever heard in my life. I won’t waste any more of your time or mine talking about them. Buy them if you feel the need, and if you like what you hear, drop us a line. Maybe the copy we cracked open was a “bad” one, unrepresentative of the general pressing run in the same way that the latest Crisis half-speed was.

Well, maybe so, but we are going to have to leave that conundrum unsolved for the time being. To crack open more copies to see if they are all as bad as the first one we played is not something we are particularly inclined to do. We call that throwing good money after bad around here at Better Records.

This is a label making some seriously bad records these days. (more…)

The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers – A MoFi Disaster to Beat Them All

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

The MoFi pressing of this album is a joke. It’s so compressed, lifeless, and lacking in bottom end that it would hardly interfere with even the most polite conversation at a wine tasting. I consider it one of the worst sounding versions ot the album ever made. It’s an Audiophile Record in the worst sense of the word.

A well-known reviewer actually — I kid you not — was still defending the sound of the MoFi as late as 2010. In one of his reviews earlier in 2008 he used it to test a piece of equipment he was evaluating(!). What could be more preposterous? Like I say, I kid you not.

In 2010 he wrote this:

Mo-Fi’s half-speed mastered edition (MFSL 1-060) was controversial when issued in 1980, with its jacked up lower bass, icy top end, sucked out midrange and low overall level. I’ll tell you though, as my system has improved, the more I’ve come to appreciate it. It offers outstanding focus and clarity and its portrayal of inner detail and transient snap is unsurpassed. Admittedly the sound is not for everybody.

It’s not for me, that’s for damn sure.

 

Bola Sete – Tour De Force – Analogue Productions Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: F

Hall of Shame Pressing and another Analogue Productions LP debunked.

Acoustic Sounds had Stan Ricker remaster this record a number of years ago, and of course they (he) ruined it. A twinkly top end and flabby bass were just two of the major shortcomings of their version. Nothing surprising there, as Stan Ricker is famous for his “smile” curve, boosting both ends of the audio spectrum whether they need boosting or not.

When you add too much top end to a guitar record and ruin the sound of the guitar, what exactly are you left with?

Please note that not a single title from the Analog Revival series is any good, to the best of my knowledge, and all should be avoided. The same is true for all the 180 gram jazz titles on Analogue Productions mastered by Doug Sax, as you may have read elsewhere on the site. Those records received rave reviews in the audiophile press when they came out, but you won’t find too many audiophile reviewers sticking up for them now, as they are, without exception, murky, compressed disasters of the worst kind. I guess these reviewers eventually acquired equipment accurate enough to notice how bad those pressings are, which I guess goes to show there is hope for practically anyone!

This pressing, which I believe is mastered by George Horn, is tonally correct from top to bottom. As the old saying goes, it wasn’t broke so don’t try to fix it. Afficionados of the guitar or Latin music will find this record very satisfying in all respects. A top recommendation from Better Records.