Labels With Shortcomings – Mobile Fidelity (Newer)

Frank Sinatra / Sinatra At The Sands – The Ideal Audiophile Pressing

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More Count Basie

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If you’re the kind of audiophile who doesn’t want to do the work required to find a top quality vintage pressing on his own, or buy one from us, this is actually a very good sounding record and a good way for you to go.

It’s ideal for most audiophiles.

Ask yourself three questions:

Do you want the expense and hassle of finding a nice original stereo copy?

Do you want to invest in proper record cleaning equipment to restore the glorious sound of the original’s 50-plus year old vinyl?

Do you want to spend the time (decades) and money (tens of thousands of dollars) to build and tweak a top quality analog playback system?

If you don’t want to do these things, you are not alone.

In fact, you are clearly in the majority, part of that enormously tall, fat bulge right in the middle of the bell curve. As the quintessential audiophile record lover, a big part of the mass of the mass-market, Mobile Fidelity has made the perfect record for you.

It’s quiet, it’s tonally correct, and on the audiophile equipment you will most probably use to play it back with, it does not seem to be especially veiled, opaque or compressed.

It is indeed all of these things, and many more, but you will have no reason to suspect that anything is wrong with it.

More precisely, you will have no way to know that anything is wrong with it.

We know exactly what’s wrong with it, but that’s because we are very serious about records and audio, as serious as they come. Who digs deeper than we do?

Now that you have failed to note its many shortcomings, the only thing remaining is for you to go to an audiophile forum and write your review, telling everyone how much better it is than whatever crappy pressing you owned and will be trading in soon. (This assumes you owned anything at all. I would be surprised if the average audiophile has a vintage copy of the album to compare with the new one, but no doubt some do.)

If you want to hold the pressings you play to a higher sonic standard, we are here to help.

If setting a low bar is more your style, Mobile Fidelity has been making records for you for more than fifty years. As long as you keep buying them, they’ll keep making them. They’ve been setting a very low bar for as long as I can remember, and the fact that they are still around is positive proof that their customers like it just fine that way. (more…)

Bad Santana LPs from Mobile Fidelity – We Admit We Was Wrong

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More Debut Albums of Interest

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This is one of the MoFi LPs we’ve reviewed on the site. And for us audiophile record lovers – not lovers of audiophile records, but guys who love records with audiophile sound – it’s simply another nail in the coffin for one of the most laughably inept remastering labels in the history of that unrelievedly sad enterprise.

We also have a Hall of Shame for bad sounding audiophile 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.

I noted in my [now discontinued] web site 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.”

And I noted that the Abraxas they remastered 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. (more…)

Alison Krauss & Union Station ‎/ So Long So Wrong – Wrong in the Vocal Department

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We audiophiles have a soft spot for female vocals. It’s a sound that a high end stereo — practically any high end stereo — reproduces very well.

But why do some audiophiles listen to poorly recorded junk like Patricia Barber and Diana Krall? Their recordings are DRENCHED in digital reverb. Who is his right mind wants to hear the sound of digital reverb?

Rickie Lee Jones may not be my favorite female vocal of all time, but at least you can make the case for it as a Well Recorded Vocal Album. It’s worlds better than anything either of the above-mentioned artists have ever done.

The MoFi pressing of Alison Krauss (5276) is a disaster in the vocal department too.

Audiophiles for some reason never seem to notice how bad she sounds on that record. Can’t make sense of it. Any of the good Sergio Mendes records will show you female vocals that practically have no equal. Our best Hot Stampers bring the exquisite vocal harmonies of Lani Hall (aka Mrs. Herb Alpert) and Janis Hansen right into your living room. Why bother with trash like this Mobile Fidelity?

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This is the record you bothered to take a photo of and post next to your front end? Something is wrong somewhere.

Letter of the Week – Kind of Blue – “All I can say is wow.”

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Hot Stampers of Miles’s Albums Available Now

One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom,   

Holy F*CK. Just arrived. Absolutely fantastic! All I can say is wow.

I replied:

Can you believe people take that mediocre MoFi seriously? It’s a joke next to the real thing, as you now know first hand.

And how much better is the +++ version (when they appear)?

Brian E.

Brian,

We just sold a top copy last month, pricey (!) but hearing the record go to another level is a thrill that’s hard to put a price on.

Best, TP

Letter of the Week – Kind of Blue on MoFi – “Closed, muffled and flat as a pancake.”

More on Kind of Blue

Hot Stampers of Miles’s Albums Available Now

Our good customer Bennett bought very expensive, top quality pressings of two killer Miles Davis albums from us recently. His letter reads:

Hi Tom,

Last night I listened to my 2015 Mobile Fidelity 45 RPM pressing. I couldn’t get through the first cut. Closed, muffled and flat as a pancake. No life or energy whatsoever.

Agreed. My notes for their pressing read:

Thick, dark, flat. Lacks air, space, presence.

Not a bad sound but it’s not right. (A real understatement, that.)

More on Someday My Prince Will Come

Letter of the Week – Boston

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One of our good customers had this to say about some Hot Stampers he purchased recently:

Hey Tom, 

Just wanted to say thanks for finding a record like this. I looked in my collection and thought, wow I have an anadisc (Serial #5), let’s see how they compare?

The MOFI is so bad! It sounds like there are three layers of Saran wrap on it… slow, murky and all the other things that your commentary says… the food analogy would be crappy soggy french fries… bloated… lifeless…

There is no comparison to the sound on side two…. the organ is rolling and alive and sounds like the Hammonds I have heard through Leslie cabinets… on the MOFI it was like the organ was behind glass doors… flat… no life…. I could go on and on.

The other songs were so much better on the Hot Stamper… makes me want to go frisbee my MOFI or maybe just sell it on ebay.

Ed F.

Frank Sinatra and Count Basie / Sinatra At The Sands – Mobile Fidelity Reviewed

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Sonic Grade: B

Another MoFi LP reviewed.

It’s pretty good. Compressed and veiled, but the tonality is correct. I give it a B. It will beat the vast majority of reissues, which tend to be thin, gritty, and woefully lacking in Tubey Magic. And the vinyl will be quiet, which is something not many of the best pressings can offer. 

But who wants to listen to a B grade record when we you can buy A and A+ pressings from us? (more…)

Santana – Santana – MoFi Debunked

More Santana

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Sonic Grade: D

Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

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. (more…)

John Lennon Imagine on MoFi (Reviewed in the ’90s)

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More Imagine

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Sonic Grade: B

One of the better MoFi pressings from the 2000’s

We haven’t played a copy of this record in years, but back in the day we liked it, so let’s call it a “B” with the caveat that the older the review, the more likely we are to have changed our minds. At the time we said:

I played this when it came out, and I have to hand it to the new MOFI, they did a great job with this one. It sounds better than I’ve ever heard it, and KILLS the old MoFi vinyl, which is the version we did the shootout with.

It was a short comparison, as in, no comparison. The earlier half speed (a different master tape, but still…) has that classic midrange suckout, so that Lennon and his piano on the first track sound like they are coming from another room. And people to this day still defend the sound of records on that label?! Oy vey. (more…)

Little Feat / Dixie Chicken – How Does the MoFi Sound?

Little Feat Albums with Hot Stampers

Little Feat Albums We’ve Reviewed

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How does the MoFi pressing sound?

We have no idea; we’ve never bothered to order one, for at least one very good reason. This is an album about rhythm. Half-Speed mastered records have sloppy bass and, consequently, lack rhythmic drive. Who is his right mind would want to half-speed master an album by Little Feat, one of the most rhythmically accomplished bands in rock and roll history?

The obvious answer is that it was a bad idea. But, if you’re Mobile Fidelity, and that’s the only idea you’ve ever had because you are in the half-speed mastering business, then what else can you do? As the old saying goes, to a hammer everything looks like a nail. (more…)