That’s an easy one. We’ve played them by the hundreds over the years, and we’ve found that as our ability to reproduce the sound of these records improved (better equipment, table setup, tweaks, room treatments, electricity and the like), the gap between the better non-half-speed mastered pressings and the half-speeds got bigger and bigger, leaving the half-speeds further and further behind, in the dust you might say, again and again, with so few exceptions that they could easily be counted on the fingers of one hand.
The most serious fault of the typical Half-Speed Mastered LP is not incorrect tonality or poor bass definition, although you will have a hard time finding one that doesn’t suffer from both. It’s Dead As A Doornail sound, plain and simple. We’ve been playing half-speed mastered records since I bought my first Mobile Fidelity in 1978 or 1979. That’s forty years of experience with the sonic characteristics of this mastering approach, an approach we have found to have consistent shortcomings. These shortcomings have somehow eluded the devotees of these records, how we cannot imagine. They did not elude us, and we have taken the time to lay out their faults, chapter and verse, in the commentaries you see below.
The current record holder for Most Compressed Mobile Fidelity Record of All Time?
This shockingly bad sounding release, a record I admit to owning and liking back in the ’80s. I had a lot of very expensive equipment back then, but it sure wasn’t helping me recognize how bad some of my records were.
How many audiophiles are where I used to be? Based on what I read on audiophile forums, and the kinds of audiophile pressings I see discussed on youtube videos, it seems that most of them are.
One of our customers wrote to us years ago with news that the Hot Stamper pressing of Night and Day we sent him killed his MoFi:
The hot stamper was far more dynamic, warm, punchy, and detailed than the MoFi. The piano had a lot more weight and stood apart in the mix. In fact, I could hear all the instruments stand out in the mix a lot more with the HS version. I was surprised at how the music came alive with the HS pressing instead of the blah MFSL.
A blah Mobile Fidelity record? Say it isn’t so!
If this mastering technology is superior, as its followers believe it is, why don’t half-speed mastered records sound better than real-time mastered records, like the ones we sell?
The MoFi pressing of The Doors’ first album is yet another obvious example of MoFi’s predilection for a sucked-out midrange.
The midrange suckout effect is easily reproducible in your very own listening room. Pull your speakers farther out into the room, and also farther apart, and you can get that MoFi sound on every record you play. I’ve been hearing it in the various audiophile systems I’ve been exposed to for decades.
Speaker placement is crucial to good sound. And speaker misplacement is as deadly as it is common.