Publisher Profile

The MoFi Predicament

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8/9/22 – Publisher’s note: See Comments for updates provided by the author. On a separate note, we thank you, our readers, for your enthusiastic comments. Due to the diverse responses received, we ask that your comments be on point and not diverge from the thrust of the commentary. Thank you.

The fallout from the MoFi/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab/Music Direct debacle is far-reaching. It affects not only audiophiles and vinyl enthusiasts, but the entire HiFi industry if not directly, then by association.

Let’s be clear: if indeed MoFi is now transparent after coaxing to publish the provenance and digital step(s) in its releases, they could/should have done so beginning in 2015 when their much-vaunted GAIN™ System was introduced. Having pored over the now transparent (sic) online MoFi catalogue it would appear that in their lexicon GAIN = DIGITAL. I was disheartened to learn that my recent acquisition of MoFi’s Miles Davis Kind of Blue 2-LP 45RPM set contained a digital step making use of a DSD 64 transfer. I would have been content purchasing the set, even with the digital step, had MoFi been upfront about it.

I waited to write this commentary because rather than dogpile on the issue and work from assumptions and conjecture, I wanted to give those in the middle of this controversy at MoFi/MFSL/Music Direct the benefit of the doubt. I did write to their newly placed Director of Marketing and Communications with a set of interview questions and, when I did not hear back for almost a week, I wrote to Jim Davis, the President of MoFi/MFSL/Music Direct to get some answers. His response to me was to read his public statement and for me to know that, moving forward, MFSL will be transparent in providing the provenance and source information for all of its releases.

What we now know is this:

  • Not all MoFi releases are 100% analog
  • MoFi is indeed going to document their releases retroactively and moving forward
  • The GAIN™ System of 2015 and onward does indeed incorporate digital steps in processing
  • My Miles Davis Kind of Blue 2-LP 45 RPM contains a DSD 64 digital step.

The TRUST model between MoFi/MFSL/Music Direct has been broken. Now that they are admitting the misstep, the question is why would they hide this from the audiophile community and the public for so long? Why does it take public humiliation to bring about this newfound transparency? It is not only MoFi/MFSL that need to be transparent but Music Direct and all of its employees and representatives who engage with audiophiles and the general public. As a reviewer and correspondent for Dagogo I have attended numerous HiFi shows all over since 2017, well after 2015 and the launch of  MoFi GAIN™ System. At these shows, I sat through presentations and seminars touting and lauding the latest and greatest MoFi re-issues and not once did any Mofi/MFSL/Music Direct personalities, self-proclaimed analog aficionados, or dealers (online and/or brick and mortar) mention anything about digital steps in the process.

Whatever we, as audiophiles and vinyl enthusiasts, may have wanted to believe about the re-issues being 100% analog, the onus was/is on MoFi/MFSL/Music Direct and its representatives/agents to come clean and not, by omission, allow their customers to believe otherwise. But they did not. There is no getting around this fact. It makes me wonder what else did they know and not share internally with their staff. Were their representatives at HiFi shows knowingly or unknowingly spreading the MoFi gospel?

In the past few weeks, there have been folks online pondering lawsuits against Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab for fraud and misrepresentation, not to mention class-action filings. And there were those who have decided that they would not only stop buying MoFi re-issues but boycott parent company Music Direct as well.

Discogs and eBay serve many purposes for many people. For this commentary, I set up alerts for various MoFi re-issues to track their prices on the secondary market in the wake of this debacle. I can tell you from this limited research that prices are indeed dropping, not precipitously yet, but meaningfully. I managed to track down consistent sellers of sealed MoFi re-issues (these are probably speculators), and they are looking to steadily diminish their stocks/inventory.

Am I going to sell my sealed Miles Davis Kind of Blue 2-LP 45 RPM?  No. I did think long and hard about it, but I am going to crack it open this coming weekend. I have come to terms with this purchase over these past few weeks, and it’s not something I ever thought I would have to do with a MoFi release.

Now, where does this leave other purveyors of audiophile re-issues/releases? Analogue Productions, for example, saw fit to create a YouTube video to address this issue concerning their processes. How many others will do likewise? I wonder how they feel about all this and about being placed in such a position? And re: YouTube, who at MoFi/MFSL/Music Direct thought that the best media vehicle to initially respond to this debacle would be a YouTube video in response to the claims made by an independent YouTube channel whose claims (up to that point) were not rooted in fact until Jim Davis of MoFi/MFSL/Music Direct made his public statement and proclamation of transparency.

How many of you are going to purchase/acquire MoFi re-issues? Or re-issues and releases from any of the other myriad of companies/labels? And what are your feelings in all of this?

 

Copy editor: Dan Rubin

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48 Responses to The MoFi Predicament


  1. Richard Colburn says:

    I’m ambivalent about this. Honestly, if the record sounds good to you, what’s the big deal?
    If you’re OCD about provenance, then worry, shout, gnash your teeth, and scream away.

    • Ryan says:

      Sounding great remains unchallenged. They could have been honest about the digital step and let the market decide if they accept and purchase. Knowing people are passionate analog purists and knowingly misleading them to believe it’s a sole analog chain, and milking said chain for every penny is fraud.

    • It is not entirely about the quality of the recordings and their provenance, but more to do with the broken trust between the audiophile, the vinyl enthusiast, the consumer and MoFi, MSFL and Music Direct. If they know it NOW, they knew it THEN!!! Obfuscation by omission. Letting people believe what they want to believe, for so long, might very well be worse than lying to them directly. This went on for eight calendar years. It’s not like way back in 2015, 20 years AFTER the introduction of the World Wide Web each and every re-issue couldn’t have had its provenance listed as it is now. One direct and honest data point accompanying each reissue’s web page. That’s all that was needed from 2015 onward, but one could only surmise what that might have done to sales figures. Some folks might have paused and thought twice about making purchases.

      It is not like the HiFi community is so large, it is rather tight-knit and time will tell of the knock-on effects. I alluded to what I’m seeing presently in the secondary market online. There are those who have cancelled their Michael Jackson Thriller pre-orders and have put the sealed MoFi boxes/sets up for sale on eBay and/or Discogs. This entire matter should serve as a cautionary tale. The buyer should be made aware and now hopefully, moving forward, the necessary information not just from MoFi/MFSL will be made available but from all the other purveyors of audiophile LPs as well.

    • Andy Thomas says:

      ‘The big deal,’ I’d suggest, is $125 for a OneStep, sold as analogue, but now discovered to be digitally sourced.

      There is no precedent in the market for a digitally sourced record at $125 because, frankly, there is no market for a record at that price point. MoFi knew that, hence the deception, and why this qualifies as fraud.

      For me, the issue isn’t provenance. The issue is deception designed to extract a premium not justified in the market.

  2. Marc Silver says:

    I am very surprised MFSL didn’t disclose this when it occurred. When I consulted with MFSL back in the 1990s something like this never would have happened. They were staunchly dedicated to the analog format from beginning to end. Brad Miller would be rolling over in his grave. I have no problem with MFSL using digital mastering but if they are they need to be transparent.

  3. Ron says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful analysis of the implications of Mobile Fidelity’s history of misleading statements and its new transparency!

  4. I, too, have MoFi 45rpm records from the last few years that I thought was from purely analog production process. This debacle just informed me that I wasn’t experiencing pure analog through those LPs per se. Whether the music is sounding good is beside the point; I suspect some readers wouldn’t have bought some of them, much less a second copy for safekeeping and backup like I did.

    That said, we are living in an age in which any documents, pictures, movies and music worth saving are digitized and even stored in the cloud. In fact, witness the remastering of legendary films, and even the practice of reshooting and touching up scenes in such movies as Star Wars and E.T. In this case, I just wish we weren’t all misled.

  5. Bob Dog says:

    My issue is that their business model is built around creating false scarcity to inflate prices. Paying $125 for a record is insane. If the borderline OCD collectors stopped buying MOFI they’d go out of business. I wish these revelations would make the OCD crowd snap out of it but I don’t think it will. The mentally ill love their mental illness.

  6. Danny says:

    This episode is sort of funny.
    Some of the vinyl fanatics never acknowledge that about 99% of modern vinyl releases are either sourced from a digital master, or have a digital step in the production. It’s not at all unique to Mofi.
    If there’s a digital source or digital step in the process, the “superiority of analog” you claim to be hearing isn’t there.
    You are hearing some kiind of so called “analog like” euphonic (to your ears) distortion introduced by the LP making process after the digital stage.
    If you like that sound great, buy the vinyl. But claiming it shows “analog” as superior to digital is simply a false claim.

  7. BB says:

    I agree, in the whole, with David Blumenstein’s comment. It is the omission of of truthful representation that is the most damaging deception. I have purchased many MFSL Lp’s , going back at 35-40 years, including many over the past 10 years. Some of the 1 Steps are fantastic, and others are significantly less so. I care about how they sound, not so much how they are mastered. Over time I have become less enchanted with most of the modern remasterings, but there are exceptions, and those production houses are quite dependable, but they are few. The piece of the MFSL story that pisses me off the most is the exorbitant price (in relation to the implied scarcity of availability) are the 1-Steps, now revealed as DSD mastered. The packaging is elegant, consumes a lot of space, but as we understand it now, do not need to be rarefied or overly-monetized. A cynical money making deception of the adoring public- How will this play back? What a pity!

  8. Kent says:

    At the end of the day, I am buying an experience; I either like the experience or I don’t. And while I understand the argument, for me personally the arbiter is ultimately and exclusively the music and how I react to it. A change of providence does not personally change my level of satisfaction with the product. Music I’ve treasured in the past will continue to be treasured and future releases shall stand on their own merit.

  9. John says:

    I understand the ethical stance some are taking. The “They lied. I dont deal with liars”. Fair enough. But let me counter: Will you be dumping your copy of Paul Simons Graceland knowing how he basically stole from Los Lobos? What about your 50’s records that Little Richard got cheated money on by those who stole from him? etc etc Point: The music business is full of liars, cheats and swindles. You going to dump your Dylan albums? He was complete asshat to many folks for years. And abusive to his wife? Where are your ethics there?

    It all gets a bit silly now doesnt it.

    Do the Mofi’s sound better in some cases than any other version? That imo is the bottom line. Do I like they lied? Nope. But I am about listening to records. And trying to find the best. The rest is just hypocritical hogwash built on some high horse ethical stance that no one is being across the board with. Get back to me when you toss your Zeppelin albums for their blantant ripping off of black blues artists.

  10. David C. Snyder says:

    I always enjoy David Blumenstein’s writing. Well done. On the topic, as many have pointed out, sound quality is not the issue here. I know many audiophiles who are also collectors. Provenance is one of several factors that contributes to an item’s collectability and to the value of a collection.

  11. Steve H says:

    This just the latest example of people fooling audiophiles. I’m sure there is another one on the horizon.

    The audio press is generally either asleep at the wheel or helping cover stuff up so it is not unreasonable to think they could get away it.

  12. Bluck Mutter says:

    The (OCD?) people who live for vinyl reissues need to face reality… the master tapes for the recordings they need multiple releases of (just in case the last one wasnt really the bees knees) are getting old and creaky/leaky.

    In many cases, raw digital transfers of the master tapes are all that will/can remain (esp after the 2008 Universal fire).

    So the decisons that you will have to make going forward are (1) buying a re-release that uses say a second/third generation saftey copy of the original master [yuk] or (2) a re-release using a hi res digital copy from the original master [more yuk]

    And even if the original master still exits, in many cases their use by date has long gone so basing a re-release on them cant improve on earlier re-releases.

    Orignal Master tapes have only so much blood to give so maybe its time to give up chasing the Holy Grail (cause you may find the providers of the Grail took an airplane and not a horse to get you there)

    Bluck

    PS Amusingly, I notice that yet another Kind of Blue re-release is now available!!!!

    • Al Moritz says:

      It is also funny how die-hard vinyl audiophiles are enthusiastic about the current “vinyl revival”. Most of current vinyl is digitally sourced, even starting with the recording itself, and youngsters listen on turntables with, wait, USB output. Sure, it is a vinyl revival alright, but how is that an “analog revival” in the old-fashioned way, something to get all excited about?

      Don’t get me wrong, while I am a digital-only guy (old-fashioned CD playback, beats most streaming) I love the true analog experience in friends’ systems. And yes, I am genuinely excited about the recent Blue Note Tone Poet series for example (apparently all-analog). But to equate the current “vinyl revival” with a revival of analog? Please, don’t make me laugh.

  13. Someone had questioned the point I was making about “dogpiling” and they took my quote out of context. Too many had jumped on the bandwagon PRIOR to Jim Davis’ public statement and promise of transparency. I wanted to see what form this transparency would take and to what extent it would be executed before publishing anything on the subject. And I also wanted to gauge the fullness of the “mea culpa”.

    * Refer to paragraph #3 in the piece above.

  14. tony says:

    I applaud your candor and the fact that you are not discounting the MoFi customers who are experiencing a variety of emotions, most of them negative, about the digital step revelation in some very expensive, premium priced vinyl releases.
    So many of the audiophile and vinyl pundits have taken an apologetic stance that belittles the disillusioned consumer’s view point.
    It is disappointing that they so easily dismiss the outcry and minimize any wrongdoing.
    And yes, I too have heard the MoFi one-step demos at the AXPONA audio show. One could easily imagine the responses if the word digital were mentioned as part of the process.

  15. Grainger Morrison says:

    I have been collecting MOFI since the ’70s. I’m 72. I have a number of MOFI releases. My One Step Abraxas sounds better than my MOFI 33.33 release of the same album. So I’ll keep it.

    But my future purchases will be more well considered.

  16. jeromelang says:

    All of the MFSL SACDs that I have tried (roughly 26, out of around 50 purchased) have sounded worst off against the same recordings on SACDs from other reissue labels (Analogue Productions) and from the original labels. Many others have also articulated the same experience. So, there might even be an issue with the so-called dsd “masters” or the transfer processes that Mofi is using to reissue their SACDs.

  17. Al Moritz says:

    Washington Post: How a Phoenix record store owner set the audiophile world on fire

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/music/2022/08/05/mofi-records-analog-digital-scandal/

    • Al, what that summary report doesn’t mention is how a Phoenix record store owner managed to determine that there were indeed digital steps being taken by MoFi. The reporter did a fine job with the timeline, providing context along the way. What is interesting mind you in the days afterwards a number of folks were coming to the defence of MoFi, even going as far as to challenge the claims being made. MoFi’s YouTube response video where its engineers dithered with their responses, talking over each other added some fuel to the fire, but it took the statement and promise of Music Direct/MoFis President to factually admit the Digital steps being taken.

      I communicated with the reporter today and not-so oddly, he had read my piece. Am just saying that the article in the Washington Post does NOT end things.

      https://archive.ph/z83rO

      • Michael Fremer’s latest Tracking Angle video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz9Zi3uAteA&t=445s seeks to rebut some of what was reported in the Washington Post article. Most notably ‘in the absence of a source coming forward, Michael of In Groove and Michael of 45 RPM made their claims based on rumour’, and Fremer further adds that he knew of the rumour” but could not prove it.” Odd then, that Mobile Fidelity would react as it did, in so quickly granting Michael Esposito an interview. Would they not have first asked him for proof of his claims?

  18. Peter Veth says:

    I would be interested to buy these DSD files , is MoFi offering this?

  19. Darryl Lindberg says:

    I think at least some portion–maybe most–of the reaction to the MoFi kerfluffle is prompted by the fact that MoFi clearly deliberately deceived and/or obfuscated the provenance of their pricey LP releases. Let’s face it, the audiophile community is a relatively small, relatively close-knit, and importantly, trusting group. Our relationship with manufacturers and dealers is closer than, say, that with a kitchen appliance purveyor. And we feel personally let down. It’s not the sound of their releases as much as MoFi’s breach of trust; at least, in my opionion.

    That brings me to Michael Fremer and audio journalists. According to Fremer, there had been rumors of MoFi’s use of a digital step (or steps) for quite a while. Where were the audio journalists following up on this potential story? Answer: blindly accepting MoFi’s blatant–and let’s be frank–lies. Fremer excoriated MoFi for not including a journalist for Esposito’s visit. And yet, it took a non-journalist to reveal the facts of this case. That’s why, as disappointed as I am with MoFi’s behavior, I’m at least as disappointed with the conduct of our audio journalists.

  20. Peter says:

    The question is how do I compare record sources prior to purchase if one seller lies.

    • The bigger question is how do you listen for digital? Without Jim Davis’ pronouncement, nobody would have known for sure as actual fact. And with the record sources at hand, assuming they were indeed different, what would you listen for? The data points.

  21. And now, it begins. The first report of what may be many more to follow. A lawsuit was filed in Washington. Both the discovery phase and witness list should prove rather interesting/intriguing if this case gets that far. No doubt there will be others.

    https://www.pacermonitor.com/public/case/45474018/Tuttle_et_al_v_Audiophile_Music_Direct,_Inc

  22. MoFi: Stepping Digitally since 2011 and for good since 2020.

    In a published interview dated August 9, 2022, Jim Davis responded to the following questions:

    Q: Exactly when (what year and titles) did MFSL start mastering from DSD files?

    A: The first MFSL title mastered from a DSD file was Tony Bennett I Left My Heart in San Francisco, which was released in 2011. Over time, we mastered progressively more titles using the DSD archival capture step. Sourcing-information for all Mofi vinyl titles is being added to the Mofi website daily, and a complete discography will be posted on the site.

    Q: Are any Mofi LPs still mastered from tape, or are they all mastered from DSD files?

    A: The last title we captured and cut from the mastertape without a DSD step was David Crosby If I Could Only Remember My Name. It was released in 2022 but was captured in early 2020. All other releases since early 2020 use a DSD step in the mastering unless the original recording is a digital source. Going forward all releases sourced from analog masters will utilize a DSD step.

    The full interview can be found here: https://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/mofi-president-jim-davis-on-the-companys-mastering-process

  23. Having read the legal complaint for the lawsuit filed in Washington State, as a CLASS ACTION the CAUSES OF ACTION are as follows:

    1 Breach of the Washington Consumer Protection Act – Washington Class
    2 Breach of Contract – National Class
    3 Unjust Enrichment – National Class
    4 Breach of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act – National Class

    Note: The lawsuit was filed in Washington State. It met the criteria for diversity inasmuch one of the plaintiffs resides in the State of Washington and the other in Oregon. The $ value of the case equals or exceeds $75,000.

    The named Defendant in this suit is Audiophile Music Direct, Inc. who are located in the State of Illinois, hence the 4th count alleges a breach of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act.

  24. Manolo Konosko says:

    MOFI LIED AND ROBBED their customers, from the casual to the truly devoted that buys every release they put out. Their breach of trust cannot go unpunished. Only after a torrent of angry videos and bad PR did they put out a half assed statement which is as hollow as the promises of a politician. MoFi better offer a full refund to all customers who bought their albums with digital sources. If I wanted to hear a digital source, I’ll buy a CD, not a $60 record.

  25. UPDATE: I AM NOT A LAWYER

    Numerous readers and folks following this MoFi Predicament have asked me how the court case is proceeding. As mentioned in an earlier comment/update of mine this is a CLASS ACTION lawsuit and for this suit to proceed it must be CERTIFIED. The court must certify the Class Action for this action to move through the courts and the judicial system.

    I am linking here to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 23. Class Actions and a Primer to Class Action Certification in the hope that it will shed light on the present situation and possibly explain why it may indeed take longer than a layman, like myself, would think:

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/rule_23
    https://www.classactiondeclassified.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/26/2017/08/a_primer_class_certification_under_federal_rule.pdf

    This should keep everyone busy until the court renders its decision.

  26. IMPEX Joins in on the “transparency” bandwagon.

    Saturday Night in San Francisco
    Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin & Paco De Lucia

    Check out the updated FEATURES list for the album between the two sites. The earlier one is courtesy of the Internet’s very own “Way Back Machine.”

    Before: https://web.archive.org/web/20220521125126/https://www.impexrecords.com/saturday-night-in-san-francisco-180g-lp/
    and
    After: https://www.impexrecords.com/saturday-night-in-san-francisco-180g-lp/

  27. Of History and Timelines

    DSD (Direct Stream Digital) was developed in the mid-1990s ostensibly as a method to archive old/historic analogue recordings. In the late 1990s (1998/1999) independent labels started recording in DSD with it steadily gaining popularity by new and old ones specializing in higher resolution digital audio.

    So much for history, now let us review the MoFi (Mobile Fidelity) digital transfer (step) timeline.

    1. According to the initial YouTube video of July 14, 2022, it was alleged that MoFi reissues from 2015 onwards involved a digital transfer (step) in the process. At first, it was thought to be just their One-Steps, but it was soon learned to be more pervasive across other series and titles.
    2. According to Jim Davis, President of Music Direct, in a published interview with TAS on August 9, 2022, the use of DSD and digital transfers (steps) went as far back as 2011.

    For those keeping track in 2022, at first, it was a span of 7 years, then we learned this was extended to 11 years of digital transfers (steps) by MoFi

    3. According to MoFi’s own website: http://www.mofi.com, in their back catalogue exists a reissue of Natalie Merchant’s Tigerlily that employed a DSD 64 transfer released in 2007.

    from MoFi’s website on the digital transfer:
    https://mofi.com/products/mfsl2-45-008_natalie_merchant_tigerlily_180g_45rpm_2lp

    from Discogs’ website on the year of release:
    https://www.discogs.com/release/1704887-Natalie-Merchant-Tigerlily

    from Amazon’s website on the actual release date:
    https://www.amazon.com/Tigerlily-Mobile-Fidelity-Koch-2007-10-09/dp/B019GL6Z5M

    Seriously. How far back can this practice of digital transfers (steps) be traced? It would appear that audiophiles and the public have been shortchanged with the truth. We are now talking about a span of 15 years from 2007 to 2022.

    To put this in historical perspective, Brad Miller founded Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs in 1977, making it 45 years old this year. To date that translates to digital steps being taken in its vinyl reissue process for 1/3 of its very existence.

  28. Sandro Ioia says:

    Ignorance is bliss they say. After learning of the news of Mofi’s use of DSD, it hardly mattered to me sound wise as many Lp re-issues are sourced from digital files. However I have bought LP’s that were recorded from the original master analogue tapes and those that were mastered to digital. The fact remains that I was given the choice to decide to buy an LP with the knowledge that it was an original analogue or digital source. Mofi has deceived there niche market and the audiophile community.

  29. 15 YEARS in the Making

    A spreadsheet has been making the rounds which purports to detail MoFi (Mobile Fidelity) mastering and source (provenance) data for a respectable number of their reissues. The original data was made available to me in Google Sheets format and I took the liberty of exporting it to Microsoft Excel format. The link is in the following:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1fgsCEfBRE5kNdgXc3oPMTXZu-ghjcYi-/edit?usp=sharing&ouid=115907907546032607433&rtpof=true&sd=true

  30. LAWSUIT #2 being filed in the Illinois Northern District Court

    Vinyl record seller Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab was hit with a consumer class action Thursday in Illinois Northern District Court. The case, brought by Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz and Bursor & Fisher, contends that Mobile albums on vinyl which are marketed as ‘purely analog,’ or made from original master recordings, have actually been produced from digital files since 2011. Counsel have not yet appeared for the defendant.”

    Case Number: 1:22-cv-04405
    Court: Illinois Northern
    Nature of Suit: 190(Contract: Other)
    Cause: 28:1332 Diversity-Breach of Contract
    Multi Party Litigation: Class Action
    Judge: Honorable Manish S. Shah

    Defendant: Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, Inc.

    Plaintiff: Adam Stiles
    Represented By:
    Carl V. Malmstrom
    Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLC

  31. Mobile Fidelity Lawsuit #2: -> STILES v MOBILE FIDELITY SOUND LAB, INC.

    The complaint in this second class action lawsuit is different inasmuch as the plaintiff resides in North Carolina and the laws being cited as having been breached are:

    • Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
    • North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act

    The latter best known as the NC UDTPA can be interpreted very broadly proving both Judge and if it comes to it, Jury with rather a wide latitude.

    Moreover, the complaint filed in this lawsuit is far more detailed and informational than the initial class-action lawsuit filed in Washington State’s 9th District. It is rather thorough providing the court and readers of the complaint with graphics: photographs, charts and tables.

    I am linking to the complaint below:

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-zV8YxTGtieqkwpKBJQxxe0e4z2ZoBbL/view?usp=sharing

  32. Clapton’s UNPLUGGED… UN-ANALOGUE????

    The Magic Vinyl vs Digital website made an exhaustive comparison of  the Eric Clapton ‎– Unplugged (Vinyl, CD, DVD stereo, DD 5.1, Streaming, MOFI One Step and SACD)

    The link can be found here: https://magicvinyldigital.net/2021/05/17/eric-clapton-unplugged-vinyl-cd-dvd-stereo-dd-5-1-streaming-review/

    From their section entitled Ed9: Vinyl MOFI One Step ref UD15 2-020 -2022

    “Presentation:  MOFI UltraDisc One-Step Edition, Original Master Recording with 2 LPs in 45 rpm, presented in a very nice box. For this vinyl, there is no ambiguity about the origin of the master which is indeed digital (as shown by the response curves).”

    And taken from their Spectrum section for the same MoFi One Step:

    “The mastering between the MOFI vinyl version and the MoFi SACD version is a bit different. There is a bump of more than 5 dB between 15 kHz and 20 bHz for the vinyl compared to the SACD (yellow area). There is also a small difference in the bass (green zone).

    For both versions, we find the 22 kHz limit of the original digital master (with a 44.1 kHz sample rate).”

    And then from MoFi’s own website where on July 28th of this year we were informed that source/provenance information would be backfilled. To be fair the folks at MoFi may have not gotten to it yet, but here’s what it reports for the Eric Clapton Unplugged One Step:

    https://mofi.com/products/eric-clapton-unplugged-ultradisc-one-step

    “MASTERED FROM THE ORIGINAL MASTER TAPES AND LIMITED TO 10,000 NUMBERED COPIES”

    No mention of digital. And if The Magic Vinyl vs Digital website indeed got this right, then this One Step took a step down from DSD to the land of Red Book CD, 44.1 kHz for its source.

    What does this portend? Will all of MoFi’s assertions of provenance require proofing and validation from a 3rd party?

  33. For those of you keeping score, we are now up to 3 class action lawsuits having been filed. One in Washington and the others in Illinois.

    As we await certification of the existing lawsuits:

    Given all that has transpired in the past two months. The statements and actions taken by Music Direct/Mobile Fidelity should give one reason to ask themself: Why should their attempt at transparency be taken as the gospel? It is all too simple to call it a day by adding a line of text on the webpage for each reissue without evidentiary support to bolster such claims.

    In the midst of mounting lawsuits being filed with Music Direct/Mobile Fidelity in one guise or another as the defendants, there will no doubt be discovery phases and a series of depositions to get to the bottom of all this. In the interim, this might be a good time for record collectors, audiophiles and Hi-Fi brands to pause and reflect upon their respective relationships with Music Direct and Mobile Fidelity.*

    * Note: Music Direct acquired Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs in 1999. They have gone on to make use of the “MoFi ” brand not just for the reissues, but their own branded electronics AND Music Direct’s “MoFi Distribution” arm serving all of the Hi-Fi brands on their online e-tail/e-commerce platform.

  34. GAIN2: 20th Century Technology.

    This Tom Petty Full Moon Fever reissue was released in October of 1998. The piece in the Sensible Sound was published on January 1, 1999.

    I have excerpted the first paragraph at the bottom. I have included a link to The Free Library’s archive of the original article.

    Please read the fourth reason closely, and understand that from this report GAIN 2 debuted as far back as 1998 in DSD’s infancy. Thus, this was something Mobile Fidelity (MoFi) had developed 24 years ago making it 20th-century technology.

    Granted Full Moon Fever was released as a CD and not on vinyl at that time, however, this does make it clear that GAIN 2 was not something new/recent to Mobile Fidelity and they were comfortable enough with the technology to employ it for this reissue, ostensibly their first so doing.

    As I had mentioned in an earlier update from a MoFI Source spreadsheet being circulated, Natalie Merchant’s Tigerlily was listed as the earliest recording taking a digital step in 2007. Who’s to say that spreadsheet is indeed accurate? And if MoFi was inclined to employ GAIN 2 Technology and DSD in 1998, why not make use of it for vinyl sooner? Technical limitations perhaps?

    Sensible Sound
Author Thomas Puccio

    The link to the article from The Free Library can be found here:

    https://bit.ly/3Lfx5nR

    Tom Petty: Full Full Moon Fever. Mobile Fidelity Ultradisc II/GAIN 2 UDCD 735

    “Full Moon Fever is special for several reasons. First, it marked Tom Petty’s solo debut. Second, it contains some good rock. Third, it did very well commercially. And fourth, it is Mobile Fidelity’s initial release using their new GAIN 2 technique, a proprietary process that combines major modifications to their Studer A-80 tape playback machine, a new custom-built A/D converter, and Sony’s Direct Stream Digital (DSD) recording system and down conversion box. Mo-Fi guarantees its new gold discs will “knock your socks off when compared to other versions,” presumably meaning when compared to equivalent silver discs.”

  35. Toby Tingskog says:

    I have long been a fan of SACD and DSD. A SACD is “always” better than a CD and often better than vinyl.
    Cutting vinyl from digital is probably normal for all newer recordings. New as in 1980ies when studios shifted to digital from tape as recording media. Thriller may be one of the last on tape. Deutsche Grammophon proudly labeled records Digital Aufnahme. They sound terrible and are best avoided.
    MoFi could have proudly announced the digital step as well – but didn’t.
    MoFi obviously had a good trick in moving equipment to where the tapes are and making a digital recording. I was wondering why MoFi suddenly had One Step of 6 Eagles and 6 Van Halen albums. But once you set up the ADC why not run every master tape that’s available at the location? Cheap and efficient. Just hope nobody else finds out and maximize your profit by using the hyped One Step process (where every record is a test pressing…).
    My big beef is once you enter the digital domain – why go back to Analog? If you have invested in a great analog system it is nice to be able to play 256 DSD files. But the cost of a turntable+tonearm+cartridge+phono preamplifier is easily $20,000. That will buy a Chord Dave. Great DACs can be had for <$10k.
    MoFi could have released the DSD files right away. I suspect they were/are planning to do so after they skimmed the cream off the market with the One Step releases. Good business model. Same as the Record Industry has had for decades – sell the same thing many times: vinyl to cassette to CD to download MP3 to high res download and back to vinyl.
    Maybe the digitization creates a new version = New Copyright = more money in the bank. Bruce Springsteen pulled that trick when he reissued his albums with wow and flutter reduction and a new 2014 copyright (my BtoR sounds awful) .
    I have only listened to one One Step – Clapton Unplugged. Sounds great but not that different from my 180 gram Reprise album. It certainly doesn't reach the level of a true Master Tape re-issue like Verve's Getz/Gilberto (Girl from Ipanema). A real reel to cutter Unplugged may have been sublime.
    Now Music Direct/MoFi will have their own Dieselgate experience. The cost savings and profits of "smart" business decisions will be dwarfed by the legal costs.
    DSDgate?????

  36. Toby Tingskog says:

    Correction:
    The EC Unplugged was evidently a digital recording per DB’s post and links as I suspected. Why should a studio in 1992 bother with recording on tape for a TV show?
    It would be interesting to know what format Bray Studios used back then. 24/192 perhaps?
    In that case MoFi would have up-sampled to some DSD format.
    DSDgate revelations continue.

  37. MoFIi[Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs] HiSTORY ALERT

    Note all the participants, their names and what was said. So much information and context available in this one piece.

    This was published in 1998 in Positive Feedback and for those who have been following the MoFi Predicament closely it is a MUST read.

    https://positive-feedback.com/Issue1/MoFiDSD.htm

  38. jeromelang says:

    I never was much bothered about digital lineage in the production process of a vinyl record. Even if the masters are digital, I am not the least perturbed, as I have countless digitally recorded/mastered vinyl records that I greatly enjoy listening to.

    What I am always more concerned with is whether the boutique re-issue labels had actual access to the studio master tapes.

    While I was greatly intrigued how much would be the sonic improvements with the mofi 1-step process, however, this was tempered by how manically restrictive Sony Music had always been with the movements of their master tapes. To me, even if the pressing quality were top notch, it is still 2 steps backwards if the re-issue boutique never got access to the master tapes.

    Well, I was not impressed with the Mofi Abraxas 45rpm 2LP release, nor with the 1-step 45rpm boxset. In fact, the 1-step was greatly inferior against a Singaporean 3-eye pressing. I found the 1-step missing ambient details, presence, energy and life that the Singapore pressing have in abundance. The Mofi 1-step does have fuller bass though, but the Singapore 3-eye just simply sound more alive!

    An audio buddy suggested that maybe different masters might had been used for both the Singapore 3-eye and the Mofi 1-step.

    I kinda thought that probably he was right, the 3-eye Singapore must have been derived from a totally different masters from all other releases, as I also couldn’t hear the same “energy” with all other USA (non 2-eye or 3-eye) pressings that I have on hand. And not only that, none of the Abraxas SACD pressings (I have stereo JSACD, the USA paper carton outerbox stereo SACD, the USA transparent outerbox stereo SACD, and the EU paper outerbox SACD and Mofi stereo SACD), none of them have this same “energy” that the Singaporean 3-eye vinyl have.

    Nevertheless, I continued to buy further 1-step releases, including the 2 SRVs. But that was until they changed the vinyl formula to transparent which made them unreadable on my laser turntable (remember it was the Simon and Garfunkel). So I stopped buying for a while, and only picked up again with the Carol King, Muddy Waters, Clapton and all the Eagles.

    And what happened is recently, I found that same presence, energy and life that I mentioned about on the Abraxas Singapore 3-eye pressing.

    And it came from what I thought would be 2 unlikeliest of pressings – the 1981 Sony USA in-house half speed remastered, and the Japanese pressed, hybrid SACD in the 7″ cardboard packaging.

    (I immediately went to buy extra copies before reporting this)

    So it seems my Singaporean 3-eye pressing wasn’t a one-off. The half-speed have that same “energy” too. They both must had been derived from the same masters. It’s a gut feeling I think this is the real studio masters.

    And they are finally getting it right with the new Japanese 7″ digipak SACD releases by using real analogue studio masters. The Tapestry, The Stranger, and Toto IV re-issues in 7″ digipaks sound fantastic too.

    So what does this implies about the Mofi Abraxas 1-step?

    Did Mofi actually had access to the real masters?

  39. Class Action Lawsuit #4 in the State of California.
    There will be more to follow.

    UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA SAN FRANCISCO DIVISION

    THOMAS MOLINARI, Plaintiff,

    vs.

    AUDIOPHILE MUSIC DIRECT, INC.; MOBILE FIDELITY SOUND LAB, INC.,
    Defendants.

    Case No.: 3:22-cv-05444-KAW
    FIRST AMENDED CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT
    DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

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