“Mofi-gate”

Discussion in 'Vinyl Nutjob World: Turntable and Related Gear' started by recstar24, Aug 1, 2022.

  1. Gazny

    Gazny Friend

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    I liked this guys video

    * it was a lie
    * Implied information is a lie
    * some people are stuck up and will sell you something
    * Maybe digital can be good
     
  2. mkozlows

    mkozlows Friend

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    I think the collector impulse, and the desire to have tactile, physical interactions with things is not really that weird or hard to understand -- and not really related to audiophilia at all. Some of the people who love vinyl the most listen to it on absolutely terrible systems with Bluetooth speakers.

    But there's the separate motivation of wanting the best possible version of a thing, and that's what's harder to understand with a vinyl pressing that's downstream of a DSD file.
     
  3. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    There's maybe a collector's element happening with the MoFi stuff, too. I also visit the Steve Hoffman forums, and am often surprised at folks with pretty modest analogue rigs picking up the One-Steps. They probably do get some to much of the supposed benefit of the quieter vinyl or whatever, but I think some are also drawn to the exclusivity of the product.

    It probably helps that (previously anyway) the MoFi stuff has gone up on the secondary market, sometimes way up.
     
  4. recstar24

    recstar24 Friend

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    Was just thinking about this the other day...I mean if they were forthright in this whole DSD thing from the beginning, it could have truly been a great opportunity for them. They could have supplied the DSD file to anyone that bought a one step, or even offered them as a purchased download or something - "buy these DSD rips straight from the analog master!" I bet their pure DSD rips from the master tapes (if you still believe that they are truly using the original analog master tapes) sound freaking killer on a nice digital setup.
     
  5. recstar24

    recstar24 Friend

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    From what I gathered from their mofi engineers interview with the record store owner guy, it appears their mastering is within the digital domain (using the DSD rip). They talk about the advantages of being able to work and tweak within the digital domain as a highlight of their process. From there, I'm assuming they run that mastered digital file through their DAC which then feeds the cutting amps and lathe.
     
  6. recstar24

    recstar24 Friend

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    https://www.newvelle-records.com/pages/our-story

    Newvelle is a label out in New York, they record current contemporary jazz artists (and some classic artists, like through their new orleans collection), and they make it very clear that they record and mix from 24/88.2 files in ProTools, and send that final mix in 24/88.2 to Masterdisk who then does the cutting to lacquer. I've got a few of their records and they are some of the finest sounding records I have in my collection.
     
  7. Qildail

    Qildail Friend

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    It's a thing. I like the process, but I like it with most physical media (can the magnetic tape renaissance die quickly, please and thank you). I like going to the local establishments and flipping through the bins; some days I buy one or two, most days I don't buy any. Three quid used CDs on the bay after my house flooded was a miracle to rebuilding a library. I still have shelves of movies on various (still playable, for now) formats, and rotate through them on a semi-regular basis. Somewhat related, playing vinyl or CDs during the day now forces me to get my ass out of the chair on a recurring basis -- work from home is an easy way to find yourself removed from any sense of time and space.

    Call it a collector's twitch if you must, but I like reading through the liner notes, credits, and artwork; I like reading the booklets that come with box sets; hell I even enjoy going down those Roon rabbit holes from one artist or album links to another and another. That part of it is irrelevant to medium - it's just part of the music experience.

    Sometimes the choice is forced. Rights nonsense gets in the way of which music is on which formats [e.g. late-80s/early-90s hip-hop is a wasteland on streaming, because all the sampling rights were for "physical media" releases]. Albums are released in one country but nowhere else [Japan, UK, and France, commonly]. And there have been some truly awful digital releases lately that were technically 24/192 -- and compressed to the point you wonder if the artist was trying to get out of an unwanted hug (from YMO most likely, but I digress).

    Some analogue people are going to get dunked on here, many righteously so; and there will be enough victory laps from the "digital forever" team to qualify someone for the Olympics. What I worry about is that instead of focusing on the real debate (MoFi's business practices and intentions, where does vinyl go from here, etc.), the bullshit tribalism will get more kindling to keep burning along.

    This should be the takeaway. Hopefully after the lawyers get their 35%, it will be.
     
  8. netforce

    netforce MOT: Headphones.com

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    I been thinking about this for last week and a half since Pacific Audio Fest. I saw Michael Fremer and it seemed like of the folks in the room aware of the drama viewed him with disdain meanwhile I had zero idea the context or back story. I got a brief rundown of the drama but glad I saw the WaPo article and it seemed pretty fair to express the issues with Mofi claims and practices.

    I have worked with Mofi since TSAV and headphones.com is a Mofi dealer and never had an issue with them in the past, ended up purchasing my Quad S2 and IsoTek from them so in the context of business, I perceived them as pretty honest and forthright.

    If I had to summarize this entire incident on Mofi's part, I would have to say it was incompetence. I personally have no aversion to digital and have yet to join the vinyl life myself but at the same time, if you are clearly marketing that its all analog then it better be all analog. There are certainly limitations keeping everything strictly analog without a doubt, but had they been honest from the get-go, you wouldn't be possibly as big as you are now but I can't imagine the fallout and unaffiliated folks at Mofi/Music Direct impacted by this.

    My possible theory is maybe somewhere in the chain of command, there was miscommunication, maybe there was apathy in the process, and simply with a large company with multiple departments not everyone was on the same page. I have worked with many a large or massive company before and it never feels like anyone has any control or any info, its always talk to department A that tells you department B can help you, only to find out nobody there knows.

    Certainly there needs to be accountability through all of this. What possessed them to let this go so far or did nobody just internalize the issue. Mofi wants to expand vinyl and certainly has the resources to as evidence by them opening up a factory but when there are so many small players in the space the reputation is forever tarnished.

    I do want to say, I feel bad for the mixing engineers, they were literally just doing their jobs and got roped in on this. I hope nobody throws them under the bus. From MQA last year keeping everything so secretive and responding so poorly to this, it feels like the complete opposite. Mofi literally invited this, they seemingly have come clean and could soon face the music on this incident as a result.

    Hope they weather the storm, hope they survive and clean up their act. Talking with Mofi over the years, they did come across as big vinyl nerds.
     
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  9. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    There’s like 14 people working at MoFi specifically, it’s the absolute opposite of a large company and there is no way the major players were ignorant of the DSD step.

    One or two digitally sourced records is an oopsie. 99% of your records in a given timespan being from digital while your marketing is heavily implying all analog, purposefully omitting any mention of digital, reps outright telling people that MoFi records are AAA and the mastering engineers themselves saying it’s AAA in videos and interviews—that’s a deliberate and coordinated disinformation campaign.
     
  10. Psalmanazar

    Psalmanazar Most improved member; A+

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    They just started a shit storm. Many MFSL titles don't sound as good as the current CDs or old vinyl LPs anyway. Usually this has to do with dumb mastering decisions or the mainstream releases being less fucked.

    DSD is technically terrible. There's all sorts of reasons to not have a 1-bit delta sigma processing. Modern delta-sigma converters have 5 to 6 levels. They've had multiple levels since 1996.

    I don't know why in God's name why they would convert tape to 1-bit DSD first. That's just stupid.

    By the way, the latest and greatest audio production tools are mostly digital and some fairly moderately priced (for high end) analog gear. Some of it's even digitally controlled analog (perfect channel matching! No pots to go out of spec) like Bettermaker. Nothing too insane or well over 1000 dollars a channel unless it's a stepped mastering eq or compressor.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 9, 2022
  11. Thad E Ginathom

    Thad E Ginathom Friend

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    So how is America, officially, with this sort of stuff? Is prosecution a possibility? Likely?
     
  12. MellowVelo

    MellowVelo Friend

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    I’ve read some people who say that DSD is good for archival purposes, like just copying analog tapes to digital. Is there any truth to this? Does DSD provide a more faithful copy than PCM would?

    I understand that DSD is terrible for any post-production work because you need to convert to high bit-rate PCM first.
     
  13. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Vinyl that has gone through digital, in this case the specific process of being mastered from a digital archive, will lose a certain amount of fidelity. 99% of the time, the first pressing or early pressing will sound the best, unless the mastering engineer just did a shitty job. This at least has been my experience with records. I would rather take a VG condition record from a first or early pressing than a new or Mint condition record mastered from digital. There is a reason why the first and early pressings of records like Townes Van Zandt (self-titled) are a trillion dollars even in VG condition. This of course only applies to old music. Records that came from DSD or went through a AD DA process just never quite have the same fidelity as the old records which went through purely analog chains.

    tl;dr: the best sounding vinyl will almost always be a first or early pressing.

    ^ This. However, we should wonder whether audiophiles have good ears? While AD converters are much better now, there's still a discernible difference.

    BTW, the Mo-Fi deal, and in general, records starting being mastered from digital archives, was "secretly" known to vinylphiles a few years ago. The original tapes or early generation copies are only going to last so long. I could care less about Mo-Fi anyway. They aren't the same company we knew in the 90s. Anytime I hear stuff like "Ultradisc One-Step" marketed to www.orfas.org, I run away.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 9, 2022
  14. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    Back when records were the only playback medium, labels would run the same stampers for years. Of course, wear and tear dictates that the earliest pressings will always sound the best (barring production issues like the infamous flub in "Money" on the UK 1st press of Dark Side of the Moon or bad mastering from cramming too much music onto one side like some records did as music entered the CD era and run times went longer), but I would still rather have a VG/VG+ copy of a pressing from within three years of the original release date of a record than a mint copy of a record with a digital step.

    Also I think this whole episode is curing some people of their FOMO. Thriller was SUCH a bad choice for a One Step. So many copies of Thriller were pressed that you can get a good early copy for nearly pennies and it will sound great. Also Bernie Grundman is doing the Sony vinyl reissue so if you really wanted a clean new copy that's going to be as audiophile or more so than MoFi. I think they just got greedy with that particular release and got found out.
     
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  15. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Yup yup. I still have my OG Thriller, Off the Wall, and Bad and bought a few more copies as backups.

    I am going to spend $100 to find out that the Mo-Fi Elite-Disc-Three-Step-Traumatized sounds worse, slightly duller? Nope. Hey, they got to run a business and stay in business.
     
  16. recstar24

    recstar24 Friend

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    For the longest time, I was hunting for Elton John vinyl (early to mid 70’s stuff), and the reissues I was seeing all looked like junk, unreliable sources and no info regarding how the thing was cut. Was able to score some early Japan pressings (mid to late 70’s) and wow those records have tons of life on them, quite startling to compare those to some of those really flat and colorless reissues of Elton. The mofi gate thing definitely has me reflecting more on my purchases, and with reissues escalating in price, I may lean to OG/early pressings moreso in the future
     
  17. purr1n

    purr1n Burned out

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    Let us speak no more of this so that www.orfas.org can continue with their $100-$200 vinyl purchases so we can improve our chances of scoring VG or NM first or early pressings at reasonable prices. ;)
     
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  18. fastfwd

    fastfwd Friend

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    Not a vinyl guy, as I said before, so forgive me if this is a dumb question: What's the relative magnitude or quality of the loss from the digital step versus the two analog generation losses from traditional father/mother pressing?
     
  19. Merrick

    Merrick A lidless ear

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    The generational loss within the three step plating process is pretty small. The highest frequencies will be the first to go, and many pressing plants polish their plates before pressing which reduces the high frequency information further. However 99% of LPs were pressed using the traditional three step process and sound amazing, and according to most mastering engineers, pretty darn close to the fidelity of the master they cut from. The one steps should have slightly more high frequency information. Direct Metal Mastering, which is a process where the lacquer is actually a metal disc and stampers can be made directly from the lacquer without destroying it, does have more high frequency information and are often perceived as bright or even harsh in the highs. In the end the mastering and the quality of the source will have a MUCH bigger impact on the sound quality of the final product than whether it's a one step or three step plating process.
     
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  20. wbass

    wbass Almost "Made"

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    I tend not to go below VG+ these days, and even that rating, on Discogs and Ebay, can sometimes be dicey. The joy of record hunting.

    A buddy once said, "I never buy a record for more than $40, and most of them I get for less than $10."

    I think that's a good rule, though I'm a bit more liberal. Still, I'll only go above $40 if 1) The press is pretty reliable (like AP or, lately, Blue Note, or Neil Young's archive releases). 2) An original would be bananas money. I scored an AP Waltz for Debby for $50 a couple years ago. VG+ and sounds great. Impossible to find anything *close* to a first press of that in any kind of condition.

    On the other hand, some of my best sounding records cost $1. Rickie Lee Jones S/T (one of the few audiophile-approved albums I actually like) is one of those. I tried to better the (plentiful) original with a Rhino release (brand new but noisy) and a MoFi (about the same SQ). Go figure.

    But, really, why get a MoFi of I, Robot, when you can find it everywhere for $1?

    Another collecting rule I've heard: "If you walk into a record store, pick up a copy of Born to Run, and it's more than $15, then walk right out." As Born to Run sold a gazillion copies and is plentiful enough that it should really cost more like $5.

    However, such rules perhaps don't hold in these gold rush times for vinyl. I'm somehow equally as annoyed by a shop charging $50 for a bog-standard pressing of Rumors as I am MoFi asking $125 plus for putting their OneSteps in a fancy box. But, since I keep rule #1 in mind, I haven't bothered with any OneSteps to begin with. Nor any Craft Small Batch, etc.

    I also found a NM copy of the early-synth/avant-garde classic Silver Apples of the Moon for 50 cents at a friggin' CTA (Chicago subway) station.
     

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