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Frank Sinatra and Count Basie - Sinatra At The Sands

Mobile Fidelity Reviewed

  (Item #: sinatatthe_mobile_fidelity) 

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 Sinatra at the Sands

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Little Feat - Dixie Chicken

How Does the MoFi Sound?

  (Item #: littldixie_mobile_fidelity) 

Another in our ongoing series of Random Thoughts on issues concerning music and recordings.

How does the MoFi pressing sound? We have no idea; we've never bothered to order one. 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 Little Feat

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MoFi Half-Speed Mastering

A Technological Fix for a Non-Existent Problem

  (Item #: jacksnight_half_speed_bash) 

We do a lot of MoFi bashing here at Better Records, and for good reason: most of their pressings are just plain awful. We are shocked and frankly dismayed to find that the modern day audiophile still flocks to this label with the expectation of a higher quality LP, seemingly unaware that although the vinyl may be quiet, the mastering -- the sound of the music as opposed to the sound of the record’s surfaces -- typically leaves much to be desired.
More Joe Jackson

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The Beatles - Abbey Road

We Was Wrong -- The MoFi Can Sound Great!

  (Item #: beatlabbey_mofi_wrong) 

This Minty MoFi is the Killer MFSL Abbey Road of All Time. We’ve never done a shootout like this in the history of Better Records. Picture it: five Mobile Fidelity copies of Abbey Road, ostensibly identical limited editions, pressed on premium virgin vinyl in Japan. Longtime readers of the site will not be surprised to learn that they all sound different, and in very different ways.

Why is this shootout a first? Simple: we never had five open copies in stock at any one time. Having done a big shootout for the Brit copies in January (2007), we knew how good this album could sound. How would the MoFi stack up to the best Brits? We decided to find out.

More Abbey Road

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Chicago Transit Authority on MoFi

Or Is It The Glade Spray Mist Septet?

  (Item #: chicachica1_letter) 

Our good customer Roger wrote to tell us of his Chicago shootout which included the MoFi, some later pressings and our Hot Stamper. Here is his story.

HI Tom

Got a chance to listen to your Chicago Transit Authority hot stamper and compare it to regular US and MFSL pressings. It has been a while since I last listened to this recording, but I listened to a lot of Chicago; Blood, Sweat, and Tears; and The Ides of March when I was in high school and college. I loved this music back then, as short-lived as it was, unfortunately.

More Chicago

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Traffic - The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: trafflowsp_debunk) 

Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

Of course our Hot Stamper pressings are going to be better than the Anadisq LP from the mid '90s. How much better? Words fail me. The MoFi was an out and out disaster. Perhaps some of the MoFi collectors didn't notice because they had nothing to compare it to. God forbid they would ever lower themselves to buy a "common" pressing such as one of our domestic Islands.

More Traffic

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The Beatles - The White Album

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: beatlwhite_mfsl) 

Sonic Grade: D

Another MoFi LP debunked.

The last time I played the MoFi I could not believe how ridiculously phony and compressed it was. And to think I used to like their version when it came out back in the '80s!

Take Yer Blues. The MFSL pressing positively wreaks havoc with all the added bass and top end The Beatles put on this track. The MoFi version is already too bright, and has sloppy bass to start with, so the result on this track is way too much BAD bass and way too much BAD spitty 10k-boosted treble, unlike the good imports, which have way too much GOOD bass and treble.

More of The White Album

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Mobile Fidelity's Limited Edition Pressings

Bad Audiophile Thinking on My Part, Circa '82

  (Item #: beatlsgtpe_limited) 

Many audiophiles are still operating under the misapprehension that Mobile Fidelity, what with their strict "quality control," managed to eliminate pressing variations of the kind we discuss endlessly on the site.

This is simply not the case, and it's child's play to demonstrate how false this way of thinking is, assuming you have these four things: good cleaning fluids and a machine, multiple copies of the same record, a reasonably revealing stereo, and two working ears (I guess that's actually five things, my bad). With all five the reality of pressing variations for ALL pressings is both obvious and incontrovertible.

See all of our Beatles albums in stock

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Mobile Fidelity's Approach to Mastering

I Have a Theory

  (Item #: littlwaiti_theory) 

I have a theory about why MoFi's mastering approach here tended to work for the album when it failed so miserably for so many others. It goes a little something like this.

Back in their early days MoFi tended to add bass and treble to practically every record they mastered, regardless of whether or not the master tape they were using needed any such boost. A little extra sparkle up top and a little extra slam down below was what the audiophile public seemed to want. Truth be told, I was a member of that group and I know I did.

More Little Feat

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Supertramp - Crime of the Century on MoFi

We Was Wrong - It Can Sound Great

  (Item #: supercrime_wrong) 

This MoFi Crime of the Century has two superb sounding sides. I have to admit I was DEAD WRONG about MoFi’s Crime of the Century -- on this pressing, anyway. But I can tell you that this is one of the few I have ever played that sounded right to me.

It's not that MoFi couldn't cut a record that's tonally correct. It's just that most of they time they didn't. This time they did.

More Crime of the Century

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Linda Ronstadt - Don’t Cry Now

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: ronstdontc_debunk) 

Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi Audiophile LP debunked.

You're looking at one of the worst audiophile disasters in recent memory. Talk about dead as a doornail sound, folks, if you own this pressing, take it from us, you don't know what you're missing. Buy the next domestic copy you spot at your local record store for five bucks and find out. No way it can sound as bad as this compressed, lifeless, dull "audiophile" record.

More Linda Ronstadt

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Aimee Mann - Bachelor No. 2

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: mann_bache_mofi_debunk) 

Sonic Grade: D

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

I had never actually played the LP when I reviewed the MoFi CD (my bad, apologies to all), noting that the CD sounded great and that I expected the vinyl to be even better. Was I ever wrong, sorry! The vinyl has a bad case of sucked-out half-speed MoFi mids. It’s far too polite and lifeless to be taken seriously.

The comments about the music of course still apply -- it's brilliant -- but I recommend the Gold or regular CD over this audiophile Heavy Vinyl pressing.

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The Band - Music From Big Pink

Thoughts on MoFi's Midrange Suckout

  (Item #: band_music_mofi_midrange_suckout) 

I was a big Mobile Fidelity fan in 1982 when they released this album, which, for some strange reason, I knew practically nothing about. I was 15 when the second album came out and I played that album all the time, but the first album had eluded me. How it managed to do that I cannot understand, not at this late date anyway. A major malfunction on my part to be sure.

At some point in the early '90s I got hold of an early British pressing of the album. Comparing it to my MoFi I was shocked to hear the singers in the band so present and clear. Having only played MoFi's remastered LP I had never heard them sound like that. The MoFi had them standing ten feet back; the Brit put them front and center. There was no question in my mind which presentation was right.

More by The Band

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Traveling Back in Time with Cat Stevens on MoFi

To Hear It on Vintage Equipment

  (Item #: steveteafo_badstereo) 

Our good customer Roger wrote us a letter years ago about his MoFi Tea for the Tillerman, in which he remarked, "Sometimes I wish I kept my old crappy stereo to see if I could now tell what it was that made these audiophile pressings so attractive then."

It got me to thinking. Yes, that would be fun, and better yet, it could be done. There are actually plenty of those Old School systems still around. Just look at what many of the forum posters -- god bless 'em -- are running. They've got some awesome '70s Japanese turntables, some Monster Cable and some vintage tube gear and speakers going all the way back to the '50s.

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Tea for the Tillerman

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The Beatles - Abbey Road

A Fun and Easy Test: MoFi Versus Apple

  (Item #: beatlabbey_mofi_test) 

Another in our series of Home Audio Exercises.

There is a relatively simple test you can use to find out if you have a good Mobile Fidelity pressing of Abbey Road. Yes, as shocking as it may seem, they actually do exist, we've played them, but they are few and far between (and never as good as the best Brits).

More Abbey Road

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Boston - Boston

MoFi Half-Speed Debunked

  (Item #: bostobosto_mfsl_debunk) 

Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another MoFi LP debunked.

The MoFi Anadisc has the same problems that plague the whole series: turgid, thick, blobby, murky, mucky sound. A real slogfest. Audiophile trash of the worst kind. People still pay money for this kind of bad sound? Yes they do! Go to ebay and see the high prices these records are fetching. (This is equal parts shocking and disgusting.)

More Boston

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Metallica - Ride The Lightning (45 RPM)

MoFi Debunked

  (Item #: metalridet_debunk) 

Sonic Grade: F

A Hall of Shame pressing and another Half-Speed Mastered Audiophile Pressing Debunked.

Compressed, sucked-out mids, no deep bass and muddy mid-bass, the mastering of this album is an absolute disaster on every level. If you want to know how clueless the average audiophile is a quick Google search will bring up plenty of positive comments from listeners and reviewers alike.

This is the Warner Brothers 45 RPM 180g Double LP Half-Speed Mastered at Mobile Fidelity from the original analog master tapes.

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Classic Records Has an Epiphany

UHQRs Actually DO Sound Good!

  (Item #: hobson_1) 

Mike Hobson finally figured out why his pressings often don't sound good and/or are noisy. We'll let him explain it. If you want the whole story (which goes on for days) you can find it on the Classic Records web site. While you're there, remember the sound.

One day, while out for a run, I had an epiphany and rushed home to dig out a JVC pressing from the 1980's pressed for Herb Belkin's Mobile Fidelity. The Mobile Fidelity UHQR pressings were always revered as sounding better than the standard weight pressings from JVC – but why I thought? To find out, I cut a UHQR pressing in half and guess what I found? First, it weighed 195 grams and IT WAS A FLAT PROFILE! I cut a 120g JVC pressing in half and found that it had the conventional profile that, with small variations, seems to be a record industry standard and is convex in it's [sic] profile – NOT FLAT.

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MoFi Cat Stevens & TAS List Thoughts

This Is Your Idea of a Super Disc?

  (Item #: stevetease_tas) 

We here at Better Records would like to give a shout out to The Man, Harry Pearson, for putting one of the worst MoFis of all time on his so-called Super Disc List, which, as we all know, is still the delight of nitwits around the world.

In case you don’t already know, one of the worst sounding, if not THE WORST SOUNDING VERSION OF ALL TIME, is the Mobile Fidelity Anadisq pressing that came out in the ’90s. If you own that record, you really owe it to yourself to pull it out and play it. It’s just a mess and it should sound like a mess, whether you have anything else to compare it to or not.

More Teaser and the Firecat / More Cat Stevens

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Bad MoFi Mastering - Part One

Cat Stevens and His Sparkling Acoustic Guitars?

  (Item #: steveteafo_sparkle) 

In the commentary for America’s first album we noted that:

The guitars on this record are a true test of stereo fidelity. ... most of the pressings of this record do not get the guitars to sound right. ... on a copy with a bit too much top end they will have an unnatural hi-fi-ish sparkle.

This kind of sparkle can be heard on practically every record Mobile Fidelity made in the ’70s and ’80s. Tea for the Tillerman, Sundown, Year of the Cat, Finger Paintings, Byrd at the Gate, Quarter Moon in a 10 Cent Town -- the list of sparkling MoFis would be very long indeed, and these are just the records with prominent acoustic guitars!

See more commentaries as well as our in-stock copies of Tea for the Tillerman

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Letter of the Week

Boston MoFi = Crappy Soggy French Fries!

  (Item #: bostobosto_letter) 

This week’s letter comes from Ed, another satisfied and enthusiastic Hot Stamper fan. Apparently one of our Killer LPs made him want to take his MoFi pressing and turn the damn thing into a frisbee. When you hear what MoFi did to Boston you might want to toss their version out the window yourself. That pressing is bunk! We have a whole section of records like that that we've debunked to date, and if we had the time we could put hundreds more in it.
More Boston

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Mobile Fidelity

The Little Label That Couldn’t

  (Item #: mobilefidelity_debunk) 

MOBILE FIDELITY remastered a large number of classic Rock and Jazz albums. Some of them are good, some not so good, but they all have one thing in common: they sell for a lot more money than most other pressings. (Except ours of course!)

In my opinion the primary reason for this is that audiophiles as a whole still believe that MOFI’s meticulous care with their half-speed mastering approach, as well as the dead quiet Japanese vinyl they originally pressed on, are the Gold Standard of record production.

And their pressings often do sound better than run of the mill domestic product. But are they really the best version ever?

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