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Mobile Fidelity Analog Vinyl Controversy

watchnerd

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I'm such a piker I haven't even hit $20K yet for my TT / arm / cart combined.

I'm still aspiring to that, but the $19K Technics SL-1000RE-S weighs 40.2 kg / 88.7 lbs and would likely crush the cheap Ikea Kallax shelf that my far flimsier Michell Gyro sits on.

So I'm slumming it just short of full blown moron-hood, but I'll get there by the time I retire!
 
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MakeMineVinyl

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Well, as far as audio science is concerned, LP as a format is dead and buried. Show me the last research paper into its performance in the last four decades. The format is around due to non scientific reasons. So my stance by owning R2R myself and providing space for people to talk about it, is far more flexible than normally be warranted given our charter.
What is new with regard to vinyl technology is improved manufacturing processes, and in the case of turntables, CNC machining of bearings, platters, tonearm bearings and such which can be both higher quality and less expensive than could be accomplished in the past. In the case of cartridges, newer materials are now available to achieve better overall performance at less cost.

Newer record presses benefit from automation technologies which were not available in the 50s and 60s when the old presses were made. I could go on with a little research, but it is mistaken to say that there is no 'science' involved just because a technology is 'obsolete'.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

"So my stance by owning R2R myself and providing space for people to talk about it, is far more flexible than normally be warranted given our charter."

I hope I'm not taking the above sentence as you are 'tolerating' discussion of older technologies because you happen to have a reel to reel machine. Is the 'charter' really that restrictive? Am I violating some code somewhere by discussing 'obsolete' technologies? Is that really the forum you want, intolerance and all? If something wasn't invented yesterday, is it off limits?

That doesn't sound like the kind of place I would want to devote time to. If your concept of ASR is really that restrictive, please do me the favor of letting me know so I can ride off into the sunset for greener pastures. Seriously.
 

deniall83

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I hope I'm not taking the above sentence as you are 'tolerating' discussion of older technologies because you happen to have a reel to reel machine. Is the 'charter' really that restrictive? Am I violating some code somewhere by discussing 'obsolete' technologies? Is that really the forum you want, intolerance and all? If something wasn't invented yesterday, is it off limits?
That's certainly how I read it. Hopefully Amir clarifies his stance on this.
 

MattHooper

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"So my stance by owning R2R myself and providing space for people to talk about it, is far more flexible than normally be warranted given our charter."

I hope I'm not taking the above sentence as you are 'tolerating' discussion of older technologies because you happen to have a reel to reel machine. Is the 'charter' really that restrictive? Am I violating some code somewhere by discussing 'obsolete' technologies? Is that really the forum you want, intolerance and all? If something wasn't invented yesterday, is it off limits?

I understand that quote from Amir could be seen to imply that discussion of turntables/vinyl doesn't fit in to the ASR charter. Which sounds unnecessarily restrictive for a charter. Presumably this implies that the ASR charter is focused on, say, accuracy or neutrality or the highest fidelity for a signal. So vinyl playback just wouldn't have a place if the forum has that as a goal.

But as I've always seen it, ASR's broad "charter" is dissemination of more reliable information about audio gear, including cutting through b.s.
That's more of a Big Tent approach. You don't have to be seeking accuracy per se, but on ASR you can at least learn more about audio gear so your choices can be made more advisedly, and less wrapped in misinformation. You like turntables? Cool. Don't claim they are SOTA in terms of sound quality and fidelity, and everything will be fine :) Then all sorts of technical talks about vinyl and turntables fit in to the forum. (Which is why there is in fact a subforum devoted to turntables/vinyl).
 

amirm

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I hope I'm not taking the above sentence as you are 'tolerating' discussion of older technologies because you happen to have a reel to reel machine. Is the 'charter' really that restrictive? Am I violating some code somewhere by discussing 'obsolete' technologies? Is that really the forum you want, intolerance and all? If something wasn't invented yesterday, is it off limits?
We don't police this forum that way so your last statement is not our position. This should be obvious so don't know why you are questioning it.

You talked about science of audio. I explained that as far as science of audio is concerned, digital has far exceeded performance of analog and that is that. So to the extent we want to advocate what audio science tells us about best sound reproduction, digital is it. And LP is not. So I would not have brought science into the discussion.

If you want to have an argument that LP is superior format to digital, then create a new thread, and bring your research and references. It doesn't belong in this thread.
 

MakeMineVinyl

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We don't police this forum that way so your last statement is not our position. This should be obvious so don't know why you are questioning it.

You talked about science of audio. I explained that as far as science of audio is concerned, digital has far exceeded performance of analog and that is that. So to the extent we want to advocate what audio science tells us about best sound reproduction, digital is it. And LP is not. So I would not have brought science into the discussion.

If you want to have an argument that LP is superior format to digital, then create a new thread, and bring your research and references. It doesn't belong in this thread.
I have repeatedly and explicitly explained that vinyl or analog tape for that matter are not technically as perfect as digital. There's no argument about that. When I was working in motion pictures I dragged the entire sound editing operation kicking and screaming from using 35 mm magnetic film to using digital audio workstations. I have no illusions that older technologies are as perfect as digital.

My observation that new vinyl pressings can be essentially devoid of ticks and pops and that it is better than it used to be is a long long way from saying it is superior to digital.

However your strict interpretation of the word "science" is really off the mark. Sure you can force your will because it's your forum, but in the process I fear you are going to suck the very life out of ASR.

I very rarely talk about digital because quite honestly I find it absolutely boring. There's not much to say about it. Are we supposed to get excited that the Topping DAC that came out this week has a 3db better SINAD than the Topping DAC that came out last week? I'd rather talk about stamp collecting than that. And I don't even collect stamps.
 
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Keened

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People are talking past each other again

The subjective sound of vinyl or analog reproduction can make certain music sound subjectively more enjoyable.

It cannot make it more loyal or fidelis to the source except in the specific context of recreating a specific moment or era. It is perfectly legitimate however to say that you are maintaining fidelity to that standard; that is, how it would have sounded then or if you used a specific method of encoding and replaying audio samples.

However people, generally, replay an audio sample to gain information encoded within it more than just the literal signal data. So the 'High' value is only partly contained within the strict necessarily and generally true facts.

So the question comes down to: is audio as a scientific field as nothing more than modeling acoustics (in which case why is there even a delineation between the two words) or is audio the study of acoustics within a specified subjective framework? You ask the question of absolute signal integrity and you can ruler flat reproduction without any downward tilt and it doesn't sound really great. You ask the question of best case scenario signal integrity including the reception and processing of any other reference-able object other than the literal signal itself and you've added subjectivity.

So the best you can do is pick your subjectivity; where that line lies is different for each person and clearly some of them are legitimately insane. I feel there is and always should be a place for people who love technically inferior technology. So long as they don't twist the objective facts they are no worse than anyone else.

Edit: I realize I left the ending fairly ambiguous: the Science of Audio absolutely must include psycho-acoustics, and psycho-acoustics includes both Aesthetics (as a class of systems) and the apollonian empirical sensations (bio-physical/emotional) . Otherwise it's not a science, it's Math.
 
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MattHooper

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FWIW:

Mobile Fidelity released a statement today. I don't know where they released it, but Positive Feedback printed a version:


Mobile Fidelity


“We at Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab are aware of customer complaints regarding use of digital technology in our mastering chain. We apologize for using vague language, allowing false narratives to propagate, and for taking for granted the goodwill and trust our customers place in the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab brand.



We recognize our conduct has resulted in both anger and confusion in the marketplace. Moving forward, we are adopting a policy of 100% transparency regarding the provenance of our audio products. We are immediately working on updating our websites, future printed materials, and packaging — as well as providing our sales and customer service representatives with these details. We will also provide clear, specific definitions when it comes to Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab marketing branding such as Original Master Recording (OMR) and UltraDisc One-Step (UD1S). We will backfill source information on previous releases so Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab customers can feel as confident in owning their products as we are in making them.


We thank you for your past support and hope you allow us to continue to provide you the best-sounding records possible — an aim we’ve achieved and continue to pursue with pride.”


Jim Davis
President, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab
 

deniall83

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FWIW:

Mobile Fidelity released a statement today. I don't know where they released it, but Positive Feedback printed a version:


Mobile Fidelity


“We at Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab are aware of customer complaints regarding use of digital technology in our mastering chain. We apologize for using vague language, allowing false narratives to propagate, and for taking for granted the goodwill and trust our customers place in the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab brand.



We recognize our conduct has resulted in both anger and confusion in the marketplace. Moving forward, we are adopting a policy of 100% transparency regarding the provenance of our audio products. We are immediately working on updating our websites, future printed materials, and packaging — as well as providing our sales and customer service representatives with these details. We will also provide clear, specific definitions when it comes to Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab marketing branding such as Original Master Recording (OMR) and UltraDisc One-Step (UD1S). We will backfill source information on previous releases so Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab customers can feel as confident in owning their products as we are in making them.


We thank you for your past support and hope you allow us to continue to provide you the best-sounding records possible — an aim we’ve achieved and continue to pursue with pride.”


Jim Davis
President, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab
Too little too late IMO. They massively missed the boat on this one.
 

Blumlein 88

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They badly need a proper PR person.

Didn't Andrew Jones joined them to make speakers? Wonder how that will be going if they take a big hit in revenues.
If digital is so bad as some claim, the golden ears would have heard the incorrigible sound immediately and started complaining and wanting refunds long before now. Knowing only the sound was awful without knowing why. The fact this didn't happen indicates digital usage during the Mofi process is likely un-hearable by golden or other ears.

An unintentional massive blind test in the heart of subjectivists holiest of holies analog world.
 
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Madlop26

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The sound of vinyl comes trough the mastering for vinyl and the pressing itself, the mastering needs to be done right to fit the technical limitations of vinyl records, so keep a minimum of dynamic range, put the bass in mono (mostly all below 150Hz is mono) and roll of the high frequencies slowly. If this is not done the record will sound like shit and the needle will jump arround. I did release some records (underground music of more than a decade ago) and for the vinyl release it was always a seperate mastering then for digital releases. Digital releases sound closer to the source, but vinyl releases of the same digital recording (when done right) sounds better to the ear for me and many others. That is one of the key reasons why vinyl is still so popular.
Quite intriguing, anyway, I have to concede the possibility that some people may prefer the "vinyl sound", but in my case, even after a blind test shocks me telling me I also like the vinyl sound better, it would not matter, because of the knowledge of facts like decreased dynamic range, bass in mono below 150 Hz, roll off of high frequencies...that knowledge will absolutely ruin the experience, you know, what I want is the closest to the actual sound that the artist made when he was recording. But that is just me.
 

Dial

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The difficulty of digitization of vinyl results from the suppression of the crackles. Is there a simple software for this ?
 
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Robin L

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I very rarely talk about digital because quite honestly I find it absolutely boring. There's not much to say about it. Are we supposed to get excited that the Topping DAC that came out this week has a 3db better SINAD than the Topping DAC that came out last week? I'd rather talk about stamp collecting than that. And I don't even collect stamps.
You ought to look into Cinderellas, that's the most fascinating aspect of stamp collecting for me: fake stamps that make a point about being fake.

ae29fdbedd291dc768c64cc7be31cef1--rare-stamps-cinderella.jpg


And I don't even collect stamps.
 
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spartaman64

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i got some john denver vinyl disks out of a bargin bin at a store and they had the hiss and pop which is unsurprising since the sleeves etc looks really worn. Maybe if i do a deep clean of them it can clear some of that up. But i got a mint condition mariya takeuchi vinyl disk online and there was none of that and it sounded pretty clean. I don't have some expensive turntable setup I'm using a vintage rega planar 3 with my topping a90 and genelec 8030c lol. I'm sure if i AB test a flac file the flac would sound better but the vinyl not too bad. Also I'm having a lot of fun using a turntable.
 

Gorgonzola

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There IS NO "analog magic" much less "vinyl goodness" -- a fact well known to Mobile Fidelity no doubt, though I don't agree with them being disingenuous about it.

It was probably 17-18 years ago I had a discussion with a vinyl lover. He admitted that when he ripped LPs to digital, (as I recall, direct to CD via a CD recorder), that the resulting digital captured all the SQ things he liked about LPs.

Going the other direction, as it were, I seem to recall some reviewer, (maybe Michael Fremer?), who had a vinyl cutting recorder and said he got most of the analog satisfaction ripping the CD to a vinyl disc.

I suspect it is the vinyl medium itself that creates the sound vinyl lovers like: in actuality It doesn't have so much, (or at all), to do with analog recording or mastering. Vinyl lovers simply like the filtering that that medium and the associated repro chain provides. So in that respect Mobile Fidelity is delivering everything the vinyl lovers are craving.
 
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I have repeatedly and explicitly explained that vinyl or analog tape for that matter are not technically as perfect as digital. There's no argument about that. When I was working in motion pictures I dragged the entire sound editing operation kicking and screaming from using 35 mm magnetic film to using digital audio workstations. I have no illusions that older technologies are as perfect as digital.

My observation that new vinyl pressings can be essentially devoid of ticks and pops and that it is better than it used to be is a long long way from saying it is superior to digital.

However your strict interpretation of the word "science" is really off the mark. Sure you can force your will because it's your forum, but in the process I fear you are going to suck the very life out of ASR.

I very rarely talk about digital because quite honestly I find it absolutely boring. There's not much to say about it. Are we supposed to get excited that the Topping DAC that came out this week has a 3db better SINAD than the Topping DAC that came out last week? I'd rather talk about stamp collecting than that. And I don't even collect stamps.

Some folks find all your vinyl drivel boring also... cuts both ways
 

MakeMineVinyl

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Azazello13

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I have had some friends with really beautiful and epic record collections and along with personally missing shopping in a store for music and handling the physical media.( Plus it is often a great way to support the artists and local businesses), I tried to add vinyl to my system.
I purchased about 25 albums to start - most brand new.

Nope, pops and clicks suck everything out of it for me. They are so distracting to me I can't believe I missed this point before diving in. Horrible choice for myself. Nothing else would matter to me in any way that would be trump listening to all of that. Especially when cranked up, yikes. I can handle most recording issues and even strong hiss, but never the pops and clicks and snaps and crackles from the vinyl playback.

I actually think it strange how infrequently these issues are brought up when discussing vinyl sound quality. These are horrid side effects.
It's usually static electricity, so there are things you can do to mitigate it.

But yes, the extent to which the snap, crackle and pop bother you will largely shape your attitude toward vinyl. I find it pretty easy to ignore except on quieter pieces.
 
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MrKevin

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For me, the point of choosing to listen to an LP is the knowledge that what I'm listening to has always been all analog. That there's never been digital in the path. I listen to digital (CD, SACD, and downloads). I know that it is digital when I listen to it. Some is good, some is bad. I know it is digital.

When I listen to LPs, I want all analog. I want to know it is all analog, that there was no digital anything in the entire process from master tape to me.

When I listen to tape, I want to know that it has been tape from master tape through the production chain to me.

The point of listening to different formats is to enjoy the differences between them. There are other considerations, such as convenience. But these are not relevant to this discussion.

If there is digital in the path, one will always wonder about the process. What's the bit depth? What's the bit rate? For both the A/D and the D/A paths. Etc...

The same can be said about an all analog remastering path. Poor choices of tape or settings could mess up the copy used for later copies. But it is analog.

I sincerely hope that no matter what the mastering process is, all steps have been made to make copies that are as close to the master as possible given the limitations of the media involved.

I have tons of original LP releases from the 50s, 60s, and 70s that are most definitely all analog. Why should I pay dearly for a new release of a remastered LP of these if I know that there's digital somewhere in the remastering path? I'll just obtain a digital copy. Much more convenient.

Some make the valid point that the remastering process from tape or digital to LP will create the "LP Sound". I agree. Clearly the choices made during mastering need to account for the medium that will be used for the copies. And maybe the LP mastered from this procss "sounds better". This argument misses the point. The large part of my enjoyment of LPs comes from the fact (assumption?) that it does not have digital in it's remastering history.
 
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