Analogue vinyl audiophiles duped for years

Mastering for vinyl is way more important than whether the source is analogue or digital. Obviously the quality of either source is also important. DSD seems to be stupid high sample and bit rate. If they are capturing analogue masters to DSD to streamline production but still applying vinyl mastering techniques, then no issue, other than perhaps one of mis-representation.

Yeah the final product sounds good still. At issue is the deception and lies.

Kind of puts the lie to the idea that there’s something special about AAA vinyl in general.

I don’t buy “audiophile” vinyl anyway. It’s not my kind of music, mostly… but I always kind of wondered how they were doing these one-step lacquers. Running ancient master tapes 40 or 50 times? Because I don’t imagine they’re getting more than a few hundred pressings from each one.

Back in the day I worked at Crystal Clear records, a direct competitor to Mobile Fidelity. I had no idea they were still around - I had assumed they were killed off by the advent of CD’s, just like we were.

To my mind, there is no question that a first-generation analogue recording sounds way better than digital.

They were actively obfuscating and omitting the digital mastering step and charging even more of a premium for their “1 step all analog process” over even other audiophile vinyl labels. One of the longtime audiophile journalists initially criticized the “non-journalist” record store owner for exposing this bashing their reputation. These kind of gatekeeping snake oil woo journalists are the same ones that can bloviate about the superiority of analog somehow and maintain you need mega expensive audiophile grade cables and equipment. The other labels didn’t actively hide that they used digital mastering.

“First-generation” is doing a lot of work in that sentence.

We’ve been laughing about this since the story broke, mostly since we were talking about the bullshit of MoFi 25 years ago when I was working in a record store. While MoFi records sound fine, I’m sure…it’s a case of not hating the band so much as their fans. The Cult of MoFi has been the bane of the existence of every record store owner and employee on the planet since day one. They are the worst human beings who’ll ever traipse into a store.

(And carrying stock on MoFi is thankless as well. There’s an unwritten rule that you’ve got to carry that audiophile bullshit for your store to be taken seriously in the record shop community. But MoFi cultists know what the MSRP is on MoFi vinyl and will raise whiny baby tantrums in store if you mark up at all. So essentially, most stores have to sell at cost on that vinyl. Which, you know, sucks.)

And yeah, the “one step” process I know my old record store-managing buddies have been calling bullshit on since it was introduced, and for the same reasons that are pointed out in this Washington Post article. No reputable recording company in existence would allow the abuse to master tapes that this process requires.

I’m not going to dispute your experience, but I’d very much like to see the results of a blind A-B test and see if anyone can reliably spot the difference.

That’s always been the thing about audiophile vinyl. To really get out of it what you pay for it, you need three things:

  1. A very expensive stereo setup,
  2. An acoustically tested and perfectly designed room/space to listen in, and
  3. Ears (well, auditory senses) that have no dampened sensitivity due to age, illness, or noise abuse.

Even with audiophiles, they’re unlikely to have checkmarks on all three of those facets.

I’ve always been of the opinion that what the audiophiles are buying is the illusion of that superior sonic experience, under a kind of “consumer placebo” theory. I believe that many audiophiles DO have a superior experience bc they believe it to be so. Since it’s their money, have at it. However this scandal shatters the illusion.

Wait—I can’t believe audiophiles believed that they were doing 1 by 1 analog transfers from the (usually fragile and degrading) masters to make the thousands of copies each time? I don’t think the owners would allow their masters to be parted with and put through such wear and tear.

“Only” $100 USD!

Let me clarify - by “one step” I’m referring to direct to disk recordings where tape is bypassed entirely and you recorded directly to the master lacquer, which was used to press a limited quantity before degrading.

Yes, they were (are) expensive. When I was at CC, our releases retailed for $15-$17 at a time when the typical LP sold for $3.99 or $4.99. Again, this was due the limited pressing and the fact that we could hype it as a collectable (although I don’t think any reputable dealer ever claimed they would appreciate in value)

For that reason you couldn’t attract A list artists, because the records could never sell in the numbers they were used to. That said, we did have a pretty good stable of respected “cult” artists that made some damn fine music - Taj Mahal, Charlie Musselwhite, Cal Tjader, The Dillards, Arthur Fiedler & the Boston Pops, to name a few.

Back then I was able to meet 2 of triggercuts 3 criteria, and direct to disc sounded way better than anything else at the time.

This was a pretty interesting video from a guy going through a bunch Mobile Fidelity marketing material and finding all the bullshit.

Sounds like it took some coaxing and cajoling to carry their records.

Does this mean you think Consolidated’s okay?

Ah, I remember when I had pretentions to be an audiophile. Bought expensive gear, fancy turntable mats, heavy-duty cables, high-end pressings, all that stuff. For a short while. I rapidly realized one, I could not tell the difference between a good consumer stereo playing mainstream quality records and the obscenely expensive high-end equipment playing deluxe fancy pants records; two, the cost to make any incremental improvements, such as they were, at each step of the audiophile game increased astronomically even as the amount of actual improvement shrank; and three, my ears were shot by then by things like sitting in the front row of metal concerts and listening to loud music in enclosed spaces like cars.

Since the advent of CDs, and then digital music, I’ve been perfectly happy with pedestrian recordings and pedestrian gear.

If we’re gonna talk about great song lyrics…that particular one might be one of the greatest ever. And always has real world applications for use.