Love At First Listen

I reached a milestone of sorts in my record collection recently… I acquired my tenth title  on the mobile on the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab label.

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Some of these albums I bought new. Some I bought used (some for excessively high prices), and some I found at giveaway prices in yard sale boxes and thrift stores.

I’ve I’ve been collecting records off and on for the past forty years and it took me that long to accumulate these 10 records!

My first Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs (familiarly known as MoFi) title was Abbey Road by the Beatles. It’s my favorite record from my favorite band of all time. I bought this the same day I bought my first hi-fi equipment.

I was in the military and headed to my first permanent station out of basic training and tech school. I took a few days in transit to visit friends and family at home. I had some cash burning a hole in my pocket and found an independent seller who had turned his garage into a Hi-Fi store. He took a good couple of hours with me, changing components and demoing different speakers and turntables.

In the end, I headed to my new life in Air Force dormitory land with a kick-ass stereo system and my copy of Abbey Road!

A little history: the deal with MoFi recordings was a gimmick called half speed mastering. The theory is if you take a high quality original master recording that has been done well in the first place, play it back at half speed,  and simultaneously make a record pressing master at half speed, the master cutting lathe has more time to properly transfer the information to the master disc.

Using this newly cut masterdisk, high quality virgin vinyl material (MoFis from JVC) and only pressing a limited number of records using this master should result in a higher quality recording overall.

So, does it work? The reviews of all early MoFi recordings are somewhat mixed. Most are positive but some reviewers take issue with equalization and other factors that the MoFi recording engineers used.

For me, since first hearing my copy of Abbey Road on a high-quality stereo system it has been love at first listen. Every one of these titles that I have found has replaced a mass-market copy of the same album and they all sound noticeably better to me.

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PS… while looking into MoFi, I found an interesting local tidbit. MoFi was founded by a fellow named Brad Miller. He started in the fifties and sixties by making high-quality recordings of trains and environmental sounds.  he released these recordings under the MoFi label and they were hit with audio files and stoned late night DJs.

In 1977, Brad moved MoFi to small town of Veradale Washington, which is now part of city of Spokane Valley… mere minutes from where I am now!

Here MoFi continued to produce late night stoner music including releases from the Mystic Moods Orchestra. Apparently the half-speed mastering process was also developed here and at least a couple of the very first popular music MoFi recordings were made here… including Crime Of The Century and Katy Lied, which explains why they seem relatively common in this area.

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