MoFi & Music Direct

I was out of audio, teaching and making art, for almost 12 years (2003–2014). During that time, on-line retailer Music Direct acquired the rights and relit the ancient Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab torch. Now both brands are burning more brightly than ever. I picked up the new ½"-thick Music Direct Catalog at CES and it reminded me ever so much of an audiophile version of the soft-porn Bruce Weber created for the Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. The Music Direct catalog (#16) has Grace Slick and Janis Joplin on the cover and tons of crazy (almost-naked) gear inside! I can't stop looking.

More importantly, MoFi is now making record-playing machines—really nice ones—and cartridges too! Over decades, MoFi has re-mastered countless wonderful and popular LP recordings and pressed them on the quietest vinyl. However, stubbornly, I usually preferred the "authenticity" (warts and all) of the originals—so, I was never MoFi's biggest customer.

At CES I changed my viewpoint. MoFi's Senior Mastering Engineer, Shawn Britton, gave a little tutorial and demonstration of the exotic "one-step stamper" process. When he played Carlos Santana's Abraxas album, which had been created by this tedious, unpredictable, very-limited-edition method, I was beyond stunned. For the first time in my way long life, I felt like the music I was experiencing was more original and authentic than the original "hot-stamper" version.

Hearing this "one-step stamper" Abraxas was a paradigm shift in what I believed possible from reissues. Usually, I hate that the remastered versions of records I love no longer sound like the records I love. They are like over-restored '57 Chevys. Not this Santana. What I experienced felt and sounded like a fresh '57 Chevy (Abraxas) that had been untouched since 1957—and just had 50+ years of dust and bird-droppings air-blasted and rinsed off with a pressure washer! Santana's second studio album sounded clean, clear, very open, and un-tampered with. The artistic affect of Carlos' creation was 100% intact and 100% accessible. I could feel his music like a shot to my veins. Please forgive me if I am late to the remastering prom, but now, all I want is more! Bravo MoFi!

What I am saying is: I just experienced a remastered, reissued version of a record I bought the day it came out (September 1, 1970), and it sounded more like what my memory says the album is than all the incarnations I have experienced previously. Moreover, the MoFi's people were making this happen—not with a $30k+ turntable—but with a ready-to-play $1995 record player! They were playing Santana's masterpiece on the better of their two new affordably priced MoFi turntables: the "UltraDeck+" which costs only $1995, set up and ready-to-play with a pre-mounted "UltraTracker" moving-magnet cartridge. I was extremely impressed.

The main products in the new MoFi record playing line are: The StudioDeck turntable ($999) with a 10" arm, a Delrin platter, and an inverted main bearing; The Studio Deck + with a pre-mounted MoFi StudioTracker cartridge ($1149); The UltraDeck (S1799 with MoFi's special "Little Feet" and, the UltraDeck+ described above. Separately, there are three moving-magnet cartridges: The Studio Tracker with an elliptical stylus and a polymer body ($299), the UltraTracker, with a nude elliptical stylus and an aluminum body ($599), and the MasterTracker with a micro-linear stylus, aluminum body, and PCOCC coils ($899). Sign me up.

Glotz's picture

They care. End of story.

Audiolad's picture

It's easy to jump in the turntable market at the low end with a Chinese built turntable. However, to jump into the entry level audiophile market has a considerable amount of competitors. They are built in the US which is also uncommon. They like simplicity that works, and so do I!