Music Direct Buys Mobile Fidelity

Out of action for more than a year, Mobile Fidelty should be returning soon. Online retailer Music Direct has purchased the remastering and re-release specialty company, according to an announcement made April 24.

Sebastapol, CA–based Mobile Fidelity built a large and loyal following in the audiophile community, beginning with its release of high-quality half-speed remasterings of popular recordings in the 1970s. The company benefited from the CD revolution in the 1980s with a series of extremely successful "gold" reissues, but in the late 1990s suffered a cash crunch—the result of bad debt from a bankrupt distributor—even as it was experimenting with remasterings in the SACD and DVD-Audio formats.

The shuttering of the company last year was a shock to many who had come to rely on Mobile Fidelity for excellent-sounding discs. "Mobile Fidelity broke open the market for audiophile recordings," MoFi's former director of new technology John Wood stated. The introduction of gold discs put MoFi on a expansion path, but last year the label's major distributor went out of business, owing MoFi a substantial amount of money.

Wood is consulting with Music Direct about the technical direction MoFi will take. "Music Direct owner and president Jim Davis has extremely high standards, as evidenced by his other products. He's full of energy, and I expect great things for MoFi under his direction. Everyone involved is really excited about where this is going," Wood commented.

In late April, Music Direct—which worked with Chicago's Premonition Records in the release of Patricia Barber's first albums, and also distributes DCC vinyl recordings—acquired all the rights to MoFi's inventory, processes, patents, and brand name. MoFi will reportedly retain its own identity, but no new release schedule has been announced.

Inquiries about Mobile Fidelity should be sent to Rob Gillis at Music Direct, 318 N. Laflin St., Chicago, IL 60607-1006. Telephone numbers: 800-449-8333 or 312-433-0200.