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August 08, 2022, 01:47:04 AM

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Total Fuckdown for Vinyl Nerds

Started by QDRPHNC, August 06, 2022, 01:49:40 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

QDRPHNC

I want to preface this by saying that I know almost nothing about audio production techniques, but here's the story as I understand it. If you want you can skip all this and just read the Washington post story.

Right, so there's this company called Mobile Fidelity (MoFi) who for years have been pressing their "Ultradisc One-Step" line, basically classic albums pressed directly from the original master tapes, and sold at premium prices to those hardcore analogue fans who want an all-analogue tape to vinyl process.

So the shit hit the fan recently when one prominent YouTuber, 45 RPM Audiophile, quite rightly asked how MoFi were going to press 40,000 copies of their upcoming $100 release of Thriller from the original master tapes. That this would require at least 40, perhaps 50 or 60 plays of the master tapes, and why on earth would Sony allow this?



Then a guy called Mike, who owns a record shop in Arizona, made a video saying he'd heard from a reputable source that MoFi were using a digital step in their processes.


Then, someone at MoFi messed up, and invited Mike to their facility in California to set his mind at ease, without running it past their CEO. Which resulted in this video, where 3 MoFi engineers sort of awkwardly say "er... yeah" when asked if there is a digital step.


So, total fuckdown. Then Michael Fremer (aka TrackingAngle), longtime hardcore evangelist of both vinyl and MoFi jumps in, castigating Phoenix Mike for not being a real journalist, and not asking the hard-hitting questions and basically they should have sent a real journalist there, I mean, not Michael Fremer necessarily, but yeah, probably Michael Fremer.


Hard to feel Fremer isn't hiding his blushes a bit there though, given his stature in the community. And I'm sure many other YouTubers are now quietly deleting their MoFi reviews extolling the virtues of their all-analogue processes which they can definitely hear. To be fair to 45 RPM Audiophile, he did do a bit of soul searching about it:


Over on the Steve Hoffman forums, the thread is at 679 pages.

The most perfect summation of the whole thing comes on page 1 though, from user Coltrane811:

QuoteIt's impossible that they are digital because so many people on here can 'sense the naturalness' of analog over the 'harsh superficial glare' of digital. So they would have known already and told us.

And by page 679, we're here:

QuoteNo, I don't mind what you call Americans. It's just words. I don't hate Germans. I don't hate any group of people. None. I don't use racial slurs. If anyone German found my use of "kraut" to be a slur then I apologize. I will now cease to use the word in case this is so. If you aren't German, you have no right to be offended.

From what I can gather, it doesn't seem that MoFi lied outright, but they certainly lied by omission, cultivating the image (and the price point) of a purely analogue product every step of the way.

I don't have a dog in this fight personally. I own some records, I understand the appeal of them, and I play them on a shitty Crosley and enjoy them perfectly well. Still, there's definitely some schadenfreude to be had in seeing some snobs taken down a peg or two.

badaids

As a vinyl collector I can say this is all very interesting but can I ask you to cut to the chase and tell us if you have done a massive turd in a toilet in a motorway services somewhere? If not then step back from the conversation please. If you have, then tell us more about that.

QDRPHNC

Sorry, I'll get to your turd question in a second, just interesting to note that this diagram, which was included with all of MoFi's Ultradiscs and featured on their website:



Was updated to this just yesterday:



Also, my YouTube suggestions are now packed with bearded baldies.

QDRPHNC

No, I don't think I have done a turd in a motorway service station, unless Glasgow airport counts. If not, I shall take my leave.

Sebastian Cobb

The thing that irks me about this sort of thing is why on earth does the world need 40k more pressings of Thriller when charity shops and discogs shelves are creaking with copies on sale for fuck all?

I reckon given the age the original versions (and later represses made from the same plates) will likely have used an analogue process.

But regardless modern mastering is generally worse than that of the 80's due to there being fewer skilled mastering engineers and the ones that do exist are all overworked, to the point it's almost certainly the weakest link, they'd have been better off making copies of the original master plates (if available) and pressing from that.

I know someone who has a reputable digitisation business and its at the point big name labels have sent them stuff to be digitised into DSD format (this is different to wav/mp3 where each bit represents a level of loudness - it uses lots of 1-bit samples where each bit is a louder/quieter reference to the preceding bit) and the labels have been utterly uninterested in them sending the masters back to them after digitisation, we're talking household names here, so it sounds like this sort of marketing trick's days might be numbered. 

QDRPHNC

As someone who got into photography during the film days, there was a long period of time where arguing the relative merits of film vs. digital was fair enough because digital just wasn't good enough. But we're at the point now where digital has unquestionably outclassed film, and I wonder if this MoFi thing might mark bit of a turning point in the vinyl vs. digital "conversation", basically confirming that a lot of people who claimed to tell the difference couldn't tell the difference at all.

I understand loving film and loving vinyl, but these days I think you have to be honest with yourself and admit your love is based on the non-technical aspects.

Sebastian Cobb

Yeah totally.

And for both film and audio if you want analogue warmth (this is just pleasant distortion usually) then you can do that by bouncing your stuff through tape or film during the process.

I think some 'shot on film' films do have a pleasant aesthetic but I also reckon the last place you want film these days is in the projector. The cinema I go to sometimes does 35/70mm screenings and the experience is frequently not good. The films are often fucked because they're kept in circulation too long and ran through poorly serviced projectors. I also think projectionism as a job is becoming so forgotten that someone who has to do it once in a blue moon is probably worse at handling it than a stoned bored teenager in a 90's multiplex chain who doesn't give a fuck about their job. If there's problems during the projection that require tweaking they struggle to rectify.

Sebastian Cobb

The only exception to this might be long-term archival - I think some places still cut 'all digital' films to film for long-term storage because we've figured out how to do that and there's plenty of risks of obsolescence in digital storage.

Steve Albini claims this is why he still uses tape, and seems to have disdain for people using his studio to flex over analogue for style reasons.
Quote"I work in the analog domain, but not for reasons of stubbornness, sound 'magic,' nostalgia or any other romantic notion," he continued. "I consider my job to be making the historical record of our musical culture, and analog recordings are the most robust, durable and universal way to ensure that the music survives — potentially long enough for the music to find an audience, but as part of the historical record, if not. People are entrusting me with their lives' work and I take that responsibility seriously. I want the music to survive."
https://chicago.suntimes.com/columnists/2021/9/5/22627932/steve-albini-recording-engineer-electrical-audio-studio-music-digital-analog-avondale-steinberg

Pauline Walnuts

I've been loving this, people almost in tears on various YouTube videos.

🍿

My experience with expensive/audiophile reissues has been failry sub-optimal. Actually, I say that, is Simply Vinyl even an audiophile re-issue company? Certainly not in the same league as those $125 copies of Eagles album re-issued for the 3,417 time and all that rubbish.

Pauline Walnuts

Quote from: Sebastian Cobb on August 06, 2022, 02:17:59 PMthe labels have been utterly uninterested in them sending the masters back to them after digitisation, we're talking household names here, so it sounds like this sort of marketing trick's days might be numbered. 

Was your friend Steve Hoffman by any chance?

[/unfounded rumours]

M-CORP

Quote from: QDRPHNC on August 06, 2022, 01:49:40 PMAnd by page 679, we're here:
QuoteNo, I don't mind what you call Americans. It's just words. I don't hate Germans. I don't hate any group of people. None. I don't use racial slurs. If anyone German found my use of "kraut" to be a slur then I apologize. I will now cease to use the word in case this is so. If you aren't German, you have no right to be offended.

See, you don't get this on CD.

Goldentony

this is fucking hilarious, I havent got anything to offer yet bcause I got to the bit in the opening post where it links to what'll be the fucking hell of the Steve Hoffman forums and needed a break from excitement

purlieu

FSOL put out a CD-only release last year, which was done so for numerous reasons, including coming out on a very small charity label, and the fact that it's presented as a single track 60 minute gapless 'mix'. The Facebook announcement attracted a chap who had a very, very angry rant about how the band were supposed to represent 'the Future' and yet were using CD, a format of the past*. "Anyone into sound only listens to vinyl". I pointed out that all reports of vinyl outselling CDs are focusing entirely on income and not sales figures, that almost all music these days is recorded, mixed and mastered digitally, that there are as many audiophiles who claim the superiority of digital over analogue as the other way around, and that if we're talking about people "into sound", one only need look at experimental/sound art stuff, which is one of the very few surviving areas where CD absolutely dominates. He wasn't having any of it, talking crap about how "digital skips all over the place" while vinyl doesn't (??); I eventually cornered him down to a single argument, which was that when he listens to vinyl it sounds great and makes him want to dance around the room, whereas digital sounds dead and lifeless to him.

This is the backstory to my utter joy at reading about audiophiles who are adamant that a record is from an analogue master because you can hear the difference, only to later find out that it's actually from a digital master.

On paper I don't have any issue with people who prefer analogue - whether genuine or as a placebo - and listen to their music like that, so long as they don't go around telling other people they're wrong. But at the same time, it's the pastime of incredible rich people - almost exclusively white male boomers - and this kind of thing just pumps shitloads of totally unnecessary plastic into the world, so I also kind of wish they'd just fuck off as well.


*I couldn't be arsed to mention the fact that streaming is the format of the future, and is the least analogue audiophile-friendly format of them all.

idunnosomename

Back to my midi files then. They just sound warmer

Ferris

Someone on here posted that with vinyl, they "loved the warmth of the sound they could hear when they talked about it" which still makes me chuckle.

You get it with everything - beer snobs are a classic one. Some BJCP judges are unable to tell what style a beer is if they can't see it. When told it's brown they go "ooh yes, a really rich and complex nuttiness" only to look like fannies when it's revealed to be a kolsch or whatever.

Sebastian Cobb

It'd be interesting to see some of these meticulous audiophiles take a proper hearing test, by the time you have the disposable income to buy into the bollocks, you're almost certainly too old and deaf to notice the differences they claim exist.

bgmnts

Won't lie I really hope vinyl and cassette tapes come back.

Ferris

Quote from: Sebastian Cobb on August 06, 2022, 04:40:32 PMIt'd be interesting to see some of these meticulous audiophiles take a proper hearing test, by the time you have the disposable income to buy into the bollocks, you're almost certainly too old and deaf to notice the differences they claim exist.

I've had an elderly member of family corner me at a Christmas do and explain the leap forward in quality from HD TV to 4K. They are legally blind.

purlieu

Quote from: Sebastian Cobb on August 06, 2022, 04:40:32 PMIt'd be interesting to see some of these meticulous audiophiles take a proper hearing test, by the time you have the disposable income to buy into the bollocks, you're almost certainly too old and deaf to notice the differences they claim exist.
Yes, I know a chap in his 60s who only buys vinyl and 24 bit downloads because he thinks they sound dramatically better than 16 bit digital and I always just think mate you probably can't hear flutes at your age.

Sebastian Cobb

Quote from: purlieu on August 06, 2022, 05:03:43 PMYes, I know a chap in his 60s who only buys vinyl and 24 bit downloads because he thinks they sound dramatically better than 16 bit digital and I always just think mate you probably can't hear flutes at your age.

This is why I always thought Neil Young and his Pono music player/service was a load of cobblers.

Plus it was Toblerone shaped. Does the grumpy old sod not put things in his pockets?

Goldentony

Quote from: Sebastian Cobb on August 06, 2022, 05:07:58 PMThis is why I always thought Neil Young and his Pono music player/service was a load of cobblers.

Plus it was Toblerone shaped. Does the grumpy old sod not put things in his pockets?

neil young doesnt have pockets he doesnt need them


Sebastian Cobb

Quote from: Goldentony on August 06, 2022, 05:14:11 PMneil young doesnt have pockets he doesnt need them

What does he do with his Pono when he doesn't want to hold it?

hey hey
my my
strap my pono to my thigh

Pauline Walnuts

Quote from: QDRPHNC on August 06, 2022, 01:49:40 PMAnd by page 679, we're here:

QuoteNo, I don't mind what you call Americans. It's just words. I don't hate Germans. I don't hate any group of people. None. I don't use racial slurs. If anyone German found my use of "kraut" to be a slur then I apologize. I will now cease to use the word in case this is so. If you aren't German, you have no right to be offended.


This still remains my if not favourite post there, certainly the best opening line:

https://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/why-is-my-generations-music-still-popular-with-kids-today.1114784/page-6#post-28088298

Pauline Walnuts

Quote from: Sebastian Cobb on August 06, 2022, 05:07:58 PMPlus it was Toblerone shaped. Does the grumpy old sod not put things in his pockets?

He has someone carry it for him and walk 3 feet behind at all times.

Rizla


DJ Bob Hoskins

Quote from: dontpaintyourteeth on August 06, 2022, 05:18:30 PMhey hey
my my
strap my pono to my thigh

Legend has it that Neil Young began his foray into high-res digital audio when he realised that the crappy old stylus in his record player had scratched his LP collection to buggery.

He'd seen the needle and the damage done.

buzby

This is hilarious.

I'm also willling to bet that the only master they could get off Sony for Thriller was the digital-sourced one from the 2001 remaster, when as well as the CD they rereleased the album as a 2-disc gatefold LP and picture disc.

QDRPHNC

Quote from: Rizla on August 06, 2022, 07:04:50 PMBoomers

 and their Rumours.



What player did I inadvertently talk you into buying?