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A Horsemeat Disco: The MOFI Fiasco

In 2013, Europe was astounded to learn that beef products made within its borders contained horsemeat! This scandal rocked the food industry and showed a breakdown in the traceability of the food supply chain. It later emerged that other undisclosed animal DNA was found during laboratory tests on a variety of beef products.

Fast forward a decade, and again many are left feeling sick at the distasteful contamination of another daily staple to most of us. There is a certain amount of digital in the analog record chain! The audiophile world awoke on June 20th to the confessional video (watch it here) when Mike Esposito, from The In Groove record store, interviewed 3-sound engineers of the legendary mastering house, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MOFI). This capture confirmed previous speculations of other revered audiophiles, Michael Fremer and Michael Ludwigs.

Click image to watch video

The revelation that MOFI had been digitally recording the old, original analog Master Tapes to Direct Stream Digital (4xDSD, to be exact) rocked a small portion of the worldwide vinyl community and spawned an outrageous number of opinions for such a niche market.

YouTuber, bandwagon-bloggers like us, and published media like The Washington Post even got involved. However, where my opinions differ immeasurably from the vast number of others is I do not care. We have all known this has been going on for decades across all genres, not just within alternative musical circles!

You see, regular readers will know my own tastes are generally post-1990s, and the more resourceful music fans will have suspected a digital “step” was present in all the records and tapes we bought; the more you look, the more you see. The Digital Audio Tape, often shortened to just DAT, is 35 years old and was used extensively as a Master Tape. Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) have been on the go since the 70s, digital samplers became common products in the 80s, and every bedroom studio had an Amigo computer running Cubase in the 1990s, which is when I entered the world of music seriously.

The fallout has been very predictable, “old men shout at a cloud” is predictable. Echoes of “I’m cancelling my pre-orders...” or “...I will never be buying a MOFI again!” punctuate above the rasp of discontented voices. Even the Christians in the 1960s who burnt The Beatles records had more venom than these guys! I was oblivious that there had been a bit of bronco in my Big Mac and still enjoyed it, yet the connoisseurs who could also not taste the stallion in their Slider now are spitting feathers!

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