Tapestry Mobile Fidelity One-Step Versus ORG Standard Pressing (Time Line Correction)

<i>Tapestry</i> Mobile Fidelity One-Step Versus ORG Standard Pressing (Time Line Correction)
"So Far Away" Version 1
37% (265 votes)
"So Far Away" Version 2
63% (454 votes)
Total votes: 719
Thanks to a reader's generosity I was sent a copy to audition of Mobile Fidelity's One-Step release of Carole King's Tapestry album. It's clear to me I'm on Mo-Fi's "bad dog" list. I've not been offered for review any of the company's turntables, phono preamps or cartridges. When I ask, I'm met with stone silence. Over the past few years I've gotten only one record for review (that was wrong and to Mobile Fidelity music side I must apologize. I've gotten more than a few records to review since I reviewed and raved about the One Step Monk's Dream in April of 2020. My timeline was stunted by "Covid compression". Actually more than a few records did show up after that and I apologize to Mobile Fidelity for getting the timeline wrong. It's been quite a while since I got a record from them but that's mostly because nothing's been released in some time. Though after I asked for a copy of Jeff Beck's Truth album I got a copy and gave it a well-deserved great review). This audio product review shunning can't be accidental. What did I do to be cut out of the equipment? I have no idea and it's none of my business.

So, thanks to a reader's generosity here's a comparison of "So Far Away" from Tapestry as a One-Step Mobile Fidelity release and the ORG edition from a few years back cut by Bernie Grundman and Chris Bellman. Both of these editions are at 45 rpm. I'm not going to foul the waters by giving you my take. At least not until the votes are in and perhaps not at all. Polls will be open for 1 week.

BTW: turntable was OMA K3, Frank Schröder K3 arm, Lyra Atlas Lambda SL cartridge, CH Precision P1/X1 phono preamp, Lynx HiLo A/D converter.

File "1"

File "2"

Glotz's picture

It's much like a video game company releasing a game with a review blackout period; they really don't want the unvarnished truth coming out.

Not remarking on MF obviously, as he hasn't given his input here yet. But everyone's insightful input might sway prospective buyers away from the pre-order frenzy or hamper future purchases.

Either way the these types of discussions can only help buyers...

Keen Observer's picture

I gave a full listen over a pair of Focal Chora 826 speakers. Small (Klein) #2 is louder yet has greater dynamics than Small #1. For a reference, I downloaded the track from an SACD rip -- both of the vinyl tracks were louder than it. The only vinyl pressing I own is the 1980 CBS Mastersound 1/2-speed mastered release, but I didn't bother to have a fresh listen to it. Small #1 has some dynamic compression and EQ issues, so I voted for #2, but I'm not entirely pleased with it either.

Keen Observer's picture

That's one ugly turntable and it doesn't look user-friendly. For that separate piece that the cartridge is mounted to, which in turn is mounted to the arm, is there anything other than friction between it and the arm that constrains it from rotating in the horizontal plane?

Michael Fremer's picture
That arm was designed by Frank Schroder. I would not be surprised if that name does not ring a bell with you but he is among the world's foremost and well respected arm designers and that arm is spectacular both in design and sonics.
Michael Fremer's picture
That arm was designed by Frank Schröder. I would not be surprised if that name does not ring a bell with you but he is among the world's foremost and well respected arm designers and that arm is spectacular both in design and sonics. If you think the turntable ugly, that's your esthetic opinion but to think I'd use an arm that doesn't constrain the cartridge carrier from rotating in the horizontal plane is just plain ridiculous. Schröder invented this design that's been copied by many designers and companies.
EarsAndBrains's picture

As miguelito mentioned, #2 is recorded louder than #1. He said musicscope clocks #2 at 0.5 dB louder. Both foobar and roon say #2 is 2.1dB louder than #1. Both use the EBU R-128 standard. (Though roon's implementation is buggy.) I guessed a 1-2dB difference on first listen.

The rumble on #2 is very annoying. One wonders if/how that could make some systems sound better.

Analog Scott's picture

Loudness is purely perceptual. Level is objective. While they are tethered they are not the same thing. Loudness is a function of both spl and spectral content

EarsAndBrains's picture

Correct about the difference between level and loudness, and apologies if I wasn't being careful in my choice of words. No shit is coming your way from me! But that doesn't change my position that #2 is much louder than #1 and this explains why most people will prefer #2.

The R-128 standard uses our understanding of the perceptual aspects of hearing when deriving the loudness corrections. It computes a level correction that should be applied to the source so that it will sound as equally loud (perceptually) as other sources that are also corrected in level. It's designed to match loudness between sources that vary in level.

So let's say you played #1 such that its average level was 87dB, and this gave you a certain perception of its loudness. Then when you wanted to compare #2, you'd have to lower the level 2.1dB using the volume control so that both sources had the same average level (87dB) in the room and give you the same perception of loudness. If there were differences in the recordings regarding tone, detail, imaging, or any other aspects of recorded sound, then you’d have a valid basis to find them.

There's always the danger there are large enough differences in two recordings of the same source that the loudness corrections are not computed correctly. For example, the rumble in #2 could be fooling the R-128 algorithm into finding that #2 is much louder than #1. Maybe the low frequency
high level bass noise (rumble) in #2 is skewing the computation. Well, rumble isn't a problem because the algorithm attenuates the bass starting at 100Hz using a curve they call k-weighting.

Another factor in the perception of loudness is our individual differences in hearing. That is, our own physiology and age-related or other types of hearing loss or damage.

Ohjoy50's picture

Ok I'm a big reluctant to answer the question which is better because of the sound degradation we will inherently get transferring it to digital, but it is what it is. I am a BIG Bernie Grundman fan so I wouldn't even question which version I would bet on and prefer. At the same time I am not a big fan of MOFI's stuff although there has been a couple I like. My observation is file one does have some nice qualities in both the bottom octaves and top end, the issue is the midrange sounds a bit muted and vailed. File two is not perfect either though. Midrange is not vailed but is not as sweet and delicate as in the first. Also the top and bottom end is not as sweet and delicate as the first. If the midrange was not so vailed I would prefer the first file. The midrange is also to low in the mix on the first. and the Midrange on the second could be a little less present, little more laid back.

Which do I prefer overall ? oooh tough one. I'm going to say file 2 is Bernies and file one is mofi. Because the midrange is vailed in file one I "cannot" give it the preferred version.

saxman73's picture

I don't know which is which but file 2 sounds way better to me. Vocals warmer, more forward. The whole track feels better, and the sound has much more depth. Better, more musical detail, too. It almost sound like they didn't use the same tape. It's a pretty big difference!

vinylrules's picture

I would be very surprised if Version 2 was *not* the MoFi One-Step because to me it sounds sooo much better.

To me it possesses more weight and body on instruments and her vocals, I hear more resolution (I'm hearing more tiny details in the mix), all while being warmer in tone. What da?

Version 1 on the other hand sound tinny, thin, brighter. Not my cup of tea.



Jim Tavegia's picture

The vector scope visuals on both showed a strong tendency toward mono and I didn't really care for either one really. When the one channel kick drum came in there was a strong pull 2 o'clock to 7 o'clock which just seemed very strange to me. Neither would get much playing time in my house.

My original lp with lead out grooves ODE77017-P5 AND ODE 77018-T7 for stamper codes. I preferred my old copy to either of these, but my nearly 75 year old ears are probably not a good judge anymore.

Keen Observer's picture

Michael (or is his name Elender Lümmel?) doesn't know the answer to the question, and can't give a simple "I don't know" (likely the case if he didn't install the cartridge). Instead he gives an appeal to authority "he is among the world's foremost and well respected arm designers" and even threw in some condescension "I would not be surprised if that name does not ring a bell with you". Inasmuch as the German "ö" transliterates to English as "oe" I will admit that I've never heard of Frank Schroder, but when I'm in the market for a handbuilt tonearm, I'll be sure to contact Frank Schroeder.

robert r dawson's picture

...cryin out loud

Glotz's picture

Too funny..

I wonder if any of these guys actually read reviews or just pretend to... lol

Mannfred's picture

...Do you manage the Analog Planet Only Fans page?

Mannfred's picture

..I like to think of Fremer as the Ron Jeremy of audiophiles. He is a little guy but has the biggest toys. :)

Glotz's picture

I missed beating up on you... and you are already banned from the fan site.

Shame... we were giving away pink dildos for dudes named 'Manny'! (That would have been the big toy for you to feel like Ron Jeremy.)

Now you're just left with the joke nature gave you.. awwww.

Leonthepro's picture

are we getting an answer key and your thoughts Michael?

volvic's picture

I'll say that track 2 is not the MOFI pressing but the ORG edition. Track 1 is I believe the MOFI. I prefer 2.

swimming1's picture

It's been a week of torture!LOL Cheers,Chet

Leonthepro's picture

this is another survey we wont get the key to?