Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab vinyl records aren’t as analog as advertised, class action claims

A proposed class action lawsuit alleges that Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MoFi) has falsely advertised for more than a decade that its vinyl records are taken directly from analog master recordings and are free from any kind of digital mastering.

The 28-page case shares the fact that analog recordings, as opposed to digital recordings, are coveted for their superior sound quality and collectability. Because original recording tapes age, only a limited number of analog recordings can be produced, and because analog tapes are used to record songs in a studio, a recording cut from an original analog tape is “as close to studio recording as possible”. get,” the filing reads.

Digital recordings, on the other hand, can be reproduced endlessly, depending on the combination.

The lawsuit says that although Chicago-based Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab labels its vinyl records as “Original Master Recording” or sold as part of the “Ultradisc One Step” series, the company used direct-stream digital technology ( DSD) – a medium for mass-producing vinyl records – in its production line since at least 2011.

According to the lawsuit, vinyl records made through Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab’s DSD production process are inherently less valuable given that they are “no longer in limited supply and were not as close to studio recording.” , despite their high price.

“Had Defendant not misrepresented that the recordings were purely analog recordings, or otherwise disclosed that the recordings included digital mastering in their production line, Plaintiff and the putative band members would not have purchased the recordings or would have paid less for the recordings than they did,” the complaint pleads.

“Cutting” a recording from analog tapes is a time-consuming process and subject to the reality that analog tapes age and deteriorate over time, the suit relays. To avoid this problem, some vinyl records today are made from digital recordings, which means an original analog tape has been copied to a digital recording which is then used to press the vinyl, the case explains.

While this process saves time and money, sound quality can be negatively affected, and LPs made from digital records aren’t as collectable or as valuable as fully analog records, the lawsuit says.

The DSD technology used by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab captures audio from analog tape at a higher resolution than other formats via high-bitrate sampling, as appropriate. The DSD process, according to the lawsuit, involves the removal of two steps in the plating process of the vinyl record, which is supposed to reveal more musical detail and significantly reduce surface noise.

According to the lawsuit, the defendant record company notes on its website that it “believes that mastering systems should be neutral and transparent” and that “the essential idea is to reveal all detailed musical information about the original recording. without adding deterioration, coloration or other sonic artifacts.Reasonable consumers who view defendant’s representations understand them to mean that its recordings are derived entirely from analog recordings, with no digital mastering or DSD technology, according to the suit.

Although MoFi’s depictions were “largely true” prior to 2011, the label has used digital techniques in its remastering chain since then, the filing says, claiming MoFi’s last non-DSD recording was in 2020.

In July 2022, MoFi engineers revealed that the label used “4x DSD” in its manufacturing process, the lawsuit reports. The complaint says the company then “acted quickly to rectify its misleading advertising and disclosure of the use of digital remastering in the recordings”, and now puts its use of DSD front and center on product pages.

“These ‘corrective’ representations demonstrate that not only were MoFi’s misrepresentations and omissions knowingly made, but that MoFi failed to disclose or otherwise misrepresent material information to consumers regarding MoFi’s production process,” alleges the case.

The lawsuit is intended to cover all consumers in the United States who purchased a record from Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab before July 15, 2022.

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