I guess it was just a matter of time before a major controversy would arise around some of the issues I discussed in my earlier post about music media formats.
Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs created a business of getting access to original master tapes of classic albums and making vinyl pressings (and SACDs, I think) from those tapes. Either they actively misled their customers to believe there was no digital step in the chain between master tape and the vinyl they sold, or they knowingly benefited from allowing their customer population to mistakenly believe the chain was all-analog. A lot of the controversy for many people hinges on which of those two things happened, but that question is of no interest to me except for the context it provides.
What interests me is the proof that the market, including supposedly well informed authorities with well trained ears, can be entirely fooled by their superstitions. The most important outcome of this incident is that it puts the lie to the notion that vinyl provides higher fidelity than good digital formats. I’m sure some listeners will continue to find ways of letting themselves be fooled by themselves and others, but never before have we seen a starker demonstration that those listeners’ core beliefs about vinyl have no merit.
Check out this article to get details on the incident.
Check out this article for another angle and additional narrative.
I don’t agree with everything in those articles but they do a good job of summarizing the newsworthy facets of what’s transpired.
As I said in my earlier post linked above, if you enjoy the sounds of vinyl’s sonic compromises and if you enjoy the sensory experience of holding, seeing, and smelling the medium — the disc itself, the label, the cover art, the inner sleeve, the liner notes printed large enough to read, and everything else — I’m right there with you and I hope we’ll all go ahead and keep right on having a great time with our record collections. But if you think vinyl necessarily sounds truer to some ideal of fidelity than CDs or any other digital format, recent news isn’t helping you back up that opinion.