MoFi Turntables - Milestones in Turntable Technology-Vinyl Revival

MoFi Turntables - Milestones in Turntable Technology

The release of the MoFi turntable, cartridge and phono preamplifier range has brought quite a lot of attention from music listeners and the hifi press. There is good reason due to the ground breaking technologies that Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs have established since 1977 with their Half Speed Mastered vinyl pressings of famous artist's albums and the excitement and expectations of their entry into producing equipment that would reproduce the playback of vinyl with the same level of sonic improvement that they are famous for. They brought their best to the table with superb engineering talent and expertise learned from their success in mastering and pressing records.

Their long and esteemed history started with their founder Brad Miller and his interest in capturing the sounds of locomotives and other outdoor sounds. This inspired Brad's idea of expanding the soundstage to give the listener a more panoramic environmental scene. This led to Brad creating the Mystic Moods Orchestra and his "sound-effects" tracks where he developed his recording craft.

Mobile Fidelity's significant contributions to the world of high-end audio software are grounded in the art of Original Master Recording, significantly advanced by the company with the introduction of the half-speed mastered Original Master Recording™ LP. As part of the company's resolve to provide the most accurate sonic reproductions possible, all Mobile Fidelity product is mastered directly from the original master tape as opposed to production copies often used for mass reproduction. This ensures a more complete and exacting transfer of the original musical data. In the case of the Original Master Recording™ (OMR) LP, the use of the original master tape is combined with a unique procedure known as "half-speed" mastering, which literally slows down the cutting system involved in mastering vinyl so that musical information can be transferred from the source tape to the lacquer with greater precision. To this advanced mastering technique, Mobile Fidelity adds substantial refinements in the vinyl compound itself and improves methods of plating the lacquer. The result is a significant improvement in overall performance from the vinyl medium.

In June 1979, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab releases what is to become the benchmark phonograph for the audiophile LP industry for years to come -- Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. The response is astounding as sales exceed all expectations. Mobile Fidelity is now at the helm of a newly emerging market for audiophile recordings featuring popular music.In 1980,Mobile Fidelity expands on this initial licensing of the Pink Floyd release by securing additional titles of significant commercial recordings from all musical genres including pop, rock, and jazz -- genres sorely missing from the current repertoire of available audiophile recordings. The Mobile Fidelity catalog begins to expand as does its marketplace, branching out from the audiophile community and into the hi-fi arena in general.

The success of these limited edition vinyl releases are culminated with the issue of a limited edition, boxed collection of 13 Original Master Recording™ LPs by The Beatles entitled The Beatles - The Collection. The Collection is lauded by critics and fans worldwide and sold-out completely within the first year.

Based on the Collection's enormous success, Mobile Fidelity follows with the release of a second boxed collection in 1983, Sinatra, which includes 16 of Frank Sinatra's most popular recordings, and in 1984 with The Rolling Stones, a collection of 11 OMR LPs which includes an art book with original album cover graphics and exclusive interviews with the original producers and recording engineers. All three collections meet with critical acclaim and are destined to increase in value as collectors' items.

Whilst Mobile Fidelity went on with the introduction of digital to produce Original Master Recording CD's and their Gold CD UltraDisc their heritage still lies strongly in their vinyl pressings which are still available today.

The Turntables

With their intended entry into the turntable and electronics arena Mobile Fidelity adroitly enlisted Allen Perkins of Spiral Groove fame, who is said to have designed and overseen all aspects of production with Mobile Fidelity StudioDeck and UltraDeck models. Allen Perkins is a San Francisco turntable guru, whose own Spiral Groove turntables start at $18,000. Spiral Groove’s well reviewed and fabulous looking turntables routinely soar into the tens of thousands and legitimately have staked out their own corner of the ultra high-end echelon. One can see why Mobile Fidelity felt they had landed big fish, so to speak, when they empowered Mr. Perkins to see what can be accomplished using his wits on their new decks.

The StudioDeck's construction starts with aluminium ruling the day with a wide plate of the material bonded to MDF plywood to form the plinth of the table and the appears again in the 10’’ gimballed bearing tone arm. The aluminium provides added mass dampening in the plinth and rigidity in the tonearm and judging by similar choices made in high dollar Spiral Groove tables are a good indication that StudioDeck’s design is coming from a higher plane of existence. The StudioDeck is run by a decoupled 300RPM AC motor and you will find a ¾’’ platter and pulley system made from Delrin™ material. Delrin™ is a proprietary polymer material developed by the DuPont Corporation, the crystalline structure of which is thought by Mobile Fidelity to be ideal in effectively shielding the stylus from unwanted motor noise or vibration.

The StudioDeck’s inverted bearing is comprised of a combination of Teflon, steel, and bronze normally associated with more expensive tables that prize silent rotational stability. Mobile Fidelity rounds out your hard-working turntable expenditure with a set of anti-vibration feet designed by Harmonic Resolution Systems to further separate any unwanted vibrations from your playback. HRS is yet another highly thought of name in the industry that Mobile Fidelity enlisted to go ahead and get the StudioDeck right the first time around. The build quality and feel clearly exceed most anything you are going to find at its price point.

Their higher end UltraDeck features a base of  Constrained Layer Dampening: Sitting atop the MDF bottom layer are three pieces of aluminium. Each piece of aluminium isolates the three major components from each other- the motor, the platter/bearing assembly, and the arm each have their own aluminium plate. The motor is further isolated from the base as well. Both aspects of the design help block vibration reaching the platter from moving parts inside the turntable or from outside influence.Although both the MoFi decks come with Delrin platters, the UltraDeck’s is 1.3" thick and weighs almost twice as much as the StudioDeck’s (6.8 lbs. versus 3.8 lbs. and ¾" thick).

The UltraDeck’s tonearm contains upgraded bespoke Cardas Audio wiring from the head-shell through the gold-plated RCA connectors. George Cardas is very well respected in the industry and his products are quite popular. The 10" aluminium arms on both models use high-quality ball bearings in a gimballed design for lower friction and operation. The arm has an effective length of 10 inches. Most models in this price range are 9 inches. The extra inch is important. All pivoting arms have tracking error. The longer the arm, the more gentle the arc as the arm travels the playing surface. The more gentle the arc, the lower the tracking error. One last detail is that there’s an O ring between the arm tube and the head-shell to assist in isolating the stylus from unwanted vibration.

The music just flows, it sounds far more real and lifelike via the Ultradeck. This is potentially due to excellent speed stability and the heavy Delrin platter, but it’s probably the sum of all the parts that make the Ultradeck well, ultra.The second thing that’s noticeable is that the Ultradeck is an exceptionally quiet turntable . By that, we mean no hum, no hiss, nothing. What the silent background gives you are huge dynamic swings. Quiet recorded passages aren’t mixed with noise, which in turn makes the loud parts seem louder.With the Ultradeck, MoFi has produced an American made turntable that’s well engineered and built, looks great, and sounds sublime- and they brought it to market at a very reasonable price.Voted Best Analogue Product of 2018 by Michael Fremer,a foremost authority on turntables - the MoFi UltraDeck is simply that good.

Vinyl is the most tactile of all music formats, so if the turntable feels awkward or cheap, playing music won't be much fun. To its credit, MoFi Electronics has eschewed any gimmicks and spent their money on things that matter: a great, sturdy, yet medium-mass tonearm; a smooth drive system; a fabulous platter; a fine cartridge; and outstanding isolation from vibration. 


 The Studiophono Phono Preamplifier

StudioPhono replicates the wide bandwidth transparency Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab mastering engineers demand. Tim De Paravicini, the designer responsible for the Mobile Fidelity Gain2™ Ultra Analog cutting system, assisted with the internal circuitry to ensure your analog system at home faithfully reproduces the music buried in the grooves of your LPs. StudioPhono won’t add anything to your music. If anything, it’ll remove a layer of noise that may have previously gone unnoticed.

Tim De Paravicini is a global analogue renaissance man of sorts who has travelled many roads over the past decades, working with EAR, Musical Fidelity, and Luxman, to name a few of his more recognisable stops.De Paravicini was uniquely suited to captain the design of the StudioPhono as he understood the technical aspects and standards Mobile Fidelity sought to deliver better than anyone: to create an ultra-wide bandwidth, high transparency phono stage truly faithful to original master recordings. Tim de Paravicini oversaw all circuit design and part selection to accomplish Mofi’s mission for the StudioPhono.

Their other phono preamplifier model, the UltraPhono is the same as the StudioPhono but includes a powerful Class A headphone amplifier perfect for quiet nights when you want to keep the records spinning in private.

The MoFi Phono Cartridge Range

MoFi cartridges are designed by looking back at where a record starts: On a lacquer cutting lathe like the model used at Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab. They follow the same layout as the cutting head responsible for making grooves on vinyl LPs.The MoFi StudioTracker cartridge is made in Japan.The cartridge consists of two low-mass, powerful magnets aligned in a V formation parallel with the stereo record grooves. With this design StudioTracker accurately extracts precious details from your LPs.The StudioTracker comes with an elliptical stylus whilst their UltraTracker model comes with a Nude Elliptical stylus. Their top model, the MasterTracker comes with a MicroLine stylus.

These extraordinary turntable,cartridge and Phono preamplifier models are true milestones in advances in turntable technology using design principles and materials previously reserved for the "Top-End" turntable market. Their reception in the marketplace has been extraordinary to say the least. They just sound so right!

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