Mobile Fidelity Question

Discussion in 'Music' started by gene c, Mar 25, 2006.

  1. gene c

    gene c Producer

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    I have a few DTS 5.1 cd's (not DVD-A or SACD) that were produced by Mobile Fidelity International of Incline Village, NV (parent company was Miller-Nevada, Ltd.) and used a "High Definition Surround" (HDS) format. I remember visiting their web site a year or so ago. Now on the web I find Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs of Chicago. There is no mention of DTS HDS cd's anywhere on this site. Are these the same company? If not, then what happened to Miller-Nevada? In any event, it looks as though there are no new DTS 5.1 HDS discs on the horizon which is a shame since they are some of the most best sounding and agressive surround mixes around. BTW, these were marketed by DTS Entertainment but only "Not Fragile" by BTO is listed in their catalog. Can someone shed some light on this for me? Thanks
     
  2. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    Who knows re Miller-Nevada--did you Google? Wish I had access to my Lyle Lovett Joshua Judges Ruth DTS CD liner notes (in storage) as that might provide some answers. But I recall thinking of that company as a rights holder (as opposed to distributor).

    When the MoFi (in northern California) that we all know and love filed for bankruptcy, Music Direct of Chicago bought the rights to use the name Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs on future releases. That's why you're finding MoFi in Chicago online now. But that should not be construed as or confused with this Incline Village, NV company, which I think is a completely different entity.

    I'd tend to disagree that it's a shame that DTS CDs are no longer in production. Any artists or engineers interested in surround sound ought to be recording for lossless releases on DVD-A or SACD.

    And I think "HDS" was just a marketing moniker and shouldn't be called a "format."
     
  3. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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  4. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    No disrespect Phil, but it's not a "write-up." I was expecting more info. Here's the one sentence amongst a lotta DTS info I know you and think most here already know: "Brad Miller, head of HDS (High Definition Surround Technologies) and original founder of Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, has a number of DTS-encoded releases on the market." Who knows if the "founder" part is even accurate.

    I've been buying MoFi Ultradiscs for about 20 years and am an inveterate liner notes reader. (I even wrote to the company about what I thought was a flaw on their Signals Ultra and they responded: I ended up on the phone with then-chief engineer Krieg Wunderlich and the I think head of production. This was when I think Marshall Bronstein (?) was head of the company.) It's of course not completely dispositive, but I don't recognize Miller's name from MoFi. Maybe he founded the company and then left management to others.

    Anywho, I'd speculate that he got rights to use the name MoFi International when he left the company. I don't quite understand the "International" thing anyways. Those titles were all available domestically. It sounds like Miller wanted to use the cachet of the MoFi name, but couldn't use the identical original company name. Interesting that some of the MoFi Intl titles have MFI and others have HDS in their catalog #s. What we need is someone who has one of those titles to look at the address and other information in the liner notes . . .

    Re your question, Gene, about these titles having been marketed by DTS but only the BTO title appears in their (current?) catalog: is it possible that all the others are out-of-print? I also find the DTS Website to be funked up when it comes to searching: stuff I know is in print that they released I'll search for by title and my returned hits will be press releases and other crap but not just a link to the damn title's listing at the site.
     
  5. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Paul - here is a brief history of the co.:

    http://www.soundstage.com/vinyl/vinyl200409.htm

    which includes the following info and the fact Brad Miller is no longer with us. The sale to Music Direct was not all that long ago:

    "Although Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab officially came into existence in 1977, its history dates back to the 1950s when, as a teenager, the late Brad Miller began recording the sounds of steam-engine trains and releasing them on LP under the Mobile Fidelity Records banner. Along with these recordings, Miller also released recordings of his own Mystic Moods Orchestra, which featured environmental sounds mixed with orchestral music. Miller released two other sound-effects recordings in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s (The Power and the Majesty and The Power and the Majesty, Volume 2) using the Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs (MFSL) moniker retained by the company today.

    He then wisely began turning the company’s attention to the reissue of commercial recordings with wider appeal. As sound quality was of top priority to Miller, all reissues were produced using the original master tapes (rather than heavily worn production copies) and a process known as "half-speed mastering," which slows down the vinyl cutting system so that information can be transferred from the tape to the vinyl master more faithfully. This series of recordings, dubbed Original Master Recordings (OMR), was met with overwhelming response from the audiophile community and continues to fetch huge sums on today’s used-vinyl market."


    There seems to be a better/more complete time line at MoFi's website:

    http://www.mofi.com/history.htm

    which indicates:

    "2001-Present: The New Millennium

    2001: Jim Davis of Music Direct in Chicago purchases the proprietary mastering chain and all intellectual property associated with the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab name. A team of MFSL veterans is assembled to helm technical and engineering departments. Emphasis is placed upon research and development of the mastering chain in both the analog and digital domains. "

    "1999: Mobile Fidelity releases its first GAIN 2™ Hybrid SACD, Duke Ellington's, Blues in Orbit. Mobile Fidelity's main distributor declares bankruptcy and MFSL Inc. closes it's doors."

    Here is another piece from Soundstage:

    http://www.soundstage.com/synergize/synergize200001.htm

    and some more info:

    http://www.music-collectors.com/arti...s-03_MFSL.html

    "The originators of MFSL are Brad Miller and Gary Giorgi both striving for lifelike sound recording and play back for quite some time. In 1980 they contacted Stan Ricker of Victor Company of Japan (JVC). They started cutting 33 1/3 records at half speed and used some high quality vinyl at the Japanese pressing plants in Yokohama. The result was a lifelike sound at full frequency with no audible difference from the master tapes which the records are made from.

    Herb Belkin who later became the president of MFSL made this statement about the sound quality: '..., and lo and behold, an experience I had not heretofore ever had visited upon me. I heard things that I had never had heard outside of the recording studio from a turntable. And this was so live and so real, and so dynamic that I literally became an apostle overnight. It was utterly astounding. There were things in this recording that I knew were there that I had not heard."

    According to the Soundstage peice Herb Belkin was:

    "While Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, referred to as simply MoFi by most, may have had humble beginnings back in 1977, they were soon to be gallantly blazing new trails. Two audiophiles, Brad Miller and Gary Giorgi, strode boldly into the office of Herb Belkin, executive vice president of ABC records, one afternoon and asked if he would sell them the rights to ANY one of ABC’s best-selling albums. Brad had garnered some attention with his stunningly dynamic recordings of locomotives, and the two decided to take the next step. Well, thinking them loony at best, Belkin agreed. The rest is history. "

    Many moons ago, when I had records, I had many of their releases before CD even existed. I did not find any clear indication in the above what rights Brad Miller retained, if any, at whatever point he left the co.
     
  6. gene c

    gene c Producer

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    Thanks to the both of you for the help. It looks as though Music Direct purchased what was left of MoFi and Miller-Nevada is no more. Once again Paul A, thanks for the link.
     
  7. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    On the one hand, the 'aggressiveness' of the mix has more to do with the mix engineer than the format. But on the other, maybe this has something to do with "HDS specifications" (whatever that means)? Perhaps Miller had a surround mix philosophy which, along with his company apparently having played a role in the physical manufacturing (as opposed to music production) of the discs, is the reason for his EP credit.

    Interesting. I will have to go retrieve my Lovett soon. It's time for "Church" anyhow. [​IMG]
     

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