pl | en


Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs

ONE-STEP is a vinyl pressing technique that involves eliminating two intermediate steps from the process. After the lacquer is cut, its copy, known as a "convert," is made, and from it dies for pressing are produced directly. Up to 1,000 copies of a record can be created from them.

⸜ KRAKOW/Poland


translation Ewa Muszczynko
images “High Fidelity”


June 1, 2023

The KRAKOW SONIC SOCIETY is an informal group of music lovers, audiophiles and friends who meet to learn something new about audio products, records, music, etc. The idea for the Krakow Sonic Society was conceived in 2005, though its roots go a few years back. It is already its meeting No. 139.

AM NOT SURE IF YOU HAVE HEARD music played from the so-called “lacquer”, i.e., a lathe-cut plastic record. If so, you are aware that its sound is quite unpleasant – bright, harsh and irritating. It is similar, by the way, in the case of DMM copper masters, as could be heard on Stockfisch's SACD album entitled DMM-CD/SACD. The thing is that in the vinyl record production process one needs to make a few subsequent copies – from soft lacquer, through the father and mother, to the stamper used for pressing vinyl discs.

Each of these steps yields a mechanical copy made using a different material. And, typically for copies, each is worse than the previous one. Resolution and dynamics suffer, but, most importantly, timbre changes - the highs have lower and lower quality. That is why an experienced mastering engineer cutting lacquer needs to know how to set up the equipment in their studio to get as faithful a copy of the "master" tape as possible in the end, even though initially they have to choose a completely different timbre. Some of the most experienced mastering engineers work for the American Mobile Fidelity label.

⸜ The system we used for comparing different album issues

The Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab is a specialized record label targeting the audiophile market. The company was established in 1977 by BRAD MILLER. The first releases featured high-quality recordings... of trains passing by, with the sounds of a steam locomotive. In later years it released new versions of well-known titles, using its own techniques for the purpose. Its leading slogan is "Original Master Recording," indicating that its remasters are made from original analog "master" tapes. Miller died in 1998, and in 2001 the company was bought by JIM DAVIS, owner of the Music Direct chain of audio stores.

Records remastered by this specialist record label sound spectacular. The techniques it uses have proven to be successful and are regarded as one of the most important achievements of the industry. There are other labels on the market, other mastering specialists, equally well-known and respected, but it is MoFi, as it is referred to, that is now the symbol of "analog" sound, along with Analogue Productions – or it was.

The basis for its reputation was the certainty that it would reach for the first "master" tapes (i.e., not even production copies) to press LPs and make SACD masters. In fact, as the video blogger MIKE ESPOSITO has established, for many years MoFi has been copying analog tapes onto a computer in the form of DSD (now DSD256) files, and only then made their analog remasters.

As I wrote in the editorial from September 2022, the company justified that with the possibility to precisely set the bevel of the head for each track. Let me remind you that original "master" tapes are cobbled together from session tapes, and it is indeed the case that each track may have been created at a different time and on a different mastering tape recorder. This procedure also allowed the record label to make an infinite number of masters, without involving the original tapes (more → HERE).

A scandal broke out when Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album was issued. This is because the label decided to release a "limited" edition of 40,000 copies using its own specially developed One-Step technique. The technique allowed for the elimination of two copies from the process – the father and mother. As a result, only one copy remained between the lacquer and the stamper – the convert. This is what Shawn Britton, senior mastering engineer at MoFi, told the portal:

We compared the test pressing One Step recordings with the standard pressings. We heard a better signal to noise ratio and the surface noise was lower. To use audiophile reviewer terms [lots of sarcasm here] ‘the blacks are blacker!’ Meaning it’s fricken’ quieter, you know?! The first release using the system is Santana’s Abraxas. It starts out with the track, Singing Winds, Crying Beasts with cymbal washes (…) You hear more of those low level details. Reverb tails carry out better, there’s a more pliable sound stage. It’s pretty impressive. I thought that it might be a high frequency thing but we now think that the bass is more solid too.

⸜ →, accessed: 12.05.2023

Still, analog "master" tapes were to remain the base for record development. With the 40,000 copies of Thriller, the tape had to be played eighty (!) times – from one "convert" one can only obtain 500 copies (other sources talk about 1000 units). However, when our "master" is a DSD digital copy, this can be done without difficulty. It goes without saying that the price of such a release must be higher, since four times as many masters and four times as many test presses must be made as with a classic Mobile Fidelity release.


40,000 COPIES IN A "LIMITED" edition may seem to be an exaggeration. However, it needs to be taken into account that Thriller, the sixth solo studio album of the American singer MICHAEL JACKSON, released on November 30th, 1982, by the Epic Records label, is the best-selling album of all times. It is said it has been sold in 100 million copies and the number is still growing. In comparison, 40,000 seems like nothing and we can really talk about a limited edition.

Jackson was assisted by Quincy Jones, who was responsible for the production. The recordings were made at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, with additional tracks from Ocean Way Recording Studios, and cost 750,000 American dollars – it was a fortune at the time. It was originally released in many countries simultaneously, including Japan. For Europe, it was pressed in the Netherlands. In 1984, the Japanese pressed a version from a digital master, i.e., U-matic tapes (16/44.1). On November 18th, 2022, its anniversary version Thriller. 40th Anniversary was released.

The album was recorded and mixed by the excellent sound engineer, BRUCE SWEDIEN. Sweden has won five Grammy awards and has also been nominated for 13. He produced albums of such artists as: Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Lionel Hampton, Quincy Jones, Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Natalie Cole, Roberta Flack, Mick Jagger, Jennifer Lopez, Paul McCartney, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, or Sarah Vaughan.

We can read on the cover of the Thriller album that it was recorded using the Acusonic Recording Process system. Hugh Robjohns, technical editor for the "Sound on Sound" magazine, said:

The phrase doesn't refer to anything physical. Rather, it's a catchphrase invented by the well-known recording engineer Bruce Swedien, who worked on the album, to describe the approach to recording he developed. One of the techniques he likes to use is to record a lot of acoustic sources separately in stereo with a stereo pair, rather than with a close mono mic. He also tends to move sources around in the studio in front of a fixed stereo pair when tracking them one by one, rather than move the mics around, so that each source is recorded with the correct room acoustics.

The disadvantages of the 'Acusonic' approach are that it requires a lot more tracks than the equivalent mono technique, it takes slightly longer to record everything, and you need a big mixing desk to perform the mix down. Of course, for someone like Michael Jackson, these are not pressing concerns! The advantage of the Acusonic technique is that you can achieve a much greater sense of space around the instruments, with more natural early reflections and reverberation characteristics.

⸜ HUGH ROBJOHNS, What is the Acusonic Recording Process?, →, accessed: 23.05.2023.

The listening session

THE LISTENING SESSION OF MICHAEL JACKSON'S ALBUM was divided into two parts. In ˻ PART 1. ˺ we listened to the other side of the record, without breaks, from the One-Step recording released by Mobile Fidelity. After we finished, we listened to the first two tracks again at a higher volume. ˻ PART 2. ˺ consisted in comparing a few issues of Thriller. We had the first European pressing, the first Japanese pressing, the 1984 Japanese pressing with a digital master, and the contemporary "40th Anniversary" version. All of them were compared with the UltraDisc One-Step, Original Master Recording:

˻ 1 ˺ → Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UD1S 1-042, 180 g LP ⸜ 2022
˻ 2 ˺ → Epic EPC 85930 (Europe), LP ⸜ 1982
˻ 3 ˺ → Epic 25·3P-399 (Japan), LP ⸜ 1982
˻ 4 ˺ → Epic 30·3P-431 (Japan), seria: „Master Sound DM Digital Mastering”, LP ⸜ 1984
˻ 5 ˺ → Epic | MJJ Productions | Sony Music 19658714511 (Europe), „40th Anniversary”, LP ⸜ 2022


˻ PART 1 ˺

» ˻ 1 ˺ → Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UD1S 1-042, 180 g LP ⸜

WOJCIECH PACUŁA Despite the fact that I was sitting on the side, not at the best spot to listen, I must say that I liked what I heard very much. I think than the One-Step issue with MICHAEL JACKSON'S Thriller sounded superb. What was great was that you could almost not hear the sliding noise and crackle at all, a bit like from an analog tape.

TOMASZ FOLTA Only once something quietly crackled and we immediately looked at each other :)

WOJCIECH Indeed, as in this respect there was complete silence, so once something popped up there in the background, we were surprised by it, as if we had forgotten we were listening to a vinyl recording. Perhaps it was not a crackle coming from dust, but an electrostatic discharge.

TOMASZ Well, I must confess that I do not have my washer and I did not wash the disc before listening. It is taken straight out of the box. When I buy "first presses" I wash them at Nautilus in an ultrasonic washer.

WOJCIECH Anyway, I became very emotional and the atmosphere was friendly while I was listening. However, I reacted just like everyone else. When I looked at you several times, I saw that everyone was nodding their heads and tapping out the rhythm. None of you were distracted, but everybody focused on the music. I liked that a lot, especially after Jarek recommended listening again with a higher volume level.

By the way, the first Jackson's album that I had was Bad, the fourth vinyl recording I have bought in my life, released in 1988 by Polskie Nagrania. For me, this is the "imprint", my first time. Only after some time I matured enough to listen to Thiller, which is much more complex both in terms of music and sound than Bad, although both albums were produced by Quincy Jones.

I think that Thriller is the last great recording of the 1970s, although it was released in 1985. That is: momentum, big money, rich arrangements, attention to harmony. That was gone later. The kind of emotions Thriller stirred in me while I was listening to it today were similar to what I felt while listening to Bad once. By the way, I will add that somewhere there must exist a copy of the "master" tape sent to the Polish label at the time. Yugoslavian tapes can be found at auctions from time to time, so I wonder if it would be possible with Polish ones…

WICIU Listening to this album, I wondered when records began to be made, where different musicians were selected for individual pieces. For me, these are So by PETER GABRIEL, and BRIAN FERRY's Boys and Girls, as I remember these best. I wonder how far back in the 1970s this practice could be traced.

WOJCIECH Indeed, it would be interesting to know that. In the case of Thriller it is also important that it is the first major producer album. There have been recordings of this type before, too, but none of them had gained as much popularity.

JARMOMIR WASZCZYSZYN Here the main role was played by Quincy Jones and he is, next to Jackson, the most important person.

WOJCIECH A lot is going on here, in every song – there are no weak pieces. I have the impression that there are no such albums today, as no one thinks from this point of view anymore, but from the perspective of a single. An album is created by combining several singles with "fillers".

TOMASZ Bad surpassed this album in that all the songs there had been released as singles and each of them reached high places on the "Billboard" chart.

TOMEK L. But it was Thriller that had opened the door for Bad.

BARTOSZ PACUŁA However, there is a difference between them – a different promotion strategy was adopted for Bad, one that was much more aggressive. Hence, perhaps, so many "number ones." When any of the songs reached the top of the list, the label would stop promoting it and transfer the budget to another one. It was such a " hit factory".

TOMEK L. On the on hand, Thriller is such a complex and cool recording. However, despite the fact I had known it, it is much more complex than I had thought. And this is why it is still appreciated. It is listened to, analyzed, and still impresses.

DOMINIKA I apologize to everyone for what I am about to say, but let it be: I don’t like Michael Jackson. I don't know why this is so, but there has never been this "connection" with his music on my part. It is probably controversial in the context of what you said, but – let it be.

JAREK Finally, someone brave here, bravo!

DOMINIKA However, I wanted to add a big "but": given that this is not my favorite artist, much less the album, I have to say that it was cool, it was a big, or even phenomenal listening session. And I confirm, my leg "moved" on its own. It was something great. You could feel the excitement of this listening experience, even though I was sitting at an even worse place than Wojtek.

BARTOSZ Today I listened to Thriller for the first time since the scandal that broke out after the revelation of the label's practices that I consider to be dishonest and after the movie about Jackson was shown on HBO. After these events, I purposefully stopped listening to this album. Now this music sounds a little different to me than before.

So, it is a challenge for me, since, on the other hand, the album is such a positive experience, such an amazing event. It was a very emotional listening experience for me and I really enjoyed everything I heard. It sounded great, especially when the volume was turned up. But the question remains: what do we do with the knowledge that it was released in such a way as to mislead buyers and that it costs such big money. Nevertheless, it was the best listening session of Thriller that I have ever participated in.

WICIU This is a general problem, because what about the behavior of Jagger, Richards and others accused of forcing sex?

JAREK In my opinion, it is necessary to cut off the creator from the creation, otherwise half of the music will have to be deleted.

WOJCIECH This is one way, of course, but there is another way, which is uncompromising, and which does not forgive someone who has never been punished for their deeds. That is why this is such a personal decision.

BARTOSZ Whatever you say, this record is outstanding and this version, on this system, sounded phenomenally good.

DAMIAN I won't refer to what Bartek said, because it is indeed very personal. However, as for the album itself: the last time I listened to it was about a year and a half ago, and I listened to it at a friend's house where we were tuning speaker sets, and, I'll be honest, I was sick of it. Beat It and Billy Jean were being played all the time, so I would go to the garden then.

But I had never listened to it from vinyl before. So, I was full of apprehension – and I am positively surprised, because it was very good indeed. I'm not going to talk about the technical aspects, because I agree that nothing hummed or crackled, which was a surprise to me – I've never experienced a lack of humming from vinyl before. More importantly, Bartek and moved both of our feet while listening, that's how well it "went". We were also moving our heads, as if hitting the cymbals. Well, a lot was going on.

DANIEL It's hard for me to say anything, because I haven't yet listened to as much music on good equipment as others here (by the way, this is Daniel's debut within the KTS; he is currently the youngest participant in the meetings – editor's note).

On the other hand, I have listened to this album a few times on Bluetooth headphones, in the background, without much focus. But now that I have listened to it in a conscious way for the first time, I start to understand how much is going on there. And it didn't matter if it was a fast or a slow piece; every sound, every event was very well selected, and nothing was ever missing. There was rocking and the feeling was very positive.

RAFAŁ Unlike everyone else, I prepared for this KTS meeting and listened to the album thoroughly :) I am satisfied with the outcome of the listening session, even though my listening spot was not the best. But even there I could hear a certain amount of depth, elements I didn't know about before, which is a plus. I confirm that it worked out when we played the music louder, because then we got a really lively, dynamic musical message. Everything was very good in terms of emotions, so I am curious about the other versions.

MARCIN I also prepared myself in a way, as I watched a YouTube video in which a musician tries to analyze Jackson's album from the instrumental side, "disassembling" different sounds and looking at their core ingredients. This tells you how complicated Beat It is, how many sounds, tracks and layers there are. Here it was all audible.

If someone listens to it without hearing what is here, then to them it will sound like something simple, uncomplicated. And here each element was perfectly audible, which shows what a masterpiece its production is. And the Mobile Fidelity version adds even more to it – I'm very impressed.

RYSIEK B. Thanks to this album, I once discovered Quincy Jones. It is an outstanding album in terms of editing, arrangement, and performance. It is "top of the top." But I also must add that it it is not an album of my generation. As the oldest person in the Society, I will admit that I got excited about other music, while keeping Thriller at a distance, appreciating, respecting, and acknowledging it. My heart, however, did not beat any faster.

It was also the case that I felt like the system was warming up over time, as I enjoyed it more from track to track.

TOMASZ I had an identical impression; I don't know why... I played music before for a longer period of time, but I generally play vinyl once a month on average, and now I’m mainly listening to files.

RYSIEK B. I would like us to arrange a similar session with Spiritual by THE ART ENSAMBLE OF CHICAGO, as it would be the fulfilment of my dreams.

JAREK With me it can be a problem, as I feel very strongly about this album. I'm listening to what you are saying, that you hit this album at different stages of your emotional development, and I am recalling things associated with that. I first heard it shortly after its release, still "warm", on a Dual turntable with a Shure cartridge, a Pioneer amplifier and Sansui speakers.

I listened to it in Karwiny, a district of Gdynia, with my wonderful cousin, who was carrying my goddaughter under her heart. As a result, we could not dance to it. So, my memories are extremely positive. And that's why I took the liberty of interrupting and asking you to listen to the fragment again, but much louder. The music and emotions that sit inside me are unimaginably large. This music must be listened to loudly. Listened to quietly, it loses its energy and danceability. After turning up the volume, everyone became animated and finally started stamping their feet.

WICIU The listening experience wasn't good here, because it was a bit of a monophonic reproduction. On the one hand, there is some great stuff there, but overall I lack space here. I bought it recently on a CD and that's how I remember it. I'll probably listen to it again tomorrow. But I have a lot of affection for it because I associate it with Program III's Hit List. Michael Jackson is a superb vocalist and I hold him in high esteem. The recordings here were created by superb instrumentalists with great arrangements. What is there to say, if there is nothing to talk about – this is an outstanding album.


˻ PART 2 ˺

» ˻ 1 ˺ → Epic EPC 85930 (Europe), LP ⸜ 1982

WP I liked this first issue a lot. There was less information than on the MoFi version – and usually the first editions have a higher resolution – less flavor, fewer layers. This was not the case here. On the other hand, the so-called "drive" was incredibly true. I heard the energy depth of this album, its profundity. Wiciu pointed out earlier that the depth of the stage in the One-Step version was poor – here, I feel, it was better. There was some great freedom.

DANIEL In the One-Step version, the "background" sounds were much more prominent, they could be heard much more clearly. In contrast, the first European release featured much less information. Which, somewhat surprisingly, made the listening session more pleasant, giving it, so to speak, an "everyday character". On the other hand, I personally like it when there is a lot going on in sound and all these "flavors" are available. For me, it's such a "buffet" of sounds that you can isolate and choose from. That's why I liked the Mobile Fidelity version better, without diminishing the first edition, which is also very good.

DAMIAN In general, what Wojtek said is what I also think. And, indeed, the first edition has the "drive", impact, etc. On the other hand, I had the impression that it is a bit out of control and livelier. There is not a lot of sophistication in it, but it just appealed to me more, I liked it better.

JAREK And again all my emotions are surfacing. Who knows if the album I was listening to at the time wasn't this exact pressing – my cousin's husband would travel by ferry to Holland. It all came back to me. But it was with the One-Step version that all the sounds that began to appear caused our attention to start focusing on the choruses, which were not heard in the original release. It was all audible only with the MoFi edition. That was the essence of music.

TOMEK L With the One-Step version I got more micro dynamics and details for analyzing the piece, while when it comes to listening (momentum, drive, warm cool playing,) it is definitely the domain of the first pressing. This is "everyday" music playing.

» ˻ 2 ˺ → Epic 25·3P-399 (Japan), LP ⸜ 1982

WP It is a very interesting instance of music playing and a fascinating experience because it was "a little like this and a little like that". There was much more information here than on the first European pressing. There was more of something surprising in the music, and music needs that. On the other hand, this was a little more "artificial". On the European release, the depth of sound was more natural, there was something about it as if it was meant to be that way. On the Japanese version, on the other hand, I listened to it as if it had been "done" – brilliantly, but still. In terms of timbre, it was a brighter version than the European one, closer to the One-Step edition. Nevertheless, I would not buy it.

TOMASZ I also think so. I was shocked at the beginning, as it is a combination of certain features of the One-Step version and the first pressing. There is a little more detail, it is stronger, but, as a whole, it was shriller. I felt stunned by the sound throughout. There was also little differentiation in volume; instead, there was a wall of sound. The bluntness was unnecessary. It wouldn't be bad if we didn't know the previous versions. As for me, this is the weakest one so far.

RAFAŁ Well, I agree with you – that was the weakest version I have listened to today, which does not mean it is bad, though. The most disappointing part was the beginning, when there were strong bass hits which sounded forced. It overwhelmed me. Apart from that, I felt as if it was all going on one level, one wave, everything flowed at once.

MARCIN There's not much to add. Perhaps let's allow someone who has a different opinion to have their say.

RYSIEK B. They will accuse us of collusion, because we all agree, which happens to me very rarely, especially with Tomek or Wojtek. Here it was dry, edgy, shrill and I did not feel the pleasure of listening. At the beginning there was too much bass.

WICIU And I liked it, I can't help it (at this point there was applause – editor's note). I liked it because I like bass. I always find it lacking in recordings, and in this respect many recordings are screwed up. Indeed, there is clearly more bass in this issue, making it a more "disco" edition. For me it was an interesting version.

DOMINIKA I agree with Mr. Ryszard because, for me, this version was unsuitable for listening, I didn’t like it. There was gigantic chaos on stage and at times the vocals were lost, melding with the instruments. I definitely did not like this edition.

TOMEK L. I heard exactly the same things as Dominika. It was as if a Japanese took the first edition from the Netherlands and said, "I'll show you what we really have here." They focused on detail, and not on the music and musician. Although Japanese editions are usually very good, in this case it was screwed up.

BARTOSZ Rysiek says they will accuse us of scheming because we agree with each other, and I would say they will accuse us of not being right in the head because each of us hears something different. Regarding what Dominika and Tomek said, I think exactly the opposite. As for me, Jackson's vocal was outstanding in this version. It was so energetic and powerful that the Dutch version was worth nothing compared to it. The Japanese first release was fantastic. It was devoid of One-Step flavors, but had excellent energy.

DANIEL I was also surprised by what I heard before, because it seemed to me that it was the vocal that was in the foreground in this version, and the instruments were less important. I would even say that Jackson shouted at times here. I didn't quite like it and missed the guitars, which were too far back. So, the critique is the same as everyone else's except Bartek, but the observations are the same as Bartek's.

JAREK For me, the difference between the Dutch and Japanese pressings is the difference between dynamics and noise. Many people can't tell these things apart, but it is simple. The difference was most noticeable with Van Halen's guitar, which sounded excellent on the record from the Netherlands, while the Japanese edition was a test of how a Japanese would play the same solo.

DAMIAN In the meantime I had a reset – I was in the toilet, so I won't necessarily be objective. When the Japanese version started playing, I thought it was cool. But the longer it played, the less I liked it. Jackson sounded higher, as if he wanted to scream louder. However, when the guitar came in, it all started to blend together for me. Of the three editions I've listened to so far, I'd probably choose the second one, which is the first release from the Netherlands. The One-Step version would be at the end.

» ˻ 3 ˺ → Epic 30·3P-431 (Japan), series: „Master Sound DM Digital Mastering”, LP ⸜ 1984

MARCIN Wojtek did not even shout to mute already :)

WP Well, yes, I was curious about the sound. "Master Sound DM Digital Mastering" was a series in which, instead of an analog copy, a U-matic, 16-bit, 44.1kHz digital VCR tape was sent to cut master copies. The idea was to reduce the noise of the copy.

JAREK I feel like comparing the Dutch version and the digital one. The difference is this: the former is for dancing, and the latter for listening. In the European version, the rhythm, the beat sits on the mid-bass, while in the Japanese version the focus has shifted to the vocals, choruses and guitar. The guitar is simply superb! Now you can hear why they chose Van Halen. Also the vocals were great, very strong and very expressive. The bass was softened, while the rest was great in an emotional sense, on par with the Dutch release.

DAMIAN I liked this version the most, that is, the Japanese version with a digital master. I noticed that there is a metallic sound in the background for most part of the track, some instrument that I didn't pay attention to on previous releases. There's that "something" about the guitar here that allows you to enjoy it. And then there are the choruses – they are better separated here. This would be the best version for me.

DANIEL It was immediately striking to me, too, that the lead guitar was much stronger, more audible. Stronger "power" could be heard at the very beginning. The solo sounded great. As for me, this version is equal to the One-Step one.

BARTOSZ When the vocals entered, I thought to myself that this was the most embarrassing version we had listened to. I liked the previous Japanese edition best. But when Eddie Van Halen's solo came in, I found that this, in turn, was the best version of Beat It that I have heard today. Anyway, I would choose the MoFi One-Step issue, as it was the most balanced one.

DAMIAN A bipolar personality…

BARTOSZ Well, you see, you pay a lot of money for such a diagnosis, and you get it for free during a KTS meeting :)

TOMEK L. I agree with the previous speakers – this solo version drew me in to the maximum. We should ask all the engineers to come here and tell them what we liked about each release, maybe then we would have an ideal version. I really liked the Dutch edition and I would buy both it and the One-Step version.

BARTOSZ So, you spend 1,000 Polish zlotys and you're satisfied, pretty cheap…

DOMINIKA I'd like to say that from the first sounds I knew this would be my favorite version – and I was not disappointed. For me, it it was something really big. There was harmony, fullness, there was everything on this album. And I would like to listen to music like this, in such a version. It is amazing that there is one song, and such different performances. The previous two were unlistenable to me.

WICIU I have already forgotten the first version (One-Step – editor's note), But evidently, compared to the previous Japanese version, the midrange was added very nicely, and the bandwidth was equalized. The musical message became smooth, interesting, and superbly done. It seems to me that perhaps this is the best presentation this evening. I am not sure about the One-Step edition, but the remaining two are far behind.

RYSIEK B. I have a problem: I liked this version a lot. I liked the fact that it was very smooth, rhythmic sound, that there was a lot of midrange and no nervousness in it – it sounded very musical. I have a dilemma – the Dutch version or this one.

MARCIN In my opinion, the One-Step edition plays in a different league, a higher one. But comparing it to the digital master, I would say that it is better than the Dutch version and much better than the first Japanese one. Perhaps without exaggeration, it's nonetheless a fairly even level, but still.

RAFAŁ I liked this version, it had nicely drawn-out vocals, a good guitar – everything sounded very elegant. It's good, but not as good as with the One-Step edition. It's a "Top Two" for me now.

TOMEK I wanted to disagree with Dominika, but this is a complete coincidence :) For me, this was the absolute worst version of all the ones played here. What's interesting is that we're listening to the fourth vinyl and there's still no crackle and noise typical for vinyl. But, to me, this record sounded as a CD from the mid-1980s with all the associated issues. That is, it was as if we were listening not to a sine wave, but to a square. Everything was noisy, shrill and "in your face." I knew some people would like the bass, but it wasn't very low bass. It sounded best on the One-Step recording.

DOMINIKA Well, I hear it completely differently, for me here was the greatest harmony, and the clamor was on the previous two versions.

WOJTEK I agree with Tomek, unfortunately, although I am a fan of the early digital - I like it and understand it a bit. I was not familiar with this version, technically I know how it was made and because of that I had expected a lot more. I really liked the fact that it was not nervous. The previous two were not completely balanced. It was very smooth, pleasant sound. On the other hand, there was little information in it for me.

Now I can see that the One-Step edition was outstanding, as it was smooth and contained a lot of information. The Dutch version was great because it had the drive, it was deep. I didn't like the first Japanese version at all. This one, on the other hand, was cool because it was good, calm music.

» ˻ 4 ˺ → Epic/MJJ Productions | Sony Music 19658714511 (Europe), „40th Anniversary”, LP ⸜ 2022

A few words from the Editor

To tell the truth, it was difficult to record any longer meaningful comments after the previous versions. I heard things ranging from "don't shoot the pianist" to "and people buy it." Tomek said that it was the worst version and there was nothing to dwell on: "It was very, very bad." Rysiek, on the other hand, said that for him it came second, but no one agreed with him. He liked the rhythmicity, clarity, energy, and said that the sound was "homogeneous". Listening to him, Wiciu, almost through tears (of laughter), said that, after all, none of what Rysiek was talking about could be found in that sound. Not because Wiciu was laughing at him, but because they were sitting next to each other and heard two completely different albums. Dominika added that the choruses at first sounded like a tiger from the cover, which was "quite embarrassing".

Asked for his opinion, Marcin, the owner of this version, said briefly: if this is a standard record intended for 99% of the public, it's terrible. "As far as we are ahead, having listened to the previous versions, which we criticized, after all, if we go down to the level of the consumer, as with this version, then it’s hard to believe than one could sell something like this”.

And the hierarchy? Whatever you say, it was the One-Step Mobile Fidelity version that most of the listeners found to be the best and that they most frequently referred to. The Japanese version with a digital master or the first edition from the Netherlands came second. The first Japanese edition was third, while the new pressing generally sold to the public was out of the scale.


Some time after our meeting, the Billborad magazine reported: "MoFi Wins Approval for MultiMillion Dollar Settlement Over Analog Vinyl Controversy" (more → HERE, accessed: 12.05.2023).

As we can read in Bill Donahue's article, a federal judge approved a settlement, under which the label agreed to pay 25 million dollars for misleading its customers. Although the sum allows for a refund to all those who feel cheated, some point out that this is not fair, as the company has not really been punished.