Audiophile Label MoFi Sued For Using Digital In “All Analog” Vinyl Reissues
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, commonly known as MoFi, is a reissue label that’s been operating since 1977 and that targets its products at the audiophile community. MoFi reissues tend to be much more expensive than most records. In recent years, MoFi has claimed in its marketing that its reissues were “purely analog recordings” created from the master tapes of the original records. But in the past few months, the audiophile community has gotten very upset over the revelation that MoFi also uses direct-stream digital technology in many of its records. Now, one customer is filing a class-action lawsuit against the company, accusing the company of false advertising.
A few weeks ago, a Washington Post piece outlined everything that’s been happening with MoFi lately. Last month, Mike Esposito, owner of Phoenix record store the ‘In’ Groove, posted a YouTube video in which he claimed that he’d learned from “pretty reliable sources” that MoFi had used digital files in its reissues. MoFi responded by inviting Esposito to tour the company’s facility in California. Esposito went, and in a YouTube interview with some of MoFi’s engineers, that the company did, in fact, use digital technology in its reissues.
Now Billboard reports that a North Carolina man has started a class action lawsuit against MoFi. This customer says he’s bought a bunch of MoFi records with the understanding that the entire process was analog. The accuser’s lawyers claim that MoFi intentionally kept their use of digital processes secret and that “MoFi intentionally hid this fact from consumers.”
Since nobody had accused MoFi of making records that sound thin or flimsy, the issue with the company’s processes seems to be almost philosophical. In that lawsuit, the lawyers for the accuser claim that the scarcity of all-analog reissues is part of the appeal of MoFi’s marketing: “Original recording tapes age, so only a limited number of analog recordings can be produced. When defendant began using a digital mastering process in its records as opposed to purely analog, it inherently produced less valuable records — because the records were no longer of limited quantity and were not as close to the studio recording — yet still charged the higher price.”
Mofi’s lawyer tells Billboard that the company “cannot comment on pending litigation matters at this time.” In a statement last month, MoFi apologized for the “vague language” of its marketing: “We recognize our conduct has resulted in both anger and confusion in the marketplace. Moving forward, we are adopting a policy of 100% transparency regarding the provenance of our audio products.” The company has been using digital processing since 2011.