Kind Of Blue - Mobile Fidelity 45RPM Vinyl, CD, and SACD Versions

DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,440
edited December 2015 in Music & Movies
Introduction

I, and others, have waited years for MoFi's treatment of Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" on 45rpm 180 gram double-disc vinyl. It didn't disappoint. This recording generated a wide and deep soundstage with life size sonic images, excellent tactile sensation, and finely detailed growl and overtones in the wood body and strings of the acoustic bass. Miles' trumpet had just the right amount of metallic bite. The alto and tenor saxophones had a lifelike silky "edge" and serrated overtones.

Others have complained that the bass on this version was too "heavy", but I thought it was just right and highly representative of what I hear (and feel) in live acoustic jazz performances.

Others also have complained that this version is cut from third generation masters and does not have the overall clarity and detail of the Classic Records 1995 four LP 45rpm set, which is long out of print and now costs hundreds of dollars on the collector's market. I still have a twinge of regret that I didn't snag a new sealed copy for $290 when I had the chance.

Compared to all the digital versions I own, the MoFi 45rpm vinyl version is more three-dimensional, more holographic, presents more of a sense of space and depth around sonic images, and presents more image weight and tactile sensation. However, the 192k download has more air around the ride cymbals, has better high frequency detail, and is more dynamic. The 192k download is a close second to the 45rpm MoFi vinyl set.

I have always appreciated 12" 45rpm singles due to their better bass rendering and better overall clarity and detail.

KoB-45RPM-SACD-s_zpsqmqiawph.jpg
Figure 1. MoFi's boxed set of 45RPM vinyl at top and MoFi's hybrid CD/SACD at bottom.

The grooves were dead quiet and I was tempted not to run these discs through my VPI 16.5 record cleaning machine...because I hate washing records. I even sent an email to MoFi asking if wet cleaning was necessary. This is the response I received:

"Thank you for your email. It is not necessary, however cleaning even a new LP
does help remove mold release compound which can make playback cleaner."


Off to the steam cleaning, wash, rinse, and vacuum, they went.

Modded-HW165-sjpg_zpsnkzgphvg.jpg
Figure 2. VPI 16.5 record cleaning machine with fan modification. The KoB discs didn't sound any different, or better, after steam cleaning, washing, and vacuuming.

Windfeld-Mounted6x4_zps6vcudmfj.jpg
Figure 3. Isn't it awful that in the 21 century the highest resolution music playback system is still vinyl records and diamond "needles"? I hate the playback and maintenance rituals...but I love the sound.

I've managed to ditch the CD and SACD players, and their lasers and spinning discs...but I haven't found a satisfying substitute for dragging a tiny rock through plastic undulating grooves.

Comparison To Digital Versions

PS3SACDRippingStation-s_zpspwz4eljw.jpg
Figure 4. Modified Sony PlayStation 3 - for ripping SACDs to DSD files.

I used a modified Sony PlayStation 3 and Sonore ISO2DSD software to rip DSD files to my computer. DBpoweramp CD ripping software was used to rip FLAC files from the CD layer of MoFi's hybrid CD/SACD disc.

The order of sonic hierarchy for all of my Kind of Blue versions is:

1. Mobile Fidelity 45rpm 180 gram vinyl.
2. Columbia/Legacy remastered 192k download.
3. Mobile Fidelity SACD rip.
4. Columbia/Legacy SACD rip.
5. Mobile Fidelity CD rip.
6. Columbia/Legacy CD rip.

As you go from bottom to top in the above list, the sound stage gets wider, deeper and overall clarity and detail increases. The 45rpm vinyl and 192k download are equal in sound stage proportions and image placement.

The 192k download version is a new remaster from the original 3-track session tapes and was painstakingly engineered to recreate the original sound of the recording studio. I was surprised that the sound quality of the 192k remaster download sounded better than both of my SACD rips. This is another example that higher resolution does not always equate to higher quality sound. The care and competence that goes into the making of the master records trumps the medium every time. A higher resolution picture of a pile of horse manure is still a picture of a pile of horse manure (not that I am comparing the other digital versions to horse manure).

MoFi's 45rpm version would be perfect if it had the air and high frequency detail of the 192k download. The 192k download would be perfect if it had the holography, image weight, bass weight, bass articulation, bass detail, and tactile sensation of the 45rpm LP. I have gained a greater appreciation of high resolution digital files since upgrading my DAC to the dCS Debussy.

TeresTT-TopFront_zpsdqlfcw1b.jpg
Figure 5. Such Good Sound! In the future, when I am more dedicated to audio than I am now, I will find a way to quit my turntable without sacrificing lifelike sonic bliss.

Associated Equipment

Teres Audio Model 255 turntable
Graham Phantom II tonearm
Ortofon MC Windfeld phono cartridge
Sonic Purity Concepts and Design "The Clamp" record clamp
Bryston BDP-2 digital player
dCS Debussy DAC
dCS Puccini U-Clock word clock
PS Audio PowerBase isolation platforms for turntable, BDP-2, Debussy DAC and Puccini U-Clock
Black Diamond Racing isolation Pits and Mk IV Cones
Pass Labs XP-30 line level preamplifier
Pass Labs XP-25 phono preamplifier
Pass Labs X600.5 monoblock power amplifiers
Revelation Audio Labs Prophecy Cryo-Silver Split Configuration USB cable
Revelation Audio Labs Prophecy Cryo-Silver S/PDIF RCA-RCA coaxial cable
Revelation Audio Labs Prophecy Cryo-Silver S/PDIF BNC-BNC coaxial cable
Revelation Audio Labs Passage Cryo-Silver DB-25 power umbilicals for XP30 and XP-25 preamps
AudioQuest Sky XLR interconnects
AudioQuest Everest speaker cables
AudioQuest LeoPard tonearm cable
PS Audio PerfectWave AC-12 power cords
PS Audio PerfectWave P-10 AC Regenerator
Polk Audio SDA SRS 1.2TL loudspeakers (heavily modified)
Salamander Synergy Triple 30 audio credenza

References

http://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/69845/a-comparison-of-the-sacd-cd-and-lp-versions-of-six-titles

http://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/68614/episode-2-analog-strikes-back-ortofon-mc-windfeld-cartridge

http://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/64768/graham-phantom-b-44-tonearm-like-a-2-2-on-steroids

http://forum.polkaudio.com/discussion/78275/the-hard-goodbye-pt-3-reference-ii-motor-upgrade-for-teres-255-turntable
"So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
"Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
"Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
"Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK

Comments

  • dromundsdromunds Posts: 7,879
    A pleasure to read. Thanks.
  • Nice write up and really nice TT.
    I guess if I bought this it would be as an investment as
    my $100.00 TT wouldn't do it justice :)
    Studio 2 equipment;
    Yamaha a-s2100 Amp, CD-2100 CD player, T-S500 tuner
    Loudspeakers: Harbeth p3esr, Polk RT7
    Cables: Aural Harmony Sonnet Interconnect II, WireWorld Equinox 7 speaker,
    Black Cat silverstar 75 ohm digital, Signal Digital Power Cord, PS Audio Perfect Wave AC-3,
    Pangea SE14, Voltz supplied interconnects
    Optional: Arcam DV88 DVD/CD (HDCD) player, Polk SDS-400 speakers
  • hochpt21hochpt21 Posts: 5,113
    I've got 3 copies of KOB on vinyl, but am tempted by this one.

    Beautiful TT of course.

    I'm sure the music just sounds outstanding over there.
    __________________________________________________
    2 Channel
    Turntable - VPI Scout 1.1/Ortofon 2M Blue
    Integrated Amplifier - Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II
    Speakers - GoldenEar Triton 2
    __________________________________________________
    7.1 Home Theater
    Denon AVR-X3300W; Rotel RMB-1066; Polk CS350ls, LS90's, FXi3's, RC60i; SVS PC Ultra; BenQ W1070; Elite Screens 120"
    __________________________________________________
    Man Cave
    Turntable - 1) Pro-Ject 2.9 Wood/Grado Gold; 2) Sony PS LX410/Grado Green
    Phono Stage - PS Audio GCPH, Parks Audio Budgie; CD - Marantz DV4001
    Preamp - Dared SL2000a, Luminous Audio Axiom II; Amplifier - Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers - SDA 2A (x-overs etc...); Epos Epic 2; Polk Audio Monitor 70 (my first)
    __________________________________________________
  • BlueMDPickerBlueMDPicker Old Polk Posts: 6,983
    Great review! (And jaw dropping equipment).

    I have it on vintage R2R (Columbia ‎– GCB 60, 2 Track 7 1/2 ips) and it's stunning as is "In Person, Friday Night At The Blackhawk, San Francisco, Volume I" (Columbia ‎– CQ 428, 4-Track 7 1/2 ips). Wish I had the other two SF sessions.


  • gcegce Posts: 2,176
    Great review as always. But I have to disagree with this statement "I hate the playback and maintenance rituals" To me this ritual is part of the enjoyment of vinyl.

    Now off to mofi to order my copy.
    Anaheim Hills CA,
    HT 5.1: Anthem MRX 720 / BDP-Denon DBT1713UD / Polkaudio LSiM703 / W4S mAmp's / Polkaudio LSiM706c / Polkaudio LSiM702F/X's / SVS PC12-NSD / Panasonic TC P55VT30

    2 Channel: Rogue RP-5 / WireWorld Electra power cord / Marantz TT-15S1/ Ortofon - Quintet Black MC / Marantz NA8005 DAC / W4S mAmp's / Synology DS 216+ll-4TB / Polkaudio LSiM703
  • hochpt21hochpt21 Posts: 5,113
    gce wrote: »
    Great review as always. But I have to disagree with this statement "I hate the playback and maintenance rituals" To me this ritual is part of the enjoyment of vinyl.

    Now off to mofi to order my copy.

    Funny, I thought the same thing. I'm sure there are very few of us, but I do enjoy the whole process.
    __________________________________________________
    2 Channel
    Turntable - VPI Scout 1.1/Ortofon 2M Blue
    Integrated Amplifier - Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II
    Speakers - GoldenEar Triton 2
    __________________________________________________
    7.1 Home Theater
    Denon AVR-X3300W; Rotel RMB-1066; Polk CS350ls, LS90's, FXi3's, RC60i; SVS PC Ultra; BenQ W1070; Elite Screens 120"
    __________________________________________________
    Man Cave
    Turntable - 1) Pro-Ject 2.9 Wood/Grado Gold; 2) Sony PS LX410/Grado Green
    Phono Stage - PS Audio GCPH, Parks Audio Budgie; CD - Marantz DV4001
    Preamp - Dared SL2000a, Luminous Audio Axiom II; Amplifier - Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers - SDA 2A (x-overs etc...); Epos Epic 2; Polk Audio Monitor 70 (my first)
    __________________________________________________
  • BlueMDPickerBlueMDPicker Old Polk Posts: 6,983
    hochpt21 wrote: »
    gce wrote: »
    Great review as always. But I have to disagree with this statement "I hate the playback and maintenance rituals" To me this ritual is part of the enjoyment of vinyl.

    Now off to mofi to order my copy.

    Funny, I thought the same thing. I'm sure there are very few of us, but I do enjoy the whole process.

    Me too. Gets me off my bum and keeps me more active. The muscle memory of the ritual is so embedded that I feel a bit lost for a few cycles when I move any equipment around.


  • DarqueKnightDarqueKnight Posts: 6,440
    edited December 2015
    I have it on vintage R2R (Columbia ‎– GCB 60, 2 Track 7 1/2 ips) and it's stunning as is "In Person, Friday Night At The Blackhawk, San Francisco, Volume I" (Columbia ‎– CQ 428, 4-Track 7 1/2 ips). Wish I had the other two SF sessions.

    Have you compared the same recordings on vinyl and R2R?
    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
  • BlueMDPickerBlueMDPicker Old Polk Posts: 6,983
    Have you compared the same recordings on vinyl and R2R?

    I only have "Kind of Blue" on tape and CD. But, have session one of the SF recordings on vinyl and tape.

    It's really no comparison on the former. The latter, to my ears anyway, is superior in placement, presence and a feel of openness (you're THERE) on tape.

    To be fair, however, the tape deck is on an all tube system driving hybrid ESL's, while my table in that listening space is on a solid state amp/pre with a tube phono stage driving small SDA's. Perhaps it merits a little playing with equipment config and experiencing both media on both systems?

    BTW - you have an absolutely gorgeous home and amazing taste!


  • gcegce Posts: 2,176
    Got my copy this morning and am listening to side 2 at the moment. MoFi did an outstanding job on this 45, just outstanding!

    Again thanks for the review.
    Anaheim Hills CA,
    HT 5.1: Anthem MRX 720 / BDP-Denon DBT1713UD / Polkaudio LSiM703 / W4S mAmp's / Polkaudio LSiM706c / Polkaudio LSiM702F/X's / SVS PC12-NSD / Panasonic TC P55VT30

    2 Channel: Rogue RP-5 / WireWorld Electra power cord / Marantz TT-15S1/ Ortofon - Quintet Black MC / Marantz NA8005 DAC / W4S mAmp's / Synology DS 216+ll-4TB / Polkaudio LSiM703
  • ***UPDATE***

    Others also have complained that this version is cut from third generation masters and does not have the overall clarity and detail of the Classic Records 1995 four LP 45rpm set, which is long out of print and now costs hundreds of dollars on the collector's market. I still have a twinge of regret that I didn't snag a new sealed copy for $290 when I had the chance.

    I recently acquired a mint copy of Classic Records' 1995 four LP 45rpm set of Kind of Blue.

    KOB-****-CR%20Sets-s_zpsw3jrmrpl.jpg

    The MoFi pressing is a close second to the CR edition in terms of detail, clarity, and holography. The CR pressing also produced heavier images, particularly at the sides and rear of the sound stage. Therefore, my revised hierarchy of sound with regard to this album is:

    1. Classic Records 45rpm 180 gram vinyl 4 LP set.
    2. Mobile Fidelity 45rpm 180 gram vinyl 2 LP set.
    3. Columbia/Legacy remastered 192k download.
    4. Mobile Fidelity SACD rip.
    5. Columbia/Legacy SACD rip.
    6. Mobile Fidelity CD rip.
    7. Columbia/Legacy CD rip.

    I purchased my copy from the second owner, and the discs and jackets had been very well cared for. Discs 2 and 3 had no surface noise. Discs 1 and 4 had light surface noise in some spots, but this was removed with wet cleaning.

    With this acquisition, I consider my vinyl collection complete. Ironically, this marks the end of my vinyl indulgence and I will be digitizing my record collection and dismantling my analog rig. I just don't want to deal with the inconveniences and maintenance issues of vinyl anymore. However, I will be keeping my records and my analog rig (in storage).

    Prior to acquiring this version of Kind of Blue, I had not played records since December of 2015. I used to set aside time every week to listen to records, but I lost interest in doing that after my dCS Debussy DAC was installed in December of 2015. My entire CD and SACD collection was transferred to FLAC and DSF files respectively. Soon, my entire record collection will be transferred to FLAC and DSF files, but that is a subject for another thread...in the forum's "Going Digital" section. :)
    "So hot it burns Mice!"~DK
    "Polk SDA-SRSs are hopelessly out of date both sonically and technologically... I see no value whatsoever in older SDA speakers."~Audio Asylum Member
    "Knowledge, without understanding, is a path to failure."~DK
    "Those who irrationally rail against something or someone that is no threat to them, actually desire (or desire to be like) the thing or person they are railing against."~DK
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