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Vinyl Asylum: REVIEW: Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab Little Feat - Waiting For Columbus Other by Ripple

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REVIEW: Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab Little Feat - Waiting For Columbus Other

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Model: Little Feat - Waiting For Columbus
Category: Other
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Description: 180-gram 2010 Edition
Manufacturer URL: Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab
Model Picture: View

Review by Ripple on December 20, 2010 at 10:00:48
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for the Little Feat - Waiting For Columbus

Little Feat – Waiting For Columbus
Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab MFSL 2-322 (2010 Edition)

Well, Mobile Fidelity has finally done it – a reissue of a reissue. Mofi’s original reissue of Waiting For Columbus came in 1978 as one of their early half-speed mastered titles. With this new reissue, hopefully Mofi is starting a trend. I can think of many of their titles with less than stellar mastering that could use another, more neutral remastering. I’m glad they started here with WFC even though the ’78 model was one of their better sounding remasters.

The album jackets of the old and new are only slightly different. Whereas the 1978 edition has a light orange stripe across the top with “Original Master Recording” in block letters, the new edition has a dark green stripe with “Original Master Recording” in the “digital” style. The weight of the stock used for the jacket is about the same but the new jacket has a better grade of stock.

The original Mofi WFC was pressed on JVC’s Super Vinyl in Japan and the discs weighed about 110 to 115 grams each. My copy still has, thirty-odd years later and after probably 60 or more full listenings, as new, dead quiet surfaces. (Serving as references for me, “Join The Band”/”Fat Man In The Bathtub” have probably been played at least 150 times.) It has probably helped that this album was one of the first that I used LAST Record preservative on, a second coat being put on a few years ago. This new edition is pressed on 180-gram vinyl. A few light ticks were noted here and there and I have to say that my old copy, without exaggeration, still is quieter. Both discs are flat with only slight eccentricity on sides 1 and 3.

Before listening to the new edition, I played “Join The Band”/”Fat Man In The Bathtub” from the early copy. After absorbing that, and leaving my volume setting at the same level, I played the new copy. A little more detail was heard in “Join The Band” and when the music started, right away it was obvious that the top end was rolled-off compared to the old copy (other frequencies seemed at the same level). This isn’t as negative as it sounds. The old edition, like it or not, was not totally immune to the irritating rising top end many early Mofi’s had. While having generally good sound, the early copy could get on your nerves if you turned it up too loud. (I never got around to obtaining an original Warner Brothers pressing to compare, but some have said that it sounds better than the first Mofi.) After a minute or so of “Fat Man…” I turned the volume up a couple of dB or so for the rest of my listening.

The effect of what I’m describing with the new copy is a positive. In “taming” a bit of hardness in the treble, everything else is given more room to breathe. The mids and bottom end are, subjectively, stronger and given their due. The result is greater detail at every level. A good example is on “Time Loves A Hero.” As the two vocalists sing you can more clearly distinguish the differences in their voices. On the early Mofi you more or less hear them as two similar voices. But, this new mastering treats all the sounds this way. As I listened through the whole album I found myself more involved with the music. It was an effect like sitting a few rows from the stage versus sitting twenty-some rows back – like you’re “viewing” the playing of the music rather than just listening. There was a new-found engagement that just isn’t as strong on the old Mofi.

The sound on this 2010 edition is truly effortless. I hesitate to use the word “relaxed” because it might be interpreted as being “polite,” which I don’t think it is. In comparison, the old Mofi has a bit of tension that can be fatiguing at louder levels. The new edition’s effortlessness I think is the result of a better mastering chain, the Gain 2 system in particular, and treating the entire bandwidth with respect (that is, no heavy-handedness with the equalization). It is every bit as dynamic as the first Mofi and maybe more so (I’ll have to have a few more listens to say). The soundstage is fully developed and at least as wide as the old Mofi and there is definitely greater depth. The increase in depth is an effect of the greater detail. All things considered, and with an excellent bottom end, this LP rocks just as much as it ever did but with greater listener involvement.

Which edition of this album you’ll prefer will likely depend on your system. Those with “darker” systems may prefer the first Mofi saying that the new one sounds too dry or lifeless. Others with more lively systems might prefer the one under review here. But, I think that if everyone preferred only one, it would be this one – a very definite “Buy.” Hats off to Shawn Britton, et al. at Mofi for getting more off the master tape. Now, how about re-doing “Sticky Fingers!”

Product Weakness: None.
Product Strengths: Increased resolution, effortless presentation, non-fatiguing.

Associated Equipment for this Review:

Amplifier: Classe Audio CAP-151 integrated amp. w/phono board.
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): N/A
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Technics SL-1200 MK2 with KAB Cardas tonearm wire to RCA upgrade and Sumiko HS-12 headshell. Cartridge is a Benz Micro ACE with med. output (.8mV).
Speakers: Martin Logan Aerius (original model).
Cables/Interconnects: Mapleshade Clearview Double Golden Helix speaker cable and Mogami OFC Quad IC (4 x 20/0.12).
Music Used (Genre/Selections): MFSL 2-322 and MFSL 2-013
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner

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Topic - REVIEW: Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab Little Feat - Waiting For Columbus Other - Ripple 10:00:48 12/20/10 ( 6)