Newport 2015: Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, Balanced Audio Technology, AVID, Quad


by Rafe Arnott


Do you live under a rock?

I’ll say it again, only louder this time … DO YOU LIVE UNDER A ROCK?

Because even if you do (and with Vancouver housing prices, it is a possibility), you’ve probably heard of Mobile Fidelity.

One of the longest-running companies in the business of remastering original analog master tapes for vinyl, CD, and SACD, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab is in the business of making music.

Really f***ing good music.

As a sick vinyl addict, I had no choice but to pay a visit to Mo-Fi’s room at T.H.E. Show.

Jon Derda was running the room and even though it was just before 1 p.m. he took one look at my pale visage and immediately offered me a glass of 12-year-old Taketsuru single-malt whiskey from Japan.

I had to be a professional.This was my first big hi-fi show. I sadly shook my head and said, “no thanks man.” A small glass rod broke inside my soul.

Then John Darko walked in and took a proffered tumbler from Jon without blinking.

Screw this, I thought. If Darko was going to imbibe, hell if I wasn’t. My Part-time Audiophile team members were counting on me to represent and defend the Marque.

Also, I couldn’t let Malachi Kenney down; I’d never hear the end of it.

Jon, who is Mobile Fidelity’s National Sales and Marketing Manager, said something to the effect of “right on,” and we got to the serious business of comparing a Mo-Fi LP of Bob Dylan through three AVID turntables running through a Balanced Audio Technology (BAT), fully balanced, all-triode VK-55SE power amplifier ($7,000 US), a BAT VK-33SE pre-amplifier ($10,000 US) and gorgeous Quad ES7-2812 electrostatic loudspeakers ($12,000 US). Cabling and power-filtering duties were handled all-around by ShunyataThe ‘tables in question were the AVID Diva II SP ($4,500 US), a Sequel SP ($9,995 US) and the Acutus SP ($26,995 US). All the TTs were outfitted with identical Koetsu Black Goldline cartridges ($2,500 US) and SME 309 arms.

Darko sat beside me on the sofa set up at one end of the room near the turntables. I took the sweet spot. 

Giddy up.

Needless to say, both John Darko and I learned a thing or two about AVID ‘tables, SME arms and Koetsu cartridges that day: 

  • That each, in their own way imparted a sonic signature to the Mo-Fi record being played.
  • As you climb up the AVID line, that arm/cartridge combo and those ‘tables just kept digging more depth, texture, spatial cues, tonality and timbre out of those Mo-Fi grooves.
  • In the end, both Darko and I agreed that we enjoyed the Sequel SP/Koetsu/SME combo the best for our ears, but YMMV.

Either way, you owe it to yourself to check out the AVID/Koetsu/SME combo, and when you do, for God’s sake, make sure you’re using a Mo-Fi LP.






Proud to sponsor PTA at THE Show in Newport 2015!

About Rafe Arnott 389 Articles
Editor of InnerFidelity and AudioStream