As a guy who used to run exhibit rooms at high-end audio shows, I must admit that no one runs exhibits rooms at high-end audio shows quite like Jonathan Derda of MoFi Distribution. With every LP he plays, he provides plenty of useful info about the recording, the gear and just about everything else in the room. He has the advantage, of course, of working for Mobile Fidelity–that gives him insight into both the software and the hardware. But over the last few shows I’ve made a point of spending time in Jonathan’s room because I know I’m going to learn something new, especially when it comes to recordings that are unknown to me.
I’ve joked several times that MoFi Distribution is scooping up all the great high-end audio brands lately. I was listening to The Occasional Podcast yesterday, the new one that covers RMAF 2019, and Scot Hull and Brian Hunter reminded me of how much I loved this room. There was so much great gear in this system including the Falcon Acoustics HP.80 loudspeakers ($16,995/pair), Balanced Audio Technologies REX III monoblocks ($25,000 each) and REX III preamplifier ($30,000), Cardas Audio cabling and the rare, practically sold out Dr. Feickert Analogue Venti turntable ($7995) with Thomas Schick tonearm and a My Sonic Lab cartridge ($9000).
The Venti turntable is very unusual–only 50 were made, and Jonathan described it as a Dr. Feickert Firebird in the body of the much smaller Woodpecker. Jonathan also described it as his favorite of the Feickert line-up, despite its relatively modest cost. By the time you read this, the last of these may already be sold. My Sonic Lab is also new to MoFi Distribution–this is one of a new generation of Japanese cartridge brands that is currently pushing the envelope of peerformance. I also have to mention those Falcon Acoustics speakers–Scot Hull mentioned in the podcast that this was his favorite component in a room full of exceptional components.
On the software side, Jonathan concentrated on playing LPs from MoFi’s incredible Ultradisc One-Step recordings. He played the MFSL reissue of Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, and “Tangled Up in Blue” sounded so different than it normally does. I know, we audiophiles like to lavish praise on gear by saying “it was like hearing my favorite music for the first time,” but in this case it almost sounded like an entirely new performance or a new take in the studio. The realism and transparency of this recording was shocking.
This wasn’t even the only exceptional exhibit room from MoFi Distribution–I still have to talk about those amazing Wharfedale Heritage models–but if you’re at a hi-fi show and you don’t sit down and let Jonathan Derda take the wheel, you’re missing out.