Exclusive: Multimillion-Dollar Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab Settlement Officially Approved in Mastering-Process Class Action

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Audiophile Music Direct and Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL) have officially settled a class-action complaint centering on the latter’s mastering process. Photo Credit: Jace & Afsoon

A federal court has officially signed off on a settlement agreement as part of a much-publicized class-action lawsuit centering on Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab’s unadvertised incorporation of digital mastering.

The court just recently granted the plaintiffs’ motion for final approval of the settlement, besides dismissing the complaint (which had named as defendants MFSL as well as its Audiophile Music Direct parent, the operator of the namesake Music Direct) with prejudice. The signed decision by the US District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle, was shared with Digital Music News earlier this morning.

One of several suits levied against MFSL over the “Ultradisc One Step” and “Original Master Recording” descriptors and adjacent claims made about certain products, this particular complaint was filed by customers Stephen Tuttle and Dustin Collman back in August of 2022.

In the interest of relative brevity – DMN has already covered the largely overlapping cases’ pertinent details – the plaintiffs maintained that they’d paid a premium for MFSL products because the records were meant to have been created via an all-analog process.

But it came out last year that Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab had for some time been incorporating digital into its mastering process. Pushback promptly followed the alleged misrepresentation’s entrance into the spotlight, and apologies as well as other media initiatives from MFSL were evidently unable to convince ticked-off consumers to forgo legal action.

Though the litigating audiophiles’ arguments revolved around the same main points, as mentioned, the parties proved less united in their position as to how the matter should be resolved.

In May of this year, the presiding judge granted a motion for preliminary approval of a settlement for the complaint that Tuttle and Collman had submitted.

However, multiple individuals behind similar suits in different venues had formally opposed the estimated $25 million settlement, including $10,000 apiece for the two plaintiffs, as much as $290,000 in attorneys’ fees, and a combination of refunds and coupons for class members, DMN reported.

Notwithstanding these qualms, the settlement has been finalized, as noted at the outset. Different legal documents show that related cases, which will presumably be shelved now that a nationwide settlement’s come to fruition, had been stayed pending the settlement outcome.

On the 5th, the court overseeing another suit, filed in Illinois by an individual named Adam Stiles, set a late-January deadline for the “next status report on the Tuttle litigation,” per a docket entry. This judge is also overseeing a complaint against Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab from one Gregory Bitterman and established an identical status-report cutoff.

Lastly, a California federal judge in late February stayed a different suit yet, from a plaintiff called Thomas Molinari, pending a determination on the settlement that just wrapped.