October 1999

Toto - Toto IV
Mobile Fidelity UDCD 747
Originally released: 1982
Remaster released: 1999

by Greg Smith

Sound Quality ****

Comparison Releases:

Toto IV
CBS CK 37728

Sound Quality **1/2

Toto IV (SBM)
Sony/Columbia CK 64423

Sound Quality ***1/2


[Reviewed on Gold CD]The album I really wanted for the Christmas of 1983 was Styx's Kilroy Was Here. Somehow my grandmother ended up with that part of Santa duties, and apparently disapproved. Instead, what I got was a copy of Toto IV. Let me tell you, when you're a junior-high student wanting to hear "Mr. Roboto," getting "Rosanna" and "Africa" instead is not an acceptable substitute. I played the Toto record exactly once, then threw it into my father's collection in disgust with its general sappiness.

Things are a little bit different nowadays. Yes, I finally bought the Styx album, but by then it was on CD. I eventually picked up an LP copy as well just to appreciate the cheesy liner notes and artwork in its full glory. Somewhere along the line I found myself liking Toto IV enough to buy my own copy of that as well. Then I found it again on gold disc, remastered using Sony's Super Bit Mapping process. Since I'd never been really satisfied with the original CD, I bought that one too. And now Mobile Fidelity has dropped their version in my lap, remastered with their original GAIN system. Three copies of Toto IV; that makes 12 Totos in total, right?


The song is about Rosanna Arquette, in case you were wondering.

  • Original CD: This one is a typical early CD release. The bass is rolled and the cymbals are extremely rough.
  • SBM: The entire track is considerably smoother and more detailed. The bass goes deeper and the cymbals are flattened out. You can hear more of the reverb on the vocals, and the background bongos are fleshed out much better.
  • MoFi: The bass is firmer here, but less prominent overall than the SBM release. The main improvement is in the piano notes, which sound quite a bit more realistic.

"Make Believe"

  • Original CD: The piano sounds like a toy, and the bass is missing. Not a lot to like here.
  • SBM: All of the instruments are more natural here, especially the horns. The problems with the piano and bass are all cleaned away. The subtle percussion details are pulled forward a lot in the mix, making it easier to appreciate the complicated, layered production style.
  • MoFi: As much as the piano was improved by the SBM remastering, it takes another leap forward on this release. The bass is a touch more full, and you can really pull out the individual parts of the double-tracked vocals.

"It's a Feeling"

  • Original CD: The opening to the sound is quite noisy and grainy. While the bottom end is much stronger than on the previous tracks, the sound is still harsh and thin overall.
  • SBM: There's still some grunge at the beginning, but it's better here. Again, there's more authority and definition to the bass, but it's also not as loud in comparison to the other instruments. Most bizarre on this one is a roughness at the bottom end of the lead vocal's range.
  • MoFi: This one also starts out somewhat noisy, so I'll have to chalk that one up to being on the master tape. The bongos come out front a lot more than the SBM version. And the odd strain on the vocals is missing, a welcome improvement.

Liner notes on the original CD include a lot of information about the musicians on each track, but not much else. The SBM version adds an LP-size pull-out with pictures of the band. Mobile Fidelity's CD booklet is regular sized, but it includes all the photos and full lyrics. Now you can settle that nagging argument with your friends about the opening to the album: it's "All I wanna do when I wake up in the morning is see your eyes." So there.

If you're suffering with an original CBS Toto IV CD, by all means run out and get the Mobile Fidelity version. It's a big upgrade. Those who already have the now out of print SBM release, there's not as much reason to upgrade. Yes, the MoFi version improves on it, especially during the piano parts, but the differences are generally subtle. And for audiophiles who prefer analog, I now have a vinyl copy of Toto IV for sale. Only played once....