By Mark T. Gould

A Most “Master”ful Web Site

Psst! Want to find out what’s the best sounding pressing of a Beatles’ album on vinyl? How about taking part in an on-line poll for the worst drummer in rock and roll? Ever wonder where the “Bo Diddley” beat comes from (hint: it ain’t Bo Diddley)?

If you fancy yourself a real audiophile and/or music fan, have I got the web site for you! It’s the brainchild of legendary music catalog remastering wizard Steve Hoffman, and it’s located at Here, you will find just about anything, from an on-line debate about the merits of “commercial” music to members’ reviews of new and reissued albums to detailed, technical discussions of studio recording, mixing and mastering techniques that, to the unsophisticated, will literally make your hair hurt until you start to understand the lingo.

But, if you dive in, you will learn a great deal about recordings and the industry itself. And, take it from me, it’s a hell of lot of fun, a web site populated by some really great people who share an interest, no make that an obsession in its purest form, for recorded and live music and all that it entails.

If this sounds like it’s for you, then you undoubtedly know who Steve Hoffman is. For those who don’t, here’s a quick biography:

To say he’s a musical master is more than a bad attempt at a pun. Starting with on-air work as a broadcaster with public radio during his college days, followed by a gig as a broadcast engineer for a commercial station in Los Angeles, Hoffman then worked for MCA Records, where he developed and championed the then unheralded idea of remastering (the easy definition of this is making the sound better) and re-releasing recording artists’ catalogs (read: older, previously released commercial recordings, either on vinyl or on compact disc in its infancy), an idea that has provided a financial and musical impetus to both artists and record companies around the world. As a result, he has worked with a veritable who’s who of artists’ recordings, including those as diverse as Linda Ronstadt, John Lee Hooker, Sonny Rollins, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and about a million others. And, while I’ve not met the man, judging from his posts, Hoffman clearly cares, deeply, about the recordings and the artists he’s involved with, as well as where the recording industry is going. Like most of the people logged onto his site, he seems to be a fan of the very highest order.

And, he’s not one of those high and mighty folks who sits back, takes in posted accolades from fans and, presumably, smirks in a self-satisfied way at his computer screen. While most of the posters are unabashed fans, Hoffman has made over 10,400 posts himself (no, that is not a misprint) on the site, and will engage in a spirited debate on many topics, technical or otherwise, even if you respectfully disagree with him. Another great aspect of this site is that it is well policed by a quartet of Gorts (that’s what they call themselves) who will remove malicious, obscene or defamatory posts within seconds, so everything stays on the musical track.

Some folks start off as lurkers, simply reading other posts, on this site, as I did when I joined earlier this year. But, the fun clearly starts once you start posting and interacting with other members. It’s just a spectacular source for information, and there’s rarely a day that I log on and don’t learn something.

And, there’s clearly strength in Hoffmanite numbers. Recently, a member started a grassroots campaign with an on-line retailer to offer members a deal on the batch of 16 Bob Dylan recordings being re-released later this summer. By enlisting other interested members, Dylan fans were able to get a significant “Hoffman members” discount.

Can your web site do that?

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