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Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Hi,  I was wondering if anyone had any alternatives to the steve hoffman forums.  I like the talk about music and the depth of knowledge of some of the members and the fact that a few industry people hang out there (although most seem to get fed up and leave after a while).  But I can't stand the humourlessness, the insane over sensitivity, the hyperactive and heavy handed moderation, the nuking of any posts or threads that are in the least bit interesting, the pervasive acceptance of snake oil, the worship of flat transfers as the holy grail, the questionable ethics of the owner, I could go on.

So, do any of the HA people know of a somewhat audiophile music type forum with a large quality base, possibly including some pros, active discussions, sane moderation, etc.  I like HA, but there really isn't a whole lot of music talk here.

Cheers.

  • LDM
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Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #1
First post, cheers (was banned when I registered...)!

Erm, you're not gonna do much "better" than the Hoffman boards.  Personally, I love it there and have never experienced any problems; have heard some horror stories there.  I mainly go there to research rare, great-sounding pressings of CDs rather than participate in music discussion.

Specifically, what problems have you had?

  • foothilla
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #2
Hi,  I was wondering if anyone had any alternatives to the steve hoffman forums.  I like the talk about music and the depth of knowledge of some of the members and the fact that a few industry people hang out there (although most seem to get fed up and leave after a while).  But I can't stand the humourlessness, the insane over sensitivity, the hyperactive and heavy handed moderation, the nuking of any posts or threads that are in the least bit interesting, the pervasive acceptance of snake oil, the worship of flat transfers as the holy grail, the questionable ethics of the owner, I could go on.

So, do any of the HA people know of a somewhat audiophile music type forum with a large quality base, possibly including some pros, active discussions, sane moderation, etc.  I like HA, but there really isn't a whole lot of music talk here.

Cheers.

I have also found several things that I don't like about Steve's forum.
 
1) It's hyper-sensitively over moderated.
2) It's loaded with Steve Hoffman fan boys that meltdown if you dare question anything his highness says.
3) If you logically question any of Steve's comments or perspectives, the thread disappears.

I too wish there was a less sensitive place to discuss music.


  • foothilla
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #3
Specifically, what problems have you had?

I just had an issue that I found highly annoying.  Steve repeatedly stated his preference for flat mastering transfers.  He went as far as saying that even if the source tape sounds "off" or "wacky" or "less than optimal", he still prefers a mastering engineer to do a flat transfer.

That seemed preposterous to me.  Any novice mastering engineer is capable of doing a flat transfer.  If all you are going for is a flat transfer, why would you hire a Steve Hoffman, or a Kevin Grey, or a Robert Ludwig?  I made that point in a thread that was 10 years old, and the thread was quickly torn down.  A 10 year old thread filled with interesting perspectives, torn down.

Why?  Well, I can only assume that Steve realized that his comments devalued the entire mastering process.  His comments actually insulted his entire profession.  Why am I going to hire Steve Hoffman if he is just going to do a simple, flat transfer?  That isn't mastering at all, it's just transferring.

Instead of addressing his questionable comments, he just deleted the entire thread.  There were 10 years of perspectives and energy put into that thread.  Hundreds of people put time into that thread, just to have it deleted because Steve's love of flat transfers was logically called into question.  It's Steve's forum, but it's the member's time and participation that make the forum as successful as it it.  So, to me, it comes off as unappreciative and disrespectful to the members to handle it that way.  Steve is human, he isn't a perfect god, like many make him out to be.  If he and his fan boys were a little more accepting of fair criticism it would be a much better place to spend your time.

  • Apesbrain
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #4
In my experience the things you describe are "part and parcel" of music discussion forums.  Anyway, you might enjoy this:
http://microdynamiks.blogspot.com/2015/08/chapter-1-little-background-on-infamous.html

Just try to take it with a grain and have fun there.  Many participants are funny and helpful.

Also: http://bfy.tw/7Yvf
  • Last Edit: 06 September, 2016, 09:54:34 AM by Apesbrain

Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #5
The things that annoy me with the Steve Hoffman forums is:

1. The overabundance of preference for "hi-res" music.  You'll hear someone praise a current re-release of some classic album and someone will eventually say "as good as you think the CD layer is, the album really shines when you listen to the SACD layer."  Unless the SACD layer was mastered of mixed differently, it's going to sound the same as the CD layer.

2. The insane love of vinyl and it's supposed superiority to digital.  Find the thread on the Dire Straits albums Brothers in Arms, where it was discussed how they started recording the album on analog tape, but due to issues with the tape wearing out, they switched to digital.  There were a few guys that wanted those analog tapes found and pressed to vinyl, because digital has ruined music..

3.  The belief that anything done by Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, Digital Compact Classics, or Audio Fidelity is always far superior to any other version of an album.

Other than those 3 points, it is a great place to research which master of an older album is worth getting.

I can't post there anymore since I was banned, but when I am looking for an older album I usually go there and read through the threads.  I was just researching "Tapestry" by Carole King last month.  Was kind of interesting to find that the master tapes for that classic album were lost and all CD pressings used a second hand copy, till the master tapes were found in a box in someone's basement.

  • edwardar
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #6
Here's an interesting thread from the Steve Hoffman forums.  Someone discovered that one of the Simon & Garfunkel Audio Fidelity CDs was sourced from a 1980s CD (NOT the original master tapes as claimed).  The thread was closed...

http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/af-to-do-simon-garfunkels-parsley-sage-rosemary-and-thyme.203582/page-31

I still think there's a lot of interesting stuff to read on there, but I ignore all the vinyl-worship.  I'm more interested in discovering good music!

  • Goratrix
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #7
3.  The belief that anything done by Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, Digital Compact Classics, or Audio Fidelity is always far superior to any other version of an album.

You forgot Japanese first pressings :)

I can't post there anymore since I was banned, but when I am looking for an older album I usually go there and read through the threads.

Lol, me too. Could not resist a thread about the "sound" of CD transports...

  • greynol
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  • Global Moderator
Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #8
Japanese first pressings
...West-German target as well.

Believe it or not, some of the "Japanese first pressings" I've looked into contain readily obvious errors in the audio data that other pressings do not have.
  • Last Edit: 08 September, 2016, 05:37:47 PM by greynol
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • greynol
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  • Global Moderator
Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #9
Someone discovered that one of the Simon & Garfunkel Audio Fidelity CDs was sourced from a 1980s CD (NOT the original master tapes as claimed).
I only skimmed the thread, but did he not begin with gushing praise over the release like just about every other sh.tv fanboy?

If so, what does this tell you?
Is 24-bit/192kHz good enough for your lo-fi vinyl, or do you need 32/384?

  • Hotsoup
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #10
One of the links in post 4 pointed me towards the Stereo Central forums. I had no idea that existed. It seems like most of the threads are poking fun at SHTV members or are parodies of SHTV threads. It had me cracking up for a while..

  • Porcus
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #11
Believe it or not, some of the "Japanese first pressings" I've looked into contain readily obvious errors in the audio data that other pressings do not have.

Ah, so it does indeed matter! :-o

  • garym
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #12
One of the links in post 4 pointed me towards the Stereo Central forums. I had no idea that existed. It seems like most of the threads are poking fun at SHTV members or are parodies of SHTV threads. It had me cracking up for a while..

Yes, hilarious
http://stereocentral.tv/phpbb/viewforum.php?f=9&sid=27f1ccd6ff2ea94ccc4c0ddacc68489a

  • Porcus
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #13
Funny for about five minutes, then it became predictable. (Did stereocentral last longer?)

  • Hotsoup
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #14
Funny for about five minutes, then it became predictable. (Did stereocentral last longer?)
I wasted a good hour there at least, but then I needed a shower.

  • Porcus
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #15
but then I needed a shower.
You pig! :-p

  • foothilla
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #16
This is what I don't get about the reverence for Steve Hoffman....

All over his forum Hoffman states that in mastering he prefers completely flat transfers (even if the source tape is "off", "wacky", or "less than optimal").  That's not mastering at all, that's just transferring.  Any novice mastering engineer is capable of doing a flat transfer.  Yea, flat transfers are great if you're dealing with a fantastic source tape.  But, when the source tape is lacking, that is where quality mastering can really make a difference (but, NOT if you just transfer it flat, like Hoffman).

Hoffman holds this stupid belief that a mastering engineer should just get out of the way and have no input on altering the sound of a source tape.  The recording and mixing engineers greatly impact the sound of the source tape, so if a quality mastering engineer can improve upon the source tape why shouldn't he?

Basically, Hoffman cherry picks recordings that have great source tapes, and then he just does a flat transfer on the industry's best equipment.  He isn't really doing anything.  He's just transferring quality source tapes on excellent gear, and then getting treated like a god for doing a simple, flat transfer.  It shows how little the supposed "audiophiles" understand about the recording/mixing/mastering process.

When you can take a lacking source tape and master it to sound brilliant (i.e. Robert Ludwig), that is when you should be revered.  Hoffman's simple flat transfers don't impress me in the least.  Again, any novice can do a flat transfer.  To make it worse, Hoffman's ego is running wild because the uninformed masses worship his ability to take a beautiful source tape and simply transfer it.

  • Groschi
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #17
Quote
Hoffman's simple flat transfers don't impress me in the least.  Again, any novice can do a flat transfer.  To make it worse, Hoffman's ego is running wild because the uninformed masses worship his ability to take a beautiful source tape and simply transfer it.

True. Although i think it's perfectly legitimate to produce CDs that sound exactly like the master tapes. If some people like it, that's fine.
However, it seems Steve Hoffman likes to put tubes in the signal path. That totally negates the "flat transfer" idea, adding coloration and distortion you may or may not find subjectively pleasing.

I guess in the audiophile world vintage technology=gooood.
Distortion makes it sound realer than the real thing, as long as it's analog and outdated.

Again, it's totally legitimate to use any gear or effect to shape the sound, but it contradicts what Steve Hoffman is claiming to achieve.

  • krabapple
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #18
This is what I don't get about the reverence for Steve Hoffman....

All over his forum Hoffman states that in mastering he prefers completely flat transfers (even if the source tape is "off", "wacky", or "less than optimal").  That's not mastering at all, that's just transferring.  Any novice mastering engineer is capable of doing a flat transfer.  Yea, flat transfers are great if you're dealing with a fantastic source tape.  But, when the source tape is lacking, that is where quality mastering can really make a difference (but, NOT if you just transfer it flat, like Hoffman).

Hoffman holds this stupid belief that a mastering engineer should just get out of the way and have no input on altering the sound of a source tape.  The recording and mixing engineers greatly impact the sound of the source tape, so if a quality mastering engineer can improve upon the source tape why shouldn't he?


Historically 'mastering' only came into existence because what was on the tape often could not be 'flat transferred' to vinyl.  A 'mastering' step , in other words, was a consequence of the limitations of the final consumer delivery format, not any deficiencies of the master tape.  The idea that mixdown master tapes might be somehow routinely 'lacking' came later.  (Mastering also encompasses things like, adjusting overall track levels to make the album 'hang together', and also, inserting spaces between tracks.)

It is of course possible that a master tape really might need some help -- e.g. mixed by a coked-up sleep-deprived engineer with a cold, over a system deficient in either bass or treble.  They mixed it to sound good to them, at the time. That gets us to the ever-lasting, almost philosophical  issue of 'is what I hear at home anything like what they heard in the recording suite'?

Anyway, how 'mastering' came to be a routine step even for a format that is practically transparent, is an interesting question, and I'm not sure the story has ever been told in full.


Quote
Basically, Hoffman cherry picks recordings that have great source tapes, and then he just does a flat transfer on the industry's best equipment.

In fairness, not always.  He has claimed that some tapes he worked with needed 'help', for sure.  And whether he uses the 'best' equipment is debatable.  And of course, there's his fondness for using tube stages during mastering.


  • Last Edit: 12 September, 2016, 11:59:25 AM by krabapple

  • eagleray
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #19
I recall there are such things as two and three mike recordings.  Nothing is close miked.  The center mike (when used) is split to left and right channels during the recording session, so a mix in the usual sense of the word is not used.  For a while there were direct to disk recording where the master stamping disk was cut during the recording session with no tape involved.  One lovely track I recall was Thelma Houston singing I've Got The Music in Me.

  • old tech
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #20
The SH forum is a great resource for finding good music and the better CD and LP versions of any album.

Many of their members are in the "analog is best" camp so it does take a while to get a hang of the site and the subjective viewpoints of many members.  For example, while there is never total agreement on which mastering or CD or LP version is best, I find where a majority converge it is usually borne out in practice.  I also tend to avoid masterings that many describe as "analog sounding" as they inevitably are masterings which are dull with a mid bass emphasis and no top end.

  • rw11
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #21
it sounds like we need to get the alien spaceship to train their devinylizer on the SH forum and let loose

  • Apesbrain
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #22
it sounds like we need to get the alien spaceship to train their devinylizer on the SH forum and let loose
Why? We need more "live and let live", not less.

  • rw11
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #23
they'd still be alive - just w/o vinyl to discuss

or did you mean the vinyl system was too 'live'?

  • MrMonkey
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Re: Alternatives to Steve Hoffman's Forums
Reply #24
Anyone know what happened to the Stereo Central forums?  All I see is "This board has no forums" when I visit http://stereocentral.tv/phpbb/index.php .