"Mastering Maven" Steve Hoffman

At Symposium, we make good equipment, but without good vinyl and good CDs, all that we do would be quite useless. Just as there is great equipment and OK equipment, there are great sounding music discs - and all the rest.

Lately, in the pursuit of better sound to match the constantly rising level of sound reproduction quality, many of the old "classics" have been re-released on heavier vinyl discs or on 24 karat gold-plated CDs. Recently, newer formats such as SACD and DVD-A have come along. All of these "new" formats will need "new" versions of old favorites. This is called remastering, in which a new disc or version of something which was "mastered" many years ago must be made, and hopefully will bring us, the music lovers, closer to the original sound that was heard in the recording studio. Of all the remastering efforts we've ever heard, the most consistently excellent work has come from one very talented individual - Mr. Steve Hoffman of California. We still remember the first time we heard Steve's remastering of Elton John's "Madman Across the Water" - and our jaws hit the floor. The original LP was mediocre at best; Steve's remastering of this old classic breathed new life into the work and made it sound better than we might have hoped. Indeed, Steve's work has been consistently excellent, cutting across all types of music.

How much music, you ask? We invite you to find out - so click on this link and be transported to a page of the Hoffman website which will give you an idea of the body of mastering work Steve has done. Once you're satisfied that this is no "flash in the pan" engineer, come back and take the tour!

Click here for Steve's discography.

Recently, Symposium president Peter Bizlewicz was invited to Steve's stomping grounds in Southern California for a peek into his world of remastering, and was treated to a tour of the RTI facilities where some of today's best vinyl is being mastered and produced. (see also the picture and comments on page 37 of the May, 2002 Stereophile magazine by Stereophile senior editor and analog maven Michael Fremer). Following are a few pages on this visit, with some pix that give a glimpse into the daily activities of a master.

For more information on upcoming Steve Hoffman releases, you can visit Steve's website and forum where there is a variety of discussion groups as well as a wealth of useful information for music lovers as well as fans of great sound quality.