Steve Hoffman is a mastering engineer. You’ve likely heard his work with The Who, Buddy Holly, and many others.
After spending several years working on album reissues and direct mastering, Hoffman decided to become an influencer in the audiophile world.
When Hoffman works on an album, you don’t need to have an expensive system available at home to hear the difference. One of his best efforts is the Highway 61 Revisited album by Bob Dylan.
It sounds like you’re right there in the studio with Dylan while he’s recording the music.
Has Anyone Been Banned from Steve Hoffman Forums?
Several complaints from forum members have filtered through the Internet since 2014 about people getting banned from Steve Hoffman’s site for no reason. Since it is a personal site, there is a reputation that any dissenting information gets eliminated or the user prevented from posting.
The stories of having people get banned from the forum range from not participating to opening a new account with a different email address. You can get removed for having multiple memberships, even under other profiles.
Although some of the discussion groups are useful, it would be more accurate to call the site an “anti-forum.” After Hoffman and a forum member had a falling out in 2003, the outcome was nothing compared to the time when Ken Scott and two MFSL engineers were banned for calling out inaccurate information getting posted.
That event in 2008 causes several members to get removed in the aftermath of protests that occurred on the forum after those events.
It got even worse when Kevin Gray, his long-time engineering companion, received the ban hammer a year later. That time was also when the remastering work he was doing took a hit, experiencing more research and technical issues than in previous releases.
That combination of factors led to a considerable enough uproar that Hoffman left his forum for some time.
What makes Hoffman such a controversial figure today is that he not only bans members, but he also spreads inaccurate information about important music-related subjects. Many of the facts he offers have no way to get verified by the average person, but anyone who questions the outcomes runs the risk of getting banned.
Even with those potential difficulties, the Steve Hoffman forums are a fantastic information resource that you can’t find anywhere else. The daily topics are lighthearted and nonsensical, but the data exchange is still worth considering.
When you’re on the Steve Hoffman music forums, the site has published several guidelines that they expect members to follow.
Even if your intent wasn’t to violate the rules (or it seems like your conduct DOESN’T go against the guidelines), those behind the Steven Hoffman forums have the final say concerning your membership.
Here are the categories offered by their policies page and the issues that could cause someone to get banned.
◼️ List of Unacceptable Behaviors According to the Steve Hoffman Forums
- Calling other people names, personal attacks, or what moderators deem to be harassment.
- Questioning the actions of a moderator, either privately or publicly.
- Thread-crapping, which is defined here as an opinion directly opposed to the topic getting discussed.
- Posting content or updates with the deliberate intent to antagonize other people.
- Sending product mentions or unsolicited links to other people.
- Pitting staff members against each other or attempting to circumnavigate the moderation team.
- Baiting and retaliation.
- Contacting a staff member privately instead of using the reporting system on the website.
The bottom line here is that the list of unacceptable behaviors is open to enough interpretation that a member can get banned for almost anything. Even if you post something on social media, if a moderator sees it and takes offense, your account could get the ban hammer.
That’s why it can be a challenge to remain active on the Steve Hoffman forums.
◼️ List of Unacceptable Content for Messages and Posts
- Anything considered profanity in any language, including attempts that work to circumvent the website’s filtering feature. This point includes substituted letters, punctuation, and spelling.
- Negative posts that denounce, ridicule, or express hate toward the discussed topic.
- Anything considered nudity, pornography, or obscenity, including videos that contain profanity.
- Racial or ethnic slurs, including xenophobic comments in discussions or debates.
- Posting the personal location or contact information of members, including people outside of the forum, with or without the intent to cause harm.
- Using copyrighted materials, including photos or links from other sites.
- Posting a link to any website that violates the forum rules.
- Reviving an old thread.
- Replying to a post only using videos, memes, GIFs, or images.
- Posting content that the website deems to be industry sensitive.
- Items that fit into the forum’s list of inappropriate topics.
- Your posted location must be valid and actual. “Your listed location must be found on Google Maps or equivalent.”
What are the unacceptable topics that the Steve Hoffman forums don’t want members discussing?
The first and most encompassing is called “politics.” The terms and conditions specifically include any topic that could turn political, including climate change.
You’re not allowed to provide religious references or talk about religion on the forum.
Ethnic, racial, and societal issues are considered inappropriate topics, including movements or protests.
The site will also issue the ban hammer to accounts that criticize forum policies or administrative issues. Even if someone thinks that your contribution is “low effort,” you run the risk of receiving a warning or an outright ban for your content.
What does this mean for members? Unless you can have a critical discussion based on your experience, your posts cannot criticize anything or anyone constructively. Even if you follow that rule to the letter, your experience could fall into an “industry sensitive” category that gets you banned anyway.
The Problem Is the Hypocrisy with the Steve Hoffman Forums
Steve Hoffman once posted on his forum that he hated name-dropping because it makes him feel uncomfortable.
When you look over his different Facebook and forum posts, the only things you see are name drops about the celebrities he’s met or worked with over the years.
You can see him telling stories about meeting John Lennon, being intimate with Juice Newton, or calling Kurt Cobain an artist with a death wish. It should be noted that his post about Newton violates his own terms and conditions.
The same could be said about his description of meeting Michael Jackson.
What is most interesting about the Steve Hoffman forums is the rule against using sock puppets, even though he’s famous for creating John Oteri (who had over 1,500 forum posts). He was retired in 2007 after talking about everything from Star Trek to meeting Rodney Dangerfield with Hoffman in 1972.
Another sock puppet was AudioGirl, who would often make snide remarks when interacting with forum members who were critical of Hoffman. Some people thought the account might belong to his spouse, especially since the profile seemed to have moderator privileges.
Although StereoCentral.tv had an active forum for over a decade, it is no longer present there. You can find it now at stereocentral.freeforums.net.
Before the site was taken down, you could see a direct correlation between Hoffman’s references to his “good friend John” and outing the sock puppet account. Oteri rarely gets a mention today, except for in observational posts like this one.
What Can I Do If I Disagree with the Forum’s Rules?
If you don’t want to abide by the Steve Hoffman forum rules, your only option is not to access the website.
When you create a profile and post something, you agree to all of the information on the site’s terms and conditions. That includes the following line found in the “fine print” section of the rules.
“Staff reserves the right to make a judgment call into what is acceptable and will take appropriate action as needed to deal with these situations.”
If you prefer to avoid the hassle of a potential ban hammer threat at the Steve Hoffman forums, some other audiophile destinations are worth considering.
I highly recommend reviewing Stereophile’s forum for interesting information about headphones and speakers. The Frugal Audiophile Forum is another favorite because it lets you find some of the most affordable equipment out there today that improves your listening experience.
A few other choices include AVS Forum, Audioholics, and TechTalk from Parts Express.
Full disclosure: it didn’t take me long to get banned from the Steve Hoffman forums. I once questioned why flat transfers were his preference in a mastering-related post & that’s all it took. It was my first post!