Hollywood, CA (July 22, 2020)—A new box set of four classic studio LPs and four legendary live albums by the Grateful Dead from Vinyl Me Please was cut fully analog by mastering engineer Chris Bellman working with the original quarter-inch stereo master tapes at Bernie Grundman Mastering.
“It’s Triple-A analog all the way,” says Bellman of the newly remastered 14-LP VMP Anthology: The Story of the Grateful Dead. “There is no digital stage whatsoever.”
Working from the original quarter-inch stereo master analog tapes, Bellman explains, “Quality by and large was very good. Some of the splices were a little bit dicey, so I had to reconstruct some splicing. But that’s relatively easy, just time consuming. You have to pull it apart, clean the tape, and then just redo the splice with fresh splicing tape. They’re all mixed down to quarter-inch, 15 i.p.s., some cases Dolby A, some cases, non-Dolby. And actually, there’s one project that was 30 i.p.s., Terrapin Station.”
Albums included in the box set are Workingman’s Dead (1970), American Beauty (1970), Live/Dead (1969), Europe ’72 (1972), Wake of the Flood (1973), Terrapin Station (1977), Reckoning (1981) and Without a Net (1990). Bellman cut all the titles fully analog except Without a Net, which was sourced from the original master digital audio. The anthology was pressed on high quality 180g colored vinyl at Quality Record Pressing (QRP) in Salina, KS.
“My basic process for doing reissues of any kind, as well as these, is that I like to hear what it was when first released,” Bellman explains. “In this case, it was vinyl. So VMP gave me all eight albums on vinyl, the earliest pressings they could find, and I referenced our remastering with those. I put up the tape and I play them roughly parallel and kind of dial it back into the tape. And then I go back, and I turn the record off and I just kind of listen again and try to see what I could do to improve the transfer, faithful to the original.
Bellman adds, “I would say that the playback electronics has much improved, especially over the past 50 years. We can pull off a lot more information off of these tapes, in spite of the fact that they’re 50-plus years old. We can get a lot more resolution off the tape, which lends to a better end vinyl product.”
Bernie Grundman Mastering • www.berniegrundmanmastering.com