Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR, 5/19/74 (6-LP)
Portland Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR (5/19/74)
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Greengo72 - I like your style, but I disagree (or have been informed differently) on a few things that you brought up:
#1 - My understanding is that a Mastering Engineer is responsible for taking the original studio or live recording(s) (or a 'safety master' if that is what is available) in whatever condition or form they appear in, whether it be analog or digital, and converting or 'mastering' it into a format that can be mass-produced for a commercial release when the mastering engineer's final product is then sent off to the LP or CD manufacturing facility.
In the mastering engineer's studio he will typically have reel-to-reel playback machines, digital rigs, and a lathe in order cut records from digital or analog sources. Of course there are many other components in the studio too, but historically the mastering process from analog tape playback to cutting a record on a lathe does not have a digital tollbooth (like plangent process) in the signal chain.
#2 - Plangent, as I understand it, is fantastic at reducing what is known in the mastering engineer industry as 'tape flutter' noise, but it has to do it in the digital domain for it to work. So we have our good ol Grateful Dead's analog signal from original tape running along nicely on a reel-to-reel player, the analog signal goes into a digital Plangent box, hangs out in the digital domain getting 'processed', and then spits out as a digital signal to be fed to the lathe in order to cut the record.
This whole process is overseen by the Mastering Engineer (in this case, Norman), though he may have marching orders from his customers that specify what gear he is supposed to use (or not).
#3 - Not all Brookvale Dick's Picks reissues were cut from digital. In fact, I believe that only 2 out of the 7 reissues used hi-rez digital sources. Thankfully, Brookvale has been very transparent about what sources they have used, and sadly, it was completely and utterly out of their control for their first two releases (i.e. - Dick's Picks Vol. 1 and Dick's Picks Vol. 2). Why? Because the masters for Dick's Picks #1 and #2 have friggin' disappeared! Yup. That is right. Dick (or somebody) totally dropped the ball after using those tapes for the commercial CD releases in the 1990s. They're gone! So Brookvale had worked out the details with the GD organization to reissue, on vinyl, the first two Dick's Picks...and then the analog tape was MIA. Wow. A huge loss (given that those releases / shows totally slay!). However, the Brookvale Dick's Picks #3, #4, #5, #6, and #8 on vinyl all use the original analog masters. BTW - there is no Brookvale reissue of #7.
I'm pretty sure (like 99.99% positive) that Plangent was not used by Norman in the vinyl reissues of 3,4,5, and 6, but the jury is still out on #8. I'm working on finding out.
#4 - You are absolutely correct about the hi-rez advantages, when it hits vinyl. I have not heard the Cornell vinyl release on my system, but I heard it on a friend's system (which is pretty good), and it sounded magnificent. But there is just some weird part of my lizard brain that likes to be both an analog fetishist and historical stick-in-the-mud. So I took a pass on purchasing Cornell on vinyl, but OF COURSE I bought the big CD box set and enjoy them thoroughly through my digital rig...even though they are 16/44.
But all plangent griping aside let me be clear on something...
I want everybody to enjoy as much Grateful Dead as possible, in any format they can get it. My preferences, while rooted in a traditional adherence to format continuity, are certainly not blind to the experience of musical ecstasy and transcendence. Happy Listening to you, sir.
...Plangent has nothing to do with mastering, but rather the playback of the tapedeck and it's relationship to the computer during the transfer to digital. Then the mastering EQ/Compression/Level matching is done by the mastering engineer after all tapes are transferred. I don't pretend to understand Plangent completely as it's pretty complicated but you can find out more here (https://audiophilereview.com/analog/plangent---a-better-way-to-transfer-...).
While decent sounding, all the Brookvale records are cut from digital files as well, but do not employ this process during the transfer. Seems to me like if it's gotta be digital to vinyl, this process is a viable way to go, as it's applied at the tape transfer stage. As long as they use hi-res digital files to cut the vinyl, it can actually sound superior to the CD, as CD is dithered down to only 44.1kHz 16bit, where the raw digital files are probably 96kHz 24bit. The Cornell vinyl sounds spectacular and presumably was cut from hi-res digital. Anyways, happy listening!
But on my rig at home (EAR 912 Pre-amp, Quicksilver Horn Mono amps, restored Garrard 301 turntable, AMG arm, Dynavector cartridge, restored Quad ESL 57 speakers, etc), I can hear pretty deeply into recordings....warts and all.
If you went to the Smithsonian and walked up to the one and only US Constitution only to see a beautifully acid-etched digital copy on wonderful Japanese paper, you would probably ask some questions. How about the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum? What if there was instead a beautiful piece of gray plastic, that looked 99.99% identical to the original? Again, you would probably furrow your eyebrows.
The nice thing about both those examples above is that they might actually 'look better' than the originals. Hmmmmmm.....I'd like the option to not have my 'historical documents' muddled with, thank you. As much as I like hot sauce, I try to take at least one bite of my meal without hot sauce (just to see how it stands on its own). That is what the CDs are for. Throw the magnetic tape through a digital prism and enjoy the final product with a digital to analog converter in your CD player, on your computer, or on your phone (it is just like eating your meal drenched in a very enjoyable hot sauce). Heck, I'm ordering the CDs for that exact reason. I'm not afraid of the future, or a lot of hot sauce, and I'll walk my talk.
But take me back to the days (just briefly) when music was not 1s and 0s, and keep it purely in that form as a commercial offering in 2018. Respect the 'historical document' aspect of tape, the analog waveforms, and all of the 'perceived' frequency limitations that come with them, and I'll snap up a copy just as quickly as I pick up the CDs too.
If you think I'm just blowing smoke on this, listen to any of the releases from the Beatles mono vinyl collection that came out a few years ago. The all tube mastering system used, along with a well maintained lathe, cutting head, etc - resulted in a time machine experience. I've been buying the Dick's Picks on vinyl re-releases from Brookvale Records that Norman masters WITHOUT plangent processing, and they sound absolutely superb. Yes, the Hampton 79 vinyl release (which Norman admits comes from a lowly cassette source) still sounds decent. It might even sound better if it had been run through plangent process, but I'm a bit of a traditionalist that will make chickenshit out of chickensalad (as evidenced by the 100+ shows I was willing to sit through and pay for from 1992-1995).
Let me emphasize my position on the subject again:
Keep plangent process in the mastering chain for the digital releases.
Expel plangent process from the mastering chain for the vinyl releases.
Do it for me. Do it for the history. Do it for the children. :)
Why is this $100 on pop market?
I would like to clarify that I absolutely believe in Plangent. When I was able to hear side by side comparisons of Dead tracks with and without Plangent, it was an obvious improvement when Plangent was used. At times you would swear it was a remix of the tracks because details that you couldn't hear before were brought forward in the mix. Plangent was able to remove the distortions that obscured these details for so long. My preference for vinyl is to be all analog, that's all.
How is this tool that much different than someone using an outboard processor to run effects?
The Plangent process playback system is a hybrid hardware/software package combining state of the art contemporary analog electronics coupled with unique digital signal processing. It begins with an ultra-wideband low-distortion custom reproduce head and subsequent associated hand-wired preamp, followed by proprietary DSP that provides total speed stabilization and wow and flutter correction. This unique combination of integrated hardware and post-processing provides the archival mastering and preservation community a level of playback quality never before possible.
I would lay my money down that all the vinyl reissues and RSD releases you mentioned used hi def digital for the final mastering (with the exception of the Mofi releases). A majority of the reissues on vinyl are using digital sources, although some are more transparent than others. The Bruce Springsteen vinyl reissues explicitly state they are mastered from digital. Even Mofi occasionally uses digital sources when the analog is not available, but they are transparent about it and release those titles on their Silver Label series. I have many of these. They sound really good.
That being said, we are not talking about simply pressing a CD master to vinyl. When digital sourcing is used, is has been sampled at higher rates to digital, and then that hi res digital source is used for the vinyl. The net of what I am saying is the vinyl pressed from hi res digital still includes more information than a CD, and it still sounds damn good if you enjoy the sound of vinyl.
I own all of the special edition live GD vinyl releases. They all sound really great, and I have no regrets about dropping the scratch for them, even the ones I already have on CD. I also own the GD re-issues of the WB albums. Again, no regrets, even though I feel pretty confident they are all mastered from a digital source.
My point is I wouldn't necessarily be too persnickety about whether or not digital sourcing has been used. If you enjoy the sound and experience of vinyl, you will be happy with releases sourced from hi res digital. I pay more attention to the pressing plant used as a few plants use better wax and have higher standards for QC than others. Also, the engineer who did the mastering is important (Chris Bell, as was mentioned, is a solid engineer).
LP1 = 22:54 & 23:27
LP2 = 22:56 & 9:39
LP3 = 14:11 & 22:11
LP4 = 18:24 & 16:12
LP5 = 6:38 & 20:50
LP6 = 18:51 & 6:10
currently the longest side is 23:27 (side B)
D (LP2,B) & E (LP3,A) combine to 23:50 and H (LP4,B) & I (LP5,A) combine to 22:50.
If the audio quality difference between a 23:27 side and a 23:50 side is as negligible as it appears, "MissingJerry" has a point.
Also, the first 3 LPs could be reconfigured to : 16:09/15:58/21:56/20:25/18:39/22:11 without altering the song order. Doesn't reduce the number of discs, but looks a little more elegant to my eye.
As it is, I hope for the audiophiles that sides D, I, & L play at 45rpm (and I hope for the stoners that they don't! "Woah, dude, what's wrong with Jjjjjeeeeerrrrrrrryyyyyyy?").
From my understanding, Plangent converts analog to digital to do its job. Therefore Any vinyl release that uses Plangent is not analog. The complete dead boxset with the orange slipcase was done by Chris Bellman analog and the MOFI Workingman's Dead and American Beauty are analog also. Its better to buy the hi rez downloads when Plangent is used. I saw a talk here in Denver by David Glasser and he explained the process so that's where I got my info. Take care.
4 records would require reordering of songs which I believe no one would want, or making some longer than optimal sound quality and audio levels
I would like more information on the process used to master the vinyl. I need to know if this is a digital recording put on vinyl or analog. I try to not buy any digital releases on vinyl because it undermines the whole rational for having the vinyl. RSD was great because all the concerts were recorded and released in analog. Neil Young Wilco The National David Bowie Lou Reed And the Dead.
Having just checked with the Taping Compendium and my copy of Deadbase-10 from 1995- this show looks very special indeed. All the shorter songs get praised, with Greatest Story being singled out as one of the best versions. The jam following Truckin' sounds great too, with its inclusion of the Mind Left Body jam.
My copy of Deadbase has this show as the 4th best of the year-with only 28th June, 18th June and 19th October ahead of it. 19th October was considered the best show of the year, which I am not sure I would agree with.But it was a list complied 23 years ago.
The positive is that it presents the music in the way it was played on the night. The downside is that this means we are being presented with 4 albums worth of music on 6 albums. So, I am not sure about buying this one. I've bought the cd box set. You can't judge a show by its set list-but to basically buy a show twice-it has to have something extra special-and I'm not sure this one has. I am normally drawn by Dark Star, Playin' and The Other One-which are all conspicuously absent on this set.
I guess I'll give it some more thought-check what the Taping Compendium says about it, and go one way or the other.
Ok I'm sorry no need to get snappy...why did you quote me with a "huh"? Feels like that is implying a request for an explanation and I have no idea your age or experience with records, it's the internet...Im guessing here. The timing doesn't seem like it would work out even with your extra 1-2 minutes.
I love vinyl but I may have to hold out for the variant color version in 2019. I'm still waiting for the Veneta vinyl re release. I won't chase an original Veneta one like I did in trying to obtain the Cornell LP. Re release them all, let them flow
I like Jeffrey Norman's mastering work a lot. However, the moment he put 'Plangent Process' into the mastering chain when cutting from his lathe was the moment I cut bait. Not sure who made the call (Jeffrey? Members of the Grateful Dead? David Lemieux?), but why put a 'historical document' that is already on analog tape which is destined to be on an analog format like vinyl through the digital domain when mastering? It just makes no sense.
And before anybody tells me about 'tape flutter noise', all tape has always had tape flutter noise since the dawn of mastering. For the CDs (which I happily purchase), sure, the tape is bound for a digital format so why not use something like 'Plantent Process'? Have at it.
But for the analog purists like myself (when I listen to analog), I dont need somebody throwing the master through the digital tunnel and then selling it to me as 'analog'. I'll just buy the CDs for that.
MESSAGE TO JEFFREY NORMAN, DAVID LEMIEUX, and MEMBERS OF THE GRATEFUL DEAD: Please abandon Plangent Process in the mastering chain for your vinyl releases
We get that, we're not idiots here. And it's more like 23-24 minutes per side. Cheers
You listen from side A to side B, then side C to side D etc. If they used the full time on each side to reduce the total number of LP's in the set that is 22 minutes per side they would have to re-organize the song sequence from the show to utilize all the appropriate space (now limited to save LP pressings). That would require the listener to catch one song here then go find the next song and so on. Either song sequences or jams would have to be altered or cut in the middle to reduce the total number of LPs in the set. And that for most of us is tantamount to sacrilege.
"require listeners to find the sides and put them in order"......huh?
I would assume it is to not interrupt the flipping and require listeners to find the sides and put them in order as they were enjoying the show. I'm all for it! Keep the flow and my cash :)
I'm really looking forward to this release; however, did it really need to be a 6-LP set? With Side D under 10 minutes, and Sides I & L at under 7 minutes each, seems like we could have saved some cost by fitting this on 5, or maybe even 4 records.
… that it meant just that, only 7500 copies will be pressed. I ordered and will put on the side and hope my kid can sell someday for profit. I really need to set my stereo back up so I can do side by side sound test of vinyl and cd. Seems like these would be the combo to test with, completely remaster by all the magic processes available and from 500 track tapes (where every note gets it's own track!).
It is exciting. I will get this one. I will add here, with all due respect, that I have absolutely no idea in the world what this statement means:
Limited to 7,500 copies
more Dead vinyl on the way!