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Experience the historic interstellar message for extraterrestrials the way it was meant to be played.
Experience the historic interstellar message for extraterrestrials the way it was meant to be played. The Voyager Golden Record is now available from Ozma Records.
Experience the historic interstellar message for extraterrestrials the way it was meant to be played. The Voyager Golden Record is now available from Ozma Records.
10,768 backers pledged $1,363,037 to help bring this project to life.

Rewinding history and pressing play

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Dear backers, 

In June of 1977, Timothy Ferris, the producer of the original Voyager Golden Record, holed up in CBS Records' New York City recording studio to mix the interstellar message. As Carl Sagan wrote in Murmurs of Earth, CBS Records (now a division of Sony Music) provided the studio and engineering talent “entirely as a public service." The company’s support of the project, he wrote, was “truly remarkable.” 

Over the course of a week, Ferris and CBS Records engineer Russ Payne, assisted by a young producer named Jimmy Iovine, mixed the material to Ampex 1/2" magnetic tape. Using those tapes, engineer Vladimir Meller cut the lacquer to fabricate the records that are now 13 billion miles from Earth. After the project was completed, CBS Records deposited the original master tapes into a massive, underground, climate-controlled warehouse managed by a company called Iron Mountain, named for the decommissioned iron mines that they converted into secure storage facilities. And for the next 40 years, the tapes sat in one or another of those facilities. Until now. 

Last Friday, we gathered with Tim Ferris around a pristine vintage tape deck in Sony Music's historic Battery Mastering Studios as engineer Vic Anesini hit play on the Voyager Golden Record master tapes for the first time since 1977. The sound was breathtaking. We are thrilled to announce that thanks to the good people at the Sony Music Archives and Sony Music Entertainment's Legacy Recordings, our Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition will be sourced from high-resolution digital transfers of the original master tapes. When we arrived at Battery Mastering Studios last week, the tapes were fresh from the oven. Anesini had literally baked the reels to temporarily prevent the iron oxide from shedding off the tape backing, a common problem of magnetic tapes of that vintage. 

Joined by Sony archivist Matthew Kelly and Ferris's son Patrick Ferris (an archival music researcher himself and member of roots rockers The Americans), we spent the day listening intently as Bach, bagpipes, Chuck Berry, gamelan music, and the blues washed over us, and Anesini tweaked the knobs to ensure the highest-quality digital transfer. The greetings in 55 languages sounded crisper than we'd ever heard them, as if the individuals behind those voices were in the room with us. As the Sounds of Earth audio montage filled the studio, we stood silently, eyes closed. It was stunning. 

After a pulsar’s beeps brought Sounds of Earth to a close, Tim recalled the four days he spent in the studio in 1977 producing that composition. He explained that the process required several people simultaneously have their hands on the mixing board sliders as he "conducted" such sounds as dogs howling, volcanic eruptions, frogs, a jet plane, and, famously, a kiss. 

Along with the Sounds of Earth, the musical selections, and the greetings in 55 languages, the Voyager Golden Record includes 118 images that were encoded in analog audio signals in the disc's grooves. Those images will be printed in the book that you will receive in the 40th Anniversary Edition box set but some of you have requested the audio track of those encoded images so that you may attempt to decode them yourself. We are delighted that the Sony archivists also located the tape reel of the encoded images. Rather than interrupting the Golden Record listening experience with the non-musical sound of the encoded images we will instead offer that track as a free digital download on the future Ozma Records Web site. It will also be bundled with the full album digital download in the appropriate Kickstarter reward packages. 

Late Friday afternoon at Battery Mastering Studios, as the interstellar message's outro of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 13 in B flat faded out, Tim Ferris looked over at us: "It's a good record, right?" he said with a smile. Yes. It most certainly is. And we have never been more confident that it will sound absolutely sublime when you hear it as part of the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition. 

We hope you enjoy the snapshots below of this incredible experience that you helped make possible. Next month, we’re off to Grammy-winning mastering engineer Bernie Grundman’s Los Angeles studio to remaster and cut the records, and the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena where we’ll dig into their Voyager Golden Record archives in search of more images and ephemera to include in the book. We'll keep you posted.  

Thank you, 
David, Tim, and Lawrence

Special thanks: Adam Block (president) and Rob Santos (VP A&R) at Sony Music's Legacy Recordings, Matthew Kelly and Tom Tierney at the Sony Music Archives, Jennifer Goodman (VP of business and legal affairs) at Sony Music, Vic Anesini (mastering engineer) and Donna Kloepfer (general manager) at Battery Mastering Studios, Matt Sullivan (founder) at Light in the Attic Records, Timothy Ferris, and you.  

David Pescovitz, Timothy Ferris, and Vic Anesini examine the master tapes
David Pescovitz, Timothy Ferris, and Vic Anesini examine the master tapes

 

Reel III Master of the "NASA Project"
Reel III Master of the "NASA Project"

 

The "Sounds of Earth" reel with Tim Ferris's handwritten track notes on the box
The "Sounds of Earth" reel with Tim Ferris's handwritten track notes on the box

 

Sequencing notes from the 1977 mastering session
Sequencing notes from the 1977 mastering session

 

Reel containing the encoded images
Reel containing the encoded images

 

At Battery Mastering Studios, from left to right: Patrick Ferris, David Pescovitz, Timothy Ferris, Tim Daly, Vic Anesini (Battery Mastering Studios), and Matthew Kelly (Sony Music Archives)
At Battery Mastering Studios, from left to right: Patrick Ferris, David Pescovitz, Timothy Ferris, Tim Daly, Vic Anesini (Battery Mastering Studios), and Matthew Kelly (Sony Music Archives)

 

Comments

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    1. David de Jong on

      Happy New Year everyone and waiting for next update :)

    2. Missing avatar

      Aza O'Leary on

      awe-sum and wonder-full update you guys! wow, I feel like I am time travelling with my participation in this project, reaching back in time into the archives and reaching out to Voyageur on its interstellar journey. It's feels to me that this project is arising at a time when we are about to become an interstellar species and this type of art/project is a part of the new wave of art/projects around this development. thank you for the thrill of being on this journey with you and the humble reminder of our amazing place in the cosmos! Aza

    3. Michael and Liz
      Superbacker
      on

      Wow. Way cool.

    4. Missing avatar

      ojhwel on

      This is so effin' cool. I cannot wait.

    5. Eric Lee
      Superbacker
      on

      Agree with Steve, looking forward to hear the music as a download, but would love to get the book as well. Hope you'll consider putting it as an add-on

    6. Robert C
      Superbacker
      on

      Simply awesome! Thank you so much for sharing and thank you even more for having the vision to bring this wonderful project to everyone!

    7. Ozma Records Creator on

      Thank you all for the wonderful encouragement! We appreciate it!

    8. Missing avatar

      Sandi Maiershofer on

      Thank you for the update. This is a Christmas present for my son who is a university professor as well as an amateur astronomer. He will be more than delighted. Thank all of you for the effort in bringing this project to fruition.

    9. Missing avatar

      Gary Alguire on

      Thanks very much for the wonderful update. I am curious though if I'm reading this correct. Will the albums be sourced directly from the master analog tapes or sourced from a digital representation of the tapes.

    10. Missing avatar

      EmilR on

      I agree with the other commenters: it was a delight to read this update, and I'm impressed with the amount of attention devoted to this project. Thank you! Can't wait for the upcoming news and, of course, the vinyls!

    11. Hiram & Liz Sibley on

      So very excited to get this update - and share in this wonderful slice of history! Thank-you.

    12. Georgi Bankov on

      Well done guys, love the update.

    13. Missing avatar

      hamon chamberlain on

      As a lover of Shellac and Vinyl i have to say, as a newcomer to this crowdfunding stuff, i am so pleased to be a part of this history making process. Well done, keep up the fabulous updates. I await, with eager anticipation, the delivery day. Thank you.

    14. Missing avatar

      Beylie on

      What a privilege to experience those tapes firsthand. This update has me so excited! Good on you guys, this is very special!

    15. Frederick Olsen on

      one of the best kickstarter updates i've ever read. thanks so much for all of the heart

    16. Missing avatar

      Steve Baines on

      Well done, this is all perfect.

      My only disappointment is that there was no option to pledge for the book, without also pledging for the vinyls. (I pledged for the FLAC digital downloads, and would love the book, but have no use for the vinyls.)

    17. Missing avatar

      Spags on

      Every part of this update is fantastic.

      You should consider a "Making of the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary" epilogue for the book.

    18. ferdie on

      impressed with the amount of care and work poured out to this project which would be worth every cent given by supporters

    19. Missing avatar

      Jörg Müller-Kindt
      Superbacker
      on

      That was a truly (awe-)inspiring update. Cannot wait to hear the results, thank you for sharing and pls.keep the updates coming.

    20. Jan Kaiser
      Superbacker
      on

      Really surprised to see Iovine's name mentioned in context of interesting and important work. Thanks for the update.

    21. Missing avatar

      Isaac on

      Great update!! Good idea the digital download with the encoded images in audio signals :-)

    22. Missing avatar

      RosalindF on

      Congrats on gaining access to the original master tapes, as well as to the ability to make a digital transfer! It's really exciting to know that we will be getting an exact copy of all the material, including the encoded images, that is currently traveling through interstellar space.

    23. Missing avatar

      Jeff Longcore on

      Very nice, thank you! I have to admit, I'm jealous that I have to wait until next year to listen to all of that, but it'll be worth it.

      The image audio track reminded me of the analog video disc system, which is another memory from decades ago.

    24. Danny Testa on

      Fantastic update! Thanks!

    25. Missing avatar

      George Dahms on

      I'm with Tim. Can't wait

    26. Timothy Shane Mitchell on

      I am sooooooo pumped! Thanks for the update!