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Grundman Masters Voyager Golden Record Grammy®-winner

In 1977, NASA launched two spacecraft that would venture far out into deep space, each carrying a golden record with a message from Earth for any aliens the vessels might encounter. Now, in a new vinyl pressing mastered at Bernie Grundman Mastering, that record is available to people on Earth.

“It contains a big cross section of what is on this earth,” explains mastering engineer Bernie Grundman,” with people speaking in all their different native languages. It also has all different types of music from all around the world. It’s got tremendous variety and is a real historic milestone.”

David Pescovitz from the website Boing Boing and Institute for the Future, Timothy Daly of Amoeba Music, and designer Lawrence Azerrad got together to create the near-exact replicas of the gold-plated phonograph records to celebrate the anniversary of the Voyager launches. “The Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition” won the 2018 Grammy for “Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package.

When asked about the challenges of remastering the historic vinyl edition, Grundman replies, “It wasn’t really that difficult. The only real challenges we ran into were the high frequency limitations of vinyl, especially on some of the spoken word passages. In order to get really nice clean tracks on playback systems we had to correct some of the excessive sibilant sounds. But when we do that it actually makes it sound more natural. The other challenge was just trying to get even levels so that it can play through comfortably.” 

The Voyager Golden Record was never really intended for human consumption. The target audience for the content — popular songs, sounds from nature, photographs, spoken greetings in dozens of human languages and one whale language — was, and still is, an alien civilization capable of deciphering the instructions on the cover to learn about one small world in the universe. Two copies of the gold-plated copper record left Earth on Voyager 1 and 2, the first of which eventually left the solar system.

And why was Bernie Grundman chosen as the mastering engineer? “It might be because I’m one of the people that has a lot of experience in disc cutting and all of its limitations. Over the years, I’ve learned various ways of correcting those limitations that don’t interfere with what was originally intended. I’ve been living with disc cutting systems and vinyl for over 50 years. My staff and I are familiar with all the ins and outs of disc cutting.”

The Voyager Golden Record Vinyl 3LP Box Set contains 3 vinyl LPs in heavyweight jackets, a 96-page companion book containing all the images included on the original, a 12″ square gold foil print of the Voyager Golden Record cover diagram, a DLC for the audio files, and a turntable slipmat with a NASA/JPL-Caltech diagram of the Voyager spacecrafts’ trajectories across the solar system, all packed in a custom record box.

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The name Bernie Grundman is synonymous with Mastering. His world-renowned facilities, responsible for a consistently large percentage of chart recordings, were launched in 1984. In 1997, Grundman opened his Tokyo mastering studios and in 1998 relocated to expanded facilities in Hollywood. Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood operates six studios, including a 5.1 mastering room. All processing devices can be completely bypassed, resulting in sonic quality that is unsurpassed in the mastering industry. Virtually all digital and analog formats are accepted for mastering, with the facility providing high quality disk masters, and sub-masters for CD. Grundman’s custom consoles are built in-house with all discrete electronics.