Elvis Presley 'Young Man With the Big Beat' Box Set

Dec 12, 2011 7:37 PM, By Barbara Schultz


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Elvis Presley performs The Steve Allen Show, Hudson Theater, New York City " />

Elvis Presley performs "I Want You, I Need You," "I Love You" as his opener on The Steve Allen Show, Hudson Theater, New York City

When the scope of a new project was defined, Jorgenson e-mailed Anesini a list of masters to retrieve from RCA’s archives, which are stored in a massive—and massively organized—vault in Boynton, Penn. “It’s a climate-controlled facility where the tapes sit on shelves and everything is bar-coded,” Anesini explains. “It’s amazing how much this system has evolved. When I started in 1988, it was like, ‘Just bring in everything we have and we’ll see if we can find what we need.’ Now everything has been cataloged. Tape archivists brought down all the tapes one box at a time; [they] documented every song, artist and tape format, put a bar code on every tape, so now I can search a massive database and if I need Elvis Presley 'Hound Dog'—presto—I can see the bar code number, the reel, and I can have it in my room the next day.”

Anesini goes all the way back to the original tapes for every music track he remasters. “This is all the quarter-inch masters,” he says. “Some might be 15 ips, some 30 ips, but this is all the original full-track mono tape.”

His mastering studio is situated in the former Record Plant facility on West 44th Street in New York, now called Battery Studios. The facility has passed through a couple of different owners during the years, but these Walters-Storyk–redesigned rooms have been in continuous operation since the Record Plant opened in the late 1960s in what was Studio C on the building’s 10th floor.

“This facility is amazing to see,” Anesini says, “because it’s the last place John Lennon was before his tragic end, and they kept that mix room where he always used to work, completely intact. It still looks like vintage 1970.”

Anesini has some vintage action going on in his room, as well: “I lucked out because the late, great David Smith, who was our resident rocket scientist at Sony Music studios—who unfortunately passed away too young—designed four mastering consoles with Richie Boisits; literally hand-built them,” he says. “George Massenburg teamed with them on all the components and electronics. These are one-of-a-kind, unbelievably great-sounding consoles. I’m so grateful to be using one of them.”

Some of the engineer’s other treasures include Spitz-modified ATR tape machines with Aria electronics and HDCD Pacific Microsonics A/D converters. “Sony bought these no-longer-manufactured converters and had the foresight to hang onto them. All of our rooms are equipped with these state-of-the-art, great-sounding A-to-Ds,” says Anesini. His monitors of choice are Dunlavy SC4s, which he says are “audiophile darlings. I just love them.”

Jorgenson and Anesini are both committed to a strictly faithful approach to the sonics of Presley’s classic tracks. Their goal is to remain true to the sound that listeners know and remember, and to do that, Anesini says he must dwell in “a reference world. I’m always referring to the vinyl, the listener’s first experience of Elvis. I never just pull up a tape, and say, ‘I think it should be like this.’ Fans have memories of every album that we never want to break with. You don’t want anyone to say, ‘That’s just not how I remember that record.’ So I work hard to preserve those memories.

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