I no longer know where it is or on what date I presented it, but I did an
ARSC talk a while back (late 1980s?), "The Cassette: Audio's Stepchild" if I
recall correctly, in which I first hashed many of these issues. I took and
still take the position that the ultimate best use rather than immediate
gratification should be the measure of desired quality, and that this holds
for spoken word as well as with music.
From: Dennis Rooney
Sent: Monday, October 29, 2012 4:03 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] compact audio cassette questions
In a case where a motivated archivist can be guided by an experienced
professional, who is able to calculate the archivist's learning ability, I
agree that certain kinds of material can be dealt with as you suggest.
However, stringent adherence to good practice seems a sound way to proceed
regardless of original recording equipment, however inferior. The job is,
after all, to play back that bad recording as perfectly as possible so that
once it reaches the digital domain further work to improve it can be
performed successfully. Azimuth and other mechanical adjustments are best
learned through demonstration and, when the basic steps are understood can
be performed by non-professionals with occasional communication for special
cases. Assuming, of course, that the non-professional can hear and know
what he is listening for. Which is why the initial tutorial is critical.
On Mon, Oct 29, 2012 at 2:57 PM, Richard L. Hess
<[log in to unmask]>wrote:
> Hi, Dennis,
> The complexity of this is the level of the collection. Obviously, if you
> have the RCA Living Stereo Collection, no you can't play catch-up and do
> on-the-job-experimental learning. On the other hand, after a few learning
> sessions, I think the motivated archivist with some audio interest might
> successfully tackle what I see as a huge percentage of the audio
> collections that are culturally important, but not sonically important.
> While it may sound like a heresy, I think these can be preserved without
> much attention to the last tenth of a decibel (if such a level of
> ever existed in professional magnetic recording).
> Let's take for example a major student oral history project, recorded on
> Wollensak T-1500 half-track machines with the provided Wollensak ceramic
> microphone. Once you learn about azimuth and levels and cleaning the tape
> deck and say you're using a Studer A807 to digitize the tapes, there
> too many things you can do on the ingest side that will degrade the audio
> performance of the original tape. One archive I worked with had interviews
> with people who knew Richard Nixon as a child. That certainly is a
> culturally important artifact, but it was recorded on the Wollensaks, as
> described. This was actually the content that used volunteers under the
> direction of the careful and conscientious archivist.
> On 2012-10-29 1:51 PM, Dennis Rooney wrote:
>> Richard offered the only possible suggestion to anyone responsible for a
>> collection of important recordings who is inexperienced with the medium.
>> There are too many solutions to operational problems that only experience
>> can provide. Don't even think about "catching up". You cannot.
> Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
> Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
> Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.
Dennis D. Rooney
303 W. 66th Street, 9HE
New York, NY 10023