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>I would like to know some of the steps, in actual practice, that are being
>followed by audio restoration projects.  Specifically, has anyone chosen
>not to include analog preservation copying and gone directly to digital? In
>the case of reel-to-reel preservation copying what track configuration
(full, >half, etc.) is being used?  Are digital audio files mainly being
archived on >servers or CDs or both?
>
>Harry Rice
>Berea College


In our archive, We have been making three copies of every tape, one analog 2
track stereo (which, since the source material is mostly mono, is the
closest to full track mono that I can manage), one Masterlink CD-24 (24/44.1
AIFF file) and one CDR (service copy). I only insert track markers on the
service copy, and leave the AIFF copy whole.
     We started out recording the Analog copies at 15 IPS, but then we ran
out of tape and the money wasn't there to buy more tape stock. I was able to
get enough funding to purchase all the CDR blanks I needed and about 100
more reels of tape. At that point I began recording at 7.5 IPS (still 2
track) until I ran out of tape again, which happened just before the
holidays. At this point, I'm not making analog copies, simply because I
don't have any tape or money to buy tape. If and when funding becomes
available, the tapes I missed will be recorded to analog from the AIFF copy,
so we don't have to play the originals again.
    My personal feeling is that the cost factor is making analog copying
prohibitive for many archives, and the redundancy is becoming more of a
luxury than a necessity. The analog preservation copy is always going to be
the last-resort backup, and in a perfect world, will never be played, and
given the huge disparity between the cost of analog tape and the cost of
digital media, analog redundancy is unrealistic for many operations.
    The question is really: How long will analog remain a viable medium
(i.e. how much longer will we be able to obtain reliable tape stock? How
long into the future will playback machines be 1. available and 2. a
cost-effective alternative?
    Also, how reliable is the tape stock we are using now? I have acetate
tapes from the early 50s that play back better than the preservation copies
made in 1992 (which I am in the process of replacing).
    We currently have a grant application pending for funds to purchase more
analog tape stock, and if it comes through I'll continue to make analog
copies, because the boss wants me to, but I think it's overkill (and very
expensive overkill at that)
    We are currently archiving all of our digital audio to CDR (Mitsui Gold
on Gold unbranded), though I find the thought of hard disk redundancy
appealing. The downside of this would be catastrophic data loss (don't put
all yr eggs in one basket), but I see it as a cheap way to achieve
redundancy.

-Matt Sohn
Audio Preservationist
Louis Armstrong House and Archives
www.satchmo.net