One comment:

> One also has to consider that the costs of blank media in the recent analog
> past were at least as expensive as going with an Enterprise-class SAN
> system.  20 or so years ago, I was paying $10-$15 per reel of 1/4" tape
> holding either 30 or 60 minutes of audio.  If you adjust that for inflation
> ($10.00 in 1985 now equals roughly $20.00 in 2008), one can make the
> argument that the cost per recorded hour of 2-channel audio at 24/96 on a
> SAN is still cheaper than recording the same audio 24 years ago to analog
> 1/4" tape at 15ips (or even at 7.5ips for that matter).

It is true that the cost of *recording* high-quality audio is lower,
but for archival purposes I think these numbers are highly misleading:
long-term storage costs of large quantities of digital data appear to
incur much higher costs than analog. We are talking about five-year
life-cycles for the hardware/software systems (and their associated
expensive migrations), knowledge cost of IT (although in your
institution it is mostly you, you spend a lot of time maintaining and
researching the infrastructure), the seemingly much higher need for
multiple copies, etc etc.

Jonas Palm, in his wonderful "The Digital Black Hole", estimates that
the cost for *five years* of storage in his fairly sophisticated
institution system as 7.86/GB. Again, this does not account for
expensive data migration every five years.

Furthermore, for preservation of legacy media, the higher costs of
analog physical storage cannot be dismissed, since accepted practice
is to keep the original masters.

I am far from advocating for a return to analog as archival storage,
but for now at least (where is the 100-year hard drive?) we cannot
make the argument that long-term digital storage of audio is less
expensive than analog. I think we do a disservice to institutions and
clients when we present it as such. We need to know what we are all
getting into.

Please chime in with comments, as I would love to be wrong.

Cheers & happy holidays,


Marcos Sueiro Bal
Audio Engineer