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Re: [ARSCLIST] Long-term/preservation audio

At 12:17 PM 6/26/2003 -0400, stevenc@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:
The question here, of course, is how long is "long?"
For the most part, we can still play cylinders from c. 1900 using
examples of the original players which have fortuitously survived;
I think there are currently a few cylinder players available, but
they are far from common. With discs, we are more fortunate...but
primarily because there are many collections and collectors, both
private and institutional. However, both of these technologies have
one additional feature...the fact that they contain information,
along with the method uses to store it, is easily discerned visually
and through touch. If some 33rd century archaeologist encounters
a cylinder or a disc, close examination will reveal the varying
grooves as well as how to retrieve the sound held in them.
(whether anyone understands 20th century Earth English by then is,
of course, not a given!)

There are many other factors which we appear not to be considering. For example, all the fine considerations of pressed LPs (I trust no one is thinking of creating fresh cylinders or 78-rpm discs) have little to do with making an archive. Granted that the source materials should be preserved, the question is how to make an archival copy - perhaps a few. However, one cannot seriously suggest pressing vinyl for the purpose. If suitable cutting lathes for "lacquer" or "acetate" masters can be located and suitable blanks can be purchased, we still have little information on durability of those media. We may have confidence in the durability of Amberol, "shellac" and even vinyl, but where does one find even that for writable blanks?

Where there is prospect of market for enough copies to justify pressing,
clearly one would press CDs in order to exploit that market. That tiny
fraction of the need for archiving aside, dual media probably makes sense:
one transfer to the preferred magnetic medium with concurrent capture to
recordable CD would seem to be practical. For raw transfer, hardware
investment would be in the range of one to three thousand dollars, media
would cost a few dollars per hour (depending on the format, quantities and
related parameters). If a better medium is available decades from now,
transfer from one of those records will be straightforward.

In short, discussing the best handling leads to solutions which are
impractical for the vast bulk of the libraries to be preserved. The part
which would justify "archival at any cost" is likely to be distributed in
such quantity that an individual archive copy is irrelevant.

There are 78s being pressed now, notably by Historic Masters, Ltd. I can
assure you that subscribers to their discs transfer them routinely to MD,
DAT and cassette; I have been asked to preserve them on CD-DA, CD-ROM as
WAV and CD-ROM as MP3 for various non-commercial purposes.

Mike mrichter@xxxxxxx http://www.mrichter.com/

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