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Re: [ARSCLIST] Digital Audio Preservation Question

At 06:05 PM 2008-04-06, Tom Fine wrote:
I can't see how a lossy format like MP3 is even considered "archival." It should be discouraged as a preservation file format. I'm not sure lossless compressed formats are a good idea either, given the likelihood of more valuable content packed per disc drive, location, workstation, etc and simple probability thus making the data more vulnerable. Storage is cheap. Overlapping redundent storage is what I'd consider Digital Archiving 101, and included in that would be avoiding source-degrading things like lossy file formats. What I recommend to all my clients is, do the transfers high-resolution. Do your processing high-resolution. If you choose to save a final processed copy in lower resolution or lossy format, that's fine but keep the original transfer, it's worth a few hundred extra dollars per year in hard drives.

Hello, Tom,

The original poster explained that the files they were being given to archive were only available in MP3. While that may be a poor choice and the archivist can encourage the originating party to originate in WAV in the future, the fact of the matter is that people originate material that is deemed worthy of archiving on:
- MP3 originals (even the SD722 can do that along with FLAC and WAV)
- Microcassettes
- Stuzzi Memocord cassettes (rim drive)
- Minicassettes (rim drive)
- Standard cassettes
- Standard cassettes on broken recorders that are worse than rim drive

Need I go on. Unfortunately, the archivists are at the end of the pipeline and they need to make intelligent decisions about how to archive what they are given.

No, MP3 would not be what I would recommend to archive in, but if I were given files to archive and I was comfortable that the archiving entity would commit to carrying MP3 files forward as common file formats evolve, I would store the original MP3 files.

Others may feel that bumping up is mandatory, but I think it all depends on the committment from the trusted digital repository.

I think IASA TC-04 says to bump up, but I don't have time to look it up right now. I would certainly bump up some of the oddball compression formats from digital recorder pens or even the standardized

Here is what I wrote about DSS (the Olympus format) and others in August 2006



-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "Mike Richter" <mrichter@xxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, April 06, 2008 4:55 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Digital Audio Preservation Question

Martha Horan wrote:

I'm a library school student working on a digital repository project for a
course on digital preservation.  My group and I have audio files from a
nearby archive that we plan to ingest into the D-Space repository.  A large
portion of the files that we received are in the lossy Ogg Vorbis and MP3
formats.  The archive received the material from the donor in this way.
Finding the right way to preserve the mainly born digital materials has been
a challenge.

We are trying to figure out the best practice for this situation.  Do we
want to preserve how the files came to us and only put Ogg Vorbis or MP3
files in the repository, making those files the Preservation Masters?

Or do we want Wav files as well, to have a lossless copy of the files?  Then
we would have a combination of both the original and lossless files as the
Preservation Masters.

It is my understanding, however, that it is bad practice to have a file
compression that goes from lossy to lossless.  Would the Wav file then not
be considered preservation?

Or if we input enough preservation metadata to record the compression change
that happened to the file, is the Wav (and the lossy to lossless
compression) acceptable as a Preservation Master, accompanied by the
original lossy file format?

The losses of a lossy format cannot be recovered. Decompressing to WAV will preserve the sound as you received it, but so will a copy of the original file. The only reason to decompress would be for editing. If you intend to process the files in any way, the edited result should be saved in a lossless format so that the losses are not compounded.


Richard L. Hess email: richard@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Aurora, Ontario, Canada (905) 713 6733 1-877-TAPE-FIX
Detailed contact information: http://www.richardhess.com/tape/contact.htm
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.

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