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Re: [ARSCLIST] Digital Audio Preservation Question

Hi Don:

I'm very confident in saying, no way the MP3 format will be "forgotten" in 50 years, as I clearly laid out in my post. I also clearly said that it's very possible that less-used, group-effort, not-for-profit formats like Ogg or FLAC might well be "forgotten" because they didn't catch on widely enough for there to be an incentive to "remember" them. Probably more the case with ogg than flac, because flac does seem to have caught on in some professional circles. Mitigating being "forgotten" with open-source formats is widely distributed details (ie anyone who downloads the codec gets the details, which is not the case with Windows Media, iTunes iteration of MP4 or MP3 as far as I know). So, maybe it's safe to say none of this will be "forgotten" in 50 years!

-- Tom Fine

----- Original Message ----- From: "Don Cox" <doncox@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2008 9:01 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Digital Audio Preservation Question

On 07/04/08, Tom Fine wrote:
Hi Brandon:

Can you cite a reasonable scenario where there will be an ability to
read bits and bytes in the future but the whole idea of CODECs was

The idea may not be forgotten, but specific codecs and file format decoders can be almost impossible to obtain.

There are already many image formats that are as good as lost.

Especially the MP3 CODEC? I can't think of one, so that's
not my reason for being anti-lossy schemes. My reason is simply audio
quality. As for blowing up to WAV, as I said, it won't gain any
quality but might (small probability) make the file slightly less
vulnerable to being zapped by a drive-sector flaw due to less packing
density (that might not be the right computer-engineer term, but what
I'm saying is in WAV format, more space on the drive, more sectors are
required for the same linear time in audio, so one bad sector might
zap for instance a few measures that might be repeated elsewhere in
the WAV file but it could completely destroy most of a
lossy-compressed MP3 file and render it un-fixable). However, I think
you run about the same probability of that sector cropping up in the
file table or even the boot blocks, so the golden rule is many copies
in many places.

-- Tom Fine

PS -- for these open-source volunteer-work CODECS, the idea that they
might be unreadable in 50 years seems slightly more plausible. But MP3
is an industry standard established by paid scientists and is widely
licensed by for-profit companies and propagated.

----- Original Message ----- From: "Brandon Burke" <burke@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <ARSCLIST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Monday, April 07, 2008 3:50 AM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Digital Audio Preservation Question


Converting an accessioned archival MP3 file to WAV doesn't, in an of
mean creating
a 24/96 derivative. And it sounds to me like you're jumping to that

In this case (Martha's original point), the issue is readability in
future: 10, 20, 50 years down
the road. Of course, my guess is as good as anyone else's here but,
i think
conversion to WAV
(16/44.1) still sounds like a pretty good idea..


Right, Richard, I read the original post. I was commenting about
formats in general.

As for the original poster's specific question, I don't see any benefit in blowing up an already inferior file, but I'd make several extra copies in different places on the theory that one bad sector could destroy an MP3 file whereas it might only cause a fixable glitch in a WAV file due to the much denser info-pack of the MP3 (ie what's left after the lossy compression packs more audio linear time into fewer hard drive sectors than if the file had been left full WAV). However, there's equal probability that the sector that will fail first will be the file table so the whole drive is rendered damaged, perhaps fatally. So it's a gray area. It all comes down to many copies in many places as far as digital storage but as far as audio quality, I believe there is no good argument that lossy compression is ever a good idea with archival versions of things.

-- Tom Fine

Don Cox

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