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[AV Media Matters] The Archival Nature of CDRs
I do not have any grant money behind me ... in fact, I've sent some money
to a Grant to fix some of my gear <smile>...I do this as a serious hobby
and in the belief that I am doing something useful for a tiny bit of our
cultural heritage that would otherwise fall into dust.
Here are some of my assumptions:
(1) Analog reel and cassette tapes and the machines to play them on will be
degrading and harder to find in pristine shape in 20-40 years.
(2) Analog reel tapes are degrading. After reviewing about sixty reels over
the last few weeks, I've concluded that much of the acetate tape out there
is finally getting dangerously close to its end of life. I'm seeing
cupping, brittleness, etc. Scotch 111 is still holding up, but I worry
about how much longer.
One reel I looked at, fortunately it ended up being blank, ended up
(3) DAT is not an archival medium. There are not enough machines and spare
parts to make that reliable 20-40 years down the road. It has penetrated
better than ELcasete, but who knows how long the machines will last? Who
knows how long the tapes will last?
(4) Mitsui has made some broad claims about 300 year life for their gold
CD-Rs. I don't believe they can accurately make such a prediction, but the
fact that they even come close to saying it makes me feel more comfortable
with the product. I intend to monitor the recordings and if I start seeing
any significant degradation in my lifetime, clone away.
(5) Hewlett Packard early on chose Mitsui to be their CD-R
manufacturer--presumably HP put some research into quality before putting
their name on the Mitsui discs. My only financial connection with Mitsui is
that they have some of my money and I have some of their discs.
(6) Dispersion of media is useful. Some of the material I care most about
is being subjected to 1000-disc commercial manufacturing runs. We've had
great success selling the material and getting it into archives that
hopefully will care (both personal and institutional). While the
manufactured discs probably won't have as long a life as the CD-Rs, having
1000 out there makes me feel VERY comfortable.
(7) Devices to play CDs will be around for a long time, just due to the
sheer quantity of them manufactured. There are many fewer wear parts and
adjustments as compared to a DAT. Player malfunctions generally won't trash
a CD (errr unlike a DAT).
(8) I bought some no-name 80-minute CD-Rs last summer. I burned one copy of
my 80-minute restoration project and I had some errors (operator
malfunction as well as other problems in the transfer) so I didn't burn any
more. I fixed the operator malfunction problems and burned two more.
Neither would play in my audio players. Throw out 17 remaining disks. I
have now bought HHB 80-minute blanks and they seem to work. Hopefully they
will in a year. Yes, I intend to make several copies on two 74-minute
Mitsui Gold blanks, but this project lived on LP (the first on my label in
1978) on FOUR sides. I really want it on one side!!!! But this is an
example of cheap stuff not being useful after a year. By the way, my
earliest (3-year-old Taiyo Yuden (sp?) discs are still holding up and the
Mitsuis from 2+ years ago are still holding up. There were some
compatibility problems with the TY's playing in all players. The players
that rejected the TYs all have accepted the Mitsuis (again unscientific,
What's a person to do. I don't measure BLERs. I listen. I support the
science and I wish we had a consumer reports for media. Hopefully if we
did, something like the binder problems that cause sticky-shed would have
been caught and the stuff wouldn't have been sold.
I appreciate the tone of civility that has returned to this very important
and difficult issue. My thoughts are not science, they are observations of
one user who's trying to preserve what he can before it's too late.
If you want to know more about the projects, please check out the Web site
in the Sig. We hope to have a total of six CDs for sale by sometime next
year. One has been for sale for ten months, two more are coming out soon.
Three more are in the planning phase. Five of the six CDs will be reissues
of restored archival material. One will probably be new, but this preserves
in depth a little slice of culture and the artists' cooperation and support
has been wonderful.
Richard L. Hess email@example.com
Glendale, CA USA http://www.richardhess.com/
Web page: folk and church music, photography,
broadcast engineering, home wiring, and more