Home Open Account Help 233 users online

Railfan Technology > A concern regarding the long-term storage of my audio collection


Date: 06/08/23 09:57
A concern regarding the long-term storage of my audio collection
Author: sig292

I have a concern regarding the long-term storage of my audio collection.
A few years ago I sent some railroad sound open reel tapes to a person for digitization. He did not tell me he was fighting cancer and he passed away early in the process.
He did manage to send me CDs of most of the audio he worked on, and he uploaded some more files that I was able to get from his website.
However, when he died, he had in his possession the 67 3-inch reels that the audio came from. I was never able to get those tapes back.
Therefore, the audio from them only exists as MP-3 files. As I understand it, digital formats are unsuited for long term storage because of distortion/corruption problems occurring after only a few years, as well as the inevitable technological changes in formats and playback equipment.
Since I want this material to last well beyond my lifetime, should I have the three hours+ audio from these reels re-recorded back onto analog magnetic tape?
Any thoughts of yours will be greatly appreciated.
-Ken Gear



Date: 06/08/23 21:06
Re: A concern regarding the long-term storage of my audio collect
Author: radar

It's not a digital recording that's the problem, so the MP3 files are fine.  The problem is the medium the files are stored on.  CD-Rs and DVD-Rs are notorious for becoming unreadable in just a few years.  Copy the files to multiple hard drives and back them up on cloud storage.  Every few years, copy the drives to fresh ones.  Another option is M-Disc, which is a recordable a DVD-R with claimed 1000+ year permanence.  You have to use an M-disc qualified drive to burn the discs, along with their special, blank media.

 



Date: 06/08/23 23:12
Re: A concern regarding the long-term storage of my audio collect
Author: sig292

Thanks for the explanation.



Date: 06/09/23 13:04
Re: A concern regarding the long-term storage of my audio collect
Author: robj

yes, it is the medium that is a problem. 
But you have to have a strategy for migration.  I'd think First thing is to get them off CD's to a backup hard drive(external) a noted, don't wait.
Hopefully the CD's are in a current OS format.
Make sure you have a good cd reader, if you have an old computer you might have to buy an external reader, they are not expensive but be sure compatable with you computer.
Not everything might read easily.  Be braced for some failures.  You don't want a failing reader. You are also going to have to look at file names  and probably set up directories to keep things organized..
After they are downloaded it would probably be good to listen to at least snipet of files to be sure you actually have something worth saving.

You can  then copy the hard drive to another drive and you now have two copies.

As far as cloud storage, lots of option but would be time to do a little research.  Also problem with cloud storage is you have to keep up and ensure that someone else  has knowledge
of the storage access information.  Maybe someone can pipe in on in and outs of cloud storage.

Bob



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/09/23 13:05 by robj.



Date: 06/09/23 13:25
Re: A concern regarding the long-term storage of my audio collect
Author: sig292

Thanks for all the information!
The thought of putting it all back on magnetic tape came to me after watching a documentary on TV about film restoration and preservation. Every archivist interviewed stressed that digital is not preservation.
All major motion pictures are restored with digital equipment. When the work is finished, the movies are put back on 35mm safety film for long term storage. They take no chances with digital storage. That gave me the idea that perhaps the same may be true for audio. 



Date: 06/09/23 18:28
Re: A concern regarding the long-term storage of my audio collect
Author: BRAtkinson

I'm going to pipe in here with a 40-year-old magnetic tape preservation warning.

In particular, the magnetic tapes of the '60s to early '80s, although the highest quality at the time, suffered from "bleed through". The magnetic signals on one wrap (aka layer or loop) of tape were strong enough to affect the recording on the adjacent wrap of tape. I still had great hearing back then, and I could sometimes hear the bleed through on my tapes, including commercially recorded classical music concerts and albums. 

The solution, I was told, was to completely rewind each tape all the way and back at least once every two years. The reasoning being that the position of each wrap of tape before rewinding differed from after rewinding due to re-tensioning when rewound.

The 'amount' of signal bleeding through was extremely weak and took months to be detected without specialized equipment. However, being cumulative in nature, it will worsen the longer the time span between rewindings.

Computer tapes were largely exempt from bleed through as they were much thicker to be able to withstand the rigors of high-speed stop/start action including reversal while moving over 25 mph. Also, the magnetic recording media itself improved during that time which allowed more data to be stored on fewer square inches of tape.  Audio recording media improved at the same time.

Do current day magnetic tapes have bleed through problems? I have no idea whatsoever. I merely offer the above as a suggestion or a warning.

Posted from Android



Date: 06/10/23 12:36
Re: A concern regarding the long-term storage of my audio collect
Author: radar

I wouldn't try archiving on analog tape.  For one thing,1/4" reel tape is now only made by one company, in small batches, and it's very expensive.  Secondly, reel to reel tape suffers from sticky shed as it gets old, where the binders migrate to the surface and prevent it from running smoothly through the heads. Thirdly, maintaining a reel to reel machine is difficult because rubber and felt components deteriorate with age and parts are not available.  Cassettes are non-starter as an archive medium.



Date: 06/11/23 16:18
Re: A concern regarding the long-term storage of my audio collect
Author: sf1010

robj Wrote:

> Hopefully the CD's are in a current OS format.

It's been a long, long time since CD formats were OS-specific.  Should not be a problem.  

I read a paper a while back from one of the enterprise cloud companies, I think EMC, now part of Dell.  They claimed they used coding that gave a one in 10^20 chance of lost data.  Yeah, that is 20 zeroes!

It sounds like you recognize that your recordings have long term value, perhaps after your passing.  Make sure somebody responsible has your cloud account information and password, if you go that route.  Perhaps put that information in your will.



Date: 06/13/23 07:05
Re: A concern regarding the long-term storage of my audio collect
Author: sig292

sf1010 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> robj Wrote:
> It sounds like you recognize that your recordings
> have long term value, perhaps after your
> passing.  Make sure somebody responsible has your
> cloud account information and password, if you go
> that route.  Perhaps put that information in your
> will.

Thanks everyone for the information and advice.

I was fortunate in being able to purchase the estate of William Steventon, founder of the Railroad Record Club.
The tapes in his collection are a treasure trove of revenue steam and long gone interurban railway sounds. I also have the master tapes for
all but eight of the record club's 42 released LPs.
Besides Mr. Steventon's recordings, the estate contains tapes recorded by Elwin Purington, Al Shade, Harold Lewis and Eugene Van Dusen
among others.
Everything has safely been transferred to WAV files and this was done by a professional sound lab. Some sound restoration was done where necessary. 
I put a lot of time, effort and money into acquiring and preserving this archive and I very much want it to survive past me.
It would be a shame if all this great material disappeared when I do.
-Ken Gear



Date: 06/16/23 19:32
Re: A concern regarding the long-term storage of my audio collect
Author: K3HX

You may wish not to pursue the M-Disc.  It is a long-obsolete format using a proprietary
magneto-optic recording scheme.  You are unlikely to find a working machine or recording
stock. 
I am sending you via PM the e-mail address of someone who is an audio expert.

Be Well,

Tim Colbert  K3HX

 



[ Share Thread on Facebook ] [ Search ] [ Start a New Thread ] [ Back to Thread List ] [ <Newer ] [ Older> ] 
Page created in 0.0619 seconds