In 2014, NEDCC began offering audio preservation services for grooved media using the “touchless” optical-scanning technology, called IRENE, which retrieves sound without damaging the physical carrier. Based on the success of IRENE, NEDCC’s clients began asking us to expand into audio preservation of magnetic and digital audio tape with a high-touch, high-quality service for their unique collections where the stakes are high. We are grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for their support for the expansion of our Audio Preservation services.
Digitization of Grooved Media with Stylus (marked with *) and/or IRENE
Reformatting of Digital Media
To drive labor costs down, the trend among for-profit vendors has been to employ automated, high-throughput workflows for audio preservation. Such workflows call for one audio technician to digitize as many as 12 sound carriers at once. Because it is not possible to simultaneously listen to and comprehend multiple recordings, quality assurance is performed after-the-fact using software to detect lost signal, etc. Unfortunately, this approach too often results in untenable errors, such as incorrect or missing metadata; improper calibration and alignment resulting in unfaithful sound reproduction; missing audio channels; improper speeds; and missing time codes.
As a result, many for-profit vendors are now operating on a promise of “satisfaction guaranteed” (i.e., if the client discovers an error within a short window of time, they will fix it at no extra charge) rather than “quality guaranteed” (i.e., providing quality control). The ultimate burden for quality assurance falls on the clients, who are often unaware that they need to listen to every file for completeness and accuracy.
Consequently, NEDCC is filling this void by providing audio preservation services using a traditional, specialized workflow supplemented by a conservation ethos.
This workflow includes:
By offering this traditional approach, it is hoped that NEDCC’s nonprofit service would not take business away from existing for-profit vendors, but would be accretive to the overall effort of preserving as many audio collections as possible before they are lost to posterity because of physical deterioration.
Read about the experience and qualifications of the NEDCC Audio Preservation Staff.
Need advice? Interested in working with NEDCC on an audio preservation project?
Director of Audio Preservation Services
(978) 470-1010, ext. 237
For questions about receipt and return of your materials, or packing and shipping:
(978) 470-1010, ext. 215
Quantifying the Need: A Survey of Existing Sound Recordings in Collections in the United States
A 2014 study by AV Preserve and NEDCC
Visit NEDCC's Funding for Audio Preservation page for grant deadlines and application information for a variety of funding agencies.