Nearly all analog audio formats are obsolete. And as media -- both analog and digital -- ages and is handled and used, the recorded signal is at risk of damage, physical degradation, and irrecoverable loss. For these reasons, it is critical that rare and unique sound recordings are reformatted to digital files in order that they can be readily used both now and into the future.
The Media Lab has the capacity to clean, repair, and digitally reformat a wide variety of original sound recording formats:
- Transcription disc (AKA "acetate" or "lacquer")
- LP (AKA "vinyl")
- ¼-inch analog reel (half track and full track; 1-7/8, 3-3/4, 7-1/2, 15, 30 ips)
- Digital Audio Tape (DAT)
- Compact Disc (CD)
Tapes and discs are gently cleaned prior to digitization. Repairs and other treatments (such as tape baking or re-lubrication) may also be carried out in order to address the adverse effects of aging, degradation or damage to the original media and to ensure the optimal capture of sound during reformatting.
The Media Lab produces digital audio formats suited to purpose:
Preservation Master File: This file serves as the highest-quality archival master that will be maintained in perpetuity for creating reproductions of the original recording. Encoding specifications are:
- Broadcast WAV
- Analog sources: 24 bit, 96 kHz
- Digital sources: at original resolution, typically 16 bit and 44.1 or 48 kHz
Production Quality Access File: This file serves as a high-quality version of the archival master. It is useful for transcoding to a variety of user-friendly formats and media (like Audio CD).
- Broadcast WAV
- 16 bit , 44.1 kHz
Online Access File: These files are optimized for online delivery via streaming or download. Other options, depending on the end-use context or delivery system, are possible.
- 160 (mono) or 320 (stereo) kbps