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Designing the Perfect Audio Room

The following is a guest post by Cary O’Dell, Boards Assistant to the National Recording Preservation Board.

Achieving excellent recorded sound quality is not only a matter of personnel and equipment but also the environment.

Packard Campus Front & Pool lower rez

Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation

At the Library of Congress’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation there are eight rooms specifically designed for optimal sound recording. While some of the architecture and methods at the Library may be out of reach for many people, there are many techniques that can be adopted to enhance your at-home audio recordings.

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Audio Preservation Room, Packard Campus


The Packard Campus is a state-of-the-art facility where the Library of Congress acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts, and sound recordings. The Campus provides the Library with greatly expanded capabilities and capacities for the preservation reformatting of all audiovisual media formats (including obsolete formats dating back over 100 years) and their long-term safekeeping in a petabyte-level digital storage archive.

Audio engineers use a variety of methods for preservation for audio, depending on the format and content of the original recording. These range from a hands-on, one-at-a-time approach to a high throughput parallel transfer process. One example of this can be found in a previous blog post from October 28, 2015, Preserving Audio Cylinders: From Edison to the Archeophone,  presented by Audio Preservation Specialist Brad McCoy.

The engineers create high quality 96/24 WAV preservation masters and a derivative 44.1/16 WAV file for listeners. This allows us to provide researchers with playback in our Recorded Sound Research Center in Washington, D.C. by accessing the digital file using a specially designed program that interfaces with the in-house audio-visual cataloging system. Due to copyright restrictions, the vast majority of audio in the Library of Congress collection cannot be made available over the internet for listening outside of the Library.

Our four-minute video, produced by the staff of the Packard Campus, is a basic guide to creating an audio preservation room for audio recording, playback and restoration. It addresses, among other issues: equipment set-up, speaker placement, single-path and even room furnishings to achieve the best results.

The video features LOC Audio Preservation Specialist Rob Friedrich. Mr. Friedrich is a three-time Grammy Award-winner and has been a recording engineer and producer for over 20 years. He has been with the Library of Congress since 2011.


Photo Blog #13: Men of Mystery

Here is another set of unknowns.  These gentlemen may be actors, or they may be directors, writers, producers.  And some might not be affiliated with film/TV at all–perhaps they are captains of industry, or TV hosts, or local anchormen.  Regardless, we welcome your thoughts as to who they might be.  Please place your educated guesses in the […]

Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (December 7-10, 2016)

The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus. Wednesday, December 7 (7:30 p.m.) Tora! Tora! Tora! (20th Century-Fox, 1970) As a follow-up to the highly-regarded war film The Longest Day (1962), depicting the invasion of Normandy, Fox Studios set out to make a dramatization of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.  Seeking […]

Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (December 2-3, 2016)

The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus. Friday, December 2 (7:30 p.m.) Air Force (Warner Bros., 1943) Made at the height of World War II, this epic account of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor focuses on the personal dramas of the crew of an Air Force B-17 bomber […]

Smokey Robinson Receives Gershwin Prize for American Song

Last night, Wednesday, November 16, Smokey Robinson, a rhythm and blues icon whose career has spanned more than 50 years, received the Library’s Gershwin Prize for American Song. The gala award event, featuring prominent performers and musicians was held at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.  Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden presented the award. […]

The Silent Film Project: The Midnight Message (Goodwill Pictures, 1926)

It’s a good week for silent film lovers at the Packard Campus Theater with four consecutive programs starting Wednesday. And as usual, all will be accompanied by live music. We welcome London favorite Stephen Horne for two WWI related-screenings on Wednesday (On the Firing Line with the Germans, about which I wrote last week) and […]

Now Playing at the Packard Campus Theater (November 16-19, 2016)

The following is a guest post by Jenny Paxson of the Packard Campus. Wednesday, November 16 (7:30 p.m.) On the Firing Line with the Germans (War Film Syndicate Company, 1915) In 1915, newsreel director and cinematographer Wilbur H. Durborough spent seven months with the German army in Russia and Turkey and shot 16,000 feet of […]

Rock the Vote

Today’s Post is guest-written by Kristi Moore, a volunteer helping to process and organize collections in the Recorded Sound Section. Eighteen years before, MTV’s “Rock the Vote” targeted potential young Americans in their campaign to increase political involvement, the record industry took the initiative to help register young voters, using the famous names and faces […]