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.
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.
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.