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Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

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Re: Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Thu Jul 30, 2020 4:11 pm

desmond wrote:Multiple copies on different media is really the key element in looking after this stuff and making sure it's available in the future.

Totally agree...

Having spent some time at the BBC's archiving facility I am painfully aware of the technical challenges and very high costs involved in making high-quality digital transfers. It's far from a trivial thing to do and corners simply can't be cut...

And so I simply can't imagine most record labels volunteering to fund the global digitising of their archive vaults full of multitracks and master tapes just to be on the safe side... And especially not when they think they're paying for fire/water safe storage anyway!

And on top of the costs, there would also be the inevitable problem of artists complaining that the digitising process 'ruined the warmth of their music' or whatever because it wasn't done with the latest flavour of converters or at their preferred hypersonic sample rate with 64-bit wordlengths... and so they'd never use the digital safety copies...

Anyway, it's only music... can't someone just play it again... :crazy: :lolno: :wave:
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Re: Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

Postby desmond » Thu Jul 30, 2020 4:19 pm

Indeed, clearly that is the practical reality, alas.

I wonder if any record companies decided to put in place some more efforts to preserve their own material once that event happened, or whether they thought "Well, that's clearly bad for them, but it won't happen to us...?" :headbang:

Might be easier to justify with the argument "see all that projected revenue from all your artists recording work over the next 20/50 years, included remasters, re-releases, new formats, remixes and so on? One fire, and you'd potentially lose the bulk of that revenue - it's already happened once to people who thought they were protected too..."
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Re: Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

Postby James Perrett » Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:38 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:And so I simply can't imagine most record labels volunteering to fund the global digitising of their archive vaults full of multitracks and master tapes just to be on the safe side... And especially not when they think they're paying for fire/water safe storage anyway!

In my fairly limited experience of transferring major label master tapes, anything that was vaguely a hit comes with a "Digitally Archived" sticker on it although it is quite likely that these archives are on CD-R or DVD-R (albeit in 192kHz/24 bit format). Independent labels seem to be less well organised. However, there's an awful lot of unreleased stuff that hasn't been digitised until it reaches me.

One thing I have found is that labels are fairly hot on creating safety copies and of course there are often production masters for material that has been released. The issue is that these safety copies and production masters are always at least one generation removed from the original which may result in a very slight loss of sound quality with analogue tapes.

Digital tape may be a good backup medium in the short term but, given ever evolving technology, I suspect it would be difficult to find a way of reading an Exabyte tape from 30 years ago. Even PCM1630 tapes are a problem - I only know of two places in the UK that can read them.
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Re: Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:39 pm

Out of curiosity, how do SSDs fare for long term storage?
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Re: Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

Postby ef37a » Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:52 pm

blinddrew wrote:Out of curiosity, how do SSDs fare for long term storage?

Badly if the story I read recently is to be believed! It said don't do too many write/read cycles, don't store massive files on them (like, nobody is going to save video are they?!) and don't allow them to become more than 75 %filled.

Ideal for audio recording then!

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Re: Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

Postby forumuser840717 » Thu Jul 30, 2020 7:50 pm

I do some non audio work for a corporate client and some of the projects with which I'm involved routinely generate many petabytes of new data per month. Once the data are nominally finished with, they're stored on tape as the cost of either hard drive or cloud storage would be prohibitive. It doesn't half take up some physical space though!
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Re: Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

Postby wireman » Thu Jul 30, 2020 8:20 pm

The one thing I do differently nowadays from the CD era is that I keep checksums along with my backups.

Some formats do this internally (zip).
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Re: Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

Postby forumuser840717 » Thu Jul 30, 2020 8:35 pm

Ten years or so ago, I worked on a project to digitise tapes for a large archiving company whose record company client had suffered a major fire in one of their own internal archives (nothing to do with the company for which I was working) and lost a lot of tapes. They weren't sure what exactly ahd been lost so spent over a year retrieving every tape they could find which might be pertinent from all over the world - territorial production masters from production plants, media playout copies, listening copies held in archives/museums, private/artist/record company collections, anything which might enable them to recover otherwise lost early generation copies of their masters.

The copies ranged from acetate, and even paper, tapes to 1/4" and 1/2" analogue reels, DAT and PCM1600/10/30 U-Matic masters, Sony DASH and Mitsubishi PD format open reel digital, even some PCM-F1format tapes.

The digitsation was split between a few UK based companies and the one which hired me built, in a matter of weeks, thirteen networked transfer studios and all the necessary support facilites - dedicated maintenance workshop, high tech fire-safe environmentally controlled media and secure data storage vaults, multi station scanning facility, process management and admin backup, etc., etc. - specifically for the project, then employed enough people to run it 24hrs a day.

Everything was catalogued and digitsed - 24/96 copies of the analogue audio, whatever was appropriate for the digital audio, and high res scans of the media boxes and any associated paperwork - with the final output of the project ending up on some large HD storage arrays and multiple LTO tape backups.

When it was all done, the facility was closed, dismantled and the equipment mostly returned to the parent company in the USA with just a few studios being rebuilt in another company building in the UK.

We transferred a lot of audio, with the earliest stuff dating from the 1940s, going up to things I'd worked on in the 1990s and ranging from straight playbacks which just worked, to things requiring varying levels of physical restoration and recovery of media before they could go anywhere near a playback machine. All good fun and really interesting. Not least for the mix of engineers working on the project. On several occasions I'd give a tape to an engineer and they'd say oh, I made this. One fun moment was when I was trying to decipher the handwirting on a tape box from the Apple Corps studio, recorded on the day I was born. I showed it to the engineer standing next to me and said 'how is anyone supposed to read that' only for him to reply with all the info. I asked how he managed to read it and he grinned and said 'Easy - it was written by an 18 year old me. I was a tape op there". Fun project.


And on digital transfers, I'm currently (re-)cataloguing an archive, about 99.5% of which I recorded for a broadcast client so they can see what still exists and see whether they might want to re-broadcast any of it. The several thousand DATs and CD-Rs date from 1992 onwards but unfortunately the database which held details of the content has been lost/corrupted to the point where it's of very limited use. So far, the DATs are mostly transferring fine - failure rate of 2 tapes out of over 400; sadly the same can't be said of the CD-Rs which are showing problematically high error rates and various drop-outs in at least 50% of cases. The results will probably vary a lot as I work on more differently aged media. Most of the DATs so far are from 1995 and the CD-Rs from around 1998-2001. (The DATs have all been BASF and the CD-Rs various types of Taiyo Yuden and everything has been stored in the dark in a stable environment.) Thankfully there have been backups and multiple copies to provide cover so far. Glad I kept everything now!
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Re: Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

Postby forumuser840717 » Thu Jul 30, 2020 8:40 pm

wireman wrote:The one thing I do differently nowadays from the CD era is that I keep checksums along with my backups.

Some formats do this internally (zip).

Funnily enough, the lost archive catalogue I mentioned above was stored on Zip, Jazz, 3.5" floppy, and three copies of CD-R(OM) on different makes of media. I thought that it was a pretty belt and braces approach that would mean it'd last and be retrievable for a while at least. I wish I'd done it on DAT now as none of the others is readable worth a damn. Or paper would've been good!
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Re: Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

Postby wireman » Thu Jul 30, 2020 8:50 pm

forumuser840717 wrote:
wireman wrote:The one thing I do differently nowadays from the CD era is that I keep checksums along with my backups.

Some formats do this internally (zip).

Funnily enough, the lost archive catalogue I mentioned above was stored on Zip, Jazz, 3.5" floppy, and three copies of CD-R(OM) on different makes of media. I thought that it was a pretty belt and braces approach that would mean it'd last and be retrievable for a while at least. I wish I'd done it on DAT now as none of the others is readable worth a damn. Or paper would've been good!

By the way I meant the zip archive format (zip/unzip/zipinfo), not the physical drive format.
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Re: Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

Postby wireman » Thu Jul 30, 2020 8:55 pm

A bit off topic, and I love digital but sometimes the analogue formats have a lot going for them.

My boxes of Kodachrome slides still seems as good as they were decades ago.

We know digital projects can go awry, For example the BBC Doomsday project.
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Re: Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

Postby desmond » Thu Jul 30, 2020 9:08 pm

wireman wrote:A bit off topic, and I love digital but sometimes the analogue formats have a lot going for them.

Sometimes, yes. For example, we have *gorgeous* hi-res bluray restored versions of something like The Prisoner, shot in the 60s on film, and then we have the grainy, worse than SD interlaced video of Doctor Who and Blakes 7 which will forever look... well, "of it's time".

Analog formats are good to have, the problem is where there is only one copy rotting away somewhere. As the above poster demonstrates, it takes a little bit of commitment from companies to get this stuff *safe* (however is best suited for the medium and media involved), but it's not like it's not achievable - and those things are in many ways those companies' greatest assets, after all...
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Re: Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

Postby Eddy Deegan » Thu Jul 30, 2020 10:19 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Anyway, it's only music... can't someone just play it again... :crazy: :lolno: :wave:

I think this might be a question for Sam.

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Re: Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jul 30, 2020 10:25 pm

No use asking me, I can't remember what I played five minutes ago most of the time :blush:
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Re: Heads Up on CDR Degradation - New Results

Postby James Perrett » Thu Jul 30, 2020 11:16 pm

forumuser840717 wrote:Ten years or so ago, I worked on a project to digitise tapes for a large archiving company whose record company client had suffered a major fire in one of their own internal archives (nothing to do with the company for which I was working) and lost a lot of tapes. They weren't sure what exactly ahd been lost so spent over a year retrieving every tape they could find which might be pertinent from all over the world - territorial production masters from production plants, media playout copies, listening copies held in archives/museums, private/artist/record company collections, anything which might enable them to recover otherwise lost early generation copies of their masters.

Presumably that's the fire that has resulted in all these lawsuits recently. Though I notice a few artists are dropping out of legal proceedings now that they realise that they didn't actually lose anything.
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