Hear Today, Gone Tomorrow?
Engineers have taken to "baking" these reels of deteriorating tape in a effort to make one or two final transfers before the masters become unusable. But as each day passes, more of the multi-track masters that contain the performances of some of the record industry's most important artists slip beyond use.
Recognizing this problem as an opportunity, pro-audio equipment manufacturer Euphonix has unveiled a new set of products for converting and storing the contents of multi-track tapes in a format that the company says will ensure the long-term viability of these valuable recordings. Euphonix's recently-announced TransferStation for the company's R-1 Digital Multitrack enables 24-bit/96kHz digitized audio files to be converted directly to the industry-standard AES31 format. Euphonix says that the new stand-alone PC-based system connects to any server topology using conventional Ethernet and fiber-channel ports and will be available in May.
Euphonix's Steve Vining explains that "digital asset management is a hot topic with record labels. Many of these multi-track tapes are in poor condition and may only be good for one more pass through a tape machine. We believe that this irreplaceable material needs to be digitized at the new 24/96 standard—ready for immediate use in DVD-Audio re-mixing and mastering—and stored long-term on any conventional server. Labels already have experienced IT departments that routinely handle sensitive royalty and financial data; adding terabytes of digitized audio data poses no problem for them.
"With DVD-A re-mixing campaigns currently underway at many record companies, the quality of these classic masters is of tremendous concern. Using server technology and an open standard like AES31 is a failsafe approach that allows future flexibility and freezes the master in a high-resolution environment."
Euphonix chose the AES31 format because it is non-proprietary, says the company's Scott Silfvast. "AES31 is the only industry-standard digital audio format, which is why we actively support it. The format is currently being implemented by a number of workstation and recorder manufacturers and will be around for a long time."