The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #134506   Message #3060620
Posted By: JohnInKansas
24-Dec-10 - 08:46 AM
Thread Name: Digitisation Nightmare
Subject: RE: Digitisation Nightmare
It's quite an overstatement to claim that vinyl recordings last forever. My granddaddy had a number of old cylinder records that were nearly all hard plastic (near vinyl) rather than wax but dating back to include "live" recordings of Teddy Roosevelt, and when I went through some of them - with his original machine, his comment was "they're about gone now. They sounded a lot better when they were new."

Vinyl LPs that I had collected ca. 1960, stored in pretty benign conditions, were mostly "a lot different" than original when I transferred some to tape in the mid '70s, and about half were nearly unplayable by about 1985 - to the point that I considered them "not worth re-taping."

The "digital masters" cited in the first post could have been made by any of several methods that were tried out in the earliest "digital mastering" period, and without knowing the exact method used on the original and the methods used in the attempt to recover them, it's impossible to say that "it's all gone." Loss of a few bits might make it impossible for the original equipment to read them, but no indication is offered whether more advanced recovery methods and equipment were attempted.

We can read (at least at the alphabetic level) documents from 3000BC up to around 1970 with comparative ease and in terms of images much further back than that. ?? Some truth here, but we can only read the small percentage that survived, and it must be assumed that the vast majority of "writings" are completely unknown, even as to whether they ever existed.

While we can "see some images" it's likely that most from the earliest times probably are "invisible" to us now, and it's only in very recent times that chromatographic tests of "blank rocks" have revealed concrete (no pun) evidence of others that we can partially recreate in some cases. Even the "great sculptures of Greece and Rome" have been subject to much recent discussion about whether we see them as they were intended, and in some cases it's been shown that they were mostly "colored" by the makers, although we've only seen the "pale colorless ghosts" (the words of one researcher) of them. Most people have just assumed that they were all intended to be "pure white marble," but most of them probably weren't - although they might have been.

Even the "great Sphynx" didn't look the same when it was built as we now see it, in part because some of it is gone due to unfortunate choice of materials but also because we know very little of the original surrounding environs and can't feasibly recreate them even to the extent that they are (some think) known.