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Digitally remastered?

Brakn 08 Oct 12 - 04:28 AM
Will Fly 08 Oct 12 - 04:32 AM
JohnInKansas 08 Oct 12 - 03:41 PM
Richard Bridge 08 Oct 12 - 04:02 PM
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Subject: Digitally remastered?
From: Brakn
Date: 08 Oct 12 - 04:28 AM

I have some old tapes and cds of my mother playing piano. My sister wants me to get them digitally remastered - I don't know why. What are the benefits?

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Subject: RE: Digitally remastered?
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Oct 12 - 04:32 AM

Depends on the age and the quality of the originals. If the tapes are on cassette, copying them to a digital medium might be a good idea. I found a load of cassettes I'd recorded years ago - just stuff off the radio - and everyone snapped in the playback. The tape had gone brittle.

One of the bands I played in made a CD(R) some years ago - and, when I played my copy recently, it sounded like a bad 78rpm record - the sound was totally gone.

So, keeping a few copies on computer and CD or other medium might be a good thing. As for 'remastering' - i.e. tinkering with the sound quality - that may or may not be necessary and is down to your judgement.

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Subject: RE: Digitally remastered?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 08 Oct 12 - 03:41 PM

Tapes as used for home recording do have a limited life, and eventually the tapes will become unusuable. A degree of "rejuvenation" can be achieved by copying the analog tape to a new analog tape, to avoid loss due to tape brittleness or other physical effects, but that will copy any loss in signal quality from the older tape to the new one.

Conversion to digital puts the sound in a form that's arguably better for long term retention since every part of the information is a "bit" that's either a "one" or a "zero." Digital doesn't care if it's a "strong one" or a "weak one." A one is still a one. Similarly a "fat zero" or a "skinny zero" is still a zero. Copying later from a slightly degraded digital source to a new digital recording can almost restore the copy to the original digital record that was on the first digital copy, since the copy will have a "standard one" every where that the input was recognized as a one, and a "standard zero" everywhere that the input was recognized as being a zero. (It's a little more complicated than that, but I don't want to get "wordy.")

Just making a copy in digital format from the analog tape will, again theoretically, give you something that has the potential for being preserved longer than the original tape is likely to last.

During the conversion from analog tape to digital, "Mastering" implies that "corrections" for errors in the original analog recording are made. Many programs include features that allow you to take out pops and buzzes, correct for variations in tape speed, or make other changes. What can be done that actually improves on the original depends on the "Master" who does it. There are Master Artists and also (according to a well known joke) lots of Master Ba(i)ters. Not everyone gets the same results.

Although the digital recording you get by copying from analog has the potential to survive longer, there's still no perfect place to put it. Commercial CDs/DVDs produced in large volume can be "burned" with high powered lasers than can produce physical "pits" in a stable material, and are generally very durable. The similar CD or DVD burners you can use at home, and that are used by many commercial places that will "make a CD for you," can't/don't use lasers with that much power, so they only "change the color" of spots in a less stable coating on the disk, very much like making a photograph/picture of the signal. The "home burned" recordings are much less durable, and perhaps worse, the life of individual disks can be extremely variable and impossible to predict.

My own preference, for backup of computer data files, has been to copy everything to a USB external portable hard drive, and since even hard drives do fail, make an identical copy on a second USB external hard drive. If one fails, the other should immediately be copied to a new one. For convenience, I do put individual files on other media, but if one of the "convenience" disks fails I can make a replacement from the HDs, and for "family movies" or audio you likely will want CDs/DVDs, but I can't (personal opinion) recommend relying on home-burned CDs/DVDs for a historical archive.

If it's convenient to have someone make digital recordings of your tapes for you, the recordings they make should be good enough to copy from them to a "permanent storage" if you do it within a few weeks, so all you'd have left to do would be to make the copies on whatever more permanent media you want to trust.

If individual movies are short, it has been suggested that "thumb drives" have good retention, but they haven't really been in common use long enough for anyone to be sure of how long they can be trusted. At around $25 - $32 (US) for 32GB if you have a lot of movies it will likely be cheaper to use Hard Drives ($140 (US) for 1TB?). A DVD (4.7 GB) can hold a maximum of about 2 hours of Video at standard TV quality (as for VHS to DVD conversions) so you may want to make a reasonably accurate guesstimate of how much space you'll need before deciding exactly how you intend to proceed. (Audio files are of course much smaller than video)


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Subject: RE: Digitally remastered?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Oct 12 - 04:02 PM

Or you can put them in the cloud.

Be wary. You may get only one play (if that) out of an old tape.

Wilbyhilbilly does this stuff - and I gather he does it well.

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