Audio's past was preserved in many ways at AES; Louis Manno (right) and David Hollander presented the Audio History Library & Museum’s collection of antique audio relics. One of the items on display is the Western Electric Mechanical Amplifier, the first known device for amplifying audio signals, released in the mid-first decade of 1900.
New York, NY (October 21, 2013)—Each year, the AES Convention surrounds its members and attendees with new, innovative ideas, and on the exhibition floor, plenty of new gear riding the bleeding edge of technological capability. Yet in the overwhelmingly all-digital world of modern audio production, the multimillion-dollar question is, "How do we ensure our multitrack files are even accessible in the future?"

Last December, the Library of Congress released the National Recording Preservation Plan, "a congressionally mandated blueprint for saving America's recorded sound heritage for future generations," as explained by Strauss.  The plan encompasses a near decade of work by the Library and the National Recording Preservation Board.

Meanwhile, the 135th AES Convention has conceived a highly informative multipart Workshop and Tutorial Series, the "National Recording Preservation Plan," launched Friday morning with a workshop hosted by Konrad Strauss, "Best Practices for Creating and Preserving Born-Digital Audio Files." The panel also featured Chris Lacinak of Audio Visual Preservation Solutions, George Massenburg of McGill University, and Charles Van Winkle of Adobe. The Series continued with back-to-back Tutorials hosted by Lacinak, "Audio System Performance Testing" and "Preservation Planning," and will resume on Sunday with three "Audio Preservation/Archiving" Tutorials.

"This really is a gift," gushed Strauss in his introduction, referring to the ample attention the 135th Convention is giving to the subject of audio recording preservation.

Compared to the multitrack recording days using two-inch analog tape—where track sheets and outboard gear settings were also "analog," documented on paper and stored with the media—today's archiving challenge involves storing future-ready, flexible audio files with comprehensive file names: anything to insure sessions can be accessed in the future.

Preserving our audio past resounded through other scheduled AES Workshop and Tutorial topics, too, such as "Restoration and Rebuilding Analog Tape Machines" on Saturday as well as "Mastering Our Future Music," "Documenting Analog Transfer Techniques," and "WFMU's Adventures In 24/7 Archiving" on Sunday.