If you listen to music, the state of recorded sound may strike you as healthy and robust. Whether you hear it in a club, on the radio, on mp3, compact disc or LP, and whether the recording was made last week or decades ago, the sound is solid and the experience can be immersive.
But historians of recorded sound have long been fretting about the relative delicacy of that sound, or more specifically, of the media on which it is stored. And anyone who has listened to transfers made from early cylinders – the dominant format for the first quarter-century of recordings, before the invention of the flat 78 rpm disc – or who has tried to play a digital file in an obsolete format, understands their concerns.
These worries, and their ramifications for the national legacy, became a matter of government concern when Congress passed the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000. That bill directed the Library of Congress to “plan and coordinate a national effort to develop policies and programs to save our nation’s recorded sound history and ensure its accessibility to future generations.”
Source: New York Times