Previously we examined accuracy (with regard to the source).Today we tackle the next two fundamentals, appropriateness and adequacy (with regard to your processes).
[Image Credit: Sarah Tehan, Aporia, 2013.]
The process of sound archiving and preservation is like scholarly editing. Just as the scholarly edition's basic task is to present a reliable text, the sound preservationist's basic task is to present a reliable digital record of an analog source. In both pursuits, decisions have to be made concerning (re-)construction and representation of the original material to achieve reliability.
Reliability in digital construction and representation of analog sound is a direct result of:
- Appropriateness: the extent to which a particular process (step) advances accurate sound representation, and the extent which the listener is satisfied with the sound produced.
- Adequacy: the extent to which a particular process (step) can be shown to be as good as necessary for its purpose or requirement.
- Digital Recording
Appropriate: Critical first step in the archiving process
Adequate: 48 KHz minimum sampling rate; 24-bit minimum encoding depth
- Audio Import/Export
Appropriate: Advances sound data through the processing pipeline
Adequate: No information lost in transfer
- Format Conversion
Appropriate: Ultimate sound output in format desired by listener or required by tools
Adequate: No information lost in conversion; minimal information loss in compression
- Automated Clean/Repair
Appropriate: Algorithmic processing of common audio artifacts
Adequate: No artifacts introduced
- Manual Clean/Repair
Appropriate: Processing of artifacts unique to a given recording
Adequate: Minimal audio loss; clipping eliminated; no artifacts introduced
- Track Isolation
Appropriate: Facilitates playback of individual songs/chapters/passages, etc.
Adequate: Envelope of silence before and after track
- Volume Normalization
Appropriate: Addresses volume differences on playlists incorporating multiple titles
Adequate: Target sound level -0.1 dB for all titles
- Metadata Editing
Appropriate: Captures relevant information about the original recording
Adequate: Accurate, and without typographical errors
Another way of characterizing appropriateness and adequacy is that every step in your process must be necessary and your process as a whole must be sufficient. For a step to be necessary, eliminating that step would produce a less-reliable result. A process is sufficient if it is not a failure for having omitted other steps. All magic formulas for success break down on one or both of these criteria. Don't let it happen to you.
Title: Porgy and Bess
To quote Dan Epstein: "Take George Gershwin's Porgy & Bess, add Miles Davis and arranger Gil Evans, and what do you get? A classic jazz album that--despite the fact that the material has been rendered almost overly familiar due to countless interpretations--still sounds remarkably fresh four decades after its initial release. Miles' soft yet piercing trumpet style is perfectly suited [TGD: appropriate] to Gershwin's melancholy melodies, Evans' musical direction of his 18-piece orchestra is impeccable [TGD: adequate], and their version of 'Summertime' may well be the finest ever waxed."
© 2014 Thomas G. Dennehy. All rights reserved.