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CBC Digital Archives

Radio

The Radio Archives began taking shape as early as the late 1950s and early '60s. The first serious preservation and copying work began in the late 1970s, when technicians in the department began copying audio from old acetate discs to tape.

Acetate discs are durable and once they are vacuum-cleaned to remove dust and dirt, they are relatively easy to copy. The trickiest part is making sure you have a turntable that can play them. (Do you have a 78-rpm record player lying around at home?) Those used by the CBC have two pick-up arms - one for playing back discs that are engraved from the inside out, and the other for playing commercial outside-in recordings.

The principles behind cleaning magnetic audio tape is much the same as video tape, but the process is different.

To clean 1/4-inch audio tapes, the tapes are mounted to a tape player and then run through the machine at high-speed. If the tape is dirty, a sticky film will collect on the rollers that are used to set and balance tension. The operator then takes a cotton swab and some rubbing alcohol and wipes the rollers clean.

As with video tapes, those audio tapes with serious problems magnetic oxide decay can successfully be "baked" in the ovens before copying.

Cleaning up sound is different process. For cleaning up hisses, scratches, pops and other sound impurities, the archives rely chiefly on several technology systems, including Pro Tools.



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