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Musings of a librarian, former archivist, musician, bibliophile, and tech-obsessed.

Entries in School of Music Audio (25)


Audio Problems Finally Solved

I started my work day by taking apart the Otari with the hex screwdriver, and then, for over an hour, tried to find the internal switch to go from 15ips to 7.5ips. After I decrypted the manual (on page 5-5, "big P.C.B. Ass'y"="big printed circuit board assembly"), and found the corresponding location referred to in the most basic diagram the manual refers to, I was able to start to digitize the reels. However, unlike most small reel players, you do not depress the external button, you just flip the internal switch. That gave me a pretty interesting recording before I realized it was playing at 1/4 speed. I'm creating internal documentation for anyone else that might have to digitize anything if I'm out for some reason because I don't want to give anyone the headache I've had the last two days!

Screenshot of the diagram and photos of the internal switch:


Audio Anxieties

The last two days I have worked on the beginning of a large audio request for a researcher. These requests are part of a larger project in which I have collaborated with the Music Librarian, and will culminate in a lecture on November 17. While it was fun to digitize the first 7" reel, but because it was recorded at 3 3/4 ips and extra tape was added, the recording is over 2.5 hours per side! In between other requests and a grant-writing webinar yesterday, this is why it took two days to completely digitize this one reel. The biggest problem created by a tape this length is that it creates unusually large files (the raw project file is 4.2 GB, per side!). I am going to have to listen to both sides tomorrow and divide the files into manageable chunks, closer to 2 GB, which seems to be the limit for my software program.

Some of the other reels the researcher requested are 10.5" reels. I have only used our Otari once before, and fortunately, the previous reel was recorded at 15 ips. Today's reel was recorded at 7.5 ips. For those of you who haven't had to change the configuration for ips before, it is apparently easy but hard to access on these larger machines. After finally locating a user manual online, and then downloading a .rar expander for Mac (which was harder to find than the correct Otari manual), I finally realized that not only do I have to push the button on the front, I have to take off the back and right side panel and flip a switch. Unfortunately, the archives does not own a hex screwdriver set to remove the side panel. I am going home, bringing in some proper tools, and will hopefully finish setting up the player tomorrow!

The final thing that really got under my skin today, is that I had to level the player head and the archives has no level. I finally got out my Android and used my Bubble Level app.

As a final note, the guy who runs Analog Rules! has many more reel manuals than just the Otari MX5050-BII. I highly recommend his site!


Digitization Day

Today I was working on a request to digitize several audio reels from 1966. Like a lot of reels from 1966 these had some major degradation issues.


Fortunately, most of the shedding occurred before the recording started, in what would have been the leader if someone had attached leader to the tape before I did to digitize it. No, I did not continue to play/digitize this reel, but moved onto the other six reels for the multiple rehearsals of this concert. Our patron will hopefully understand that this one reel is too far gone to be digitized, at least on our equipment, and will be satisfied with recordings I can provide.


Wrapping up Music for the Semester

My two fabulous SLIS practicum students are done for the semester. They were continuting metadata work on the School of Music recordings that another SLIS practicum student started last spring. Together, the two students this semester completed metadata, minus subject headings (to save time and catalog more), for 359 audio reels. This is HUGE progress and a great start to this part of the collection! Whenever the class is offered again, I intend to acquire new students to add to the work of the previous three. This work is invaluable not only as volunteer labor, but with the metadata, I can finally start to approach some preservation grants that require existing metadata! Due to other projects of immediate importance I probably won't explore the grant route for a while, but I look forward to the possibility.


Bouncing For Joy

I had an epiphany working with Logic Express this week! I finally figured out how to proprely bounce my audio project, creating the master file, and preservation and mp3 surrogates. It's so easy, now that I reflect back on it, that I'm surprised it took me so long. I blame my lack of Mac knowledge and teminology.

I was also able to create the ID3 tags--metadata!!!

This revelation happened just in time. I received a few more requests this week for audio reels. I'm really looking forward to tracking the time of an actual digitization process. Tomorrow, it's game time!