Over the last two years, the British Library Sound Archive’s technical team have been specifying and purchasing equipment for the new facilities, which are based in the Centre for Conservation at the main library site at St. Pancras, London. This project has been a major expansion of the library’s facilities and has resulted in 10 transfer channels and a recording studio, equipped to the highest standard to enable the best possible quality transfer of archive analogue recordings to digital formats.
Andrew Pearson, Repair and Maintenance Engineer for the Sound Archive, says: “The Prism Sound ADA-8XR units form the heart of the system in five out of our 10 studios. We need very high spec converters as we are often making a once-and-for-all transfer from a very fragile archive medium. Because of the fragile nature of the carrier or the obsolescence of playback equipment we know that there will be little or no chance of repeating the transfer in years to come.
Pearson adds that it is vital to ensure that future noise reduction and processing techniques are given the best chance with a high quality digitisation of the material.
“We work to the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) specifications, which are very tight for analogue to digital converters,” he explains. “The Prism Sound units fulfil all the criteria, while many other popular units do not. They are being used on all kinds of digitisation projects, from various carriers including large collections of shellac or acetate discs, to wax cylinders and quarter inch tape and cassette. With an eight channel converter, we are able to digitise four stereo or eight mono sources simultaneously. For example, a unit is currently being used to digitise oral history audio cassettes for a series of interviews with renowned artists.”
One of the Sound Archive’s transfer channels has a recording studio attached, which will mainly be used for interviews and this includes a Prism Sound ADA-8XR converter as part of the recording chain.
About Prism Sound
Founded in 1987, Prism Sound manufactures high quality professional digital audio equipment for the International broadcast, film, music production, manufacturing and telecommunications sectors. The company’s product range includes the Prism ADA-8XR precision 8-channel converter unit, which is regularly used for music and film soundtrack projects by clients such as such EMI Abbey Road, BBC, Sony, Lucasfilm and Walt Disney. Prism also manufactures a range of audio test and measurement products, including the de facto standard DSA-1 handheld digital audio generator/analyzer and the dScope Series III audio analyzer system.