100.000 quarter-inch audio tapes digitised and analysed

8 Apr 2022

Did you know that meemoo impressively digitised 101,290 ¼-inch audio tapes between March 2014 and October 2019? One of our biggest digitisation projects so far – we haven’t digitised more of any other type of carrier! A project of this size also involves a mountain of data, which we’ve now analysed and included in a report. And we’re happy to share our insights here for anyone who is curious to find out more.

Quarter-inch (¼-inch) audio tapes are magnetic tapes wound around an open reel or cassette. They were popular with professionals, amateurs and private individuals alike, and are therefore commonly found in our content partners’ collections. This large volume and the carriers’ risk of deterioration led to them being part of our first digitisation project.

In total, we digitised no fewer than 101,290 ¼-inch audio tapes from 56 content partners: 57,422 hours – or six and a half years’ worth – of content to listen to! So where do you start?

A quick look at the digitised collection

By the end of the process, we’d collected an awful lot of data from each of these (over 100,000) tapes – not just about the tapes themselves, but also about the digitisation process. We then analysed this data in detail, and included our insights in a comprehensive report. This has given us a better picture of the digitised collection, mainly from a technical perspective.

In just under 100 pages, we provide answers to questions about:

  • the most common brands and the differences between collections;

  • the age of the tapes and their links to the periods when they were popular;

  • how the digitisation process worked and what technical issues we encountered;

  • the technical differences between tapes from the VRT and other collections;

  • why we couldn’t digitise certain tapes and how many tapes this was an issue for;

  • which tape brands appeared to be more vulnerable to damage than others;

  • what impact ageing had on the tapes’ condition;

  • how we managed to digitally rescue tapes that were already decaying.

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