1. The task of sound archives

There are four basic tasks that are performed by all archives:

  • acquisition
  • documentation
  • access
  • preservation.

While the primary aim of an archive is to ensure sustained access to stored information, the indispensable prerequisite to achieve this aim, however, is to preserve the information placed in the care of the collection. For most documents this means the use of the best practices to ensure the physical and chemical integrity of the original documents. Sound archives have to ensure that, in the replay process, the recorded signals can be retrieved to the same, or better, fidelity standard than was possible when they were recorded.


Advances in the technology of analogue recordings often enable modern replay equipment to retrieve more information from the carriers than was possible at the time of recording.

It must also be noted that, for a number of reasons, some of the holdings retained in sound archives are not the original recordings but copies. In such cases, these copies must be considered to be the original.