4. Obsolescence of formats

a. Analogue

Analogue formats are being phased out as systems, both because carriers and hardware are no longer manufactured in the volumes once available and because product support is steadily being withdrawn from them.

b. Digital

None of the digital recording systems developed specifically for audio has achieved a proven stability in the market place, let alone in an archive. With the exception of the audio CD, the DVD audio and the MiniDisc, all specific digital audio formats have become obsolete after a short period in the market leaving many carriers still in good condition but without the machines required to access the sounds. In recent years there has been a clear shift from specific audio formats such as R-DAT and CD-R (audio) to formats storing content as data, ie file formats in a computer environment. Although, in principle, file formats, operating systems and computer storage media will also be threatened by obsolescence, this professional environment makes the problem easier to manage than the digital audio formats driven by the consumer market.

R-DAT and CD-R (audio) were the first digital recording systems with considerable market acceptance in the field of audio to have been employed as digital target formats for archiving purposes. Neither of these systems, however, has a proven record of archival stability. R-DAT, as a format, is obsolete and holdings are threatened by future unavailability of replay equipment and spare parts. CD-R is still widely used, although, at present, the use of recordable CDs and DVDs must be seen as potentially dangerous to the survival of the sounds (cf IASA-TC 04, 6.6). The Technical Committee, therefore, strongly recommends the use of true file formats in a computer storage environment and reliance on the data integrity provisions associated therewith (cf paragraphs 10, 12, and 13, and IASA-TC 04, 6.1).