The AES Conference on Audio Archiving, Preservation and Restoration

The AES Conference on Audio Archiving, Preservation and Restoration
Samantha Winter

By Samantha Winter

The AES Conference on Audio Archiving, Preservation and Restoration took place from June 1 to June 3, 2023, at the US Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, VA. This gathering brought together professionals and enthusiasts dedicated to preserving and restoring audio heritage. With a focus on protecting cultural history stored in audio recordings, the conference provided a vital platform for sharing knowledge, best practices, and advancements in the field of audio archiving. Attendees explored innovative techniques, discussed preservation challenges, and fostered collaborations throughout the duration of the conference.

To kick off the conference, Leslie Ann Jones, a seven-time Grammy Winner and the Director of Music Recording and Scoring at Skywalker Sound delivered an inspiring keynote presentation titled “Why It Matters: Reflections on creating, preserving and valuing music”. In her presentation, Jones reflected on her own journey in the music industry, starting from her early days creating cassette copies. She spoke about the importance of preserving and valuing recordings throughout her career, sharing lessons learned along the way. With her extensive experience, Jones stressed the significance of proper preservation techniques and strategies, highlighting the need to ensure that audio recordings are taken care of properly. By sharing her insights, Jones motivated and educated attendees about the importance of valuing and preserving audio assets.

Attendees of the conference had the opportunity to join tours of the facility, including the NAVCC Building Tour, along with the Audio Lab tour that showcased various aspects of audio preservation at the US Library of Congress NAVCC. The NAVCC Building Tour provided attendees with an in-depth look at all areas of the preservation operation for audio, video, and film materials. During the tour, participants had the opportunity to hear from professionals working in various areas of preservation, including recorded sound, moving image, the nitrate film vault, recorded sound vault, and the data center, along with the audio, video, and film preservation laboratories. The tour offered a comprehensive exploration of the preservation processes and technologies used to safeguard the valuable audio, video, and film collections held by the Library of Congress. The Audio Lab tour provided valuable insights and demonstrations on preserving different types of audio formats. Attendees learned about disc preservation, cylinder preservation, open reel/workflow, cassette playback, parallel transfers, multi-track and immersive preservation, IRENE and optical capture of audio discs, the historical audio equipment display, and highlights from the American Folklife Center archive.

There were many captivating presentations given at the conference, one of the highlights being Iron Mountain Entertainment Services’ presentation of its Automated Media Image Capture System (AMICS), an advanced and innovative project aimed at enhancing the search and access capabilities of Universal Music Group's (UMG) archive. AMICS is designed to process over 2500 media assets per shift, revolutionizing inventory search, filtering, workflow assignments, and media inventory management. The panel consisting of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services (IMES) and UMG shared insights into the design, development, and implementation of AMICS. They showcased inventory examples, discussed the challenges faced during the process, and shared lessons learned. The presentation also emphasized the potential for seamless analysis and curation of media assets using artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. The presentation provided attendees with a comprehensive understanding of AMICS and its potential to transform media inventory management, improve search capabilities, and streamline workflow assignments.

 The conference concluded with a gathering at Mountain Run Winery for a special closing event, where participants enjoyed an open-grill barbecue dinner. The evening was further enhanced by live music, providing a vibrant atmosphere for all. As attendees joined and engaged in conversations, silent movies were projected against the side of a charming barn. This allowed attendees to bond and connect with like-minded professionals, exchange ideas, and build collaborations that extended beyond the conference. 

The 2023 AES Audio Archiving, Preservation, and Restoration Conference was a significant event in the field of audio preservation. By addressing challenges, sharing knowledge, and exploring emerging trends, the conference contributed to preserving our audio legacy. Attendees left with valuable insights, new connections, and a renewed commitment to preserving and restoring audio recordings. The conference's impact will extend beyond its duration, ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy and learn from the rich audio treasures of the past.

Samantha Winter is an audio enthusiast from New York. Her knowledge spans from her pursuits in musical recordings, film sound, and developing audio software. Samantha cultivated a deep love for audio, and pursues the craft in its many forms.

She can be reached at