Our expert audio engineers will convert your legacy audio formats into a high resolution digital file that is not only archival quality, but is easy to reproduce, share, and enjoy. Even with the oldest tapes in the poorest condition, we are dedicated to finding a safe solution for transfer and recovery of your audio.

We like to believe that every audio document contains a little piece of history. We have worked with institutions who have hundreds of hours of audio and individuals with single cassette tapes of their baby’s first words. All of these have value and deserve to live on for future generations. We promise to treat every project as though it contained the meaning of life.

We can transfer

Open Reel Tape (Reel to Reel)  – Cassette Tape – Micro Cassette
Mini Cassette – DAT – ADAT – Vinyl Records – 78 RPM Phonograph Records
16″ Transcription Disc – Betamax Audio – Minidisc – CD – DVD

And so much more!

The Life of Legacy Formats

Open Reel Tape: 1/4", 1/2", 1", and 2"

Did you know that the projected lifetime of open-reel analog tape is only 10-20 years? It’s true. The tape starts to break down and lose quality around that time. Some tape will even start to deteriorate after as little as a year. The good news is that just because a tape is past it’s prime does not mean it cannot be salvaged. Still, time is of the essence and the longer you wait, the less likely it will be that anyone can preserve its full quality. There will be a point when the tape is unusable and the audio will be lost forever. With thousands of hours of experience with dozens of formats, speeds, and tape manufacturers, Mystery Street is a leader in open reel tape preservation.

Cassettes: Standard, Microcassette, and Minicassette

The average shelf life of a cassette is 15-25 years. However, because cassettes have moving parts, they often have an entirely new set of issues that need to be addressed. In addition to the problem of audio degradation, screws can come loose, shells can crack, reels can become jammed, pads can be damaged, and the tape can tangle. Our engineers can identify and repair any physical problems with your cassettes before doing a transfer, which will prevent further damage or loss of audio.

Optical Discs (CD and DVD)

While CDs and DVDs are theoretically stable, time has proven that not all discs were created equal. Data rot, chemical breakdown, use, and storage can all play a role in the usability of an optical disc. We can convert your optical media to modern, more user-friendly formats which will be far safer for long term preservation and use!

Vinyl/Phonograph Records

Vinyl records have proven to be a very hardy medium for audio storage and they can last a very long time if stored and used properly. Yet, in the age of music streaming, they are not always the most convenient. In addition, they wear down with excessive use. We can deep clean, transfer, and back-up your collection to a digital format that is convenient for you. Having digital back-ups of your vinyl records will help to increase the longevity of the original record because it will reduce overuse. Plus, our cleaning process will dramatically reduce static and remove dust and dirt from the grooves. Clean records will not only sound better, but they will add to the longevity of your stylus!

DAT (Digital Audio Tape), ADAT, and MiniDisc

The shelf life of a DAT, ADAT, or MiniDisc can be as little as 2 years, but on average is somewhere between 5-15 years. DATs have proven to be a tricky medium because if the original machine they were recorded on was not set up correctly during recording, playback on other machines might have issues. Similarly, ADATs often experience speed and syncing problems. Even so, we have developed ways to preserve the integrity of the original audio if this proves to be the case.

VHS and Beta

Who has a working VHS player anymore, let alone a Beta Player? We do!!! We can convert your old VHS or Beta video tapes to digital MP4 files that are easy to use and share. In fact, there is a little known format of Beta audio tape, that we can convert, too!

Interoperability- Preserving for the Future

While other companies will only convert your audio to CDs or low quality MP3 files, we do our analog-to digital transfers at the high resolution of 96 kHz/24 bit Broadcast Wave Format (more than double CD quality), because, when we do your transfer, we are looking to the future.

Transferring to BWAV allows us to encrypt important engineering metadata into each preservation master that we provide for you.

This will ensure that future audio engineers and listeners who may come across your digital file will have the entire history of the file from its original format to the machines and software used to transfer it to its current form. This metadata will also contain the original date that the material was recorded (if available) and the date it was transferred, along with titles, descriptions, and any other relevant information associated with the audio.

The metadata is meant to ease the exchange between different computer platforms and software, thus allowing future users of the file to easily integrate it into their system while continuing to preserve the audio’s quality.

True, some consumer systems cannot play digital audio at such high resolution, but popular audio formats are constantly changing and we want you to have a format that will last.

Of course, we know you don’t want to wait for the future to come to listen to your audio, so we can also provide a CD quality or MP3 copy of the preservation master for listening on currently manufactured products.

Ask for metadata embedding on your transfer project!

Audio Preservation Clients

We have worked with thousands of individuals and institutions. Some clients of note include:

Old Town School of Folk Music
Johnny Cash Trust
Loyola University
Mississippi Public Broadcasting
WZRD (Northeastern Illinois University)
Gene Siskel Film Center
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Joe Pyne Estate
Dominican University
The Baruch Foundation
Illinois State Medical Society
The Philadelphia Society
Museum of Surgical Sciences, Chicago
University of St. Mary of the Lake/ Mundelein Seminary
Northern Seminary, Lisle, IL
Alaga Syrup Company, Montgomery, AL

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