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Audio Quality

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The audio quality of the Nixon White House Tapes is generally poor. While some recording locations are of better quality than others, inferior recording equipment, cheap tape stock, improper microphone placement, taping system malfunctions, background noise, and electrical interference contribute to poor quality of the recordings.

In general:

  • the White House telephone tapes are the best quality, followed by the Oval Office, and Cabinet Room recordings
  • conversations recorded in the President's Office in the Executive Office Building, and at Camp David tend to be the most difficult to hear

The National Archives duplicated the original tapes using both analog and digital technology for preservation purposes, and to produce copies with improved audibility for the review of the conversations. Digital Audio Tapes (DATs) are used for review purposes.

  • Analog cassette copies of segments released prior to December 2003 were produced from DATs for researcher use.

  • After December 2003, tape conversations were made available on audio CDs for researcher use.

For additional information, see:

Listen Online to the Tapes
White House Tape Collections
Tape Release Schedule

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