Reviving the Sound: SABC’s Journey in Audio Restoration

SABC Transcriptions music now shared on Radio Bantu.


In the heart of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) lies a department with a rich history, spanning back to the early 1950s – the Transcription Department. Established with the noble purpose of recording and promoting local music, this department has been the birthplace of many musical careers, providing a platform for local talent to shine. Today, the Transcription Department combines preserving history with embracing the future – the digitization and audio restoration of its extensive LP collection.

A Musical Time Capsule:

Over the decades, the Transcription Department has amassed a treasure trove of approximately 25,000 LP records, representing a kaleidoscope of musical genres. From the refined notes of Opera and Classical compositions to the foot-tapping rhythms of Boeremusiek and the pulsating beats of Tribal Dance Music, this collection is a testament to the diversity and richness of South Africa’s musical heritage.

The Digital Transformation:

In a bid to ensure the longevity of this musical legacy, the Transcription Department is busy with a transformative journey – the digitization of its vast LP collection. The primary goal is not just to transfer the music into a modern format but to breathe new life into the aging recordings. The rich collection is being shared with the SABC regional African language services, as well as the Radio Bantu stream, that is constantly updated with new material.

Preserving the Past, Embracing the Future:

The objective of the audio restoration process goes beyond mere preservation. The team at the Transcription Department is dedicated to creating an auditory experience that transcends time. By removing the imperfections inherent in the original recordings, they are striving to transport listeners into a space where the music sounds as fresh and vibrant as the day it was first captured in the SABC studios.

The Tools of Restoration:

SABC Audio Restoration employs a variety of cutting-edge facilities and techniques for this ambitious project. The process involves not only digitizing the analog recordings but also utilizing advanced audio restoration, mastering, and re-mastering technologies. These tools are instrumental in cleaning up the audio, ensuring that every note, every melody, and every lyric is presented in its purest form.

A Gift for Generations:

The significance of this undertaking extends far beyond the walls of the Transcription Department. The restored music is intended to be a gift for future generations, a bridge that connects them with the musical roots of their nation. Moreover, the digitized collection serves as a valuable resource for current and future SABC broadcasting stations, offering a diverse palette of sounds to enrich the airwaves. The music is also now shared on the Radio Bantu stream.


As the Transcription Department at SABC embraces the digital age, it does so with a deep sense of responsibility and passion. The audio restoration project is not just about preserving the past but also about ensuring that the music of South Africa continues to resonate across time and borders. In the crackle-free, pop-free realm created by SABC Audio Restoration, the melodies of yesteryears find a new voice, ready to be enjoyed by generations yet to come.