The principal section of the Acoustic Archive consists of several hundred Russian, Soviet, and Western records at 78, 45, and 33 rpm, many of them being historic musical performances (symphonic concerts, songs, instrumental recitals). The Golden Age of Russian opera is well represented with original, designated labels of Chaliapin, Nezhdanova, Slovtsov, Smirnov, Sobinov, and other celebrities, although the Archive also contains original voice recordings, e.g. of Tolstoi (1908) and Stalin (1936). Among the curios of the collection are 78s of the NKVD jazz band, émigré gypsy singers, and ballroom dances on grooved paper.
A special feature of the Acoustic Archive is the rich variety of records from pre-Revolutionary studios and factories. These include not only labels from Amur (the Riga affiliation of His Master’s Voice) and Zonophone, but also more ephemeral companies such as Sirena and Beka-Grand. The greater part of these recordings has not been duplicated or “reprinted” so that a primary obligation of the IMRC is to catalog, digitize, and preserve them in a permanent electronic format. The Russian items are complemented by a sizeable collection of historic European and American recordings of Russian songs and music, e.g. by the Pathé and Victrola companies, featuring artistes such as Chaliapin, Heifetz, Horowitz and Robeson. In addition, there are more contemporary tape recordings of interviews with Russian writers and artists, conference proceedings, and poetry declamations.