An archival master file is a file that represents the best copy produced by a digitizing organization, with best defined as meeting the objectives of a particular project or program. These objectives differ from one content category to another. In some cases, an archive may produce more than one archival master file.
Archival master files represent digital content that the organization intends to maintain for the long term without loss of essential features. For analog originals, archival master files are produced by reformatting to high standards. Practices vary from archive to archive regarding adjusting or cleaning up the content in the file. (This refers to adjustments like changing image tonality or reducing the audibility of clicks and pops in sound recordings.) Some archives may make such adjustments in real time when digitizing, but most apply such changes later in the workflow when production master files are created.