A prominent part of the collection of sound recordings consists of phonograph records produced since early 20th century, as well as of the radio broadcasts produced from the 1930s onwards. The first Estonian-language sound recording was produced in 1901 in St. Petersburg, but the oldest sound recordings in the Film Archives are one-sided gramophone discs released in 1904.
The earliest recordings of radio broadcasts – on now-rare acetate records – date from the second half of the 1930s. In government departments, the first phonograms were recorded in the mid-1970s and the acquisition of these in various formats continues today. In the first few years of the re-independence period, many film and record production institutions went defunct. As a result, the audio collection of the Film Archives increased with the acquisition of Tallinnfilm audio archives and master tapes for vinyl discs released by Meloodia company.
Over the last decade, the share of material from Estonian diasporic communities has increased significantly. The most important personal archives are the audio collections of recording producer Viljar Nairis and the writer Enn Nõu. The most significant radio collections consist of broadcasts by Eesti Raadio, Eesti Televisioon, Radio Free Europe, and the Stockholm Association of Estonian Music and Culture community radio. The latter collection also contains programming and recordings from other Estonian-language radio stations’ programming from Sweden and other places.
The sound recordings of performances by well-known persons constitute an invaluable part of the audio collections. These include both speeches by statesmen in the interwar era and by leaders of governments in exile. Also fascinating are speeches by significant figures in art, music, literature, science and sport. The main aim of the record collection is to preserve a maximum number of the records issued in, or related to, Estonia before World War II and later on.