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    Alan Blumlein and the invention of "stereo"

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    Bob Latino
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    Alan Blumlein and the invention of "stereo"

    Post by Bob Latino on Mon May 25, 2015 6:09 pm

    In the 1930's Alan Blumlein, a sound engineer with EMI in London, UK, was given credit for the invention of binaural (two channel) recordings which we now call "stereo". The back story is that Blumlein got the idea when he took his wife to the movies one night in the 1930's. The theater was set up with the SOUND coming from a single speaker on the SIDE of the theater. Blumlein though that the idea of the movie in front of him and the sound coming from the side somewhat disconcerting and tried to figure out a way to have two speakers create a sound field that would be more appropriate for watching movies. He did some experiments and actually produced a short film in 1935 with the first stereo sound. Video below.



    Unfortunatly Blumlein never got to see his idea come to fruition. In 1942 Blumlein was killed in a plane crash while testing radar gear for the UK military. The first multichannel sound film was Walt Disney's Fantasia in 1940 which used 3 tracks (left, center and right) to present the movie's audio. Later, in the 1950's others used Blumlein's original ideas to create a system for vinyl records that could encode and decode TWO channels in a single record groove. This 45/45 process is still used today and is explained in the video below. Records first using this system came out in 1958. Sidney Frey of Audio Fidelity is generally acknowledged with producing the first commercial stereo record. Video below ..



    Bob

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