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The concept of stereo sound recording and playback was invented by Alan Dower Blumlein more than 70 years ago and, as a result of his genius, the world has enjoyed the reproduction of musical events in a domestic setting with a realism never previously imagined. Blumlein’s invention was much more than simply two channels of sound.
It was a method for capturing the spatial information inherent in live performance, including the sound and positioning of instruments and voices and a sense of the acoustic in which the performance was taking place.
When reproduced by two appropriately sited loudspeakers, a facsimile of the original performance, including this spatial information, could be produced. Like many brilliant concepts, stereo sound recording and reproduction was elegant in its simplicity.
With just two correctly designed and positioned microphones it is possible to capture a wealth of information about a given aural event, be it a musical performance, theatrical play, the sounds of nature or the spoken word.
If we consider the immense pleasure that this invention has given to generations of individuals over the years, we must surely conclude that the world owes a huge debt to Alan Blumlein (of course, it also owes a huge debt for his work on radar, television and much more). The invention of stereo also helped to create a thriving industry for audio enthusiasts, providing a wealth of stereo components from which to choose.
Ironically, the consumer electronics industry, which was given such a gift in the invention of stereo, is now shifting its attention more towards home theatre and the multi-channel sound developed primarily for that medium.
Home theatre indeed represents an interesting development which will similarly bring much enjoyment to consumers the world over. However, there are many who believe that it has little to do with accurately reproducing a musical (or other live audio) performance in the home.
True stereophonic sound, as devised by Blumlein, is quite capable of reproducing such an event with just two channels and two loudspeakers, so why complicate the issue with more channels and more speakers? The problem is, that as consumer electronics manufacturers and media providers concentrate their efforts increasingly on home theatre, stereo is being increasingly sidelined. We can already see this happening, with a rapidly diminishing choice of affordable stereo hi-fi components, the market being polarised towards low-cost, all-in-one mini systems at one end of the scale and exorbitantly priced specialist components at the other. Similarly with recorded media. Apart from the stream of re-issues, how many contemporary recordings are made using the real stereo techniques which have served us so well in the past?
There is a distinction of course between multi-track recordings mixed down to two channels and stereo. The latter provides a completely different listening experience – an experience which is now in danger of disappearing if the industry believes there is little future in it.
Hence the Campaign for Real Stereo. The objective of the campaign is to draw attention to the often passed-over benefits of real stereo and, if sufficient support is forthcoming, highlight to the industry the fact that many people do not want Alan Blumlein’s wonderful invention to be neglected and forgotten in the relentless commercial drive for new consumer market technologies.
If you are sympathetic towards this view, either as a consumer or music industry professional, and do not want to see stereo disappear, then please add your name to our list of supporters using the e-mail address below. We will provide a “link back” to your site, here on TNT-Audio. Audio dealers and music retailers, please copy the “Real Stereo” logo from this page and feel free to use it in your own marketing. A smaller version is provided below for use on web sites. Please provide a link back to this site in order that others might join in the campaign.
Here you can find a temporary list of websites that are already supporting our campaign.