1931 Alan Dower Blumlein Stereo Patent

Sep 1, 2006 2:36 PM


Education Guide

Mix is gearing up to present its longstanding annual Audio Education Guide in its November 2014 issue. Want to have your school listed in the directory, or do you need to update your current directory listing? Add an image, program description, or a logo to your listing! Get your school in the Mix Education Guide 2014.

Born in London in 1903, Alan Dower Blumlein lived a short life, but during those 38 years, he changed the way that an entire world listens. After receiving his B.S. degree in 1923, he worked at Standard Telephones and Cables, but his main contributions to audio came after he joined the Columbia Graphophone Company in 1929. His early innovations included a moving-coil wax cutter head for gramophone lathes and a moving-coil microphone. Throughout the audio world, he is best known for his 1931 patent, simply entitled “Improvements In and Relating to Sound-Transmissions, Sound-Recording and Sound-Reproducing Systems.”

In this patent (British #394,325), Blumlein examines the physiology of the human binaural hearing process and the spatial illusion produced by “two or more loudspeakers”; describes the use of multiple microphones—including the crossed figure-8 (now known as the Blumlein technique) and Mid-Side stereo-miking methods; details a dual 45/45-degree phono cutter head for producing stereo record masters; and proposes a means of transmitting stereo radio. Many of the concepts in this patent did not reach fruition for decades to come, but all have had an enormous impact on the evolution of audio. Around the time of the patent, Columbia Graphophone Company merged with Gramophone Company (HMV), forming Electric and Musical Industries (eventually, this became EMI) and Blumlein stayed on, researching vacuum cathode ray tubes used in the Iconoscope for early TV cameras.

Blumlein was granted some 128 patents on subjects such as antennas and radar systems. In fact, it was such research that led to his death in 1942, when he and 10 others were killed during a secret flight testing a radar system. One can only guess at what wonders Blumlein could have devised had he lived another 38 years.

Acceptable Use Policy
blog comments powered by Disqus

Mix Books

Modern Recording and Mixing

This 2-DVD set will show you how the best in the music industry set up a studio to make world-class records. Regardless of what gear you are using, the information you'll find here will allow you to take advantage of decades of expert knowledge. Order now $39.95

Mastering Cubase 4

Electronic Musician magazine and Thomson Course Technology PTR have joined forces again to create the second volume in their Personal Studio Series, Mastering Steinberg's Cubase(tm). Edited and produced by the staff of Electronic Musician, this special issue is not only a must-read for users of Cubase(tm) software, but it also delivers essential information for anyone recording/producing music in a personal-studio. Order now $12.95



Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine takes you straight into the studio, with new product announcements, industry news, upcoming events, recent recording/post projects and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

MixLine Live

Delivered straight to your inbox every other week, MixLine Live takes you on the road with today's hottest tours, new sound reinforcement professional products, recent installs, industry news and much more. Click here to read the latest edition; sign up here.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

The Wire, a virtual press conference offering postings of the latest gear and music news, direct from the source. Visit the The Wire for the latest press postings.