From BBC Website: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7537782.stm
Unique recordings by the inventor of stereo have been cleaned up so the
public can hear them properly for the first time.
They include Sir Thomas Beecham conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra
(LPO) at Abbey Road Studios in 1934. The recordings were made by Alan
Blumlein, an EMI research engineer, whose contribution to the invention of
stereo sound is only now starting to be appreciated. The early recordings
have been re-engineered using digital technology so their true quality can
Sound engineer Roger Beardsley who was responsible for the digital transfers
called the recordings "incredibly historic". "They have never been properly
reproduced, but we've recovered the original information that was there", he
Blumlein lodged the patent for "binaural "sound, in 1931, in a paper which
patented stereo records, stereo films and also surround sound. He and his
colleagues then made a series of experimental recordings and films to
demonstrate the technology, and see if there was any commercial interest
from the fledgling film and audio industry. The tests included him walking
and talking in a room to show how sound could move and recordings of
multiple overlapping conversations to demonstrate how his techniques could
"open up" the sound being recorded.
"If you put headphones on with those recordings you are right in the middle
of the room, you hear the whole ambience", said Mr Beardsley.
In January 1934, Blumlein took his stereo-cutting equipment to the newly
opened Abbey Studios and recorded Sir Thomas Beecham conducting the LPO, as
it rehearsed Mozart's Jupiter Symphony. Mr Beardsley used digital techniques
to remove the crackles and hiss from the original 78 pressings, and says the
recordings now sound as they were meant to.
"I think what we've got is what they were listening to at the time." he
said. Blumlein's work on stereo was shelved in 1934 because EMI concluded
that it had no immediate commercial potential.
The cancellation forced Blumlein to switch to the development of TV, and
later radar. He died during a top secret flight over Wales in 1942, aged 38,
testing a prototype radar system.
During his working life he was granted 128 patents - about one every six
The Man Who Invented Stereo can be heard on BBC Radio 4 at 20.00 on Saturday
2 August 2008.