I am pretty sure (based on photos and somewhat sketchy descriptions in magazine articles) that
Cook's early stereo recordings were made with 2 widely spaced mics onto a Magnecorder staggered-head
2-track. He is always shown monitoring with headphones. To me, this is clearly "binaural" recording
methodology, which will only sound good through headphones. On speakers, there will be a very weak
center, unless the speakers are spaced at headphone distance (ie right next to each other).
Now, I don't know whether Cook changed his setup or method when he came up with the dual-channel
cutting and playback systems.
Here is a bunch of material on Emory Cook that I gave to Chris Sanchez to write up in his
Preservation Sound blog:
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Michael Biel" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, September 04, 2014 4:19 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Accidental stereo (again)
> On 04/09/2014, Tom Fine wrote:
>> I think, in the early stereo days, only Emory Cook consistently
>> recorded true "binaural" tapes, in other words those designed to be
>> listened to through headphones only.
> Are you sure of that. My experience is exactly the opposite. Cook
> produced exactly one CD. It was a demonstration of a re-processing
> technique, and you had to sign an agreement not to copy it in order to
> get it. the first track is a female blues singer. For about 30 seconds
> the small combo is heard on the right track in mono with nothing on the
> left channel until she starts to sing. It is like those Elvis and
> Beatles tapes meant for mix-down, but this is what Cook chose to start
> his demo CD.
> Because his dual groove system used a radial playback arm, he knew there
> would be phase shift problems. Plus the two bands were cut with
> different EQ curves. Thus it was vital that there be as little "center"
> channel as possible, that there be nothing that was strongly heard in
> both channels. I've got about 20 discs but no arm for them. When he
> did come out with single-groove stereo LPs the separation was extreme.
> Remember, this is the guy who did the atmospherics albums with two radio
> receivers hundreds of miles apart. When he recorded the folk groups he
> stuck two mikes down in front of two different parts of the group. I
> don't think he separated them into two rooms like RCA did that time when
> they split a group into two studios a city block apart, but listening to
> these with headphones leaves a hole in the middle where your head used
> to be. Maybe some of his classical recordings used mikes close
> together, but that was a minority of his catalog.
> Mike Biel [log in to unmask]