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]