This Day in the Arts — March 27 in sound recording history
March 26, 2013
Most people these days likely don’t give a second thought to the idea of stereophonic sound — that is, a recording of sound that is enhanced by being played on two tracks simultaneously, producing a more natural effect, and a richer, fuller sound experience. It isn’t that long ago, however (within my lifetime… although perhaps that *is* a long time ago for some of my readers!) that monaural sound was all there was in the recording industry. One track, a thinner sound.
On March 27, 1958, stereophonic records were introduced, and the recording industry was revolutionized, not quite overnight, but within the next decade.
I found an excellent, easily understandable explanation of stereophonic sound on the IEEE Global History Network. Rather than recapitulating what they have said, I urge you to read the post at the link (it’s not too long) then come back.
As I researched this topic, I found that most who write about it mention the fact that since people have two ears, the sound enters each ear slightly differently, and stereo makes the most of this to provide a natural, full listening experience.
I have to confess that the concept of how sound is heard differently from each side is pretty well lost on me, as I have been profoundly deaf in my right ear since infancy. I suppose one could say I hear in mono rather than in stereo. Frankly, since I’ve never known any different, I can’t imagine hearing from both sides at once — it seems as though it would be an overwhelming thing!
However, I can appreciate the difference stereo has made to the richness of musical tone in recordings, and I am grateful for that advance in science that allows us to feel as if “we are there” when we listen to music.