LONDON, February 10, 2017 –The ground-breaking work of British engineer Alan Dower Blumlein, inventor of stereo sound recording, is to be posthumously honoured by The Recording Academy® with the Technical Grammy® award at a special ceremony to be held later this year.
Born in Hampstead, London on 29th June 1903, Alan Dower Blumlein was one of the most prolific inventors of the twentieth century who transformed the worlds of audio and recording technology, television and airborne radar. In March 1929, aged 25, he joined Columbia Graphophone, one of the forerunners of EMI. During his time at Columbia and EMI he thrived as an incredibly inventive and innovative engineer, filing 128 patents in the space of 13 years.
On 14 December 1931, Blumlein filed a patent for a two-channel audio system, or stereo as we call it now. It included a “shuffling” circuit to preserve directional sound, an orthogonal “Blumlein Pair” of velocity microphones, the recording of two orthogonal channels in a single groove, stereo disc-cutting head, and hybrid transformer to mix directional signals. Blumlein brought his equipment to Abbey Road Studios in 1934 and recorded the London Philharmonic Orchestra, where he was honoured in 2015 with a commemorative plaque by the IEEE for his work in advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity.
Tragically on 7th June 1942 during World War II, aged just 38, Blumlein’s life was cut short in an aircraft accident, whilst testing the H2S airborne radar system that the team he was leading had developed and which was soon deployed throughout the RAF’s fleet. Given the top secret nature of H2S his death was never officially acknowledged and so despite this major contribution to the Allied war effort, as well as his ground breaking work in sound recording and television, his accomplishments are not widely known. Alan Dower Blumlein is one of the great unsung heroes of British science and technology in the 20th century.
Speaking on the honour, Simon Blumlein, Alan Dower Blumlein’s son, said: “It is a great honour for my father and the Blumlein family to be recognised with such a prestigious award. We’re so immensely proud of him and how his work transformed sound recording. He’s always been held in the highest esteem by recording engineers and so to now receive this acknowledgement from the wider music industry is simply wonderful.”
Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, said: “Alan Dower Blumlein and his prolific period of invention whilst at EMI, not only transformed audio and music recording technology, but also helped shape modern media communications for generations to come through his pioneering work in television. We are delighted that the Recording Academy has chosen to honour his legacy with this posthumous Grammy award. His work, productivity and lasting scientific impact continue to entertain, educate and inspire millions today.”
The life and work of Alan Dower Blumlein is currently being developed into an as-yet untitled film project by Universal Music Group, which also supports and maintains The EMI Group Archive Trust – Home to much of Blumleim’s work, inventions and artefacts in their purpose built historical archive in Hayes, Middlesex, UK.
About Universal Music Group:
Universal Music Group (UMG) is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries. Featuring the most comprehensive catalog of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMG identifies and develops artists and produces and distributes the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music in the world. Committed to artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship, UMG fosters the development of services, platforms and business models in order to broaden artistic and commercial opportunities for our artists and create new experiences for fans. Universal Music Group is a Vivendi company.
About EMI Group Archive Trust:
The EMI Group Archive Trust was established in 1996. The EMI Group of companies gifted much of their assets which originated before 1947 to the Trust. The purpose of the Trust is “the advancement of education and research and, in particular, to foster and promote the study and appreciation of the art techniques and development of sound recording and the history of the sound recording industry”. Our trustees have rich experience of the recorded music industry and collectively have more than two hundred years of experience of working for the EMI group of companies. The EMI Group Archive Trust continues to be supported by Universal Music Group, which provides a home for the Trust assets in their purpose built archive in Hayes, Middlesex.
Date: February 10, 2017