Third Edition, by Ron Streicher and F. Alton Everest
Audio Engineering Associates, Pasadena, CA
275 pages (hardbound)
ISBN: 978-0- 9665162-1-0

The text of this book blends the stereophonic illusion with the art of “microphony” and the fundamental physics of sound. It includes fourteen chapters and an addendum.

Chapter 1 recalls the history of early stereophonic research. While many may consider stereophonic sound as a product of the 1950s, the 50s were actually the period when the audiophile began to embrace a two-decade old technology that had major roots in 1931.

Chapter 2 reviews how basic sound waves are conveyed. It explains how single-dimensional information can be transformed into an entirely different listening experience with the addition of a second path and stereophonic principles. This chapter provides the principles of locating an image in a two-channel soundfield. The last page of this chapter offers a simple procedure to determine that the two loudspeakers are of the same polarity.

Chapter 3 relates the stereophonic illusion to the human auditory system. This reviewer found a number of interesting experiments with respect to masking, intensity, and delay in this chapter. Try them. You will find these simple experiments useful in gaining a better understanding of the stereophonic illusion.

In Chapter 4 the authors tell the reader to take the time to understand the nature of the recording and what one is attempting to accomplish before engaging that record button. Consider the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, and why someone is listening) as well as the tradeoffs associated with each stereophonic technique.

Chapter 5 describes the most basic of stereophonic recording techniques such as the two-microphone pickup. However, there are several adaptations of two-microphone pickups. This chapter reviews the various approaches and the sonic effects that result.

Chapter 6 calls binaural listening a two-channel stereophonic experience. However, the intention of binaural reproduction is for listening via headphones. When listening to the stereophonic illusion as reproduced with loudspeakers, the room and the listening position both become factors. There is a difference between these two stereophonic experiences.

Chapter 7 tells how the stereophonic illusion is created through time and intensity differences between the two paths. Stereo coincident microphone arrays create the stereophonic illusion through intensity differences and offer monophonic compatibility. There are several adaptations of this technique, all of which are covered in this chapter. The subject of absolute polarity is defined and explained in this chapter, which states that there is an audible difference.

Chapter 8 deals with the audibility of reflections. Reflections, either in the recording or reproduction environment, affect the audibility of the content. Ambience, reverberation, and comb filtering, their audible effects, and how to evaluate these effects are discussed here.

Chapter 9 covers the stereophonic illusion, which is created through time and intensity differences between the two paths. Spaced stereo microphone arrays create the stereophonic illusion through time differences. Nearcoincident arrays, which bring both time and intensity differences to create the stereophonic illusion, are also presented.

In Chapter 10 the authors deal with the use of multimicrophone, multitrack, and pan pot technology to create the stereophonic illusion. No text on stereophonic microphone techniques would be complete without a discussion of the use of multimicrophone, multitrack, and pan pot technology to create the stereophonic illusion. Here the text illustrates the need for knowledge of directional microphone patterns as well as the basic rules, the mix, and the creation of the illusion. When the original recording is monophonic and the desire is to enhance the original into a stereophonic illusion, the need is to create a difference between the two paths and enhance that difference to create a stereophonic effect.

Chapter 11 deals with the various techniques used to create a pseudostereo effect. Listening in an indoor environment involves room reflections.

Chapter 12 reviews the issues of auditory spaciousness, perception of distance and definition, which are the result of the relationships of direct sound, propagation delays, reflections, and rever- beration as experienced by the listener. While the basic subject of the book is based on the relationship between the two channels of a two-channel path,

Chapter 13 does offer some insight into multidimensional and surround systems. Fantasound, three-channel stereo, rear-channel sound, four-channel surround, matrixed Quad systems, as well as surround and ambienceenhancement systems, such as the ambisonics process along with its soundfield microphone—which by the way is compatible with stereophonic transmission—are all presented in this chapter. Other surround approaches which are derived from stereophonic techniques are also included. One of the interesting discussions within this chapter is the potential incompatible phase relationship of the center channel with the phantom center channel as derived from the sum of the left and right channels. This is an issue that needs to be understood and resolved during the recording process.
While the home theater has begun to mandate surround sound, many living room environments favor the simplicity of a two-channel stereophonic system, thus, the attention to compatibility issues becomes important.

The preceding chapters relate to the process of recording the stereophonic illusion. Once the recording has been captured on the medium, the attention then turns to the playback. Chapter 14, the final chapter, provides guidance in the preparation of optimizing the listening environment as the final step to experience the intended sonic experience. This chapter discusses the enclosure, its geometry, resonances, reflections, absorption, and treatment as they relate to the resultant sound.

Much of the stereophonic illusion we enjoy today relates to the research of Alan Blumlein as we acknowledge the 75th anniversary of his patent application in December 1931. In the Appendix the authors include the text of this patent application. When you consider that today’s classical recording techniques, stereophonic phonograph recordings, and the matrix for stereophonic broadcasting are all
erived from this 75-year-old patent, we owe much to Blumlein for what we enjoy today.

The New Stereo Soundbook provides an excellent reference source on the subject of stereophonic recording. It explains, in simple terms, the principles of the stereophonic illusion, the various microphone techniques employed in the process, as well as, the basic five Ws of communication. This edition has more details and diagrams than the second edition as well as a rewritten Chapter 13 on Multi-Dimensional and Surround Sound Systems. For those intending to better understand the stereophonic illusion and how to produce a better stereophonic product, this is the book for you.

Richard W. Burden
Canoga Park, CA

551-552 J. Audio Eng. Soc., Vol. 55, No. 6, 2007 June

Journal, Audio Engineering Society
Volume 55, no. 6; 2007 June, pages 551 - 552
Review of The New Stereo Soundbook