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British engineer Alan Dower Blumlein to be posthumously honoured with a Grammy Award

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Alan Dower Blumlein, the inventor of stereo sound recording, is to be posthumously granted a Technical Grammy Award at a special ceremony later this year. 

Born in Hampstead on 29 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. 

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On 14 December 1931, Blumlein filed a patent for a two-channel audio system (or stereo as we would now know it). The invention 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.

On 7 June, 1942 during World War II, at the age of 38, Blumlein died in an aircraft accident, whilst testing the H2S airborne radar system which 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. 

Simon Blumlein, Alan Dower Blumlein’s son, said of the award: “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.”

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