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See detailThe Failure of Binaural Stereo. Sound Engineers and the Introduction of Artificial Head Microphones
Krebs, Stefan UL

in Icon : Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology (2017), 23

In 1973, binaural stereo was introduced to the German public during the International Broadcasting Fair in Berlin. Based on the development of artificial head microphones, binaural stereo provided ... [more ▼]

In 1973, binaural stereo was introduced to the German public during the International Broadcasting Fair in Berlin. Based on the development of artificial head microphones, binaural stereo provided facsimile sound recordings that enabled listeners, when listening with headphones, to experience the spatial acoustics of the original recording situation. During the fair, Berlin-based radio station Radio in the American Sector (RIAS) broadcast the first binaural radio play. Radio listeners and journalists praised it for its “super stereo” quality and highest fidelity, and expected that the future of radio would be three-dimensional. Despite this remarkable echo, German broadcasting stations were somewhat reluctant to adopt binaural stereo, and many sound engineers rejected to deploy artificial head microphones. They referred to certain technical shortcomings of binaural stereo in general, and available microphone models in particular. Based on contemporary publications, sources from broadcasting archives, and oral history interviews, this paper argues that recordists’ outright rejection of binaural stereo – its failure to be adopted in industry - was rather grounded in their listening and recording ideologies than in actual shortcomings of artificial head recording technology. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Art of Stethoscope Use: Diagnostic Listening Practices of Medical Physicians and “Auto Doctors”
Krebs, Stefan UL; Van Drie, Melissa

in Icon : Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology (2014), 20(2), 92-114

Since the early years of the trade, car mechanics were often referred to as ‘auto-doctors’, a figuration most readily discernible in the field’s advertisements and trade journals. This linking of car ... [more ▼]

Since the early years of the trade, car mechanics were often referred to as ‘auto-doctors’, a figuration most readily discernible in the field’s advertisements and trade journals. This linking of car repair craft skills to the clinical expertise of medical physicians is often suggested through depiction of this ‘auto-doctor’ using a stethoscope. Beyond being emblematic of a doctor’s vocation, referencing this tool underlines a tradition common to both professions: namely, of training the expert’s senses to detect and analyse problems in cars and human bodies by their sounds. However with the advent of more visual forms of diagnosis (e.g., x-rays) in the 1950s and 1960s, medical auscultation’s real potential was more and more frequently put into question. Roughly at the same time, similar shifts from sonic to visual means of diagnosis (e.g., oscilloscopes) occurred in the car mechanics trade. This article explores connections between the two very different fields of medical diagnosis and car repair through an investigation of their ‘sonic skills’ (the listening skills and other skills needed to employ the tools for listening). This comparison is developed first through delineating the bodily, cognitive and socio-technical aspects of diagnostic listening, for which examining different teaching strategies for learning such techniques in both fields are revelatory. We examine each technique’s key dispositions and contexts of enactment, including uses of the stethoscope and other tools, particular listening protocols and bodily postures and ways of sharing and communicating about perceived acoustic information within professional settings. Finally, we explore how listening is equally engaged in the construction of professional identities, including relationships between experts and non-experts. [less ▲]

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See detailReview: Sonja Petersen (2011). Vom "Schwachstarktastenkasten" und seinen Fabrikanten: Wissensräume im Klavierbau, 1830 bis 1930. Münster et al.: Waxmann Verlag
Krebs, Stefan UL

in Icon : Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology (2012), 18

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