When I give talks about failure and success of Kunstkopf stereo one frequently asked question is how many Kunstkopf recordings have been made during the 1970s or since the introduction of commercial Kunstkopf microphones in 1973? Read the rest of this entry »

Here you can find some photos from our past workshop on “Histories and Practices of Multi-Channel Sound Reproduction” hosted at the C2DH digital history lab (Feb. 2-3-, 2017). All photos were taken by Andy O’Dwyer. Read the rest of this entry »

Today, I have paid another visit to Studio 9 in Munich. There, Christian Schimmöller, Werner Bleisteiner and I have done the final editing of our binaural radio drama about the history of Kunstkopf recording that we recorded last November. Read the rest of this entry »

As announced in my last post, Andreas Fickers (director C2DH) and I are organizing a small workshop on “histories and practices of multi-channel sound reproduction” (February 2-3, 2017). Below you can find short descriptions of the papers that will be presented during the one and a half days. Read the rest of this entry »

Organizers: Andreas Fickers and Stefan Krebs
Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C2DH)
University of Luxembourg
Date: February 2–3, 2017
Place: Campus Belval, Maison des Sciences Humaines, DH lab


This workshop has two objectives: First, it aims at contributing to the (still limited) historiography of stereophony. Read the rest of this entry »

Together with Werner Bleisteiner (Bavarian Broadcasting, and at the moment creative technologist in the ORPHEUS project) and my supervisor Andreas Fickers (director of the C2DH), I have developed the idea of recording a binaural radio drama about the history of Kunstkopf-stereophony. During the past months we discussed different approaches and finally I wrote a script for a two-hander (in German!). The plot is simple: a journalist interviews a media archaeologist about the history of Kunstkopf recording. Read the rest of this entry »

Last year, I organized a panel on “Engaging (with) the Senses: Historiographic, Ethnographic and Artistic Reflections on Studying Practical Knowledge” at the annual conference of the German Society for the History of Medicine, Science and Technology (DGGMNT) in Berlin. The section was composed of three presentations and a live recording session with an Edison phonograph. Read the rest of this entry »

This is an unabridged version of a (shorter) presentation I gave at last month’s ICOHTEC meeting in Porto (see session T1E in the conference programme). I would like to thank my fellow panelists, Susan Schmidt Horning, Melissa Van Drie and Krin Gabbard, as well as the session chair, Hans-Joachim Braun, and the audience for helpful comments and questions.


The design of a dummy head, or Kunstkopf, microphone is rather simple: it replicates an average sized human head that is equipped with pinnae and ear canals in which small microphones are placed, one in each ear. During the 1930s, first dummy head experiments were conducted at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, and the Philips Research Laboratory in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.Bell engineers Steinberg and Snow summarized that dummy head sound transmission aims “to reproduce in a distant listener’s ears, by means of [headphones], exact copies of the sound vibrations that would exist in his ears if he were listening directly”. Read the rest of this entry »

As mentioned in my last post, I recently visited Volker Mellert in Oldenburg. During our oral-history interview, he told me about the three dummy head projects he had been involved. Mellert started his dummy head research around 1968 at the III. Physical Institute at the University of Göttingen. The III. Physical Institute, under the direction of Erwin Meyer, was specialized in studying all kinds of wave phenomena from microwaves to concert hall acoustics. Mellert studied physics in Göttingen with no special interest in acoustics, but he particularly enjoyed the practical training the III. Institute offered. Following this practicum, Mellert received the offer to write his diploma thesis about stereo reproduction systems – we’ll come back to this later.

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Last month, I went to Oldenburg to conduct an oral history interview with Kunstkopf-pioneer Volker Mellert (read more about my interview and the Oldenburg-dummy head here). As professor emeritus for applied physics (acoustics) at Carl von Ossietzky University, Mellert is still involved in several research projects. One of these projects is located at Jade Hochschule (another Oldenburg based university): it aims at developing a virtual dummy head. As part of my visit in Oldenburg, I got the chance to listen to this virtual dummy head.

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