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Stereophonic

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Stereophonic

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Oct 23, 2013 10:41 pm

• stereophonic •


Pronunciation: stee-ree-o-fahn-ik • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Binaural, related to a sound system that relies on two discrete channels to produce a sense of more realistically distributed sound.

Notes: Today's Good Word is seldom used any more; it is more often shortened to just stereo. A sound system with more than two speakers is referred to as surround sound. Stereophonic is accompanied, naturally, by an adverb, stereophonically, and your choice of two nouns: stereophony or stereophonics. A set of stereo headphones can be called a stereophone.

In Play: The idea behind stereophonic sound systems is that sounds recorded on the left side of a musical group go predominantly into the left ear, and sounds recorded on the right side, go primarily into the right ear of the listener: "Granddad, who was completely deaf in one ear, couldn't see the benefit of a stereo sound system." We can always stretch the meaning of stereophonic a little bit: "When I asked mom and dad if I could have a party in the house while they are out of town, I received a stereophonic "No!"

Word History: Today's Good Word would be a compound in Greek, made up of the Greek words stereos "solid" + phone "sound, voice". Apparently, adding depth to the aural experience was considered making the sound more solid by those who gave the system its English name. The original word that came to be stereos in Greek apparently meant "stiff", because it shows up in English as stare, starch, stark, and stern, all referring to one kind of stiffness or another. Phone turns up in many English borrowings from Greek, the most obvious being telephone, literally "distant voice", and the now old-timey word phonograph, literally "sound writer". (Let's now thank Doug Coppock, an Arkansan who enjoys stereophonic sound, for suggesting today's doubly Good Word.)
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Re: Stereophonic

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:26 pm

And then there was– at least for a brief period – Quadraphonic. The four speakers, I believe, probably led to surround sound, as they were generally placed in front of the listener, behind, and to each side.
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Re: Stereophonic

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Oct 24, 2013 12:45 pm

I had quadraphonic for a while. It was lovely. I still have
two LP's that are recorded for it. Too bad it did not last.
Stereo can not compete.
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Re: Stereophonic

Postby MTC » Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:02 pm

Would you rely on the ramblings of one who has absolutely no knowledge or expertise in a given field about a subject in that field? (I refer to myself in the field of acoustics.) If you would, then read on.

It seems that "binaural" is not synonymous with "stereophonic." According to Wikipedia, "The term 'binaural' has frequently been confused as a synonym for the word 'stereo', and this is partially due to a large amount of misuse in the mid-1950s by the recording industry, as a marketing buzzword." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binaural_recording) The article then launches off into a technical explanation of the difference between the two concepts which those of you with enough background or masochism may wish to brave.

Also, (I warned you.) there are phenomena called "binaural beats" which generate altered states of consciousness, and tend to disprove the view that consciousness can be reduced to mere neurology.
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Re: Stereophonic

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Oct 24, 2013 7:50 pm

Score one for those who reduce it to chemistry! ;-)
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Re: Stereophonic

Postby gailr » Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:11 pm

Another stereo that made its way to English (although seldom heard from anymore) is the stereopticon and stereographs we played with at grandma's house.

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Re: Stereophonic

Postby Slava » Thu Oct 24, 2013 9:18 pm

A further relative of stereo is sterile.
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Re: Stereophonic

Postby bamaboy56 » Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:29 am

A great leap forward from the monophonic recordings of my youth. One of my earliest memories of stereo was the day I went to the home of one of my more affluent friends, donning a set of headphones connected to a vast array of his then state of the art recording equipment and listening to a recording of a door opening in my right ear, a set of footsteps which went from my right ear through my head to the left ear, then a door opening and closing in my left ear. I remember thinking what a marvelous invention stereophonic recordings were. I must be getting old.
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Re: Stereophonic

Postby MTC » Fri Oct 25, 2013 3:09 am

Well-said, bamaboy. According to some commentators, the pace of technological change is exponential. Since the stereo, men on the moon, super computers, cell-phones, the Internet, spacecraft on Mars, etc. Everyone--not just you if that is any comfort--is feeling older faster and faster. I, on the other hand...

And to gailr, I remember the Bakelite View-Masters of the 1950s, but not the stereoscope. That really is an ancient device, nineteenth century, I believe.
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Re: Stereophonic

Postby gailr » Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:07 pm

Those cards were cool, MTC. Sometimes the angle of the shot was minimally different from one to the other, for other images it was apparent. I wonder if looking at slightly different side-by-side photos on one card was one of the inspirations for the "what is difference between these two" kid's puzzles?

- - - - - - - - -

So we had quad speakers for two ears, but not quad photos for two eyes? :wink:
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Re: Stereophonic

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Oct 26, 2013 3:32 am

The pace of technological and even social change is surely exponential. My personal involvement in the development of electronic technology has contributed to it. For many people the pace of ability to adjust to it is a flat line. There are some changes that I thank God I don't have to adjust to.
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Re: Stereophonic

Postby MTC » Sat Oct 26, 2013 10:10 am

Philip Hudson wrote: For many people the pace of ability to adjust to it is a flat line.


"Flatliners?" Have we witnessed the birth of a new word in cyberspace?
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Re: Stereophonic

Postby Slava » Sat Oct 26, 2013 10:51 am

MTC wrote:"Flatliners?" Have we witnessed the birth of a new word in cyberspace?

I'm not so sure, as it's already taken by the medical world. There's even a movie.
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Re: Stereophonic

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Oct 26, 2013 3:22 pm

If I survive another 10 or 20 years, I expect to see television replaced by holograms. Those people actually coming to your living room and do a "theater in the round" right before your eyes. In fact, I expect you could walk around the performance and see it from every angle. Maybe we would get more exercise!
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Re: Stereophonic

Postby MTC » Sat Oct 26, 2013 6:25 pm

flatline [ˈflætˌlaɪn]
vb (intr) Informal
1. (Medicine) to die or be so near death that the display of one's vital signs on medical monitoring equipment shows a flat line rather than peaks and troughs
2. to remain at a continuous low level

flatliner [ˈflætˌlaɪnr]
n Informal
1. (Medicine) slang for a brain-dead patient
2. one who resists or fails to adapt to technological change
"a flatliner who can't use a cell-phone"

The Philip and MTC neologism team has just added sense 2. of flatliner to the corpus. OED take note.
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