Dummy head

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Dummy head with microphones integrated inside, with ear cups and shoulder area but without facial details, in a low-reflection room
Artificial head without auricles, with an external microphone brought in at an angle from below

With the word dummy head or English Dummy Head you connect a special sound recording technology - the "headphone stereophonic " or binaural sound recording . The artificial head consists of a head replica in which a microphone with omnidirectional characteristics is attached to the entrance of the ear canals with the replica of the auricles instead of the ears . Due to the shading effect of the head and the path differences between the two microphone positions that can be evaluated for the ear , recordings can be made which, through the interaural signal differences recorded in this way, i.e. the ear signals, convey a very good directional localization of the sound events when played via headphones . The right-left localization is certain, but top-bottom and front-back distinctions are more difficult. The direct anterior localization always seems to be shifted upwards at a certain angle. According to the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt , artificial heads can also be used to measure the stress on the ears from headphones and other “sound sources close to the ear”.


Artificial head recordings with a free field equalized artificial head are only suitable for playback via headphones. They appear discolored, narrow and unnatural during loudspeaker reproduction , because interaural signal differences (ear signals) are fundamentally different from interchannel signal differences (stereo loudspeaker signals ). Interaural signal differences arise during the recording and are mixed with the interaural signal differences during the loudspeaker playback, which leads to frequency and localization problems. Only if interaural signal frequencies are avoided when listening to a recording by using headphones, the artificial head recording can serve its purpose. The suitability of loudspeakers with a diffuse field equalized artificial head is also controversial.

In addition to artificial heads, spherical flat microphones , headset microphones and Jecklin discs are also suitable for binaural recordings.

In the no longer produced Sennheiser MKE-2002 headset microphone , the microphones are housed in two external brackets, which are hung in a person's ears or, if an artificial head (MZK 2002) is supplied, at the ear reference point in simulated auricles . A microphone that works in a similar way and is worn in the ear like Walkman headphones is the original head microphone (OKM) from Soundman.


  • In 1925 the first patent for binaural sound transmission was applied for and granted in 1927; it contained the basics of the later artificial head by Harvey Fletcher ( General Electric ) from 1933.
  • The first patent for binaural sound recordings was filed in 1927 and granted in 1932. It was based on the idea of ​​head-related stereophony.
  • As early as 1930, experiments were carried out on the binaural phase difference and amplitude difference on a wax model of a human head.
  • The first publicly presented dummy head was that of General Electric in Chicago in 1933.
  • Artificial head technology has been further developed in the Netherlands since 1939 by De Boer's Philips working group.
  • On June 15, 1946, there is said to have been a stereo test broadcast on Radio Nederland. The two channels were broadcast on separate medium wave transmitters. Two independent receivers were required for reception. The recording was apparently made with an artificial head microphone.
  • Later scientific investigations on and with artificial heads mainly related to directional hearing and medical issues, again later on room acoustic problems.
  • A similar technique only reached the broader public from 1963 onwards as Charlin's separating body method in France and later, as actual artificial head stereophony, in Germany, after preliminary work by the University of Göttingen and the Technical University of Berlin, finally in 1973 through the first radio broadcasts in artificial head stereophony.
  • The first radio play in artificial head stereophony broadcast on West German radio was the RIAS / BR / WDR production "Demolition" ( The demolished man ) based on the novel by Alfred Bester for the 1973 radio exhibition in Berlin .
  • In 1973 the first GDR radio play with artificial head stereophony was created at the same time. Blues by Ernst Bruun Olsen , music: Wolfgang Preissler , director: Albrecht Surkau , was produced in the radio play studios of the GDR radio and broadcast in January 1974.
  • At the same time, the German companies Georg Neumann and Sennheiser as well as the Austrian AKG developed microphones for head-related stereophony (Neumann KU 80, Sennheiser MKE 2002, AKG D99c "Harry") in short succession .

Sound carrier in artificial head stereophony

  • On the LP / CD Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Alan Parsons Project , the thunderstorm was recorded in artificial head technology in the title The Fall of the House of Usher .
  • Edgar Froese : Aqua , LP 1974
  • Hanns Dieter Hüsch : Night performance , recorded in artificial head technology in 1974 at the Hamburg Schauspielhaus, Intercord, double LP
  • Exploration of Simeon 2. / Windmills of your mind. Utopian artificial head radio play , Sennheiser, LP single, 1975
  • Can : Flow Motion , LP 1976
  • Jane : Fire, Water, Earth & Air , LP 1976
  • Harlis : Night meets the day , Sky Records 1977, new edition: Sireena Records 2009
  • Godley & Creme : Consequences , 3-LP 1977
  • Lou Reed : The Bells , LP 1979
  • Pink Floyd : The Final Cut , LP 1983 (All sounds in KK stereophony)
  • Megabyte : Go For It! , CD 1990 (IC 710.106) Track 4 & 7
  • delta acoustic sampler: artificial head dimensions , LP 10-130-1
  • Code III: Planet of Man , delta-acoustic LP 25-125-1
  • Seedog: We hope to see you , delta-acoustic LP 25-126-1
  • Head songs: Folklore , delta-acoustic LP 25-127-1
  • Golem: Golem , delta-acoustic LP 25-128-1
  • old music sampler: samples , delta-acoustic LP 25-129-1
  • Audiostax: Die Raumklang-CD , CD 1987, recording examples with diffuse field equalized artificial head. Stakkato Spezial , CD 1989, hearing test examples in artificial head stereophony. The CDs Stakkato and Stakkato 2 from 1981 and 1988 also contain artificial head and artificial head-like recordings. All CDs were distributed by Audio magazine and represent samplers of various audio samples.
  • the biologist Walter Tilgner has - beginning with the Waldkonzert (1985) - published a series of CDs with so-called natural audio images in artificial head stereophony
  • Don Haworth : One day in summer in a garden , radio play with Wolfgang Brunecker , Kurt Böwe and Renate Pick, director: Albrecht Surkau , Prod .: Rundfunk der DDR , 1981, as an audio book CD from Hörzeichen Verlag, ISBN 3-934492-01 -0
  • the label friends of green sonic publishes music productions using the new artificial head technology PANTOFONIE® . Duo Seraphim, A RENAISSANCE JOURNEY (2015), CD 1428, HRA 1428 (44.1kHz / 24 bit recording).
  • the label Cybele Records publishes current productions in stereo and surround technology as well as in head-related 3D recording technology.


  • Matthias Thalheim: Dramaturgical staging consequences of artificial head stereophony in funk-dramatic productions , diploma thesis, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin 1985, section cultural studies and aesthetics, area theater studies, epubli Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-7375-9781-4
  • Thomas Görne: Sound engineering. 1st edition, Carl Hanser Verlag, Leipzig, 2006, ISBN 3-446-40198-9
  • Michael Dickreiter, Volker Dittel, Wolfgang Hoeg, Martin Wöhr (eds.), "Handbuch der Tonstudiotechnik", 8th, revised and expanded edition, 2 volumes, publisher: Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / Boston, 2014, ISBN 978-3- 11-028978-7 or e- ISBN 978-3-11-031650-6
  • Thomas Görne: Microphones in theory and practice. 8th edition, Elektor-Verlag, Aachen, 2007, ISBN 978-3-89576-189-8

Web links

Commons : Dummy head  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ptb.de: Report on possible hearing damage from excessively loud toys (German, accessed on February 3, 2011)
  2. Advertising statements - viewed critically advertising for the artificial head KU 81 ( Memento from April 2, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  3. http://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/pdfs/US1624486.pdf
  4. http://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/pdfs/US1855149.pdf
  5. FIRESTONE, FA: The phase difference and amplitude ratio at the ears due to a source of pure tone, J. Acoust. Soc. At the. 2, 1930, 260
  6. HOFFMANN, F. (Ed.): Encyclopedia of Recorded Sound, 2nd ed., New York 2005 (Routledge), 214
  7. DE BOER, K. u. VERMEULEN, R .: A system for the hard of hearing. In: Philips Technische Rundschau, Vol. 4, 1939, pp. 329-332
  8. DE BOER, K., VERMEULEN, R .: On improving defective hearing, Philips Tech. Review 4, 1939, 316-319
  9. DE BOER, K .: Plastic sound reproduction, Philips Tech. Review 5, 1940, 107
  10. Archived copy ( memento of the original dated February 2, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.rfcb.ch
  11. SCHODDER, GR: Pretenders of an acoustic spatial impression, Acta Acustica united with Acustica, Volume 6, Supplement 2, 1956, 482-488
  12. BAUER, B .: Stereophonic Earphones and Binaural Loudspeakers, Journal of the Audio Engineering Society 9, 1961, 148-151
  13. TOBIAS, J .: Binaural Recordings for Training the Newly Blind, Perceptual and Motor Skills 20, 1965, 385-391
  14. DAMASKE, P., WAGENER, B .: Directional Hearing Tests by the Aid of a Dummy Head, Acta Acustica united with Acustica 21, 1969, 30-35
  15. KÜRER, R., PLENGE, G., WILKENS, H.,: Correct Spatial Sound Perception Rendered by a Special 2-Channel Recording Method, Audio Engineering Society Convention 37, 1969, AES Paper No. 666
  16. PLENGE, G .: On the Problem of "In Head Localization", Acta Acustica united with Acustica 26, 1972, 241-252
  17. SCHROEDER, MR, GOTTLOB, D., SIEBRASSE, KF: Comparative Study of 20 European Concert Halls - A Preliminary Report, J. Acoust. Soc. At the. 54, 1973, 278
  18. CHARLIN, M .: Microphone stéréophonique, Brevet d'Invention No. 1375245, 1963, Bulletin officiel de la Propriété industrial, No. 42, Paris 1964
  19. SCHROEDER, MR, GOTTLOB, D., SIEBRASSE, KF: Comparative Study of 20 European Concert Halls - A Preliminary Report, J. Acoust. Soc. At the. 54, 1973, 278
  20. KÜRER, R., PLENGE, G., WILKENS, H.,: Correct Spatial Sound Perception Rendered by a Special 2-Channel Recording Method, Audio Engineering Society Convention 37, 1969, AES Paper No. 666
  21. PLENGE, G .: On the Problem of "In Head Localization", Acta Acustica united with Acustica 26, 1972, 241-252