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Audio Engineer and Inventor Robert Schulein, Dead at 76

Schulein was a key force at numerous pro audio manufacturers.

Schaumburg, IL (January 9, 2019)—Audio engineer Robert Schulein, a prolific inventor and fellow and past-president of the International Audio Engineering Society (AES), peacefully died in his home on New Years’ Day 2019 after a years-long battle with cancer.

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Schulein, raised in Rockford, IL, showed a knack for technical tinkering early on in life and went on to receive BSEE and MSEE degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he did research on piezoresistive semiconductor transducers. After college, in 1966, Schulein landed what would become a 30-year career at Shure Brothers in Evanston, IL, where he rose to become staff VP and director of business communications and industrial products.

Schulein’s early work at Shure was in the area of condenser microphone research, development and design, leading the group effort to introduce Shure’s first professional condenser microphone, the SM-81. While at the company, his responsibilities included R&D of microphones for automotive cellular telephone systems; land, mobile and related communication systems; and microphone systems for speech recognition applications.

Also while at Shure, Schulein managed the Home Theater Sound (HTS) division, which pioneered the development of the first enhanced matrix decoders, emulating the professional Dolby products in theaters, leading to a product line predating the introduction of THX performance concepts. Schulein introduced matrix surround-sound encoding to baseball television broadcasting, episodic television, Saturday Night Live, The Grammy Awards broadcast and Super Bowl XXIV in 1990.

After Shure, Schulein held positions at Etymotic Research (now Lucid Audio), in design, research and development, focusing on consumer electronics, professional audio, telecommunications systems, audiology and hearing-aid component development. At the time of his death, he was owner of RBS Consultants, providing consulting services in areas of acoustics, product research, product design and development, project management, and audio/video recording engineering and production.

Schulein was elected to fellowship in the AES in 1977 and won the AES Publications Award that same year. He received the Board of Governors Award in 1990 and the Bronze Medal in 2013. At the time of his death he was serving as a vice-chair of the AES Technical Council, and as chair of the AES Technical Committee on Hearing and Hearing Loss Prevention.

Schulein’s inventions included miniature directional microphones for hearing aids, an acoustically transparent non-porous wax barrier for the hearing aid industry, plus an advanced professional in-ear monitoring system used by a list of top performers.