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Was "Stereo" Born 400 Years Ago in Venice?

Landmark churches may have been partly designed for two-speaker effect.

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The Redentore is among Venice churches emulated in a new series of acoustics simulations (file picture).

The nobility of Renaissance Venice may have been among the first to hear music in stereo, according to new acoustics research. Architectural innovations in churches may have been intended to clearly separate the sounds from a split choir, audio engineers announced this week.

The researchers used computer models to simulate what concerts in some of the city's churches—including tourist staples such as the Basilica of San Marco—sounded like 400 years ago.

"First, we modeled the acoustics for the churches as they are now," explained Braxton Boren, a student in music technology at New York University.