Audio engineer Robert Schulein died peacefully in his home on New Year's Day 2019 after a valiant seven-year battle with cancer. The fellow and past president of the International Audio Engineering Society was a prolific inventor, with a wealth of patents to his credit in the fields of acoustics and electroacoustics. He was 76.
Born in 1942, Schulein was raised in Rockford, IL, and showed early on a knack for technical tinkering. He went on to receive BSEE and MSEE degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he did research on piezoresistive semiconductor transducers.
It was right out of college in 1966 when Schulein landed what would become a 30-year career at Shure, then known as Shure Brothers Company in Evanston, IL. Achieving the title of staff vice president and director of Business Communications & Industrial Products, his responsibilities included research and development of microphones for automotive cellular telephone systems; R&D of microphones for land, mobile and related communication systems; and R&D of microphone systems for speech recognition applications.
In 1977 he was elected to Fellowship in the Audio Engineering Society. That same year, he won the Audio Engineering Society Publications Award. In 1990, Schulein was awarded the Audio Engineering Society Board of Governors Award.
His earlier work at Shure was in the area of condenser-microphone research, development and design. He led the group effort to introduce Shure's first professional condenser microphone, the SM-81.
While at Shure, Schulein managed the Home Theater Sound (HTS) division, which pioneered the development of enhanced matrix decoders emulating the professional Dolby products in theaters. This work led to the development of a line of processors, power amplifiers, and loudspeakers for high-end home theater systems, predating the introduction of THX performance concepts.
The HTS division also developed and pioneered the use of enhanced matrix encoders and decoders for professional applications. He introduced matrix surround-sound encoding to baseball television broadcasting, episodic television, Saturday Night Live, the Grammy Awards, and Super Bowl XXIV in 1990.
After his time at Shure, Schulein held positions at Etymotic Research (now Lucid Audio) in design, research and development. During this period, his focus was in areas of consumer electronics, professional audio, telecommunications systems, audiology, and hearing-aid component development.
At the time of his death, he was owner of RBS Consultants, an international consulting firm that provides consulting services in acoustics, product research, product design and development, project management, and audio/video recording engineering and production. His areas of specialization included professional and consumer audio products and applications, telecommunications and the hearing-health industry.
Schulein took great pride in staying active in a number of professional organizations within the audio and hearing industries. He was a fellow and past president of the International Audio Engineering Society, where he received the Publications Award in 1977, 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. He was proud of his implementation of the Richard C. Heyser Memorial Lecture series, which was established in 1999 and remains active to this day. He was a member the American Auditory Society, as well as the American National Standards Institute working group on hearing-aid measurements.
Schulein's lifelong interest and successful track record solving difficult engineering problems led to his personal and professional development of, among other inventions, miniature directional microphones for hearing aids, acoustically transparent non-porous wax barrier for the hearing aid industry, plus an advanced professional in-ear monitoring system used by a list of today’s top performers.
Many may also have been aware of his passion project, ImmersAV Technology, a patent-pending audio technology and high-definition video process to create “you-are-there” musical experiences. He finally was able to achieve his dream of becoming a music producer, having the opportunity to work on recording projects with many talented musicians of Chicago.
Son of the late Arthur and Jeanette Schulein, Robert Schulein is survived by his wife Joyce; two daughters, Heather Davis (Rick) and Jennifer Yoder (Mark); grandson Max Yoder; brother Thomas Schulein (Vivian); nephews Michael and Robert (Kate); and great nieces Harriett and Eloise. He was 76.
Never taking a day off from his engineering efforts, Schulein worked up until his decision to enter hospice care at his home. He passed away peacefully on January 1.
There will be no formal service at this time, but a celebration of his life will be held at a later date.
Donations in his name may be sent to the North Shore Foundation Kellogg Cancer Center: https://foundation.northshore.org/donate.