Sound Man is an outstanding documentary detailing the life of Jack Mullins, a man whose simple act of preservation during World War II changed the face of recorded sound forever. A soldier, with an engineering background, Mullins comes across a captured German device called the magnetophone, a crud and sophisticated piece of recording equipment used by the Nazi’s – Hitler’s voice was recorded and his speeches broadcast around the Reicht. It offered a marvel of clarity in sound and editing ease and portability. Mullins took the box apart and reengineered the device for modern times. Catching the eye of Bing Crosby and others, technology began to take giant leaps in advancement. Modern recording was now on multitracks and capable of so much more, evidenced by digital recorders and iPods and home studios. This was an engaging tale of this happened making that happen, changing this to that and the other thing; sort of along the lines of “Connections” by James Burke.
I found the film well done, leaving me just a couple of questions. What genius created the original device for the Nazi war machine? How did that come to be? What lead up to it’s discovery and use? I wonder about a lot of things. This is a good documentary and worth seeing – and hearing. The sound licks dropped into the film (by Les Paul, Crosby Stills and Nash, Chuck D, Greg Kihn…) are super. Enjoy.