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Digital TV Trial Brews in China

Will Qingdao's success with beer be repeated in television?

3 min read

This year, a somewhat startling experiment in digital television transmission has been unfolding in Qingdao, the seaside town in northeastern China best known to outsiders as the place where Tsingtao beer is brewed. The town is completing a government-supported project to convert 600 000 of its downtown households to digital cable television, making it one of the first areas in China to cease delivering cable television in analog format.

With the Beijing Olympics coming up in 2008, Beijing has made it a priority for digital television to be available nationwide by then [see "Digital TV's 100-Meter Dash," IEEE Spectrum, June]. The Qingdao trial is a significant stepping-stone. Partly because the digital transition is easier to execute in cable systems than in over-the-air systems, the government has given some priority to pushing ahead with cable conversion.

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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