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Michael Powell [photo] needs a hug. Saying he ”heard the voice of public concern loud and clear,” the Republican chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC, Washington, D.C.) held a press conference on 20 August announcing the creation of a task force to study how much time TV and radio stations devote to covering local events.

The group, said Powell, will evaluate how recent changes in media ownership rules will affect local and community radio. He also trumpeted plans to expedite approval of applications for low-power FM (LPFM) radio licenses, the kind community radio operators depend on. LPFM licensing was featured in a story on the proposed media rules and radio localism that appeared in these pages in July [see ”Radio Pirates Grapple with U.S. Regulators,” /WEBONLY/resource/jul03/nfcc.html].

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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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