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On Time And Under Budget

Keith Bayern won IEEE Spectrum's clock-making contest with brains, elbow grease, and a lot of solder

2 min read

If it took him, on average, 10 seconds to set up and solder one thing to another, then Keith Bayern must have gripped his solder gun for a total of 7 hours while building his all-transistor wall-mountable digital clock.

”That’s 2700 solder joints,” he told an openly impressed visitor to his demo in the IEEE Spectrum booth at Maker Faire, the science fair for adults sponsored by Make magazine. This year it was held in May in San Mateo, Calif.

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