Pardon Me, Got the Time?

Rolling blackouts tie production in knots

4 min read
Photo of the NixiChron.
Photo: Jerry Garns

If you're an engineer, your reply just might be, “Sure. You want that in binary?” Let’s face it, we tech types love clocks: LED, LCD, nixie, analog, GPS, radio synchronized, even atomic. So IEEE Spectrum picked out a few gems for your mantelpiece.

Take the Powers of 2 clock from Realnerds (http://www.realnerds.com). This clock will confound your nontechie friends while bringing a smile of recognition to every programmer you know. No numbers here, just six columns of LEDs, one column for each digit marking the hours, minutes, and seconds, in blue (US $22.98) [see photo, "Bit By Bit”] or red ($19).

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

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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