We always intend our ”Winners & Losers” coverage to be part of a larger discussion about what makes a good technology project. In that spirit, we ask all of you to go online [/jan08/winvote] to cast your ballot for which of our five winners you find the best as a commercial prospect and which seems likely to do the most good for humankind, regardless of financial considerations. These votes aren’t just for fun; they will determine the two winners that will receive special awards at the annual EE Times ACE Awards ceremony, in April at the Fairmont Hotel, in San Jose.

This year, we are taking that open-forum idea further with two new features. First, the ”you tell us” category of projects (ones we found intriguing but couldn’t clearly identify as winners or losers) has gone online: [/jan08/youtellus]. We’ve made it easier for you to tell us and your fellow readers what you think. Second, we have invited three prominent technology watchers—Gordon Bell, T.J. Rodgers, and Nick Tredennick—to comment on our winners and losers in this issue. Look for their pungent comments in the sidebars in each article.

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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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