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The Innovators Club

Interest in TechShop’s neighborhood workshops is growing

3 min read
Photo of TechShop, a community workshop in Menlo Park, Calif.
Photo: Timothy Archibald

You don't need your own exercise equipment to get fit, so why do you need your own machine tools to build something cool?

Such thinking led Jim Newton to found the first TechShop, a hightech workshop open to anyone who pays a modest membership fee. Think of it as a health club for geeks. Instead of treadmills and elliptical trainers, you'll find laser and plasma cutters, milling machines and lathes, oscilloscopes and frequency generators. What's more, you'll run into like-minded folk who can give you tips on everything from tungsten inert-gas welding to computer-aided design, either through organized classes or informal coaching.

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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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