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The Radio of the Golden Age of Radio

This handsome volume is a must-have for the serious radio collector

6 min read

Too often, those in the technology sector think of books simply as paper databases that primitively store small amounts of knowledge in a handy form. And, mostly, this is true. Once in a while, though, a book falls into your hands that is something much more compelling, something that combines knowledge with a tradition of craftsmanship that long defined the work of the best publishing houses. One of these examples of the bookseller’s art is the volume Radiola: The Golden Age of RCA, 1919�1929, by Eric P. Wenaas (2007, Sonoran Publishing, US $65).

While Radiola may be too detailed for the average reader, those who are enamored of old-time radios will find the book a little museum of the mind.

In terms of book design and production, Radiola is a gem, featuring some of the finest reproductions of images from the early days of radio you will ever find. Yet, that merely describes the format. More important, Wenaas has a compelling story to tell, and he does a first-rate job of telling it. The subtitle of the book alludes to the creation of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and the introduction of a product line that defined the public’s fascination with the new technology of broadcasting in the 1920s. While Radiola may be too detailed for the average reader, those who are enamored of radioana (all things related to old-time radios) will find the book a little museum of the mind. Wenaas has scrupulously hunted down seemingly every source of information on the classic radio receiver of the era and he presents them almost exhaustively—complete with nine appendixes, two indexes, and a selected bibliography.

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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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