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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

This Week in Sound: Mics and Jacks

+ neural-net voicovers + quiet fireworks + ...

A lightly annotated clipping service (some of these go back quite a bit further back than last week):

Neural NeTTS: I’ve long wondered why the CGI in movies keeps getting better, allowing for more realistic human (and humanoid) characters, but they still use human voice actors. This piece at deepmind.com on WaveNet (“a deep generative model of raw audio waveforms”) shows how neural-networks are rapidly improving test-to-speech (TTS) technology. (Found via Kyle McDonald & George Kelly.)

Ears Only: Sony is introducing something called the Xperia, which looks like one of those Bluetooth in-ear devices that don’t work like you want them to, but does far much more: androidpolice.com.

Who Says I Don’t Read the Sports Pages?: In a key example of unintended consequences, the addition (via nytimes.com) of a roof to Arthur Ashe Stadium has “created an echo chamber and a much louder experience for everyone.”

Mic Off: Bloomberg.com has an interesting piece on the slow pace of microphone innovation. (The link was broken in the This Week in Sound email newsletter. Sorry.)

Mic On: But … the future of hearing aids (and microphones) may benefit from insect studies: singularityhub.com.

Quiet Fireworks: They exist (via nytimes.com). This is a good thing. “Today, quiet fireworks are part of everybody’s inventory,”says one professional.

Sonic Demilitarization: The Pentagon is downsizing its bands. The U.S. military “fields more than 130 military bands worldwide, made up of about 6,500 musicians” at an estimated annual cost of $437 million: nytimes.com.

Train, Train: A “fleet of the future” here in San Francisco may make commuting less of a threat to hearing: wired.com.

Sound Social Science: Apparently playing upbeat music in the office “fosters cooperation” — though maybe not in an office where people write about maudlin ambient music: washingtonpost.com.

Apple Did Something: In case you’ve been living under a rock-shaped outdoor speaker, you know that Apple has removed the headphone jack from its latest iPhone. Jonathan Sterne, author of MP3: The Meaning of a Format, talks about planned obsolescence: theglobeandmail.com.

This first appeared, in slightly different form, in the September 9, 2016, edition of the free Disquiet “This Week in Sound”email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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