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Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Why Does NPR Have Such a Specific Sound?

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Chances are, you've heard a difference between a National Public Radio (NPR) show like All Things Considered and some other radio talk show. NPR just has that certain sound.

One reason is that NPR hosts tend to have a certain cadence. But the signature sound is also technical. The public media news outlet Current describes NPR’s signature audio as “crisp and bright.” Last year, its podcast, The Pub, interviewed an audio engineer to figure out how exactly NPR creates its one-of-a-kind audio style.

Part of the effect comes from using specific microphones. NPR is a radio programming powerhouse, and it uses top-of-the-line Neumann U87 microphones. These microphones are specifically tuned to make NPR voices clearer to people listening in their cars by filtering out very low frequencies (below 250 hertz).

“The reason NPR came to this standard—and this was decades ago—was because most of our listeners are consuming in an automobile or with something else in the background,” audio engineer Shawn Fox tells Current. “Back in the day, and even to some degree now, you roll down those windows and hear those low rumbling frequencies. We wanted our voices to get above that so that they could be clear, open and understandable to improve our storytelling.”

The studios are also crafted to ensure high-quality audio. “We have a very low-reverberant studio, and we make sure that there aren’t a lot of solid walls,” Fox says. “Most of our facilities are all centrally located inside, right in the middle of our newsroom, so we make sure they’re isolated so you don’t hear anything else but the person speaking.”

For more sweet-sounding audio nerdiness, check out the full conversation.

[h/t Current]

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A Visual History of Captain America’s Shields
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

Captain America has gone through plenty of wardrobe changes since his comic book debut in 1941, but it’s his iconic shield that has had the most makeovers. Over the past eight decades, fans have seen the shield change its shape, color, and even the material from which it’s crafted. For the folks at Pop Chart Lab, the shield’s storied history provided the perfect subject matter for their latest poster.

On this piece, the company teamed with Marvel to give a rundown of 50 of Cap’s shields—from the instantly recognizable to the downright obscure. Here we see his classic Golden Age shield, with its slightly different color scheme, and the different variations from Jack Kirby’s time-traveling Bicentennial Battles book. Then there are entries like the vibranium shield he received from Black Panther in Captain America #342 and an adamantium one made by Tony Stark.

Those different shields just scratch the surface of the deep cuts Pop Chart Lab provides. There are also shields from Captain Americas across Marvel’s numerous alternate universes, like the ones used by the Ultimate Universe Steve Rogers and the android Cap from Earth-725.

Each shield is illustrated to match its comic book counterpart and comes with a description specifying the series it debuted in and which Earth it exists on (the Marvel Universe has thousands of different versions of Earth, after all).

The posters will begin shipping on May 23, and you can pre-order yours now starting at $29 on the Pop Chart Lab website. You can check out a full look at the poster below.

Pop Chart Lab's Captain America shield poster
Pop Chart Lab
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Design
Google Fixes Major Problem in its Cheeseburger and Beer Emojis

A digital slice of cheese that once sat beneath a digital beef patty has now ascended to its proper place in the hamburger emoji hierarchy. Google CEO Sundar Pichai saw to it personally.

"Towards the end of last year it came to my attention that we had a major bug in one of our core products," Pichai said in a keynote speech that opened this year's Google I/O conference for developers. After a pause, he added, "It turns out we got the cheese wrong in our burger emoji." Before and after images of the emoji were shown to an audience of more than 7000 people, bringing a satisfying resolution to an issue that was raised via tweet last October.

Author Thomas Baekdal was the first person to bring this crime against condiments to the public's attention, according to Dezeen. He tweeted, "I think we need to have a discussion about how Google's burger emoji is placing the cheese underneath the burger, while Apple puts it on top."

Pichai responded via tweet that he would "drop everything else" to fix it, and indeed, he kept his word. Google emojis are just one variety in the emoji universe, and they can be found on Android devices, Gmail, Google Hangouts, and ChromeOS.

Google's emoji experts were also tasked with fixing an image of a half-full mug of beer which had an inexplicable gap between the beer and the cloud of foam on top.

"We restored the natural laws of physics, so all is well, we can get back to business," Pichai said. Finally, a proper emoji meal can be had.

[h/t Dezeen]

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