The Days Of ‘Great Band, Terrible Sound’ May Soon Be Over – Forbes

Great records but how is their live sound?

Credit: HypnoArt/Pixabay

Great records but how is their live sound?

I recently went to hear a friend’s band play at a local bar. It’s a tight group that plays a rich mix of covers and originals with strong songwriting and solid musicianship. I expect most people in the room that night missed all this because the sound was terrible. The midrange frequencies were a muddy roar with only the lowest bass notes, the soprano vocals and the guitarist’s solos when he played high on the neck escaping the murk.

It’s a common problem. Bars, clubs, theaters, concert halls and arenas all have sound issues. Every venue has sweet spots where the sound is more-or-less clear and locations where the sound ranges from poor to awful. Mike Einziger, guitarist for the band Incubus, is trying to solve this problem with technology he calls MIXhalo.

Mike Einziger

Credit: Incubus/YouTube

Mike Einziger

MIXhalo is so straightforward that it’s a wonder no one has tried it before. The days when established bands rely solely on stage monitors to hear themselves play are long over. The musicians have in-ear monitors that feed them a personal mix directly from the soundboard. Einziger’s idea is to let the audience in on the feed.

MIXhalo streams a mix designed for the audience over a private wireless network. You download the MIXhalo app, join the network and tap “Play”. That’s it. Instant high-quality sound during a live performance.

Streaming from the soundboard to your ear looks simple on paper, but does it work in practice? Apparently, the answer is “yes”. Enziger demonstrated MIXhalo during a live set with Incubus at TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY 2017 last week and both TechCrunch and Engadget reported that the experience went smoothly.

Latency is a significant hurdle that needs to be overcome for a system like MIXhalo to work because noticeable lag between what you’re hearing and seeing will ruin the live-music experience. The reports from Disrupt NY indicate latency wasn’t a problem at all.

Right now, the MIXhalo app only works with iOS although an Android version is in the works. The system also demands a wired ear-phone connection because wireless is too slow.

Incubus

Credit: Incubus/YouTube

Incubus

Incubus will be testing MIXhalo during their summer tour and Einziger’s plan is to make the system more widely available this Fall.

Speaking to TechCrunch, Einziger said his initial goal is to get MIXhalo “in people’s hands” before focusing on how to make money from the technology. This bodes well for local bands like my friend’s that don’t have the benefit of a professional sound technician to set up their gigs and also don’t have the money to afford high-priced tech.

MIXhalo has the potential to revolutionize the live-music experience. Maybe for the first time, you will be able to really hear what your favorite band is playing when you see them perform live. Whether or not this is a good thing depends on the band.

Kevin Murnane covers science, technology and video games for Forbes. You can find more of his writing at The Info Monkey and Tuned In To Cycling. Follow on Twitter@TheInfoMonkey.

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