The Days Of ‘Great Band, Terrible Sound’ May Soon Be Over – Forbes
Great records but how is their live sound?
I recently went to hear a friendâs band play at a local bar. Itâs 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 guitaristâs solos when he played high on the neck escaping the murk.
Itâs 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.
MIXhalo is so straightforward that itâs 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. Einzigerâs 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 âPlayâ. Thatâs 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 âyesâ. Enziger demonstrated MIXhalo during a live set with Incubus at TechCrunchâs 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 youâre hearing and seeing will ruin the live-music experience. The reports from Disrupt NY indicate latency wasnât 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 will be testing MIXhalo during their summer tour and Einzigerâs plan is to make the system more widely available this Fall.
Speaking to TechCrunch, Einziger said his initial goal is to get MIXhalo âin peopleâs handsâ before focusing on how to make money from the technology. This bodes well for local bands like my friendâs that donât have the benefit of a professional sound technician to set up their gigs and also donât 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.