With MIXhalo, Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger aims to deliver studio-quality sound at live events – TechCrunch
Most of you have probably been to concerts where the sound sucked, where all of the music was blown out and you couldnât make out a single word ofÂ the lyrics.
Now, you might have had a great time regardlessÂ (concerts are funny that way), but bad sound isnât exactly a selling point. It can be particularly frustrating if youâre seeing a musicianÂ you love playing your favorite songs â and Iâm guessing itâs even more painful whenÂ youâre the musician.
Thatâs why Mike Einziger, guitarist of the band Incubus, is launching MIXhalo. He told me that when musicians are on-stage, they can hear their performances through headphonesÂ with greatÂ audio,Â but then they have to âblast music at people through speakers.âÂ Even if those speakers are good, the sound changes depending on âthe physics of the space,â with quality varying in different parts of the venue.
With MIXhalo, on the other hand, you install the iOS app (there are plans for an Android version, too), connect to a special MIXhalo network and then you can hear what Einziger called a âa really, really high quality, studio-quality audio experience,â even if youâre âa thousand feet away from the stage.â He said it draws onÂ the audio that the performsÂ are already hearing, except itâs mixed specifically for the audience.
âThereâs potential for a much more intimate experience,â he added.
Einziger founded the company with audio engineer Darren La Groe (he was the engineer for Incubus), who developed the tech. Matt Salsamendi from Beam (the startup that won Disrupt NY last year) is an adviser.
AnÂ important piece of the experienceÂ isÂ a special WiFi technology that MIXhalo callsÂ âhalocasting,â allowingÂ thousands or even tens of thousands of listeners to connect to the network without problems. It delivers the audio with extremely low latency â Â the musicÂ reaches listeners faster than the speed of sound, Einziger said.
HeÂ just finished showing off MIXhaloâs technology on-stage with his bandmates from Incubus at Disrupt NY, with some help from one of his investors, Pharrell Williams. Beforehand, I used MIXhalo to listen to an Incubus performance and follow along with one of ourÂ Disrupt talks â it sounded loudÂ and clear, like I was right in front of the stage.
If you werenât lucky enough to be in the room at Disrupt, Einziger said Incubus will be testing the technology when it goes on tour this summer, with plans for a broader rollout this fall.
As for making money, Einziger said heâs focused on âgetting the technology in peopleâs handsâ before he developsÂ a definiteÂ business model: âIâm open to all options.âI also wondered if asking users to listen to music on their phones means that some of the communal experience of concerts gets lost. In Einzigerâs view, âIt just provides a different experience. It shows a different version of something weâve seen a thousand times.â
He saidÂ that while MIXhalo could eventually replace concert speakers, it can also complement thatÂ sound, with the speakers basicallyÂ functioning as a subwoofer for the music in your headphones.
Also worth noting: While I find them kind of mystifying, silent discos are totally a thing.
âThe technology has some pretty wide applications,â EinzigerÂ said. âIt could beÂ very easily used elsewhere. Musical theater is a really obvious place for it, auditoriums and lecture halls, anyplaceÂ where somebody is goingÂ to be speaking.â