Over the years, musicians Mike Einziger and Ann Marie Calhoun wanted to give music fans a better sound experience while on tour. Sure, fans who get front-row seats have a great experience, but what about fans who sit behind the speakers or those who sit behind? Most of the time those people can listen to the people around them.
It was a problem that plagued Calhoun and Einziger when they toured with Hans Zimmer, and it didn't seem like they had a universal solution that could work anywhere in the world. Then they did it.
The culmination of Calhoun and Einziger's work is called Mixhalo, a software solution that connects directly to the on-site sound card and transmits the mix locally to anyone with applications in the program over a private wireless network. This is a platform that can radically change the way you listen to artists in locations across the United States and, if all goes well, around the world.
Music for the masses
Mixhalo's benefits are pretty obvious to anyone who's ever sat behind a crowded arena during a performance – this app lets you listen to more music and less crowds.
But, according to two co-founders and CEO Marc Ruxin, it's more than that: It's not just about balancing the scale of the auditorium and giving everyone a chance to listen to quality music, but it also allows fans to continue listening to music if they need to. get up from the place feel them and, in a great festival like Coachella, Lollapalooza or Outside Lands, listen to what happens on another stage.
And so far, it seems that people like what they hear: The company has announced a $ 10.7 million Series A funding led by Foundry Group and have worked with globally recognized stocks like Bruno Mars and Metallica; The latter, as Calhoun and Einziger told us, actually uses Mixhalo to display each individual instrument by creating separate sequences in the app.
The magic behind Mixhalo is the local wireless network that sets up everywhere. Once you are within range of the network, the free downloadable applications on your mobile device will show you the different stages available and you can connect to the source directly from the soundboard. Connect a pair of headphones to your phone and you will hear stage music in real time.
The biggest public demonstration of the technology took place earlier this year at the Aerosmith live show in Las Vegas, where Mixhalo worked with audio brand THX, but the team planned to take it to festivals across the United States, including the festival. Outside Lands last month in San Francisco, where we were. you can directly use the audio application and meet the founders.
Front row sound from behind a festival
So how can you use this app exactly? Long before anyone arrived at the festival, Mixhalo and his core team arrived to prepare. They need to install multiple antennas at the iconic Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and create a network that we will then use to listen to the band on stage through the app.
"Knowing the challenges of building a technology platform that can provide this experience to all fans in various locations, I doubt it can be done," said Ryan McIntyre, managing director of Foundry Group, the company that helped Mixhalo raise funds.
"However, once I experienced Mixhalo at the Little Fox Theater in Boulder and then at the Aerosmith show in Las Vegas, I had confidence in the technology."
Located around the main stage of the show and the two side stages, the antenna will provide a kind of wireless network for applications to use. As long as you stay in a closed area and turn on the app, you can tune into one of the stages of the place. Unfortunately, that means you can't go to concerts while you're at home, but according to the Mixhalo team, it's better this way because they have to negotiate broadcast rights for each show.
When we got to Outside Lands, everything was set up and fully functional and all we needed to do was open the app and see the stages. As soon as we chose the stage, we showed up with a pair of headphones and were able to listen to music coming from the stage in real time and it seemed to be of high quality.
This is a pretty fancy solution to complex problems … mostly.
Not all music is in our ears.
Of course, building a Golden Gate Park-sized wireless network is equipped with a set of challenges of its own, some of which are still looking for a way out.
One of the biggest problems is that the antenna that transmits the signal is clearly limited in number and range, which means that in some areas the application has poor reception and in other places there is no reception. When that happens, the Mixhalo app will inform you that you have lost the connection and instruct you to get closer to the antenna.
Mixhalo, both the company and the application, also needs to borrow a small amount of bandwidth from the venue of the event. In Outside Lands' case, the team used a provider network, a good solution, but a solution that can present challenges where connectivity is limited.
You also can't ignore that the antenna is a big part of the solution. They must be in every event you want to use Mixhalo, which means they must be moved and prepared before the event. That means time planning, coordination and collaboration between the Mixhalo team and the place.
That said, all of this is on the shoulders of the Marc Ruxin team; Aside from the falling signal, this is not something you should pay attention to as a concert assistant; As long as there is a signal, you get the sound of the first row anywhere in the venue.
The future of live audio.
The Mixhalo demo we follow focused on live concerts, which makes sense given the history of its founder: Calhoun is a world-renowned violinist and main collaborator with Hans Zimmer on a number of soundtracks for his films, while Einziger is the lead guitarist and co-founder of the band Incubus.
However, while live concerts provide a good opportunity for Mixhalo, the two founders say the concert venue is just the beginning: they see the future by using Mixhalo as a way to listen to sports games, eSports tournaments, conferences of businesses and other public events, all of which can take advantage of Mixhalo
There's also talk of integrating the Mixhalo app into a pair of headphones, though Calhoun and Einziger still encourage people to bring their own headphones for now. "We don't want to force people to spend a lot of money to get this experience," Calhoun told us. "We want everyone to be able to access it with the headphones they already have."
With that, if you see a pair of headphones at the next festival, you will know the reason.