Engadget had a really interesting article this morning about a new tech from the guy from Incubus(?!) where there’s a proprietary wireless network created at a concert event, and the audio comes straight off the mixing board into the wireless system. This is then broadcast over wifi to everyone’s phones, at which point they can listen over headphones.
There are some definite pluses and minuses to this, though as Engadget pointed out, musicians themselves are effectively already doing this with in-ear monitoring.
The way I see it, concerts often have medium to large problems with sound quality. It’s too loud, it’s too directional, too bassy. You’re standing in a bad spot. The list goes on.
This potentially fixes all those issues, because you’re getting exactly what the board gets. Additionally, depending on how the app is set up, you could potentially accentuate certain aspects of the music; the vocals, the drums, etc. If you’ve gone through the trouble of getting good in-ear headphones, the isolation would be amazing.
Maybe there’d even be an option to control full submixes of the band, for “advanced users”.
Artists could charge more for a concert, by offering the service coupled with a “live official ‘bootleg'” of the event, where your phone records the concert as you listen to it.
It could also potentially have the side effect of reducing the number of morons videoing the entire concert on their phones, which (as an old-timer that’s vertically challenged) really annoys the hell out of me, when all I see is a sea of smart phones at shows these days. They can’t video the show, if they’re using it to listen to the show! One can only dream.
The potential drawbacks are the technical limitations; the latency from the board to your ears, various technical glitches, and the accompanying support issues that could arise. That would increase the overall cost of a concert, if people have to be on hand to help with that.
Additionally, one could argue that a bit of the actual concert experience is being diminished, if you’re no long hearing the band through the PA, the air movement, etc. However, in my opinion the benefits far exceed these drawbacks. After all, you’re still physically there, getting beer spilled on you.
Overall, I think it’s an extremely clever use of technology taking advantage of the ubiquity of these little pocket computers, and the fact that it melds my love of music and my love of tech is just really interesting.