T-Mobile's 5G network could soon send live concert audio to your phone

T-Mobile’s 5G network could soon send live concert audio to your phone

Have you ever been to a concert where the sound mixing or acoustics were just bad enough to ruin a good show? It could be a thing of the past. Mixhalo, a company that streams musicians’ audio directly from soundboards to smartphones via an app, used T-Mobile’s 5G network to send that audio to phones faster than the sound takes to reach the ears of the audience from the loudspeakers.

Yes, T-Mobile’s 5G network allows Mixhalo to send audio faster than the speed of sound. And yes, it’s definitely a stunt for the carrier to flex its telecommunications muscles. But it’s a new way to use 5G to improve the concert experience for audience members. There haven’t been many exciting ways for next-gen mobile networks to improve live events, other than increasing signal speeds in sports stadiums.

Mixhalo is one of twelve startups in the latest class in T-Mobile’s 5G Open Innovation Lab, which cultivates new ways to harness 5G networks. Mixhalo’s technology can send audio over Wi-Fi and cellular networks, which might be better and more reliable over 5G networks. Of course, the best way to test this is at a concert, so Mixhalo hosted a Thursday for T-Mobile employees.

About 500 T-Mobile staff gathered in the plaza outside the carrier’s Bellevue, Wash., headquarters, downloaded the Mixhalo app, and heard the show through both their headphones and the stage speakers. . Performers included Mixhalo co-founder Ann Marie Simpson-Einziger, a classical violinist who has toured with bands like Jethro Tull and collaborated with Hans Zimmer on film soundtracks, as well as singer Jordyn Simone (current contestant on this season of The Voice) and TikTok musician Liza Kaye.

But the sound of the performers did not go instantly from the soundboard to the audience’s ears. The sound broadcast in 5G had to be deferred by about a microsecond per foot, each listener was moved away from the stage so that they could synchronize with the audio coming out of the speakers. Mixhalo’s technology sends the audio at just the right time, whether the audience is in the pit under the stage or in the cheap seats. 5G makes that possible, said Grant Castle, vice president of engineering at T-Mobile.

“We thought it was a good idea for many years, but we were never able to do it. We couldn’t get the data out fast enough. We’re now at this stage where these things are starting to become possible,” Castle said.

T-Mobile declined to say whether Mixhalo will use its 5G network for its concerts in the future. To be clear, the concert staffers were all using off-the-shelf 5G phones connected to T-Mobile’s network, so only the carrier’s customers would benefit from 5G speeds if Mixhalo used the network at home. coming.

But the successful concert shows promise for ways to deliver a front-row audio experience to audiences at other events. Have you ever attended a baseball game and seen someone listening to a radio announcer who was describing events that happened five or ten seconds ago? Why not put it in real time?

“It’s that kind of innovation that seems pretty obvious, but it’s also really difficult. It’s the kind of stuff that we’re really excited about,” Castle said.

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