These days, online music recording and musicians-oriented collaboration platforms are plentiful, but most are great in available software tools, while others excel in community-reach and valued-added services. But the reality is that many musicians and even studios still rely on free remote collaboration and communication platforms like Skype, Zoom and others, where they suffer with latency issues, making playing in real time almost impossible.
Putting the “together” back into music, Aloha creates a virtual shared studio, rehearsal room, stage and or classroom with options to stream performances to audiences over social platforms. It allows musicians, producers and educators from different locations to create, rehearse and perform as if they were in the same room. And the ultra-low latency optimized service operates over high-speed Internet and 5G networks, allowing users to collaborate, play together live and in sync. In Sweden, users can already experience 5G networks, because they already have at least one major 5G network up and running, while the Scandinavian region is moving fast towards 5G, thanks to the efforts of Ericsson and Nokia.
"The seismic shift to video conference services has served to keep friends, family and colleagues around the world connected and collaborating. However, these platforms were not designed for the music industry, and more specifically, musicians, producers and teachers who, at the very basic level, want to create and play music together," states Michele Benincaso, Founder and CEO, Elk Audio. “With Aloha, we aim to connect every musician and musical instrument by digitizing the live interaction... in sync from any location. It's the remote creation and performance experience musicians have been waiting for." Benincaso summarizes his vision for the new offering, “Aloha is the creative connect point that brings the music world into the digital shift we are all experiencing today with all the promise 5G has to offer.”
To collaborate, rehearse, teach, and perform via the Internet, musicians, producers and educators require real-time, stable audio. Latency from currently available video conference services can be irregular and reach half a second or more. Both effects make it unsuitable for musicians wanting to play together. Aloha brings audio latency to just a few stable milliseconds, allowing users to connect from different locations and enjoy the immersive creative live interaction experience they crave.
"As someone who is involved in many projects with various bands, Aloha allows me to continue to collaborate with other musicians from the safety of my home, from rehearsing songs to grooving and improvising. Most recently, I played a set in real time sponsored by Yamaha with a fellow musician, Nils Landgren, while we were 670 kilometers (450 miles) apart, using Aloha. Not only were we able to play music in real time, but we saved on travel and studio costs - this would be impossible without Aloha," says Robert Mehmet Ikiz, an independent drummer and Yamaha artist.
To allow this level of quality-connections even over broadband services, Elk combines both its software and hardware expertise, leveraging also the power of edge computing. Aloha’s pocket-size interface device and app combine the lightning-fast performance of Elk Audio OS with a powerful audio processor to keep users in sync with full quality audio experience. The small device connects to the Internet directly over cable to the home Internet router and WiFi is used only for the device (computer, tablet or smartphone) where users run the Aloha app - as long as it is on the same network as the interface.
Designed by musicians, the Aloha app includes essential features such as individual monitoring controls, effects and recording tools combined with a familiar video chat experience and options for streaming over popular social channels. Optimized today for high-speed Internet, the team from Elk has been working with telco and 5G pioneer companies like Vodafone to test Aloha within the evolving 5G ecosystem, bringing new potential for musicians and the music industry.
Elk first showcased its Aloha 5G technology concept in 2019 at the Mobile World Congress exhibition together with Ericsson and Vodafone and then around the world at various events including a presentation at NAMM 2020, where Elk’s Matt Ward participated on a panel discussion titled “How 5G will change the music industry,” together with Alan Parsons, Kunal Jathal (Verizon Lab), Jim Odom (PreSonus) and Bill Goodman (Ericsson).
“Aloha over fast broadband delivers an outstanding experience for musicians, educators and artist collaborators. With the reality of 5G on the horizon, Aloha will unleash full portability using the power of edge computing to provide entirely new audio experiences across entertainment including gaming, augmented and virtual reality," adds Michele Benincaso.
Elk is a Stockholm based company that develops connected musical instrument and audio technologies. The company created an Audio Operating System developed from the ground up to deliver real time audio performances in embedded systems and remote networks. This operating system offers full VST plugin support and Elk is officially endorsed by Steinberg and is supported in the VST3 SDK, making it a perfect solution for companies interested in developing new digital hardware instruments. Basically, with Elk Audio OS, developers can convert their software plug-ins into tactile, physical controllers and instruments, using open hardware platforms for embedded development such as Raspberry Pi boards.
Elk plans to launch a limited Aloha open beta program in Q4 2020. For more information please visit alohabyelk.com.