by Lyubomir Dobrev | Approximate reading time: 3 Minutes
ELK Live

 ·  Source: ELK Live

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Swedish company Elk Audio has (finally) offered Elk LIVE for sale. What’s Elk Live? A hardware and software system for online music collaborations with very, very little latency. When the beta programme for this promising little box began back in December 2020, we were genuinely intrigued by the technology and the ambition of its designers. Now Elk Audio has rebranded Aloha as Elk Live and is finally offering the system for pre-order. Could this system revolutionise collaborative music making?

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The enemy is latency

Latency remains perhaps the greatest obstacle in remote music making. Several bottlenecks contribute session-breaking delays, so combating latency requires a comprehensive approach. Elk Audio says it delivers just that through specialized firmware (Elk Audio OS), the Elk LIVE Smart App, and the Elk LIVE Bridge – an audio interface and network hub. The product being rolled out has a very eye-catching yellow enclosure, a step up from the innocuous black box that went into beta testing last year.

As a three-pronged solution, it all sounds fairly complex. However, Elk says it’s all simple to install. When everything is in place, you can play live with your bandmates over the web with “studio quality” sound, Elk says. The Bridge interface supposedly offers sub-millisecond latency which is the kind of performance you’d expect out of a premium Thunderbolt audio interface. However, the Bridge is a USB-C interface – it’s the on-board Elk Audio OS that does the low-latency magic. Even so, that leaves the latency caused by your internet connection.

ELK Audio LIVE Bridge

ELK Audio LIVE Bridge

Elk explains more about the role of connection quality on its website. In short, both the connection quality and the distance from your collaborators matter. The following example is provided: using a fiber optic connection at a distance of around 1000 kilometers between you and the others, there is a latency of around ten milliseconds. This is comparable to being three meters apart in the same room. To work around the problem, Elk designed latency perception tools to help compensate for this. Sounds fancy.

We are all quite curious to see how the Elk LIVE experience will turn out, especially in places where fiber optic cables are still an exception to the norm. If the product is solid at its core, then Elk will surely fine-tune it for the best possible performance over time. There are a few months left before we get to check the final Elk LIVE system in action, however.

ELK Audio LIVE

ELK Audio LIVE

Elk Audio LIVE – Price and availability

The system will be shipping sometime in the final three months of 2021. All collaborators must own the Elk Bridge interface and pay a monthly subscription for the service. Elk LIVE is available for pre-order in the US, Canada, and Europe. Early birds can obtain a 20% discount. The regular prices are:

Elk LIVE smart app service – USD 16 / EUR 14 / GBP 12 per month (tax excluded)
Elk Live Bridge -USD 399.00 / EUR 329 / GBP 289 (tax excluded)

More information about Elk Audio LIVE

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