Turning heads: KLANG:fabrik 3D binaural in-ear mixing
Is this 3D in-ear mixing system a game changer?
There’s been several attempts at providing a ‘3D’ experience when listening to music on headphones such as the recent Nx from Waves. Whilst these technologies are really exciting, it wasn’t until I was invited to hear the KLANG:fabrik system that I realised they’ve significantly raised the bar. What’s more, KLANG have identified a real-world application where 3D processing provides massive benefits. If I hadn’t been invited to listen to this system it might have passed me by, which would have been a huge shame. You need to check this out right away, and you can! Simply download their free app which has a demo built-in to see for yourself.
Fabrik is a self-contained 2U rack-mounted piece of hardware which handles all the I/O and processing for this in-ear and headphone monitoring system. There are Dante and optical digital audio connectivity options with 8 stereo balanced analogue outputs. Depending on the configuration, a single fabrik can support 32 inputs for 6 users, through to 12 inputs for 16 users. All controlled via software available on almost any device over ethernet, WiFi, or both, fabrik is a very powerful unit.
Hearing is believing. I was sceptical before listening to the Fabrik system, but it didn’t take long for me to understand it and recognise the audio quality on offer here. I’m really impressed with the processing and the implementation of this tech as an in-ear mixing application. Having now used the system I can happily report that it works effortlessly. There are so many aspects of this system that could have been a failure. For example, there’s the hardware audio connectivity, the processing power, scalability, the software and device connectivity that could have let it down. For a first revision of this product, it’s hats-off to the developers at KLANG who have cracked every element of the system.
There are some clear benefits from monitoring on a stage with this 3D technology. The separation of the elements in your mix are so much greater than in stereo, that KLANG believe you can afford to lower the over-all level of your headphones. This is great news for those who play loud music and are concerned about hearing damage. There are some nice ‘artist’ features within the app too. For example if the lead singer has his/her voice already at 0db (maximum), he/she can still press ‘+’! The app is programmed to lower the level of everything else in their mix which saves teaching singers about gain structure – something the industry has and will always fail to do so!
Even if in-ear mixing isn’t in your remit, or you’re a musician that doesn’t perform live very often, I believe you still need to be aware of this technology. In my eyes, this is a significant leap forward in the processing of binaural audio and the implementation of this tech is exceptional. I’m convinced this is a game changer. When the industry recognises what’s on the table here, I’m sure we’ll see this tech spreading it’s wings into other applications.
The next rather obvious step for KLANG is to track the position of your head. This would enable your 3D mix to travel with you, so as you turn your head to look at a fellow musician for example, the relation of their position remains the same as it is in ‘real life’. This will be really exciting and all I can say is that they’re working on it. Interestingly, to do the motion tracking, they are developing a headphone cable that can attach to any in-ear headphone of your choice. How simple and clever is that!
To learn more about the KLANG:Fabrik system, head over to their website. Priced at just over 4,000 GBP, this is competitive to existing personal monitoring systems.
Try It Now
Download the KLANG app now which includes a demo mode so you can try mixing in 3D! Head over to the iTunes App Store on any iOS device. The KLANG website also provides links to Google Play for Android and desktop versions for Mac and PC.
You can also hear the 3D mixing being demonstrated in this YouTube video, from the KLANG:technologies channel. Make sure to wear headphones and stream the video in HD.