My find of the week on Podcast 219 was the 3D in-ear monitoring technologies offered by KLANG. I came across their products while researching Dante peripherals, KLANG make a Dante equipped headphone amplifier as a supplementary product to their flagship product, the KLANG:fabrik. The fabrik is a hardware product which can process up to 16 headphone mixes and uses on board DSP to extend the listening experience beyond stereo using techniques which sound similar to binaural. The effect is striking and offers an immersive soundstage with height information as well as full surround.
More Than Upmixing
This is far more than the stereo to surround upmix products such as Nugen’s excellent Halo because as a monitoring product it is fed with discrete source channels and this, combined with the low latency of a hardware solution allows monitor mixes in live performance, either in concert or in the studio, to be extended out beyond stereo into a convincing 3D space.
KLANG will soon offer KLANG:vektor, a head tracking product which allows the position of the perceived sound source to remain in its correct location rather than moving with head movements and this allows the construction of monitor mixes which are spatially correct i.e. if the drums are placed behind you, their 3D position will remain correct when you move your head rather than moving with your head movements.
The possibility of a low latency, VR type of experience is seductive but people using the system often exploit the wider-than-stereo soundstage to improve intelligibility in monitor mixes. In the same way that using pan position in the stereo field can be used to separate sounds and make them easier to differentiate, with a 360˚ soundstage there is more space in which to present complex, multichannel mixes in a format which is easier to work with.
The effect is natural and surprisingly easy to take for granted. The effect of dropping back to stereo is dramatic, a point not lost on KLANG. Watch the video (with headphones) to see what I mean!