back to article Turn your mobile phones in to a live gig speaker

Do you experience muffled audio at festivals because you're surrounded by taller people or the speakers are too far away? There's an app for that. Jakob Eg Larsen and a team from the Technical University of Denmark have created a tool that allows sound from live shows to be transmitted into the mobile handsets of those …


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  1. ShaggyDoggy

    Silly stupid dumb

    Have they got totally NOTHING better to do ????

    I mean FFS

    1. LuMan

      Woah! Step back, dude!

      Blimey, you hate the idea THAT much. Well, each to their own, I suppose.

      How about this; my pal suffers from tinnitus but loves concerts. Getting the right balance between ear protection and listen-ability* at a concert is a nightmare for him (I suppose other folk with hearing problems can relate to this). If he can plug in his (somewhat expensive) headphones and hear a clearer sound while protecting his ears from the ambient noise I reckon he'll be chuffed as a chav in a Burberry shop!

      Who knows, perhaps such things could be used to provide real-time translations at multi-national events or suchlike.

      *yep, made up word, but you know what I mean.

  2. whitespacephil


    Perfect - an easy way to record concerts direct from the mixing desk.

    FM quality will do very nicely, thanks!

    1. DPWDC


      Just the high frequencies?

  3. Tom Chiverton 1


    "each given a Nokia N900 smartphone to receive the signal. It went down a storm"

    Shame Nokia have sh*t all over the N900 platform, hardware and software, as well as the whole ecosystem around it then, really.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Lets not forget pittiful battery life.

      My friends is less than a day (he has two batteries, so it's not a capacity issue), in fairness he does spend a lot of the time browsing with it though.

      1. Tom Chiverton 1


        Fortunately the N900 community is stepping up: Have him install the Community SSU update and enjoy improved battery life :

  4. Teoh Han Hui


    Why GPS? Can't they be synchronized using the delay of receiving the sound waves through the microphone?

    1. Greg J Preece


      See title

  5. Jamie Kitson

    Always Thought

    I always thought if you got a group of people with decent in-car sound systems and a radio transmitter you could have a great party.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    At last apps are growing up and being generally useful

  7. pisquee

    Stop, don't do it. Please NO!

    I am a sound engineer, and after spending time laser measuring a room, to work out the best set up for the speakers, and then acoustically measuring the room to get the best performance from them, the last thing I want is a load of crap tinny phone speakers pointing in random directions at varying volumes over which I have no control.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Isn't this whole thing pretty much a workaround for a crap setup though?

      A decent set-up with a good sound engineer wouldn't have this problem in the first place. Any decent festival i've been to has the top-end drivers mounted high in an arc so it covers the whole crowd.

      Being the sound engineer, you'd presumably have some say as to whether you have the transmitter connected to the desk in the first place.

    2. There's a bee in my bot net

      Its not in a room - its outside...

      Having been to many festivals of varying sizes and varying weather and also suffering from tinnitus (probably as a result of too many festivals :-) I think this is a great idea in principle. If it is well synchronised then it could combat wind which can cause sound levels to vary greatly at outdoor events. Or you could just pop in an ear plug so you can set the volume to suit and still have conversations with your fellow festival goes, or put in both ear plugs when you don't want to listen to rowdy revellers...

      Remains to be see in practice though...

  8. Anonymous Coward


    Can't hear the music? Stand closer. Or get your ears checked out.

    Now I have to look forward to a dystopia where I can't even go to a gig to get away from the sound of people's shit quality mobile phone speakers. Thanks!

    Concert grade audio gear might not be perfect but it's one metric fuckton better than anything in your mobile phone. And that's not to do with technology, those are just the laws of physics. Mobile phones will always sound like shit. So turn them off and let people who actually care about audio enjoy it for a change.

    1. mfraz


      Surely you won't hear lots of speakers because they'll be listening on head/ear phones. This because - at least with all mobile phones I've used - the headphone lead acts as an aerial and won't even let you use the radio app without them plugged in.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    How about this scenario...

    I won't go to Hyde Park any more because i'm one of 100,000 people that pay good money to actually hear the music only to find that every gust of wind causes a massive drop out of the sound.

    I don't doubt that people still enjoy the experience of participating/being there but it would be nice to actually hear whats going on occasionally as well.

    For this reason, direct streaming of the audio via any method to a user device (non specific) to my mind is a good idea.

    Mobile phones do seem the appropriate platform at the moment but its not important to be specific and they should look to make the technology device agnostic.

  10. YumDogfood

    Moshpit or GTFO

    I feel the evil need for a portable FM transmitter and the latest Beiberific or BrokeNCYDE abortion.

  11. IR

    Flaming Lips

    The Flaming Lips were doing radio additions to their concerts back in the 90s, although mostly to add extra sounds. I can see that this would be useful at huge outdoor events where you can't actually get anywhere near the front of the stage.

  12. Owen Carter


    But using GPS for the 'gettign sound in sync' is stupid; too prone to failure/feckup, only useful as a backup for the primary system: Use the Mic on the phone! Latch onto the bassline and any other bits that can be heard, and sync to that. It will be rather more accurate then the GPS, assuming GPS can get a signal at all in the EMF bearpit that is a large modern venue.

  13. Owen Carter


    I hope the music is encrypted.. otherwise what's to stop people tuning in from the wrong side of the fence :-)

    Which, of course, means your phone has to decrypt it, meaning extra CPU power needs to be added, plus the power needed for receiving the signal and time syncing it.

    None of which will help a battery already struggling with driving a speaker.

    - And if it is 'free' then the screen needs to be on to show adverts etc..

  14. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Obvious flaw

    OK, are you are using one FM frequency per phone? I can't see this scaling well.

    I would guess that if you had a number of frequencies corresponding to fixed distances from the stage, you could use a GPS app. in the phone to select the correct frequency based on what your phone thinks is the distance from the stage, but you would then have 'banding' where the person immediately in front of you is apparently in a different band, and gets the music out-of-sync to you. I'd have to do some math to see whether this is likely to be a problem, and also to see how many rings, and thus how many frequencies you would need for say Central Park or one of the big stadiums.

    Another thought. If they told you the distance from the stage, and gave you the correct frequency (maybe on information posts in the venue) why use a smart phone at all. An ordinary FM radio with a digital tuner (or any phone with an FM radio) would suffice. Or maybe repeater speakers as part of the sound rig using a similar system. That way it could be encrypted, and not give the show away at all.

    1. LAGMonkey

      Memory Buffer

      Use one FM freq. then get the device to buffer the content and play it after the correct time delay worked out by the GPS. After all, EM moves faster than sound does.

      This is why the system cant be done with a non-smart FM device and why it wont work at close range to the stage.

      The flaw is using the GPS and its ability to lock onto a good enough signal.

  15. JaitcH

    Could be used in churches, cathedrals, too.

    If there was an option whereby a listener could select an approximate distance in metres, by checking a box, this could be used for interior venues such as churches, theatres, etc.

  16. Z80

    @Peter Gathercole

    Erm, I assume they transmit on one frequency and the phone adds the delay.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


      Silly me. If I had read the referenced article, it is actually clear that this is what is done (and actually says that simple radios would not work). But unfortunately, the Reg. article was trimmed, and the relevant information was one of the bits that was removed. Just proves that it is important not to take Reg. articles at face value, something I should have learned by now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Z80

        Our article makes clear that the reason the nokia phones that were handed out must be used, is because they have the software which delays the FM sound.

        Our article also makes clear that made that software is required to sync the sound.

        So it seems to me that your sideswipe at us is churlish.

  17. NogginTheNog

    What about

    The 50% of concert-going audiences nowadays who spend much of the event looking at their phones held above them as they record it??!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good Idea to neutralise the worst crowd singers

    Stuck in an 80,000 crowd, for hours before the main event, that then gets spoilt by crowd "singers".

    Clearly never happened to some of the people commenting here.

    The headline act starts and people nearby in the crowd sing every word of every song, loud enough to interfere. with the PA. Completely ruins some gigs, Joining-in for a chorus maybe, but why such people pay good money to sing themselves rather than listen is beyond me. They are completely oblivious to spoiling it for the people nearby.

    This will be a good a solution to being able to hear the performance, with a decent pair of earphones that cut out nearly all the external sound - and are hifi quality.

    Once the GPS position is fixed, it should be possible to use a fixed distance from the stage in the app and switch the GPS off to save battery life. Only turn on again if you move to a different distance from stage. But for the current crop of phones an extra phone battery or a Powermonkey would be recommended.

  19. Annihilator

    Good idea

    To the folks who are worrying about listening to a 100 tinny phones all around you (and I was initially one of them), I think the idea is that the users would be wearing head/earphones.

    Even if you're still concerned, based on most concerts I've been to, no matter how far away you are the tinny speakers wouldn't be audible unless you were a foot away from them. And if they were audible, most concert attendees I've seen around the place would kick seven shades of crap out of anyone who dared try. Or thrown a pint of p1ss over them and their device. Perfect!

  20. Anonymous Coward


    Oh dear. If you don't like the sound at gigs, buy the album and stay at home. Gigs aint about hi-fi, gigs are about the music! :-) I for one welcome this idea as the perfect way to reduce the number of phones at festivals - what better way to advertise you've got a fancy phone worth nicking? Don't these kids read the posters on the underground?!

  21. tobyr
    Thumb Down

    Dig this title

    I find your criticism of people singing along at concerts totally unnecessary, as far as I'm concerned that's one of the best things about concerts. It's all about the shared experience of enjoying the music and there are few pleasures in life as enjoyable as being with close friends singing along with thousands of others to great songs. I suggest you retire to your bedroom alone and enjoy your music with headphones on so that it isn't ruined by people enjoying themselves.

  22. Lamont Cranston

    Better still:

    the band can strut about on stage, pretending to play, and the attendees can listen to their latest album through their phones.

    In fact, why not just skip the whole "going out" part, altogether?

    TONIGHT, live at YOUR HOUSE: a CD you bought, yesterday.

    (please provide your own mud and overpriced beer in a plastic cup)

  23. ShaggyDoggy

    RE: Lamont Cranston

    "the band can strut about on stage, pretending to play"

    Isn't that what they do anyway, with a DAT doing the actual "live" gig

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