United Kingdom (March 24, 2022)—Since the dawn of the internet, musicians have longed to be able to play together remotely without latency issues, and while there’s been some headway in that regard with some consumer services, long-distance remote performances have largely remained the stuff of expensive experimentation. It is starting to happen more frequently, however, the latest being the climax of the UK’s 5G Festival project, with more than 20 musicians playing together at three different locations—Metropolis Studios, the O2 Blueroom at The O2 and Brighton Dome.
It was the result of a two-year R&D project that involved organizations such as DiGiCo, d&b audiotechnik and Soundscape, Audiotonix, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival, LiveFrom, Mativision, Metropolis Studios, Sonosphere, Virgin Media O2, Warner Music Group and Digital Catapult. The project’s aim is to explore the potential of 5G for the live music industry and provide a blueprint for how technology could play a key role in the future of the sector, as part of a wider £200m DCMS (UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) 5G Testbeds & Trials Program.
Headliners included double-platinum album selling singer-songwriter Newton Faulkner and Brighton-based alt-folk band Memorial, both playing in Brighton Dome’s iconic Concert Hall to an in-person audience. Rising stars Lola Young and Natalie Lindi performed live in the O2 Blue Room at The O2. They were joined by backing vocals, drums and keyboard from Brighton Dome, and guitar and percussion live from Metropolis Studios in West London. London-based rock duo Pearl Harts did a stand-alone performance at Metropolis Studios, which was live streamed to the other venues as part of the hybrid festival experience.
The unique concert showcased the technical achievements made during the project and demonstrated the role advanced digital technologies will play in the festival of the future—in particular, solving the issue of latency (delay) between artists collaborating remotely with each other from different locations; a feat currently not possible over an ordinary network.
DiGiCo Quantum 338s, with the new dedicated Soundscape User Interface fully integrated into the surface, took up the FOH mix positions at Brighton Dome and The Blueroom at The O2, to deliver immersive audio via d&b Soundscape systems to the venues, with a further Quantum 338 in the 3D studio at Metropolis providing the broadcast mix for all three venues.
“Utilizing object-based mixing with a d&b Soundscape system was important to make the 5G Festival Showcase a feast for the senses. The possibility to create accurate positioning of the various musical sources to create a singular, realistic sound image with remote artists, really impressed people,” said Jack Page of d&b education application support.