Could Aloha be the low-latency app that finally makes virtual band rehearsals a reality?

One of musicians’ biggest frustrations during lockdown has been an inability to play together. Obviously, getting together in person has been off the agenda, and being able to play in time with others via the internet has proven to be very difficult.

Stepping into the breach is Elk - developer of the Elk Audio Operating System - which has just announced its Aloha service. Promising to put the “together” back into music, this allows you to create a virtual shared studio, rehearsal room, stage or classroom, enabling musicians both to stream performances over social platforms and to play together in real-time.

Aloha works over both high-speed internet and 5G networks, and promises ultra-low latency. This means that, unlike on standard video conferencing platforms, musicians should be able to play in time with each other.

“The seismic shift to video conference services has served to keep friends, family and colleagues around the world connected and collaborating. However, these platforms were not designed for the music industry, and more specifically, musicians, producers and teachers who, at the very basic level, want to create and play music together,” says Michele Benincaso, Founder and CEO, Elk Audio.

Elk Aloha

(Image credit: Elk)

“With Aloha, we aim to connect every musician and musical instrument by digitizing the live interaction… in sync from any location. It's the remote creation and performance experience musicians have been waiting for.”

“As someone who is involved in many projects with various bands, Aloha allows me to continue to collaborate with other musicians from the safety of my home, from rehearsing songs to grooving and improvising,” says Robert Mehmet Ikiz, independent drummer and Yamaha Artist.

“Most recently, I played a set in real time sponsored by Yamaha with a fellow musician, Nils Landgren, while we were 670 kilometers (450 miles) apart, using Aloha. Not only were we able to play music in real time, but we saved on travel and studio costs - this would be impossible without Aloha.”

Aloha combines a compact interface and an app, and can run on smartphones, tablets and computers. It offers individual monitoring controls, effects and recording tools, along with video chat and the aforementioned streaming options.

Elk says that it plans to launch a limited Aloha open beta program in the fourth quarter of 2020. You can find out more and sign up for access on the Aloha website.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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