We’ve all been there. Our favorite bands come to town and we can’t see them for one reason or another, the date didn’t work with our schedules or the venue was sold out. Those days may be over, thanks to virtual reality concerts. Facebook has announced plans to launch a Venues app which will use the company’s Oculus VR headset to allow music fans to watch virtual concerts from anywhere. The Venues app will be used to deliver a variety of live events, including concerts, sports events, movie premieres and TV shows. Oculus users will experience the events as an immersive event that includes behind-the-scenes and front-row views with a 360-degree vantage point.
Facebook’s Venues app isn’t due out until next year, but other tech for music fans is available already. Here are four of today’s top tech tools for music lovers.
Today’s music fan is typically on the go listening on their mobile phone, but mobile phones don’t have the same speaker quality as full-sized speakers. If you want to enjoy the full speaker experience on your smartphone, a great solution is a speaker dock, which can be plugged into your phone for an enhanced sound experience. Speaker docks range in price from budget docks such as the $240 Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Mini to premium products such as the $2,460 Jarre Technologies AeroBull.
Every music fan needs a pair of quality headphones. Today’s headphones come in four major varieties: in-ear monitors (IEMs), earbuds, over-ear and on-ear. In-ear monitors fit inside your ear canal, which creates a seal around the ear canal that blocks out external noise, known as passive noise isolation. Earbuds sit on the edge of your outer ear, which produces less fidelity than IEMs but also costs less, and works well with mobile devices.
Over-ear headphones are full-size around-ear headphones with cushioned aircups that cover the ear, which provides the best sound quality by isolating the ear from outside sound. On-ear headphones have a similar design to over-ear headphones, but use cushions that sit on the outer ear instead of isolating the inner ear. This isolates less sound than over-ear headphones and produces less bass quality, but it can be lighter and more comfortable, as well as providing a more natural sound and allowing you to hear things around you if you need to.
The best headphones have noise-cancelling features that sense ambient sound and create interference sound waves to cancel it out with, a method known as active noise cancellation. Leading brands such as Beats by Dre offer headphone options in all of these varieties.
If you want to enjoy virtual concerts like Facebook’s upcoming Venues, you’ll need a virtual reality headset. VR headsets come in two main varieties: mobile and tethered. Mobile headsets are frames with lenses where you can insert your smartphone, which doesn’t require any wires. Tethered headsets use wires to connect to a PC. Tethered headsets produce better quality, but are more restrictive due to the need for a wire, and are also more expensive. Mobile headsets have lower quality but are also cheaper. Facebook will soon be introducing several new version of the Oculus, including the Oculus Go, announced concurrently with the Venues app and designed to support virtual concert viewing.
Music Performance Apps
For fans who like to make music as well as hear it, virtual reality is also opening up some new doors. The Jam Studio VR interactive music app allows users to create music anywhere with a virtual reality headset, even without any previous musical knowledge.
Designed to work with the HTC Vive headset, Jam Studio VR uses Vive’s bundled wand controllers to allow users to play virtual instruments. The wands give you the feeling of actually interacting with a guitar, keyboard or other instrument. You can also choose from different background tracks, interactive songs and virtual studio environments.