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Thread: Help with video conferencing

  1. #1

    Default Help with video conferencing

    This week me and two others set up a Zoom meeting we thought would lead to a virtual open mic night. On our final beta test we found a serious problem, since researched and we found out what works great foe talking is pretty horrible for music. The app has a built in very radical compression. Quick attack and a slow release renders playing and singing pretty much unlistenable. Then we were told and researched serious vulnerabilities to hacking. So we are looking for a new tested platform.

    We will need to have eight or ten on a video conference. We will not have two people try to play and sing together. One at a time controled by the host. Any ideas?
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  2. #2
    Peace. Love. Mandolin. Gelsenbury's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    This may sound obvious, but what about Skype? People teach music on it, so the sound should be bearable. And video conferencing is possible on Skype now, although I don't know the practicable participant numbers.

  3. #3
    Hands of Pot Metal
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    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    ........We will need to have eight or ten on a video conference. We will not have two people try to play and sing together. One at a time controled by the host. Any ideas?
    And I'm guessing you want it for free, right?

    As you've heard with Zoom, which was harvesting your data, 'if you're not paying for the product, you are the product'.

    I wish you well in your search, but I think you get what you pay for.
    Play it like you mean it

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  4. #4
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    This has been discussed recently in light of current events (and several times in the past), I don’t think live jamming via the web is technically possible right now. if that’s what you’re aiming for.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    If it were the host paying for a platform everyone could use, that would be fine, but I cant see a dozen people doing that. We bought the venue we use $1500 worth of QSC speakers, a mixer, new mic stands, etc. Paying for value is not a problem.
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  6. #6
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    Ah never mind, you wrote “one at a time”. Best of luck.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
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    Peace. Love. Mandolin. Gelsenbury's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    Bill, you neither checked whether only free software was meant, nor did you make any concrete suggestion about which commercial products would suit the requirements.

    As a happy user of Audacity, LibreOffice, Firefox, etc. I'd also question the assumption that only commercial software could possibly work. But I'm sure the original poster will be happy to consider the suggestion of a commercial package if you have one.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    I have heard the best audio quality is through Youtube, and second - Facebook Live. Apparently Zoom does not have its act together on audio - I am trying things to make it a little better - but it is difficult.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    Any suggestions welcome. Three of us are going to test multiple platforms tomorrow. We are forecasting a two month run. We have a Facebook group page where folks can post videos, but we were hoping more for social interaction of some kind, an event you could look forward to every week, and still accommodate the casual once every so often participant, and perhaps build more participation, though that brings its own challenges. This open mic has gone on for 18 years. We feel for the restaurant owner who just opened a hotel next door last year, and the wait staff and bartenders, all out of work.
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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    Good luck on simultaneous playing over any medium. There will be a time latency lag that will be very noticeable especially if you are not in adjacent rooms. You will be better served with file sharing to create a multitrack musical event.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    I have also experienced very slow internet today. I understand that everyone using multimedia on the internet is taking its toll on the system. At least that is the story where I live. Is this happening elsewhere?

  12. #12
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    Quote Originally Posted by ABmando View Post
    I have also experienced very slow internet today. I understand that everyone using multimedia on the internet is taking its toll on the system. At least that is the story where I live. Is this happening elsewhere?
    Yes.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN
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    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
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  13. #13
    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    I and a bandmate started messing with a platform that called JamKazam that allows for low latency simultaneous jamming over the internet. It won't work over wifi, only wired ethernet, and requires a low latency recording interface on your computer. It was kinda fussy, but worked. People can listen without the fancy gear, but to play requires the gear. If you aren't already familiar with recording digital audio to your computer, or have a friend who does, this is gonna be a long road.

    I don't know how far away you can run this, the latency increases with distance and number of internet nodes. We were 20 miles apart with only middlin quality audio gear and it just worked. Newer recording gear (with lower latency) would probably help. But, it was fun.

    NFI by the way, and just google JamKazam to find it.
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    Registered User Eric F.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    Quote Originally Posted by ABmando View Post
    I have also experienced very slow internet today. I understand that everyone using multimedia on the internet is taking its toll on the system. At least that is the story where I live. Is this happening elsewhere?
    Yup.

  15. #15
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    Latency is the problem, as others have mentioned. You can't play in sync with others if the latency is too bad, and that's inevitable with the way packets move across the Internet. Your best bet is finding a solution that works with others in geographic proximity.

    This has been discussed and experimented with recently over on thesession.org web site (Irish trad focused, but the info is still relevant).

    Virtual sessions: https://thesession.org/discussions/44712

    Jamkazam discussion: https://thesession.org/discussions/44713

  16. #16
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    Br1ck, for the single-player participant at-a-time project, if it were me I'd use Skype. It is probably the easiest and least invasive solution.

    As you're aware, there are thousands of musicians who are looking for a way to practice with their bands while time allows, and for the most part latency is the big issue.

    Zoom is being used a lot lately, and works great for one-at-a-time participants unless the free version is being used, which harvests as much personal information from your system as is available. Personally I wouldn't install it on a personal computer. Install it on a phone or pad, maybe, depending on what personal information is on that device. Supposedly the paid version is more mannerly.

    I've been involved in the TalkBass forum's Double Bass section testing of JamKazam and it's working out pretty well, even for limited synchronized jamming utilizing fast systems and short distances, but for anything over a few hundred miles, or if any participants are using slow systems/connections, or if there are lots of participants, latency becomes a huge problem. That said, for one-at-a-time non-synchronized participants like for your project, JamKazam is pretty good, and it is free, and it is Open Source -- except that it is pretty complicated and there is not a lot of user help.

    To help put latency into realistic thought for myself, I did a little research...

    Generally if you say BBBB as fast as you can (which may take a little practice), one of those B's is roughly 1/4 second or 250ms, keeping in mind that 1ms is 1/1000 of a second.

    At 120bpm, by definition the length of a 16th note is 125ms, an 1/8th note 250ms, a 1/4 note 500ms, a 1/2 note 1 second, a whole note 2 seconds.

    A clean ping on a super efficient network line in today's technology from Los Angeles to Miami takes about 63ms. To London takes about 136ms. From NYC to Perth Australia (a close global antipode) is roughly 247ms. This works out to an average of a little more than 2ms per hundred miles.

    With the home-computer and sound/video and ISP related network technologies we're using, it isn't at all unusual to double or possibly even triple the time of a clean ping, from an instrument on one side, to an ear on the other side. The total latency for synchronized music is cumulative for each participant involved.

    Cellphone technology isn't much different, the main difference is that our minds are used to compensating for latency with person-to-person conversations, but we still do have conversational collisions. Generally if latency gets to or above 20ms, interactive music is too discretely detailed to synchronize.

    It's worth mentioning that latency does occur on stage. The speed of sound is the limit there, even if a person is using remote IEMs (which incorporate radio waves). Especially if people aren't watching each other carefully, large bands and/or large stages can have latency problems.

    More on this... How Much Latency Can Live Musicians Tolerate?
    Last edited by dhergert; Apr-04-2020 at 1:39am.
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  17. #17
    Registered User seankeegan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    Hey Br1ck, I'm not sure if this is of any interest or at all relevant, but you could take a look at this functionality of REAPER:



    I believe they just updated the plugin, probably because many people are in the same boat as yourselves, wanting to practise with their buddies/band mates.

    As I said, I've not used this aspect of reaper at all so not sure how well it works or if it would be of any use to you.

    Reaper are offering a free, temporary license until July due to social distancing. It's been a life saver for us at work. I teach audio and music production at a small Irish University, and like everyone else we've had to move over to online teaching. We mainly use Pro Tools at work but many students don't have PT at home, either due to the cost or the fact that their hardware won't run it. At least with Reaper they've been able to get something up and running and continue on work on their projects to some extent. I've spent the last three weeks redrafting assessment outlines, uploading video tutorials and converting student's PT sessions to Reaper. At least it's kept me busy!

    I'm not sure if Reaper will work for you, there's a fairly steep learning curve to it, even if you're used to other DAW software, but thought I'd point it out in case it is useful. I do like the fact you can record everything directly to your hardrive to remix later.

    I've been using reaper for over a decade; if you do want to try it and are having any technical issues, please feel free to drop me a DM.

  18. #18
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    if one at a time playing is ok, this cascading WhatsApp procedure can be done without technical recording experience, but you have to make do with second-best sound quality, i.e. the price of your instrument becomes unimportant.
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  19. #19

    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    To be clear, we are not wanting to play together, only to perform for each other. We took yesterday off to regroup. Zoom works great for spoken word but its horrible for playing anything. Very high level of compression that goes on and off even with the pay version.

    Today well test alternate platforms.
    Silverangel A
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  20. #20
    Hands of Pot Metal
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    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    Quote Originally Posted by Gelsenbury View Post
    Bill, you neither checked whether only free software was meant, nor did you make any concrete suggestion about which commercial products would suit the requirements.

    As a happy user of Audacity, LibreOffice, Firefox, etc. I'd also question the assumption that only commercial software could possibly work. But I'm sure the original poster will be happy to consider the suggestion of a commercial package if you have one.
    While my opening line was a bit sarcastic, in that I thought the OP was requesting an undiscovered killer app that would solve the inconvenient problem of social distancing, and be available for free. I do not know of any package, free or $, that will work for real time online jamming. Apparently no one else does as well. There have been discussions on this site and others, all mentioning the problem of latency. That's just the physics of the situation. As you can see in my post, I wished him good luck in his search. If there was such a product, it would be burning down forums like this with enthusiastic users.

    As far as free software goes, that's not a discussion for this site. I will say I have used many of those products over the past 25 years.

    But broadly in commerce, things of value have prices. One hopes everyone supports free software by complementing the creators and maintainers with $, not best wishes.
    Play it like you mean it

    Not all the clams are at the beach

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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    I haven't used it myself but have heard some recent things using Acapella. Was impressed.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Help with video conferencing

    I've been on a few singing sessions, where only one person (or one connection) performs at a time. So far I've used Zoom with 28(!) participants and Zoom with 5 participants and Facebook messenger with 4 participants. Zoom was the worst for audio quality, but with a lot of participants, in Zoom the host can mute everyone except the performer, so it has value there. For solo voice Zoom is sorta okay, but for mandolin and voice, or guitar and voice, it's pretty bad. Facebook messenger is better (for mando/guitar + voice) in my experience. I'm hopeful that from all the options, one will emerge as the best way to have a musical get-together where each connection takes it in turn to perform for the others.

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