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Thread: Playing remotely with friends

  1. #1
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    Default Playing remotely with friends

    Looking for advice having tried zoom, webex and google. Poor instrument sound quality, delay render them useless unless there are settings we havenít found. Aware of jamkazam but felt the cafe is a great place to get advice or be referred to previous threads.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Playing remotely with friends

    I haven’t found the right platform either. Latency is the biggest issue and apparently you need huge amounts of bandwidth to make it work. My duo partner sent me this detailed explanation, but I don’t know the source. (His brother is an audio sound specialist, so it may be his.)

    The biggest technological struggle to overcome during a real-time internet jam session is latency, which is the time delay it takes to move data from one place (or musician) to another. It doesn’t matter how fast your connection is, latency is still going to be an issue — it’s a matter of physics. Any time you send data from one location to another location and then back again, there’s going to be a delay. The best way to decrease the latency impact is to maximize your internet connection.
    To start, you’ll need high-speed fiber broadband, cable broadband, or ultra-high-bandwidth DSL internet service. Low-bandwidth DSL and satellite wireless services will not provide you with the speed or bandwidth you need. And you’ll want to connect directly to your router via Ethernet cable — Wi-Fi won’t cut it because of the way it handles data packets.

    Location, Location, Location

    When you’re collaborating over the Internet, the more distance between the musicians, the greater the latency you’ll have to contend with. Most studies have shown that humans have difficulty hearing any latency below 25 milliseconds, so you’ll want to keep it below that. This means that your band members will need to be relatively close to one another. So how close is close? Well, it takes a packet of data about 39 milliseconds to make a round trip between Chicago and Nashville, 42 milliseconds between Cleveland and Detroit, and 137 milliseconds between New York and Los Angeles — all of which exceed the 25 millisecond threshold. Conversely, there are only 16 milliseconds separating Fort Wayne and Chicago, so musicians here at Sweetwater could hypothetically jam with buddies in the Windy City.
    To summarize: if you’re in the same zip code, you’re probably fine. Neighboring municipalities will work more often than not. Adjacent states will be okay — sometimes. But rocking out cross-country will likely not work for live musical interaction

  3. #3

    Default Re: Playing remotely with friends

    What you are experiencing unfortunately describes the present status of jamming with others on the internet! Our expectations are significantly higher!
    Internet Jamming simultaneously with others is still distant from the human to human shared session. I recommend that 1 person in the group leads the session. The other players should Mute their microphones and simply play along. You then could rotate leaders and call different tunes and enjoy your cyberspace jam session This approach eliminates inherent delay problems however you will still notice a delay between the audio and the visual nature of the leader! If you focus on the music it shouldnít be a problem. I recommend using headphones or monitors to improve your audio experience rather than listening through your computer and/ or tablet/phone speakers.
    There are actually some great advantages! You could make use of this time to practice your weaknesses and improve your skills without disturbing your fellow players. You could tune your instrument any time...this is SUPER for mandolin players! Practice new chord forms, licks, new solo ideas and have a beer or whatever without disturbing the session players. If you donít like the tune you could practice one you need to work on. I have been finding the experience wonderful. Also you could help support your fellow teachers and musicians by joining their online lessons and online courses or lessons. This to me has been a positive experience during these difficult times. Embracing this technology and working it to itís best is the way to go!
    Hope this helps!
    Happy Easter! The Canadian government has declared the Easter bunny to be COVID free!
    Barry

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  5. #4
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing remotely with friends

    Both the French Canadian jam and Finnish folk sing I've been a part of do what Barry says. The leader mutes everyone else except the person leading the tune. Then the rest of us can get by however we can. It's not the worst thing in the world most of the time. Although a week ago Zoom was having a terrible problem with bandwidth.

    It also depends on when you do these jams. Evening in the US seems to be busy. When my duo partner and I try on Saturday nights, there is a lot of lag, even though we are both hardwired to the net and only about 35 miles from each other. And agree that a dedicated microphone and headphones improve things. Unfortunately, my headphones are stuck at the office, where they will stay for a while.
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    Default Re: Playing remotely with friends

    I haven't done this yet, but a friend and I plan to exchange recordings of duets--I send her my part so she can play along with the recording, and vice versa. It should work, we'll try it next week. That's the best I can offer. Two of my grad students (Boston U, Dr Musical Arts degree) did their dissertations on tech and online music lessons. They both know far more than I and--like everybody says--the latency is unavoidable in real-time. When this is over, I wonder what it will feel like to sit in a jam or orchestra rehearsal, looking around at everybody for the first time in months...
    jim

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing remotely with friends

    There are a few active threads here in the Cafe discussing this, they are great reading... Plus at this time just about any music related forum is also discussing this.

    A few products are out there aside from Skype and Zoom, which were not really designed for concurrent synchronized participants doing music (ie: jamming, band practice, even performances). The biggest issues with even the dedicated music products are related to latency -- if participants are just out of sync as much as 20ms, it's hard to get the notes happening at the same time. Distances are the biggest latency contributors, if you figure about 2.3ms for every 100 miles you'll get a best-case -- ping -- distance related latency number. Keep in mind, at 120bpi a 16th note is by definition 125ms long.

    So for example latency between the OP in R.I. and myself in California would be about 67ms just because of distance. Most home computer systems and their network connections naturally at least add between 40ms and 60ms of latency by themselves. Then every participant's latency is added to the total latency for a session due to signals going back and forth. Then, in a session, the slowest participant's hardware components degrade the session's latency to that level...

    Unless there are a small number of participants in a session, the session is very close together (ideally under 100 miles) and every participant has the fastest available hardware and fastest network connections, there's a strong chance any jamming, practice, performance, or anything that requires close synchronization, will just not work out.

    JamKazam is getting a lot of attention lately if you want to try a free product... It is feature rich and as such, fairly complicated, but in the best situations it can allow for some fun times jamming with remote concurrent synchronized participants. Latency can be a problem... With wired electrical connections, we're talking about the speed of light, not software limitations.
    -- Don

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  10. #7
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    Default Re: Playing remotely with friends

    so what do participants need to effectively use Jamkazam? Some have iPhones, iPads, computers.

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing remotely with friends

    JamKazam works on Windows PCs or Macs. It has not been ported to iDevices or Android.

    JamKazam encourages but does not require special audio interfaces, but you do need some sort of microphone. Webcams are also encouraged but not required. A typical medium-to-high-end laptop which includes a webcam and mics will work. JamKazam also strongly encourages a wired Ethernet connection to a router, but it will work with wireless, and it also encourages use of a high-speed broadband service.
    -- Don

    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."

    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug
    (plus a large assortment of banjos, dobros, guitars, basses and other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [7/29/2019 -- New Arrival!!!]

  12. #9
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    Default Re: Playing remotely with friends

    I have made Jamkazam work well, but we have 36 mb upload speed with 146 down , fibre into the hub.
    Our latency seems no worse than listening across a theatre stage, so practical, if you can get everyone to the same level.But the tests I've done are between other tech heads, but they're not my band mates or orchestra members.
    It's actually other factors that make it not worth using for us at the moment.
    People need an ethernet connection to the hub, no wireless involved and a good audio interface. By the time I get my bandmates sorted on that we'll be a lot older and greyer.

    So I'm just doing the led jam with muting thing described above, getting everyone to record their contributions then picking those up from DropBox & knitting them together later. Given how busy I am at work, & the time pressure I'm under, I'm not sure if it's worth it though, just doing it to maintain the interaction really.
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

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  14. #10
    Fiddler & Mandolin Player Dave Reiner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing remotely with friends

    JamKazam is working for me. I jammed for an hour on fiddle and mandolin with a friend who's a banjo player. The working combination was an Ethernet connection from modem to computer (not wireless), video function turned off, just a few people in the jam, close physical distance (less than 50 miles, in this case), Blue Yeti USB mic with headphones. Latency was around 10ms as measured by the software - probably need to double that for the round trip, so ~20ms. Old program, with missing help files and some complexity to the interface, but with someone to help you through the first time, it makes sense. For example, you can set the levels of each of the incoming streams so you hear the balance you want in your headphones. Happy to try it with you if you're not too far from the Boston area.

    Dave
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    Registered User MikeyG's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing remotely with friends

    So Dave, what audio Interface are you using? and OS? With latency that low, I'll bet you could turn on the video. Try it for a time. If the latency goes up, you can easily turn the video off.

    MikeyG

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    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing remotely with friends

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Reiner View Post
    JamKazam is working for me. ...
    Really good job, congrats...

    If everyone turns on video there will be a hit, especially depending on the number of participants. Might still be livable, but at least on my box, with both audio and video the latency is almost 2x of just audio; video density is adjustable in JK though, so there might be some helpful tweaks that can be made.

    One musical thing that can help is using long sustain whenever possible. It helps hide the notes that don't sync perfectly on both sides, in doing so makes the latency more livable.

    Enjoy, and be safe!
    -- Don

    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."

    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug
    (plus a large assortment of banjos, dobros, guitars, basses and other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [7/29/2019 -- New Arrival!!!]

  18. #13
    Fiddler & Mandolin Player Dave Reiner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing remotely with friends

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeyG View Post
    So Dave, what audio Interface are you using? and OS? With latency that low, I'll bet you could turn on the video. Try it for a time. If the latency goes up, you can easily turn the video off.

    MikeyG
    Hi MikeyG,

    No separate audio interface, just the USB mic into a USB-to-USB-C adapter into a Thunderbolt (USB-C) port. OS is macOS 10.15.4.

    I'll try the video again next time...

    Dave
    '06 Gibson F4, '14 Gibson A4, '26 Gibson F5, '27 Gibson F4, '87 Givens A6, '91 Givens A6, '95 Monteleone Grand Artist

    Author, Anthology of Fiddle Styles; Co-author, Oldtime Fiddling Across America
    Genial host, Fiddle Hell Massachusetts (Next on Nov. 5-8, 2020 in Westford, MA [we have a mandolin track at the event)
    Now hosting traditional music jams online every Wednesday at 5PM ET and Sunday at 8PM ET at www.facebook.com/groups/fiddlehellmassachusetts
    More info at fiddlehell.org

  19. #14
    Fiddler & Mandolin Player Dave Reiner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing remotely with friends

    Quote Originally Posted by dhergert View Post
    Really good job, congrats...

    If everyone turns on video there will be a hit, especially depending on the number of participants. Might still be livable, but at least on my box, with both audio and video the latency is almost 2x of just audio; video density is adjustable in JK though, so there might be some helpful tweaks that can be made.

    One musical thing that can help is using long sustain whenever possible. It helps hide the notes that don't sync perfectly on both sides, in doing so makes the latency more livable.

    Enjoy, and be safe!
    Thanks! Video would be nice, and I'll play around more with the settings. but I'd rather be able to add to the physical distance and the number of jammers participating.

    For sustain, fiddle helps a bit more than mandolin :-).

    Dave
    '06 Gibson F4, '14 Gibson A4, '26 Gibson F5, '27 Gibson F4, '87 Givens A6, '91 Givens A6, '95 Monteleone Grand Artist

    Author, Anthology of Fiddle Styles; Co-author, Oldtime Fiddling Across America
    Genial host, Fiddle Hell Massachusetts (Next on Nov. 5-8, 2020 in Westford, MA [we have a mandolin track at the event)
    Now hosting traditional music jams online every Wednesday at 5PM ET and Sunday at 8PM ET at www.facebook.com/groups/fiddlehellmassachusetts
    More info at fiddlehell.org

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  21. #15

    Default Re: Playing remotely with friends

    I've tried all of the online jam setups and latency is a problem. The jam will drag as everyone begins to adjust to what they perceive as a slowing tempo, due to internet latency.
    I've instead been trading tracks with the acapella app for iOS and collaborating that way. It isn't real time, but it works.

  22. #16
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Playing remotely with friends

    For me this issue is almost a crucial situation. I know it is not but getting everyone 'up to speed' (pardon the pun) is keeping me up late at night learning from youtube videos from sound recording engineers who kindly explain the facts. My wife teaches, or used to teach, string orchestra at a well known music school. Suddenly she and a number of other instructors are having to scramble to learn how to do Zoom and JamKazam. Well I can tell you that many of the instructors know nothing about computers and only a few have used microphones. I'm telling them to talk 'one at a time' and to record 'play along tracks', (which keep me fairly busy at the computer). So the idea of playing together is really gone for now. Teaching groups now is more like a 'master class' situation, and really the topic is 'how do you use this software?'.
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