There are a number of different Low Latency audio platforms that gamba players are using to make music together when they can’t go to other people’s houses. The three most popular are called Soundjack, Jamulus and JamKazam.
The basic premise of all of these platforms is the same. By taking out the processing that removes background noises and prevents people from talking over each other which most video chat platforms use and optimizing algorithms for speed, it is possible to reduce the processing time to near imperceptible levels. If you are not too geographically separated, it is possible to achieve latency equivalent to sitting on opposite sides of a large room.
A silver lining of the COVID pandemic is that it has given us an opportunity to learn how to use new technologies that break down the barriers of distance in music making. Even once we can meet again in people’s houses we will be able to use this technology to play with people who live farther away and with whom we might not get to play as often.
All three have the same basic requirements in order of importance:
- A broadband internet connection that you can connect to with a wire directly from your router or modem NOT a wireless network.
- Wired headphones, preferably open-backed.
- External microphone (optimal is an XLR condenser mic with a USB interface, but a USB mic is also fine). That said, if you’re on a Mac, the built-in sound card is adequate although performance will be improved with an external audio device. Windows PCs require an external audio device although the free emulator ASIO4ALL will do in a pinch.
The three platforms have their strengths and weaknesses which we’ll list with bullet points.
- This free app gives the most reliable and fastest performance for small groups over moderate (within 400 miles give or take) distances.
- It is tricky to set up and it’s user interface has a lot going on but you also have a lot of control.
- Has native video but it complicates the setup.
- Luckily there is lots of documentation: Ian Howell and his colleagues in the NEC voice department have produced a series of very informative documents about the platform.
- In addition, three of our members have written a helpful article about their experience. You can read it HERE.
- Easy to set up and use, with good performance. Has more flexibility for distance and number of people on the connection.
- After a free trial month, costs money ($10/ month is the level most users would choose)
Has a reputation for randomly disconnecting and reconnecting users – doesn’t happen often
Includes integrated low latency video
- This platform is also free and easy to set up. Like JamKazam it is quite flexible about the number of players and distances. It’s performance is not always as good as the other two platforms.
- No video capability.
- There is a big community of users since it’s free and easy so if you have any issues there’s help.
The VdGS-NE can help you get in touch with other people in the area who are on these platforms and can help you get started. Send us a note with our contact form.