Online jamming in real time

moxman

Silver Member
As we may be getting cabin fever soon.. One of my bands tried remote recording using Bandlab.. Pretty cool and it works if you have band members who are tech savy. You have to lay down a solid bed track.. And then everyone listens to it on headphones and records there part and uploads it. The online mixer allows you handle the multi track editing.. Very easy and simple to use.

Now were going to try a real time band practice using another free app called Jamulus. It apparently works as long as everyone uses a digital audio interface or Usb mic plugged into a computer thats wired to the web. Then you play while listening to your bandmates through headphones. Has anyone tried this?
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
I have a lot of experience in streaming and rhythm gaming, so I can tell you that online jamming has one super incredibly massive problem: Lag. Even with fast internet it's not good enough.

If it takes 50 milliseconds for your online bandmate to hear your drum beats, they're already playing behind. And their playing has to return to you, and that's 50 milliseconds late as well. And 50 milliseconds is a best case scenario. Imagine trying to jam with a buddy when each of you sound like you're a 16th note late to the other person. Nothing but frustration.

And that's not even the worst part: the worst part is that the lag time can fluctuate constantly. I experienced this first-hand when I used to stream Rock Band on sites like Ustream and Justin.tv (before it became Twitch). I tried syncing the game with my drum cam and would constantly run into problems with phasing. [This wasn't due to internet lag...it was due to the encoding speeds of two video sources on a subpar computer, but the results were the same.]

The internet is a much more unpredictable place. Gamers experience a constant shift in Ping (lag), and it changes depending on the internet traffic and time of day. If you put together 4 band members on a Zoom-style call, it'll take you 5 seconds to figure out how badly it sucks, lol.

I'm sure it will be possible in the future, but right now I'm extremely skeptical.
 
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moxman

Silver Member
Yes latency is of course the biggest issue.. there are a few apps out there that follow the same approach to get around the latency issue. Some are paid subscription services - but Jamulus is open source.. the apps requires a few things:
- a direct hardwired connection to the internet eg. a computer or laptop with an ethernet connection (no wireless)
- a USB audio interface with low latency
- a common server (within a general distance limit). I think the app determines where the nearest server is.
So the idea is you plug each guitar/bass/keys/vocals/drums into a USB audio interface and connect to the server to minimize latency.. so in theory for the price of the low latency audio interface ( ranging from 50-150$ each) .. you can play and listen all together. The only weird thing is that whatever latency that occuurs is compensated.. so you have to listen to the headphone mix - what you are playing in the room might be slightly behind what you hear in the headphones.. so it's kind of relative.. it works as long as you keep the headphones on.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
Try this one. It’s easy to setup and runs peer to peer, so no server required. It is limited to about a 100 mile radius before latency gets to be a problem.

sonobus.net
 

wraub

Well-known member
I've looked into it, and latency is an issue, especially for peeps who may live in more rural areas.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
I reject the premise of remote jams. They seem hopelessly artificial to me. A vital component of music's magic is the chemical and intellective interplay that occurs when musicians are only feet apart from each other. Kinetic mysteries can't be transmitted online. Perhaps my views are antiquated, but I intend to preserve them.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Now were going to try a real time band practice using another free app called Jamulus. It apparently works as long as everyone uses a digital audio interface or Usb mic plugged into a computer thats wired to the web. Then you play while listening to your bandmates through headphones. Has anyone tried this?

Out of curiosity, I tried JamKazam. There is latency of course, but the real issue is that changing internet speeds and traffic, means that the delay is changing, too. So one second the bass player is a 16th note behind, then an 8th note ahead, then on-center, then behind. It's messy to the point of being non-productive. It's like playing along with the worst backing track you've ever heard.

OTOH, it's nice to just play ideas to each other, and to hang out. It might be good for some aspects of a rehearsal, like gig prep, talking about endings, vocal harmony, etc.
 

Mr Farkle

Well-known member
I reject the premise of remote jams. They seem hopelessly artificial to me. A vital component of music's magic is the chemical and intellective interplay that occurs when musicians are only feet apart from each other. Kinetic mysteries can't be transmitted online. Perhaps my views are antiquated, but I intend to preserve them.

After watching a Jazz Night in America video I tried to get Jacktrip going with a band mate. During the process I kept thinking that I was going to hate it if we eventually got it working, which we didn’t. We ended up collaborating by recording our own parts offline and then sharing them. That is keeping us engaged and it’s more like practice or home recording.

Personally, I have a lot of tech in my life. I want drumming to be my an analog tactile experience with little tech interaction. I don’t even like recording. I want to play and let the sounds be gone. Don’t want to hang onto it too tightly. But I digress. That’s another thread.
 

ZDrumMan

Active member
I have heard that Jacktrip software works very well for online jamming. However, network throughput is always a consideration. The nice thing it is free software.
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
Personally, I have a lot of tech in my life. I want drumming to be my an analog tactile experience with little tech interaction. I don’t even like recording. I want to play and let the sounds be gone. Don’t want to hang onto it too tightly. But I digress. That’s another thread.

I do understand. While I like recording and have done quite a lot of it over the years, I don't want it to become an isolated experience carried out in an airtight chamber at my home. For me, the creative process is socially tactile. There's no substitute for direct interaction with other musicians and sound engineers. I'll never find an alternative means equally satisfying.
 

Mr Farkle

Well-known member
I do understand. While I like recording and have done quite a lot of it over the years, I don't want it to become an isolated experience carried out in an airtight chamber at my home. For me, the creative process is socially tactile. There's no substitute for direct interaction with other musicians and sound engineers. I'll never find an alternative means equally satisfying.

I like the process of recording when it comes to playing with people and working out parts. I also like the performance aspect. I just don’t like being my own recording engineer in the vacuum of my own home. I definitely don’t want to be the one responsible for maintaining a digital catalog of recording artifacts. No, thank you.
 

moxman

Silver Member
Yes Jacktrip was the other one I read about.. but I thought it was a subscription service.
For those that are philosophically opposed to jamming online.. well compared to not jamming at all for 6 months in real time due to Covid.. I'll just say that ya it sucks.. but it's better than doing nothing - and if it works we'll make great progress as a band during the downtime. The key thing apart from solving latency.. is making it really simple and effortless for band members who are not tech savy to just plug and play.
I haven't tried it yet (about to).. but I have heard that the free Jamulus worked with his 4 piece band - according to a friend who is a pro musician.
I'll let you know when I test it out..
 

Mr Farkle

Well-known member
Try this one. It’s easy to setup and runs peer to peer, so no server required. It is limited to about a 100 mile radius before latency gets to be a problem.
sonobus.net

Well, despite my comments above it looks like we’re going to give this one last try. Ugh. Desperate times call for desperate measures, as moxman pointed out. Sonobus setup looks a lot easier than Jacktrip. We’ll see....
 

dboomer

Senior Member
I reject the premise of remote jams. They seem hopelessly artificial to me. A vital component of music's magic is the chemical and intellective interplay that occurs when musicians are only feet apart from each other. Kinetic mysteries can't be transmitted online. Perhaps my views are antiquated, but I intend to preserve them.

NO BAND FOR YOU! ;)
 

dboomer

Senior Member
Well, despite my comments above it looks like we’re going to give this one last try. Ugh. Desperate times call for desperate measures, as moxman pointed out. Sonobus setup looks a lot easier than Jacktrip. We’ll see....

Sonobus is very easy to setup. Latency depends on the speed of your interface, the quality of your internet connection (must be ethernet) and the power of your computer. The more local you are to your bandmates the better with about 100 miles the outside limit.

Jacktrip can be setup on your own computer if you are a master of all things IT. For anyone else it is impossible.

I am also using Jacktrip Virtual Studio which is a plug and play RaspberryPi box with a very low latency soundcard builtin. You connect via their servers which have a small subscription charge. The boxes cost $165

The Sonobus people are looking to move into the RPi solution as well so the little box is cheaper than an interface and about 5 times faster than things in the kilobuck range.

jacktrip.org
 

C.M. Jones

Well-known member
NO BAND FOR YOU! ;)

Ha! Fortunately for me, I've never been in a band that's made a remote-jam request. Things are on hold right now, and I'm okay with that. Honestly, I'd rather suspend activity than take extraordinary measures to sustain it.

"Jacktrip can be setup on your own computer if you are a master of all things IT."

I'm a master of nothing IT. Turning on a laptop and typing represents the extent of my computer skills. If something goes wrong, I'm finished. I'm not a sound engineer either. All of my recording has occurred either at professional studios or at bandmates' studios. A lockdown in the cyber age places me at a disadvantage -- or does it? It could be a blessing by some measures. The downtime has been valuable.
 

Mr Farkle

Well-known member
Sonobus is very easy to setup. Latency depends on the speed of your interface, the quality of your internet connection (must be ethernet) and the power of your computer. The more local you are to your bandmates the better with about 100 miles the outside limit.

Jacktrip can be setup on your own computer if you are a master of all things IT. For anyone else it is impossible.

I am also using Jacktrip Virtual Studio which is a plug and play RaspberryPi box with a very low latency soundcard builtin. You connect via their servers which have a small subscription charge. The boxes cost $165

The Sonobus people are looking to move into the RPi solution as well so the little box is cheaper than an interface and about 5 times faster than things in the kilobuck range.

jacktrip.org

Clearly you’re more advanced at this than I will ever be! Thanks for the additional info.
 
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