Meeting Topic: Online Music Jamming
Moderator Name: Paolo Menolotto
Speaker Name: Fabio Marraccini
Meeting Location: Zoom Virtual Meeting
On Monday November 9th, the Melbourne Section of the AES held a Zoom call for our regular bi-monthly meeting, with a strong attendance of more than twenty members and visitors.
Vice-Chair Paolo Menolotto introduced Fabio Marraccini to talk on the topic of online music jamming and rehearsals.
Fabio started his presentation with an explanation of the difference between online jams - where playing together using low latency connections is emphasised for spontaneity - and remote collaboration - where the recording quality and synchronization are paramount, so it's often individuals playing alone to a reference or click-track.
He then did a quick run-through of the software available for online jamming, including Jamulus, JamKazam, JackTrip and SoundJack. He commented that he had tried and discarded JamKazam because it had a client-server model with servers based in the US with unacceptably high latency for Australian users. He indicated that the open source Jamulus allows users to create their own servers, eliminating this problem. He said that he has been now mostly working with Jamulus, but plans to dig more deeply into JackTrip and SoundJack in the future.
He then discussed the bandwidth needs (approx. 200kbps per player), network latency (30~50 ms) and tools to ascertain network ping times, latency and bandwidth, like speedtest.net and WonderNetworks online ping tables utility.
To ensure minimum latency, Fabio suggested that a professional audio interface was preferred over the computer's integrated audio - however the major contributor to latency would always be the network links between the participants.
Fabio did suggest that it is possible for musicians to adapt to latency in the sub-50ms range, citing the example of an orchestra where players could be 17 metres apart and would experience 50ms latency, and still be able to play in time.
He also warned that WiFi connections are normally unsuitable for this type of application due to the extra latency that they add.
Wired Ethernet is the ideal, but he also related that he had achieved excellent results with a pair of Power Line Ethernet adaptors.
Fabio then went on to cover some interesting use cases like using a utility like Loopback (Mac) or Reaper ReaRoute (Win) to insert processing into the Jamulus session - for example from an application like Amplitube or from your DAW.
He then briefly covered routing out of Jamulus to enable recording or livestreaming — using something like Zoom for video and Jamulus for audio, both routed to a program like OBS to generate the feed.
Fabio concluded his presentation with some thoughts on the future, suggesting ways online jamming may evolve, leveraging new communication technologies like 5G and the potential evolution of other architectures and network provider partnerships. Will businesses evolve to provide services like virtual rooms, configured servers etc.?
He also drew the audience's attention to a new Swedish startup called Aloha, who are promising zero latency(?) connections via 5G using dedicated hardware.
A more expansive report, including links to the resources referenced and a video of the meeting is available on our Section website at https://www.aesmelbourne.org.au/meeting-report-nov-2020/
Written By: P Smerdon