This page has some discussion and links about setting up and
using software and hardware for jamming in real time for old-time musicians
in Denver and adjacent parts of Colorado.
I am experimenting with the (free) Jamulus software, which is available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
It handles audio only, not video.
Here is a
helpful overview of Jamulus.
Here are the basic requirements:
and install it on your computer. (You'll only need to run it in the client mode [which is the default];
I will run a Jamulus server on my computer.)
Microphone: If your instrument is strictly acoustic, you'll need a mic.
If your instrument can output to an amp or preamp (e.g. keyboard or instrument with a pickup),
you can plug its output directly into an audio interface. However, a mic would still be useful
to allow you to talk with others in the jam.
If you do want to plug in both an instrument and a mic, you'll need an audio interface with at
least two input jacks. And if your mic requires "phantom power" (e.g. a condenser type mic)
your audio interface will need to be able to provide phantom power.
Be sure that your audio interface input jack will accommodate the microphone plug--either an
XLR type or 1/4" phone plug.
Mics with USB connectors generally will not work with audio interfaces.
There are thousands of microphones on the market.
Here is a short list. You'll also want a stand to hold the mic.
What is an audio interface?
An audio interface excels at the analog-to-digital (A-to-D) and digital-to-analog (D-to-A)
conversions that Jamulus relies on to convert an audio signal
to a stream of digital data and vice versa.
It also has controls that really facilitate fine-tuning the audio setup.
Most audio interfaces will use a USB cable to connect to the computer.
From personal experience I have found
that the quality of sound generated by my computer
(e.g. for Spotify or YouTube or playing MP3's)
went way up when I started using an audio interface sending its output signal
to a stereo receiver and good speakers,
compared to external computer speakers connected to the computer's output jack.
There are many options--here are a few of them:
Headphones: Needed to monitor audio sent from the Jamulus server.
Needed because there will be a slight (hopefully very small) delay relative to
what your ears hear directly from your instrument.
If the delay (latency, in computer lingo) is not too long,
users say your brain should be able to adjust.
The kind that seals around the ears ("over-ear" headphones) are preferred because they cut
down on the sound coming directly from your instrument,
and you can focus on how your instrument sounds in the jam context.
Ethernet connection: Use an ethernet cable (not Wi-Fi, which is too slow)
to connect your computer to a router.
- Hardware setup:
Connect your audio interface to your computer using a USB cable.
Connect a microphone or your instrument to an input jack on the audio interface.
Plug in your headphones to the appropriate jack on the audio interface.
Start up Jamulus.
Populate your profile so that others on the jam can see who you are.
To do this, click View > My Profile and fill in your name. You can also
select your instrument and indicate where you are located,
then you can close the Musician Profile window.
Bring up the Settings window (View > Settings) and select your audio interface
driver in the Device dropdown selector.
I have a PreSonus Studio 24c, so I select "Studio USB ASIO Driver."
Unless you find performance problems, you can leave other settings at their defaults.
Close the Settings window.
- Connect To A Jamulus Server:
To connect to a Jamulus server, click Connect (or View > Connection Setup).
You should see a list of Jamulus servers.
In the "List" dropdown list, select "Genre Classical/Folk/Choral".
If I have my Jamulus server running, you should see it listed as "Old-time jam Denver".
Select this server and click Connect.
At this point you should see a slider and related controls representing you.
As others join the jam, sliders and controls for them will show up.
At this point you should be able to talk to others connected to the jam and start playing.
You can control volumes you hear from others in the jam using the sliders.
More instructions will be added as needed and as we gain experience.
A Possible Hardware Alternative?
You might be able to get away with using a USB mic and the soundcard in your computer
in place of an audio interface, but I have no experience with this kind of setup.
It might be worth a try if you already have a USB mic and
if you are not ready to invest in an audio interface.
Running Jamulus on a Windows computer requires an
driver to reduce latency problems. An audio interface will come with an ASIO driver for Windows.
If you don't go the audio interface route, you may need to install an
ASIO driver yourself if your computer doesn't already have one installed.
If your computer runs Windows, you can download and install
MacOS and Linux may not have the latency problems that Windows has, but be aware that
it might be worthwhile to look into similar drivers if you do run into latency problems
on those operating systems.