Real-time virtual ensembles?


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Because of covid19, we've been playing outside with social distancing. But we're in Maine & it's getting too cold, so I'm starting to look into getting together virtually. Seems the big problem is network latency. So far I've found an app called "jacktrip" that's supposed to address that. Has anyone here used it? Are there other ways to do this?

 

Many thanks & keep on keeping on...

 

Al

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I don't know this app but I do know something about another app called Jamkazam.  The most important thing in minimizing latency is to have as much as possible with hard wired connections.  Have your computer directly connected to your modem/router via ethernet cable, no wifi or blue tooth.  Same for microphone and headphones; bluetooth headphones introduce latency.  You need a good microphone to eliminate background noise or feedback.  Your headphones should be either earbuds or over the ear phones, that don't allow much sound to get out and reach the microphone.  You might need a sound module to connect the microphone to the computer by hardwire.  That's about all I know, not from my personal experience but from people who do have experience.  Here are a couple of Youtube videos about using Jamkazam:

 

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Gowan, many thanks for posting about JamKazam. Neither that nor JackTrip looks very encouraging, as regards software/hardware/connectivity requirements. I suspect we're going to have to do Plan B: stay outside, build a fire, get a 1.75 liter bottle of Allen's Coffee Brandy, and dust off some Quebecois & Metis tunes. Actually that doesn't sound so bad, except for the Allen's Coffee Brandy part (it's truly vile, but for whatever reason is an essential part of outdoor winter culture in Maine).

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Yes the latency or the delay will make it impossible with using video or even just audio feeds, I think.

Handbell groups considered this all back in March and the only workable solution they came up with was a synthesises system where each performer used a controller which sent on/off signals over the connection, which were used to control virtual instruments on everyone's screen:
https://handbellstadium.org/introduction.html

I guess you could do the same thing with fiddle bow and fingerings... a motion sensor on the bow and a capacitance touchscreen for the fingerboard... might be better giving up right there and planning for the fire...

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Not just hardwired networking but also a local server helps i.e. in the same location you are in.  You'd have to open up the port the server runs on in your router / firewall config and allow incoming connections to the server (for security, normally your home wifi router doesn't allow incoming connections at all).  When I looked at this several months ago there were no commercial supported solutions, just open source, that took some fiddling to configure and make work.  Jamulus is another application I've seen, with instructions for hosting a private server in AWS.

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I am told that the latency  problem will depend on not only ethernet connection, as mentioned above, but also on distance between players, as well as on each individual player's internet speed.  I live in an apartment where several apartments share a hookup, dropping my internet speed to 1/4 the advertised mbs (even though the building is on fiber, across the street from the  AT&T station!), so I am doomed.  My teacher has had success with Jamkazam. 

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Many thanks for the replies!

I'm going to try some stuff. So far I've got jacktrip installed on my windows laptop; will install on my linux laptop & see what happens when I try to create a peer-to-peer connection. This won't tell me very much re the latency problem, but if results are good I'll  try to get a friend who lives 20 miles away to install the app & we'll see what happens. Then -- given what people have suggested -- I guess I'll repeat all that with the Jamkazam app. ( I'm starting with jacktrip  because of some articles that showed up on NPR).

This probably won't work but I will report what happens in a week or so. 

 

 

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I'm giving up on the virtual ensemble idea & returning to the build-a-fire-and-drink-Allen's-coffee-brandy plan. According to this excellent article:

https://www.musiciansunion.org.uk/Home/News/2020/Jun/Music-Making-Online-in-Real-Time?feed=083fc76c-b5fb-45aa-9194-f1a9b1b14c33

you need an internet upload speed of 5Mbps or more to make this stuff work. Mine is around 0.75Mbps.  If you want to check your connection, type "internet speed test" in a Google search box and hit enter. 

Sigh.

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