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    any musician types on dvxuser who have found a way to make Zoom sound better?
    #1
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    I am working with a small organization that has no budget.

    They are relying on Zoom to "broadcast" some upcoming events.

    At these events, there will be singers and musicians.

    It is still unclear if these folks will be in one place, the same place, or if they will be scattered in their own apartments.

    I have read how Zoom is very limited for musician to play together (sound quality and audio delays being common concerns).

    Aside from tweaking the Zoom audio settings, has anyone made Zoom work for musicians so they can play together?

    I hope the above is not too vague or obtuse.

    I am hoping to have them keep their Zoom platform (is there something better for audio?) but find ways to better the audio.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks in advance.

    Stay well.

    Rob
    Smalltalk Productions/NYC
    the story is never black & white
    it takes Smalltalk to reveal the color

    smalltalk.productions


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    #2
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    Done a couple of these, and here's what I've been learning so far:

    I assume the musicians will be in different places, hence the desire to use Zoom. If they're all in the same place I would recommend a different streaming service (YouTube, Twitch) with higher bitrates and archival features, unless having live audience participation via actual human faces vs. chat is really important.

    For maximum performance quality, there are two main areas to pay attention to:

    1. Zoom Settings: In Audio: Make sure the proper input microphone and speaker is selected (see more on this below), Disable "automatically adjust microphone volume" and then in "Advanced" check the "Show in-meeting option to "Enable Original Sound" from microphone, and set Suppress Persistent Background Noise to Disable and Suppress Intermitten Background Noise to Disable, Echo Cancellation to Auto. (The Enable Original Sound option should kill all these things but in case a performer forgets to do it.)

    For Video, I would consider running some tests between whether enabling HD video helps or hurts audio quality (I could see it going both ways depending on Zoom and upload bandwidth. We leave it on, FWIW.)

    2. Performers: Performers should all check Enable Original Sound in Zoom which will cancel Zoom's enhancements that are meant to work for conversations but will make something like a drum kit sound like a washing machine.

    The main goal is to get as clean a source signal into Zoom as possible. Hopefully the performers are experienced home recordists and can feed a high quality microphone into a high quality interface into Zoom. Have them calibrate their levels so the mix is equal.

    If they're going to be singing into laptop microphones, there isn't much advice to give except make sure everyone is monitoring with headphones, no speaker sound in the room (or there will be nasty echos). Ask the performers to treat their rooms as much as possible, or to record in quiet spaces.

    The biggest issue is unfortunately the one you can do the least about because it's the most expensive to fix, and that's latency. I would have the bands practice together as much as possible on the connections and computers that they're planning on using for the live performance. They may figure out that it's best for each performer to mute the other performers and perform to a click that they individually adjust based on trial and error to figure out what gets everyone in time.

    Wired ethernet is preferable.

    Good luck!


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    #3
    Senior Member Rick R's Avatar
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    Under the "Recording' menu in Zoom, there i an options to "Record separate audio file for each participant" though I have never recorded anything using Zoom. 'OBS' may be an option as well, but I have not used that either. Some video folks really like it and it allegedly has HQ options.


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    #4
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    The main problem with Zoom is people using built in mics and onboard audio. These problems can be mostly solved by using A V.Lav or W.Lav microphone.


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    Senior Member paulears's Avatar
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    The record separate sources function is great for post shoot edits where you can send the streams and retime them. Frankly zoom just cannot cope with combining incoming streams in sync. It's not possible because the delay comes in the path the data travels. The best option, timing wise is to cut out the return paths. Zoom also does delays and other tricks to prevent feedback but ive not yet found anything that offer a significant improvement. The broadcasters have the budget to try all idea and they can't find a solution. I tried the Jvc IP cams which can stream direct but the internet manages the routes and you have no control over the route it takes. We're still cheating with the music stuff. Live is virtually impossible, quality wise. Music teachers have been doing zoom teaching but always one to one. One of my choirs is doing zoom and its rubbish, so they are doing very very slow choral stuff where timing is unimportant. Aahs and oohs and not words. The conductors function is lost completely. For anything critical you have to edit the streams. The zoom extra streams function is great, but you need to slip and slide in an editor to restore sync. Live, it's just a pile of poo.
    Last edited by paulears; 08-08-2020 at 11:06 AM.


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    #6
    Senior Member Rick R's Avatar
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    Zencastr can record separate PCM files, however most of the other quality factors are the same as other web sites like Zoom and Microsoft Meeting. For the PCM file option I think Zencastr is $20 (usd) a month. and their free version records MP3s. Zencastr states the MP3 file size as 60MB per hour which is probably around 128kbs. If the files ere mono, that may be a 'usable' resolution for music. They do not state the other MP3 parameters like CBR/VBR, stereo, joint stereo, ect.


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    #7
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    It's tricky, with latency being the main obstacle. My son's a musician and he's been trying a few approaches. Settling on Jamulus; it's open source and not super complex... But more complex than Zoom. You'll probably want to set up a server for them. Here's a good overview of using Jamulus...also includes some descriptions of other options (Ninjam, JamKazam, etc.). Even if you don't go with Jamulus (and complexity is a key reason not to), it'll help frame everyone's understanding of the challenges.

    Remote Jamming with Helix and Jamulus
    https://jimamsden.wordpress.com/2020...x-and-jamulus/


    And here's a good six-minute video that goes over the whole issue. Nicely made and hosted by the inimitable Christian McBride (a jazz hero). This could be worth sharing with your organization so they know the challenges...and the possibilities:

    ----------
    Jim Feeley
    POV Media


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