The free and open-source Jamulus app lets you play along with other musicians over the Internet in real time. We guide you through it.
Latency. Anyone concerned with trying to create live music over the internet will have become very familiar with that word. As I explain in my article 'How To Make Zoom Work For Music' (SOS June 2020), latency is like death and taxes; you can minimise it but you can't avoid it completely and normally it defeats attempts to play live together. As anyone who has tried it with the various video conferencing applications like Zoom and Teams will know it results in everyone being out of time with everyone else, with consequent cacophony!
So you may be as surprised as I was to learn there are a small number of applications where the developers refuse to admit defeat on this and are determined to allow musicians to play together live across the net. Among these are JamKazam, Soundjack and the subject of this article, Jamulus.
The first thing to note about these applications is that they all demand a lot of your environment in order to ensure the only source of latency they have to deal with is the Internet itself. You have to watch out for the following factors:
Hardware: A powerful computer is always nice to have, but these apps don't put too much demand on the host machine. Any decent computer from the last few years should do fine. For Jamulus, Windows, Mac and Linux are all good. Tablets and phones, unfortunately, are right out!
A separate audio interface is a necessity in order to provide a low-latency connection to the computer. In our own usage, UAD's Apollo hardware worked well, while a Blue Icicle XLR-USB adaptor wasn't so effective, adding pops and clicks. For Windows, Jamulus recommend an audio interface with a native ASIO driver. Decent microphones to plug into the interface give the best sound, obviously, and are well worth having.
You need a fast Internet connection. Jamulus specify a minimum of 1Mbps both up and downstream, but faster is better and a low ping time is essential.
Networking: You need a fast Internet connection. Jamulus specify a minimum of 1Mbps both up and downstream, but faster is better and a low ping time is essential. Jamulus recommend the ping time to the Jamulus server (see below) should be no more than 40ms, and the lower the (very much!) better.
All of these applications make the same...