Jamkazam

Jamkazam

Steve Pribyl and I just had a very successful live internet-based session on pipes and whistle using the free Jamkazam real-time music session platform:

https://www.jamkazam.com

Worked very well. We had about 29ms latency with the two of us playing, no problem at all playing together.

After that I had a session with Pete Strickler, Dirk Mewes, and Kevin Rumery in Denver. About 40ms max latency. Totally workable.

We’re looking for more audio tech savvy players to test in a larger group. Probably best if you close to Southern California to minimize latency.

You can find other open sessions to play in, or schedule your own sessions.

It’s a fairly technical platform and requires an Ethernet connection to your computer (Windows or Mac, no mobile support), and high speed internet. Also, you’ll need a low latency sound card, either external USB or internal PCI-e and be comfortable with adjusting the low level settings on the device if required.

Re: Jamkazam

I tried setting this up a few months ago. My IT-savvy friend and I spent four hours trying to get the port settings fixed so that it would even pass the built-in performance test, without success. Three emails to their helpdesk have so far gone unanswered.

Re: Jamkazam

I tested this too on a virtual machine and, to be fair, it did work surprisingly well but I’m generally against installing any software that isn’t actively maintained for security reasons.
I asked the helpdesk when they last released updates and (like you) didn’t get a response. Their website’s "news" page stopped posting updates in 2014.
It’s probably completely fine, but just for interest for our sessions we ended up going down the zoom route instead. You can’t play at the same time, but you can all play along to the lead player, the format means you end up chatting way more about music (which is nice), and it’s pretty easy to set-up even technophobic session goers seem fine with it.
Will hassle the helpdesk again though as jamkazam seems to work when setup.

Re: Jamkazam

Having been part of that 4 player session with Michael last night, I was pleasantly surprised that it worked as well as it did! (And I’m eating some of my words about this not being particularly feasible).

Here are the things that I learned:

1. Having good quality hardware makes a big difference. On my MacBook, which I used for this, the built in microphone and speakers were very slow processing. They were responsible for about 21 milliseconds of latency just for encoding/decoding the audio. But when I run it through my old Firewire Avid Mbox (which is what I recorded both of my albums with, using ProTools), that internal latency is cut down to about 8 ms. (And that’s actually on a 10 year old computer!)

2. Connection via Ethernet is a must. WiFi adds too much latency. JamKazam does have some pretty nice network diagnostics, showing you things like your internal latency, your total latency to each other player, your network packet sizes, how much network "jitter" you are experiencing, how much it’s buffering to compensate for the jitter, and how much CPU you’re currently using.

3. Playing with someone when the total latency between the two of you is in the 20-25 ms range works pretty darn well! Playing with people where the total latency is in the 40 ms range is not nearly as good, but still doable. When the 4 of us were playing last night, including Michael, who is about 1000 miles from us, it wasn’t too bad. It felt like a messy session, not tight at all, but still mostly workable.

4. When you’re playing together, you might have a good stretch of time where it feels like you’re playing pretty tight, but then you can feel the timing slide away as something happens in the network. From that, we decided a few things. First, it’s best if there is someone leading the set, meaning that everybody is adjusting their timing to the same player. If you’re all adjusting to each other, as you would in person, then it can get away from you. Secondly, if everybody besides the leader is playing at the "front of the beat", it helps compensate a bit for the latency. (But if you try playing before the beat, it may end up with everyone speeding up). And finally, if you just assume that the leader is playing steadily, then you just have to try to keep steady as well, and when you drift apart, you have a better chance of getting back in sync if you don’t over-adjust to every little timing issue.

5. JamKazam does allow video feeds as well. However, that adds to how much CPU power you’re using, and ends up adding a bit of latency. But it also adds a bit of comfort, too. It’s a bit weird to be sitting in a room by yourself with headphones on, playing music with phantom people. So I found it comforting to be able to see the other players.

6. The other thing that feels weird is having the music in mono. The nice thing is that the recent versions of JamKazam let you adjust the balance of each player, so you can "arrange" the players in your headphones, so that there is some stereo separation, which helps a bit.

JamKazam’s interface is still a bit buggy. And it really does appear like a fairly defunct product when looking at their website. But Dirk did communicate with the developers recently, and so they are still there. My guess is that they might be paying more attention to it than they have in years, since all of a sudden it’s more relevant than ever before!

And it was a real pleasant surprise yesterday to see Michael pop up with a friend request while we were trying it out! And it was fun to add him in to our session. ๐Ÿ˜€

So all in all, it worked better than I had imagined, especially with players that are geographically near, with good sound hardware and good internet. Is it as good as the real thing? Not even close. But for once, I found it actually more satisfying than playing along with videos. And the human interaction in between the tunes was a welcome respite from all the isolation!

Re: Jamkazam

Our one local player that was having some latency issues is installing a new ASIO driver for their sound card, and we’re going to compare how well it works later today. It would be really great if the new driver helped enough with his latency that he doesn’t have to order an external I/O box.

Re: Jamkazam

I looked at part of an instructional video. We have an ethernet cable but I don’t know anything about using the audio interface box. Are they necessary? Are they easy for-non tech people to figure out? I’m using a 3 year old macbook air….

Re: Jamkazam

Definitely something that will work better during non-primetime hours when the web is saturated with everyone on Zoom meetings for work.

We tried a test around noon PDT today between San Diego and Denver and we didn’t have nearly the smooth experience as last night.

Hope to have another Jamkazam session tonight with the Denver folks and see if things improve. I would expect at night and weekends will be better.

Re: Jamkazam

azfiddle, nice to see you! I am guessing that you would do better with an external audio interface, instead of using the built in audio processing of the MacBook Air. All the Macs I have tried it on have pretty slow audio processing with their built in stuff (But I haven’t tried it on anything as recent as 2017. I have a 2015 MacBook Pro that I can try it on to see if it’s any better, but I don’t have an external interface that will work with that MacBook).

What you CAN do is download and install the JamKazam app, and try setting it up. It tells you what your internal processing latency is during the setup. You definitely want it to be less than 10 milliseconds.

An external audio interface isn’t too big of a deal to hook up. Generally, they hook up through USB, Firewire, or Thunderbolt. Then you hook a mic and headphones up to the interface box, and just configure JamKazam to use that interface when you’re doing your setup. A box like this should work just fine: https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AudioBoxUSB96—presonus-audiobox-usb-96

Re: Jamkazam

@Reverend wrote "Our one local player that was having some latency issues is installing a new ASIO driver for their sound card."

Having the newest driver may improve communication efficiency between the sound card and the operating system. But it would also be a good idea to check the sound card maker’s website for newer firmware, which might improve processing in the sound card itself.

Re: Jamkazam

Thanks Michael and Pete

As of today "non-essential" businesses are shutting down so I would have to purchase the interface online.

I’ll be in touch when I need help. (which I will!)

Re: Jamkazam

Testing having a live virtual Traditional Irish Music session with Fiddler Mary and Patrick Maun using the free JamKazam live collaborative music platform.

This platform allows playing together in real-time with minimal delay. It does require an ethernet connection to your computer (Windows or Mac, mobile not supported), a decent low-latency audio card, and high-speed internet.

I am in San Diego, CA., Mary and Patrick are near St. Paul, MN.

What you hearing is exactly my experience playing tunes with them from 2000 miles away. It’s a vastly superior experience than using Zoom, which pretty much is only useful for single player / multiple listener style virtual sessions.

On this session, we were able to get about 50-60 ms latency. Distance matters, I was seeing about 40 ms latency playing with friends in Denver, CO. 1000 miles away, and less than 30 ms with friends in the Los Angeles, CA area 100 miles away.

https://youtu.be/G3auAxnJirw

Re: Jamkazam

The posted video is just a still frame screenshot I took from the session, with the captured audio overlaid. JamKazam supports video as well as audio, but we found it impacted the delay and performance, so I suggest only doing audio sessions.

Re: Jamkazam

I think I saw your session on Jamkazam. I imagine latency from Ireland could be an issue based on the above!

Anyone close to home want to give it a try? I’m in East Cork

Re: Jamkazam

I just installed jamkazam but could not connect to their network to complete the network test. ("Disconnected from network. Attempting to automatically reconnect.")

I have an Ethernet connection: 100 x 30 Mb/s.

Several jamkazam forum contributors have also reported that behavior over the last several hours.

Re: Jamkazam

^^^ No connection with MS Edge. Chrome seeks to connect.

Re: Jamkazam

I would not recommend running it from the browser, install and run the desktop app.

Their network test system doesn’t work, just test by creating a single person test session.

Re: Jamkazam

I use the web interface just to see if there are any sessions going on that I’d like to join. If there are, I then run the desktop program and connect from there.

Re: Jamkazam

I signed up, downloaded app on Macbook Air, got ‘Fair’ latency with my (USB2) external ADC, then repeatedly failed the network Audio test (message about firewall blocking UDP). I found some possible remediation online in the form of configuring port forwarding on router (specifying ports) and updating the Client.ini file to accept those ports. Tried that— but now all I’m getting in response to Network test is ‘Servers Unavailable’ and on the Jamkazam Support page this message is showing up in response to similar complaints:

"Hi all.
Over the past 2 days we’ve seen that the test server is under extreme load and is becoming unresponsive. The issue is under investigation.
Nothing to offer yet other than we are working on it! Bear with us! "

Not too surprising ‘in these times’. But I blame Michael Eskin in any case ๐Ÿ˜‰

-Jon

Posted by .

Re: Jamkazam

Yeah, there have been a lot of network issues with JamKazam, and it seems to maybe be growing, as more and more people are using it. If I understand correctly, JamKazam is doing all of its audio transfer peer to peer, but it also has data going to their central server (like what "sessions" exist, who is in them, and it also appears as though their "listen in" functionality, which is currently disabled because of high traffic, runs through their central server as well…) What’s unfortunate is that central server issues also affect your ability to play peer to peer…

But I would agree by your assessment, Jon. It’s Michael’s fault ๐Ÿ˜‰

Re: Jamkazam

I take full responsibility. ๐Ÿ™‚

Re: Jamkazam

I just downloaded and popped on there after reading this thread and there was Michael. Thanks for the tune!
I only had a wifi connection with a Scarlett 6i6 audio interface using the ASIO driver. My hardware passed without any trouble, but my internet connection was "fair" to "poor" most of the time.

It works surprisingly well with a very good 5GHz wifi connection, but still pretty unmanageable as far as playing with someone due to latency. Ordering my 50ft CAT 6 cable to run under the house now.

Re: Jamkazam

It was fun! Looking forward to trying it again when you get your ethernet cable!

Re: Jamkazam

Alright, so I got my cable and hopped back on and played with a couple of players from Texas. I’m in Portland, Oregon so this wasn’t likely to work that well. We had about a 60ms lag which, considering the distance between us, was actually pretty good, but still not ideal. Using the metronome, we were able to get through a tune pretty well, although I was playing a bit ahead of it to help.

The key to all of this is to connect with players in your area. Portland, OR session players: hop on there and find me!

Re: Jamkazam

Iโ€™ve been an interested observer, reading the posts about JamKazam, whilst tinkering with the SW and trying to get the thing working between my front room and back room!
It seems to be hanging together and sounds OK now that I have a Blue Yeti Nano. My issue now is to find people in my area ( Perth WA) motivated to get involved.
I was wondering, Michael, if you guys had progressed further and had words of enthusiasm or perhaps otherwise. It certainly seems to me to be worth promoting, despite the nerdy feel which would no doubt stop some people from persevering.

Re: Jamkazam

There is a document being authored by several of us, mostly the Denver players, that will be released soon that summarizes the best practices that we all have collectively come up over a few weeks of experience with the platform.

It is a nerdy, somewhat fragile platform, but when it works, it’s amazing. I still encourage trying it out. My issue has been finding enough local players in Southern California who are willing to try it.

Re: Jamkazam

Thanks for that. I am impressed, so I will put some energy into getting others interested.
Will your document be published in this site, or…?

Re: Jamkazam

I read an article in the Baltimore Sun that mentioned that Soundtrap, Coverwithme, Bandontheweb and Guitarmasterclass.net are other places where people are forming bands and coming together musically online.

I received a broadcast email last night from the jamkazam developers saying they are doing their best to support and develop the site, have issued a software update to fix bugs, moved to larger serves, and they’re hoping to improve latency response if they can get the capital to do it.

Re: Jamkazam

Many thanks for the Guide to Online Sessions - very clear and helpful.

My recorder trio has now got to the stage of tweaking the settings in
Manage/AudioSettings/AudioBooster
but have almost no idea what the terms mean!
We are trying bitrate 128 Kbit/s, frame size 1 ms, and packet rate 100 packets/s - are these good numbers?!
Any help would be much appreciated - including a link to where these settings are discussed.
Many thanks

Re: Jamkazam

Hi all! Our band, New Leaf, is trying to use JamKazam for real-time rehearsal and maybe even performance. In fact we were asked by the JamKazam folks to take part in their online concert festival that happened last weekend, but we couldn’t get our latency low enough to be able to do it. Seems like there are some knowledgable folks here who might be able to help us. So far two out of the three of us have connected using MacBook Airs (one 2013, one 2015) and Behringer U-Phoria UM-2 interfaces. Interface latency is around 8 for each of us and everything else is good EXCEPT internet latency which swings wildly from about 20 to over 100. We’ve done everything in the fabulous "online jam session" document including setting static IP addresses and port forwarding. Any clue how else we can lower our internet latency?? We’ve also tried low-traffic times of day but the results are the same.

Re: Jamkazam

Are you on WiFi or wired Ethernet? You really need to be on a wired Ethernet network to use JamKazam or you will often see those sorts of network latency variability issues.

Re: Jamkazam

As above, needs to be wired ethernet. It also depends on how stable the connection from yourself to the internet backbone and the local internet infrastructure you and your ISPs are using.
Finally, conditions tend to deteriorate with more and variable latency during periods of high local web usage - the Internet "rush hour".
JK was very variable during the early period of lockdown because it suddenly gained so many users + many more people now stuck at home were using the internet, some at high bandwidths, e.g. using Netflix or Amazon Prime Video.

Re: Jamkazam

We are on wired yes, and had the same issue even doing it even at a non-rush hour time (7:30 AM). And we are all within about 50 miles of each other and have set other parameters as low as possible like frame size.

Re: Jamkazam

Focusrite Scarlett (eg solo 2i2, 4i4) software has been upgraded to 3.6.0.1822. Current version does NOT work with JamKazam. 3.5.0.1754 perfect. Focusrite and Jamkazam notified.