JamKazam (online session playing) sample
We’ve had numerous discussions recently about different ways to connect and play online, since the vast majority of the world is under Shelter-In-Place orders at the moment. We had a few discussions about JamKazam recently too, so I thought I would post a sample video so that you can see how it can be.
That recording was taken directly out of JamKazam, and not edited or remixed in any way. So that’s what it sounded like to us when we were playing. It’s certainly not perfect (half of that is how rusty we are at playing 😉). That video features myself, Dirk Mewes on uilleann pipes, and Kevin Rumery on bouzouki. We are all within 60 miles of each other, and each had around 17-20 milliseconds of total latency to each other. We can feel the latency a bit, but it’s mostly like being in the same room (about 17-20 feet apart). The latency is low enough that we can get a groove going, and can react to each other in "real-time"…
JamKazam takes some time and hardware to configure. You can’t just load the app and expect to be able to play in (close to) real-time. But with some work, it is doable. Here’s a recap of what you need to set it up:
1. A Mac or Windows computer (laptop or desktop). It does not work on Linux, Android, or iOS.
2. A wired ethernet connection. (WiFi adds too much latency)
3. Decent broadband connection. It doesn’t have to be too fast. If you have at least 15 Mbps upstream, you should be OK. (Satellite internet and cellular data will have too much latency, and DSL isn’t as stable as wired cable or fiber internet)
4. A microphone and headphones. (It’s possible to use the built in mic and headphone jack, but not ideal)
5. Ideally, you have an external audio processor box - the kind you would use to record. The built in audio hardware and drivers in most computers aren’t optimized for low latency usage, and generally won’t work well. An external box is going to the the analog <—> digital conversions much faster, and they’ll take a good mic with XLR or 1/4" jacks.
6. People to play with that also have good setups, and ideally reside within about 100 miles of you.
Then there’s the setup, which will vary depending on your platform and hardware. There are some useful tutorials out there for setting it up. JamKazam can be frustratingly buggy at times, especially with the current load that is being put on the internet from everybody being stuck at home. But it feels really good to be playing *with* other people, instead of playing *along* with other people! Good enough, in fact, that one of my sessions took our pooled tip money from the last several years, and bought sound hardware for all of our regulars, so we can keep making music together.