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We had a band of musicians but unfortunately, my partners went abroad for further studies. Currently we're far away. We want to meet at some time in a week and play together online. We've tried Skype but it doesn't work OK when we all are active at the same time. Did you try it before? Which software do you recommend?

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Have you tried a telephone? –  American Luke May 6 '13 at 16:51
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That sounds like a very costly practice session.They could try with a couple of bags of telephones, but we don't know if there are two sax o'phones in the band.............. –  Tim May 6 '13 at 17:32
    
We would like to see each other via cam. Sometimes one of us shows something visually to others. –  petrichor May 6 '13 at 19:01
    
I know that a paid version of skype allows for conference calls, which would be sort of what you're looking for. Another alternative might be Google Hangout, which I believe is free. I do not think the video quality is as good, but I believe more that two of you would be able to get together and see one another. –  jjmusicnotes May 7 '13 at 0:03
    
Skype conference calls are free but video conference calls are not. –  Ramon May 7 '13 at 7:33
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4 Answers

I would recommend you avoid trying to use video. Unless you are 'local' to each other the latency and jitter makes it very difficult to play together.

Audio can be encoded with much lower latency and is typically a fixed bandwidth requirement so this copes better with connection issues.

Tools like Jamulus (http://sourceforge.net/projects/llcon/) are designed for real time jamming, with one machine taking feeds from all players and then sending the mix back out to them. It seems to be better than just using a google hangout or chat type scenario.

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It depends on how you want to make this work, what kind of grade your internet connection is, if you all live in the same city and have the same ISP as these factors will decide the audio quality and latency.

Audio:

  • Use Skype audio (conference) calls. These are free, or
  • If all of you guys use DAW's for recording then you could try VST's like ReaStream (http://www.reaper.fm/reaplugs/) or Source-Live (http://source-elements.com/) which allows to transmit a specific track or mix down of tracks. If you guys have a very good internet connection then this can work out if you know how to configure all related network settings.
  • Use a service like http://www.ejamming.com/ but I do not have any experience with it.

Video:

  • Use a seperate laptop, tablet, smartphone to set up a video as video encoding is pretty heavy and will cause latency issues on your DAW system.
  • Use video conference via Google Hangout
  • Use a live broadcast platform like UStream, YouTube, LiveStream or one of the many other available services.
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If money is not an issue, ISDN is perfect for this. You'd still have to connect via Skype/etc. (if you want video), but the average latency for ISDN is about 10ms. This amount might not even be noticeable to you. Many people in the voice-over industry use this, because it allows for a higher quality audio signal, as well as very low latency. Collaborating is made a breeze.

To read more, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integrated_Services_Digital_Network.

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Old-fashioned analog landline telephone circuits had many limitations, but there is very little delay between when a party at one end says something and when the party at the other end hears it. Other technologies often involve trade-offs between audio quality and delay; for most purposes, a delay of 100ms or even longer would be barely noticeable, but adding such delay between when one performer plays something and another performer, who's supposed to be playing simultaneously, hears it, would render simultaneous performance impossible.

The only remedy I can see would be to have one person who sets the tempo, oblivious to what anyone else is playing. Audio from that person could be sent to a second person who would play along with it. Audio from both of those people could then be sent to a third person, who could play along with them, etc. At the end of the chain, have a listener who would use a separate connection to let the different performers if they need to do anything to work better with what people are doing downstream.

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