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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
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    I'm not sure there's any chance to have a latency that would allow you to play together as a group. I would just work colaboratively on a track, shared via Dropbox for example, and would keep the cam sessions to share riffs, ideas and suggestions and talk about each others works and versions. – Chipsgoumerde May 7 '13 at 12:22
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    Most online Skype-type apps just can't physically be synced close enough for you to play together. – American Luke May 10 '13 at 22:03
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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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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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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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Jammr is your best bet for rehearsing. There's no latency because each player is synched to click and the other player's tracks play at different times in real time but the same time on your machine.

From the FAQ:

jammr sends your audio to other users and receives their audio. In order to avoid lag, jammr is "live" but not "real-time". This means other players hear you after a fixed amount of time. This fixed amount is called the interval and can be set to fit the chord progression you are jamming to. This allows you to jam synchronised with people from all over the world.

Why is jammr not real time? At the speed of light it takes 67 milliseconds to go half-way across the world. This means jamming with someone halfway across the world would be noticably laggy. Therefore, to ensure that you can jam with people from all over the world without delay we use intervals.

How many musicians can jam together in one session? The limit is set to 10 jammers per jam session, this should cater to most small orchestras. If you are talking rock however, from experience, we advise not to have more than 8 people in a jam, as this gets very messy otherwise.

You can make your session ("jam") private by installing the Premium version which for the moment appears to be free.

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  • From the Jammr web site, they attempt to solve the latency problem by delaying the playback to one full time through the form. In another words, you play against what everybody played the last time. They claim all G chords are the same. That is ridiculous, and false of course. Besides that, the approach is counter to what you should be doing in any ensemble - listening and interacting with what you hear. – DrM Aug 9 at 13:09

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