Jamulus for Barbershop Singers

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Jamulus for Barbershop Singers

By Pacific Coast Harmony Chorus (Mixed BHS) and SoloVoce Quartet (SAI) 

Document update 1/24/21

 

IN THIS DOCUMENT

  • What is Jamulus
  • What do I need to run Jamulus / Hardware
  • What do I need to run Jamulus / Network
  • What do I need to run Jamulus / Software
  • Hardware Recommendations
  • First Time Setup Comms (how to communicate when you are setting up audio)
  • Jamulus and ASIO4ALL Audio Settings (the trickiest part if you’re on Windows)
  • Other Jamulus Settings (before you start)
  • Connect to a Server
  • Rehearsals over Jamulus (for audio) & Zoom (for video) at the same time
  • Using Jamulus Bells & Whistles (during rehearsal)
  • Latency -- What to Expect when Singing
  • Troubleshooting

 

 


 

 

WHAT IS JAMULUS?

Jamulus is free software that enables groups to sing together remotely as if they were in the same room.  It does this by nearly eliminating the latency (lag or delay) that is inherent in Internet communications.  Latency is why we can't sing together using Zoom.  

 

Here is a YouTube of a jazz group rehearsing over Jamulus for their first time.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2x-gwMmVK-s 

 

 

 

WHAT DO I NEED TO RUN JAMULUS?

 

HARDWARE REQUIREMENTS:

  • Computer.  Windows or Apple or Linux -- laptop or desktop computer.  Jamulus will not run on a phone or tablet or Chromebook.  
  • Wired Headphones.  Wired, over-the-ear (completely covers your ears) headphones.  Headphones that rely on wireless and/or bluetooth introduce latency.  Loose earbuds don't block ambient sound.  In-the-ear earbuds amplify your own voice making it harder to hear the other singers while you are singing.  
  • Wired Microphone.  A wired microphone.  A built-in laptop mic or the microphone in your earbuds wire will technically work, but will not make an optimal experience for you and everyone else.  The better quality your microphone, the better you will sound, and the better we will all sound together.
  • PRO TIP FOR NEWBIES.   Guru PCH Tom strongly recommends a USB gaming headset over separate headphones and mic.  Unless you are already an experienced audiophile with quality headphones and external microphone, get the all-in-one USB gaming headset.  Trying to make Jamulus work with cheapie headphones and the built-in laptop microphone will consume hours of tech support time -- and lead to a poor product.

 

NETWORK REQUIREMENTS:

  • Wired Network.  A wired Ethernet connection from your computer to your router or cable modem.  Wifi will technically work - but it is slow and introduces latency, which will make a poor experience for you and everyone else.  (It’s actually so bad, the person on WiFi can’t really participate.)  The entire point of using Jamulus is to eliminate the lag of Internet connections so that singing together feels natural.  Even if you never use Jamulus, wiring your computer to your router will significantly improve your Internet speed for everything you do online.  Wifi is slooooow.  
  • Ethernet Tips.  You should have two to four open Ethernet cable ports (look like extra-wide old-style phone jacks) on your router.  All desktop computers and most older laptops have an Ethernet cable port in the back.  If you have a newer laptop that does not have an Ethernet port, but has a USB-C port (on a PC) or a Thunderbolt port (on a Mac), then you will also need a USB C to Ethernet Adapter.  

 

SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS:

  • Jamulus.  The Jamulus software needs to be downloaded and installed on your computer.  Download it here:  https://jamulus.io/ 
  • Audio Stream Input/Output Driver.  If you are using a Windows PC, you also need to download and install ASIO4ALL which is a “Universal ASIO Driver For WDM Audio.”  Click the 2.14 English link once you get to the site.  Download it here:  http://www.asio4all.org/ 

 

 

 

NEED HARDWARE?  HERE ARE SOME RECOMMENDATIONS

 

All-in-one, over-the-ear Headphones + Microphone.  For those needing good over-the-ear headphones and microphone, the Rönninge Show Chorus recommends to their members the SADES SA902 USB gaming headset.  It costs $27 and Amazon can deliver it the next day.  Multiple PCH and SoloVoce members use this one.  (Note that there are literally hundreds of gaming headsets available on Amazon.)

  • THIS IS THE HEADSET STRONGLY RECOMMENDED FOR NEWBIES.  

 

Microphone Only.  If you already have great over-the-ear headphones and are looking to upgrade your microphone (or you like having separate headphones and microphone rather than a headset) other Jamulus users have recommended the TONOR TC30 microphone.

 

Ethernet Cable.  If you don't have an Ethernet cable to connect your computer to your router, here is one.  Choose the length you require.  

 

Ethernet Adapter.  If you are using a newer laptop that does not have an RJ-45 Ethernet jack (which looks like a wide phone jack), you may need this adapter to connect the Ethernet cable to your USB-C (on a PC) or Thunderbolt (on a Mac) jack.

 

 

 

FIRST TIME SETUP RECOMMENDATIONS

HOW TO COMMUNICATE WHEN YOU ARE SETTING UP AUDIO

If your group is connecting to Jamulus for the first time, it is best to get a SEPARATE Zoom session going first -- ON A DIFFERENT DEVICE from the computer on which you will be running Jamulus.  A good option is to use your cell phone.  Otherwise you will lose the ability to communicate with each other and it gets very frustrating for everyone.

 

 

 

JAMULUS SETTINGS AND ASIO4ALL AUDIO SETTINGS

The trickiest part is getting the Audio Settings Correct.  

 

AUDIO EQUIPMENT

Your audio equipment (headset, microphone) must be plugged into your computer BEFORE you open the Jamulus software.  

 

GENERAL JAMULUS SETTINGS

Open the Jamulus application.  Click the”Settings” button in the lower left corner:

 

General settings recommended by the PCH chorus:

 

 

ASIO SETTINGS FOR WINDOWS USERS

From there, click the ASIO Setup button in the lower left hand corner to get to this screen:

 

 

THIS IS THE TRICKY PART.  The key is that you need to have your headphones and microphone selected from the WDM device list.  You should have only ONE input and only ONE output selected.  The example above is a USB gaming headset. Use the plus/minus signs on the left-hand side to open other connected hardware if you need to select those.  It will be obvious when you select the right one because you will be able to both transmit and receive sound.  If you get these little yellow crosses, there is a conflict and you don’t have the settings right yet.  Sometimes when you get the yellow crosses, it freezes Jamulus and you have to hard close and re-open the program.  It takes a while but once you have the right settings, it will be fine.  Depending on the complexity of this screen, you may want to take a picture once your settings are correct.

     

 

 

 

OTHER JAMULUS SETTINGS (BEFORE YOU START)

 

SETTINGS:  MY PROFILE

In the upper left hand corner, Click [View] then [My Profile]:

     

 

  • Name.  Enter your name that will be displayed to others in the Jamulus space.
  • Instrument.  Pick your instrument.  Vocal barbershop parts are towards the bottom.  This is important for larger groups and will let you sort everyone by voice part.  

 

SETTINGS:  EDIT

If you are singing in larger groups, select “Sort Users by Instrument '' so that singers will be grouped by voice part.  Also select “Use Two Rows Mixer Panel” so that you will be able to see more people within your Jamulus application.  

 

 

 

CONNECT TO A SERVER

Your entire group must be on the same server.  In the lower left hand corner, select the big “Connect” button.  At the Connection Setup window, select “Genre/Choral” and pick a server with the smallest ping time.  PCH set up its own server that it is allowing southern california choruses and quartets to use.  

 

 

 

 

 

REHEARSALS OVER JAMULUS & ZOOM AT THE SAME TIME

PCH still uses Zoom to see each other but we shut off the Zoom audio and instead use Jamulus to speak and sing with each other.  Just know that you can’t watch the Zoom feed while you are singing because it won’t be synced up.  It’s just so we can see each other in between the singing.  

 

CONNECT TO JAMULUS FIRST

If you are going to use both Jamulus and Zoom, it is important to CONNECT TO JAMULUS FIRST so that Jamulus is your active audio channel.  Connect to Zoom ONLY AFTER you are connected to Jamulus, and disable Zoom audio completely.  (Disable Zoom audio by clicking the microphone icon and then “Leave Audio.”)  You can always add the audio if the rehearsal moves to Zoom once the jamming is over.

 

IF YOU STILL HAVE FEEDBACK, CHECK THIS ZOOM AUDIO SETTING 

If you have Zoom and Jamulus running at the same time, even though you have disabled the sound on Zoom, Zoom can wreck the Jamulus session.  You need to go into the Audio Settings in Zoom (you get there using the little arrow next to the mute button), and make sure that the box labeled “Automatically adjust microphone volume” is Unchecked.

 

On one PCH baritone’s Mac, his Jamulus volume was causing horrible feedback.  He brought up the Zoom Sound panel, he turned down the mic volume (for the third time!) and watched it start creeping up without him touching it.  He figured out that Zoom was adjusting the volume, even though the sound was disconnected!  Unchecking the box fixed the problem.

 

Note that you may want to turn the automatic adjustment back on for normal (non-Jamulus) Zoom meetings.

 

 

USING JAMULUS BELLS & WHISTLES DURING REHEARSAL

 

  • Volume Lights.  Watch your own volume by the green lights on your own vertical mixer.  You want to keep the lights green.  If the lights get to the top of the vertical mixer, they will go yellow and then red.  
  • Volume Sliders.  The sliders you see on the right are your own personal mix. Everything you change here will change what you hear, but won’t affect others. If you move a slider down, that user will be quieter, if you move it up, that user will be louder for you.  Use this option if someone is coming through loudly.  
  • PAN.  Use the Pan knobs to move the sound between your right and left ears.  If you don’t see the Pan knobs, then you haven’t selected the “Fancy” Skin Setting.  Some options:
  • Put yourself on one side and the rest of your quartet on the other side.  
  • Put yourself one one side and leave the rest of your quartet in the middle.  
  • If in larger groups, put yourself and a select singers (maybe your section lead) on one side and everyone else on the other side or the middle.  
  • Mute.  Use this button at the bottom of the vertical mixer to mute any single person.  Again, this will happen ONLY in your ear.  Because servers are open to all, you may get a visitor in your session.  I have only ever had people join and listen politely, but if you have someone who is talking, you can always mute them.  
  • Solo.  The Solo buttons are kind of the opposite of Mute.  You will only hear the singers who you have selected to “Solo” with.  The other singers will be muted.  Again, this is for your ears only.  
  • Mute Myself.  If you need to mute yourself either because you are coughing or because you want to sing along with an individual section that is working (something you could never do in a live chorus rehearsal), use the Mute Myself button in the left hand bottom corner.  

 

 

 

 

LATENCY -- WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN SINGING

Some material excerpted from BHS Orange Blossom Chorus Quartet Practice Tips.

 

What you will hear.  Jamulus works by measuring each singer’s internet latency to the Jamulus Server, syncing it up, and then transmitting the synced sound back to everyone’s ears.  That means you will hear your own voice SLIGHTLY AFTER you have spoken or sung.  My latency tends to run around 35-45 milliseconds to the PCH server.  I am reminded that if I am on a set of large risers with many singers, that the same kind of delay exists from one end of the risers to the other.  My brain adjusted within the first 15-30 minutes in my onboarding session.  For comparison, a single hummingbird wing flap takes between 5 and 80 milliseconds.  

 

Start with something simple.  Because your brain and ears are getting used to the latency, do yourself a huge favor and start with “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” or some other extremely simple tune.

 

Latency can be confusing. When you hear the rest of the quartet coming in with their parts behind, the tendency is to slow down to sync up. However, the same is happening with everyone else, and causes loss of tempo. One way to overcome that is to only wear one head-phone, keeping the other ear clear. This will help to make your voice dominant in your hearing.  You can also do this with the PAN settings in the Jamulus mixer.  

 

Keep the beat. When someone kicks off a song by counting 1, 2, 3, 4, memorize that tempo, and reinforce it by tapping your toe, or whatever physical way you have to keep time. Once you have physically set the tempo, adhere to it religiously, even though it seems as if a train wreck is imminent. If everyone in the quartet does it, you will end up reasonably together.  PRO TIP: Stand up when singing so that you can keep the tempo in your body.  

 

Work in smaller segments. Part of the problem that I stated earlier is that as your singing of the song progresses the tendency is to go slower. That can be overcome by not singing the whole song at one time. Break the song down into segments of maybe 8 measures each, depending on the construction of the song. If you do that, you don’t give the tempo an opportunity to start to slow.

 

Duet your learning process. The best way to learn on Jamulus is by singing duets. It’s far easier to ignore the latency issue, and any note or intonation discrepancies are easily picked up while duetting, as opposed to four voices singing out of sync.

 

Develop patience. Singing on Jamulus is not anything like singing face-to-face. It can produce frustration if you allow it to. Please keep in mind that for all it’s problems, Jamulus is the best vehicle we have, so far, for virtual rehearsal, and that without it you wouldn’t be doing any singing at all. I would suggest that you keep your rehearsals relatively short, we try to limit ours to an hour and a half. Remember, with virtual rehearsals you can get together whenever you want, or are available. You have the opportunity to have 2, 3 or 4 short rehearsals a week, if you so choose, since there is no travel involved.

 

 

 

TROUBLESHOOTING

There are multiple online resources.  First and foremost, the Jamulus website has a ton of info including a software manual.  The Orange Blossom BHS Chorus also has some great troubleshooting tips here.  Here are some basics:

 

  • Reboot your computer.  Helpdesk 101.  Always good to start with a fresh reboot.  
  • Close other programs.  Jamulus recommends that you have nothing else running on your machine that could impact your latency.
  • Minimize other internet usage.  Make sure nothing on your machine or your network (like a video stream) is competing against Jamulus when you are using it.  
  • Current Jamulus version.  Make sure you are running the latest Jamulus version.  You have to visit the Jamulus Download Page to figure out what their current version is.  This page will auto-download the software which is annoying but seemingly unavoidable.  I can’t seem to find a reference to just the current version.  Find your version by selecting [Help] and then [About].