Tools for collaboration and recording during the COVID-19 crisis

Distributed rehearsal/performance

Zoom is being trialed by many for the task of rehearsal.  It is also possible to collaborate with large groups and stream directly to the internet using Zoom, with their webinar option.  It is particularly useful for musicians, as its possible to ‘use original sound’ once in a meeting; increasing sound quality.

Denmark’s Royal Academy of Music have produced a useful tutorial for choral conductors, using Zoom.

However, latency is definitely an issue, and true synchronicity can be difficult.

For the technically savvy, it is possible to achieve even less latency and greater synchronicity with the below tools.  Latency will depend on the physical distance between collaborators; the perceptual threshold to hear a ‘delay’ is around 25ms.

Jacktrip – Stanford University/CCRMA developed system for high-quality audio network performance over the internet.

Researcher Michael Dessen has produced comprehensive notes and guidance from his experience of setting up and using Jacktrip for Distributed Music Performance.

See this YouTube playlist for an introduction.

Soundjack – Alternative solution for high-quality audio network performance over the internet, using the same protocol.


Remote collaborative recording

Fortunately there are a number of easy to use, low-latency remote recording platforms in existence, (all using the Opus codec, if you are at all interested!). Generally, they need to run in the Chrome web browser.

Source-Connect have been offering remote HD, low-latency audio production for some time; and are widely used in the film and TV production industries. Currently offering free solutions for small (up to four) collaborators to perform and record via their platform. See the introductory video here for more information.

Audiomovers – Real time, CD-quality streaming from your DAW to anywhere, using a web browser.

Cleanfeed– Very-low-latency, bi-directional HD audio transmission/recording through a web browser.

Session Link Pro – Very-low-latency, bi-directional HD audio transmission/recording through a web browser.


Virtual concerts and events:

OBS (Open Broadcast Studio) – a free, widely used platform to mix video and audio sources and create live streams, that can then be forwarded/hosted on YouTube; Facebook; Twitch etc.

Twitch – Although this platform has been adopted by the gaming community as their streaming platform of choice, Twich’s free account offers the best quality audio streaming by default; and so is seeing a spike in use from musicians and producers

Facebook/ YouTube/Vimeo/Instagram/ – free online video and audio content hosting and streaming.


Other tools for online musical collaboration           

Dropbox/Google Drive/WeTransfer – Cloud-based file sharing perfect for collaboration.

Soundcloud – The world’s largest music and audio hosting social platform.

Soundtrap – (owned by Spotify) a modern Digital Audio Workstation, entirely hosted online, enabling a collaborative workflow.

Mixcloud.  – Explore, stream or create DJ mixes and podcasts.

Mixlr.  Broadcast live HD audio streams.