If your goal is to get better quality audio & video for live collaboration, recording and streaming, and you don’t care all that much about latency (how much time it takes for your sound to reach another person), JackTrip will probably work great regardless of distance and other factors. You don’t even need to download the JackTrip desktop app since you can now do it all within your web browser. Feel free to just skip the rest of this article and Get Started.
If your goal is to minimize latency to facilitate live music performance, it’s important to understand that JackTrip is only one piece of a larger puzzle. We believe JackTrip’s desktop app with the Virtual Studio service is the best piece of its kind, but there are several other pieces that need to work well alongside it. Whether you decide to use JackTrip or anything else, here are the most important other pieces to consider:
Your Internet connection plays one of the biggest roles in determining latency. Fiber Internet connections (which use cables made out of glass) are by far the best and produce very little latency, typically no more than a few milliseconds.
Although many Internet Service Providers like to use the word “speed,” they almost always are talking about bandwidth and not latency. Quite simply, any Internet connection that plugs into your modem with copper cables (Cable, DSL, etc.) is going to generate a high amount of latency, no matter how many “gigabits” it may be able to carry.
Today, about 50% of Americans and 60% of Europeans have access to Fiber Internet. This is about twice what it was just several years ago. Both Internet Service Providers and policymakers are investing heavily into infrastructure to dramatically increase accessibility by 2030. We highly recommend that everyone uses a Fiber Internet connection, wherever they are available. If you don’t have access to Fiber, lobby for modern infrastructure to ensure that you don’t get left behind in the next digital era.
Distance matters, and even the most optimized setups are limited by the speed of light. Not distance in the sense of how far a crow flies from point A to B, but rather which roads you need to drive along to get there. Like roads, the Internet’s backbone is continuously getting better. Theoretically, musicians on one side of a continent should be able to play live with musicians on the other, but the Internet isn’t that efficient yet. Today, the results will be different for everyone. You just have to try it for yourself to see. That’s why unlimited usage of JackTrip Virtual Studio is completely free, with no obligations, for your first 4 weeks.
One thing that makes JackTrip unique is that it uses cloud computing to deploy more functionality closer to the people who are using it. People who reside within one of these geographical regions are likely to experience the best results.
The $2 chips that most computer manufacturers bundle inside to check off the “audio” box may be good enough to play an MP3, but they are often not going to cut it for JackTrip. Audio hardware has only gotten fast enough to facilitate live performance within the past few years, and it will take time before this newer technology proliferates throughout the industry. The good news is you can buy high quality USB3 audio interfaces for around $100 (USD) that produce great results by plugging into your computer. The latest USB4 and Thunderbolt 3+ interfaces take things a step further, boasting latency as low as 1 millisecond!
Windows users must utilize high quality ASIO drivers provided by the manufacturer of their audio interface. These bypass the sound system built into Windows, which is currently incapable of low latency audio. Mac users are likely to see far better results because of the additional investment Apple makes into their hardware, and MacOs’s excellent built-in sound system.
When it comes to audio latency and quality, your microphone, headphones and home networking all matter. Plug into ethernet and use wired headphones because all wireless technologies (Wifi, 5g, network extenders, wireless headphones, etc.) introduce high latency and jitter, and will not work well. If you are not comfortable with the use of your audio interface and other gear, you will likely struggle.
Try not to learn too many different things at once. You will save yourself a lot of time and frustration by taking the time to learn how to use all of your analog and digital audio gear (where to plug things in, how to set volume levels, etc.) before you jump into trying out any live collaboration software.