Livestream your online jam on a PC

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(Last Updated On: September 1, 2020)

Livestream your online jam with these tips. With the reality of social distancing, online jams and livestreams became a reality for thousands of musicians. Well one day we can go back to a ‘new normal’ – whatever that is, but I believe there is no returning from this, as the possibilities that it opens are immense. 

So while we had articles covering online jams and Jamulus in particular, in this article we will look into a more advanced setup so you can send your online performance on Jamulus out to a livestream such as Facebook or YouTube.

This is a counterpart to a similar article about this setup on a Mac computer.

Tools of the Trade

The tools we will be needing for the job are as follows:

  • Jamulus, with is free open source software
  • A PC computer running Windows – to date I’ve tested this with Windows 8.1 and Windows 10
  • An audio interface, such as the Focusrite Solo
  • Reaper – and make sure to tick the option to install ReaRoute upon installation
  • A video-conferencing tool such as Zoom
  • OBS broadcasting software

Step-by-step diagram

Livestream broadcast PC
Livestream broadcast PC

So the first step is to configure your audio interface. The sample rate has to be set at 48kHz which is the only sample rate supported by Jamulus. Jamulus takes up to two channels so you can map these channels into Jamulus from your interface for uses such as:

  • A stereo instrument such as an electric piano or guitar with effects
  • A guitar and a microphone for singing or chatting
  • Two singers with two microphones into the same computer and interface

Now Jamulus on Windows works with ASIO, and we want to route Jamulus audio to OBS for the livestream. So we need to use Reaper ReaRoute to create the path for the instruments to go into Jamulus, and then for the whole Jamulus session (with the other players) to come back to Reaper and then be routed into OBS.

The steps for Reaper are as follows:

  • Make sure the audio device selected is your audio interface with the proper ASIO driver set at 48 kHz sample rate
  • Create one stereo track for the instruments from the audio interface. Select the two first inputs of your audio interface as inputs to this track, then route the output via ReaRoute to ReaRoute 1 and 2. Don’t tick the master send box.
  • Create one stereo track for the Jamulus return. Select ReaRoute 1 and 2 as the inputs, and route the output via ReaRoute to ReaRoute 3 and 4. Do tick the master send box as this will be the track you will monitor. If you don’t want to turn off direct monitoring on your interface then don’t tick the master send box.
  • On the master send, make sure to route the output to your audio interface (ex: analog 1 and 2, headphones 1 and 2, etc)
Reaper setup
Reaper setup

Next is Jamulus, where the setup will be slightly different as we will not route it to the audio interface directly, but rather use the ASIO ReaRoute device 1 and 2 as the input and output.

Jamulus setup
Jamulus setup

On Zoom or equivalent, the setup is rather simple: just video and no audio. Gallery mode for the video will give you the now famous ‘multiple little windows’ aspect seen all over the web since the pandemic started. The audio is interesting, clients I helped with this setup reported it is more effective to ‘leave the meeting for audio’ then muting their audio in Zoom. So once the meeting is running, musicians can just opt out of audio for the meeting and leave just the video running.

OBS for the win

Finally OBS will be in charge of broadcasting the audio and video you select, so what you want is:

  • Install OBS ASIO
  • 1 audio input, where you will select the ASIO device created by ReaRoute with channels 3 and 4 (as we want the full Jamulus return mix)
  • 1 window capture, where you will select the Zoom window

To make sure I had no other interference I’ve disabled any other audio ‘devices’ in OBS settings.

Adjustment of the OBS encoder is a bit beyond the scope here (plenty of specialised articles over the web cover this in detail depending on the video resolution you want) but normally the default settings will be sufficient for a decent Facebook or YouTube livestream. OBS covers a plethora of others such as Vimeo, Twitch, etc.

Finally, an important fact. Zoom and Jamulus don’t know about each other… so audio and video unlikely to be in sync. If you don’t care about this you can stop reading now. But if you do, please be aware that OBS has a sync offset settings under the advanced audio properties for each audio stream. So you could use this to adjust the audio so it matches the video more closely.

With the caveat that this is a moving target, you could set up the encoders and start your jam session recording on OBS instead of streaming, and then ‘clap’ on your video and measure the offset between the visual and audible clap using video editing software. 

A more realistic test would be to do a dummy livestream and have someone record the output (most social media outlets will record for posting after the fact) and then use that to measure. It will vary during the session (you have little control over the techniques employed by Jamulus or Zoom for their streams apart form a few settings in each), but if you get an ‘average’ and use that it may be decent enough.

The set-up of a livestream from OBS is quite intuitive, select the platform you want to use and it will provide a link from where there will be step by step instructions on how to get a stream key and start your show !

Conclusion

We know it’s coming. With online jams and livestreams becoming a reality for musicians, I’m sure big companies have an eye on this and the ‘iStream 2020’ is just around the corner…. meanwhile, this array of cleverly arranged tools are a feasible way to take your performance live on the web while social distancing.

If you are still not clear on the setup, here is my YouTube video demonstrating step-by-step

If you need any help with livestream your online jam please contact me.

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