While different instruments can require slightly different sets of gear, as a general rule, each musician needs the following gear to play on JamKazam:
You will need a computer running either Windows 10 or Mac OS X 10.8 or higher. The JamKazam application does not run on Chromebooks, Linux, or iOS or Android devices.
You will need an audio interface. The small black hardware box in the picture above in between the computer and the guitar is an audio interface. The audio interface digitizes the audio from your instrument and/or vocals into a format that your computer can process. While it's possible to set up and use the built-in mic and headphone jack on your computer for audio, we do not recommend this - because your audio quality will be poor, and latency will be very high, so you will have trouble playing in sync with other musicians. A good audio interface is your most important purchase decision. As you might expect, JamKazam has tested a bunch of different audio interfaces, and we have recommendations for the best audio interfaces for Mac computers and the best audio interfaces for Windows computers to help you make a good choice.
You will typically want to play in JamKazam sessions using headphones to hear yourself and everyone else in the session. The headphones will need to be plugged into your audio interface, and almost all audio interfaces require a full-sized 1/4" headphone jack, not a mini-jack. So if you don't have a pair of headphone with the larger 1/4" headphone jack, you'll need to get a pair of these. Note that while it is also possible to play the session audio out through powered monitors from the audio interface, we don't advise this unless you really know what you are doing with audio - because it's easy to get a bad audio feedback loop through the microphone you'll be using to either talk with other musicians or sing in sessions.
Ethernet Port + Cable
We cannot overemphasize that your Internet setup is critical to your success in playing online. You really should not use a WiFi connection with JamKazam. We strongly advise that you need to connect your computer to your home router using an Ethernet cable. This gives you a wired, rather than a wireless, connection from your computer to your home Internet service. And without getting into the technical details (which involve packet rates and jitter), a wired connection will perform very well and very reliably, while a WiFi/wireless connection will create major latency problems in your sessions. And to be clear, you can't solve this problem by buying more bandwidth from your Internet service provider.
So then how do you do this? First, you need an Ethernet cable. You plug one end of the Ethernet cable into one of the ports on your home router - the piece of hardware in your house that provides your Internet service. And you plug the other end of the Ethernet cable into an Ethernet port on your computer. If the area where you want to play and/or sing in sessions is far away from where your home router is located, don't worry. You can simply buy a 100-foot Ethernet cable for about $10, run it across your house for sessions, and then coil it up and stick it in a drawer when you're done.
If your computer has a built-in Ethernet port, then you just need an Ethernet cable. If your computer doesn't have a built-in Ethernet port (modern computers increasingly do not have these built in), then you'll need to buy an Ethernet adapter. These typically cost about $20.
Broadband Internet Service
You will need to have access to broadband Internet service at home (or wherever else you're playing from). Typical cable broadband and fiber broadband that is available to most households work fine. If you live in a rural area and must depend on satellite Internet service, you will likely have too much latency to play live and in sync.
In terms of bandwidth:
- To play in a session with just 2 musicians while using both audio and video, you'll need about 1Mbps both down and up.
- To play in a session with 5 musicians using just audio, you'll need about 1Mbps both down and up.
- To play in a session with 5 musicians using both audio and video, you'll need about 3Mbps both down and up.
Also, it's important to understand that more bandwidth does not mean lower latency. These two things have nothing to do with each other. Bandwidth can affect the quality of the audio and video in your session if you have very little bandwidth. But buying a ton of bandwidth won't lower latency in your sessions.
Microphone + XLR Cable + Mic Stand
If you are playing an acoustic instrument like a violin, trumpet, or acoustic guitar, you will need a microphone to capture the sound of your instrument. If you are a singer and don't play an instrument, you will also need a microphone to capture the sound of your vocals.
If you play an electronic instrument like an electric guitar or bass, or an electronic keyboard, these instruments can connect directly into your audio interface or your computer, so you don't need a microphone for the instrument. You can still get/use a mic for talking with other musicians in your session, or you can use the mic built into your computer to chat with others in sessions.
And if you play a larger instrument like a piano or an acoustic drum kit, you will need two microphones - one for the instrument and one for your voice to talk with others in sessions - because you can't effectively use the mic built into your computer for chatting with these types of instruments.
If you want to use video in your JamKazam sessions, you'll need a webcam. You can simply use the webcam that is built into your computer, and/or you can use an external webcam that you plug into a port on your computer. If you have multiple webcams, JamKazam has features that will let you use/leverage multiple webcams.
This covers all the basics of what you'll need. For more in-depth explanations of gear based on different instruments, you can refer to our gear requirements by instrument help docs. And for recommendations of specific audio interfaces, Ethernet adapters, microphones, and so on that we have found to offer the best price/performance blend, you can refer to our gear recommendations help docs.
Ready to learn more? Read the "How Do I Set Up My Gear?" article.