Let's start with what it means for audio to "sound bad". In the JamKazam world, this typically means that audio artifacts like crackling, pops, dropouts, robotic sounds, and other things are happening that make audio sound not right or just plain bad. If these things happen once in a while in sessions, that's to be expected given the nature of the Internet and technology in general. But if they happen frequently and repetitively, this can be very annoying and dampen the pleasure of playing music together, or even be so bad that you don't want to play at all.
The first thing to determine if you are hearing bad audio is this. Does your own audio sound bad to you? Or does your own audio sound fine, but the audio of one or more other musicians in your session sound bad to you?
If your own audio sounds bad in your headphones, then read the section immediately below on Troubleshooting Your Own Audio Quality. If your own audio sounds fine but others' audio does not in your sessions, then scroll down in this help article to the section Troubleshooting Other Musicians' Audio Quality.
Troubleshooting Your Own Audio Quality
If your own audio sounds bad in your headphones, then you have an audio processing problem in your own gear/setup.
Let's start with this point. If you are trying to use the built-in mic and speakers/headphone jack on your computer to process audio in JamKazam sessions, we empathize with your desire to not spend money on hardware. However, you are going to have very high latency in sessions, which will make it difficult to play together in sync. And you are going to have audio quality and stability problems as well - and we can't fix that. If you are wondering why your gear works fine on Zoom and similar apps, it's that Zoom and similar conferencing apps simply don't drive your built-in audio gear as hard as JamKazam does in order to deliver ultra-low latency combined with high-quality audio. So if you're using built-in gear on your computer, we recommend you purchase an audio interface and accompanying gear as needed (i.e. cable, mic, etc.). You can get a terrific audio interface for as little as US$100, and it will massively upgrade your JamKazam experience. Here is a link to a help article that compares the latency, features, and price of some of the better interfaces for Mac and interfaces for Windows we've seen at good value prices.
If you are using an audio interface already, then the first/easiest thing to do is to click the Resync button in the session toolbar (pictured below with arrow) while you are in a session.
Clicking this button restarts your audio interface, and sometimes your audio interface can fall out of sync with the operating system of your computer as it provides high-speed audio processing services. After you click the Resync button, wait for a few seconds and then try playing/singing again to see if your audio quality has cleared up. If your audio quality is fine much of the time but just occasionally gets bad, you can often "fix" it with a quick click of the Resync button, and this may be good enough to solve your problem.
If you are getting crackling and are using a VST or AU plugin (like Amplitube, etc.), we have heard from at least one user that starting the VST before starting/opening the JamKazam app can often prevent the audio crackling problem.
If you are on a Windows computer, it may help to change your settings to high performance mode so that your computer's processor can keep up with the audio processing better. Following is a help article on how to do this:
If your audio quality is fine most of the time, but your audio quality has suddenly become poor, and the Resync button won't clear the problem, and you haven't done anything that would change anything in your audio setup, then we recommend closing the JamKazam app, rebooting your computer, and then re-starting the JamKazam app, getting into a private session, and checking your audio again. Sometimes your audio subsystem just gets sideways with your computer's operating system, and rebooting your computer will fix things.
If you have rebooted your computer and your audio quality remains consistently problematic, then we recommend deleting your current audio profile(s) in JamKazam and setting up your audio gear from scratch. We have observed that sometimes operating system updates, JamKazam app updates, driver updates, and other system changes can cause an audio profile that has been working just fine to suddenly stop working properly. And when this happens, the best way to fix it is to delete your existing audio gear profile and set up your gear all over again. To do this:
- First follow the instructions in this help article to set the audio sample rates for your audio interface in your operating system to the same/correct values.
- After you have done this, next follow the instructions in this help article to delete your current audio profile.
- And finally, after you've deleted your current audio profile, use the links at the end of that help article (after deleting your current audio profile) to follow our help articles step-by-step through the audio setup wizard. The place you are going to want to focus your particular attention to improve your audio quality is on Step 2 of the audio setup wizard (pictured below).
In Step 2 of the audio setup wizard:
- Leave the Sample Rate set to "Match", so that your audio interface sample rate settings will match (and not conflict with) your operating system's audio sample rate settings.
- If you are using a Windows computer, then find, download, and install the latest ASIO driver for your audio interface from the website of the company that makes your interface. Don't assume you have the latest/greatest driver for your interface. (And don't use the ASIO4ALL driver - it is not reliable.) If you do not have the current ASIO driver installed, this can cause a wide variety of bad things.
- After you have installed the current ASIO driver for your audio interface, follow our instructions in the help article for Step 2 of the audio setup wizard to click the orange ASIO Settings button, and then experiment with the latency settings in your interface's settings dialog. The latency settings may be called "buffer size" or "sample size" or something similar to this. In general, you want to crank this down as low as it will go to minimize audio processing latency. So set it to its lowest level, then close this settings dialog, and click the orange Resync button in the JamKazam app. Now play and/or sing with your headphones on, and listen to your audio quality. If your audio quality sounds good at the lowest latency settings, great! If not, try clicking the ASIO Settings button, adjusting the latency settings up to the next level, closing the dialog, and clicking the Resync button again. Now play and/or sing and check your audio quality to see if giving up a little speed has improved your audio quality. The other thing to be aware of is that for some audio interfaces, there are interactions between your ASIO driver latency settings and the audio Frame Size setting in the JamKazam app. See the next bullet for more information on this.
- The other main control with which you should experiment is the Frame Size setting in Step 2 of the JamKazam wizard. Try adjusting this between values of 2.5ms, 2ms, and 1ms. After any such change, click the Resync button. Then see where your latency score is on the right-hand side of the wizard, and play and/or sing to check your audio quality. Lowering your frame size will generally lower your latency, but can also create audio quality problems if your computer and interface can't keep up. Also, we sometimes see unpredictable interactions between the Frame Size you set in the wizard, and what your interface vendor allows/supports for ASIO driver latency settings. For example, Focusrite interfaces appear to "not like" the 2.5ms frame size, and this causes these interfaces to jump up to a much higher latency score. Setting the frame size to either 2ms or 1ms results in the Focusrite ASIO driver significantly dropping its latency settings to reduce latency, while typically retaining high audio quality.
- If you are on a Mac computer, you will not see an ASIO Settings button because Macs don't use the ASIO audio architecture. For the Mac, most audio interfaces don't offer custom drivers. For those that do (like the Motu M2 or M4, or the Focusrite Scarlett and Clarett product lines), installing and using the driver will reduce your audio processing latency, while typically retaining good audio quality. But again, for most Mac users, you will only be able to adjust the Frame Size up or down to experiment with the trade-off between latency and audio quality.
Troubleshooting Other Musicians' Audio Quality
If your own audio quality sounds fine in sessions, but the audio quality of other musicians in your session sounds poor to you, this can be caused by one of two primary issues - either an Internet connection problem or a poor audio gear configuration of the other musician.
To figure this out, start by checking the stats on the Internet connection between you and the other musician in your session. For help in understanding how to view and interpret these in-session diagnostics and statistics, please read this help article, and then come back here to continue forward.
As an example, look at the screenshot below. In the Internet section of the diagnostics display for the musician Seth, you can see that Connectivity = WiFi (which has a red dot to indicate trouble), and that the two Jitter stats are also both in the red. High Internet jitter will often cause audio quality problems, as will the use of WiFi. And if AudioBw Rx is low, this means there is very little bandwidth available for that user's audio stream, which will definitely negatively impact that user's audio quality in the session.
If the stats for the other musicians are all green and yellow (not red), then it's more likely that the other musician has a problem in the configuration of their own audio gear. In this case, we suggest that you copy the URL/link of this help article and email it to that musician - so that they can follow the instructions in the first half of this help article to troubleshoot their own audio issues.