Introducing the JamBlaster
With your smartphone and a JamBlaster, you can:
- Play live in sync with other musicians from different locations over the Internet – great for rehearsals without travel or space, co-writing, or joining open jams for fun
- Make pro quality audio (and optionally video) recordings of yourself and others – both master mix and fully isolated stems
- Learn and play along with 4,000+ of your favorite songs – with the ability to solo or mute any part, slow down playback for practice, change pitch/key, and more
- Teach or take online music lessons that really work – unlike Skype and Google Hangouts, which suffer from very high latency and poor audio quality
- Broadcast live video performances with pro quality audio through YouTube to family, friends, and fans – either yourself or your band playing in one location, or your online distributed JamKazam sessions
Play Music Live in Sync from Different Locations over the Internet
The ability to play live together from different locations enables many new possibilities including:
- Rehearse without needing to pack gear, travel, and find rehearsal space
- Co-write new music interactively as if you're sitting in the same room rather than just sharing files, which limits both creativity and speed
- Join open jam sessions any time to play live with others, make new connections, learn, and just have fun playing more music
Latency issues have historically prevented musicians from playing together over the Internet, but the JamBlaster and JamKazam's patent pending software innovations have brought this dream to life.
To demonstrate the kind of live distributed performances that are possible with the JamBlaster, we flew the members of the band Big Cat to Austin TX, Atlanta GA, Chicago IL, and Brooklyn NY, and had them play together using a JamBlaster at each location. They played from the homes of friends in those cities using normal consumer Internet connections. We used a headphone splitter to record the audio that Malford (singer) heard in real-time while singing, so you can hear exactly what he heard while performing. Watch the video below to see and hear it!
Make Pro Quality Audio Recordings
The JamBlaster delivers professional quality audio recording, and enables a number of very handy recording scenarios.
Plug your instruments and/or microphones into the JamBlaster, and you are ready to record. The JamBlaster automatically records both a master mix and the individual fully isolated stems/tracks from each audio input port, and these audio recordings are saved to the JamBlaster, so they don't use up precious storage space on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. When your recording is complete, the audio files are automatically synched and stored in the JamKazam cloud, so that you can access these audio files from any device, anytime, anywhere, and you can easily share them with others if desired. You can also grab the audio files to use in your favorite DAW (e.g. ProTools, Ableton, GarageBand, etc.) for further editing.
In addition to audio, you can easily make recordings that combine and sync audio from the JamBlaster with video from your smartphone or tablet or from a webcam on your computer to create great videos, and the JamKazam app can upload these videos automatically to YouTube for you.
Record an Online JamKazam Session
You can also easily record JamKazam online multiplayer sessions - for example a band rehearsal. When you do this, the recording feature captures the master mix of the combined performance, and also captures the fully isolated audio stems for each musician in the session. When the recording is complete, the high quality stems from all musicians are automatically uploaded to the JamKazam cloud, which then automatically downloads all stems to all musicians who played on the recording. And again in this case, you can easily record video + audio of the full multiplayer session, and upload this to YouTube for easy sharing. Here is an example of a recorded JamKazam session:
Record a Remote Musician Laying Down a Track
Producers and composers can use the JamBlaster to open an audio file of a piece of music (work in progress) and play this audio file to a remote musician, who plays along with this audio file to lay down a new track to add to it. When complete, the remote musician's high quality stem audio file(s) are automatically uploaded and accessible to the producer or composer.
Works With Your Favorite DAW Too
You can even use the JamBlaster like a traditional audio interface by connecting the JamBlaster with a USB cable to your computer, and you can then record through the JamBlaster straight into your favorite recording app, like ProTools, Ableton, GarageBand, etc.
Learn And Play Along With 4,000+ Of Your Favorite Songs
JamKazam has put together a catalog of 4,000+ popular songs - called JamTracks - everything from classic rock to current pop, reggae, country, blues, metal, and a bunch more. What's unique is that these are full multitrack recordings, with each part of the song isolated - lead vocal, backing vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, keys, drums, etc. We have songs with great parts for just about any instrument - violin, mandolin, harmonica, sax, you name it. Click here to search for your favorite songs in our catalog by song name or artist name. Or click here to select your instrument and see the songs with parts for your instrument.
With the JamBlaster and JamTracks, you can:
- Listen to just the single part you want to play to learn it
- Mute the part you want to play, and play along with the rest of the band
- Slow down playback to practice without changing the pitch
- Change the song key by raising or lowering pitch in half steps
- Save your custom mixes for easy access, and export them to use anywhere
- Make audio recordings and share via Facebook or URL
- Make video recordings and share via YouTube
- Play JamTracks with other musicians online live and in sync
Here's an example of a YouTube video recording made with a JamTrack by a JamKazam user:
Your first JamTrack is free, and after that JamTracks are just $1.99 each.
Teach Or Take Online Music Lessons
There are compelling reasons that many music teachers and students want to teach and take music lessons online. Unfortunately Skype, Google Hangouts, and similar apps are horrible for music lessons. Latency is far too high for teacher and student to play together, and audio quality is very poor. Plus these apps don't offer features important to lessons, such as using backing audio tracks in sessions, making quality video/audio recordings of lesson demonstrations by the teacher or performances by the student, and so on.
The JamBlaster delivers the ideal platform for online music lessons, with great audio quality, the lowest possible latency, plug-and-play ease of use, and access to all of the JamKazam features for live music performance. Teachers can reach and effectively teach students across great distances, massively increasing the size of the lesson market opportunity for the teacher. Students can connect with the best teacher for their specific needs, rather than settling for the teacher who lives within a 30-minute drive. And both teacher and student can avoid the wasted time and expense of traveling to and from lessons.
JamKazam is also currently working to develop an online music lesson marketplace, through which we can connect students to teachers. We plan to launch this marketplace in late Q1 2016.
Broadcast Live Performances Through YouTube
With the JamBlaster, you can broadcast your musical performances live to family, friends, and fans through YouTube, without understanding codecs, without buying streaming software to integrate with YouTube, and so on. Just click a button to broadcast your session, and the JamBlaster takes care of the rest. It combines the pro quality audio of your performance with video from your smartphone, tablet, or computer webcam, and streams this combined video through YouTube Live. You can even schedule a performance and distribute and promote a URL for the live stream in advance of the event, and you can use multiple webcams to cut between different shots/angles during the live broadcast.
Why Did We Design and Build the JamBlaster?
When we initially built the free JamKazam service to let musicians play together live over the Internet, we started by having musicians use the Mac and Windows computers and audio interfaces they already own. We've signed up 20,000+ musicians along the way. We've analyzed data from more than 100,000 online sessions. And we've collected audio processing latency data on thousands of combinations of computers and interfaces, as well as 10 million Internet latency measurements between unique pairs of locations and ISPs. We've learned a lot from all this data.
Typically you need to keep total one way latency down to 30 to 35 milliseconds or less in an online session, or the session will get too sloppy and fall apart. We found that the average audio processing latency of industry standard gear is 14 milliseconds (full round trip including analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversions). So just processing the audio eats up half of your total latency budget!
We designed the JamBlaster from the ground up to be the fastest audio processing device possible, and we have the JamBlaster running at 2.8 milliseconds of latency full round trip - a massive latency savings. Every one millisecond saved on audio processing is worth about 100 miles of range on the Internet backbone. The JamBlaster also reduces something called audio processing jitter, which delivers additional latency savings. The result is that the JamBlaster saves audio latency equivalent to about 1,500 miles of distance compared to today's standard computers and interfaces.
Looking at it another way, using JamKazam with standard computers and interfaces, a musician in the U.S. can play effectively with about 10% of the other musicians in the U.S. With the JamBlaster, that same musician can now play with about 35% of the other musicians in the U.S.
Ease of Use
We also found that many users struggled to get their computers and interfaces working properly. Sometimes the operating system was incompatible. Sometimes interface drivers had problems, or the user couldn't figure out how to configure the driver for low latency. And so on and on. We heard from many musicians that they did not love or understand technology very well, and they wanted something that "just worked". The JamBlaster just works. It contains all the hardware, software, drivers, etc. that are needed. You don't have to install any apps or drivers or configure things. You just plug in your instruments and/or microphones and connect it to your network.
Post PC Ready
Finally, we found that many musicians either have ancient computers, or for younger musicians, no computer at all - often just a smartphone or tablet. The JamBlaster is both a computer and an audio interface in one device, so you don't need a computer to use it. You can control it with your iOS or Android smartphone, or with a standard browser running on a tablet or a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer.
How Does the JamBlaster Work?
It's important to understand that the JamBlaster is both a computer and an audio interface in one highly optimized device. You simply connect your instruments or microphones into the two input ports, connect the JamBlaster to your network, and plug headphones in to hear the music.
To control the JamBlaster, you can run a companion app either on an iPhone or Android smartphone, or you can use the interface at www.jamkazam.com in a standard browser on a tablet or a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer. The companion app or website talks to the JamBlaster over WiFi to tell it what to do. There are no physical connections needed, so you don't have to worry about compatibility problems with your current (or future) mobile devices and computers.
How Does Latency Work For Online Music Performance?
Latency exists in all music performance environments. The speed of sound is so slow (sound travels 1 foot per millisecond) that two musicians sitting 10 feet away from each other will experience 10 milliseconds of delay, or latency, from the time one plays an instrument until the other hears it. The key to enabling online live music performance is to keep latency so low that it doesn't interfere with the ability to play in sync.
The Internet backbone is fiber, and data can move across fiber at approximately the speed of light. This is the key to enabling distributed live music performance. With the JamBlaster cutting audio processing latency down so close to zero, all that's left to deal with is Internet latency.
In the video above where the band Big Cat played together from Austin, Atlanta, Chicago, and Brooklyn, the latency in that online session was equivalent to having the musicians sit about 25 feet away from each other in a room.
Here's a video that explains a little bit more about latency:
What Internet Service Do You Need To Play Online?
When you get a JamBlaster, you have a device that you know will "just work". The other thing you need is broadband Internet service. You don't need anything special or unusual. Most home broadband Internet connections today work fine. Here's what to watch for.
We've found that both cable broadband and fiber broadband Internet services work well, while low-end DSL service sometimes doesn't work well, and satellite/wireless Internet doesn't work due to high latency.
To play in groups of 4 musicians (audio only), you'll want to have Internet service rated at 1Mbps of uplink/upload bandwidth. To play in groups of 4 musicians (video + audio), you'll want to have Internet service rated at 2.5Mbps of uplink/upload bandwidth. If you're not sure what your upload bandwidth is, we'd recommend you go to www.speedtest.net and run the test there.
And finally, to play in online, real-time sessions, we recommend avoiding WiFi connections. For the best performance, connect the JamBlaster to your router using an Ethernet cable. If you want to play in a room far away from the room where your home router is located, you can buy a 100-foot Ethernet cable on Amazon for about $10, and then just run it from your router to another room in your house, and then coil it back up and store it when you're done. It's cheap and easy. For recording, live YouTube broadcasts, and JamTracks, WiFi is fine.
What Else Do You Need To Use With The JamBlaster?
If you sing or play an acoustic instrument like a violin, trumpet, or piano, you'll need to use a microphone to capture the audio from your instrument/voice. If you have an electronic instrument like an electric guitar, bass, or keyboard, you can plug a 1/4" TS or XLR connector into either of the two input ports. The JamBlaster can automatically duplicate mono inputs into stereo signals, so you can use just one port per instrument, and still have stereo audio on each instrument/vocal.
If you are a multi-instrumentalist and need more than 2 input ports, we recommend using a simple analog mixer like a Behringer Xenyx 1002B. You can plug all your gear into the mixer, and then connect the audio outputs from the mixer into the inputs on the JamBlaster. Analog mixers don't add any latency.
Other than that, you'll need a device that presents the user interface to set up or join sessions, record, and so on. This can either be a smartphone - specifically an iPhone (v8 or later) or Android phone (v4.4 or later). Or you can run a standard browser on a tablet or on a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer. Video services are also provided by your smartphone, tablet, or a computer webcam.
The JamBlaster Plugs Into The JamKazam Platform And Community
JamKazam has already signed up 20,000+ musicians who play in thousands of online sessions per month using their computers and audio interfaces. The JamBlaster interoperates seamlessly with other musicians who are running Mac and Windows PC setups, so you can jump right in and start playing with other musicians in the community using your JamBlaster from day one.
Following are tech specs on the JamBlaster:
JamBlaster Computing Resources
The JamBlaster includes a quad-core 1.2GHz ARM processor, 1GB memory, 8GB storage, and GigE Ethernet network connectivity. It runs a Linux operating system with an optimized real-time kernel, and the entire system has been designed, architected, and optimized end-to-end to deliver blazing audio processing speed.
JamBlaster Audio Quality
The JamBlaster uses premium audio components throughout to deliver superb audio quality on par with audio interfaces that were designed only for recording. The JamBlaster delivers up to 24-bit, 96kHz premium audio. Frequency response for mic/line/instrument inputs is 20Hz – 20kHz +/-0.2dB. THD+N is -107dB for mic inputs and <-100 dB for line and instrument inputs.
The JamBlaster features two Neutrik combo ports on the front, so you can plug in either TS 1/4" or XLR style connectors. Each input port can be individually set to accept line level (lo Z) or instrument level (hi Z) inputs, and each input port can be individually set to supply 48V phantom power if needed.
The headphone port accepts a standard 1/4" TRS connector from your headphones.
The horizontal cutout labeled "MIC" on the front of the JamBlaster is a built-in chat mic you can use to talk with other musicians while in sessions.
The Ethernet port on the rear of the JamBlaster is a GigE Ethernet port, and the JamBlaster can be connected to your home router using an Ethernet cable (not included) for Internet connectivity. We strongly recommend a hardwired Ethernet connection for the best performance in online distributed sessions. However, if you want to use WiFi for things like making recordings, live broadcasting through YouTube, or playing along with JamTracks, that is totally fine, and we'd recommend a cheap Ethernet-to-WiFi adapter to WiFi-enable the JamBlaster if desired for greater mobility.
The JamBlaster includes 8GB of onboard storage, and the Linux operating system and JamKazam application that run on the JamBlaster use less than 1GB of this storage. For musicians who want more storage capacity for recordings, we plan to support a short list of "certified" USB memory sticks that you can buy and plug into a USB port to expand the JamBlaster's storage capacity.
This button is available in case troubleshooting is needed on the JamBlaster. For example, it can be used to hard reset the box to factory defaults.
The JamBlaster's power supply (included with the JamBlaster) is rated for 100-240VAC 50/60Hz, so it works with both North America's standard 120V/60Hz and Europe's standard 220V/50Hz power infrastructure. Please note that the physical power supply plug is a standard US plug type, so if you live outside the US, you will need to use a plug adapter (not included), but not a power converter.
Compatibility with Recording Software
The JamBlaster may be connected to Windows and Mac computers using a USB cable (not included), and will act as a "normal" audio interface when used in this configuration, so you can use it with your favorite recording software (e.g. ProTools, Ableton, Cubase, Reaper, GarageBand, etc.).
The JamBlaster is controlled using a companion app that can run on iOS (v8 or later) or Android (v4.4 or later) smartphones. Or it may be controlled using a web interface that runs in a standard browser on tablets or Windows, Mac, or Linux computers.
Ready to Order Your JamBlaster?
The only way the JamBlaster will make it the rest of the way to the market and to musicians like you is if you help us meet our Kickstarter goal. So if you're in, here's what you do.
Go back up to the top of this page. Then look at the right column as you start scrolling down the page until you see the "Pledge $199" to "SAVE $100 & GET YOUR JAMBLASTER FIRST" Reward box. Click that box and follow the steps from there.
If you want to order multiple units, Kickstarter doesn't have a "buy X units" feature, but you can order more than one JamBlaster by multiplying the cost of product and shipping ($199 + $20) by the number of units, and pledging that amount. We can then ship to multiple addresses for a single pledge.
We are currently able to ship to backers in the United States, Canada, the European Union (EU), and Australia.
Thank you for joining us in our quest!
T-Shirts And Other Ways To Help
If getting your own JamBlaster doesn't make sense for you right now, you can still help JamKazam along the way by buying a t-shirt or just contributing whatever cash you can to help us. We've raised some seed funding, but most of us are still working on this for free, some of us without paying jobs. If you'd like a t-shirt, they are available in the colors/styles below. You can buy the t-shirt reward in the right column, and you'll be able to choose your color later when the 30-day Kickstarter is done. Thank you for your support!
Risks and challenges
We are about 95% of the way done with the product. We still need to:
* Secure FCC class B certifications. We've done this before, and we've already run pre-screen tests, appear to be in good shape.
* Order parts for the production run. We'll need to re-check lead times to make sure there are no gotchas, and if there are, work on sourcing from alternative suppliers to keep lead times down.
* Do more work on the smartphone companion apps to cut down and optimize our desktop app interface to fit/work well on the smaller screen.
This is certainly all very manageable stuff. The hard and nasty bits are done.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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