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Defuddling JamKazam Vol. 2: Don't believe everything you read

I feel that one of the most important things to get out of the way are the truths of many, many claims and misnomers that are floating around on social media - no doubt a common issue with very rapid adoption of a complex tool.  We'll do this style.  Here are some, in no particular order:

Claim: "You Can't Use WiFi with JamKazam"
Status: Partly true
Well, you CAN use WiFi.  But it's better if you use an ethernet cable.  For starters, the nature of WiFi is that it tends to deliver packets via different physical transmission paths, which causes them to arrive in the wrong order.  On the other side, these packets have to be queuing them into a buffer (temporary holding tank for data), and reassembled into a contiguous stream.  Then they are released for you to hear. Ethernet cables require less of this action to be required, so JamKazam uses a smaller buffer, and therefore you end up with lower latency.  Now consider that most people have total shit WiFi setups at their homes, and using WiFi becomes an even worse choice.  Bottom line is, use an ethernet cable.

Claim: "You need the best internet plan available"
Status: Very unlikely
JamKazam is, contrary to what seems to be a rampant believe, not very bandwidth intensive.  It is the equivalent of a video conference call.  If someone is using solid audio gear, and having problems with latency or "choppiness" (which is a very vague description), it is most likely their computer or networking gear that is at fault.  It is very likely that the computer or router is on the edge of what it can handle in terms of load.

Claim: (Windows user) "You need to download ASIO4ALL"
Status: Very unlikely
Your audio interface hopefully has a native ASIO driver available from the manufacturer's website. This is what you should use.  If they don't, you can try ASIO4ALL, which is a third-party, lower latency wrapper for Windows' standard (high latency) WDM drivers. In some cases it works, but in most cases it doesn't seem to work very well.  It is definitely a second choice.

Claim: "A Chromebook is a viable cheap laptop option"
Status: False
While a Chromebook is, in fact, a laptop, Even if the processor power was enough, it does not run Windows or MacOS, which as of this writing are the only supported operating systems.  Chromebooks run ChromeOS, so, no go. If you are looking for the cheapest machine you can buy new that still has enough power, it's probably going to be a mini desktop computer, like the Intel NUC (bring your own monitor/keyboard/mouse).

Claim: "You need USB 3 (aka USB 3.1) ports"
Status: False
USB 2.0 max throughput = 480 Mbps
Even if you run 192KHz @ 24 bits < 10 Mbps
The latency of USB 3 is not improved over USB 2.0.
Even if you are using a 100 Mbps USB Network Adapter, JamKazam will not come close to saturating your connection.

Claim: "You need a (quad-core Intel Core i7 or other crazy CPU) if you want JamKazam to work as well as it can."
Status: False
You do need a real bit of processor power.  Practically speaking, I'd say, minimum dual core Core i3. Preferably a quad core Core i5 or better.  But to be fair, the amount of peak processor power you actually need for JK varies with how you are using it.  I've actually tested it with a Core 2 Duo from 2011, and it was "enough processor power to have a jam session".  Just barely.  As you add musicians, and use features like the video stream or Jam Tracks, that is when you will exceed your processor power, and when that happens, the result is NOT pretty.  Basically it's a sea of loud sparks and crackles in yours and everyone else's headphones.

Claim: "Turn off your video, it adds latency"
Status: Partially True
The video can have no impact, or a lot of impact, depending on a lot of factors.  The specific claim that it adds latency seems to be a little bit of a generalization, as though latency is the only evil one experiences on JK.  In fact, what it really does is add a ton more data that JamKazam has to coordinate which, if you or anyone in the session is on the edge, will very definitely result in a variety of problems - latency being only one.  Playing with the video on is more fun, but it's best to assume it is going to be a luxury and not a guarantee.  If everyone is getting good results, then congrats and enjoy - but it seems to vary with each session and the participants.

More parts coming soon!


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