I really wanna harmonize with a faraway friend
September 30, 2014 6:39 PM   Subscribe

I've got a buddy who has recently returned to the opposite coast for a while. A big part of our friendship is singing together, which is right nice. The problem is we can't figure out how to do it now. Skype has that delay that always makes it feel like the other person is messing with you (and the volume goes down in my speakers when there's input from my mic?). Phone calls are weird when one person's trying to hold a guitar. Are there any solutions for this kinda thing yet, or are we reduced to sending recordings back and forth?

Apologies if something like this has been asked; I couldn't find anything similar.
posted by lauranesson to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What about a google hangout?
posted by Sara C. at 7:15 PM on September 30, 2014

Maybe there's an obvious reason why this isn't possible, but could the person trying to hold the guitar put the phone on speaker?
posted by mekily at 8:06 PM on September 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

My experience is that oldschool land line phones are best for this. Cell phones are okay but not great — you get all kinds of weird audio artifacts and it's sort of unsatisfying, though they've gotten better. Maybe use something like skype for video but real phones for the audio part if that's possible?
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:16 PM on September 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think you'll have better success using gaming-focused apps. I use an app called Mumble, and there's another called Ventrilo. They're specifically designed to be low-latency.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 8:27 PM on September 30, 2014

Latency from VoIP won't allow this.

Real copper land lines will work with a small enough amount of latency, but the quality is crap.

If you both have access to audio production facilities with ISDN interfaces, you could give that a shot.
posted by tomierna at 8:27 PM on September 30, 2014

Response by poster: I guess I should also mention here that said friend is a bit of a Luddite and a little afraid of new stuff. So if something that he has to download might work, it SHOULD work, if you know what I mean. Also, thanks for all of the above, and I will test it with less scared folks.
posted by lauranesson at 8:39 PM on September 30, 2014

Landlines on speaker phone. Cell phones can't hold a candle when it comes to clarity and lack of delay.
posted by amaire at 10:32 PM on September 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

The inherent delays in speech encoding and data transmission on most off the peg voice solutions kill any attempted to do collaborative realtime music.

What you need is a something that uses a codec which is both low-delay and high quality, over the lowest round-trip time connection you can find, with voip software that can be tuned for minimal delay. Give Mumble a try, as it uses Opus, and you can tune the latency & encoding quality to match your needs. You'll do better if your internet connection is fibre or cable - DSL adds 20ms or so to packet transmission in each direction.
posted by pharm at 5:16 AM on October 1, 2014

There's an expensive device ($350 for two of them) which claims to reduce the delay to a tolerable level if you have a fast enough internet connection. I haven't tried it myself.
posted by moonmilk at 8:10 AM on October 1, 2014

Landlines, get a couple of speakerphones & you'll be set.
posted by wwax at 9:06 AM on October 1, 2014

Landline sound quality is awful compared to what you can achieve via either Mumble or one of those hardware devices Moonmilk points to though.
posted by pharm at 9:25 AM on October 1, 2014

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