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Musical Performances with Zoom Meetings

Related to my previous post where I compared the audio recording quality of MS Teams vs. Zoom vs Nikon DSLR (https://blogs.sap.com/2020/06/26/recording-quality-in-teams-vs-zoom-vs-dslr/), I also get a chance to play around with a lot of Audio Settings in Zoom.

The following are my steps for anyone who wants a more higher quality/more musical audio when connecting into a Zoom meeting. This could useful:

  • Sharing a Karaoke/Sing-Along or open-mic with your team
  • Recording a performance to share with others
  • Children and Students for on-line music lessons or exams

First, a little background. Zoom and other virtual meeting software is often optimized for low-quality, mass market headsets like Jabra BIZ 2400. At one time was the most common head set in our Toronto office.

While they do the job just fine, the technical specification is quite low (https://headsetplus.com/PDF/BIZ2400.pdf) when compared to “pro-audio” equipment. 1st generation Jarba BIZ 2400 had only 300Hz-3.4KHz response when compared to Blue en∙core 300 I used in sample of 40Hz-20KHz. So if you using higher quality A/V equipment, some of these settings work *against* you with A/V equipment that has higher fidelity. To avoid this, I essential by-pass all the pre-set audio-processing by:

1. Open Zoom and got to the Settings menu.

2. Go to Audio section

3. Ensure “Automatically adjust volume” is disabled. (The reason for this is that if you have some dynamics in your music, the software will try adjust, negating your dynamics. When the dynamics are aggressive, this could get pretty messy.)

4. *IF* using a high quality Audio Interface or Microphone, ensure that is selected. (In my case, the USB Audio Interface I have is much higher quality than built-in sound card, so this makes sure I am *NOT* using the built-in microphone, etc.)

5. Go to Advanced section.

6. Enabled “Show in-meeting option to “Enable Original Sound” from microphone“. (This ‘hidden’ option allows me to preserver the original [higher] quality of my audio set-up.)

7. Next, in the following section disable all items under Audio Processing(The Audio Processing features are really targeted to compensate for the low quality of mass-produced headsets like the one mentioned above. In our use-case this is not necessary.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Now in meeting, ensure “Turn off Original Sound” is highlighted and blue. (FYI – The UI/UX is a tlittle here. When you click it then goes gray with new text “Turn on Original Sound”)

9. *IF* you need to get to the Audio Settings, you do not need to exit the meeting. You can access the *same* settings via Mute settings in the bottom left.

So how does that *SOUND*? I’ve provided two quick samples I made. To ensure the highest input audio quality as possible for the samples below, I used the following professional grade recording gear:

  • Behringer UMC404HD (Audiophile 4×4, 24-Bit/192 kHz USB Audio/MIDI Interface with Midas Mic Preamplifiers)
  • Blue en∙core 300 (Premium Vocal Condenser Microphone, 40Hz-20KHz response)

(To put the “hardware” in perspective, the audio hardware I am using is professional grade, recording at 24-bit/192KHz, which is ~250x the resolution of a CD at 16-bit/44.1KHz).

You can view the links below via Streams – only available to SAP internally. Please ignore the video portion, I didn’t really spend any time on that and used the basic virtual background. (For best results, play over high-quality speaker or headphones. Lower quality headsets may impact your ability to discern the differences.)

#1 – Zoom Meeting Recording for Music (U2 All I Want Is You – Cover)

The first sample is singing and playing my 1-week old Ukulele which my kids bought me for Father’s Day! I’ve never had one before and I got to pick it up in-store Monday of this week.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sG_gouCxsE

Details: 32 KHz/12-bit sound

#2 – Zoom Meeting Recording for Music (U2 With or Without You – Cover)

The second sample is has more range, using my Telecaster through my POD XTlive, which is a much fuller sound. Lots more lows and highs with more dynamics. The recording picks up both the soft guitar picking and heavier strumming.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1wStEg7xSo

Details: 32 KHz/12-bit sound

Recording with a device such as DSLR would be even higher fidelity, but it would lack the “live” part.

Hope this helps anyone who is looking for a little more than basic intelligible speech in their meetings and recordings! Good luck. Post in the comments if you have any questions.

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