Zoom Sound Basic Tips for Musicians

NOTE: These instructions are specific to the Zoom desktop client on the Apple Mac. For help with PC settings there are many tutorials on the web that can provide more information.

Here are some suggestions to help to make your instrument(s) sound as good as possible on Zoom.

Dealing with connectivity issues. Internet issues can be caused by many things; location, speed of your computer, overuse etc. A poor connection can cause the Zoom feed to lag, and then rush or just freeze altogether. Some things you can do:

  • If you possibly can, connect directly into your router using an Ethernet cable (direct signal is quite a bit faster than wifi). If that is not possible, at least move closer to the router.

  • Minimize other use of internet nearby if possible (other people in the house) and close other browsers and applications that may be using internet.

  • As a last resort turn off your video and just send the audio of your playing.

Sound. Over-the-ear headphones are very highly recommended. If you only have earbuds, make sure that the earbud microphone if any is disabled and the audio input is set to the computer mic (or your USB mic if you have one). Important: if you do not have headphones, your speakers must be turned off while Original Sound is on so that the sound from the speakers does not feed back into the microphone. Then when you are finished playing and are ready to talk to your audience, turn off Original Sound and turn your speakers back on.

An external USB mic is also very highly recommended; the sound quality is much better than with the built-in mic.

Note that Zoom audio settings are specific to the microphone you are using, so if you have set up Zoom with one microphone and switch to another, you will need to re-enter all your settings.

Zoom settings. Many of you may have already seen these instructions on how to get the best sound for music during a Zoom session; here is a refresher.

1. Before you start your session, make sure your microphone is set to the one you will be using in the session (Zoom settings are specific to the microphone in use at the time). Then open Zoom and go into the Preferences (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

2. Make sure your options are set as below, with “Automatically adjust microphone volume” unchecked and “Suppress background noise” set to Low. Click the “Test Mic” button and play. Adjust the “Input volume” slider so that the green bar goes up to approximately 5/8 to 3/4 while you are playing (Figure 2).

Figure 2.

3. Under “Music and Professional Audio” make sure that “Show in-meeting option to Enable Original Sound” is checked. Then, if you have a newer, more-powerful computer with an ethernet (not wifi) connection, check “High fidelity music mode” and “Stereo audio”. But if you only have wifi or have a less powerful computer these options should be left unchecked. Note: “High fidelity music mode” completely disables echo cancellation, so it is important to make sure your speaker is turned off when you are playing (Figure 3).

Figure 3.

4. At the bottom of the settings screen click “Advanced”, then for “Echo Cancellation” select Auto.

5. Finally, after you start your Zoom session, make sure Original Sound is turned on by looking in the upper left corner of your screen and making sure that the little box is displaying “Original Sound: On” (note the green shield doesn’t have anything to do with Original Sound). If it instead shows "Original Sound: Off", just click it to toggle the setting (Figure 4).

Figure 4.