Enjoy Better Audio.
Follow our procedure below for optimal sound!
Zoom allows for advanced settings configurations when a Zoom session is opened on a PC or Mac. The tablet and mobile apps currently support only one of the features listed below. Horns-United highly suggests checking that your Zoom application is updated to the most recent software version before opening, joining or hosting a Zoom meeting.
On your PC or Mac:
In your computer’s Zoom session window locate the Microphone icon in the bottom left corner.
Click the arrow to open a menu, from that menu select “Audio Settings”.
This will prompt a separate settings window to open, Zoom’s general application settings.
Most PC user’s speaker and microphone devices will be processed through a Realtek digital audio interface. Mac osX users will typically see the audio devices labeled as Built-in output (speakers) and Built-in microphone. If you are using a microphone connected to your computer via USB or audio interface and the device is properly connected to the computer you will see the option to choose your device when clicking the dropdown menu. In this same window, ensure that the box beneath the Microphone “Input Level” labeled “Automatically adjust volume” is left unchecked.
If you cannot find your audio device please consult your device manual or contact Horns-United technical support for further assistance.
After selecting your connected devices navigate to and click the advanced button at the bottom right corner of the Audio settings window.
In this window you want to ensure that the box next to the text “Show in-meeting option to ‘Enable Original Sound’ from microphone” is selected. This should reveal a button in the main Zoom meeting window at the top right corner that reads “Turn on Original Sound”. Click the button to enable this feature, it should turn blue to indicate “Original Sound” is turned on.
Back in the Audio settings “Advanced” sub-menu, beneath the square checked to “Show in-meeting option to ‘Enable Origianl Sound’ from microphone” are three drop down menus which control the behavior of Zoom’s Background Noise Suppression. Simply put if you expect the room you perform in to have constant low to medium level noise (ie. a running refrigerator or A/C unit) either leave the first two options (Persistent and Intermittent Background Noise controls) in Auto or adjust them to Moderate. If you can manage or are lucky enough to perform in a quiet room adjust the first two options to Disable. These Zoom software options are useful in a meeting setting however they present a problem with live instrument capture. To provide the most accurate representation of a performer’s sound online it is highly encouraged to disable these features ((Persistent and Intermittent Background Noise controls) when possible. Echo cancellation is a solution to a unique issue with Zoom meetings, it is suggested in all cases to leave this feature in the Auto setting.
Lastly navigate to the Video tab on the left of the settings window. Locate and ensure that “Enable HD” video is unchecked.
On your mobile device:
In the app’s main page navigate to the settings gear icon at the bottom right of the screen. Once in the settings window click the “Meeting” menu and navigate to the slider titled “Use Original Sound”. Tap the slider to enable higher quality audio to be processed by the software.
Horns-United suggests to approach your network in a two part system: Speed and Connectivity.
It is recommended to check the speed of your internet service online or directly from your router. To find a speed test service online simply search for “speed test” in the browser and you will find multiple free options. To check your speeds from your router control app or IP address consult your router’s manual.
Horns-United recommends >20Mbps download speeds and >.5Mbps upload speeds to support the streaming bandwidth of high quality audio and standard definition video. Connectivity issues, in many cases, slow down internet connections to devices. Whether you have high-speed internet or not, Horns-United highly recommends that you do the following to limit poor connectivity and hopefully increase your connection speeds.
- Connect your device or computer to your internet router with a Cat5 ethernet cable.
- Disconnect passive WiFi devices not in use. Sleep mode for most modern WiFi devices still connects the device to your internet and will limit the potential speeds on your connection.
- Disable WiFi on all other active devices, enable “Airplane Mode” or switch over to cellular 3g, 4g or 5g data to remove additional devices from your router bandwidth traffic.
Horns-United has gone through many tests to optimize built-in equipment on most devices with the Software and Network solutions. In the case that a performer would like to use an external microphone or audio interface it is highly encouraged that the performer consult the equipment’s user manual(s) to ensure they have successfully connected their audio device(s) to their computer before attempting to use them in a Zoom meeting.
Assuming the devices are properly connected, there are some considerations one should make to the placement of their external microphone and the configuration of their gain control to capture the best sound possible.
French Horn can be captured well with many types of microphones in many different configurations but for the purpose of streaming Horns-United encourages the use of one large diaphragm microphone, either stereo or mono, set in a Cardioid pattern (if your microphone allows this type of adjustment). This cardioid pattern is pictured below:
The front of this pattern should face the performer which for most microphones means the microphone’s manufacturer’s logo should face the performer. Ideal placement is 6 feet directly in front, 10 feet high and slightly angled downward towards the performer forming an imaginary triangle. It is not always possible to capture sound ideally so adjustments may need to be made to accommodate room size but ultimately will still capture sound in higher quality than that of the built-in devices on most computers.
In addition to placement, room materials and size can cause significant issues when streaming. Hard reflective surfaces can bounce sound back towards the microphone and should be minimized if possible. Sound dampening material, anywhere from a microphone acoustic foam panel to some extra cotton socks can be used to create an isolation shield behind the microphone which will aid in rejecting harsh reflected sounds off hard surfaces. This is highly recommended if space limitations dictate an external microphone must be placed close to a wall or window.
Finally microphone gain is crucial to optimizing the sound captured from your external device. Some microphone units have gain control built into their capsule others require that gain be controlled by an audio interface or on a computer application. In any case the gain of your external microphone should be set so your loudest playing is being captured in the range of -10db maximum. While Zoom allows you to check your microphone volume it does not allow you to adjust its gain. If a microphone is too sensitive and its volume is turned down rather than its gain it will still sound poor, only softer. Zoom allows you to check your signal input with the “Test Mic” button found in the Audio Settings, mentioned earlier in our Software section.
If you click this button the Zoom app will record your input and when you click the button again it will play what you recorded back to you. You will then have a chance to review what is being sent through your audio channels. If you are performing it is suggested to test your signal with the loudest section you plan to perform to see if the microphone (either the internal computer microphone or external microphone) is peaking which will result in a distorted unpleasant sound. To maximize the effectiveness of your experience, Horns-United encourages performers to adjust their gain with the aid of the microphone manufacturer’s manual until their playback previews pure sound without distortion.