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Ashweb

Playing During Skype Session

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The nomadic nature of my work has forced a change in location for me during the week. My current contract in Southampton has ended and I start a new contract in Cardiff shortly; as I'd like to continue with my current bass tutor, the idea of a lesson via Skype has been floated but I'm unsure how this will work in reality.

For the first few weeks at least, I'll be based in a local Hotel until I can sort out a rented flat etc. I can practice using headphones so I don't disturb anyone but I can't see the Hotel being keen on me lumping my amp into one of their rooms to play during a Skype lesson.

Ideally, what I had in mind is some way of plugging my bass into my laptop so I can play directly onto the system and then use headset with mic to listen to the result and any conversations going on. Such a set up would still be useable once more settled. Has anyone had any experience of playing over Skype or lessons via Skype and advise what hardware I'd need? All help greatly appreciated.

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I use a two channel recording interface (Apogee Duet) when I teach over Skype; my bass is DI'd in to one channel and I have a tie-clip mic that goes in the other channel so that students can hear me nice and clearly, and using a software mixer I balance the signals together with any source material I may be playing from the computer such as a backing track, metronome etc.

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If you're relocating to Cardiff, seek out Jon Caulfield.
Easier than Skype lessons and you don't need to take your amp.
I had lessons with Jon for a long time, and can thoroughly recommend him.
He is on here, but don't know how often he checks in. If you're interested give me a PM and i can send you his number.
No idea about Skype though sorry :D

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One thing that you should be aware of, if you're not already, is that the latency of a Skype conversation means that it is unsuitable for simultaneous playing.

Stickman's suggestion is pretty much spot on. I have a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, but really any USB audio interface with at least two inputs will suffice.

S.P.

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Thanks for the replies.

The Apogee looks like it is compatible with iPhones and Macs which would rule it out for me on a Windows laptop, but at least now knowing what to look for allowed me to search for similar units that are Windows compatible and I came up with this which might do the job; not too expensive either so worth a punt as an experiment.

[url="http://www.juno.co.uk/products/lexicon-alpha-2x2x2-desktop-recording-studio-audio-interface-steinberg-cubase-le-5-audio-production-software/396702-01/"]http://www.juno.co.uk/products/lexicon-alpha-2x2x2-desktop-recording-studio-audio-interface-steinberg-cubase-le-5-audio-production-software/396702-01/[/url]

If anyone has any comments on this unit, I'd be happy to hear them. Thanks again for all your help.

[quote name='FuNkShUi' timestamp='1474966070' post='3141807']
If you're relocating to Cardiff, seek out Jon Caulfield.
[/quote]

If the Skype thing falls through then I'll look up Jon, thanks for the tip.

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[quote name='Ashweb' timestamp='1475003152' post='3142254']
[url="http://www.juno.co.uk/products/lexicon-alpha-2x2x2-desktop-recording-studio-audio-interface-steinberg-cubase-le-5-audio-production-software/396702-01/"]http://www.juno.co.u...ware/396702-01/[/url]
[/quote]

Looks like it'll work, you'll need a mic with an XLR connection, obviously.

Interesting layout decision, putting the instrument input on the front but the mic XLR on the back. Wonder what prompted that.

S.P.

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You might want to look at audio interfaces that are known to be USB 2 class compliant - class compliant devices will run without a manufacturers proprietary driver (if an OS update buggers a proprietary driver and the company are not actively maintaining their drivers then you are sh!t out of luck). When looking at older devices that have been in production for a while you need to be really careful about this issue. The Lexicon site mentions explicitly that the interface you are looking at isn't windows 10 compatible and they won't confirm a date for support (which sorta suggests that it isn't likely to happen, or is very low on their priority list)
http://lexiconpro.com/en/softwares/alpha-driver-v2-7-windows

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A bit more digging on the lexicon site reveals that the alpha 2x2x2 was released in 2006, so at ten years old it's knocking on a bit
http://lexiconpro.com/en/news/lexicon-expands-desktop-recording-range-with-intuitive-new-alpha%E2%84%A2-studio
Googling for driver issues doesn't produce pages of rage so you might be alright if you are not running win10 - my experience with legacy products is that there often isn't a problem if you run an offline system which never gets updated once you have a stable config, but for a system that runs online and gets regular OS updates not such a good idea IMHO.

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Wow, Subsonic, that is above and beyond the call of duty! Thanks for taking the time to do all that digging.

I'll have another look round for compatible units;my laptop fell victim to the stealth / viral Windows 10 downgrade that Microsoft unleashed on the world a few months back.

[quote name='Stylon Pilson' timestamp='1475074518' post='3142838']

Interesting layout decision, putting the instrument input on the front but the mic XLR on the back. Wonder what prompted that.

[/quote]

It was probably designed by an electronics expert and not a musician so they may not have fully understood the problem. It may not be too practical for it's intended purpose, but the PCB layout is fantastic.

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You might not need to buy an interface at all, depending on the connectivity of your laptop - if you have 3.5mm jack plug sockets available for both microphone and aux/line in you could just use the onboard soundcard(if you have some form of effects unit or practice amp to buffer your bass) - the fidelity isn't going to be as good as a quality dedicated interface, but skype will turn your audio to poop with heavy compression anyway.

I use a small notepad mixer to handle all the audio in and out of my PC, which isn't necessarily the best solution in every circumstance, but it might be worth looking at what you already have available in terms of headset, laptop conectivity and effects units/practice amp, and think about how you are going to be practicing in your hotel room as a matter of course. If there is a way to wangle a working setup from it on the basis of some cheap leads/adaptors I'll be happy to help you figure out a solution if one is possible.

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Thanks for all the help guys.

I went for a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd gen in the end. Just need to work out which of the plethora of downloadable software available on their web site I actually need; but it's late and I only had 2 hours sleep last night so I'll be doing this tomorrow night.

Thanks again.

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[url="http://www.cardiffbasstuition.com/Bass-Lessons-Cardiff.html"]http://www.cardiffba...ns-Cardiff.html[/url]


Hi Ashweb,

How did the skype lesson work for you ?

Cheers,

Jon

Edited by joncaulfield72

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[quote name='Stylon Pilson' timestamp='1474968758' post='3141835']
One thing that you should be aware of, if you're not already, is that the [u]latency[/u] of a Skype conversation means that it is unsuitable for simultaneous playing.
[/quote]

I prefer the term "laggy" to latent. I accept however that lagginess is not proper English

It's one of my biggest pet hates with digital. A very well known Derby musician's retailer tried to convince me that there was zero lag on a bit of digital kit that they were showing me. I think they actually believed it themselves. I don't deal with them any more.

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[quote name='joncaulfield72' timestamp='1485905778' post='3227697']
[url="http://www.cardiffbasstuition.com/Bass-Lessons-Cardiff.html"]http://www.cardiffba...ns-Cardiff.html[/url]


Hi Ashweb,

How did the skype lesson work for you ?

Cheers,

Jon
[/quote]

Hi Jon,

Thanks for getting in touch.

The Skype lessons are going OK - we've worked out a way of making the audio interface play nice with Skype and most of my laptop so we can talk and I can play something that gets through OK although there are some limitations; what I've noticed most is that without another person in the room to rap my knuckles with a ruler, some bad habits are creeping back in - mainly a wayward left thumb that has a fascination for the headstock resulting in some duff notes.

I am enjoying the Skype lessons and will continue with them, but it would be good to get together with another person for a regular knuckle rapping session. If you're OK with that then let me know and we can work out a suitable time / day.

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