But even with these latency-reducing tricks, there can still be unexpected delays on the network. EJamming’s software tries to minimize these blips, says Redman, by “time stamping” the audio from each individual, marking the time, down to the millisecond, that a sound is produced. Additionally, the software synchronizes the clocks on each musician’s computers so that the time stamps have a common reference point.
When a musician initiates an eJamming session, the software connects her directly to her jam partners (up to four in a session). The musician who initiates the session becomes the host to which the other musicians’ clocks are synchronized. Each eJamming musician must wear headphones because his or her sound, as well as the audio from jam partners, is played back at a delay of about 30 to 100 milliseconds. “The whole point is to focus on the music” that one hears, as opposed to on the sounds coming directly from one’s instrument, says Glueckman.
His company initially received a fair amount of buzz after its unveiling at the DEMO conference in January, where startups offer sneak peeks at their new technology. Since the beta version of eJamming’s software became available on March 28, more than 3,600 people have signed up, representing 114 countries from five continents. However, musicians who use Ninjam give eJamming mixed reviews in the online Ninjam forum. In particular, some musicians complained that the latency wasn’t as low as promised, although they acknowledged that the software is still in its beta-testing phase.
But perhaps eJamming’s biggest challenge will be to create a large community of musicians who use and recommend the technology–a community similar to the one that exists for Ninjam, says Cynthia Payne, a musician who researched online music-collaboration tools for her master’s thesis at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “People are really loyal [to Ninjam],” she says, mainly because the software is free, and since it’s open source, anyone can modify it to fit his or her needs. “It’s the whole idea of low-cost software and open source, and users having a hand in the creation of the actual software,” she says.
According to user surveys, says Glueckman, the eJamming feedback “has been very positive.” He says that the company expects to launch its official product in September “if everything goes well.” In the meantime, the company will continue to try to improve the user experience, potentially adding a video option, and will try to implement more community-building tools, such as highly customizable user profiles.