Hacker News Re-Imagined

FarPlay: Low-Latency Audio over the Internet

  • 199 points
  • β€’ 1 day ago

  • @sp332
  • Created a post
  • β€’ 89 comments

FarPlay: Low-Latency Audio over the Internet


@hunterb123 β€’ 1 day

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

Does this work between two devices on the same LAN?

- edit -

Thanks to another user I found: https://www.sonobus.net/

Which does seem to work over LAN.

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@brrrrrm β€’ 1 day

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

The documentation say this is based on JackTrip, code here: https://github.com/jacktrip/jacktrip

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@gamekathu β€’ 1 day

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

β€œFarPlay has been successfully tested with upload speeds as low as 8 mbps.” that doesn’t sound low to me! Anyone tested this in poor 4G connections?

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@ksec β€’ 17 hours

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

Are there any recent comparison of Audio I/O latency between different OS? Most I find were nearly 20 years old.

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@mosselman β€’ 23 hours

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

What is the lowest latency voice chat application? Maybe for group calls?

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@tonymet β€’ 1 day

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

how can it support a p2p socket without opening ports ? i’m confused

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@gonesilent β€’ 1 day

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

see also ninjam if you can't get over lag because of distance limitations.

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@dahfizz β€’ 16 hours

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

> FarPlay is a state-of-the-art app for communicating in ultra-low-latency with others over the internet.

I mean... its still doing a round trip over the internet, right? Maybe I just have a very different definition of "ultra-low-latency".

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@adar β€’ 1 day

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

I've been looking for a simple way to be able to listen to audio from my desktop and laptop simultaneously without requiring a hardware mixer or something. I'm currently using Scream but there is a bit of latency/delay.

Farplay seems to be more for audio recording, but would Farplay be a good solution for my use case?

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@torginus β€’ 16 hours

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

What's the point of this? Stuff like Stadia already works on top of WebRTC, and they can have sub ~100ms latency, where most of it is in the network, which no amount of driver trickery can do anything about. Add to this the fact that humans are generally more tolerant of audio lag, than video, and I'm not sure if you don't have video, or real-time input, how do you event detect such low latencies. If it's for musicians, as depicted on the page, you generally need to connect more than 2 of them.

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@max_ β€’ 19 hours

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

Are there any benchmarking service for ranking audio latency of such apps?

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@plusCubed β€’ 1 day

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

What's the difference between this and Sonobus [1], which is open source and also supports iOS/Android?

[1] https://www.sonobus.net/

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@rdtennent β€’ 1 day

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

"No dedicated hardware"; but for best results you'll need a wired ethernet connection, wired headphones, a good microphone and an audio interface, and on Windows an ASIO driver.

"For the lowest possible latency, FarPlay establishes peer-to-peer connections between users": Except when the peers are on different ISP networks and the packets are forced to travel to some distant node, introducing latency at every node along the way. In my experience with this issue using Jamulus, having a server in the cloud at a suitable location reduces latency. Minimizing "the distance travelled" isn't important if there are few nodes introducing latency. The speed of light along wires is orders of magnitude faster than the speed of sound through air.

"the faster your connection, the better your results will be"; Misleading; it's latency not bandwidth that's critical and a "fast" connection normally refers to bandwidth.

Anyone interested in audio over the internet should check out Jamulus at https://jamulus.io/

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@chanux β€’ 18 hours

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

The video demo looks great to me. Conveys what farplay does really well.

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@Darthy β€’ 21 hours

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™



@smoldesu β€’ 1 day

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

Why does a peer-to-peer app like this need a subscription?

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@whistlegraph β€’ 23 hours

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

What I'd really love to see is this combined with low latency drawing / doodling. I wanna make pictured with friends fast enough to play games.

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@rectang β€’ 1 day

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

Oh good golly yes please we need innovation in this space. I'm so tired of having cell phone calls and video calls with long latencies. Latency is so disruptive to the normal flow of conversation.

If there was a reliable low-latency alternative I would try to hold all my regular convos over it, starting with family calls and proceeding to work and professional calls if feasible.

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@dantepfer β€’ 8 hours

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

Hi everyone, Dan Tepfer here, co-creator of FarPlay. As a skeptic myself, I appreciate the skeptical tone of this thread. And I'd like to address a few points made here about FarPlay and low-latency audio.

First, a little about me: I've been coding for most of my life (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaadsrHBygc for my NPR Tiny Desk Concert of my improvised algorithmic music project Natural Machines) but I'm first and foremost a musician. I make my living playing concerts around the world as a pianist. During the pandemic, I used JackTrip to perform remote livestream concerts with some of the greatest musicians in jazz: Christian McBride, CΓ©cile McLorin Salvant, Ben Wendel, Gilad Hekselman, Fred Hersch, Antonio Sanchez, Melissa Aldana, Miguel Zenon, Linda May Han Oh and others. This is just to say that music, and particularly rhythm, is very important to me, and that I care about low-latency audio as an active practitioner.

Someone in this thread wrote that for rhythmic (groove) music, latencies of 3ms are noticeable, and latencies higher than 6ms are prohibitive. This isn't the case. Sound travels in air at about 1ft per ms, so a latency of 3ms is equivalent to playing with someone 3ft away from you, which is obviously unnoticeable. 6ms is equivalent to playing with someone 6ft away, which is also unnoticeable. James Brown grooved his ass off with his band spread out over a relatively wide area on stage, long before in-ear monitors, which confirms what the research says: even for advanced professional musicians, latencies up to 20ms (equivalent to 20ft in air) are not significantly noticeable even for intricately rhythmic music. Here's an excerpt over JackTrip with Christian McBride, where at the end, we play a demanding bebop head in unison, a very tough test of latency: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1076063889493342. Above 20ms, things do get noticeable, but depending on the type of music you're playing, it's possible to adjust. It starts to feel like the people you're playing with are, as we say in the jazz world, "laying back on the beat". For example, I did a livestream performance for the French Institute in NYC last January with pianist Thomas Enhco in Paris and myself in Brooklyn, 3500 miles away, and despite a clearly noticeable (to us) ~40ms of latency, we were able to make real music together, including rhythmic music. Note that at the time, using JackTrip, I couldn't accurately estimate the actual latency, and this 40ms figure is a guess. FarPlay, in contrast, measures the current latency and displays it on the connection screen.

Someone mentioned Jamulus. I've tried Jamulus, and for my professional needs, which include rock-solid stability and the lowest possible latency, JackTrip is far superior. But JackTrip, as someone else pointed out here, is impossible to use for the average user. It requires opening ports on your router, interacting with the command line, and installing and using Jack, which itself is forbidding for most users. Our goal with FarPlay was to take the best elements of JackTrip, unbeatable stability and latency, and make them easily accessible.

SonoBus is also mentioned in this thread. SonoBus is an excellent project which we only came across a few months ago. We've tried it, and we've found that if you measure the actual sound-to-sound latency, i.e. the time from sound production at the source to sound reproduction at the destination, FarPlay achieves lower latencies than SonoBus, probably because of the way it processes audio internally. Also, we believe our interface, which we've put a lot of thought into, is easier to use for non-technical musicians than SonoBus. Another advantage of FarPlay over SonoBus, this one particularly important to me as a live performer, is Broadcast Output, which is an essential feature of JackTrip that FarPlay co-creator Anton Runov and I invented (see https://farplay.io/about#history). To play in low latency, it's often necessary for the musicians to tolerate artifacts in the audio, since some audio packets inevitably get delayed on their way. Broadcast Output allows you to play in low latency with artifacts in your headphones, while simultaneously outputting artifact-free audio for live broadcast or recording. To me, this is the holy grail of remote performance, allowing us to have our cake and eat it too β€” ultra-low-latency interaction with no sacrifice in final audio quality (see https://farplay.io/tipsandtricks#broadcastoutput). I should mention that FarPlay only allows one-to-one connections at the moment, while SonoBus allows multi-user sessions. We plan to add multi-user sessions to the FarPlay user interface soon; our underlying processes already allow them.

Some of you are nitpicking our claim to not require third-party software. Remember, we're coming from JackTrip, which requires users to install and use Jack in addition to JackTrip. On Mac and Linux, there is no third-party software whatsoever required. On Windows, low-latency audio is currently impossible without ASIO drivers. Many musicians on Windows have audio interfaces with ASIO drivers already installed, so in their case there are no additional downloads required. If you don't have an ASIO driver, you'll have to use ASIO4ALL, but this true for any software doing low-latency audio on Windows. In essence, FarPlay is as self-contained as it can be at this stage.

Someone asked if FarPlay will connect two users on the same LAN. The answer is yes, it works great.

Someone else brought up the advantages of low-latency audio not only for music, but also for regular conversations. We wholeheartedly agree: conversations feel vastly more natural without the awkward delay added by Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp and regular phone calls. FarPlay also transmits uncompressed audio, so the quality is as good as your mic and sound card can provide, which also helps conversations feel more real.

In conclusion, I want to thank you for bringing your attention to FarPlay, and if you enjoy playing music with other people, we'd love for you to try it! It's really quite magical, I feel, and the magic hasn't worn off for me even after having done it regularly for over a year. We've tried to make the process of using FarPlay as frictionless as possible: you don't even need to register for an account to use it, just download it (https://farplay.io/download) and go.

Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate,

--Dan Tepfer https://dantepfer.com

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@raggi β€’ 1 day

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

Preface: the product is probably fine, and certainly provides a nice simple UI which is perfect for it's intended use cases.

There is something fishy about the video, though.

You see in the video that Zoom has been keeping audio & video in sync.

In the first latency demo (https://youtu.be/Zju8YaRcSk4?t=50), we see not only latency on the audio, but also latency on the video.

In the second latency demo (https://youtu.be/Zju8YaRcSk4?t=225), once FarPlay is handling audio and they've muted Zoom, magically they've managed to synchronize the video.

Was this done post-edit for some reason?

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@snvzz β€’ 21 hours

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

Took a look. Highlight: Not open source and no mention of end to end encryption.

Hard pass.

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@qeternity β€’ 20 hours

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

Interesting choice of name given that FairPlay was (is?) Apple's DRM scheme for many years. Ugh, I am feeling old.

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@ReactiveJelly β€’ 1 day

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

> You don't need to install any third-party software

Oh, so this is like a web browser thing?

> Click here to download FarPlay

Oh, so I _do_ need to install FarPlay. Just not any software that's a third party besides FarPlay. Which wouldn't make any sense.

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@axiosgunnar β€’ 1 day

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

Would using something like this improve the quality of typical business meeting calls?

E.g. reduce people talking over each other, reduce mental stress caused by the delay?

Compared to Whatsapp/Zoom/etc

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@sirwitti β€’ 21 hours

Replying to @sp332 πŸŽ™

I love the idea of connecting musicians over the internet.

But in many music technology applications latency is critical and from a musician's standpoint the technically achievable latency is not suitable for actual music making apart from some exceptions - even with dedicated hardware.

When making music that depends on a beat, pocket or groove any roundtrip latency larger than 3ms is noticeable and >6ms is not playable.

If you play software synthesizers on your computer you probably will be aware of the issue since the sample rate and buffer settings of your soundcard alone introduce latency that ranges from playable (for me <4ms) to unacceptable.

Since network latency alone can easily get worse than that I don't see technology like this being usable for playing serious music that focusses on rhythm.

Note that the demo they use is piano and singer which in combination with the chosen song is decently forgiving latency-wise.

I'd like to hear a demo with a grove where they switch between each participant to hear each musicians version.

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