Get your audio dialed in for Studio Mode Hangouts On Air!
Back in the autumn of 2012 I’d already spent dozens of hours remotely troubleshooting audio setups for artists all over the globe. I came to realize that many, many artists had the same or similar hurdles with their setup, which inspired me to write this guide.
This guide is the culmination of two years worth of performing, engineering, and producing music Hangouts On Air.
Some can spend hours trying to set up their gear with lackluster results. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be particularly expensive or complicated to arrive at a pleasant sounding setup.
Why You Need This Guide
If you’re reading this guide you’re probably already sold on how Hangouts will afford you a new way to connect with your audience.
That being said, what is more important to a musician than the sound quality of their broadcast? Without high quality audio, you can’t convey the full depth and power of your performance.
You may have already discovered that you can’t just “plug it all in” and have it work like a dream. Oftentimes what you’re hearing through your headphones isn’t what is coming through to the broadcast audience. Even more important than the equipment you use is taking the time to set everything up properly.
With this guide I hope to cover most everything you’ll need to work out your own setup for Hangouts On Air. The goal here is to give you a better idea of the capabilities, limitations and requirements of using Studio Mode for Hangouts On Air. Also, to provide some resources for further research.
- Background on Hangouts on Air + Studio Mode
- Universal Hangout Advice
- How to start a Hangout on Air
- How to turn on Studio Mode
- Understanding Studio Mode
- Suggested Gear:
- Software Routing: Mac and Windows
- Microphone Types and Selection
- Basic Microphone Placement Techniques
- Mixdown: Getting your Levels Right
- My Personal Setup
Please get in touch if you have any questions. Leave a comment below.
What are Hangouts On Air?
Hangouts are a feature of Google+ which allow you to video chat with a group of up to 10 people.
Hangouts on Air takes this video chat and streams it live to your Youtube account! The beauty of this is, unlike other live streaming services, you can act as the host and invite other participants to join your video stream. Fans, other musicians, whomever you like! Not only that, but your fans are able to rewind the live performance as it is happening and watch it later on your channel. Since the live stream is on Youtube, they do not need to have a Google+ account to watch and comment. Think of it as having your own mini TV station. Hangouts on Air integrate easily with Google+ Events, so you can organize events and invite users to your Hangouts on Air well in advance.
Recently, Google has increased the video resoultion of Hangouts On Air to 720p!
Voice Mode vs Studio Mode
Hangouts on Air have two modes for your outgoing audio, Voice Mode and Studio Mode. Voice Mode is optimized for voice-only Hangouts. The audio is Mono only, with a limited frequency range, automatic gain adjustment, and built in noise reduction.
All of these “features” are detrimental when it comes to playing music in Hangouts. Instruments and vocals come through garbled. Wide swaths of frequencies are cut out as well, which means bass guitar and bass drums are going to disappear in the mix. Falsetto voices, pianos, violin and other instruments which make use of upper-midrange and treble suffer the same effect.
Universal Hangout Guidelines
Before I start delving into the technical stuff, here are a few guidelines everyone should follow regardless of whether you’re broadcasting music or not:
- Use Headphones (Speakers cause tons of echo)
- Mute when entering a Hangout
- Mute when you’re not speaking
- Use the Chat box instead of speaking when someone is performing
- Mute when you’re not speaking (oops, mentioned that already)
- Check the Hangout settings every time you join a Hangout
A note on using Wi-Fi for Hangouts on Air: Avoid
If you’re hosting a Hangout on Air, wire yourself in directly over ethernet whenever possible. Even if you believe no one else is using your Wi-Fi at the moment, there is a good likelihood that your video and audio quality will suffer anyway. Latency is a big problem when you’re streaming live video back and forth. As gamers know, latency is a killer. So, there’s more to it than your rated bandwidth. 3G Hotspots are also sort of sketchy.
I’m not saying you should avoid trying Hangouts on Air altogether if Wi-Fi or 3G are your only options, just that you should use ethernet whenever possible.
Next: How to start a Hangout On Air with Studio Mode