David Santy Google Plus Hangouts On Air Studio Mode Setup Guide

Google Hangouts on Air: Audio Setup Guide for Studio Mode

How to start a Hangout On Air with Studio Mode

Newbie to Hangouts?

If you’ve never done a Google+ Hangout before, I’d advise you to get a few under your belt before you attempt to do your own Hangout On Air. It’s important to get a feel for the interface, the apps, and the settings before you do a live event. Start a Hangout (or join one), invite some people and have fun!

A note on Copyright

I know cover songs are a lot of fun, but you’ll have to save them for the regular Hangouts. You can’t do cover songs On Air. It’s a violation of copyright and can end up costing you your Hangout On Air privileges. You’re likely to get your stream yanked off air mid-performance.

Doing a Hangout On Air from a music venue that pays ASCAP/BMI fees doesn’t help, either. With an HOA, you’re dealing with broadcast and publishing rights so those fees paid to the performance royalties companies don’t cover it.

How to start a Hangout On Air

Update: This procedure has changed as of Jan 2014 (Google+ layout changes)
The procedure for starting a Hangout On Air has changed recently, and includes the ability to schedule a HOA. Here’s how you do it.

New Google Plus Home Button Top
Full top bar

Hover over the button in the upper left corner. The example shows the Home button, but depending on which page you’re on in Google+ (Profile, Notifications etc.) the button will change to reflect that.


New Google Plus Home Button Compact
Compact top bar

As you can see, the compact view looks a little different. Just hover over that little button and it’ll bring up the sidebar menu.


Google Plus Sidebar Menu

Click on “Hangouts” which will bring you to…you guessed it, the Hangouts page.

The Hangouts Page

Google Plus Hangouts Page
Hangouts Page

Now that you’re at the Hangouts page, click the Start a Hangout On Air button.

Google Plus Hangouts Start A Hangout Box

Here are your next steps:

  1. Name your Hangout On Air
  2. Decide which Circles or individuals to share the event post with
  3. Enter a description for the auto-generated event page
  4. Click the “Share” button


Hangout On Air Event Page

Google Plus Hangouts On Air Event Page
HOA Event Page

You’ve just shared a post on Google+ notifying your followers of the event. Now you’ll be presented with an event page which looks much like the image above, where you can add an event video trailer, add an event page header image, change the description text, and share the event with more people. You’ve also got links to the Youtube video page and an embed code (Links button).

The Hangout window

The Hangout On Air has not yet begun! Click Start on the event page to bring up the Hangout window. You’ll be prompted to invite people, which is optional. Remember, you’re not broadcasting yet so take as much time as you need to get everything set up properly before you begin.

Google Plus Hangouts On Air Invite Guests
The Invite Box

To share links to your live broadcasts with users on other social networks, or to embed the HOA on your website, click the Links button in the lower right hand corner of the Hangouts window. You may have noticed that this same button is also present on the HOA Event Page.
Link to Google Plus Hangout On Air Video
Links Button

In addition to the apps bar on the left, there is another important area on the Hangouts window, which is the Start Broadcast button at the bottom. But don’t click this just yet! You still have to turn on Studio Mode (see next section). Next to the button are the audio level meter and the On Air indicator light.

Start Broadcast
Start Broadcast

When you are the one starting the Hangout, keep in mind that:

  • The Hangout isn’t broadcast on Youtube until you hit “Start Broadcast”
  • The Youtube video of the HOA will be shared by your profile when you go live.
  • Only Hangouts on Air can use Studio Mode
  • You can use a Hangout on Air indefinitely, without broadcasting, to use Studio Mode
  • You can’t do a public invite with a Hangout On Air, even if you don’t broadcast it.
  • Only the person who started the Hangout can invite people (though others can manually share the URL)
  • If the host of the Hangout loses their connection suddenly, the Hangout on Air will be temporarily suspended and eventually terminated if they don’t rejoin the Hangout.

Now that we’ve started the Hangout on Air, how do you turn on Studio Mode? It’s easy.

How to turn on Studio Mode

The first thing to do here is go into the settings dialog, to confirm your audio and video settings, as well as turn on Studio Mode. Click on the gear icon in the HOA top bar:

Google Plus Hangouts Settings Bar
Settings Bar (Top)

The Settings window contains all of your options for which webcam you want to use, your audio source and your audio output. This is also where you select which mode you are in, Voice Mode or Studio Mode. There is also an option to swap the left and right audio channels but you probably wont need to use this.

Google Plus Hangouts On Air Settings
Settings Menu

Once you have Studio Mode turned on, leave it on. There are some who will tell you it’s best to switch back and forth between songs if you’ll be speaking as well as performing music, but trust me on this: You will forget to switch it back. You can’t hear what you sound like in the Hangout and there are no visual cues to tell you which mode you’re in. People will occassionally neglect to tell you you’re in Voice Mode, so don’t take any chances. Don’t switch Studio Mode off until you’re done performing all of your songs.

Keep in mind Studio Mode doesn’t have echo cancellation so it’s especially critical that all parties utlizing it are wearing headphones. Sayeth to all: Wear headphones and mute when not speaking.

Understanding Studio Mode

Studio Mode utilizes a high quality stereo streaming codec and as such requires 2-channel input.

Another consideration with Studio Mode is that it does not have noise reduction, so you need a quiet environment.

Studio Mode has a frequency range which extends up to 15khz. This is about the same frequency range as FM radio. For a detailed analysis on bandwidth, noise etc. of the Studio Mode codec click here.

Studio Mode is not “CD Quality” or “MP3 Quality” or even “FM Radio Quality.” It is a different beast altogether. As such it has it’s own unique characteristics and limitations. Now, analog distortion that you might hear when analog tape is pushed too hard is different than what happens when your levels are too hot with the Studio Mode codec. That results in harsh, garbled digital distotion. It is extremely important that you leave yourself a bit of headroom when setting your levels. More on this in the Mixdown section.

Studio Mode can require more of a live sound setup but should not be mixed as though the sound is going to a P.A. system. Some of your existing computer recording equipment may not work well for Hangouts on Air without a bit of adaptation and creative routing, but it can be done! You need a way of producing a final stereo mix (as though you’re mixing for a CD) to feed into the Hangout, because a multitrack input where instruments are on individual channels won’t work on its own.

Next: Suggested Equipment


  1. Bee

    We are having the biggest problem getting the Hangouts On Air to work at all. After logging on, starting to stream, the audio degrades after 3 to 5 minutes, resulting in a “jam” that isn’t anything anyone would want to listen to, due to the poor audio quality. It skips, scratches, and we’re amazed that any musician can get this thing to work to be able to “hang out” and perform for their fans…you’re the expert here…help! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=araEDWOL2Z4 – Example of the Problem

    • David Santy

      I did a test Hangout for 15 minutes and could not reproduce the problem you’re having. All I’m hearing is the typical distortion from the Hangout audio codec that has always been there.

      From the looks of your video your upstream bandwidth is either low or unstable. I would bet on an internet connection issue. If you had a good connection your video would be smooth but it’s very choppy.

      • Bee

        thanks for the reply =)
        We stream allot on the Internet, we have a Internet radio show that we do too on the side using the same connection., I jam on-line with others too at a place called onlinejamsessions, we stream direct to youtbe live stream too.. The only time we get choppy sound is within Google+ Hangouts, its like clock work too..it will start clear for just about 3 minutes and then gradually start degrading too full degradation at around the five minute mark.not our connection for sure..more like the hangouts app is .somehow buffering ..could the flash app that it uses somehow not be set up right, within my settings if i right click a flash app it shows a window of settings..and storage options..could it be something with that?..Im more curious then desperate about fixing it at this point..thanks for your Patience and expertize..seems no one know more then you about how all this works.thanks so much..

  2. Mark Loos

    I used Google Hangouts for an audio conference between five countries each week. We have hit and miss success with the audio quality. Would a studio mode setting help us or would the conversations create crosstalk or feedback in studio mode? If studio mode would not be the correct choice, do you have a suggestion on how to improve our success rate in using Hangouts?

    • David Santy

      Studio Mode is for studio audio equipment. You want noise reduction and auto gain that Voice Mode provides.

      Most audio problems with Voice Mode are caused by people having their audio going through speakers rather than headphones.

  3. Pingback: What's the best way to set up Google Hangouts On Air for a band? - Quora
    • David Santy

      Do a Google search for “Free DAW” followed by whatever operating system you’re using.

      I’ve never used any of the free stuff so I don’t have a recommendation.

    • David Santy

      Run a cable from the “Line Out” on the rear of the amplifier into the microphone/line input your computer. That’s all I can tell you without knowing more about your equipment.

  4. Wade Harman

    One thing I have been wondering about for Hangouts is how to play recorded music for show intro’s and such. There is an app in Hangouts that allows you to record music but do you know of anything I could do to hard wire sound for my show intro’s?

    • David Santy

      Hangouts doesn’t have an app for that. Take a look at the Software Routing section of the guide. You can use a combination of GarageBand –> Soundflower (or the Windows alternative), using Garageband as both mixer and media player. Mind you, you’ll need to run all of your audio through this setup including your microphone. Avoid using the mic in your webcam with this type of setup as it typically presents a ton of delay.

  5. Aubrey Sitterson

    Hi David! Thank you so much for this tutorial – it’s been incredibly helpful. I originally bought the Scarlet 2i2 on a friend’s recommendation, but had the same problem mentioned in the comments with audio channels being split. I exchanged it for the Alesis MultiMix8, and everyone works perfectly except for the monitoring.

    Even with everything turned all the way up, I can only just barely hear the loudest noises. I have a set of normal everyday use Audio Technica headphones plugged into a 1/4 inch adaptor plugged into the headphones port. They worked fine with the Scarlet mixer…Any idea what the problem could be?


  6. Gil Melo

    Do you know if the MultiMix 4 USB FX would work in the same way MultiMix 8 USB FX? Does it have a stereo mix like the MultiMix 8 USB FX? The mixer I have now I can’t hear myself and the hangout at the same time and I was wondering if the MultiMix 4 USB FX would let me do it the same way the 2i2 does?

    • David Santy

      Yes but the MultiMix 4 I’ve encountered have very noisy power supplies. Never had that problem with the MultiMix 8.

      You already have the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2? You really should be able to hear both yourself and the Hangout with it as long as Direct Monitoring is set to “On” and you have the Focusrite set as the audio output for the Hangout. If you’ve set the 2i2 as the output in the Hangout settings and you still can’t hear the Hangout, you may want to consult the “Software Routing” section of the guide to figure out how to do that.

      The problem you’re going to run into with the 2i2 is that you’ll have mic in left channel and instrument in the right channel (or vice versa), unless you’re running a stereo line input from an external mixer.

  7. Chris

    Thanks so much for doing this. We have a big webcast coming up Thursday night:

    and in testing it out I had to share my screen so the other computer browser could see it. I think was in studio mode but with no audio meter next to mic?

    We are using a Roland V-4EX video mixer that looks like a USB webcam to hangouts (it has 4 hdmi inputs). Using Audio mix from a Personus 16.4.2 digital mixer


    It might be cool to do some remote broadcasts for our webcast series.

  8. Alain Patry

    David, thanks for your tutorial! The web needed this! Although it has helped me get closer to my desired results, I’m still facing some issues. First off, I’m using Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 DSP as interface. Second, I’m using Cubase 7.5 as DAW. All I’m trying to do is sing along to tracks, with some reverb on the voice, and send it all out to Google Hangouts On Air. Prior to your tutorial I wasn’t getting the music or the VST effect (reverb) into Hangouts – only the dry signal of my mic passing thru the Saffire. I’ve now installed your suggested V-Cable and have set it up as the output bus for Cubase’s main out.

    However, I still face the following issues:
    1. The latency introduced by V-Cable is unuseable. 40 ms in my case. When I watch the test recording in GHOA, the sound that comes out of my mouth is very late (compared to my mouth movements).
    2. I cannot hear myself at all during the session – my hunch is I need to setup a second output bus and route that back to my headphones thru the Saffire’s software mixer.
    3. Playback of the Hangout seems to choke on the data – every now and then the audio seems to slow down then released. Too much data to buffer?

    And a last general question, which you may not be able to answer is, will mean I cannot use Cubase’s built-in Control Room?

    Whatever more insights you can provide would be great!

    • David Santy

      Thanks for the comment Alain,

      1) Is the latency problem you’re having still there after you adjusted the latency settings in V-cable? As I recall it was kind of a pain to get the latency setting to stick so I’d check to make sure it is in fact at the lowest setting.

      Can you not set V-cable as a VST output in Control Room?

      2) Yup, need to set an output for the mic

      3) What you’re probably experiencing is a bandwidth issue. First thing is to wire your internet in directly instead of using Wi-Fi. That being done, run a speed test (speedtest.net) to see what your upload speed is. Anything under 2Mbps and you may be having problems. 4-5 Mbps upload is closer to ideal. It could also be a problem with the consistency of your connection, despite what the maximum upload/download speeds are.

      – David

  9. Nate Maingard

    David, I can’t thank you enough for this post, it’s so very helpful! I actually purchased the exact mixer you recommended and the feedback has been incredible so far! The only thing is I can’t work out how to monitor myself through headphones while also listening to other people who are other participants in the hangout. Am I missing something very simple?

    Thank you David, you are AWESOME!

  10. Steve S

    Hey David,

    I am trying to get this to work and I don’t see the “studio mode” selection in 1) my chrome book and 2) my Mac Chrome hangout. Does studio mode still work? I mean, is it still a feature? I’m trying to use it with my band and use my JamHub as the audio capture and monitoring tool for the full band.


  11. Nate Maingard

    Hi David!

    Hope all is well with you :). Great tutorial man, thanks! I’m playing a show at a small venue tonight and am wanting to stream it live via hangout…Can I get the sound from the mixing desk and somehow direct that into my mac for the hangout?

    Thanks man!
    All the best

  12. Tzvi

    Hey David, thanks for writing up this great resource! My only issue is that I really need a software workaround for Windows. Do you plan on updating this article soon? The interface I use doesn’t come with a control panel or mixer like your m-audio delta does. So I’m kinda stuck here since I’m only using one mic and my computer reads the input from the interface as stereo…resulting in the sound only emanating from one speaker.

  13. Colin Williams

    Hello David, Colin from over in the UK. Such a clear and concise tutorial, and as a singer/sound engineer myself I think you got it blob on as they say here in Blighty. Great advise on mics and mic technique. Many would fail to mention the art of using a mic for the quiet loud effect, being your own compressor. I’m a big K.I.S.S. fan and your take on micing up a simple one vox and one acoustic was right up my street. Although I did toy with the idea of two when I did my first hangout a couple of weeks ago, but I put foolishness aside and went with the one, Condensor an AKG 414 did the job nicely.
    So thanks for all this valuable stuff about about hooking stuff up and clicking dialogue boxes, the most important bit was right at the end when you talked about the ethos of the medium and that was the most informative bit for me, although I had already got that, but you said it in a real precise and may I say soulful way.
    Thanks Mr Santy

    • David Santy

      Colin, glad my guide could be of help.

      Yeah, a single omni condenser works pretty well. I use just the one microphone because I’m on a tight budget and I don’t want to throw any cheap stuff into the mix.

  14. Peter Stergion

    Thanks for this excellent write up! Can you tell me what it would be the minimum hardware setup to record an acoustic style studio mode hang out with a drummer on a djembe, bass player + vocals, guitar player + vocals, 2nd guitar player + vocals? Would I need a sperate vocal mic and instrument mic for each performer?

    • David Santy

      Do the guitars and bass have pickups in them? Unless you can DI the instruments, you would need mics for everything.

      For an acoustic group, I would also like to throw up a pair of spaced omni small-diaphragm condenser microphones as overheads to get the room sound.

      For a minimal setup though, I would add a touch of reverb to the master output to combat the dryness of direct micing everything.

      The question is, what gear do you have now?

      In total you’d need:

      • 7 microphones
      • Mixer (at least 8 channels)
      • 2 channel USB audio interface
      • Headphone mixer
      • 4 sets Headphones

      If the instruments DO have pickups, you can substitute some of those microphones with DI boxes.

  15. tom zicarelli

    Amazing tutorial. Wow Thanks.

    I cannot get the Studio mode option to show up on Hangout settings. (Chome, Mac OS Lion) The Settings always loads with Google Talk Plugin 3.13… instead of Google Voice and Video Plugin. (which has been installed). Also have checked HOA box. Haven’t been able to find a fix for this. Any suggestions? Thanks.

  16. Pingback: How To Shorten Google+ URLs Using Your Domain Name To Make Them Look Awesome
  17. Steve

    Excellent advice. I like the fact that you advise people to a) mute while people are playing and b) to use the chat window. Also, I know what you mean by using an Ethernet jack! My WiFi only allows a bandwidth of 11mbps download and it is very limited on upload, staying in the area between 0.5 and 2 Mbps! (whereas I can get 30 down and 5 up on wired!)

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>