Zoom video conferencing software reviews update

Post your own hardware/software reviews.
Post Reply

Zoom video conferencing software reviews update

Post by ConcertinaChap »

Last year I wrote couple of articles here and here in SoS about the best way to use Zoom for music. Over the course of time Zoom have been streamlining and perfecting their app and things have changed a bit again, so it's probably time or an update. However I don't think in all conscience I could sting the magazine for the fee for yet another article on the topic so I thought I'd put it here. I'm writing this on a Mac but there's little difference between Macs and Windows machines as far as Zoom installations are concerned.

The problem we have with Zoom sound is that Zoom is optimised for human speech. To help make speech clearer Zoom attempts to detect and minimise any sounds it thinks aren't speech. Unfortunately this includes the sound of musical instruments, which you can hear as the sound of the instrument veering wildly between being heard and total silence. Very frustrating for the listener but like so many problems that occur on Zoom not at all obvious to the musician - that's why it's important if in a Zoom session you hear problems with a participant's sound to let them know as they have no way of hearing it themselves.

Zoom are aware of this and they came up with a solution they call original sound. By original sound they mean the sound picked up from your microphone before Zoom mucks about with it and you can set things up so that Zoom uses this instead of the mucked-about version. Using original sound cures the erratic sound problem. So, uncle CC, how do we use original sound?

The first thing that has to be done is that the administrator has to tell Zoom that they want original sound to be available for participants. That is little changed from the original articles so I won't say any more here. What everyone needs to do next is to go into the Audio Settings for your Zoom installation. There's two ways of doing this. The first is if you're in a meeting. You'll see the Mute button (looks like a microphone) down the bottom left hand corner of the Zoom window. Next to it you'll see a little upwards pointing arrow: ^. Click on this and select Audio Settings from the menu that appears.

The second is only available if you've got an account with Zoom but you can use it before you join a meeting which makes it useful. Start Zoom and sign in if you haven't already done so. At the top right hand corner is a little icon that represents your account. Click on this and click on Settings from the menu that appears. Now from the list on the left of the new Settings window click on Audio. You're now at the same point as you would be with the first method.

There are various options that are fund to play with here but I'm only going to talk about the ones relevant to music.


Set this to Low.


Show in-meeting option to enable original sound

You *must* set this on (i.e. with a blue tick) as without it you won't be offered the option to turn original sound on in the actual meeting

Enable these options when original sound is on

High-fidelity music mode. Don't worry too much about this one unless you're using studio grade equipment and not using wi-fi. If that's you (and here it very well might be) then turn it on by all means.

Echo cancellation. You must turn this on unless you are using headphones with your speakers turned off. If you've turned it off and are using speakers then everyone else gets to hear echoes of everything they say or do.

Stereo audio. Normally just leave this off.

When you've done this, scroll to the end of the audio settings and click on the blue Advanced link. Make sure that Echo Cancellation is set to Auto and not Aggressive.

That's everything that needs to be done for one-off setting up of original sound. Fortunately you won't need to do it again.

There's one further step that needs to be done when you enter a meeting. You used to have to do this every time you went into a meeting but fortunately Zoom have changed things so that you only need to do this the first time.

When you go into the meeting, at the top left corner of the window you will see a green shield. Next to this will be a drop down list saying Original Sound: Off. Note you will only see this if you did "Show in-meeting option to enable original sound" we talked about earlier. If you didn't it simply isn't there, which can be puzzling if you've ever been in a meeting and people tell you to look for it when it's clearly not to be seen.

Click on the drop down arrow and you will be offered a list entitled "Select a microphone to always use original sound". Normally (unless you're a studio bod like many of us) there will be just one microphone on offer. Click on the microphone you want to use, the drop down list then closes and the text now reads Original Sound: On. That's it, you're all done and original sound will remain in force for all future meetings unless you click on the drop down box to turn it off again.


Well it turns out that this on an iPad is almost trivially easy as compared with the desktop version, although it's quite a while since I've looked at Zoom on my iPad so maybe they've simplified it a little.

Start Zoom and go to settings (e.g. by tapping on the gear wheel icon at the top left hand corner. Tap on Meetings. Turn on Use Original Sound by sliding the button to the right. And that seems to be about it.

User avatar
Jedi Poster
Posts: 13115 Joined: Wed Jul 20, 2005 12:00 am Location: Bradford on Avon
Mr Punch's Studio
An inspirational quote is like a parachute.
It can really get you down.

Re: Zoom video conferencing software reviews update

Post by ManFromGlass »

Thanks for the update, CC. Zoom is not so confusing now.

I’ve found if you are bandwidth challenged then some of the above settings may put a strain on your connection. I turn Original Sound off and on when needed, but mostly keep it off.
I’m glad to see that Zoom recognizes that some of us need the best quality audio they can deliver. Perhaps one day they will add a Remove That Awful Small Room Boxy Sound button. Or even simpler - a detector circuit with a warning in giant letters that says - sit closer and speak up, dammit!
User avatar
Longtime Poster
Posts: 6775 Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:00 am Location: O Canada

Re: Zoom video conferencing software reviews update

Post by shufflebeat »

I had a repertoire discussion on Zoom a little while ago which confused me somewhat.

It may be that Zoom was between updates and I'll check again to see if this is still the case but when we changed to "original sound", all the buttons where available, it made no discernable difference to the actual sound, which was flute and guitar by the way.

Ta fir t'update, CC, your generosity is mighty.
Longtime Poster
Posts: 9129 Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 12:00 am Location: Manchester, UK
“…I can tell you I don't have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career” - (folk musician, Manchester).
Post Reply