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High-fidelity Music Mode in Zoom

If you use Zoom for online lessons, you'll want to make sure to watch this video on how to enable the new high-fidelity music mode (rolled out September 2020). Both you and your students will need to make these changes in order to get the full benefit of HiFi. You'll also need to update to the latest version of zoom before you can adjust the new audio settings. Video transcript provided below

What is Zoom's New High-fidelity Music Mode Update?

High-fidelity audio disables two forms of compression:

1. Dynamic compression, which eliminates all but the one or two of the loudest sources in a meeting; it's great for speech but not so great for music performances.

2. Data compression, which lowers the quality of data being transmitted.

The high-fidelity audio setting will raise the audio codec quality from 22 kHz to 48 kHz and also has a higher bitrate of 96 Kbps mono/192Kbps stereo. This means we are getting a larger range of sound and higher quality data transmission, great for professional audio transmission in music education and performance applications.

How to Update Zoom

The update is available for Windows and Mac OS. It is unfortunately not available for mobile devices or Chromebook. So, this will only work for students who are using a computer for Zoom lessons. Students using other devices will not be able to adjust these settings.

Here is how to complete the latest update in Zoom. You'll need to make sure that both you and your students complete the update and adjust the audio settings.

Log in to Zoom and click on the profile icon in the upper right-hand corner. Scroll down to check for updates. The most current version of Zoom as of September 8, 2020, was 5.2.2.

Once you update Zoom, you'll still need to change some audio settings within Zoom to enable high-fidelity audio.

Audio Settings for High-fidelity Audio

1. Log in to Zoom and start a meeting

2. Make sure you join with computer audio so that you will have access to the audio settings.

3. Find the up arrow next to the mute button, click on it, and select audio settings from the bottom of the menu.

4. Make sure automatically adjust microphone volume is NOT selected.

5. Set suppress background noise to low

6. Select the Advanced button.

7. In the new window, make sure that show in-meeting option to enable original sound from microphone is selected.

8. Select high-fidelity music mode and use stereo audio

9. Do NOT select disable echo cancellation unless you are using a high-quality microphone and headphone setup. Without headphones, you will experience feedback.

10. Make sure that echo cancellation is set on auto.

10. Exit the settings window and return to the Zoom meeting. Once back in the meeting, make sure that the original sound button, in the upper left-hand corner, is activated. If activated, it should read "turn off original sound"

Caveats of High-fidelity Audio

1. Requires more CPU power and higher internet speed. High-fidelity audio requires more internet bandwidth and CPU usage, so you'll want to test your setup with a friend to make sure your computer is powerful enough and your internet speed is fast enough. A wired internet connection is best.

2. The environment must be quiet. Since compression is disabled and suppress background noise is turned to low, you and your students will need to maintain a quiet environment. The high-fidelity audio settings do make your audio higher quality and more sensitive but that means it also captures much more of the other noise in the room. So, for some environments, these setting may not be ideal. When testing the audio, I was able to hear the computer keys clicking from one of my student's parents while they were sitting across the room during a lesson.

I'm very excited that Zoom has made these advanced audio updates. I know that many teachers have been migrating to other platforms like RockOutLoud.live, but I think it is wonderful that we are able to stick with a platform that our students and parents are all familiar with. Please post in the comments if you have other tips and tricks for using these new audio features!

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