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Bringing folk music and people together for over 45 years!
Golden Link Folk Singing Society





HomeZoomComputer

Using Zoom On a Desktop or Laptop Computer


Getting Started

Using zoom is fun and easy.  Start by visiting https://www.zoom.us from your web browser.  Sign up for a free account, then download the application and install it on your computer.

Launch the app, and click on the big, red New Meeting button.  That will start your own private meeting, with only yourself in it, and you can play around with the controls and see how things work.  Note that some controls may not be available unless you have other people in your meeting.
Meeting Basics

Joining - The easiest way to join a meeting is to click on the URL link provided for the meeting.  Another way is to launch the application, click on the big, blue Join button and then type in the provided Meeting ID number.  When your application connects to the meeting, click on the Join With Computer Audio button so your computer's microphone will be in use.

Your view - There are controls in the upper right for controlling your view.  The 4-corner rectangle puts you in full-screen mode if desired.  You can use the other control to switch between Gallery and Speaker view.

Zoom Gallery ViewGallery View - in this view, all participants are shown the same size in a grid of rectangles.  If there are more people than can be seen in one screen, zoom puts an arrow on the right side that lets you see a second grid with additional people in it.  In Gallery View, zoom puts a green outline around the person it detects as the speaker.  Gallery View is a good choice if there are a lot of people talking back and forth and the speaker is changing frequently.
Zoom speaker viewSpeaker View - in this view, the speaker is in one large box, with a number of small boxes in a row above it showing other participants.  You can scroll left or right to see more participants.  This is a good choice when there is one person speaking, or in our case, singing.  You get a much better view of the person you want to focus on.  But if there are many people trying to speak at the same time, this view can be annoying because the large box is continually changing between speakers.

Zoom AV IconsAudio and Video Control - In the lower left of your screen, you'll see icons for audio and video.  (If you don't see them, select Always Show Meeting Controls in the Window menu). Click on the Microphone icon to Mute or Unmute yourself.  Click on the Video Camera icon to stop or start your video.  For our sing-arounds, you should normally leave your video on unless you need to do something private.  Audio should normally be muted unless you need to say something or want to have your clapping heard.

Getting the Best Quality Sound

Since we are playing music and singing songs rather than just speaking, we'd all like to be heard at our best. There are a number of factors that will affect your audio quality on zoom.  The more of them you can apply, the better your sound will be.

Blue Snowball MicMicrophone - The vast majority of our participants just use their built-in microphone on their computer or mobile device and that will work fine.  However, if you have a good quality USB microphone or an audio interface and stage mic, those will give you better sound.

Position - Try to get as close to your microphone as you reasonably can.  Most built-in microphones are not all that sensitive and you will sound worse, and softer, the farther away you are.  Be aware of the location of your microphone on your device.  If it is sitting on a table and the microphone is low, it may pick up your instrument much louder than your voice.  If possible, try to position your microphone closer to your mouth, or at least aim it up and above your instrument so you don't drown out your voice.

Wifi Connection - When you are far away from your wifi router, the wifi signal will be weaker and the bandwidth will decrease.  This means that zoom will have to compress your audio much more than usual and degrade the quality.  If you can move your laptop or mobile device closer to your router, you can eliminate this problem.  

Zoom Audio SettingsAudio Setup in the zoom Application
IMPORTANT - You should check these settings EVERY time you join a zoom meeting.  Some of them get reset each time.  

T
hese settings will have a big effect on your sound quality.  Zoom is normally expecting a meeting where people are just speaking.  So it optimizes the sound for the voice but not for musical instruments.  The following settings will give you the best quality sound with any instrument and with singing.

To start with, go to the audio settings in zoom.  The easiest way to do this is to click on the up arrow ^ next to the Microphone icon in the lower left, and select Audio Settings from the popup menu as shown at left.

Automatic Volume - Start by making sure the "Automatically adjust microphone volume" checkbox is NOT checked.  You don't want zoom to be changing your volume while you're playing your song.
        Zoom Auto Volume
Manual Volume - Adjust your microphone volume manually by using the "Input Volume" slider.  Check your microphone volume by playing and singing, and watching the "Input Level" indicator.  If the volume is set too loud, your audio will be "clipped" and sound distorted.  If it is too soft it will be hard for people to hear.  Adjust the slider till the volume shown in the Input Level meter is somewhere in the middle, and never reaches the top.
       Zoom Manual Volume      
Enable Original Sound - Now, click on the Advanced button in the lower right of the settings window.  In the next window, check this checkbox:  
         Zoom Enable Original Sound
This is the option that tells zoom NOT to optimize the audio for speaking, but instead to try to conserve the full spectrum original sound that the microphone picks up.  Note that setting this option does NOT turn on the option.  It just makes the option show up during the meeting.  When you return to the meeting screen, there will be a new control in the upper left that you can now click to turn Original Sound on or off: 
           Zoom Original Sound
If the control says "Turn off Original Sound" as shown above, then the setting is already turned on and you're good to go!  If it says "Turn on Original Sound" then you should click it to turn it on.
Background Noise Options - On the Advanced audio settings page, it is also helpful to set the Suppress Persistent Background Noise and Suppress Intermittent Background Noise Options to Disable:
         Zoom background options

The third control, "Echo Cancellation" should be left in the default "Auto" setting.