Band At Hand
Defying Latency

A Big Step Forward for Real-Time Concerts and Rehearsals is Latency Reduction. That’s the word heard very often in Band at Hand’s offices. That’s our worst enemy and our main concern from the very first days of the project. Indeed, today latency is one of major limiting factors for true real-time online interaction of musicians. Latency is caused by several factors: signal processing latency on the sending computer, network latency and signal processing latency on the receiving computer.

Band at Hand started as a software solution. We decided to build a universal application to connect musicians regardless of the platform and hardware they’re using. Turned out, it is virtually impossible to provide satisfying processing and transmission of signal based on software with all varieties of hardware and OS configurations of modern computers.

We ran pilot software tests in cooperation with music bands, which revealed that the latency is match to long for the comfortable play of each band member. We found that the highest latency that still allows musicians to play together and to feel their playing is in sync is 25 milliseconds.

So we decided that minimum latency of hardware processing and transferring of the signal through the Internet possible only in a standalone device. We developed the LLPP (Low Latency Packet Protocol) technology that allowed us to reduce the sound processing latency of Band at Hand devices to as low as 2 milliseconds for 48 kHz, 24-bit sound.

Unfortunately, there are still signal transmission delays when the signal is transferred between users. Such latency depends on network quality, data transfer rate, jitter and other network parameters. Also, signal transmission rates can be different for different networks, and, of course, the longer the distance between two user devices, the higher the latency of the signal.

We conducted a lot of tests and came to a conclusion, that two Band at Hand users can comfortably play together as long as the distance between them is up to 2500 miles (see the picture), as long as both are using a broadband connection, of course. Unfortunately, 3G/LTE networks are too slow for that.

That is why Band at Hand targets only cable or Wi-Fi Internet connections available to nearly everyone today. Wi-Fi is available even in hotels and cafes now, not to mention home networks.

Users watching a concert, however, can use any devices and watch real-time concerts over the Internet via mobile connection. The overall delay in this case is about 7 seconds caused by signal processing on the server and streaming video broadcasting. Therefore, musicians should take into account that spectator reaction follows in roughly 7 seconds after the performance begins.

Nevertheless, network technology continues to improve. Data transmission technologies receive updates almost every month. Internet speed increases, latencies become lower. We are monitoring new trends in this area and will update our devices as soon as new technologies appear. We believe that shortly, musicians from New York, Los Angeles or London will be able to work together just as if they were in the same studio.

Defying Latency