This is a quick introduction to Jamspace to give you a general idea of what it's about. If after reading this you're still interested then please check out the other wiki pages for more details or just dive right in to the studio!
What is JamSpace?
JamSpace is in essence an online multitrack recording studio. If you've ever used programs such as Sonar (Cakewalk), Cubase, Pro-tools or GarageBand then you already have the basic idea. JamSpace is quite a bit simpler than these professional (and expensive) tools, but it does have a few tricks of its own. If you're completely unfamiliar with multitrack recording then a quick web search can bring you up to speed, or just follow along and you'll get the idea.
In addition to being a recording studio JamSpace is also a community. The social networking features will help you meet other musicians, collaborate and learn from them. Need a flute solo for your latest project? Looking for a funky bass line to get you started? Just ask around or search the site. As more and more people use Jamspace it will become a richer community. JamSpace is just getting off the ground, and you as an early adopter are helping to establish this community. Got a song idea, a catchy groove, can you whistle a tune or make interesting mouth noises? Anything goes!
What is multitrack recording?
Let's pretend that you want to record a song with you singing and playing an acoustic guitar. The simplest thing to do is to just put a microphone in front of you, hit record and go. This is a perfectly reasonable way to record a song and many excellent recordings have been made this way. There are however some limitations to this way of recording and there are some thing that are just not possible when recording this way.
The right mix
Recording a song is like following a recipe. Not only do you need the right high-quality ingredients, they must also be blended in the right proportions and in the right places. Referring back to the guitar/vocal track above, let's assume that you played and sang it exactly how you wanted, but when you play it back the guitar is too loud and drowns out the voice. What to do?
What makes JamSpace unique?
One of the most powerful aspects of JamSpace is that it enables musical collaboration by being available to anyone with a modern browser and a suitable internet connection. There are many online musical collaboration projects where people will upload a recording, someone else can download that recording and then upload the modified track. This is really fun and popular, but it does have some limitations:
- Once you've mixed your music onto someone else's track there is no way to remix it.
Imagine that you create a bass line and somebody else puts a guitar track to that. You like the guitar track but you wish is was louder. There's not much you can do about that other than kindly ask the guitar player to remix it for you. Enter JamSpace! Being a multitrack recorder means that each track remains distinct and can be mixed and remixed as desired. Now if you want the guitar to be louder you just turn up that track and save the project. Now it's all ready for someone (maybe you) to add that lead accordion solo! Just add the track and mix it the way you like it. This can go on for as many tracks as you like, adding, deleting and remixing to your heart's content.
How does JamSpace work?
JamSpace takes advantage of the latest developments in web browser technology to enable audio recording directly from the browser. That right, no plugins, applets or helper programs are needed to start recording your next album. Just a web browser, a computer (or laptop, smartphone...) with a mic input and an internet connection.
JamSpace has a built in synthesizer that currently supports the General MIDI Specification. What that means is a standardized collection of common instruments and some not-so-common (e.g. gunshot, applause). Using synthesized sounds is an alternative to using recorded (i.e. sampled) sounds. Synthesized sounds are very useful for adding drum and bass lines, keyboard pads and so forth. You can also upload files in standard MIDI (usually .mid files) and play with them on JamSpace. One of the really cool features of synthesized tracks is that you can change the pitch and tempo at will.
Or just mix
It's not necessary to record in order to use JamSpace. You can freely browse the site for tracks and projects that others have shared and remix those. You can also upload music files (more on this later) and play with them in JamSpace.
Music in the cloud
While the web browser plays an important role in JamSpace most of the real work happens at JamSpace headquarters on our servers. Each time you make a change to your project the changes are sent to one of our JAM (JamSpace Audio Machine) servers. When you click play the server mixes up your music on the spot and streams it back to your browser. This is very interactive, if you change a setting while the song is playing you will hear the change almost immediately. Since everything happens on the server there is no need to store any files or save anything on your computer. You can get started on a project, save it and go to a friend's house to pick up where you left off on a different computer. Or you could just call up your buddy and tell him or her to add their bit.
When you get your song just the way you like it you'll surely want to put it on your media player and/or send it to your friends. The JamSpace mixdown feature will mix your song and download it as an MP3 file (FLAC and Ogg/Vorbis support also coming soon). Now you can treat this file just as you would with any normal audio file.
There is still quite a bit of work to be done to help Jamspace live up to its potential. But while that work is in progress Jamspace can still be used and enjoyed with the features that are currently implemented. The following items are some known issues that you should be aware of.
- Does not work with Safari browser, however Mac users have no fear, Jamspace works well in Chrome on the Mac.
- Sketchy on tablets and smartphones - Your mileage may vary
- Chrome seems to work best on all platforms tested, though Firefox also performs well. Extensive testing with other browsers and platforms has not been done. Please feel free to contribute your experience with various platforms so it can be shared with others. The forums are a great place to do this.