It was not only in times of the pandemic, with the contact restrictions we know all-too-well, that the virtual world increasingly came to the forefront. Many people worked in their home office; there was and still is the opportunity to learn musical instruments online, be it as an autodidact via YouTube & Co., on a teaching portal, as a temporary replacement or to support lessons at the local music school. Even if you are already quite well equipped for online learning, here are a few tips on some helpful tools.
When you take your musical steps online with the help of a teacher, you don’t just have to see what’s happening on the screen. Of course, in order to receive feedback, you must also be seen. Most laptops have a webcam on board. If not, or if the quality is not good enough, you need an external webcam . An external camera is also useful if you don’t want to or can’t sit in front of the computer with your instrument all the time.
A good example is the Swissonic Webcam 3 Full-HD AF-L , which as a USB business webcam has an auto-focus at 1080p Full-HD resolution. The cam is conveniently equipped with an LED ring light, which also puts you in the right light with online compatibility.
The instrument, whether electric or natural, must somehow be transmitted to the computer. This is usually done via an audio interface . The sampling rate and resolution are particularly important. In addition, the corresponding inputs and outputs must be available, with the outputs mostly being used for monitoring.
The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen is very popular and almost a classic in an updated version . This is a 2-channel USB 2.0 audio interface that works with a resolution of 24 bits at up to 192 kHz. It is equipped with two Scarlett microphone preamps and two balanced line inputs for connecting line-level instruments. The inputs are designed as combo jacks and can therefore also be used for microphones. E-guitars and e-basses can also be connected; the impedance is adjusted automatically.
When learning online you will need at least one microphone, often two: one for the voice, the other for the instrument if it is a natural instrument such as the acoustic guitar. Ultimately, you face the same challenges when miking as you do in the home studio. But your goal is different if you want to learn an instrument online.
The typical studio microphone is the large-diaphragm condenser microphone . Usually it is used for singing and speech as well as acoustic instruments such as guitar , violin or flute . Another solution are the small-diaphragm condenser microphones , which allow longer distances. The decision to use a large or small diaphragm microphone will depend on the instrument in question. The comparatively inexpensive Rode NT1-A Complete Vocal Recording Vocal Recording Set with spider and pop filter is popular with large-diaphragm condenser microphones . The MKE 600 from Sennheiser scores points when it comes to small-diaphragm microphoneswith high quality. However, there are various cheaper models that should be completely sufficient for your purposes.
Depending on the setup, you will need decent headphones, although this is not always practical for practicing and playing. You have to decide for yourself whether you want to work with headphones , which makes sense in online communication to avoid any feedback, or whether you want to use studio speakers for monitoring. It remains the best possible compromise between feasibility, sound and freedom of movement.
The standard for closed dynamic headphones is the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80 . Circumaural headphones have a firm place in studios around the world. The 80 ohm version requires a headphone preamp, while the 32 ohm version is recommended for connection to a laptop or smartphone.
Nobody wants to look sick and pale in the video call. Also, your teacher also wants to see exactly what you are doing on your instrument. That means you need the right lighting, a good video light. The lights should be sufficiently powerful, and the brightness and color temperature range should also be adjustable.
Elgato has made a name for itself with various studio lights, such as the Elgato Ring Light. The light is WLAN-capable, so that the specifically desired settings can be made via the PC. The colour temperature can be selected from 2,900 to 7,000 K. The lamp meets the requirements of DSLR cameras and provides the best illumination.
In order for teachers or the online class to hear and see you, your lessons and exercises must be streamed. It may happen that you have to laboriously operate various functions of your software using the computer keyboard. In these cases, it’s much easier with a small tool that has the appropriate functions already mapped to its buttons.
The Elgato Stream Deck MK2 is such a universal controller with illuminated and graphic-capable buttons, the hardware of which was originally developed for live streaming of video content via YouTube, Twitch and the like. It is also ideal for controlling networking tools, creative programs and DAW software. The Stream Deck is recommended for streamers, producers, creative people and also for online music students.
Well then, we wish you the best of luck. So that you can learn and play your favorite songs very soon!
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