Zoom Set-Up Recommendations for Guitar Lessons

(Note: This page includes links to products I recommend for a more reliable Zoom setup. If you click and purchase an item, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases).

Recommended Setup

Headphones – Use headphones to avoid problems with hearing an echo if you are trying to perform in sync with the instructor. Sony MDR-7506 headphones work very well. Most professional recording studios use these. I own 3 pairs of these and recommend them. They are comfortable, have good sound and fairly reasonably priced.

Good Microphone and/or Audio Interface – Use a high quality microphone or an audio interface to have higher quality sound and so the instructor can hear you clearly and loudly. (Most laptops with built-in microphones will not produce high quality sound). You will need to know what ports your computer has if you intend to purchase an audio interface Check your PC or Mac to see what ports are available such as USB A, USB C, thunderbolt, etc. (The port type on your computer will limit what model audio interface or mic that you can connect). In general, thunderbolt ports (and thunderbolt interfaces) will provide a faster (less latency), and more robust professional connection than USB.

A desktop Blue Yeti USB microphone should work well for a basic setup to pick up your voice and acoustic guitar along with headphones. If you already own a microphone with the standard XLR connector on the back (such as a Shure SM57 or Shure SM58 mic), a simple 2 channel audio interface like a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (3rd Gen) USB audio interface will work and allow you to plug in your guitar directly with a cable in the 2nd channel. PreSonus Studio 26c is another 2 channel interface option or an Motu m2 USB-C 2 channel interface. Another option is an MOTU UltraLite-mk5 18×22 USB Audio Interface . Universal Audio produces very high quality audio interfaces with excellent sound. The UAD Twins X DUO is a higher end audio interface that can support either 2 line or 2 XLR (Mic) inputs simultaneously. If you wish to connect multiple inputs simultaneously – for instance – a guitar, a piano, vocal mics, etc you may want to go with an 8 channel audio interface such as the UAD Apollo x8p

Wired Internet – Use a wired ethernet connection to your router rather than wireless to avoid audio dropouts and provide a much more reliable experience. If your laptop or computer doesn’t have a built in ethernet jack you can purchase a USB to ethernet adapter. Anker USB to Ethernet adapter would be a solution if your computer only had USB A ports. If your computer only has USB C ports, you could use something like the Anker USB C to Ethernet adapter. If you needed to purchase an ethernet cable – something like Ugreen 10 Ft ethernet Cable should work.
Connect the USB port to your computer or device and an ethernet cable to the adapter. Connect the other end of the ethernet cable to your router.
Once you have a wired ethernet connection, you can turn off the wi-fi to make sure your Zoom session goes through the wire rather than connecting wirelessly.

Extra Monitor (Optional) – Connecting an extra monitor (if your computer or laptop supports it), can be very useful to see a full screen video on monitor of the instructor and yourself and a full worksheet on the another monitor or screen. Zoom supports ‘dual monitor’ mode – in Zoom > Preferences > General > Check the ‘Use dual monitors’ box. (Restart Zoom after checking this box for dual monitor support to take effect).

Adjustable Webcam (Optional) – In order for the instructor to see you and your guitar simultaneously you may need to purchase an additional camera. A Logitech Brio is a good higher end option as this has 3 different viewing angles and can give wider to close up views.

Update your Zoom Desktop client Software
Zoom very frequently updates their desktop client software and has been improving the audio capabilities to handle more professional sound for people playing instruments. Update your Zoom software so you have these newer options to handle audio better:

Instruction for Updating Zoom Software on a Apple Macintosh Computer

  1. Update your Zoom software application to the most recent version.
    • Launch Zoom, then from menu bar select Zoom.US and select Check for Updates.Check for Updates
    • If there is a Zoom Update Available click on the Update button.
      Update Available
    • Click the Install button after it has downloaded.
      Install Zoom Update
    • Click Continue and follow the instructions to Install the updated version.
      Click Continue button to install Zoom
  2. Configure Zoom’s Preferences:
    1. Launch the Zoom app, from the menu bar select Zoom.US, then select Preferences.
      Opening Preferences on Zoom
    2. Select Audio
      Select Audio in Zoom
    3. Under Speaker, on the right side select the device that headphones are plugged into.
      Test Speaker
      (In this example, my headphones are connected to my Universal Audio Thunderbolt device – your system most likely will be different) If you need to change the device, click the small down arrow located on the button on right hand side and select your device from the drop down menu. (If you have the late Jan 2023 Zoom client installed, you now have the option to choose the channels of the audio interface you want to use).
    4. Under Microphone make sure your microphone or audio interface is selected.
      (In this example, my Universal Audio interface is selected. You should select your audio device if it is not automatically selected by clicking the small down arrow on the right and choosing your microphone or audio interface).
      Selecting Microphone or Audio Interface
      1. Uncheck the box next to Automatically adjust microphone volume.
        uncheck automatically adjust volume
      2. Manually move the Input Volume slider about 3/4 of the way to the right. (Later you can fine tune this slider when you test the volume with your mic or audio interface).
  3. Under Audio Profile, do the following:
    1. Check the box next to Original sound for musicians (recommended for studio environments. (This option automatically disables Zoom noise suppression, removes high pass filtering, and removes automatic gain control. It is recommended for playing music and studio-like environments with higher quality microphones, speakers or audio interfaces. It is not recommended for use in noisy environments or for general meetings use).
      Choosing Original Sound for Musicians in Zoom in Zoom Settings
    2. Check the box next to High-fidelity music mode.
    3. Uncheck the box next to Echo cancellation.
    4. Check the box next to Stereo audio.
      Stereo Audio for Zoom
    5. Test your Input Level and set it optimally:
      1. Under Microphone, Click the Test Mic button then speak into your microphone or play your guitar. (The Input Level LED meters should light up and move).
        Input Volume Level Meter in Zoom Audio Settings
      2. Continue speaking or playing your guitar. Manually move the Input Volume slider in the Audio settings in Zoom so the signal coming in is not too soft or too loud. Adjust the slider so the LED lights are mainly in the green and a little in the yellow. (If the LED is in the red, it means the input signal is too strong and will clip and cause distortion. If that is the case, lower the Input slider so the LED lights don’t go into the red). If you are using an external microphone such as a Blue Yeti USB mic, adjust the physical Gain control knob on the microphone to increase the input level of the microphone.
    6. After you connect to your meeting with Zoom, in the top left corner you should see an option that says Original Sound for Musicians: OFF. Click on the lettering to turn it on. (this will activate hi-fidelity mode).
      Original Sound for Musicians: OFF

      Original Sound for Musicians: On
    7. You should now be all set for your lesson. During your lesson, you can always open up the Audio settings and adjust the input level if your guitar or mic is too loud or soft.


Check your Audio settings in Zoom before every guitar lesson and verify that your headphones and microphone or audio interface is still selected and set up correctly. You will need to manually remember and select the appropriate input channels every time you begin a new Zoom session).

Make sure you turn Original Sound for Musicians to On if you are using an audio interface otherwise your guitar sound will cut in and out.

On a Macintosh computer you can quickly open up the Preferences pane in Zoom by using the shortcut key: command + ,

Advanced Setup with an Audio Interface of more than 2 Channels (Mac)

Setup is more complex if you need to use additional channels (other than channel 1 & 2) of your Audio Interface with Zoom. For instance, if you have an 8 channel audio interface and your vocal microphone plugged into channel 3 and guitar in channel 5, you may need to purchase additional software.

Rogue Amoeba makes software called Loopback for the Mac can solve most of these issues. Loopback also allows you to use different audio sources and programs such as Logic Pro, MainStage, Music (formerly called iTunes), Capo, Guitar Pro, etc and route them together into channels 1 & 2.

You may also need Loopback to route Zoom’s output (the audio of the person or people you are connected to) into the Zoom’s ‘Speaker’ Audio setting if you are having problems hearing the output from Zoom via your audio interface

Depending on your particular setup, you may also need another program such as Audio Hijack to capture the output of your mixing software (such as Apple Logic or Apple MainStage) and output it the profile you created in Loopback. (with the versions of Zoom late Jan 2023 & beyond, you should not need this).

Next, within Zoom’s Audio settings configuration, select the Loopback profile you created for your Zoom’s Audio Settings Input. For the output (speakers) in Zoom, you can typically select the name of your audio interface. For instance if you had a Universal Audio interface, you can select that. Click the test button and test if you can hear sound. If not, try the other options, if you are using Loopback, try using the Loopback pass thru option.

Instructions for Microsoft Windows based PC

Follow the Zoom Audio Testing Support for testing and setting up your system.

Verify that you can hear your own audio (though your headphones or speakers) and your microphone input before your guitar lesson session. (Talk into your microphone with your headphones on and listen if you can hear yourself in the headphones).

If you can not hear yourself, open the Zoom desktop application (not the Zoom web app).

With the Zoom desktop app open, click the gear icon at the upper right corner to access the Settings menu. (If you don’t see a gear icon, click on your Profile picture, then click Settings from the pop down menu)

Navigate to the Audio tab.

Look at the devices listed under Speaker and Microphone. Make sure the correct devices are listed next to both the Test Speaker button and the Test Mic button.

Note that next to the Test Speaker button there is a selectable drop down menu to choose the correct output.

Click the Test Speaker button and listen if you can hear anything. If you can not hear anything, you have the wrong option selected. If that is the case, select the appropriate device from the drop down menu directly to the right of the Test Speaker button. After selecting a new device, click the Test Speaker button until you hear something your headphones.

Under Music and Professional Audio section:

  1. Check the box next to Show in-meeting option to “Turn on Original Sound”
  2. Check the box next to Hi fidelity music mode
  3. Uncheck the box next to Echo cancellation.

If still having issues with your audio, check:
How to Fix no Sound on Zoom PC
How to Fix Zoom Audio Problems
Changing settings in the desktop client/mobile app

Other Links & Articles Relating to Audio Setup

Zoom with Blue Yeti Setup
Audio – Zoom Official Help Center
Choosing the Best Gear for Online Music Lessons
How to set up your Focusrite audio interface with Zoom on Windows
How to set up your Focusrite audio interface with Zoom on a Mac