Zoom Set-Up for Guitar Lessons

Strongly Recommended Setup

Headphones – Use headphones to avoid problems with hearing an echo if you are trying to perform in sync with the instructor. Something like Sony MDR-7506 headphones works well.

Good Microphone or Audio Interface – Use a high quality microphone or invest in an audio interface to have higher quality sound and so the instructor can hear you clearly and loudly. This will also help you to perform more in ‘sync’ with the instructor. (Most laptops with built-in microphones are not adequate and will not produce high quality sound). Check your computer 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).

A desktop Blue Yeti USB microphone should work well for a basic setup to pick up your voice and acoustic guitar. 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 .

Wired Internet -Use a wired ethernet connection (if you have one) rather than wireless to avoid audio dropouts and provide a more reliable experience.

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).

Instruction for a Macintosh Computer

  1. Update your Zoom software to the latest 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.
    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).
    5. Under Suppress background noise, check the Low (faint background sound) radio button.
      Supress Background noise in Zoom
    6. Under Music and Professional Audio, do the following:
      1. Check the box next to Show in-meeting option to “Turn on Original Soundfrom microphone. (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).
      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.
        Music and Professional Audio in Zoom
    7. 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.
    8. After you connect to your meeting with Zoom, in the top left corner you may see an option that says Turn on Original Sound. Click on the button to activate Original Sound (this will activate hi-fidelity mode).
    9. 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.

Tips

It is recommended you 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.

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

Issues with using an Audio Interface

By default Zoom will only be able to see channels 1 & 2 of an audio interface. If you have more than 2 channels on your audio interface and you plug in your guitar to channel 3, Zoom will not be able to see or use that signal without additional software.

For beginners, to keep things simple it is strongly recommended to use a high quality USB microphone, such as a Blue Yeti or a simple 2 channel audio interface.

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

Advanced Setup with an Audio Interface of more than 2 Channels

Setup is much more complicated (and not for the faint of heart) if you wish 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 have your microphone plugged into channel 3 and the guitar in channel 5, you will need to purchase additional software since Zoom will only be able to see the first 2 input channels.

Rogue Amoeba makes software called Loopback that can take various channels the audio interface and combine them into 2 channels (1 and 2). Loopback also allows you to use different audio sources and programs such as iTunes, Capo, Guitar Pro, etc and route them together into channels 1 & 2.

You would then 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. Within Zoom, you would need to select your Loopback profile you created for your Audio Settings input.