Live Streaming a Worship Team Simulcast

Simulcasted live stream differs from other approaches in that each artist is at a different location. Each artist streams to online AV sessions which in turn are consolidated at a broadcast mix down location, and finally this is live streamed for public viewing.

In the case of live streaming a worship team simulcast, the content is worship music and accompanying words of exhortation and encouragement to build up and inspire those participating. The viewing audience is usually more than just viewers. They may sing along and if there is provision set up for online interaction, they may participate with this as well.

Below is a depiction of what we are attempting to accomplish.

Simulcast Live Stream


Let’s begin with an overview.

  1. Artist – We begin with each artist (and can include preachers and other speakers among this since the technicalities are the same). Each artist needs to be equipped with equipment suitable to connect their microphone and/or instrument(s) to the online AV sessions that are involved. This will typically require a computer with an audio interface and camera, monitor speakers, ear buds or headphones and a wired high speed Internet connection. Some artists may even require an audio mixer (or two). This is on top of the artist’s mic and instrument(s). Obviously a big consideration here is cost and to avoid unnecessarily getting too complicated. (Simulcasting makes it complicated enough just in itself).
  2. Online AV Sessions – There are three classes of AV sessions. First there is the artist’s monitor mix. Reasonable audio quality at low latency is the primary concern here. Next there is the broadcast audio mix. This must be of high audio quality with all artist streams synchronized. Finally, there is the broadcast video stream. Like for the broadcast audio mix, this must have all sources synchronized, and should be synchronized with the audio (to avoid “bad lip-sync”).
  3. Lyrics, Graphics and Other AV – This includes overlaying song lyrics, presentation slides to go with preaching, any pre-recorded AV content. It usually also includes a countdown to start and any opening / closing credits, etc.
  4. Broadcast Mix-down – This involves mixing the audio broadcast mix and switching between the video sources. This may include picture-in-picture, tiling and other video effects and transition effects.
  5. Operators – People will be needed to operate the broadcast mix down and lyrics, graphics and other AV. This is likely to be at least two people. One person to operate lyrics, graphics and other AV, and another person to handle the broadcast mix down. This could be further divided into audio and video mix down. It may be possible to operate lyrics, graphics and other AV from a different location than broadcast mix down, (but that adds requirement for another AV session to act as an intercom channel).
  6. Live Stream (with Social) – The broadcast mix down is streamed to a live streaming service provider such as FaceBook or YouTube. From there it is streamed to all the viewers. The most common social mechanism is a text chat channel associated with the live stream event.
  7. Social Moderator – This is a person designated to greet and welcome people, answer questions about the forum (not the content) and to post URL links for resources, follow-up material, etc. Sometimes the social moderator may need to keep the peace.
  8. Viewer – These are the participants. In worship context, this goes beyond viewing. The consideration here is that the live stream be interoperable with all the commonly used smart phones and computers people are likely to have.

Phase One

For phase one, we are going to focus on the program source, namely the artists that make up the worship team. Without this, there is no point in attempting to use a simulcast approach to live streaming.

The main considerations here are:

  1. What is “the bar” or entry level requirement in terms of what each worship artist must have in order to participate in the simulcast?
  2. How do we establish the artist monitor online session (in this case, just audio)?
  3. How do we achieve the low latency in the audio session?

By addressing these, we not only get the worship team connected for subsequent simulcast live streaming, we set them up with the online environment for rehearsals. They can get caught up with the rehearsal as we work out the rest (for phase two, etc).

Artist Equipment Needs

Preferred – Laptop With USB Audio Interface

The artist should possess a PC or Mac (preferably a laptop but not absolutely necessary) that supports:

  1. Ethernet (wired) connection to the Internet by plugging it into the router. WiFi is plain not fast enough to satisfy the low latency requirement for an online audio session. If the computer doesn’t come with an Ethernet jack, then a USB Ethernet dongle will be needed.
  2. A USB Audio interface supporting at least two (2) inputs and two (2) outputs. In most cases, a contemporary laptop only supports a mono mic or a set of headphones (or a combo headset). They don’t even support stereo line input jack like older sound cards used to have.
  3. A reasonable quality web cam is needed, not necessarily for the rehearsal, but for the live stream.

Then the artist needs the correct complement of cables, adapters, etc to join this with their their instrument, amps, speakers or whatever else they have.

A simple setup could consist of connecting the microphone to one input, a guitar or other instrument to the other input and a set of powered speakers (or even a guitar amp) to the outputs. For this setup, operate using send in mono mode. Your return should be mono or stereo depending on your speaker setup. It is important to have a room isolated from usual household noise otherwise that may be picked up by the mic (and will distract the artist).

If the artist isn’t a vocalist as well as playing, then the mic is just for communication (mainly during the rehearsals.

Absolute Bare Minimum

The artist should possess a PC or Mac (preferably a laptop but not absolutely necessary) that supports:

  1. Ethernet (wired) connection to the Internet by plugging it into the router. WiFi is plain not fast enough to satisfy the low latency requirement for an online audio session. If the computer doesn’t come with an Ethernet jack, then a USB Ethernet dongle will be needed.
  2. Built in microphone of reasonable quality.
  3. A good set of ear buds or head phones to plug into the computer. (You cannot use Bluetooth wireless headphones for the same reason that you cannot use WiFi – bad latency).
  4. A reasonable quality web cam is needed, not necessarily for the rehearsal, but for the live stream.

In this setup, it is absolutely essential that the artist have a quiet room isolated from outside noise. Furthermore, there must not be excessive mechanical noise from furnace, ventilation, laundry or other household utilities. You even need to be careful that it doesn’t pick up a TV from a near by room. Failure to do so will likely result in that artist being turned way down in the mix (or even muted).

This setup is not suitable for a lead vocalist, but it could work with an ensemble of backing vocalists (almost like a mini section of a choir). It may work with an amplified guitar (acoustic or electric). The artist also uses the microphone for chatting during rehearsals. If you have an artist who is strictly visual (e.g. interpretive dance or someone translating to sign language) this setup is sufficient.

The computer speakers must not be used in this setup because to do so would feedback into the built in mic and make the audio session unusable.

The Scarlett Solo shown as an example with the preferred setup earlier is approx US$100 and there are equivalents to this by other vendors such as Roland, Steinberg and Behringer. There are also higher models including some with more channels. I don’t want to recommend a make and model unless I have had opportunity to try it out myself. There are FaceBook groups and other discussion forums dedicated to the use of small low cost computer audio interfaces for different applications such as recording, live performance (using MainStage and Ableton) and for using Jamulus. Check these for reviews and see what recommendations the users give.

Advanced Setups

Some artists will have more advanced setups. This will usually be those with comprehensive gear, mainly keyboardists who combine software with hardware, and artists who have a home recording studio.

The key here is. to:

  1. Don’t over complicate the setup.
  2. Ensure that what is needed to support simulcasting is always ready and doesn’t require elaborate setup and teardown after each use (that is when mistakes will be made).
  3. Have switchover between studio and practice use versus rehearsals and live streaming be as simple as one or two switches or patch cables if possible.
  4. Most of all be cautious to avoid introducing wired feedback loops in the setup.
  5. Write up a pre-session checklist as well.

Artist Monitor Online Session

There are two technologies that I have evaluated:

  1. JamKazam
  2. Jamulus

After evaluation, Jamulus quickly won for me.

ProvenanceProprietary softwareOpen source software
Cost to user or organizationFreeFree
Support organizationA proprietorOpen source community
Latest release1.0.3704 (1.0.3669 for Mac)3.5.2
DateunknownApr 20, 2020Jamulus
PlatformsWindows, MacOSWindows, MacOS, LinuxJamulus
ServerOperated by JamKazamOperated by anyoneJamulus
Music contentTrax for numerous cover tunesnoneJamKazam
Date of last update, news, press release, document, etc.2014Apr 30, 2020Jamulus
Stability during evaluationProgram crashed at timesProgram stableJamulus
Audio interface interoperabilityWizards used to test and qualify audio HW as insufficient, fair or good. Must be rated fair or better to proceed.Works with ASIO (Windows) or Core Audio (MacOS). Uses asio4all to support WDM drivers.Jamulus
RegistrationMust sign up for an account (free)None required. Optionally can join user forums.Jamulus
Tested onMacBookMacBook, Windows laptop and Linux PC (server)Jamulus
Audio channelsMultiple (including a talk mic channel)Stereo or monoJamKazam
Audio qualityPoor to fairFair to goodJamulus
Bare minimum platformMac or PC with qualifying audio interfaceMac or PC with builtin mic and headphonesJamulus
Self operated serverNot possibleWindows, MacOS, various Linux distros, or compile from source (I compiled it for CentOS 7)Jamulus
OverallDoesn’t appear to be well supportedWell supported by open source communityJamulus
Comparison of JamKazam versus Jamulus, May 2, 2020

Jamulus is easy to install on Windows or MacOS, a bit more complicated to install on Linux (especially if you have to compile it from source code). If you have a decent USB Audio interface, you can be connected and checking out a jam session at a public server in a matter of minutes.

Be careful that you disable local monitoring from the audio input to the audio output and that you avoid wired (or acoustic) feedback loops in how you interconnect your hardware. If you are using the absolute bare minimum setup (builtin mic and headphones), you likely will need to adjust sound settings in the OS (for Windows you may have to install and setup asio4all, also free). If your PC has OEM sound drivers with its own control app, you may have to adjust that too. (My laptop came up easy, but my sister’s laptop took a while of adjusting settings. It was interesting trying to debug that using FaceTime).

Jamulus is well documented with “an idiot’s guide” style FaceBook page that will step you through setup much better than I can explain here.

Online Video Session

Although this is not necessary for rehearsals, it can be handy for improved interaction and collaboration, and it gets you practiced up for when you live stream later.

Zoom video conferencing software has been used by some quite successfully for jam sessions and even to live stream jam sessions as virtual concerts. Join the Jamulus FaceBook group to find out more about how they do this.

I have experimented using Jitsi Meet. Jitsi is open source technology and you can even operate your own video bridge (server). I haven’t gotten as far as setting up a video bridge yet, but I have played with it enough to know that I can capture a tiled layout of participants in the video call as a video source to feed into Open Broadcast Software (OBS) for use as live stream content.

In either Zoom or Jitsi, you need to consider the following:

  1. It will likely grab the system default audio devices, in which case you may need to turn the levels way down (or mute them). You don’t want that audio since it has longer latency. Use the Jamulus audio session. If you are using bare minimum setup, you may just get error messages because the devices are already in use. Dismiss such errors, you are using Jamulus for audio.
  2. It will grab your camera for the video. (You may notice bad lip sync, but that is OK for now. It can be corrected later using OBS when you live stream).


Checklist for an economical setup that still fits into the “preferred” category given earlier.

  • Computer (laptop and quiet) Windows PC or Mac of relatively recent vintage (one that shipped with Windows 7 or later, macOS Sierra or later) capable of running Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) applications and handling video conferencing.
  • Ethernet interface either builtin or a USB3 Gigabit Ethernet dongle. (If your PC doesn’t have USB3, it is likely old enough to still have the Ethernet builtin).
  • Web camera built in (or a USB web cam) but this isn’t needed until you want to video conference during rehearsals, or to live stream.
  • USB Audio interface with at least one XLR audio input to support connecting a microphone and at least one 1/4″ input to support high impedance guitar (or line) input.
  • Your instrument and a microphone, stands, etc.
  • A monitor speaker system (e.g. near field monitors, small PA system, keyboard or even an acoustic guitar amp) or you can use ear buds or headphones.
  • Cables to interconnect everything, (including Ethernet cable to connect you to the nearest patch point or to your router / modem).

And remember, no WiFi for Internet and no Bluetooth for headphones, speakers, etc. (unless you want to be off a beat from everyone else on the team, ha ha ha).