What you need to know
- Microsoft Teams will soon support a music mode.
- The app will be able to adjust its audio bitrate based on bandwidth.
- People will also be able to turn off features like echo cancellation, noise suppression, and gain control within Teams.
Microsoft will soon roll out a music mode for Teams. The feature should improve the quality of music during calls and meetings in Microsoft Teams. In music mode, Teams will automatically adjust its audio bitrate based on the bandwidth available.
Music might not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to Microsoft Teams, but as people continue to communicate remotely, they'll try to share different experiences over the web. People might want to share a concert over Teams for consumers or set up hold music on a Teams meeting or call.
The description of music mode for Teams (opens in new tab) is a bit lengthy compared to normal Microsoft 365 roadmap entries:
In addition to improving the quality of music, the feature allows people to turn off certain components, including echo cancellation, noise suppression, and gain control.
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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org (opens in new tab).
I assume "turning off gain control" means Teams is finally getting the ability to stop Teams from adjusting the mic. Skype and Skype for Business both have this option. Glad to see it coming to Teams. Also great to see the higher bit rate. 128 kbps is good for basic speech, so I hope we can use that even if we're not playing music.
This is cool. During the pandemic, I took guitar lessons over Skype. Acoustic guitar did not sound good over Skype; even with high quality mics. It actually sounded a little out of tune. I didn't know what to do about it. I suspected the echo cancelation was causing these weird effects. I have since noticed that Zoom has these features, but I have not tried with acoustic guitar. One should realize that this will not allow people to play together over Teams. Latency will be an issue for people to stay in time. Musicians need 20ms or less latency to stay in time. If you say 15ms is needed just for network delays and application delays, that leaves 5ms for the speed of light to travel; which is 930 miles. Believe it or not, the speed of light starts to become the main limitation and that cannot be fixed as distance increases. For personal use, I use Skype. I plan to switch to Teams for personal use when I get Windows 11. I could see using these high quality audio features with my musician friends.
Really interested in what you mean by the speed of light being an issue. The only time the speed of sound and light are in involved is the 1m from camera/mic to the subject (you and the guitar), and at the other end when the observer is seeing/hearing light/sound emit from the display/loadspeaker/earphones. The rest of the journey connecting musicians is the network, with all it's buffers/encoder/decoders/switches. All of which add latency (delay). The features microsoft are implementing mean more audio information can be put down the pipe, meaning the higher frequencies are real (rather than computed - which is what is happening to the 'out of tune' guitar). The human ear is far less tolerant than the eye to the repurcussions of packets being delayed on route between devices. Because the assumption is that speaking is going on in skype/zoom/teams then particular digitization corners can be cut because of the psychoacoustics associated with speech. This corner cutting (to squeeze as much important data down the internet link and throw away stuff the eye/ear won't miss) is very different when it comes to music. Did you ever notice the tempo changing when in a call? I noticed it in Teams, that is because of packet delays, the speech is slowed down (whilst cleverly maintaining the pitch) in the hope that the delayed packets will get through soon. In speech that is just a slight change in pace, which is usual in conversation, but in music it's terrible!
Anyway, I've rambled on enough, I never meant to - sorry!
Hope these changes are what we hope for Jeffery!
It takes light 16ms to travel from LA to NY. If the LA musician plays a beat, at the very minimum, the NY musician will hear it 16ms later. The NY musician will attempt to play in time to it, and then it takes another 16ms for the NY musician's beat to get back to the LA musician. That will end up being 32ms off to the LA musician. The difference is greater with networking and application delays. But that 32ms can not be fixed with faster systems. It's just the laws of physics. The latency issue is not really related to this higher fidelity improvement. I just thought it was worth mentioning.
So... this may be off-topic, but when is Microsoft going to bring these kinds of high-fidelity music streaming features to its actual in-built music app? Oh, wait, they removed the Groove Music streaming features and made it a local playback app. I really wish they would re-introduce that with the HiFi streaming, since they are allowing over Teams, the *music app* should get the ability to stream high-quality music from any cloud location or locally.
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