Network-centric Music Performance music, audio systems, networked entertainment


The advances in information technology and the great proliferation of the Internet have changed nearly every aspect of the work and life of human beings. Despite the progress in networked entertainment, many music professionals and enthusiasts are still sticking to the traditional way of carrying out rehearsals and concerts. Music performance in this way requires physical presence of the participants and has a number of inherent limitations. We introduce a novel system called “Network-centric Music Performance” (NMP) that enables multiparty music performance through cyberspace. Our target is to support real-time multi-channel natural audio streaming over the network, using audio compression schemes that can provide acceptable audio quality. Besides many challenges to cope with today's technology, a tight delay bound between the production and perception of audio is the dominant requirement for this project.

MP3 44k 16bit stereo
Narration of the Background of NMP

Project Description

The NMP system is bandwidth demanding, highly delay-sensitive and requires the synchronization of the audio streams. Hence, the support from underlying end-systems and the networks is critical. However the current source coding mechanisms and the best-effort nature of the Internet poses many challenges to achieve the desired quality of service. We implement a prototype of NMP using the client-server architecture and exploit end-system’s and network’s influences on Network-centric Music Performance. This is done in a local area network environment using Linux PCs (see the provided video clips). The system enables two different application scenarios, namely, real-time rehearsal and rehearsal on-demand. Real-time multi-channel audio transport and different audio compression schemes are supported. Both subjective and objective measurements are conducted to verify if the system suffices the audio quality level for the target application in such environment. Scalability tests are carried out to validate whether the system scales well with the increase of clientele.

NMP  Application Scenarios
NMP Application Scenarios

While most of our work has been focused on system aspect of NMP, we are working on QoS support through bandwidth prediction and forward error correction techniques at the moment. We plan to extend the scale of the application to networks spanning across reasonable larger physical distances and supporting more simultaneous users. Realistic network conditions outside the LAN will be considered in the next step to investigate the performance of the application in larger-scale networks. Then also delay jitter, its impact and counter-measure approaches will be more intensively studied. A more sophisticated evaluation model will be developed to compare different approaches with higher fidelity.

Detailed descriptions of NMP's architecture and current results are included in our NIME04 paper (PDF, 848KB), the IEEE Communications paper (PDF, 167KB), and the Communications of the ACM paper (PDF, 127KB).

Project Members

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Theses for this project

Related Work

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Adopted Tools

Associated Equipment


We would like to thank House of Hansen Productions LLC in California, USA for funding the development of this project. This work was sponsored by Sennheiser Electronic GmbH&Co. KG, Germany (special thanks to Dr. Wolfgang Niehoff) and Lindos Electronics, UK (sincere thanks to Chris Skirrow), by providing the MKH800 microphones and DigiSonic DS10. Previously, the Canadian Communications Research Centre (CRC) and OPTICOM GmbH, Germany provided their audio quality evaluation tools CRC-SEAQ and Opera 3.5 respectively.