I’m going to talk about Yousician again, not because I want to, but because that’s how most people are coming across my blog, so I feel I owe it to you to give you any updated information I come across through the almost constant stream of conversations on the subject (which, btw, is slightly nuts considering I don’t even use the program daily, but it is what it is.)

As I said my on my last post on the subject, I honestly don’t know where people who are not having issues are finding my blog, because it doesn’t pull up within the first few pages of search on googling ‘yousician’, but does when you google terms like ‘yousician problems’. That being said, my teeny little blog does seem to be getting a lot of yousician related traffic, so as much as I don’t particularly want to keep talking about this program, I do think I’m obligated to when commenters give me pieces of the puzzle.

Now, commenters, do forgive me for not mentioning you by name, but I’m too lazy to go look up who said what.

A brief preface: I do not own a single Apple device, so I can be of absolutely no use whatsoever to you mac users. I am not, and will not at any point in the immediate future, be attaining an apple device to test on.

That said, I did decide, in light of the many mobile users who have been commenting, to try to install the app on a mobile device for comparative purposes.  I chose my tablet instead of my phone for a few reasons:

  1. Bigger screen
  2. Does not have front facing speakers

Since my phone is the HTC One M8, I thought the front facing speakers would likely give me a non-standard mobile experience.  That said, my tablet is the Galaxy Note 12, which is a particularly high quality tablet, so that might be a non-standard experience as well. Still, the Note 12 is an artist’s tool for me, and I haven’t really bothered with the sound much, so am working on the assumption that it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

I’m going to hold off talking about my experience there other than to say the first day on ukulele went without a hitch. That said, my first week or two with guitar in yousician also went without a hitch. I will hold off forming any opinions until I have used the tablet for both instruments over an extended period of time.

That being said, it was a mobile user who brought my attention to where the sound recognition problems are likely coming from in Yousician. He said the back-facing speaker on a cell phone actually makes it worse and that he found a much better experience using the program with headphones, so thought the problem was likely to do with yousician’s backing tracks.

Now, I hadn’t thought of that, but it actually makes perfect sense. Back facing speakers are a pain, which is actually why I chose my HTC phone. For all it’s other issues, the front facing speakers are a really awesome feature.

So, let me take a second to break this down. We all know that, when recording things, mic placement makes a big difference. This is common sense. And, I think that is pretty much the problem that those of us having significant issues with Yousician are running into.

If you are using a desktop pc (do people still use these outside of the office??), then you most likely have external speakers which you can place anywhere you’d like, and your mic is…wherever your mic happens to be. If you have a laptop pc, your speakers will be somewhere on the keypad, and your mic probably somewhere fairly close to it. If you have a phone, with rare exception, speakers will be rear facing, and by nature of the device being small, your mic will be very close to that.

Now, you sit down to play. Your device is in front of you, as is necessary to see the screen. If you’re on a laptop or a smartphone the speakers are picking up yousician’s backing tracks as being in closer proximity than your instrumentThis is, I think, possibly at the root of the problem. Many devices are hearing the backing tracks louder than your instruments because the sound is coming from closer, so far as your mic and speakers are concerned. This is why a rocksmith cable, headphones, or a usb mic with noise cancelling work to rectify the issue – they eliminate noise other than your instrument coming from within the yousician program, so that the mic can hear you clearly.

So, some of you aren’t having problems, and that’s likely because your set up means your mic is a reasonable distance from your speakers creating a good overall sound balance. But, if you happen to have your mic and speakers close together, and then your instrument a foot away, well…your playing becomes the background noise as yousician effectively listens to itself.

This is the most sensible hypothesis I’ve come across so far, and at least explains the wide variety of experiences people are having with the program. I’m not sure what the fix is, but I’m thinking Yousician giving us the ability to adjust the volume of the backing tracks in the settings menu would probably help. If you’re unfortunate enough that your mic and speakers are set close together on your device this is probably the only way to adjust for it without relying on an external usb device to effectively move your mic away from your speakers.

Until new evidence comes to light that proves that theory wrong, it does seem to be the most logical, so is most likely what is happening, and why some users are having ‘no problems’ while others of us are having an extremely frustrating experience.

Until next time, it’s not your sound settings, guys, it’s your mic placement, which you may or may not be able to do anything about.

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