Jack2 is the connector for audio within and between computers. It connects your audio soundcard to the guts of your computer using a simple to visualize jackfield, where you connect audio paths from one output to any number of inputs. You can also connect several computers’ audio together over ethernet! It is available for Linux (Ubuntu Studio), MacOS, and Windows! It does not know multi-channel audio natively, so you have to hook up the left and the right ‘cables’ independently.
My first exposure to Jack was back in Ubuntu 10.04 where I installed it manually in a system that had ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) and an early version of Pulseaudio installed. It drove me crazy, no audio or audio that had dropouts. Dozens of settings poorly documented. AARRRRGH!
No longer! Ubuntu Studio comes with Jack2 already installed so all that grief is mostly behind you. Many web sources tell you to get rid of Pulseaudio, but the case is not so compelling as it once was, but if low latency or several sound cards are in your plan, dump it. Check out my article “Use Pulseaudio with Jack Audio Connection Kit?”
You should have your final soundcard(s) installed when you install Ubuntu-Studio so that it can pick up the cards automatically. Jack comes with a little utility called qjackctl that lets you set all the necessary configuration that lets you correct much of what might not work right away. No audio can usually be fixed with a command line utility called alsamixer because some sound card drivers set the volume to “0” not “11”.
There are packages from a site called KXStudio that make using Jack2 on Linux beautiful. If you dive into KXStudio, you will not most of the Jack2 utilities like Patchage, qjackctl, etc. I will have a script on this site soon that automates installing all these Uber Cool features.
Once you can hook up an audio editor like Audacity to the audio outputs and connect a parametric equalizer to the microphone inputs and the equalizer to Audacity inputs, along a Jack meterbridge or spectrum analyzer you can see the power of this system. Jack can hook up Lapsda and .vst plugins for a multitude of effects.
NetJack is a way to hook up several computers’ audio together via ethernetwith one master computer connecting to another, or several others. This can work over a typical quiet office network, but the NetJack audio should be on its own network with no competing uses of the bandwidth. If there is too much audio flying around even a 1 GB network can get overloaded.
So, the possibility of shipping audio around between workstations and a server is a real possibility, getting rid of lots of conventional cabling, and removing hundreds or thousands of places where the audio can get degraded.