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Conference calling is a multi-billion dollar industry that is mostly powered by expensive, high-powered conferencing servers. Now you can replicate much of this functionality for free with a modern browser using the combination of WebRTC and WebAudio.
Like with video, multi-party audio can utilize a few architectures:
- Full mesh – each client sends their audio to every other client; the individual streams are then combined locally before they come out of your speaker
- Mixed with a conferencing server acting as a Multipoint Control Unit (MCU) – the MCU combines each stream and sends a single set to each client
- Routed with a conferencing server in a Selective Forwarding Unit (SFU) mode – each client sends a single stream to the server where it is replicated and sent to the others
This architecture represents a fourth type: client-mixed type where one of the clients acts like the server. This provides the server-less benefits of mesh conferencing without the excessive bandwidth usage and stream management challenges.