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High(er) quality streaming


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Greetings everyone. I can't find this topic on the forum, probably for good reason. We are trying to promote the use of intelligently designed hard drive servers for very high performance use in our high end store. I am still early in my learning stages, but so far have been able to vastly surpass the quality of the present players in the mass market, Escient and Replay, which are more geared to whole house background, acoustic wallpaper sort of applications.

 

A local classical radio station was booted to AM by their massive corporate owner. Obviously, classical on AM mono is not exactly a match made in heaven. I was talking to someone at the station about what we have been trying to accomplish in regards to our efforts with server based platforms. They are very excited and asked if there was a way to enhance their streaming signal for higher quality playback. They want to visit the store next week and see if there is a solution they can offer their listeners. Even though this is not what the Forum is about, it seems like a good way to make more people, and music lovers at that, more familar with what we are doing. Unfortunately I don't know where to start. We have a MacBook in one of our rooms connected via USB to a Benchmark DAC which is feeding a two channel tube preamp and a very good system. It sounds quite good so far, although I am not satisifed yet. The problem is I'm not sure what can be done with a streaming signal. I assume I can set up Wifi and get the signal to the laptop but am kind of lost from there.

 

Any help would be appreciated. They are visiting Thursday, so no rush....

 

Thanks

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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The only thing I can think of here is to offer 128 kbps and possibly offer the stream through iTunes like the ones in the photo below. 128 seems to be as high as anyone is offering right now, but it is far from audiophile quality. The iTunes part would make streaming this content very easy. Sometimes streaming through websites is a pain for many reasons.

 

 

 

itunes-stream.jpg

click to enlarge

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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Thanks Chris. I think the goal here is not the audiophile thing we are normally after, just a halfway decent way of getting a compressed stream into a real system. Keep in mind, high quality CD or vinyl is not what we are trying to equal or surpass. They would be happy if I can show them how to get into the neighborhood of a mediocre FM signal. I think part of my problem is that I am completely unfamiliar with streaming. I tried to do it last night from the Mac and was unable to get it to run. The good old Microsoft/Mac interface issue. I got some popups and thought I did it correctly but obviously not. I guess in short, they would be thrilled with MP3 quality through something better than a computer speaker compared to their AM mono.

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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Can sometimes sound very nice. Try downloading VLC or another shoutcast capable client (program). When in VLC, go to the "File" dropdown menu and then to the "Services Discovery" part. You will see both Shoutcast Radio and TV listings there.

 

VLC is a pretty painless download/install, it is free too. Though it is a work in progress under the free GNU software licensing agreement. There are versions here for both mac and PC. Other OS's too. http://www.videolan.org/

 

BTW, somewhere on this site I read that Lord Chaos does shoutcasting. Or I at least gathered that from his post. Maybe he could help.

 

markr

 

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I think your experience with trying to get it to work on your Mac is a great example why they should get their stream into iTunes. There's nothing easier than double-clicking a station in iTunes. A 128 kbps stream should be pretty good for them it looks like.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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VLC _IS_ somewhat glitchy, though in a non-destructive way. You just get error messages that you can clear without incident. When you connect to a shoutcast stream it is pretty trouble-free though.... I suppose it isn't for the faint of heart! I don't think that it would hurt to experiment with it in private instead of with a paying client though. The VLC program does bring new things to the table in the realm of streaming when compared with iTunes. Your choice Rick. If you don't like VLC, getting rid of it on a MAC under OS X is just as easy as dragging the files to the trash.

 

Shoutcasting is somewhat "underground", and I guess this particular case may not be a suitable one in which to employ it. I suppose that the 'tinkerer' in me came out there. I wonder what Lord Chaos thinks about it?

 

markr

 

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You are right about them being non-tinkerers. I have no idea what is required to get them set up with iTunes but that sounds like their best bet. I looked at the list of stations available on the streaming part of iTunes. 128 is high rez there - I was shocked at the low rate of some of the signals.

 

I appreciate the input but I think the easiest thing in the short run is to show them what one of the existing streams sounds like. That will really answer their questions as to what is possible and perhaps motivate them to do what is necessary to make their programming more accessible.

 

I will try the glitchy part myself, markr. I had XM for a while in a car and although it was compressed it was a genuine pleasure to be able to listen to radio and discover new music that is not being programmed by a handful of corporate suits. (I used to work for AT&T but I'm not bitter....) Maybe this would be a free way to do that sort of thing. I'm high tech - I kept a mini spiral notebook to jot down things I wanted to check out.

 

Rick

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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I do the spiral notebook thing too Rick. lol

 

I do like the way lots of shoutcast stations sound, but as far as I know, none are above 128Kbps. I think the issue there is that when you get above around 64kbps, folks with dial-up connections can't get continuous signal. This really isn't my area of richest knowledge though.

 

While you are 'out there' streaming, try going to the KUT.org website (http://kut.org/). On a Mac, when you click the link to stream their music it will open iTunes and put a link in the playlist. KUT 90.5 FM, Austin, TX - no corporate suits. Programmed like radio used to be. Public Radio done 'Austin style'. The best music programming is evenings @ 8 - 11 pm. CST. Though mornings @ 9 and early afternoons can be very good too. I am a very lucky person to have not only one, but two GREAT broadcast stations in range. The other is KGSR 107.1 (http://kgsr.com/) - these guys do run commercials, but the music is their own choice. I feel no need for XM or Sirius so far. I've tried it, and in fact I have the usage of a friend of mines XM streaming account. I don't use it much - I'd feel like I was missing something. Both of these stations are good places to hear both new and old popular music of greatness.

 

markr

 

 

 

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I've been using Shoutcast for about a year and a half. Primary purpose is to stream music for on-line events: concerts, parties, music to accompany another event. Most of these are centered on the on-line game Uru Live. I started using the in-game voice chat, then moved to Teamspeak, and then a friend set up a Shoutcast server for me to use.

 

From a PC it's quite simple, and free.

1. Go to www.shoutcast.com and follow the "Be a DJ" links to the software you need. Mainly, this is the Shoutcast DSP plug-in for Winamp.

2. Find a server, or set up your computer to serve. How many listeners can you handle? Divide your bandwidth by the data rate, less one. A DSL connection can serve a few listeners. You're better off with a commercial remote server; my friend's server can support 50 listeners at 128k.

3. Set up your PC. If you're using Winamp, you can play directly from that to the Shoutcast plug-in. If you want to do voice-overs, you'll need to set Shoutcast for "Sound card input." Then you use the Windows sound control panel to select. This gets hairy as every sound card is different.

 

From a Mac it's even simpler, but costs $40.

1. Go to www.rogueamoeba.com and download Nicecast. Don't bother with VLC, as it's very limiting. At the moment, Nicecast is the only workable full solution, and is well worth the money.

2. Install Nicecast on your Mac. Set it to use Itunes for input. Set it up to serve, or to connect to a remote server.

3. Use Itunes to play music, and the included Voiceover effect to make your announcements.

 

The Mac option is what I've used for the last year, on an old Powerbook G4, and it works very well. Headset is a Sennheiser going through a Griffin Imic USB adapter. Output is through USB to a Benchmark DAC1 to the main stereo.

 

So, your radio station would want to buy Nicecast. If you're just serving to one location (your store), the number of listeners isn't important. You can run at 256k if you want, and it sounds good. Not full quality, but still good. You'll have to figure out the details of what they're actually broadcasting.

 

I'm not sure how this would work in a radio station setting. I know it can be done because lots of folks are doing it, but I don't know the details of taking the radio feed and putting it onto Shoutcast. If the station is served from a computer then it's no problem. There are a couple of them streaming at 256. I do 128 because I occasionally have around 40 listeners. 64k isn't horrible, but 128 is far better. It does cause problems for folks on dial-up, for whom 64k is better. I've had this happen.

 

If you have any more questions, I'll do my best to help.

 

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For listening to a private Shoutcast stream, you need the IP address or URL. For example, I use http://radioktdn.zapto.org:8025 and that's what the URL will always look like. Sometimes there's a listen.pls at the end, but if you run your media player, pull down the File menu to "Open Stream" and enter the above exactly, you should get the stream. Once you have received it once, Itunes stores it under the genre description provided with the stream. In my case, it's "Eclectic."

 

Note that "private" here means only that the stream won't be listed on the Shoutcast page. Anyone who knows the URL can receive. The radio station's server administrator can set the listener limit to 1, so that anyone other than your store--assuming you're the first to connect--is locked out.

 

If you want a real-world example, I'm doing a party this Saturday. Music will be a selection of "chill" to suit the event. This will start at 1300 Pacific, with some leader music for about half an hour before. It will segue into my regular Saturday evening program at 1800 Pacific.

 

For a video example, visit http://uotr.blogspot.com and scroll to the bottom of the page. A friend shot the video from a party last September.

 

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Thanks LC. I will try to blunder my way through it but you are so far over my head it is hard to describe. I like to think I'm not stupid so maybe I can take it in small bites (pun intended)

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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I'm sorry I confused you. It is a hard topic to get the mind around, and it took me a while. The Shoutcast site doesn't help a whole lot, either.

 

So, let's start at the beginning. What exactly do you want to accomplish? I was a little confused about this, so I just started off with the overview as a start.

 

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I think the confusion issue is on my end, not yours. There is a local classical radio station, call letters KXTR, which several years ago were relegated to AM mono by the corporate giant, Entercom, who purchased them. They are now streaming online as well as the AM signal. They are interested in seeing if I can help their customers have a more enjoyable experience with the streaming signal, i.e be able to play it back on their stereos rather than PC speakers. We have a LAN in the store but no WIFI at present but that is easy to deal with. My ideal would be to locate a laptop in one of our listening rooms and play their streaming content into the input of a decent preamplifer and system. I can use either a PC laptop or a Mac to do this. My first unsuccessful attempt was with the Mac I am using as my music server.

 

Thanks for your interest. Let me know if I am leaving anything out.

 

 

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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Thanks to everyone for their help. We found the IP address (their streaming provider, Liquid something refused to provide it to us OR their customer). Someone in IS had it and we entered it as a streaming provider in our Escient music server. They were thrilled. Their listeners can do the same thing buy buying a wireless router and an Escient iPod docking station. The docking station has built in streaming capabilies (learn something new every day).

 

I had their logo on a 100" projection screen and the playback system was Audio Research, Wilson, etc. It was streaming at 30Kbps. It sucked but they were happy.

 

Thanks again.

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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