Building your Internet radio empire

It all starts with one station in your home office but who knows where it can go from there? If you’ve got dreams of being an Internet radio jockey you can get some ideas about equipment startup from this setup that [Viktor's] built for a friend.

He started out with a plan to have a station that offers twenty-four hour streaming but also supports live broadcast. Two computers are used in the setup. The first handles automated music broadcast and live mixing. This box has two sound cards, one is used for the automated music by feeding the output into a sound mixer that is a separate piece of hardware. The output of that mixer feeds back into the second sound card on the box. This secondary card outputs the final mix to the computer speakers.

The second computer is where a lot of the live broadcast work is done. Any steaming guest (using VOIP or Skype, etc.) come in through this box as well as jingles and sound effects used during the feed. Its sound card is also connected through the external mixer and joins the final feed headed into one of the sound cards on the primary computer.

In the end the Internet connection for the system isn’t beefy enough to reliably support a streaming station. For this a dedicated streaming service is used. It receives the live feed and then uses its increase bandwidth to propagate the signal to listeners anywhere in the world.

Want to listen to this radio station? Build your own streaming radio module, or outfit classic hardware to work with your computer.

Comments

  1. BoKu says:

    Steaming guest? Ooh lala

  2. xorpunk says:

    ITX+Mic+Simple 2-channel mixer..done

    Bandiwidth for that is a nightmare though even at 32kbps..

  3. nimitzbrood says:

    @xorpunk – Agreed. The bandwidth is the killer really. Unless you’re using something like a business cable or FIOS system you’d have to stream at something horribly weak like 8k audio.

  4. svofski says:

    There are not enough 8k audio internet radios. Yes, it’s awesome to have good audio quality, but I like to listen to internet radio from my phone while commuting and flat data rates are too expensive here. There are a few 24-48kbps radio stations, but there could be more. They are mostly talk oriented of course.

  5. therian says:

    @svofski
    I feel so sorry for you I download movies on the go and watch them in train while stealthy vaping

  6. Zehn says:

    actually, the shoutcast transcoder can do all that WITH METADATA, which is really key for an internet radio station. I created plur.fm with the transcoder and it runs on a hosted server constantly playing the files I uploaded in a 24/7 way. it also allows me to stream to it like it’s a stream host, so I bring my laptop to the live music, input it via soundcard, and stream it via the shoutcast DSP plugin for winamp. the transcoder also outputs multiple streams, so I’ve got 56k and 96k mp3 and 56k aac streams.

    @svofski if you find that you like plur.fm it would be trivial for me to set up an 8k stream for you, just email me (contact info is on the website)

  7. OhNoMyArduinoBroke says:

    Bandwidth ain’t such a problem. 20$/month gets you a dedicated server where you can relay the stream (not such good hardware, but only the network connection matters). The real killer is the copyright maffia.

  8. psuedonymous says:

    >Two sound cards & separate mixer
    Use Jack (http://jackaudio.org/), save a whole pile of money. Unless you rally want a physical mixer, in which case: Jack, a microcontroller, a sheet of wood and some linear pots.

  9. Jen says:

    That sounds like a lot more headache than simply buying a proper multichannel audio interface. I just use a Focusrite Saffire with FFADO and Jack. No need of a physical mixer at all – if I want mixing controls, I can always tie one of my MIDI devices to a software mixer. Plus it has much lower noise than any internal sound card. And why use two computers when all you really need are multiple monitors?

  10. M4CGYV3R says:

    >Bandiwidth for that is a nightmare though even at 32kbps
    >

    I don’t know what sort of service you get, but I have better than 1Mb up speed even on my phone tether.

    If you’re planning on having more than a couple listeners, you need a relay server. That’s not optional. With the relay you have exactly one stream leaving your house and going to some hosting center with oodles of bandwidth.

    The real station-killer is ASCAP, the **AA and the copyright nazis of all types.

  11. xorpunk says:

    @OhNoMyArduinoBroke and nimitzbrood: SomeFM which is like the gold standard in internet radio barely survives and they spend enough to buy a house monthly in licensing and bandwidth..

    A $20/month hosting plan doesn’t get you but like 10 low quality streams worth at most. It works over efficient playlist up-streaming though.

    shoutcast NSV(TV) is also a really good protocol that suffers from bandwidth costs. It does better than flash and mp4 with compression etc

    I’m guessing this guy is doing political, sports, or talk. He won’t rake in many listeners because of the mediums obscurity and interests in talk radio these days..

  12. M4CGYV3R says:

    And if you have two computers running, you should use one with Serato or another badass DJ software package, and just use the second to stream.

    You can do this on a 10-year-old computer using WinAmp Shoutcast DSPs and the linein:// option. It doesn’t take much to push audio.

  13. ben says:

    The way we do it is completely different we have 4 machines. The first is a macbook pro with a m-audio fast track pro sound card which has 2 large diaphragm condenser mics which goes into ableton live 8 to add effects(verb/gate/compressors) ableton also handles samples/jingles. ableton is controlled by a korg microcontrol. The sound card then goes out to a dj mixer. The second laptop which is a asus runs traktor for the music which has an audio 2 dj soundcard which also goes out to the mixer. The third laptop is an old machine that runs the chat from the stream and also handles the script/news. The final computer is a desktop that i built which takes the output of the mixer into the line in for the stream. It also has another 4 line in’s for a mixing desk if we have other dj’s/ bands in. The mixer has the master out going to the computer and the booth out to a set of speakers in the room and thats the set up

  14. ben says:

    oh i forgot to mention what we stream with. We use ustream producer which has 2 options the free version or the producer pro which is $99 one time fee but we dont really use video so we dont need it

  15. Eric says:

    @therian, have we met?

    Vape on, friend, vape on.

  16. svofski says:

    Not sure what do you mean by vapping, but you guys remind me of my favourite webcomic called sexylosers.

  17. Kyle says:

    The words “internet radio” and “empire” don’t belong in the same sentence, hahahaha

  18. TM101Radio says:

    This is an awesome post.. Exactly what i was looking for!!!

  19. Merle Enmon says:

    Not sure you buy this one? Really? And so the way you figure it, because Jobs brought up a ton of music on his Ipod he couldn’t ALSO have, appreciate and luxuriate in a ton of vinyl? How will you think almost all of it caused it to be onto the Ipod-and on CDs before that- to start with! Why is there this rush to always try to replace mediums rather than allowing them to coexist? Because we invented the wheel didn’t mean we do not ever want to walk again and may cut off our legs. Simply because we can fly in a airplane doesn’t mean we don’t wish to drive places too. Hello. Neil Young realizes that better than most. He embraces progress in technology because it applies to recorded mediums (his Archives, natch) without eschewing the strengths and quality of vinyl. Why always look for a side, choose a team, select a medium? Maybe I prefer having and ultizing more than one option. Why individuals who fancy themselves so progressive can’t have that is beyond me. It’s really a terribly short sighted attitude and it ultimately does considerably more harm than good both business wise and artistically.

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