CHAPTER TWO: (continued) STREAMING SERVER TECHNOLOGIES — SHOUTcast

This is the first of a series of posts telling the story of my association with George Thorogood.  It is dedicated to my wife who was born on 3 July 1952, and died 31 January 2017 from ovarian cancer.  She was also a fan, and we shared our love of  The Delaware Destroyers with friends and family for 37 years together.

27 December 2011

CHAPTER TWO (continued)
STREAMING SERVER TECHNOLOGIES
SHOUTcast Technology
MP3-encoded audio is by far the most popular encoding method used to transfer sound across the Internet. [i]  Technically, it is not a format, but a compression technique that allows for a reduction in the amount of data and subsequent transmission rates.  Since it actually an encoding method, we will discuss it again in the context of authoring content streams and delivering content to the server.  However, the first server technology we will consider is a very popular and free server for the streaming of live and on-demand MP3 encoded files.
SHOUTcast is an MPEG layer 3 technology (MP3) that provides an audio homesteading solution for anyone connected to an IP network.  Listeners tune to SHOUTcast broadcasts by using a media player compatible with streaming MP3 audio, such as WINamp.  The SHOUTcast system provides the technology to create a Webcast through the SHOUTcast Distributed Network Audio Server (DNAS).  This software runs on a server attached to an IP network with lots of bandwidth, and is responsible for receiving audio from a webcaster, updating the SHOUTcast directory about what the webcaster is sending, and sending the Webcast out to the listeners.
Nullsoft’s SHOUTcast server is an application that runs on supported operating systems such as Windows 98, NT, 2000, FreeBSD, Linux, and Solaris.
>> 2012 update: Currently supported operating systems include:

  • Windows 2000 sp4, Windows XP sp3, or later
  • Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher (for all Online Services features)

Are Windows 7 & Vista supported?
Yes. Both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions <<
Once a stream has begun, the SHOUTcast server will only accept connections from other copies of WINamp in order to broadcast that source stream to each listener.  The server creates a micro-broadcast system that delivers content in any of the formats that WINamp supports.
The SHOUTcast Server accepts connections via a SHOUTcast DSP Plug-In that is part of the WINamp player, which provides a source stream for the Webcast.  What this means is that the webcaster simply has to have the WINamp player on his system, then download a plug-in for the media player, allocate MP3 files to be used as content for the Webcast, and then stream the MP3 files to interface with the SHOUTcast server.
Using specialized SHOUTcast Webcasting plug-ins, audio from a microphone as well as any device attached to the Line-In port on the webcasters’ soundcard can also be streamed via SHOUTcast server.  The SHOUTcast server is the key to connecting many people to one another via WINamp.
The “streaming server,” in this and most other cases, is a software application run on a PC.  This software can be loaded directly onto the broadcaster’s PC where the MP3 authored content is resident, loaded onto a separate PC that is co-located with the authoring computer, or it can be loaded onto a third-party computer that provides the service of operating the server for the broadcaster.
The client media player recommended for Windows users is WINamp, and is discussed within the Media Player section in detail.  WINamp supports MP3 audio, SHOUTcast Radio, Windows Media Audio, and offers customization tools for users.  WINamp is a free player.  One of the advantages of using the SHOUTcast server technology to encode MP3 streams is that a great percentage of streaming players can hear it.
SHOUTcast DNAS server technology can be accessed from a third-party site, which will usually involve fees for the webcaster, or it can be downloaded and installed onto a PC owned by the webcaster.  After downloading, there is an installation and configuration process to be followed, but the configuration to get up and running can be minimal.  However, if desired, the webcaster can also get involved in configurations that are more complex.
A detailed systematic guide is available on the SHOUTcast web site at http://forums.winamp.com/showthread.php?threadid=35635, and as noted an overview of the SHOUTcast system is provided by http://www.fezguys.com/

>> The link to the winamp forum is still active, although the first post carries a date of 2000, and there are a listed number of over 1900 posts.   This is the first step I will take to set up a station, by following these instructions, then posting to the blog how the results are working out.
The fezguys link will take you to their website still, although I was not able to find an active archive file to run the video on how to set up a web radio station, and also how to convert content from analog sources like vinyl albums and CD’s into digital files.  It will allow you to view and link to their very helpful book,”Streaming Audio: The FezGuys’  Guide”.  I will be re-reading this manual as I go through the Web Radio process and post interesting sections within the blog.  Below is the book description directly from Amazon.com web site.
“Streaming Audio: The FezGuys’ Guide will introduce you to streaming audio and teach you how to work with the most popular formats, including RealMedia, Windows Media, QuickTime, and MP3. It begins by giving the reader a comprehensive overview of the most up-to-date streaming technologies available and the process of preparing audio for streaming. Then, it walks the reader through encoding into both live and on-demand streams in each format. Following an in-depth walk-through of serving the audio, Streaming Audio: The FezGuys’ Guide offers several case studies that carefully break down how streaming audio is used in the real world: the internationally acclaimed rock guitarist Joe Satriani’s web site, primarily using on-demand files with the occasional live stream for special events; the ultrahip drum ‘n’ bass, downtempo and ambient music Internet-only radio station SomaFM offering several live MP3 streams in multiple bitrates; and the FM station that started it all, KPIG-FM, terrestrial broadcast radio that streams it’s programming online. Finally, the FezGuys illustrate a variety of advanced techniques, including optimizing, equalizing, creating playlists, batch encoding, dealing with legal issues, and more.” <<

[i] Luini, Jon R. Whitman, Allen E.  Streaming Audio: The FezGuys’ Guide.  1st ed. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders Publishing, 2002. p. 149

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  1. michaelpatrickmoran

    Thanks for the comment , but I am not sure how to reply to this. Can you elaborate on the comment, as apparently you would have some concerns regarding what I was discussing. I would love to hear them, and discuss further.

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