While there is more to discuss  regarding the media player technologies presented so far, and there is more to be discovered with ongoing trials of different players, I am going to go ahead and begin presenting material that I have researched on the Authoring and Encoding aspect of the Webcasting process.
I will continue to develop the information on the players and mix in some player reports along with the encoding material.  Hopefully soon to incorporate all the material into a technical web radio launch before I present additional material on Copyright issues and Operational concerns.
Please continue to post your questions and comments on this material, and what you might find helpful, or questions you might like to have answered in future blog posts.
The authoring/encoding step is the actual preparation of content submitted to the streaming server for transmission to the client media player.  It implies or requires a certain amount of bandwidth through some type of network connection between the authoring computer and the streaming server.  The streaming server can be co-located with the authoring computer, but often is not, and connects through a service designed to provide sufficient bandwidth (T1, ISDN, Cable TV backhaul, etc.).
A nice three step overview of the encoding process is presented with the Windows Media Encoder Overview, and is general enough to serve as an introduction to the process before we consider several of the available encoding systems.
[Note:  highlights mine for added words or emphasis].
Steps Involved in Encoding[i]
Using the encoder consists of three basic steps:
Choosing a source. You can encode live content in real time, audio or video files, or you can capture screens. Real-time sources include anything that you can plug into your audio or video card, including a CD player, microphone, VCR, video camera (both analog and digital), video tape recorder (VTR), video player, or NTSC television signals. You can also capture screens directly from your desktop, and insert script commands while encoding. The encoder supports sourcing from most common file types such as AVI and WAV.  (Note: referring to Windows Media Encoder, but many other files types are generally supported by other platforms).
Choosing your target destination and quality settings. Are you creating files for downloading? Do you plan to stream the content? Or are you creating a high-quality archive? The encoder includes many predefined destination, video, and audio settings that enable you to easily target your content for delivery to a variety of destinations, including set-top boxes, personal digital assistants (PDA), CD and DVD, and, of course, the Internet. You can also customize the default settings to meet your needs.
Selecting the distribution method. Encode content to a file or broadcast it live, either directly from the encoder or from a Windows Media (or other) server. Encoding to a file supports on-demand scenarios such as making music available for download from the Web, radio rebroadcasts, pay-per-view video, and video production and editing.  A live broadcast enables streaming scenarios, such as Internet-based radio/TV stations, executive broadcasts, and live video distribution (point to point). Live broadcasts can be streamed directly from the encoder, or you can stream from a Windows Media (or other) server, using either push or pull distribution.
[Note:  highlights mine for added words or emphasis].
Each of the authoring/encoding systems considered will offer some techniques for managing the bit rate to deliver a manageable stream, employ some type of compression to minimize bandwidth concerns, and provide some format for the delivery of high quality audio and video to the streaming server.

[i] Winters, Jennifer.  Getting Started with Windows Media Encoder.  Downloaded 08/14/12 from:



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