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Guide: How to set up an Internet Radio Station

  • By John Bubb
  • Monday July 15, 2013
Filed Under:
Audio Broadcasting, Tips and Hacks

Even if you have a video podcast, it makes sense to have an audio-only stream. Having an audio-only stream lets you offer a low bitrate option for people who are on a mobile device and concerned about bandwidth usage rather than actually seeing video. You can also submit your audio-only stream to services that provide an application that has a collection of streams, such as iTunes Radio, Windows Media Guide, or Stitcher Radio. Adding your content to these services can gain exposure to a larger audience. So how do you set up an audio stream?

 

What you need to create an audio stream

An audio stream requires both a server and a client. The client is a program on your computer that is used to send audio to a server. You have two choices when it comes to server software: Shoutcast or Icecast. The one you use is a personal choice as both do a fine job of broadcasting audio.

What server software and host should you choose

If you do a Google search for a Shoutcast/Icecast host, you’ll find a number of them. At GFQ we use a host called Stream Monster. Most Shoutcast/Icecast hosts are set up in a similar fashion where they provide tiered plans and control panel software, called Centnova, for controlling the server itself.

When you choose a host, you’ll also need to pick a plan based on the bitrate your broadcast will use and how many listeners you wish to support at any given time. The cost varies depending on the bitrate and the number of listeners. For most broadcasters, a 64kbps stream is fine. This bitrate is good if most of your content is speech. Of course 128kbps will give you a much better sounding audio. The choice is entirely up to you.

Setting up the server

After signing up for a server, log into Centnova to configure all of your options for the server. The only tab you really need to set up is Stream. As for the other tabs, most people will never need to do anything with the settings in them. You can set up AutoDJ, if you wish. AutoDJ will let the server continue broadcasting content even if you disconnect the client that is feeding audio to the server.

You’ll see several more tools in Centnova that can be used to start and stop the server, restart the server, view logs and statistics, show status, and even display the number of current listeners.

What software to use to stream the audio to a server

You’ll also find a number of options for a client. There’s Samcast, Nicecast, and BUTT, among others. For this guide we’ll be using BUTT. It’s free and cross-platform. It will work on Linux, Mac, and Windows.

Once you have BUTT installed and running, click on Settings. Set the audio device to the input that you are using for your audio. If you are installing BUTT on the same computer that you are using to broadcast your podcast, you might have an option to select something called Stereo Mix. Stereo Mix will feed all the audio you hear on your computer to BUTT. However, if you are feeding audio into your computer through the mic or line inputs, you should select that source instead.

Next click the Add button underneath Server. Here’s where you’ll need to select whether you are connecting to a Shoutcast or Icecast server. If you do not select the correct type of server, you may not be able to connect to your server.

The Name can be anything you want.

Address should be the address of your server. You can find it on the overview page of Centnova near the top right. You’ll also find the port number next to the address.

If you are using Icecast as the server, you’ll need to also fill in the mount point. Usually this is just /live, unless you have configured this differently in your server.

Once you’ve added your information, click Add to save the information.

Under Stream Infos, click on Add. Here you can add information about your server, a short description, genre, etc.
After you’ve added the Stream Infos, click save settings to make sure everything you just entered is saved.

Next, click on the Stream tab next to Main. This is where you select the bitrate for your stream. If you signed up for only 64kbps, change the bitrate to 64k.

You can also choose whether you want to broadcast mp3, or ogg, stereo or mono. More than likely you can leave these options at their default.

Once again, go to the Main tab and click on save settings. You can close the settings window after you have saved them.
If you have configured the audio source correctly, you should see the lights on the VU meter moving.

Once you’ve confirmed that you have audio feeding into BUTT and all of the settings configured, click on the play button to connect BUTT to your server. If everything is good, you should see BUTT say connecting. After it connects, it will show that you are on the air, and it will show you how long you’ve been connected.

You can confirm that you are connected to the server by going to the server address and port in your browser. You should see your connection information.

That’s all there is to it. Now you can go and submit your stream to iTunes Radio, Windows Media Guide, and Stitcher Radio.

So where do you go from here?

You can check out other clients such as Nicecast or Samcast. Or, if you really want to have great sounding audio and a dedicated appliance to stream your audio, you can get a Telos ProStream

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John Bubb is the production engineer for the GFQ Network. His passion for radio and audio began very early on in high school. He joined his high school's student ran FM radio station. After graduation, he continued his passion for radio and audio by working at several different local radio stations.

4 Comments

  • Andrew Zarian posted 07/15/2013 at 11:45pm UTC

    Great job John

  • NameAmnon Nissan

    NameAmnon Nissan posted 07/20/2013 at 01:02am UTC

    Nice job John.  I am sure the newbies will be able to use this info (heck, I can too :-

  • Tximo Martin

    Tximo Martin posted 11/27/2013 at 09:01am UTC

    Very clear and instructive! Thanks! I would like to ask you a couple of questions: (i) is Centnova the only control panel software? are there any other similar products? (ii) what about the copyrights of the broadcasted songs? are there any “global” regulations on this issue? how is it handled in the US? (iii) I’ve received information about “Radionomy”,  which seems to integrate all he functions you describe above and offers to cover the copyrights of the songs in its database. What do you think about Radionomy or similar companies such as Soundcloud? Many thanks in advance.

  • Jeremy Miller

    Jeremy Miller posted 09/24/2014 at 06:28pm UTC

    Thank you for the information. I was trying to find server specs and such, but found your post to be informative none the less. If you know of what best hardware is for any number of listeners please email me. I was trying to decide between just getting my own server, or using http://www.casthost.net for my new radio. I hope to hear from you as I am struggling to find what hardware specs are good for what amount of listeners. Such as cpu power needed for 100 listeners as opposed to 1000 listeners, etc.

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