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At Rhemaradio, we use one computer for streaming and transmitter audio. The transmitters use the sound card line out audio to a stereo distribution amp (one stereo output is summed for AM mono) and the stream is encoded by the automation software to convert and send the stream audio to the broadcast server. The line “in” on the transmitter’s sound card is fed by the broadcast mixer which controls all of the out-board audio inputs, including an auxiliary input from the DA for live assist and live broadcasts.
The station computer runs two sound cards: one for transmitter audio and the other for a system cue circuit. I suggest you add the best “studio grade” sound card to broadcast computer that you can afford. If the sound card has surround sound or other toys (for gaming), I suggest you keep looking. The sampling rate and the bit rate are very important, the higher, the better. These boards even make AM mono sound better.
Rhemaradio has been built, from the beginning, on the automation software from Spacial Audio, SAM3/4. It has audio processing, scheduling, program automation, streaming encoders (including MP3, ACC and others) and other features very handy for the online radio station. The software also works well with SQL databases for PHP services. DRS2006 is another program that can accomplish much the same tasks.
The stream is hosted by Audio Realm and costs 23-bucks a month. It’s very stable and rarely goes down. And when it does, SAM knows to automatically reconnect when everything comes back up.
The station also uses Music1 scheduling software to put tighter controls on day-parting and scheduling special recurring and one-time programs. Music1 works in concert with Music Monkey, an MP3 tag editor which makes managing the music data base much easier. The stations music database runs about 2400 songs at the moment.
The best part is that it runs entirely on one computer. The computer is on a Schneider APC UPS to keep everything from crashing and to eliminate AC main power problems. The APC has operating software on-board the computer to systematically shut the station down in case of a major power outage.
You will get what you pay for, for the most part, with software and hardware. Make the best of it.