- May 16, 2019 at 3:49 pm #111148ArtisanRadioParticipant
Total posts : 521
I’ve been having some issues running my station as I add software components. Included in the mix are Zara, Virtual Audio Cable, EdCast, Audio Processing using VSTHost, IceCast and several pieces to do the automated voice tracking.
And that’s really only to run playlists at various times, nothing fancy.
All this software forces Windows (7) to do a lot of multitasking, something it’s really not very good at. When some of this software needs cycles, it really needs cycles, and at times it’s not getting them, leading to poorer audio quality in the end product.
This has led me to seek a simpler solution (if one exists). And in actual fact, most Part 15 broadcasters don’t really need (and certainly aren’t using) the functionality of Zara (never mind other, more complex, automation software).
Recently, I’ve been evaluating foobar2000 (essentially a Winamp replacement, but much more expandable). I tried Winamp (full, not the lite version) but it’s no longer being developed, and a lot of the available plugins don’t work on Windows 7. Supposedly there’s a new version coming, but none of the plugins I was interested in worked with the beta.
foobar2000 works very well, and has a large number of available plugins (which don’t seem to place as much strain on a computer’s resources than multiple tasks). There’s an EdCast plugin for streaming, a specialized ogg/vorbis streaming plugin, even automated voice tracking and scheduling plugins. There are also tons of DSP plugins, most of which I haven’t even looked at yet.
Once I got over the initial learning curve (how do you do anything?), I got streaming via Edcast, voice tracking and scheduling up and running pretty quickly. The end result sounds better than my Zara system, and takes far less system resources.
I did find a few glitches and interesting ‘features’. The voice tracking doesn’t get passed through to streaming (you just get empty air) – I guess that makes some sense, as you have metadata on the receiving end, but I’m still playing around with it. Voice tracking worked well, and you can place it at the beginning, or at the end of the song. Scheduling was comparable to Zara’s, maybe a bit simpler.
Where foobar really shines is in the DSP plugins, and those I’m still playing around with.
I’d say that this software would meet the needs of most over-the-air Part 15 broadcasters, particularly with the automated voice tracking. If you don’t want a feature, then don’t install the plugin that implements it. If you need a feature, there’s probably a plugin around that will do it.
I’m seriously considering using it, even for streaming, as a few seconds of empty air fits right into my new classical format. It does seem to me that this could somehow be fixed – I can choose to output both whatever is in a playlist and the voice tracking to various devices, including a Virtual Audio Cable line.
I’m also going to be looking at Mixxx (more DJ-oriented, but still a possibility) and RadioDJ (although the latter doesn’t appear to have a free streaming plugin). More to come…May 18, 2019 at 11:02 am #111191
I’ve read about Foobar 200’s ability to stream and do some simple automation. It would make sense of you don’t need to schedule ads or promo’s and maybe just have a TOH ID and some voice trackingg. But how does it allow you to look at each song you play and announce the Artist, Track, Album? I ask this in case I needed to buy a new computer and I have to wait for a long time for NextKast to reset my license key to run it on a different machine.
If you want something easy with built in processing, ability to voice track, ability to live assist and not having to worry about a separate Icecast or Shoutcast Encoder NextKast (Not Free) is my favorite. Adding songs is as easy as making categories (Really Folders and setting up an auto rotation playlist. I separate all my songs in 4 yr segments and juggle them around in that rotation (Clock Wheel).
Maybe I’ll do a Youtube video.May 18, 2019 at 11:49 am #111194ArtisanRadioParticipant
Total posts : 521
I’m not saying that foobar is the solution for everyone, but it’s worth a look. You really have to play around with it, as I found there’s a huge difference between descriptions that I read about it, and the actual functionality. It definitely is a work in progress.
RadioDJ was rated higher than NextKast in the reviews that I read, and it isn’t free, which is why I’m trying the former first. I will look at NextKast, but it may be more than I need, at least right now.
I have to say that, right now at least, my opinion is that you tend to get what you pay for, particularly in the world of free software. But I have the time (and the background knowledge) to play around with this stuff. I think if I was working and had far less time (and more money), I would spend the $ and get a commercial product (as they tend to work from the get go) with far fewer problems.May 18, 2019 at 3:00 pm #111195
Here is another video I did this time on NextKast and our station.May 18, 2019 at 3:30 pm #111196MarkModerator
Total posts : 576
Great video, very informative. Nice of you to share the inner workings of your station.May 18, 2019 at 8:31 pm #111197
Hope by posting this in the Deltaville, VA Facebook page I’ll get more listeners.
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