ShoutCast Q & A Database

Welcome to the SleepyEngineers ShoutCast Q & A Database! An extensive knowledge base that will get you started and educated on everything streaming media hosting. If you still have any questions after reviewing the info below please feel free to Contact Us if you're a prospective client, or Open A Support Ticket if you are an existing client.


Getting Started

Getting Started With Your Shoutcast Server

How To Help Eliminate Skipping/Pauses/Buffering

Troubleshooting network problems (required actions before opening a ticket)



Term Glossary
Internet Radio
Webcasting
On-Demand
Shoutcast
Winamp
MP3
MP3 Pro
MP3 Encoder
Windows Media (WMA)
Real Media
Quicktime Media
Icecast2/Ogg
DSP
Normalizing
DNAS
Listeners Slots
Relay
Bitrate (kbps)
Bandwidth
Buffer
Sourcing
Pings
Latency
Reserve IP (RIP)
IP (static/dynamic)
Port
Traceroute
Name Lookups
NOC





> Getting Started With Shoutcast After You Order A Server

After you recieve your confirmation letter, make sure you have Winamp installed and working! After that, follow the steps on this link Installing Shoutcast DSP Plugin for Winamp.




> How To Eliminate Skipping
by using your own DNAS

There are many reasons you may experience skipping/buffering on your stream server. You can go through the troubleshooting steps, but sometimes running your own DNAS (Shoutcast server) and having SleepyEngineers relay it (pull the stream) can eliminate skipping altogether.

Set up a "local DNAS" (your own shoutcast server) on your local broadcast machine. It can be downloaded here:

Downloads

Use the following config -- replace your sc_serv.ini with a file containing only the following -- be sure to set the password below!

PortBase=8000
LogFile=sc_serv.log
ShowLastSongs=10
TchLog=no
WebLog=yes
W3CEnable=No
SrcIP=ANY
DestIP=ANY
Yport=80
AdminPassword=yourpassword
AutoDumpUsers=1
AutoDumpSourceTime=10
PublicServer=never
AllowRelay=yes
AllowPublicRelay=yes
MetaInterval=8192
RipFile=sc_serv.rip
RIPOnly=no

In the Shoutcast DSP, use 127.0.0.1 as your host, 8000 as your port, and whatever password you chose in the above config.

Now log into your SleepyEngineers Shoutcast control panel (sh1.audio-stream.com) and set it to relay your local server by entering your IP as Relay Server and 8000 as your Port Number. Be sure to turn relay mode on using the radio button!

Find your IP at http://whatismyip.com/ ...

IMPORTANT: If you are using a router, make sure TCP port 8000 is forwarded to your PC or your PC is set as "DMZ Host". Also make sure your firewall (including XP firewall) allows incoming traffic on TCP port 8000!



Troubleshooting Network Problems

This article will explain how to determine if you are experiencing network issues and how to locate them. If you are opening a ticket regarding buffering or latency issues, you MUST perform these tests and provide the results to our engineers (via the Helpdesk) to be able to further guide you.

1. The Bandwidth test: Have you determined that you have enough UPSTREAM or UPLOAD bandwidth to provide a steady stream to our servers? Make sure your upload speed is well above your streaming bitrate by running a speed test.
Determine your upload speed and save the results for presenting to our engineers. You can also perform many other tests and perform speed tweaks on your connection here to measure and help improve your connection performance. Increasing your MTU has been known to greatly improve your upload/download speed over broadband connections

2. Spyware / Virus test: You must make sure ALL PC's on your home/office network is free from AdWare/SpyWare/MalWare and virus infections. Most streaming issues are caused by these MalWare or virus "infections" using up all free resources on your PC and local network. Along with your favorite virus scanner, SleepyEngineers highly recommends you frequently run the following utilities:

Free on-line virus scan
AdAware
SpyBot

3. The Ping test: This test will determine the round-trip time for a data packet between your PC and our servers, as well as any associated packet loss. This measurement is important when real-time stuff like Shoutcast streaming is happening. Follow the steps shown in the Ping definition on this page and save the results for presenting to our engineers. Make sure you are pinging the correct host that you are streaming from!

4. The Trace: In order to determing where the packets are being slowed down or lost on their trip from your PC to our servers, you have to run what's called a traceroute. Without this test, it is simply impossible to find where a problem is occurring in order to find a solution. Please refer to the traceroute definition for instructions and save the results for presenting to our engineers. Make sure you are tracing to the correct host that you are streaming from!



Internet Radio
The generic term for streaming music on-line. Content is in the form of MP3s, WAVs, sound card input (live feed) or any other file type that a computer can play. The primary difference between Internet radio and traditional MP3 music is when playing a MP3 the music file itself is physically located on your PC. Internet radio however is continuously playing, or "streaming", from a server on-line. The listener tunes in with a player program such as Winamp which receives the incoming audio data and plays it. Unlike with traditional MP3 downloading, the listener is unable to save or replay the content received on a stream after it has come through.





Webcasting
Same as Internet Radio, but focusing on broadcasting a live show or event. Most stations may play pre-recording content most of the time, and periodically do live shows. Webcasting from SleepyEngineers allows you to handle more listeners during the duration of your show, without having to purchase that additional bandwidth for the entire month.




On-Demand
As opposed to streaming, on-demand does not have a server that is continuously broadcasting data. Listeners will have access to a web page that has links to various audio and/or video files. When the user clicks to listen, the content is then streamed from the server "on-demand", similar to a pay-per-view system.

See link for a How To: ShoutCast On Demand




DNAS
Short for "Distributed Network Audio/Video Server", it is the program that takes an audio or video feed and distributes it to all of the listeners. Think of it like an FM transmitter or antenna, except for internet radio. When you order a stream server from SleepyEngineers you are provided with a DNAS to stream your content with.




Listener Slots
All Streaming Plans have unlimited monthly listener throughput -- the capacity of Internet radio stations is mostly determined by a listener max or number of listener slots. This is the number of users who can be tuned in at the same time. It does not limit the number of people who can listen throughout the month. All Internet stations have a maximum listener capacity. Think of it like a room where only a certain number of people can be inside at once. Unlike traditional AM/FM radio where an unlimited number of receivers can tune in, Internet stations are limited by the amount of Internet bandwidth the station is allowed to consume. Each listener of an Internet station is connected to the streaming server (DNAS) consuming a large amount of bandwidth.




Relay
Since running a station requires a large amount of bandwidth, large stations use several servers to handle more listeners. Running a DNAS in relay mode will make it connect to an existing server as if it's a listener, and rebroadcast it to more listeners. This is typically referred to as relaying or "pulling" an existing stream. All SleepyEngineers audio/video servers have the ability to work as a relay.




Bitrate (kbps)
Bitrate is measured in kilobits per second (kbps), and can be said to be the same thing as quality. It is the amount of data that is streamed each second for a single user. The more data per second, the higher the quality. 32 kbps is comparable to about AM radio quality audio and is about the max that a dial-up listener can tune into. 128 kbps is the quality of most MP3's and is basically considered CD quality to most people. Most broadband or otherwise high-speed connections can listen to 128k streams. Dial up modems are limited to about 24kbps. The higher quality your stream is, the more listeners you can expect over time because poor sound quality generates listening fatigue and causes people to tune out.




Bandwidth
Bandwidth is the generic term for
data moving over a network connection. See bitrate.




Buffer
A delay is placed between the broadcaster and the listener of generally 10-30 seconds. This is called a buffer -- it prevents brief glitches, pauses, and packet loss on the Internet from affecting the listening experience. All Internet radio broadcasts and audio players have a buffer that is usually adjustable.





Sourcing
Sourcing refers to where the station content is coming from. You can either source the content yourself, which means files are on your computer are constantly playing and "sourced" to SleepyEngineers. Or you can upload them to SleepyEngineers and they will source the content for you. Having SleepyEngineers source your content means your computer will not need to be connected to the internet for your stream to be operating, but you won't have as much control over what is playing.



Pings
Pings or pinging, is a method of sending a packet of data to another server or address on the Internet and measuring the time (in milliseconds) it takes for the packet to get back to you. High and/or changing pings can mean an unstable connection. You can perform a ping test by issuing the following command at your command prompt (Start => Run... => cmd ):

ping HOSTNAME.SleepyEngineers.com -n 30 (windows)

ping HOSTNAME.SleepyEngineers.com -c 30 (*nix)

We require the results of this test ran several times for network troubleshooting.



Latency
Is another term used to describe delay time of a connection between two servers or addresses in the Internet. Pinging is a way to measure the latency of a connection.



Reserve IP (RIP)
No, it's not Rest In Peace. RIP in streaming terms is a list for Reserved IPs. A station with a RIP enabled means that only listeners who have their IP addresses listed in the RIP file are allowed to tune in. RIP mode is used when you do not want your stream to be public and only want certain people or connections to be made. All SleepyEngineers audio/video servers have this ability.




IP Address (static/dynamic)
IP stands for Internet Protocol. It is a numerical address separated by decimal points that defines the Internet address (location) of a certain connection, user, or server. Every time you log onto the Internet, your PC obtains an IP. A static IP means that it does not change. A dynamic IP means that the IP changes from time to time. For example most dial-up, cable, and DSL lines get a different IP assigned to them from a large pool each time you log on. All internet servers have static IP's so people can always find them!




Port
Ports are commonly used in the hosting industry to define the location of a stream or other service at a particular IP address. Think of the IP as a street address, and the Port as the apartment number. You will need both of these numbers to access your stream server.




Shoutcast
Shoutcast is a very popular stream service using the MP3, MP3 Pro, and NSV format. Shoutcast.com maintains a large directory of stations using Shoutcast software (the DNAS), as do we. SleepyEngineers uses Shoutcast software exclusively because MP3 streaming is compatible with ALL media players and operating systems. Other formats such as Windows Media or Real Audio can only be listened to with a single player running on Windows. MP3 streaming with Shoutcast will expose you to the largest potential listening audience and give you the most broadcasting options. You can use BSD, Linux, Mac OS / OS-X, or Windows to source or listen to a Shoutcast stream.




Winamp
Winamp is the program by Nullsoft that can play audio and video files, as well as tune into Shoutcast radio stations. Winamp also runs the DNAS for radio stations which does the actual sourcing and transmitting. It is very popular because it is very streamlined and only does what it needs to without extra bulk. It also has a very nice radio and TV station listing built in comprised of all public Shoutcast stations.




MP3
Mpeg2, Layer 3 is a VERY popular open source compression format for audio. It allows music to be compressed down to a very small data size so that it can be easily and quickly transmitted and stored. A song in MP3 format can be ten to a hundred times smaller in data size than the same song in WAV format, which is the format of songs on CDs. All SleepyEngineers audio servers are compatible with MP3 streaming, which is compatible with ALL operating systems and audio players.




MP3 Pro
A plus in for broadcasters and listeners alike, that is able to add additional quality into a stream. Effectively making a given bitrate stream sound like it is a higher bitrate (quality) stream. Both the server and the user tuning in must have MP3 Pro installed and configured for it to work. To broadcast in MP3 Pro, you need SAM2 by Spacial Audio. Listeners can download the Winamp plugin for free.




MP3 Encoder
The encoder takes a file in one format, and converts it to another. To broadcast, you need an encoder such as the Shoutcast DSP or SAM2 software. This will take your existing audio files and convert them to the proper format "on-the-fly" so you can broadcast them correctly.




Windows Media (WMA)
A proprietary compression format similar to MP3, except only Windows users using Windows Media Player can listen to files or stations using it. Broadcasters using the WMA format are severely limiting their listening audience to people who run only Microsoft Windows. Thus this can be though of as another way that Microsoft is trying to stronghold the PC and broadcasting market.




Real Media
A proprietary compression format similar to MP3, except only Windows and Mac users using Real Audio Player can listen to files or stations using it.




Quicktime Media
A proprietary compression format similar to MP3, except only Windows and Mac users using the Quicktime plug-in or I-Tunes can listen to files or stations using it.




Ogg
A different and less popular open-source compression format for on-line streaming music and file storage. Some say the quality is higher than MP3 for a given bitrate. Currently very few audio players can use the OGG format.




DSP
Digital Signal Processing is software that can do special functions with audio or video while it is playing using your computer's CPU resources.



Normalizing
Done by DSP (see above), normalizing eliminates the peaks and lows of audio content, so the stream is never too loud or quiet.




Traceroute
A way to follow the path of data through the Internet between one IP or connection to another. It will allow you to see what networks the data is traveling on, how many hops (or connections it gets routed through) on the way there and the latency of each hop. It is very useful for troubleshooting poor pings and connections.
You can perform a traceroute by issuing the following command at your command prompt (Start => Run... => cmd )

tracert HOSTNAME.SleepyEngineers.com (Windows)

traceroute HOSTNAME.SleepyEngineers.com -z 250 (*nix)

We require the results of this test ran several times for network troubleshooting.



Name Lookups
When name lookups are enabled a station admin will be able to see the name of the server a user's IP resides on, as opposed to just the IP number itself.



NOC
Short for Network Operations Center. This is where the servers are located and where all data flows through to and from our servers.

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