VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — I have been involved with radio since high school, when I helped run a closed-circuit system at Eric Hamber Secondary School in Vancouver, British Columbia. I had my first regular weekly FM radio show in 1978 on CFRO(FM), Vancouver Coop Radio. I went into commercial radio full-time in 1983, switching to part-time in mid-1986 to pursue other ventures.
I’ve been running my own internet radio operation since February 2000, when I joined the now-defunct service Live365. Back then I used a vintage analog processor I had in my gear collection, an Orban Studio Optimod 424A compressor/limiter/de-esser. This unit did not have a real peak limiter despite its description. Stream encoding was initially in 128 kbps MP3 format with MacAmpLite until Live365 set a limit of 56 kbps. Setting modulation levels with this setup was difficult, as clipping was tough to avoid. MP3 was a constant frustration with unwanted programming contributions from “Artie Facts.”
In other words, it mostly sounded like junk.
Over the years I used various combinations of hardware and software, moved on from Live365 and gradually transitioned from MP3 to AAC and HE-AAC streaming. I spent a lot of time and effort tuning up processing and encoding but was never able to achieve the quality of sound I wanted.
All that changed in December 2015 when I made a massive upgrade to the Modulation Index StreamS HiFi Encoders/Orban Optimod PCn1600 combination.
It was easy to get incredible audio right away with one of the Gregg MX presets. I tried all the presets, found the one closest to what I wanted, then started tweaking it until I achieved the on-air signature sound I had dreamed of having.
On the encoding side, the StreamS HiFi encoders have helped me create the Holy Grail of internet radio: beautiful web players that work on all modern browsers without plug-ins, Flash trash or any other add-on crap. For listeners it’s a dream come true: excellent audio quality, crystal-clear album art and song information, all delivered with rock-solid reliability thanks to HTML5 live streaming. All that listeners need is a modern web browser. They don’t have to compromise security on their systems with Flash, Java or other rubbish. Listeners also save on data usage, as my stations’ streams are much more data-efficient with HE-AAC than they ever were with MP3.
HLS means no streaming server is required. The StreamS HiFi Encoder works with any modern web server like Apache, NGINX or IIS, and also works flawlessly with Amazon AWS S3 (which is what I’m using). I’ve found it to be the most reliable way to stream and the easiest and best for listeners.
For listeners with surround sound systems, I’m able to offer them convincing 5.1 surround sound versions of my two stations using the Optimod PCn1600’s upmix feature and the StreamS HiFi Encoder’s 5.1 surround sound encoding. This is especially nice on the new fourth-generation Apple TV with the StreamS HiFi Radio app hooked up to a surround sound system.
The HLS streams are excellent for in-car listening. They can keep playing for up to one minute without any audio interruptions even if the cellular reception cuts in and out.
Listeners enjoy perfectly timed album art and song tags. The StreamS HiFi Encoder’s built-in UDP servers accept XML metadata from my playout system.
For my websites, I’ve built beautiful web players using Viblast and VideoJS with high-resolution album art and ID tags. They are compatible with all leading contemporary web browsers with no plug-ins and no compromises.
HLS is the best web streaming option. It’s way more reliable than Icecast or Shoutcast, the easiest for listeners to tune to, and the most resistant to stream interruptions from variable mobile connections. With the StreamS HiFi Encoders I’ve setup synchronous multiple bitrates (currently 32 kbps and 64 kbps) for players that support adaptive bitrates (including the LG73 and Max Radio web players). The players automatically in-perfect sync drop down to a lower bitrate in areas with challenged bandwidth then seamlessly switch back up to the higher bitrate when proper bandwidth is restored.
Together, Streams HiFi Encoder and Orban Optimod PCn1600 combination result in the perfect radio experience for my listeners and the best streaming experience for me. I recommend this system for any broadcasters who want to give their listeners the best radio sound (and album art visuals) ever.
For information, contact John Schaab at Modulation Index at (940) 206-7702 or visit www.streamindex.com.