How Internet Radio Works

Creating an Internet Radio Station

What do you need to set up an Internet radio station?

  • CD player
  • Ripper software (copies audio tracks from a CD onto a computer’s hard drive)
  • Assorted recording and editing software
  • Microphones
  • Audio mixer
  • Outboard audio gear (equalizer, compressor, etc.)
  • Digital audio card
  • Dedicated computer with encoder software
  • Streaming media server

Getting audio over the Internet is pretty simple:

  1. The audio enters the Internet broadcaster’s encoding computer through a sound card.
  2. The encoder system translates the audio from the sound card into streaming format. The encoder samples the incoming audio and compresses the information so it can be sent over the Internet.
  3. The compressed audio is sent to the server, which has a high bandwidth connection to the Internet.
  4. The server sends the audio data stream over the Internet to the player software or plug-in on the listener’s computer. The plug-in translates the audio data stream from the server and translates it into the sound heard by the listener.

There are two ways to deliver audio over the Internet: downloads or streaming media. In downloads, an audio file is stored on the user’s computer. Compressed formats like MP3 are the most popular form of audio downloads, but any type of audio file can be delivered through a Web or FTP site. Streaming audio is not stored, but only played. It is a continuous broadcast that works through three software packages: the encoder, the server and the player. The encoder converts audio content into a streaming format, the server makes it available over the Internet and the player retrieves the content. For a live broadcast, the encoder and streamer work together in real-time. An audio feed runs to the sound card of a computer running the encoder software at the broadcast location and the stream is uploaded to the streaming server. Since that requires a large amount of computing resources, the streaming server must be a dedicated server.

For more great information on internet radio and related topics, check out the links below.

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