Going Mobile: Streaming to Mobile Devices


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The challenges of streaming audio to mobile devices and moving vehicles

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Ad-insertion technology is the subject of its own article, and we covered it in "Streaming Audio Ad Insertion" in the September 2010 issue of Radio magazine. However you decide to accomplish that, there will be a point in your content delivery chain that you'll need to get audio into a CPU for generation of said streams. Clearly you'll need a soundcard, and likely some audio processing optimized for lossy codecs. Most likely you'll want to send along metadata as well - at the very least "now playing" information.

One possible choice for those functions is the Orban Opticodec. The Opticodec can be used to generate streams using HTTP, RTP or RTSP, compatible with Winamp/Shoutcast/Icecast, using MP4/AAC or HE-AAC for the lossy codec. Multiple streams can be generated simultaneously on one CPU, and the number of (unicast) streams depends upon the CPU power. I should note also that the Opticodec comes coupled with the Orban PC1101, which not only plays the role of sound card, but audio processor (among other things). You can enter your metadata into the Opticodec by means of a text file, serial connection or Ethernet.

Another option is the Telos ProStream. This is a 1RU device that takes audio in (via Livewire, analog or optionally AES) and generates an MP3 stream, an MPEG-AAC stream or a Wowza stream. On-board audio processing was developed by Omnia. The device has several outputs: one for processed, un-encoded audio, and one with processed, coded audio. It has two Ethernet connections: One is meant for local network connections (including metadata) and the other for the WAN/streaming out. The unit is controlled via a Web browser, though it has front-panel controls in addition.

AudioTX offers Webstream, a 1RU encoder that can play the role of stream generator. This device can encode up to six streams with different format/bit-rate combinations. Two of the lossy codecs available are HE-AAC and MP4/AAC; and it's Winamp/Shoutcast/Icecast capable. Metadata access is via RS-232 or an IP text-based interface. According to AudioTX, you can locate the Webstream at your ISP and stream up to 25,000 users.

If you were to use your own streaming encoder barefoot you would certainly need some sort of outboard audio processing; in that case you might want to consider the Vorsis VP8+ from Wheatstone. It has two processing modes optimized for lossy-codecs used in streaming: MP3/AAC greater-than 48kb/s and MP3/AAC less-than 48kb/s. It's a single rack-unit, with analog and AES inputs, and it's configured via the front-panel or via a computer, using a windows-based GUI.

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