As a radio station owner, I bet you’re always looking for ways to make your radio station sound great!
Right? Well, don’t stop…shoot for the stars!
We also take sound quality very seriously.
While we can’t help you tinker with the EQ settings, we do our part by offering premium bandwidth and streaming up to 320 Kbps at no extra cost.
We know this is not enough, so we’re sharing 8 tips to improve your radio stream.
So let's start:
1. Use quality music
Online radio stations are 100% digital.
It’s not possible to add or subtract anything from the stream you send to your radio server without re-encoding it.
Our servers receive a bunch of 0s and 1s.
We return those 0s and 1s in the same order to your listeners.
What goes out from your studio, that’s what your listeners will hear.
2. Choose a suitable bitrate for your codec/format
MP3 and AAC are two of the most popular codecs used by internet radio stations. But, which one should you use? Well…
AAC was designed to replace MP3. So naturally, it has excellent stereo quality and sounds better at lower bitrates.
For instance, MP3 128 Kbps and AAC 64 Kbps are both high-quality streams. But…
Since MP3 has been around for a long time, it's supported widely and the obvious choice for most internet radios.
However, AAC is becoming popular too.
Many devices are supporting it from Apple to Android phones. You can read more about AAC here.
So which should I choose?
Streaming at a higher bitrate requires more bandwidth for you and your listeners.
If the user is on a limited data plan, they may feel a pinch and listen for a shorter time.
But if you know us well...you’ll know we have a solution!
On our platform, you can create a radio server and unlimited mount points for it at no extra cost.
So, from your studio, you can encode and send two streams to your server.
For example, an MP3 stream at 196 Kbps and AAC stream at 64 Kbps, and let the user choose the stream they want.
Ingenious, isn’t it?
3. Use the default frequency
The default frequency for most audio files is 44KHz (44100Hz). It's more than what the human ear can hear.
However, you will find some lower bitrate streams set to lower frequencies like 22KHz.
Don't lose sleep over this!
Its impact on the sound quality is minimal compared to the bitrate.
So, when prompted to specify the frequency as you set up your encoder, choose 44KHZ.
4. Ensure that there is no buffering
Buffering happens when the data cannot be sent fast enough from the source to the server.
Or when the listener’s device cannot receive it quickly enough.
The radio player will then pause because there is no more information to play It has to wait to acquire enough data to start playing again. The cycle can repeat over and over.
That's why at Services CloudRadio we use premium bandwidth, and we provide servers in multiple geographic locations.
Doing so, we minimize the risk of buffering.
5. Eliminate clipping by lowering your encoder volume
If your source is playing too loud, it will cause clipping.
Clipping is when the source volume is so loud that all the information no longer fits in the stream causing bits and parts to go missing.
We recommend lowering the volume of your encoder.
Your listeners will receive a better stream, and they can control the volume on their end.
No one likes a stream that SHOUTS at them, even more, if they forgot to lower their volume before pressing play.
But it has never happened to you, has it?
6. Choosing Mono Vs. Stereo
There are two main reasons to use Mono.
First, your radio is a talk show, so you don't need the stereo effect.
Second, you want to broadcast at a very low bitrate (<32 Kbps).
Although stereo uses a little bit more data, at low bitrates, it can improve your sound quality.
Otherwise, yes to stereo...
7. No dead air
It will take careful planning to ensure you have no dead air on your stream.
Most professional broadcasters know it's the worst thing that can happen.
That's why we provide free radio monitoring, whereby we sample your stream for silence every minute and send you email notifications.
8. Record the best sound with your microphone
Usually, when buying a microphone, you get your money’s worth.
But you can get an excellent USB microphone for less than $50.
Blue Snowball and Samson Technologies microphones have received much acclaim in the past.
Other than that, keep your microphone away from your computer’s fan, and at a comfortable distance from your mouth. And if you can help it, away from a noisy keyboard.
Let's wrap this up
The secret to the best sounding radio station is continuous monitoring and improvement.
Always produce the best sound from your studio, because you can’t control the quality of the system your listeners will use.
Your radio will sound as professional as possible no matter if they tune-in with a phone speaker or a Hi-Fi system.
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