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The "Poor Man's" radio setup

I've been looking into sound cards for "PlayIt Live" and I thought I would give a cheap Chinese surround sound card a go. I've had it for some years (possibly most of a decade) and not had that much luck with it up until now.



I'm using an old XP computer. The greatest challenge was finding suitable drivers for the USB sound card. Sadly I've lost the little disk it came with.


Extensive use of Google took me to an Australian site which had XP (and other OS) drivers for the CM6206 chip that the USB sound card used.


The drivers installed and in the system tray helper there was a nice test setup that stepped round each of the 6 output channels.


If you buy a card new I'm sure it will come with a driver disk and save you that stage.


Next I installed ASIO4ALL. This was a minor battle as the latest version didn't seem to like XP but the last one in the 1.xxx version series seems to work fine with XP so I used that.


Finally select 6 channel mode on the card.



and we are ready to run PlayIt Live.


I can choose a stereo output for each of 2 players and a third for cue (I've also assigned carts to that channel). This feeds 3 channels on an old mixer I have and I've a low cost production set up.



Finally, I used the built in sound card on the PC to take the mixer audio in and I've got a source to stream. I've got BUTT set up on the same XP machine.



If the streaming server were "outside" my home network anyone could listen.


"Radio Shed" all ready to use.


I would add processing (*or at least limiting) on the mixer output for "serious" use but it's not a bad setup.


Any questions feel free to ask.



Hi. Thanks for this. Being a total novice may I ask why you need two sound cards please? Can't you just run off the sound card in your PC (As you may have guessed my technical knowledge is limited!)

My observation on the DX2000 was just that if they had made the USB input also support 3 or 4 stereo channels on ASIO it would have been much more useful.


The only problem with using the built in USB for output is that ideally one would want to put a limiter (or possibly processing) between the mixer out and sound card in. A very few USB sound cards support analogue limiting and you might consider using one of those.


If you could write up your start button interface (perhaps as a new thread) I'm sure others would like it (I would be interested for one).


If you could attach the drivers to the thread that would be helpful (perhaps as a ZIP)..


Paul, a good question.


It come down to what you want to do. If you want to have a pre-mixed stream of audio then feeding every source on PlayIt Live to the computer sound card output is fine (assuming the quality of the computer sound card suits you).


One reason you might want an independent sound card is to stop all the computer sounds (from other applications etc.) also being mixed in with your music. 


A second sound output also allows you to use the better sound card for the main audio stream and the sound card output for a "cue" output so (in "manual" or "semi-auto") you can listen to a song before dropping it in the play list.


In that case you still have one "audience" sound output, so if you use a mixer (to add in a microphone or other sources) the PlayIt Live output comes on a single channel.


To allow level adjustment of each song independently and to make it all work more like CD players, you can send each channel to a different sound card (or channel on a multi channel sound card).


In the example above each of two players turns up on its own channel and the carts on a third channel. As carts are not use that often carts can share with cue or the cue can have a fourth channel (I ended up doing it that way on the setup above after writing the post above - using the PC sound card out as the fourth source and the final mixer channel)


That way you can dip a song on the mixer to play a cart over it.


Finally, a word about ASIO.


With PCs you generally have a stereo feed to the PC sound card. The PC mixes the sound from all applications into the "default" sound device (unless the application has a different destination selected, then  sound is mixed into that second destination).


ASIO is a way of an application producing sound without using the windows mixer (Wikipedia has a good article about this - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_Stream_Input/Output).


Some (generally good quality) sound cards come with an ASIO driver and PlayIt Live supports output on ASIO devices.


Alternatively ASIO4ALL lets you use ASIO on some cheap devices (as I did).


Any more questions, ask away.



This is very interesting.  I have a couple of these which I don't use.  My understanding is that these have 3 outputs but I could never get PlayIt Live or indeed anything to address the 3 outputs separately.  I wanted to have 3 decks on Play It Live with each one outputting to a separate jack socked on the device but I could only ever figure out how to do it with one.


The problem as I see it is that the drivers do not create a separate audio device in windows device manager and it is these that Play It Live outputs to.

At the moment, I have 5 Turtle Beach USB sound adapters with 4 of the mapped to Play It Live decks and that works very well with a fader on each.  I even have the remote start buttons on my mixing desk programmed to operate Plat It START/STOP so that I can start tracks from the mixer.

You call yours a poor man's system but my setup isn't much more elaborate.  It's a collection of old disused laptops/desktops, a £170 Behringer mixer, Turtle Beach USB sound cards and of course Play It Live!

Stephen.

Question for you -


How exactly did you configure this USB audio box to output to multiple channels using Play It Live?


Because it beat me!


Stephen.


Couple of easy questions for Mark Hawkins to maybe challenge his memory!


Yep we are one of the poor ones out there who operate 24 hours a day every week which leads to ask one of them questions that has me tangled in wires.     So can I take the mixer out of the loop without taking the whole cable setup apart and then try to remember them the next day.    The other reason is that it might save me a quid or two on the electric bill.  I have played with the cables this morning and taken the mixer out of the loop but it is a sod to do and the time lag just gets quite bad because of what I did.

The mixer is the good old Maplin sa-2020 which we have used since the early 80's in wind rain and snow at outside events.


The second question concerns time lag from the server to receiving the stream via our uk based server.   Can it be shortened by a method I am not aware of?

www.peninsula-radio.org.uk


 

Hi Mark, Thank you for taking the time to reply. If I have understood correctly, if I had a mixing desk with 6 sliders and a 6 channel sound card, I could assign each slider to a channel and can control volume etc from the mixer? I am looking to set up an Internet Radio show and would want each slider assigned to a different cart and then have spare sliders for mics or attaching other inputs. Would this work please? Again, thank you for your time and for sharing your expertise.

Paul,


Sort of, yes.


Typically, however, you would have players assigned to a fader each (stereo channels for music) and two players (one for the song playing and another for the next song) would suffice.


From the days when "carts" were a physical device, often multiple carts appeared on a single mixer channel and I don't think you can present carts over multiple audio output channels.


As well as the "player" model, PlayIt Live supports "classic" mode where there are multiple channels, each of which is available to be played. These could feed multiple channels.


Sound cards mostly have one stereo output channel, a few have two stereo output channels and a small number support more stereo output channels (as supplied).


Also, mixers with large numbers of stereo channels (more than 6) tend to be at a fairly high cost.


A setup as shown above would be fine to produce an Internet radio programme for many purposes (although I would add some kind of audio processor/limiter - for example the Behringer MiniCom Com800) to prevent overloading the sound card input with voice peaks.


I suggest you install PlayIt Live and experiment.


When you do, from my experience, it is worth just loading a handful of songs at first and trying the software with them.


Then make a separate and structured collection of music (folders with categories) and load the library by each folder assigning it a category and analysing them as they are added (for cue points).


This is quite a lot of work but will make the library much easier to use and it is easiest to do this when you add the music in the first place.


Brilliant, thank you. Having started adding the music I think getting the organisation right in terms of your tracks is crucial. Thanks for all the advice. Time to bite the bullet!

Hello Phil,


The simple answer is that PlayIt Live doesn't offer an easy way to take the mixer out of the loop.


It would be a nice feature however the most "full featured" streaming solution I know of is Rocket Broadcaster and there is some merit in PlayIt Live sticking to what it is excellent at and leaving the high feature set end of the streaming encoder market to others.


You could try using Rocket Broadcaster ( https://www.rocketbroadcaster.com/#features ) as the streaming program and you may well be able to select PlayIt Live as a source to the the "System Audio Capture" device.


Alternatively (and depending on the sound card setup) it may be possible to make a box with a change over switch in it (between sound card output and mixer output). I made something similar 40 years ago (!) for a similar application although the sustaining feed was 1/4 inch tape rather than computerised playout.


I wouldn't bother to remove the mixer for power saving reasons (it will only be a few 10s of watts). 


As for the time delay in streaming, the short answer is to my knowledge, no. 


Shoutcast/Icecast have plenty of buffering to allow for various network overheads and re-transmission requests. 


Finally I'm a fan of the SA-2020 - Still in many respects unsurpassed at the cheaper end of the mixer market for AV purposes.


Here is mine.....


image




Having written the above, a quick Google suggests that as usual Amazon can meet your need for a switch box.


"HQ 3-Way Stereo Input Control Box" could do what you want but you may need to adjust the level of the mixer output (by some resistors in the box) to balance levels wile maintaining "line up".


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