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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.



Just as a PS to my last .... I didn't mention that I have found the multi-channel USB box quite stable using ASIO4ALL and have put it in line on the 3 music faders replacing the Turtle Beach single output devices for a trial period.  This little box that cost me less than a tenner ( I bought 2) sounds fine to me and it generates enough output to the mixer inputs.

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)..


Thank you both. I have been following with interest and the conversation is certainly helping my thinking in terms of how to best set up my radio. Great stuff!

I found the disk that came with the sound card.


That only came with XP and Vista drivers but a further Google came up with the chipset maker's website.


If you need drivers this may be of use to you:-


https://www.cmedia.com.tw/support/download_center


The CM6206LX was what I wanted.

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


 

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".


Mark = font of information.


Coming back to you on a 3-way switch.    

It works and quite well at that.

Using my learning skill of the dreaded ebay I tracked down a switch for about £3.00 via chinatown which after taking 3 weeks to hit the uk I fiddled with and rapidly found that it works ok.      


Have to admit that if the mixer is left working it does take a feed from the switch (much reduced in volume (bleed through)) but this does allow you the chance to monitor that all is ok and that you can switch off the mixer without it all going pete tong!   The only 

area left to work out is why if the mixer is operating the lag time is less that a direct loop back to the second soundcard.


Anyway  the advantage is that now I can switch off the mixer and take a couple of days off without the worry of my insurance company voiding the insurance if the building burnt down!


All the best.

Phil 

Peninsula Radio





Hello Phil, I don’t have it conveniently to hand to check but my recollection is that one of the few flaws with the Maplin SA2020 was crosstalk from a channel with signal on it when a fader was down (or possibly that the attention at the bottom of the fader wasn’t as high as one might normally expect). I never thoroughly investigated this as in practice, for typical use, any crosstalk was more than masked by the wanted signal. It is also possible that the wiring in your switch box suffers from crosstalk. (the experience of my spell of testing soundesks in the1980s seems to be with me for life!)

How have you got your panic button working?

Hello Benjamin, At the moment it does nothing. Ideally it would trigger a message saying “please don’t press this button again”. A possible future development!
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