Having written up the poor man’s radio setup four years ago I’ve moved up the equipment “food chain” a little and I’ve now got a better setup.
I’ve got a better mixer, but for this write up the mixer (other than having enough channels to use four stereo channels for PlayIt Live and some microphone inputs) is irrelevant.
I now use the 4 stereo channel “ESI Gigaport HD+” card for output (as featured in a "half decent" multi channel USB sound card).
This feeds four stereo channels on the mixer with Player 1, Player 2, QuickCarts & Pre-Fade Listen.
If PlayIt Live is in automation, if you use 2 players then these two channels should be left up on the mixer.
I leave the QuickCarts up as well but (obviously) in normal operation the Pre-Fade Listen channel is never faded up. This could be connected to an input on a channel with an alternative function (for example “telco”) and selected as requires.
Once mixed as required, I use a separate sound card to return the mixer output to a computer for streaming (it can be the same computer but in my case I use a different one).
To allow a good level to be fed into the stream I use a USB sound card with hardware limiting. This is a rare feature on USB sound cards but I consider it essential to preserve quality on the microphone while allowing a good music/voice balance and a reasonable input into the streaming system.
I use an old Roland UA25 sound card but this needs modified drivers for Windows 10.
It works well but if I were buying a suitable card now I would consider the Roland Rubix24 as this has a hardware limiter.
For simple(r) applications this might be sufficient to use with PlayIt Live as both the input and output card as it has two stereo outputs (could be Players and QuickCarts). In this case, obviously, the PlayIt Live PC would also be used for streaming.
Now considering the streaming setup, PlayIt Live has a reasonable Internet Broadcast plugin but it can’t apply processing.
I’ve been using Rocket Broadcaster. The (paid) Pro edition allows multiple streams, various stream formats including Opus and will take a third party processing VST plugin.
I use the suggested, free, JB Broadcast three band processor
which works well with my library of music sourced from CDs of various vintages.
I also use MP3 gain on the files when they go into the PlayIt Live library.
Collectively, this setup will run without intervention for
weeks without issue.
The playout computer is an i3 laptop but the key to making it run smoothly seems to have been replacing the original drive with a solid state drive.
If you buy Rocket Broadcaster you may find that the pricing direct in your local currency is better than paying in another currency.
Nice.. Loving that set up. what mixer is that? am using a allen & heath, but it does not have cue, or on/ just mute, which kind of is the same. Am using two sound cards and soon will be changing to a Focusrite pro 40, as it has many inputs and outputs. Thanks for the post.
The mixer is a D&R Airmate ( https://en.audiofanzine.com/analog-mixer/d-r/airmate/ ) for a mixer similar to mine.
I bought it very cheaply second hand but it just has analogue inputs..
There is a new version with USB inputs which would be good for PlayIt Live but it's not cheap.
The D&R Airlite is arguably better for most applications with PlayIt Live and the Webstation also looks good.
These may be beyond your budget, if so, I previously had a Behringer DX1000 and the newer version the DX2000USB is excellent value for money and has most of the features you might want.
It isn't as well made as the D&R but it costs a lot less. The biggest drawback with the DX2000 is that the USB sound card only feeds one channel but you could combine it with another sound card to feed 3 or 4 more faders.
If you could get a decent second hand DX1000 I could also recommend that.
I can't comment on the Focusrite but do check it presents the channels in a way PlayIt Live can use. You probably need it to come with an ASIO driver to be OK.
I guess your Allen & Heath is a music mixer.
They had a couple of nice mixers in their XB series, https://www.allen-heath.com/series/xb/
It now seems to be down to one.
The XB10 was very good except for having rotary faders. https://www.allen-heath.com/ahproducts/xb-10/
I do wonder if they will do something to replace it but with linear faders.
For completeness, as none of the links give a decent picture of the original version of the Airmate I have, a photo (I can't get a good angle on it easily).
Although extremely powerful, I think for most radio style applications the Behringer XR18 would be tricky to use without physical controls.
I've never used one myself but I've seen people using them with an iPad or similar and for live music they work well but I would want a physical surface.
Possibly usable depending on what style of radio you do, the Rode Rodecaster is worth a look.
It doesn't (sadly) allow multiple channels of computer sound on different faders but potentially the phone connections could be used as additional channels.
I think if I were buying a mixer now and had the money, I would look at the Webstation as it has most of what is needed in one box.
otherwise I would probably buy the Behringer DX2000USB and a sound card.
Just to add a couple of other thoughts.
Your multiple mic inputs requirement makes a "Podcast" style mixer worth considering.
If the Rode doesn't suit then one other mixer which gets suggested for podcast production is the Behringer 1204 USB.
While generally not ideal for PlayIt Live (due to the limited number of stereo channels and lack of a "normal" PFL arrangement) it has the great benefit of individual one control compression on each of the 4 mic channels which is extremely useful with multiple contributors (particularly if they tend to get excited !).
https://www.thepodcasthost.com/equipment/podcast-mixers/ for some alternatives.
I'm new to PlayItLive and have been looking at forum posts when I came across yours re D & R Airlite. I setup an internet community radio station 18 months ago using a second-hand Airlite, Virtual DJ, BUTT and Airtime Pro ....all work seamlessly. I too would love to have a D & R Webstation - it on our shopping list when funds permit!
For the past week I have been familiarising myself with PlayItLive as an alternative to Virtual DJ. As we are looking to have show sponsors and advertisers and VDJ does not have the tools to manage advert/sponsor jingles & scheduling. So far I like what I have seen and used. Do you broadcast and if so do you have any problems with PlayIt or have any tips to pass on?
My mixer is the "Airmate" rather than "Airlite" but were I in the market to buy a mixer now the D&R "Airlite" would be top of my list.
I've used Virtual DJ (the "bundled" version) but fairly quickly moved on to Mixxx and Serato. It's a long time since I started DJing (in the mid 1970s during the disco period) but I occasionally keep my hand in when people ask for live events (generally for an older crowd so "wedding" style DJing) and I now use two computers (main and reserve) one with Mixxx, the other Serato into a Denon MC6000 Mk2 mixer controller.
I don't currently broadcast but time permitting it is something I might return to (I did student radio in the late 70s/early 80s).
However, back to PlayIt Live.
As you appreciate Virtual DJ and PlayIt Live are for very different parts of the DJ market, essentially Virtual DJ for the "creative" side of DJing whereas PlayIt Live is essentially an audio file scheduling and playout system.
PlayIt Live is very stable and I run a system 24/7 playing out my music selection to listen to at home. As far as I can tell it can run indefinitely. Generally any problems tend to be PC/sound card driver related and particularly the dreaded Windows update.
Within it's limitations (which I consider primarily around the music rotation/scheduling aspect) PlayIt Live is excellent.
The one thing you haven't mentioned for your internet community radio station is audio processing.
Even if you use the PlayIt Live audio processing plugIn some form of downstream limiting (at least) or processing (better) is needed.
I've done some scheduled/recorded programmes on PlayIt Live and I tried importing a playlist. While in theory that would have been helpful, in practice I found manually inserting the files into the schedule worked better.
My best tip is to use the system, record what you do and listen back to it at "normal" volume and see how it sounds.
If you have more specific questions, you can start a thread. I tend to drop in here every day or two and if there is something I can contribute I will.
Thanks for you speedy reply Mark and your valuable advice.
I'll let you know how I get on with it.
Thanks for this, Mark.
I am looking at the ESI Gigaport as an option for my setup. With the current USB soundcards, there seems to be a lack of output power so when you increase the gain on the mixer, you end up with some quite nasty noise generates by the onboard electronics of the sound card.
Would you say that the ESI Gigaport has a good S/N ratio? If you turn up the gain on the fader with no output on the channel, can you hear any noise?
I'm not well set up to do "proper" signal to noise measurements but my impression of the ESI Gigaport is that it gives sufficient level without excessive gain on the mixer line inputs.
The mixer input gain controls are at about 12 o'clock and that gives occasional peaks to perhaps +4 on the mixer's meters with files which are set to (the very conservative default) 89dB using MP3 gain (the rest of the mixer is at line up so there is gain in hand on the faders).
The mixer inputs are unbalanced phono sockets so probably expect "domestic" level signals, if I were feeding a balanced (XLR) line input I would expect the sound card would be a bit low level for that input.
The ESI Gigaport is not noticeably noisy with no output either.
With your current sound card I do wonder whether the problem is the level of your files or some other windows audio setting.
If you load the files into something with reasonable metering (say Audacity) how do they peak ?
Recently recorded commercially released music I would expect to peak to perhaps -1dB on the Audacity meter and get the red peak indication occasionally.
If your sound card has an ASIO driver, I would suggest trying that.
What is your current sound card ?
As a general observation, computers and audio can be prone to noise problems.
If it is a laptop, often there isn't an earth on the computer so the sound output can have various interference on it. With a laptop it is worth trying it on battery to see if that helps matters (obviously not a long term solution),
As a bit of a sweeping generalisation, sound cards with phono (RCA) inputs and outputs seem best however I would also avoid cheap and unbranded cards as the drivers are often a bit suspect. Actually the quality of a sound card driver is 90% of the value of the product.
I wrote up the "Half Decent Sound Card" Tip as I had spent quite a while going down "blind alleys" with sound cards before getting to the conclusion the ESI products seemed amongst the best.
Finally, for reference, an old overview of MP3Gain
If you do download it I would find it at Sourceforge.
If you use it, only do so on COPIES of your music files.
I use the "Audio Processing" plugin for the Auto Gain Control function, so (within reason) whatever I set the subjective volume of my MP3s to it would attempt to bring them up to the target.
While reducing the level of modern MP3s/WAVs and potentially boosting older files is a good idea, the biggest win is probably using the Audio Processing plugin.
Also, after some experimenting, for the music I play, probably a higher target with MP3Gain than the default 89dB would be better (say 3dB or 6dB higher) as the AGC would work less hard,