APL Radio contacted me about answering some questions and helping out with DJ specific questions, I agreed to do so and am excited to be a part of the APL Radio blog. Have an issue or question you think I can help with, email me at anttone@aplradio.com and I’ll reply with what I can and post here as well if it’s something the entire community can use.

To begin with, I’ve been an on air personality and DJ both in the real world and online for the last 15 years. I’ve pretty much migrated to voice over and online only work over the last many years for many reasons and feels it suits me best. I enjoy the hell out of it, make a few bucks along the way but also enjoy helping others get started or dial their rig in to create the best show and experience to those listening in. So with that, let’s jump in…

Question that first came in was from user ‘Lila’ regarding stream drops and dead air when she first starts a set online.

There are many reason for streams dropping your connection, we’ll get into that in a minute. But for now let’s begin at the start of your set.

Be prepared! Long before you activate your encoder or broadcast software to connect to the server, make sure you’ve got everything you need in front of you, ready to go and set. If you’ve got a dedicated set up that only requires you to go live, you’re one of the lucky ones! Most use a home PC or laptop and need to turn on the various programs, plug in mics, head phones, etc. Don’t wait for the last minute, as I said, be prepared and if at all possible share a test stream with a friend or 2 – a cheap one for 10 listener – just something to connect to so you can test your connection, mic and streaming when you need to. Might cost you $1-3 per month but the day you need it, believe me, it’s worth $100 🙂

Next is going live – Keep in mind, once you hit that decoder button and your software says you’ve connected, you’re not actually ‘live’ yet. There is very often a delay in the server making the switch from stand by to live, from an auto-dj state to live or even from one live stream to another. Most of the time it’s only a second, but sometimes it can be several seconds. Next thing to keep in mind, due to cache files being filled with fresh data as you connect, the server may begin accepting up to 10 to 15 seconds of your stream data before it actually hitting the air and arriving to the listener. This is done to prevent the above mentioned ‘drops’ as the server stores 10-15 seconds of audio in the event net traffic causes a delay – so the listener hears a seamless ‘stream’.

What works best for me when doing an online set is I have 2 files running at the start of my set, one on each deck. Deck A is a 30 second silent audio track set to loop… it’s only there to tell the server when I engage that’s there’s a live stream incoming and data to accept. Deck B has an intro track I made with 15 seconds of music only, then my voice recording over the music announcing the start of my show – total track time :30 seconds.

The sequences is as follows once I’ve insured all systems are live, set and working as I wish: 1. Press play on Deck A (silent track begins) 2. Press LIVE or connect to the server and watch for connection confirmation 3. As soon as I get confirmation the connection is ‘live’ I immediately start Deck B 4. When that 30 second track is playing, I’ve got the live stream on my head set NOT my PC speakers – Once confirmed my stream is live and taken control of the server, I proceed with my set – either begin playing music or start the show with speaking – but ow I’m live and confirmed all with now dead air at the start of my set. **In short, my rig was connected and sending data to the server before my I connected.

If you connected before playing anything – the server will not see any data and could drop your connection – then you’re in a 5-15 second cycle of reconnects until the server actually sees data. What the listener hears is a mess. Not professional.

I hope that answers your question Lila regarding dead air at the start of your set. Try my method or just have a song cued up and playing just before hitting ‘connect’ and you’ll be good to go.

As far as stream drops – that can be so many things from network traffic, to your upload connection or may just effect one or two listeners. It’s not uncommon or a ‘problem’ if during a 2 hour set with 100 or more listeners that a few folks hear a brief drop out or skip in their stream… it happens. However, if it’s a common and regular thing there are some things you can do on your end. If there is heavy net traffic in your area or a spike in server demand, this is out of your control and usually clears itself up. On your end – Most upload internet connections can handle a 128kpps upload speed. Some DJ’s insist more is better and in some cases it is. But normal music played to normal PC users – 96kbps sounds like an FM radio, 128-144kbps seems to be the sweet spot. I know some who use and I’ve tried 196kbps with little trouble. You can go as high as 320kbps but seriously, 90% of your audience wont hear any audible difference that high and you risk overloading the capacity of your stream once your listener count begins to grow. So unless you have a reason to be that high, I’d suggest you stay down in the 128-144 range for a good sound and less issues with a solid listener base.

Again – those interested in high end streaming, contact me for a different discussion. This is directed at general purpose broadcasting.

You may also want to look up your documentation on your broadcaster software and make SMALL changes to your cache settings and retesting. Sometimes you may not have enough data in the pipe – most default settings work for most people, but in certain areas and connections this can help as well.

Good luck and I hope this helps! Hit me back and let me know how it goes and again, if you’re new to streaming or online streams, hit me up with your questions and I’ll do my best to answer and give you a hand!

DJ Anttone ( anttone@aplradio.com )