The down and dirty remote...

Aaron Read
Tue Feb 19 15:01:58 EST 2008

Hey Brian, what you've basically described is the "shoutcast remote".  It
works reasonably well for pretty much any two computers that have internet
access.  Dialup will suffice for a lower quality stream but DSL/cablemodem
work much better.

As you've mentioned, it's chief limitations are that it's one-way audio only
due to the delay (which is highly variable depending on what bitrate you're
using and your available bandwidth...delays of 60-90 seconds are not
uncommon), it's very susceptible to bandwidth interruptions, and it's a real
pain in the ass to set up and operate unless you know what you're doing.

It's also got a real problem in that it requires access across a
firewall...not always easy to do at a remote location...and requires a
Shoutcast/Icecast server set up somewhere, which means all the hassles
associated with security & maintenance for that.

This doesn't mean it can't be done, I have done remotes using systems like
this before and they work well enough.  And as you say, it's pretty cheap.
Personally I prefer something a bit more built for the purpose, like a Barix
Instreamer, but those aren't quite easy enough to set up that I'd be comfy
using them for one-shot remotes at various locations.

I'd also keep an eye on Skype...the quality is only a little better than
telephone at the moment...but I've heard rumors that CD-quality peer-to-peer
VoIP calls are just around the corner.

Here at WEOS, we use a Comrex ACCESS combo that was fiendishly unreliable
until we convinced campus IT to reserve a 128kbps channel for us; the kids
max out the campus pipe pretty much 24/7 these days.  The ACCESS can use
WiFi, wired ethernet, POTS, or a 3G Verizon Wireless EVDO
internet-over-cellphone to connect across the wild wild internet back to our
studios.  It's low delay enough to use for conversations, too.  It generally
works quite well....but it's also quite expensive (high four figures)!

The Telos Zephyr/IP has a clever concept where they have set up a series of
"relay servers" so that every Zephyr/IP connection is an outgoing one; you
never need a static IP and worries about firewalls diminish greatly.  Clever
stuff.  It's also quite pricey, though.

Last Friday at a Donna the Buffalo concert we produced and broadcast, some
guys from "The Herd" (their fans) brought a camcorder, mic rig, and laptop
with a 3G Verizon Wireless AIRcard wireless internet rig and webcast a video
of the live show.  Pretty slick stuff.  It helps that a Verizon tower was
literally behind the venue, but still, I was impressed.
Aaron Read
Fried Bagels Broadcast Consulting
Rochester, NY 14618

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