Welcome back! It’s the beginning of August I’m excited to share with you again about some of the technology we use here at Victory. While you may have noticed we recently changed the layout of our website, we’re still working hard behind the scenes to get additional features up and running. This month, I wanted to share with you how we currently stream and what we’re moving towards.
Right now when you listen to Victory on our website, app or TuneIn, you’re hearing an MP3 stream. More specifically, a continuous MP3 file encoded at 128kpbs. But, let’s back up and learn about what happens before the stream you hear and why we’re changing some things.
Everything you hear, like your favorite announcers, teaching and music come out of our studio in a digital format. While our terrestrial signal has its own audio processor, our stream does too! Marty (our chief engineer) and I have set up an Omnia ONE to process the audio for the internet stream.
After the audio processor, we currently take that an analog signal and bring it into our streaming computer. This computer runs an encoding software that transfers our audio out to one of our servers in Dallas, TX. That server runs a distribution software called SHOUTcast. When you listen online, you are connected to the continuous stream on one of the server’s ports. While the audio sounds good, times have changed.
What are we changing? Everything in the paragraph above! Over the past year, we’ve been testing newer audio codecs. While there’s nothing wrong with MP3, we wanted to give you a higher quality sounding stream. So, at less than half the bitrate of the 128kbps MP3, we have chosen to use High-Efficiency AAC version 2 profile (HE-AAC v2) at its maximum bitrate of 56kbps! That means each hour you listen, you’ll use a lot less data; which can be important for some phone users.
Since we wanted to use this newer codec, we had to get a new encoder since our streaming machine didn’t support it. Well, the machine actually does support it if I did a build of FFmpeg (a command line utility) with the Fraunhofer FDK AAC enabled, but I wanted something that I could show others how to use if I couldn’t access it. We settled on the Telos Z/IPStream R/1.
This new encoder will take the digital output (Livewire+ AES67) from the Omnia ONE. That means from the studio to your device, the audio is always digital. Now, instead of going to our SHOUTcast server, we took our other server in Dallas and installed the Wowza Streaming Engine on it. Using Wowza, we can use an adaptive bitrate for users with a weaker internet connection. We also get to deliver the media to you over HTTPS. If you’re interested in hearing the difference, you can hear the new stream at https://victory.radio/listen/heaac.php.
We hope you enjoy the sound of our new stream! This change is something that will help you cut down on your internet usage and helps us save on bandwidth costs. If you love the new sound quality on Victory’s stream, consider making a one-time or monthly donation at https://victory.radio/donate.
I hope you enjoyed this month’s Tech Tuesday article! Check back next month and we’ll cover where our servers are located at and what providers we use.