How to Maintain a Good Feed
A Good Feed is Online and with Good Audio
The following advice is recommended to help keep your feed up and running.
While you can most certainly use your regular computer for the feed and other things, the best feeds are done with a dedicated feed device or computer. While the streaming software does not take a lot of resources on the computer, other software can cause feed problems.
For a dedicated feed computer, you can use an old one you may have that is not in use or you can buy an inexpensive used computer. You can also use a Standalone (no computer needed) device. See here: Alternative Broadcasting Software and Clients.
Whether you use a dedicated or general use computer, this information will help you keep a good feed up and running.
Disable, turn off or mute the following on the feed computer:
To help ensure you always have a good working feed, it is recommended you disable the following on the feed computer:
- All Microphones
- Mic boost or AGC if using the mic input for your feed
- Computer Sounds (navigation sounds like keyboard clicks etc, Windows start up and shut down sounds, and any and all sounds and effects)
- Scanner Sounds (keyboard sounds etc)
- Automatic OS updates (do this manually)
- Automatic software updates(do this manually)
- Bluetooth access and devices
- Antivirus and antispyware and other similar applications (AVG is very bad with ScannerCast)
- Auto scans
- Sleep mode for the Hard Drive, etc
- Games, VOIP, and other applications and services
The reason for disabling the above is other running software like music, games or VOIP services (Skype, Magic Jack), automatic software updates, antivirus and anti spyware programs, webcam's, playing music etc, can disrupt your streaming software and computer sound card settings that can take your feed offline or broadcasting audio you do not want to be broadcast.
Computer input timing, audio input selection, and volume levels are just some of the aspects that can be changed to the point of poor audio, no audio, or your feed going offline completely. Basically, these and other applications can take over control of the sound card, preventing the scanner's audio from being broadcast or the feed itself from not connecting.
You can do updates manually as needed.
If you need to use your computer for other work:
Basically, any sound through your computer can & may be broadcast.
If you have the correct setting ability on your computer your may be able to prevent other audio from the broadcast.
- See if you have some type of mixer control either at the computer or sound card software.
- Look at your audio section & see where audio is being routed. You may be able to change where some audio goes.
- Check your record settings in Windows is set to mic or line vs Stereo Mix or Hear what I hear.
Otherwise, you may not be able to do other sound on the feed computer unless you have a separate & dedicated internal or external USB sound card. Here you would point the feed to the second sound card & pray that your computer does not revert it's settings so that you are broadcasting computer sounds.
The Desired Audio Level and Quality
You want to avoid too low of a volume or the audio will will not be heard well.
If the audio level is too high, it will cause distortion and will not sound good.
The best sound is at the correct level and without other noises or hum.
Best setting is the volume should be about 1/2 and your broadcast audio is full & bright but not distorted and that the listener can raise their volume more without distortion.
Make sure that Mic boost is OFF if using the mic input for your feed. It will add gain that will cause distortion to the feed audio.
How to set the audio level for your feed:
You will need to listen to your feed via a separate computer to hear the audio quality. Do not use your mobile device for this because you cannot get good audio on the device to determine audio quality.
There are two audio levels that need to be set correctly:
- The scanner volume level
- The computer sound card level
There are several ways to set audio levels:
- You can use a good NOAA Weather Chanel in the scanner for a sound check. Listen to the feed with another computer and adjust the sound so that is sounds good. Not to high nor not to low.
- If you are using a Windows PC, you can download the: Audio Test Generator to help with setting your feed audio level. It is located about 1/2 way down the page.
This is a Level Meter with Digital readout combined with a Sine Wave Test Generator.
Install and then play the tone generator and adjust the scanner and sound card audio levels so the meter just goes into the red. Then stop the tone generator & start the feed. If you need to, readjust the scanner & sound card levels so the feed audio just goes from -2 to 0db. A little peaking into the red is OK. This is OK as long as the audio is not pegging the meter. You are looking for a max of 0db. This is about where the commercial stations are.
Hum On Your Feed
Hum can be caused by any of the following:
- A bad scanner AC power supply.
- A difference in potential (ground loops) between the radio and computer.
- Bad cables or a bad connection.
- Any or all the above.
To fix a hum problem, you can try these suggestions:
- Try a new power supply or use separate 12VDC power supply for the scanner.
Best is to run all your scanners on a separate 12VDC power supply.
Most common wall wort power supplies that come with scanners are not well made, usually have little or no shielding, limited filtering, usually are only 1/2wave rectified and tend to fail.
A good 12VDC power supply is fully shielded, filtered, full wave rectified and lasts longer.
This help to avoid hum or buzz from ground loops, etc.
- Make sure you have the correct type cables.
- You may need to install an audio isolator (also called a ground loop isolator or an isolation transformer) between the radio and computer.
See here for: Setting up your Broadcasting Station for the correct cables and info on the audio isolator.
Listen To Your Feeds:
To help ensure you always have a good working feed, it is recommended that you listen to your feeds often as possible via a separate computer or other Internet device.
If you do not check your feed, then you cannot fix a problem.
The sooner you fix a problem, the sooner your feed will become and stay a success.
Items to Check
- Check your equipment and or set up once a week to see if everything is connected correctly. This includes cables, power etc. Make sure you have the correct sound card settings.
- Check to make sure the encoding software is recording from the correct sound card input, that the scanner is turned on and connected to the correct sound card and input.
Rebooting Fixes Many Feed Audio Problems
Helps in keeping good audio on the feed and clears memory leak, stuttering, choppy, distorted, slow speed, intermittent and other audio problems that corrupt the feed.
- Reboot the computer, ScannerCast or other broadcasting software and the scanner once a week or whenever you are having a feed problem.
- Reboot your ISP modem and router once a month or whenever you are having a feed problem.
Having Connection Problems
A good connection to the RR server is vital for a good stable feed.
There are many reasons what you could have a connection problem.
Most issues will be on the feed owner side of the feed. These include ISP, modem, router, ports etc. Last mile DSL does not make for a good connection. It is common for a feed to go through periods of connection difficulties.
If you have problems connecting to RR server, try these suggestions:
- Reboot your Computer, streaming software, modem, and router. Make sure you have internet access before you restart your feed.
- Try these alt router ports in your streaming software: 80, 8000, 8080, or 8500.
- Try port forwarding on your router to allow you're feed through.
- Submit a "Feed Help Request" and ask the admins to change your feed to a different receiver.