Today’s technology makes it relatively easy for you to create your own online radio station. And, if you attract enough listeners, you can even generate revenue from your SHOUTcast (or Icecast) station. Of course, you won’t have much luck growing an audience when buffering interferes with your stream. Read on to diagnose and prevent SHOUTcast buffering through the process of elimination.
As an added insurance policy in preventing buffering, try Gecko’s cheap SHOUTcast hosting and broadcast over a content delivery network (CDN).
Common Problems That Can Cause SHOUTcast Buffering
Several problems could contribute to your station buffering. Anything from a weak Internet connection, to a lack of computing resources, to the distance the audio signal travels between you and your SHOUTcast server.
Executing a traceroute during buffering is the best way to diagnose a bottleneck or intermittent broadcasting issue. While this may require some technical skills, the results can prove extremely helpful in troubleshooting connectivity.
The second-best option involves testing your Auto DJ to bypass the upstream “hops” between your physical location and the SHOUTcast server itself. The Auto DJ is local, or server-side, so your source doesn’t have any latency at all, zero. Compare that to a remote DJ whose live signal travels through ten or twenty different networks (hops) before it gets to the server and distributed across the CDN to your audience. That’s a lot of room for error. Cut out the distance, leave the upstreaming to AutoDJ, and you can often eliminate buffering.
Fortunately, SHOUTcast and Icecast servers don’t stream in real-time. The two open source softwares both use a short built-in prebuffer to avoid poor quality. Large streaming platforms like Netflix also use this method, “…ta-dummm.”
A Troubleshooting Checklist for SHOUTcast Buffering
More likely than not, your station buffering comes from a common problem that all users eventually experience. The next time you notice buffering, run through the items on this checklist. There’s a good chance one of these basic tips is the fix.
- ISP Upload Speed – Internet Service Providers (ISPs) don’t always give their customers completely accurate information about their download and upload speeds. Test your Internet speed to make sure you have the bandwidth needed to source your station. If you have a low upload / upstream speed, then you might want to upgrade your Internet plan or find a different provider.
- Streaming Bitrate – A high bitrate could cause your station to push more data through your ISP connection than it can handle. Try lowering the bitrate a little and see if your stream’s sound improves. Be careful though. You don’t want to lower the bitrate too much or the actual audio quality may suffer. If you cannot find a balance between the two, your SHOUTcast or Icecast station may benefit from +AAC format.
- On-Site Connection – Wired connections always work better than wifi connections. If you stream through wifi, try plugging your computer directly into your router. Switching to a wired ethernet connection could eliminate the problem almost immediately.
- Traceroute – Performing a traceroute may be a bit complicated for anyone without a background in tech. If these other solutions don’t work, please open a support ticket and explain your problem to the team. They will know how to investigate your issue and locate the lag.
Find Affordable SHOUTcast Hosting That Meets Your Needs
At Gecko, we have cheap SHOUTcast hosting packages which start at just $6.90 per month. As your audience expands and you add more content to your station, you can conveniently upgrade to an unlimited plan for more freedom.
Regardless, we can help you keep your station online without intrusive buffering that only annoys you and your listeners.