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****** Now To Answer the Question *******
This is a very good (and important) question! Unfortunately, there is not an exact science in answering this question.
Start by considering what you are going to be broadcasting and where. Secondly, consider how many simultaneous listeners you want or expect.
Providers use many variables when putting together pricing and they range in variety and mythology.
Things to consider:
- Bitrate (quality of sound)
- Listener Slots (total simultaneous listeners)
- Bandwidth (total amount of traffic)
- Are you podcasting or playing music and broadcasting live?
- Will you need AutoDJ?
- Type of control panel(s) offered.
These are just a few to begin with.
Bitrate: The higher the bitrate (kbps) the better the quality. However, some devices have limitations and can only accept so much. We use 224 kps in most club streams where music and live DJs stream weekly. If you are only going to be podcasting (lectures and sermons), 64 kbps – 96 kbps would server your purpose well. If you are broadcasting music and voice, we suggest at least 128 kbps. If you want to offer listeners the ability to hear different qualities based on devices we recommend SHOUTcast v 2 with multiple mount points and Centova Control Panel.
Listener slots: are important when you consider how many simultaneous listeners you are DJing or broadcasting to. When that limit is met, a new listener will have to wait for a slot to open. If you are broadcasting in a virtual game such as RLC or Second Life with a 25 listener slot, the 26th person who comes in will not be able to hear your broadcast.
Bandwidth: Limited or capped bandwidth: If a provider has a bandwidth cap/limit on your plan, once that is used up, you can no longer broadcast or in some cases be charged for overages. Look for “unmetered” or “unlimited” bandwidth
AutoDJ: This feature has become very popular because the user can stream 24/7 without the use of their own computer. When using AutoDJ in virtual clubs, prop changes are no longer necessary because all the DJ has to do is start their encoder on their broadcasting software. Space on the server for hosting music files is not very important because the AutoDJ continues to rotate through the music files continuously.
Control Panel: If a provider, as we do, offers more than one type of control panel, that is a good option. Two of the most popular control panels is Centova and WHMSonic (we offer both). We recommend WHMSonic for beginners because it is a little easier to use. However, Centova does have features that WHMSonic does not. Widgets for one thing. Centova has several widgets the user can use on your own website. We allow the user to upgrade/downgrade at any time with and from one control panel to the other.
Take your time and do your homework, it’s worth it!
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