Running your own internet radio stream is loads of fun, and can be completely free.
After more than a decade of streaming (est 2007) for Uru players and elsewhere, I've tried many different setups and learned a lot. This tutorial describes a simple and effective audio streaming setup.
These are the fundamental concepts common to nearly all setups. All of these components are 100% free, because that's how I roll, but there are many other tools out there, both free and paid.
- The source. This can be just you on a microphone, or any one of many media player applications out there. What you broadcast can be as simple or as complicated as you like. I strongly recommend Winamp because it has an excellent media library that I just can't find in any other (free) player, and it's extremely versatile.
- The encoder. This is an application that connects the source to a server that others can tune in to. I like to use AltaCast because it has a plugin version for Winamp that is simple and reliable.
- The server. This is typically a large, cloud hosting service that allows many listeners at once. I like to use Caster.fm because it's free and serves 400 listeners.
Updated September 30, 2019. This tutorial is for a Windows 10 system. As always, if you have any issues or need help, just let me know by replying here.
Setup Source (Winamp)
- Download Winamp, then install it by double-clicking (run/execute) the file. The default options should be fine. Don't start Winamp just yet.
- Download L.A.M.E. MP3 Codec, then put (copy/move) the .DLL file into the Winamp install folder (usually "C:\Program Files (x86)\Winamp"). I keep a copy here because finding the right file can be quite difficult, but you can also get it from the official site: Lame.SourceForge.net.
Setup Encoder (AltaCast for Winamp)
- Download AltaCast for Winamp, then install it by double-clicking (run/execute) the file. Make sure it goes into the Winamp installation folder (usually "C:\Program Files (x86)\Winamp").
- Download Visual C++, then install it by double-clicking (run/execute) the file. This is an official Microsoft Windows component that is required for AltaCast. It has no effect on your system, and many other applications also need it.
- Enable the AltaCast plugin in Winamp.
- Start Winamp - or, if it's already running, shut it down and restart it. The first time you run it, you'll need to choose a skin. I recommend "Winamp Modern" for ease of use and a compact view.
- Click "Options" in the top menu, then click "Preferences".
- Scroll down the list on the left to the "Plug-ins" section, then click "DSP/Effect".
- In the list on the right, click on "AltaCast DSP". The AltaCast window will open somewhere on the desktop, outside of Winamp.
- Close the Winamp Preferences window.
Setup Server (Caster.fm)
- Register at Caster.fm, and choose a free account.
- Read their Terms Of Service. It's important!
- Choose a "Username/Subdomain". This will be the first part of the URL to your stream - the page where people will listen. It will end up looking like this: "http://[username].Caster.fm". It needs to be a single word, and is not case-sensitive. I recommend something short and easy to spell and remember. I will need this URL to list your stream on UruTunes.com
- Choose 2 passwords. 1 called "panel", for your account on Caster.fm, and 1 called "broadcaster" for the encoder to connect when you're streaming. Keep the first one handy, as you'll need to login every time you visit Caster.fm.
- Login to Caster.fm. Click "Login" near the top-right, then click "Free Accounts". You must do this every time you visit. When you're on the site, it will throw pop-up windows every now and then; just hit ESCape or click outside the pop-up to clear it.
- Fill out your radio details. While you're logged in, click "Settings" near the top-left. There are several fields that have a minimum number of characters required. Put something friendly, informative and relevant to your stream. You can also set a logo image and give the page some color.
- Start the server. Click "Start Server" on the right, and complete the CAPTCHA.
- Record your server settings. Click the House symbol near the top-left and click the "Server" tab. With the server running, you'll see several text boxes that can't be changed. These values are needed for the encoder. Note that the username and password are not the ones for logging into Caster.fm - they're just for the encoder.
- Server Address
- Port (I need this for your listing)
- Register at Caster.fm, and choose a free account.
Configure The Stack
- Start Winamp. The AltaCast window will also open.
- Configure AltaCast.
- Click "Add Encoder", which will add one to the list.
- Right-click it, then click "Configure" and enter the following (without the quotes).
- On the "Basic Settings" tab.
- Bitrate: "128" (required by Caster.fm)
- Samplerate: "44100" (required by Caster.fm)
- Channels: "2"
- Joint Stereo: Check the box (enabled)
- Encoder Type: "MP3 Lame" (required by Caster.fm, installed above)
- Server Type: "Icecast2" (Caster.fm incorrectly calls it "Shoutcast")
- Server IP: The "Server Address" from Caster.fm
- Server Port: The "Port" from Caster.fm (I need this for your listing)
- Encoder Password: The "broadcaster" password from Caster.fm
- Mountpoint: The "Mount" from Caster.fm
- Reconnect Seconds: I recommend "3".
- On the "YP Settings" tab.
- Public Server: Un-check the box (disabled, required by Caster.fm)
- Stream Name: Pick a name for your stream; this appears on your Caster.fm player page.
- Stream (first one): Write a very short description of your stream.
- Stream URL: This can be any URL you like, but it's not intended to be your URL from Caster.fm. I recommend putting "www.UruTunes.com".
- Stream (second one): Enter the genre of music or the category of what you do on your stream, such as "Jazz" or "Comedy", or whatever.
- The rest doesn't matter to Caster.fm, and I recommend leaving them blank.
- Click OK to save and close the encoder settings.
- Turn on the peak meter. Click in the large black box near the top to enable the output volume meters.
- Keep the AltaCast window open to monitor your output while you're streaming.
- Note the "Live Recording" button and settings. This switches from Winamp's output to a microphone or other input. Keep it off (red X) to output only Winamp (even while it's muted), and listeners will not hear any other sounds.
- Start streaming!
- Start the server at Caster.fm, as described above.
- Start the encoder in AltaCast. Right-click the encoder, then click "Connect". It should respond with "Connecting", then "Connected" under "Transfer Rate".
- Play something in Winamp to start streaming. If you don't play anything within a minute or so, Caster.fm will turn off your server, and you'll need to start it again (refresh your Caster.fm control panel page). AltaCast will update the "Transfer Rate" and the peak meter will animate with the sound.
- Congratulations! You've done it! If not, don't hesitate to ask for help. Don't forget to send me your URL and port number from Caster.fm.