by May 5, 2000 0 comments

There’s
no escaping the MP3 wave. Tons and tons of sites on the Net offer MP3s for
download. You can convert CDs and audio cassettes into MP3s within minutes.
In fact, the MP3 mania has hit intranets as well. You can now have an MP3
server running on your network, and have everyone tune into it. The software
is called Shoutcast, and is a mere 70 kB download from www. shout cast.com.
It’s available for a large number of platforms including Windows, Solaris,
FreeBSD, Linux, DEC OSF, Irix, etc. Here, we’ll give you step-by-step
details on how to set up Shoutcast.

The first thing you need is a
machine with a static IP address that’ll act as your MP3 server. You don’t
need a high-end machine for this–in fact, we ran our server on a desktop
with P/200 MMX. You’ll also need the latest version of Winamp (version 2.2
and above will do) installed on your machine. To check your version, start
up Winamp, right-click on it, and choose Nullsoft Winamp, which will show
you the version. If you have an earlier version than the one specified, you
can download it from www.winamp.com.

You also need to ensure that
you have the correct MP3 compressor to broadcast your MP3s. To check this,
go to Control Panel and click on Multimedia. Next, click on the Devices tab.
Click the “+” next to “Audio Compression Codecs”, and
look for a line which says “Fraunhofer IIS MPEG Layer-3 Codec
(advanced)”. If you don’t have this line, you can install Microsoft
Netshow Tools, which contains the correct codec. These are available for
download from www. microsoft.com/msdownload/netshow20 /0400.htm.

After installing the proper
codec to broadcast MP3s, you need to install the Shoutcast server. For this,
simply run the executable file and install the server. You’ll also need a
very important file called dsp_ sc.dll, which is available on the Shoutcast
site. This is a plug-in for Winamp, which allows it to send the audio to the
Shoutcast server, so that people connected to the server can listen to it.
Once you’ve downloaded this file, put it in your Winamp plug-in
directories. The default is c:\program files\winamp \plugins.

Configuring the Shoutcast
server

Start the
server by clicking the file sc_serv.exe. Click on Edit config.

This opens up a file called
sc_serv.ini in Notepad. This might look like a very complicated file, but
you just need to look at a few things and leave the rest alone. Scroll down
to network configuration. Here, you can specify a port or you can leave it
at 8000, which is the default. This is the port listeners will use to listen
to MP3s from the server.

Now, scroll down to server
configuration. Here, you can specify the maximum number of users you want
connected to your server. The maximum is 1,024 and the default is 32. The
larger the number you specify, the more the bandwidth required, so don’t
set it too high, or listeners will experience skipping.

The rest of this file can be
left alone. However, there’s an explanation for what each line in this
file does, so if you want to experiment, there’s no stopping you.

You can now move on to
configuring the Winamp plug-in that we’d mentioned earlier–sc_dsp.dll.

Configuring the Winamp
plug-in

Start up
Winamp. Right-click on it and choose “Options” and
“Preferences”.

Under Preferences, click on
Plug-ins, and choose DSP/Effect. On the right side, you’ll see Shoutcast
source for Winamp, which you need to configure. Click on Configure.

In the Shoutcast server
field, put in the IP address of the MP3 server.

In the port, enter the port
number that you specified in the sc_serv.ini file. The default is 8000.

In the password field, write
down the password as it is in the sc_serv.ini file. The default here is
“changeme”.

The Server Information fields
are optional, and can be used to provide additional information you want
your listeners to see.

In the Encoding format click
on “Change”. This will open up a window called Format Selection.

Leave the format as MPEG
Layer-3. In the attributes, you can specify the rate at which you want the
MP3s to be broadcast. A higher value means more quality in the broadcast,
but it’ll also mean that you require more bandwidth. The range here is
from 8 kbps mono (minimum quality, less bandwidth) to 56 kbps stereo
(maximum quality, more bandwidth).

You’re now ready to start
broadcasting MP3s over your network.

Start broadcasting!

Start the
Shoutcast server, run Winamp, and start playing an MP3 file. At this time,
Winamp sends the output audio to the Shoutcast server. The server is now
ready to accept requests from any user on the network who has a Winamp
player.

Tuning into your MP3
station

Fire up your
Winamp. Open your playlist by clicking on PL. On the bottom-left corner,
click on add and choose Add URL. Now, type the IP of your MP3 server
followed by a colon and port number. For example, if the IP address of your
server is 192.168.2.3 and the port number is 8000 you would type the
following–192.168. 2.3:8000. Now click on Open.

After an initial delay of
about five seconds, you’ll be able to hear the MP3 file being broadcast.

Anybody on the network is
free to tune into the server and listen to songs. It’s as simple as that.
You can also add more features to your Shoutcast server. For example, you
can add a plug-in that’ll allow the Shoutcast server to broadcast messages
to other users through a microphone. Talk about a DJ in every office! So,
Happy Listening!

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