When starting an internet radio station, a vital decision before you launch is which streaming technology to use.
As you might have guessed from the title, the two main contenders are Shoutcast and Icecast.
In this article, we’ll go over the differences between them so that you can make an informed choice.
What are Shoutcast and Icecast
In many ways, an internet radio station has the exact essential requirements of a website. You need server software to manage your radio station and a platform to run it on. These days, this is usually a virtual server in a data centre somewhere around the globe. All it requires is to find a suitable hosting package for your preferred server software, Shoutcast or Icecast, sign up, and be ready to launch your streaming media.
Shoutcast and Icecast are great options as they are well-established in the radio directory. Shoutcast is a monthly subscription-based commercial package with access to commercial-grade support. Use of Shoutcast may impact the fee you pay your hosting provider.
In contrast, Ice cast is open-source server software, meaning anyone can download, modify, and use the code for any purpose. Support for this type of streaming media is usually provided via online forums. Many streaming providers use an offshoot of Icecast known as Icecast-KH, which has improved performance and gets new features sooner than Icecast itself does.
Things to consider when choosing a Server Software for your Streaming Media
So how do you choose between Icecast and Shoutcast?
As with all software, they are quite similar but offer different features. So, you’ll want to consider Usability, Device compatibility, Internet radio station player software to embed, Features, Support, and the possibility of advertising your station.
Feature comparison: Ice cast vs Shoutcast
What end-user equipment does it work with?
Both Shoutcast and Icecast claim to be compatible with all end-user equipment as they can use MP3 streaming, a universal format in the streaming media world.
If you’re looking for a high-fidelity audio signal, you may prefer to stream using either AAC or one of the Ogg compression technologies. AAC is the audio technology used for high-quality audio on iTunes and YouTube. And Ogg technologies are open-source and free of any restrictions or paid licensing requirements.
Both provide better compression than MP3 without a reduction in audio quality.
In the past, Shoutcast provided AAC support, but this was discontinued in recent versions.
Icecast supports several AAC and Ogg codecs, meaning your listeners have higher-quality audio for the same bandwidth. Naturally, they’ll need an audio player supporting the codec you choose. These days, this is most of them.
Users often discover internet radio stations via online directories. Shoutcast and Icecast have online directories in the radio directory; you can be listed in them when you use their server software.
Icecast and Icecast-KH come with native support for secure web traffic via HTTPS. While it’s possible to wrap security around streams used by Shoutcast, doing so involves taking extra steps.
With any piece of software, there’s a trade-off between ease of use and flexibility. In the case of internet radio stations, it’s usually useful to have as much flexibility in configuration as possible.
Icecast-KH is the most flexible streaming server by quite a margin. The features allow you to implement geoblocking, which is essential when playing licensed music on your radio station.
Shoutcast and Icecast both provide only a current listener count. If you need further statistics, you may want to sign up with an analytics provider to collect data on your listeners for analysing.
This lets you determine your peak activity hours, which helps with scheduling and monetisation.
There have been reports on various forums over the web of stability issues with some versions of Icecast and Icecast-KH.
If you choose to use either, performing stability testing before any upgrade is important.
How to monitor your stream
Whether you use Icecast or Shoutcast, you’ll want to use a service to monitor your radio station. This is essential since. Otherwise, you won’t know if it goes offline.
Some streaming providers will monitor your radio station for you and let you know when it’s down, so be sure to check if yours offers this service.
Icecast-KH is the current winner in every category besides the vendor’s directory listing. Since there are many free online directories, the best choice in most cases is to go with Icecast-KH for your internet radio station.