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April 26, 2010 7:20 AM   Subscribe

I've been invited to participate in a fancy East Coast sound-art conference in a few weeks. I'm across the country. They don't have ISDN. What's the best way for me to participate live and interactively via the Internet? (Audio, obviously, not just text.)

I'll be part of a forum on shortwave radio, my area of expertise. The forum leader will be running his own rig with radios, pre-recorded archival audio, and a mic to field questions and talk to me as one of the participants. I will be running my own stuff (a mix of archival sounds pushed through Cubase and Traktor) via my PowerBook.

Skype was suggested but I have no idea if the bandwidth is good enough. I'm not technically savvy enough to run a Shoutcast server, since it only runs on a command-line basis from MacOS and there's no way my friend in Baltimore is computer-literate enough to set up his end of that connection.

What are the other options, if any, for being able to participate live? I don't mind a delay of a few seconds, but it can't be entirely pre-recorded either (otherwise I'd just upload a ton of AIFFs to him).
posted by mykescipark to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a Ham license? Something in HF might be able to get you across the continent. You could send him a bunch of your files (maybe on a portable HD or flash drive) and ask him to queue them up. Bonus points for real RF-noise on the line where you're taking questions.
posted by Xoder at 7:29 AM on April 26, 2010

Skype is great for speech, but if you're using non-speech archival sounds I would stay away. Its codecs are optimized for human speech frequencies, and pretty dramatically attenuate everything else. There are also (as you suggested) bandwidth issues. Skype is pretty happy on low bandwidth, but conference wireless is usually totally hosed and unreliable. If he can manage an ethernet connection to the conference venue's network (lots of venues have this for presenters) then you'll be totally fine.

If you _could_ get shoutcast set up (and I imagine there are good tutorials for the non-super-commandline-savvy) setup on his end would be as simple as putting a URL into iTunes. I think that's your best bet, but I don't know much about getting that kind of thing set up. Does it need to be live? Could you record a set and just ship it over mp3? Maybe prepare a bunch of "audio figures" basically, and have them numbered and then ask him to play them locally for you?

Good luck!
posted by heresiarch at 7:32 AM on April 26, 2010

Response by poster: Xoder, that is an awesome idea, but unfortunately it's against the law to use the ham bands for broadcasting continuously and in anything other than voice. Plus, that would take an exponentially higher broadcast output than FCC regulations allow for person-to-person communication.

(Fantastic idea, though. If I were to go that way, I'd probably just buy time on WBCQ in Monticello, ME, but all of WBCQ's listeners would hear is one-half of a five-hour panel/performance.)
posted by mykescipark at 7:32 AM on April 26, 2010

Response by poster: heresiarch, there is an extensive Q&A session with the audience, so I do have to be live, alas. I'll keep looking into Shoutcast via MacOS, but if anyone has any brilliant ideas (frontends?), I'd love to hear them.
posted by mykescipark at 7:37 AM on April 26, 2010

Best answer: Nicecast. Like shoutcast (but easy).

All the guy at the other end needs to do is to point iTunes/Winamp to your IP address.
posted by schmod at 7:48 AM on April 26, 2010

You might want to give USTREAM a look.
posted by eschatfische at 8:10 AM on April 26, 2010

Sorry, then. I thought it was more of a dialog thing where you would be continuously prompted for new speech, and as I said, you could ask your samples to be played for you via a local archive you shipped over. The samples, of course, couldn't go over the air.

But don't think that the power is a constraint. You need a remarkably low amount of power to get cross-country on sufficiently low-frequency bands. The 1500W FCC limit is overkill for staying in North America on something like the 20- or 40-meter band. The ARRL has a list of bands available to amateurs in the US*. I'd recommend the 20-meter band, in particular, c.f. this band list.

* If that link is no good, try this link, I think they may be doing something silly.
posted by Xoder at 10:23 AM on April 26, 2010

I am also presenting at this festival. If you need a technical helping hand, MeMail me. My installation is easy to set up and pretty much runs unattended, so I'll have time to assist.
posted by mkb at 12:36 PM on April 26, 2010

Response by poster: Nicecast was amazing. Totally worth the $40. Thank you, schmod!
posted by mykescipark at 11:43 PM on May 15, 2010

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