Why Some Online Radio Streaming Doesn't Seem to Work Well
April 20, 2016 12:54 PM   Subscribe

It seems that the streams of some online radio stations don't connect or don't stay connected. I have visited a lot of public radio stations and listened to their streams and often, they will drop out and reconnect unexpectedly. By contrast, Tune-in and some of the other pass thru services seem to always connect and manage to stay connected. Is Tune-in and other services better able to shake hands with my possibly out of date browser or is the problem not with me and instead, with the stations themselves, or somewhere in the middle?
posted by CollectiveMind to Computers & Internet (1 answer total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This (streaming radio) used to be my job. TuneIn shouldn't be a relevant factor here - all it does is offer you an interface through which you can listen directly to an individual station's stream. It doesn't relay, transcode or do anything to the stream - it's basically a fancy directory of links and a player. Your browser or phone is still connecting straight through to the station's streaming audio server.

Most stations don't have anything fancier than a standard DSL or cable internet connection to their studio premises, from where the stream originates. These aren't 100% reliable and can drop out for reasons ranging from internet and power outages to someone tripping over a network cable in the corner of the office. The computers that stations use to generate and send out their stream are also often fairly basic and antiquated - certainly for smaller stations without fancy Barix equipment etc.

They don't stream directly to listeners from their studios as this would saturate their connection - they send their stream to a streaming provider, who 'relays' it out to listeners from a server with more (and more reliable) bandwidth. However, there is still the weak link between the studios and the provider's server, and this is the most likely cause of any dropouts you're experiencing.

Without more details, I can't really diagnose the problem - but if you're not experiencing any other issues with your browser or internet connection, then the problem is likely to be with the stations' streams. If one particular station is having regular problems, then get in touch with them, they'll appreciate the heads-up. :)
posted by winterhill at 2:23 PM on April 20, 2016

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