Radio depends primarily on audio to convey its message, and you need to know which are the best pieces of equipment for online radio stations.
Noisy transmissions, audio that is too low or too high, with excessive bass or treble are just a few examples of audio problems that can potentially scare away the audience!
And that is why it is crucial to know how to invest in the right equipment for online radio stations. They dictate the technical quality of your transmission.
Radio has an essential role in our daily lives. Sometimes in the background, merely providing a musical experience while we work on routine tasks, and sometimes as an indispensable information medium, updating us on everything from the weather to the latest news.
It is so natural that rarely do we stop to think about all the work involved in broadcasting, whether by traditional radio waves or even an online radio.
Although this is not a concern for the listener, those on the transmitter side struggle daily to ensure that the audience enjoys the best possible content.
Choosing the right equipment for online radio stations
Creating an online radio station does not require as much equipment as necessary to start a traditional radio station via radio waves.
You must know how to invest in the right equipment to ensure an appropriate structure.
Computer or Notebook?
It can be a desktop or laptop computer, and most importantly: it does not need to be the latest generation! However, slow computers that constantly crash will undoubtedly hinder the performance of your internet radio.
The "standard" computer for an online radio runs on Windows (Versions 7 and later, preferably 10) and has at least 2GB of RAM (4GB is best). Also, consider the storage capacity for your audio files!
Dedicated sound card for online radio stations
Contrary to general thought, you don't need to invest in a dedicated sound card. Modern computers come with high-quality sound cards as standard, and you could better use this money buying a sound mixer, a USB microphone, a headset, or other studio equipment.
As can be seen, an online radio does not require an expensive computer or powerful configurations. However, the main factor that impacts online radio performance is the Internet connection.
The Internet connection is the primary element of influence on broadcasting an online radio! Therefore, a stable Internet connection is more critical than a highly speedy connection.
Since you will send the audio to the Internet from your computer, you must check the UPLOAD speed of your Internet connection. Be especially careful when choosing your ISP, as it is a vital part of ensuring the stability of your live broadcast.
Broadcasting live does not require much speed as it will use less than 0.5mbps of your Internet capacity. First, however, consider the other devices using your connection simultaneously.
The more computers, cell phones, TVs, and other gadgets connected to your Internet, the faster it needs to be to ensure a smooth live broadcast.
Physical connections, like fiber optics, provide more stability than mobile connections, such as 4G and 5G, and should therefore be given preference.
The microphone is the first equipment we think of when we decide to start an online radio studio, and not without reason. However, there are numerous categories, brands, models, and connection types, and the endless alternatives make everything confusing.
Choosing a microphone as a piece of equipment for online radio stations requires study time and much care. Purchasing the most expensive model is not the way! Before purchasing, you must know the types of microphones and find out which category best suits your needs.
A condenser microphone is probably the best choice if you have a studio. These are usually the most sensitive and highest quality microphones. Still, they typically pick up sound coming from multiple directions at once and can capture unwanted noise if you do not control the environment.
A dynamic, directional microphone is probably the best choice if the recording location is affected by noises you don't want to pick up. Dynamic microphones are the most common on the market, and there are excellent options in various price ranges.
USB, XLR, P2, or P10 microphone?
The connection type will depend on the equipment you will be using to connect the microphone. For example, if you use a sound mixer or audio interface, choose analog microphones, preferably balanced with XLR or P10 connections.
If you choose to capture the sound directly from your computer, the USB connection offers the best results. In addition, there are great options for USB microphones, both dynamic and condenser, with excellent cost-benefit ratios.
Microphones with a P2 connector can also be used but are becoming less popular. This type of connection is likely to present issues of poor contact over time, and the quality of the audio pickup will depend not only on the microphone but also on the computer sound card and all its connections. So it's one more point of failure on your setup.
The headphone is the most underrated piece of equipment for online radio stations, but it is almost as important as the microphone. Ultimately, how can you ensure that an expensive microphone delivers the promised performance?
Audio feedback is a must, and the broadcaster must have complete confidence that what is being heard is precisely being picked up and transmitted to the audience. Therefore, spend some time researching a headset model, as it will be your closest companion in the studio!
You will use it during your live broadcasts, recording, editing, and any other process involving your online radio.
And beware! It is useless to replace the headphone with a pair of audio monitors. Using audio monitors during a recording or live broadcast is almost impossible since the sound from the speaker will be picked up by the microphone, generating positive feedback. The famous "microphonics" is one of the most dreaded audio issues every broadcaster dreads.
Soundboard, or sound mixer
The sound mixer is an optional piece of equipment for online radio stations, but it will expand the possibilities of your internet radio if wisely used. Here you can connect microphones, musical instruments, and other devices.
Depending on the microphone, a soundboard is indispensable. Analog condenser microphones, the famous "radio microphones," require a Phantom Power connection (+48v), and this is usually only supplied by a sound mixer or audio interface.
As this is a slightly more complex piece of equipment, research well before purchasing a sound mixer. If possible, request the services of a specialized technician to set it up and assist you in its use.
Broadcasting software is like a radio transmitter to an AM or FM radio station. It is a program that will broadcast your audio to the Internet and consequently to your listeners.
There are numerous options for broadcast programs, either cost-free or paid. We recommend using Oddcast v3 or b.u.t.t. - broadcast using this tool, both excellent and free. RadioBoss, OptiCodec, and SamCast are all alternatives, but you need a license to use them.
Broadcasting software is into two categories: those that only broadcast the audio and those that also have the option of audio automation.
Choosing one type or the other is a personal choice. The advantage of the broadcast-only programs (Oddcast, b.u.t.t., etc.) is that they usually do not demand much from the computer and allow the broadcaster to choose any automation software. A popular combination is Oddcast v3 + ZaraRadio, for example.
The convenience justifies using software that unifies broadcasting and automation since they often do not require anything else to run.
However, most software of this kind is distributed through a paid license, making it more costly to maintain an online radio station. Popular choices are RadioBoss and Sam Broadcaster.
Mixxx is becoming one popular option. Although complex and with a longer learning curve, it is free and works very well.
If you have chosen to use a program that only broadcasts the audio to the Internet, you will also need dedicated automation software.
It is responsible for playing the audio content broadcasted to the Internet. Songs, vignettes, advertisements, everything will be managed by it.
An excellent free option is ZaraRadio, which includes a complete manual in English and Spanish, plus configuration guides in our knowledge base.
Where to host your online radio station
Furthermore, you also need an audio broadcast solution to broadcast your online radio to the Internet. BRLOGIC is specialized in this service and has been in the market for over 15 years.
Besides the broadcasting, it also offers the Auto DJ system and an utterly manageable site, free pre-made content, Android App, and much more tools, with a free 7-day trial period. Check it out by clicking here!
Now that you know everything you need about equipment for online radio stations, it's time to get started!
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