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Turn your iPhone into a radio station using Airtime

Live streaming with iOS is easy Photo by: Alan Levine, CC BY-SA 2.0
Live streaming with iOS is easy Photo by: Alan Levine, CC BY-SA 2.0

Going live could mean many things: Maybe it’s a reporter with a microphone on the scene of breaking news, maybe it’s an announcer in the studio, maybe a DJ selecting tracks live, maybe a band. There are lots of ways to go live.

We listen a lot to what our community members say in the forums, and going live has been one of the most frequent Airtime feature requests. In our usage, this means being able to switch from the prepared playlists on the calendar to a live stream.

Over in the Airtime forums and even in our manuals, we’ve always made a fairly simple assumption: When people need to go live with their program using Airtime, they would be doing so with a PC and a program like Mixxx or IDJC. And for a lot of users, this really does the trick.

But for me, though, the holy grail has always been to be able to use my mobile phone as a streaming source. The logic is simple: You always have your phone with you, and it has more than enough power to do the job.

I’m an iPhone owner, and on several occasions I’ve searched through the App Store looking for something that would do the trick - to send a live stream from my iOS device to Airtime for re-streaming. The problem is that there are hundreds of apps that playstream from a source, but few to send an MP3 or Ogg stream.

iOS streaming tools

I’ve done a little research and found out that the following apps can be used for live streaming from your iPhone: KoalaSan, iCast Pro and LiveShout. If you prefer video, you can take a look at my YouTube video on iOS streaming tools. 

KoalaSan ($5.99) takes whatever is being input from either the built-in microphone or the headphone jack, so you can plug in an external mic, or even plug in another analog audio source (like from a mixing board, another computer’s audio out, a cassette player - whatever you’ve got). It streams in three different formats, two of which are relevant for Airtime (or Airtime Pro) and those are AAC and OggVorbis. It also has the option to adjust the bitrate. It takes everything that has been streamed and turns it into a file which can be used later for editing and rebroadcasting.

KoalaSan uses either 3G or wifi connections, but because high-quality audio can use a lot of bandwidth, it’s probably not a good idea to use 3G unless you want to pay high data charges. The cool thing is that the app has a feature allowing you to watch bandwidth stats.  

For me, my KoalaSan setup looked like this:

Name: Airtime

Server: yourservername.in.airtime.pro

Port: 8001

Mountpoint: yourservername_master

Stream name: a word to identify the stream ('master' is probably best)

Description: anything at all!

Genre: anything at all!

Username: anything (you'll use this in Airtime later so make a note!)

Password: anything (again, you'll need this later)

Codec: mp3

Bitrate:128

Protocol: Icecast2

Stereo: on

AudioBus: off

Dump: on

Broadcast: on

Once you’ve got your settings in place, you can start streaming by pressing the big start button in KoalaSan's 'Stream!' tab and then you’re sending a live stream.

The other app I find useful is iCastPro ($4.99), which supports two codecs: AAC and MP3. It also has the option of adjusting the bitrate. However, the app’s interface is a little bit confusing: it has two different buttons “Connect” and “Talk”, which caused me to accidentally broadcast dead air when testing the app.

LiveShout (free) is a really simple app. It supports only one codec, which is OggVorbis, but also has an adjustable bitrate. I found the interface to be far too simple as it didn’t let me change important settings, which caused me to get stuck with the 8000 port. The major downfall of this app is that it doesn’t work with Airtime Pro.

My pick for winner of the test is KoalaSan. 

Comprehensible overview of iOS apps for live streaming

Comprehensible overview of iOS apps for live streaming

Here’s a brief overview on how you can set-up your Airtime so that you can start streaming live.

Setting up Airtime

The principle here is that we are going to send a live stream from a smartphone, via the web to Airtime. Airtime is going to take that stream we just set up and rebroadcast it, meaning that people can hear what's being recorded on the phone via the Airtime-powered broadcast. There are three ways to do this in Airtime.

  1. Schedule an incoming stream. For the duration of that schedule, Airtime will switch over and pick-up the stream from the phone.

  2. Switch manually. Next to the ON AIR light in Airtime, you can switch to Master Source and that will pick up the Master source stream.

  3. Switch automatically. There's a clever button that tells Airtime to recognise when an incoming stream is live. Airtime recognises this and then fades from automated play into a rebroadcast of the stream. Stop the stream on the phone and airtime fades back to automation again.

For more information on how to setup your live stream, check out our post 'On air in 3, 2, 1... Airtime's new live radio modes and how to use them'.

What else would you like to see? Let us know on Facebook or on the forum.

Want to start broadcasting live right now? A managed hosting account can save you time and effort. You could be on the air today with Airtime Pro.

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