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Recommended Host for SHOUTcast
What is SHOUTcast Hosting?
Today, Internet radio broadcasting is more popular than ever. Hugely famous sites like Radio Paradise, Pandora Internet Radio, and Last.fm serve to illustrate that fact. They allow users to discover new artists, explore a variety of genres, or just listen to old favorites.
Shoutcast radio has all that and more. What makes it stand out from the crowd is its focus on users and its high level of accessibility. Unlike stations on most Internet radio sites, almost all Shoutcast stations and programs are streamed live, instead of being queued up for broadcasting ahead of time by either a person or a computer.
Most importantly, anyone and everyone can create their own online radio station simply by downloading Shoutcast software and broadcasting tools. Those are just the bare bones of what it takes to create a smoothly-running station, though.
Shoutcast hosting options
Hosting providers such as VosCast, ShoutCheap and Server Room provide comprehensive hosting plans which use a great deal of additional features and services to enhance your Shoutcast-based station.
Valuable statistics, pre-written codes and scripts, the ability to stream to a variety of devices, and 24/7 support are just a few examples of the kinds of benefits you’ll get if you choose a hosting plan from a Shoutcast hosting provider.
To start broadcasting with Shoutcast today, with the added bonus of helpful features provided by the host, simply purchase a Shoutcast plan from a hosting provider.
Of course, in many situations it is also possible to run Shoutcast on your existing hosting plan. Manny hobbyists choose this approach, either by reusing a plan they already have, or by building DIY servers for small Shoutcast stations.
This approach makes sense for small ventures or individuals. It involves a bit of tinkering, but then again it allows users to repurpose old hardware or use idle server capacity.
Shoutcast hardware and software requirements
In terms of hardware, Shoutcast doesn't place a lot of load on the server. It is a very scalable audio streaming solution and you don't need pricey high-end processors or very fast storage. However, bandwidth is important and more often than not, it is the limiting factor for small operators.
The Shoutcast DNAS Server and Transcoder are available on a range of operating systems, including 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7 and beyond. Linux is also supported in 32- and 64-bit flavours. BSD 8.x and Mac OS X support is also on board. The default port number for the Shoutcast server is port 8000.
Shoutcast V1 and Shoutcast V2 are both still in use, but the different versions have very similar requirements. The biggest difference is the use of a new Stream ID and new Ultravox 2.1 protocol in Shoutcast V2.
There is no big mystery - Shoutcast is free and so are most plugins and modules you may need.
Bandwidth and scalability
So if the requirements are so low, why bother with hosting plans designed specifically for Shoutcast?
The short answer is bandwidth.
The cheapest plans, usually priced south of $10 a month, can support a limited number of listeners. The exact number depends on the bitrate, but you are usually looking at a few dozen listeners. The average $25 plan supports up to a hundred listeners.
In case you want an unlimited number of listeners, you could get away with a $50 plan, but on a low bitrate - it's more likely you will end up in triple digit territory if you go for a high-bandwidth plan with more than 1TB of traffic.
Custom plans and dedicated Shoutcast servers
A number of hosts have started offering custom Shoutcast plans, allowing the customer to choose a number of different parameters and create a tailored hosting package.
This approach makes sense depending on the niche you are interested in, as hardware and bandwidth requirements can be drastically different depending on what sort of broadcast you plan to host (different bitrate, regional peaks or global reach, talk radio or 24/7 music etc.)
Dedicated plans are the best choice for ambitious users. They usually start with limited traffic and basic hardware, but users can customise them and cherry pick the upgrades they are likely to need.
Unmetered plans usually start at about $100 a month and get you a dedicated 100Mbps connection. These plans also tend to feature RAID or SSD storage, along with quad-core Xeons and 8GB of RAM.
However, bear in mind that many hosts will also require you to purchase control panels and licenses, pay for proper server management and so on. Comparing list prices is not enough - you will have to dig a bit deeper to in order to accurately compare dedicated plans, as these costs can quickly add up.