Under The Microscope

Broadcasting From the Mac Without Nicecast

As you may have seen, our internet radio tool Nicecast has been retired. While the app will continue to function on existing systems, it will no longer be supported after 2018.

We know that there are still plenty of people who wish to broadcast audio across the internet, and Nicecast’s retirement post touched on a few alternatives. After feedback from users, it’s clear that a deeper look at these alternatives is worthwhile.

Broadcasting Background

Nicecast contained two key components: A broadcaster and a built-in server. The broadcaster made it possible to send audio from a Mac to a streaming server, where listeners could tune in. The built-in server provided one option for making a stream accessible to listeners, with minimal setup required.

We’re not aware of any tools to make running a local streaming server on the Mac as easy as Nicecast did. However, there are several Mac broadcasting tools to send audio out to a remote streaming server. Much like purchasing web hosting, companies such as Fast Serv can provide a remote streaming server for a small monthly fee. You can also look at dedicated streaming services like Live365 and Shoutcast.com.

Once you have a remote streaming server, you’ll need a broadcasting tool to send audio to it from your Mac. This post uses a free tool called Ladiocast for illustrative purposes, but the Icecast website maintains a useful list of third-party broadcast tools to consider. The techniques shown below will work with any standard broadcasting tool.

Broadcasting to an External Server

Setting up a broadcasting tool like Ladiocast is fairly straightforward. To start, enter the details for your external server. Here’s the connection window in Ladiocast, connecting to a Live365 server:

Once you’re able to connect to the remote server, you need to select your audio source. Ladiocast features a Mixer window, which enables you to choose one or more audio devices to broadcast:

Here, we’ve selected a microphone (“USB Ear-Microphone”), and are now on the air. Ladiocast is taking audio from the mic and sending it to the remote Live365 streaming server. Listeners can then tune in to hear the stream.

Feeding Application Audio Into Your Broadcast With Loopback

On their own, Ladiocast and other tools are unable to broadcast audio played in apps like iTunes or djay. Instead, these broadcast tools are limited to pulling audio from microphones and other devices. This is where our audio routing app Loopback comes in. Using its virtual audio devices, you can get application-based audio into your broadcasting tool, and on to your listeners.

Here’s a very basic virtual audio device made with Loopback. It will take audio from djay Pro 2, and make it available through a virtual audio device called “LB: djay Audio”.

Once created, this virtual audio device can be selected as an audio source in a broadcasting tool like Ladiocast:

As you can see, audio from djay Pro 2 is now flowing directly into Ladiocast, which is then broadcasting it to a remote server. Virtual audio devices made by Loopback enable you to get any audio sources into your broadcasting tool, instead of being limited to physical audio devices.

More Powerful Broadcasting With Audio Hijack and Loopback

Loopback can assist in broadcasting application audio, but it doesn’t offer advanced controls such as audio effects, level adjustments, and more. For that, we’ll turn to Audio Hijack. Audio Hijack is generally aimed at recording audio, but it also offers tremendous flexibility to create the exact audio stream you want for a broadcast.

Below, we’ve created a complex audio chain in Audio Hijack. Audio from a mic, the DJ app MegaSeg, and our own soundboard app Farrago is all being pulled in, then audio effects are applied, before sending it on to multiple outputs.

As you can see, Audio Hijack lets you customize an audio stream in nearly limitless ways. At the end of the chain, you can see audio flowing on to “LB: Pass-Thru Device”. When we select that same device as the source in Ladiocast, the audio passing through our Audio Hijack session will be picked up by Ladiocast and broadcast to the selected remote server.

Closing

The setups shown above require a bit more setup than Nicecast, but they will enable you to continue broadcasting audio from your Mac. We encourage new and old users alike to utilize these techniques to transition away from the now-retired Nicecast.

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