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More detailed information is available in the full online help documentation included with the trial editions of the software, available from the Download page.
What does Studio do?
General Software Questions
do I configure SPL for satellite feeds and local advertisements?
Stream Hosting Questions
What is live
What does Creator do?
Creator is a music/spot scheduler. It basically selects audio files based on your specifications and writes the filenames to playlist files. Playlists are usually generated daily or weekly.
The structure of the playlist files may be
altered to suit the audio player application that will be reading them.
Playlist files may be loaded into audio players such as Winamp, Windows
Media Player etc, or loaded by proper radio broadcasting playout
software, including our own Studio software.
With Creator, you are able to design the structure of every hour of the day. Hourly rotations are defined by selecting a mixture of music categories and spot groups. Each category may be a different genre of music, tempo, age, etc, so you can, for example, inhibit two fast rock 90's songs from playing consecutively.
Different days of the week, or hours of the day, often require a different format. Once the structure has been defined, Creator can generate playlists week after week with no maintenance required, unless spots such as advertisements need to be added or removed.
Creator can also schedule spot groups (advertisements, jingles, stations ID's etc) to play at specific times when used with compatible playback/automation software, such as StationPlaylist Studio.
Creator has many other features such as •
song and artist repeat protection so the same songs, or songs by the
same artist are not played too close together • creates an interactive
web based playlist for the entire week for your DJ's or listeners to see
what's coming up • generates a summary of all selected songs for royalty
payment purposes • and a summary of spots for billing purposes •
and many more features (see the
Voice Tracking (only available in Creator Pro) provides a way to easily and quickly record and insert voice announcements into the playlist at manual or pre-determined positions in the playlist. This makes your station sound live when unattended.
Voice tracking provides a way for a DJ to pre-record an entire show within a few minutes, allowing more time to do other things, or simply leave the studio.
StationPlaylist Studio Pro supports
playing voice tracks simultaneously with the beginning of the next song,
so this combination provides a seamless "live" show for the listener.
Voice Intro's and Outro's may be recorded for individual songs or artists. When a song is selected, an optional intro or outro matching the song or artist may be accompanied in the selection. This feature initially requires some investment in time to record the announcements, but the station can sound live in an automated situation with no voice tracking required.
As with Voice Tracking (above), Voice
Intro's may also be overlapped with the beginning the of song when using
Studio Pro for the playback automation software.
A Category is a list of music audio files which are related to a particular genre, tempo, age, or whatever criteria you like. The more categories that are defined, the more control you have over the structure of each hour (rotation).
Category items (tracks) are generally selected randomly, whereas spot group items are generally selected sequentially (alphabetically).
Audio files may be specified individually
in each category, however, we suggest that all music files in each
category are moved into their own folders on the hard drive. ie.
Each category relates to a folder. This is recommended for two
A Spot Group is usually a group of jingles, advertisements, or a group of station ID's etc. They are also often used for lengthy programmes such as a weekly programme of pre-recorded talk shows, etc.
Unlike Categories, Spot Group items (tracks) may be selected sequentially in a specific order or alphabetical order.
Like Categories, Spot Groups may be added
to rotations, but may also be set up as Timed Events where they
are scheduled for a specific time.
A rotation is made up of a list of categories and spot groups which add up to roughly 60 minutes of play time. Here is a shortened example of a possible rotation:
When a playlist is created, an item is
selected randomly from each category, and sequentially from each spot
group. Many different rotations may be defined for different hours
of the day. The hours and days where a rotation will be used is
defined in a schedule. Other types of entries are also
possible in a rotation such as voice track markers and break notes.
A schedule defines which
rotations will be used in each of the 24 hours of a day.
Multiple schedules may be created for different days of the week, or one
schedule may be used for all 7 days. Multiple schedules provide
for different music formats on different days of the week.
Creator is primarily a music and jingle scheduler. It is not specifically designed to schedule commercials, although many smaller stations successfully use Creator to schedule commercials.
Traffic schedulers are dedicated to scheduling commercials and often provide a client billing facility. These can save a lot of time, particularly when many advertisers are involved, and when each client wants their ads scheduled at specific times of the day.
Creator Pro integrates with 3rd party traffic schedulers. One example is Admaster. See the Traffic Log Importer chapter in Creator’s documentation, under the Playlist Editor chapter.
Users often adopt their own system of scheduling commercials with Creator. Here are some of them.
This method can be the easiest to setup and manage, providing you have a limited range of advertising packages, and advertisers do not dictate when their ads will be scheduled.
Place all the commercials in one large folder on the hard drive and create one spot group for this folder. Set the Sort Type to Randomly.
If you have say 2 or 3 different advertising packages with a different amount of placements per day, create 2 or 3 spot groups instead of 1.
Now schedule the spot group in your rotation(s). For example, if you have 4 advertisements that need to be played 6 times over a 12 hour period, 2 ads per hour must be scheduled in the rotation...
6 Per Day Ads
This method is very easy to set up and manage provided the number of ads in each spot group are kept at a constant number. When an advertisement finishes, either add a new advertisement to replace it, or add a fill in jingle or ad for your own programmes. This does not then require changes to the rotations.
But If additional ads need to be added to this group, the rotation will need to be modified to include an extra ad per hour (to handle 6 advertisers), or a new commercial break at a different time of the hour.
Only a small number of rotations may be required using this method, perhaps only 1 rotation, and the spot group, rotations, and schedules should not need regular adjustments from day to day.
This method requires one spot group for each commercial break. This provides full control over what is played when, and allows the number of commercials in the commercial break to vary from one day to the next, without the need to adjust the rotations or schedules on a regular basis.
In this method, a set of files are usually individually added to each spot group associated with a commercial break. Set the Spot Group Type to Block.
To schedule the ads in the precise order specified, set the Sort option to Per Folder/Unsorted. Otherwise Randomly is a good option if you intend to use the same set of commercials in other commercial breaks during the day.
Add the Spot Group once to a rotation to schedule all the ads at once.
This method will often require a rotation for each hour that you advertise. If this is 24 hours a day, then you may need 24 rotations, unless some commercial breaks are to be repeated.
Adjustments to each commercial break spot group or folder may be required every day to ensure the same commercials are not always played together in the same break.
Some operators use a spreadsheet to design what ads should be played and when, and the files moved into the required spot groups every day, for the following days playlist.
In this method, a spot group is created for each advertiser. The spot group is then placed in the specific desired locations in many rotations.
This method also requires up to 24 rotations for unique placements every hour.
Adjustments to each rotation is likely to be required every day to ensure the same commercials are not played in the same order every time.
Some operators use a spreadsheet to design what ads should be played and when, and the rotations modified every day, for the following days playlist.
If only a few commercials are to be played,
the Playlist Editor facility in Creator can be used to simply
insert the files into any position in any hour of the generated
playlist. The Playlist Editor supports drag & drop from a Windows
folder, or use the Insert dialog.
Why are some songs
repeated close to each other when there are lots of tracks to choose
When a category is created, the tracks are shuffled into a random order and selection starts from the top of the list and works its way to the bottom without repeating any tracks.
You can see the current order the tracks will be selected on the Track List page in Creator. The shaded tracks are those that have been selected so far in this order, and the unshaded are yet to be selected.
The order of the tracks and the current position in the list is stored permanently during a Save All. When Creator is loaded again to create more playlists, selection starts from where it left off last time.
When the last track is selected in a category, the track list is shuffled into a completely new random order and selection starts from the top again. After 2 runs through the track list, every track will have been selected twice.
After the reshuffle, some tracks that were near the end of the last order could now be near the top of the new order, so a Song Separation rule is required to have them not selected too close together that listeners will notice.
For a large category containing hundreds of tracks, a Song Separation of 6 to 9 hours will usually have very few listeners hear the same song repeat on the same day, or if they do, they won’t mind. And of course you need an Artist Separation also of perhaps 2.5 to 3 hours.
Tracks skipped over due to separation rules are retried several times before reaching the end of the category. If the separation rules are set too high, there is a higher risk of never being able to select some tracks in the current order, so we recommend the separation is set as low as possible.
After the reshuffle, any tracks that could not be selected in the last track list, even after being retried several times (due to excessive separation rules), will be added to the top of the new track list so they have the most chance of being selected while traversing the new list.
The default Song and Artist Separation is
set on the Separation Rules page. Individual categories can override
this and have their own separation rules set in Category Properties.
How do I schedule
the extra hour for daylight saving to Standard Time?
Firstly we should mention the reverse situation where Standard Time becomes Daylight Time in the Spring. In this situation, StationPlaylist Studio will simply skip the hour that is lost provided there are no timed events in the skipped hour. If there are timed events, these will be played before jumping to the next hours playlist.
In the Autumn, there are a few solutions, manual and automated, to add the extra hour of programming.
Method 1: If you do nothing, and are using StationPlaylist Studio for automation, and have Studio set For Short Hours: Insert Top Up Tracks, Studio will insert random tracks from the Top Up Folder for the extra hour. If Top Up Tracks is disabled, Studio will repeat the hours playlist.
Method 2: Create playlists in advance to include the Sunday that switches to Standard Time, then in the Playlist Editor, edit the hours playlist that becomes 2 hours long (1am in USA) and manually add an extra hour of tracks after the existing tracks.
Method 3: Create a 2 hour 10 minute rotation in Creator. Uncheck the Time Checking checkbox so Creator does select at least 2 hours of tracks. Attach that rotation to the relevant time slot in the Sunday Schedule Properties (01:00 in USA). This requires that a separate Schedule for Sundays is available. That is, a Schedule with only the Sunday checkbox ticked.
Keep this rotation to reuse every 12 months when required.
Method 3a: You may create a new Sunday Schedule whether you have one currently or not. Right-click an existing Schedule and select Copy to create a duplicate. Rename it to Sunday Standard Time for example. Attach the 2 hour rotation to the relevant time slot permanently.
You only need to tick the Sunday checkbox in this Schedule before creating a playlist that includes Sunday. Remember to tick Sunday on the original Schedule afterwards though.
Method 3b: 3a above may be automated. We'll include the requirements for the USA but this should be possible for other countries.
Tick the Sunday checkbox permanently in the Schedule. On the Advanced tab, set the following:
Start Year: (blank)
Note: Instant Timed Events scheduled in the 2
hour rotation or the next hours rotation will cause problems and methods
2 and 3 will not work.
StationPlaylist Scheduler (included in the Creator package) is a small system tray application which loads hourly playlists into a simple audio player (preferably Winamp) every hour. This provides a very basic and budget automation solution where the power of Studio and other automation / live DJ assistance applications are not required.
The Scheduler is also able to load
Creator every day or week to automatically generate a new set of
playlists, for unattended automation.
What does Studio do?
Studio is basically a sophisticated audio player with special features that radio stations need.
Studio is most often used to automatically load playlist files every hour, and play the audio files in an automatic or live assistance (manual) mode, as scheduled by Creator or other music scheduling software.
Studio is most useful with a music
scheduler, however, Studio can also be used without a scheduler, where
tracks are inserted manually for doing live shows.
Winamp and other simple media players are only
suitable for very basic automation requirements. Studio provides
many advantages for automation, such as
However, Studio is also valuable in
assisting DJ's/presenters/announcers with their live shows.
Studio Pro can generate a detailed CSV
log file of every spot played. This
file can be loaded directly into a spreadsheet and filtered to produce
spot summaries for advertisement
billing purposes. Studio can also record each song played for
royalty recording purposes.
If you are using Creator to generate
the playlists, the Playlist Format option in Creator needs
to be changed to the StationPlaylist Studio selection.
This is necessary for Studio to recognize spots, break notes, and timed
events. This option is on the Playlist Options tab.
Studio provides an intelligent automatic crossfading system. This starts the next track playing when the last peak volume of the current track drops below -17 decibels at the default setting. This system works very well for most tracks, but in some cases, manual adjustments may be required. There are several solutions.
Yes. Studio can read standard M3U playlists which some schedulers can generate, however, to use some of the advanced features of Studio, a special playlist format is required which only Creator natively supports. The advanced features include support for timed events, break notes, and voice track overlapping.
However, StationPlaylist Creator has
a Music Log Importer feature for importing fixed column daily log files
and creating the required playlists for Studio.
Studio can utilize Winamp DSP plugins for such things as audio compression/limiting and internet streaming. Copy the dsp_xxx.dll file to the StationPlaylist\Engine\Plugins folder. Some DSPs have supporting files which also need to be copied to either the Engine or Plugins folder.
Studio also supports some Winamp General
plugins, which are installed to the StationPlaylist\Studio\Plugins folder.
Studio comes with a stream encoder implemented as a DSP plugin. This supports WMA, MP3, AAC+, and Ogg Vorbis stream encoding for Icecast, Shoutcast v1, Shoutcast v2, and Windows Media servers. Enable SPL Encoder on the Mixer tab in the Output options page.
See the Internet Streaming chapter
in Studio's help documentation for more
Studio records the Mic audio from the soundcards recording device digitally, optionally processes the audio using compressor/limiter DSP plugins, and then outputs the audio to the soundcards output device via Windows DirectSound. The recording and output stages require buffering to prevent stuttering in the audio playback. At the default settings, the output Buffer Size is 500ms and the input Buffer Size is 100ms, so the delay is at least 600ms. On super fast PC's which have no other applications running, it can be possible to use an output Buffer Size of 200ms and an input Buffer Size of 75ms. This reduces the delay to roughly a quarter of a second.
The best solution is to not use Studio's Mic system at all, and install a hardware mixer for all external audio including microphones. These have headphone monitoring capability with no delay.
Another solution is to use the Monitor system in Studio. This is configured in the Output options / Mixer tab. If a separate soundcard is installed, Studio can send all audio excluding the Mic audio to this device. Therefore no delay or echo is heard in the headphones.
For Internet broadcasters with one
soundcard, there are settings in the Mic Input options which can switch to
the Monitor and back again when the Mic is activated, without affecting
the internet stream. Check the checkboxes "Toggle Monitor" and "Mute
Why do I receive
DirectSound Buffer Underuns in the log?
can be caused by HyperThreading in Intel CPU's. This may be disabled
in the computer BIOS. Other possibilities include an underpowered
CPU, or the CPU is too busy running other tasks. In this case
increasing the DirectSound buffer size should help. This may be done
while play is stopped in the Output options.
Does Studio have
multiple player decks?
Yes and no. We decided to not go down the path of emulating multiple CD decks. We realize some DJ's prefer a more hands on approach, or have become accustomed to manually starting and fading multiple players with other broadcasting software, but we wanted to automate everything as much as possible without the need to manually control multiple players.
Studio internally utilizes 4 audio file players, 2 for the main player for songs and spots with crossfading, 1 voice track player, and 1 cart player. The software takes care of all mixing and volume reductions while overlapping etc in automation mode.
The 2 main players may be output to independent sound devices. When this is done, Studio will not artificially fade tracks playing while in live assistance mode. This effectively works like 2 player decks which can be controlled manually in an external mixer. The voice track player and cart player can also be output to independent sound devices on the Output options page if desired.
The cart system may be used for overlapping tracks
playing in the main player. This supports loading up to 96
individual tracks, usually used for backing music, jingles, and sound
effects. As mentioned, this can be output to a different sound output
device for manual mixing if required.
Can I send twitter updates with
It is possible via the commercial service
Auto Post along with the API
included in Studio's the Now Playing options / Stream metadata tab /
Output via HTTP Request.
How do I configure SPL for satellite feeds and local advertisements?
We will assume in this example that traffic
software will be used for scheduling the commercials. Creator will
be used for scheduling both the satellite feeds and importing the traffic
log. See the Traffic Log Importer chapter in Creator’s
documentation, under the Playlist Editor chapter.
A duration only needs to be set for the satellite feed, not the commercial breaks.
The duration isn't utilized at all when a trigger is detected by Studio. A trigger tells Studio to stop playing the feed and start the next track in the playlist. The duration is only used if no trigger is detected. Triggers include TCP or serial port commands, or contact closures from a satellite receiver, or a low frequency tone in the audio detected by our Tone Detector plugin (sold separately).
Contact closures are configured in Studio's Communications options, and supports the PIP protocol used in Broadcast Tools devices and this less expensive capatible device. See the Communications chapter in Studio's documentation for more details.
If using Creator to schedule the commercial breaks rather than traffic software, simply exchange the *Comm Break notes for Spot Groups.
Uncheck the Time Checking checkbox in the Rotation Properties. You may need more than 1 rotation if a different number of commercial breaks are required at different times of the day.
We recommend the audio from the satellite
receiver or switch device is comnected to the Line-In jack of the
soundcard. Studio can switch this audio on and off while the 1500:
satellite Feed break note is executing. To do this you need to set an option
in Studio's Input / Line Input tab. Tick the checkbox “Break Note
Line-In Control” and set the correct sound Device.
How do I move my software to a new computer?
The Creator & Studio license terms permit 2 current
installations at the same premises for supporting the same station/service, so if you have only
one current installation, you may install the software on a new computer
before uninstalling from the current one if you wish. If you already
have 2 computers running the software, one of them will need to be
uninstalled first. This will not lose any configuration data.
To install on the new PC, all you need are the installation programs you downloaded at the time of purchase, and the registration details provided in the purchase emails (serial numbers and 20 digit codes). If you don't have the installation programs or registration details stored somewhere safe, we can provide these if you have a current support & updates subscription.
Once you enter the serial number and code
for Creator and Studio, the software will display an unlock window asking
for an unlock key. If the PC has internet access, click the Apply button and an unlock key will be emailed to you.
This will not transfer any existing logs or playlists. These files need to be manually copied from/to the Logs and Playlist subfolders.
If the audio files are on the local computer, it is best to copy them to the identical folder structures
on the new computer before installing the software. If the drive
letter or folder structure is not identical, while Creator is loading, answer "No To
All" to prevent the tracks being removed from the categories. On
the Tools menu select "Category Path Replacement". Here you can
replace a path or portion of a path in all categories and spot groups.
Can I play a music
bed under a voice track?
Yes. Schedule or insert a "Normal" spot above the voice intro spot or voice track in the playlist. Load this spot in Track Properties. On the Timing tab, tick the checkbox "Fixed Crossfade". Enter 1.0 in the Segue Time. The music bed will start for 1 second followed by the voice track.
In Studio you need "Crossfade Voice Tracks" enabled in the Input options / Voice Tracks tab.
Studio will not reduce the volume of the music
bed and it will need to be edited or recorded at a low volume to not
drown out the voice track.
How do I run 2 or
more stations on the same PC?
You firstly need to have purchased a license for each station. The licensing terms strictly require a separate license/serial number for each station and the software will enforce this. We offer good discounts for additional licenses.
What is live
Live streaming involves encoding the audio produced on your PC to a stream format, which is then uploaded continuously to a stream distribution server which listeners connect to. The audio is usually produced by radio automation software, such as StationPlaylist. Live audio from microphones can be included just like an AM/FM radio station.
The alternative to live streaming is
on-demand streaming, where you upload your audio files to a hosting
We do not provide this service.
Why do I need
Each listener to a stream uses internet
bandwidth. We provide the bandwidth usually at a much lower cost than your ISP
can provide. You could install your own stream distribution server
software, but most internet connections have limited data per month, or
unreliable upload speeds some times of the day which will limit the
number of listeners that can listen reliably.
Why do I need a
The audio is encoded to a stream at your place, but listeners cannot
listen to this stream. It must be uploaded continuously to a
distribution server which makes the single stream available to multiple
listeners. This is the Icecast software we install and configure for you on our
stream codec should I choose?
There are advantages and disadvantages for using different codecs. A number of stations provide 2 codecs to gain the advantages of both. For example, an AAC+ stereo stream and a MP3 mono stream. Also see the next question "Which bitrate should I choose?".
AAC+ Advantages: This codec is the newest and provides the best sound quality of all codecs at bitrates of 64k and below. Even at 24k, the sound is very pleasant in stereo with adequate treble, and excellent for listeners with dial-up internet modems. A 64kb/s stream provides very good quality stereo quality.
Media players written for Flash may be placed on a website to play AAC+ streams (in computer browsers only). iOS devices can play this codec directly using a listen link.
AAC+ Disadvantages: Being the newest codec, there are less audio players that can play this stream format outside of Flash. Some that do are VLC, iTunes, Foobar2000. Windows Media Player 11 or earlier (Windows Vista or earlier) cannot play this format.
This codec cannot be played from a web browser using HTML5, therefore cannot be played on smart phones or tablets from a web page.
MP3 Advantages: Being the oldest codec, it has the most player support. Almost every audio player supports playing MP3 streams without downloading plugins on Windows, Linux, and Mac. It is compatible with Shoutcast and Icecast servers, Flash media players, and HTML5 media players including smart phones and tablets.
MP3 Disadvantages: Being the oldest codec, it produces the worst sound quality of all codecs. A higher bitrate (at a higher cost) must be used to provide a reasonable sound quality.
Ogg Vorbis Advantages: This codec provides the best sound quality of all other codecs at bitrates over 96kb/s, and much better than MP3 at any bitrate. Most listeners listening to quality 3 or higher should find it difficult to tell the difference from the original CD. It is a patent free and open source codec. The other 3 codecs are proprietary. Media player support is very high in Windows, Linux, and Mac. One Flash based media player Muses supports playing Ogg Vorbis streams on a web page, and most computer browsers support the codec in HTML5 including Android devices.
Ogg Vorbis Disadvantages: Although many media players support playing Ogg Vorbis streams, Windows Media Player and Helix Player require a plugin installed by the listener -- WMP Plugin, Helix Player Plugin. AAC+ provides better sound quality than Ogg Vorbis at bitrates of 80kb/s and lower. HTML5 support is not supported on iOS devices or Internet Explorer/Edge.
Summary: If you can afford the higher cost of streaming in
MP3 at a higher bitrate, this is the best codec to use currently for
browser support across all computers and devices.
should I choose?
The answer depends on which codec you decide to use, your budget, and how good you want the audio to sound to your listeners.
Here is a list of codecs with the bitrate that in our opinion provides a sound quality that is very nice to listen to, with treble response at 16khz or higher.
Here is a list of lower bitrates which provide reasonable sound quality that is still very pleasant to listen to.
Lower bitrates can be achieved by streaming the audio in mono rather than stereo, and still provide a pleasant listening experience.
How do I have my
stream play from my website?
2. For MP3 streams only, you can embed an HTML5 media player on a web page and it will play in all browsers including smart phones and tablets. HTML5 players can be set to start playing automatically when the page is loaded.
3. For AAC+ and Ogg Vorbis streams, you can embed a media player written for Adobe Flash. There are some free and commercial players available, such as Muses, FLV Player, JW Player. These players will work no matter what operating system or browser the listener is using, but will not work for smart phones and most tablets as they don't have Flash available.
Here is an AAC+ player written for Flash with HTML5 fallback.
This player can also be set to start playing automatically.
To add one of these players to your website, you may need to hire a website
developer. Alternatively, if you have some experience, you may be
able to copy the HTML code
from this page and utilize it on your website.
How can I
display what song is playing on my website?
This depends on the player software you are using and whether it supports this feature. Refer to the software documentation for details regarding website integration.
Our automation/player software, StationPlaylist Studio, supports creating an HTML, XML, or text file at every change of track, and either uploading it to a web server via FTP, or directly access Studio's built-in web server. This can be displayed or utilized on a web page. You can see an example of what is possible with the Example Web Players on our Hosting page. Previous tracks played and the next track can also be displayed.
Studio can also send track information in a URL to a server side script on a website.
Alternatively, www.marci.io provide a commercial service for roughly $2.29 a month which incoporates a php script easily implemented into your website.
You may need to hire a website developer to
integrate now playing information into your website.
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