Transitioning from Scannercast to darkice

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kd5ar

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Hello,
I have decided to change my streaming audio computer from Windows OS to Ubuntu 11.10 OS. I spent the majority of the day yesterday working on darkice and managed to get it going. However, the audio isn't near as clean as it was on Scannercast with Windows. There seems to be a little hash noise in the background which drives me crazy, and a very light whistling noise. Feed # 8884. The hash and whistle are there all the time regardless if the scanner is stopped on any frequency. I have the quality set at 0.1. Do I need to bump that up a little maybe? Thanks.

Brad Clark
 

kd5ar

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Well I think I have kind of answered my own question. I had to put a stereo-to-mono reducer plug on both sides of the cable. It's still not perfect, but it's better than it was, it got rid of the weird noises. Sorry for the unneeded post.

Brad
 

slash

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Just an FYI. the quality settings in darkice.cfg only apply to vorbis, not mp3 streams - darkice simply ignores them if you specify them, so don't beat your head too hard with tweaking with the quality settings. So long as it's 16kbps CBR mono (22,050 hz) MP3 and is broadcasting fine, that's all you can really do with darkice. If it bothers you enough and you have an old audio equalizer laying around or can find a used one cheap, you could try feeding your scanner into that to cut out the annoying highs and lows and then pass it along to your sound card.

FWIW, I had a similar problem with my feed utilizing darkice where there was a continual low hum that wasn't even cleaned up by a noise filter. I just decided to live with it as I could only hear it on my high quality speakers. The likely source is the audio drivers that isn't filtering out noise very well. Most sound cards that ship in PC's don't have their own dedicated DSP's anymore and do all the filtering through the drivers and CPU and I have a feeling that the manufacturer supplied drivers on your Windows machine might have done a better job of cleaning that stuff up than the open source ones you're running now. Depending on your sound card manufacturer, they might have their own non-free ones available in the Ubuntu repository or on their website, but I wouldn't count on it.

It's also possible but less likely it might have to do with the LAME encoder being used by darkice as well (but that's also used by Scannercast, but that shipped version might have been tweaked for audio streaming by cutting out the highs and lows).
 
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kd5ar

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Thanks slash. I checked on the Linux audio drivers for Conexant HD Audio chips, not too much to be had that I was very happy with. It still sounds a little deteriorated, I just am listening to it backing off the fed audio and balancing it with the Input setting on the desktop here. I am about at the best I can get it. The audio is a bit low, and I can't seem to get it to go any higher without distorting the audio and making it sound just horrible. I am an Electrical Engineering student, so perfection is my middle name. This is NOT perfect, but I suppose until I have the moola to drop on a brand new puter for this, I'll live with it. This is an old Compaq Presario laptop, about 8 years old. The sound chip may be getting warn after about 3 years of continuous streaming. Wouldn't be surprised. Hard to say. Thanks a lot.

Brad
 
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I tried Darkice on Ububtu when my netbook died and it did not work very well.

I think there is an issue with Darkice and Pulse Audio. I am guessing some sort of memory leak as it would work fine for a day or two then the entire system would become unresponsive and my feed would lag then eventually disconnect from RR.

Xubuntu uses ALSA and Darkice runs fine forever seemingly. I have gone well over four months without a reboot, plus Xubuntu is better suited for your older laptop.
 

slash

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Thanks slash. I checked on the Linux audio drivers for Conexant HD Audio chips, not too much to be had that I was very happy with. It still sounds a little deteriorated, I just am listening to it backing off the fed audio and balancing it with the Input setting on the desktop here. I am about at the best I can get it. The audio is a bit low, and I can't seem to get it to go any higher without distorting the audio and making it sound just horrible. I am an Electrical Engineering student, so perfection is my middle name. This is NOT perfect, but I suppose until I have the moola to drop on a brand new puter for this, I'll live with it. This is an old Compaq Presario laptop, about 8 years old. The sound chip may be getting warn after about 3 years of continuous streaming. Wouldn't be surprised. Hard to say. Thanks a lot.
Brad
Another tip is to make sure there's no decibel boost enabled for your line/mic input either, that can make things sound far worse. It's really just a game of sound card input levels vs the scanner output levels, where you should try to use the minimum amount of input level possible on your laptop sound card without distorting the output from the scanner.

Also, I wouldn't count on a newer computer (running Linux) solving your audio quality woes unless you plan on investing in a professional sound card. I can crank up the levels on my new motherboard far beyond the manufacturer's intended levels and it distorts it in a way that it makes everyone talking sound possessed by a demon, both input and output. Obviously I don't keep it there, but it amuses guests.

If all else fails and this old laptop is being used nothing but for streaming and the windows drivers worked OK, throw XP back on it - it's certainly the cheapest route. Or, if you really loathe any use of Windows (like me), try a USB sound card and see if you have any better luck in Linux, they run around $10 and are great little devices, but still depend on solid drivers (albeit different ones).
 

slash

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I tried Darkice on Ububtu when my netbook died and it did not work very well.

I think there is an issue with Darkice and Pulse Audio. I am guessing some sort of memory leak as it would work fine for a day or two then the entire system would become unresponsive and my feed would lag then eventually disconnect from RR.

Xubuntu uses ALSA and Darkice runs fine forever seemingly. I have gone well over four months without a reboot, plus Xubuntu is better suited for your older laptop.
That very well may be the case. I only use darkice on a headless server I access remotely (console only - no GUI) utilizing ALSA, and it's incredibly rock solid. Aside from my own initiated reboots for critical kernel patches it never crashed once in years of use (Debian). darkice was initially developed for ALSA. I believe there are Pulseaudio patches out for it now, but I have no idea how stable they are. Pulseaudio offers many more features than ALSA that make it a better choice for a desktop environment with many audio sources, but its interaction with older ALSA-only applications have never worked that well in my experience.
 

kd5ar

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Here's another thought... I am pretty familiar with CentOS, particularly the non-GUI version. My Ham Radio linking box (IRLP) actually runs on CentOS that is the main priority channel on my feed. I could put CentOS on the laptop, however it would make it to where I couldn't use it for anything else like web-surfing. It would just be a computer that sits in the corner and runs, hooked to the scanner. Would this work? Does Ubuntu put drivers in there that CentOS would not have for audio? I know I'd have to run alsaconf, basically load the OS, run alsaconf, setup darkice accordingly, and away it goes? If that would work better, I would consider it. I really don't want to go back to Windows. I actually had trouble with my product key for it. Windows wanted me to pay for another product key when I already paid for that one. Microsoft are a bunch of crooks. I'm not feeding the devil there. *grins* Thanks in advance guys...

Brad
 

kd5ar

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In the meantime, I think I'm going to give this Xubuntu a try. I've only had experience with CentOS, Redhat 9, and Ubuntu. I'm not sure what the difference is between Xubuntu and Ubuntu, but I'll give anything a try. Worse comes to worse, I can put it all back the way it is now. Thanks...
 
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In the meantime, I think I'm going to give this Xubuntu a try. I've only had experience with CentOS, Redhat 9, and Ubuntu. I'm not sure what the difference is between Xubuntu and Ubuntu, but I'll give anything a try. Worse comes to worse, I can put it all back the way it is now. Thanks...

The main difference is the window manager, Xubuntu uses XFCE instead of the "Unity" desktop. Both are Gnome based and pretty much the same Ubuntu "under the hood" except as previously mentioned ALSA instead of Pulse Audio.
 

kd5ar

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After trying to load Xubuntu 11.10 and running darkice (which I am getting very good at installing now), the audio still sounds like garbage. So I went and put Windows back on the laptop (which I can do without a product key, but I keep having to re-install a fresh copy every 30 to 45 days or so), updated the Conexant HD audio driver, downloaded and ran Scannercast, and it sounds absolutely beautifully. So... my theory is that Linux lacks the correct audio driver for my Conexant HD chip. If anyone knows where I can get a proper Linux audio driver for the Conexant HD audio chip, particularly for Ubuntu flavor, I would really appreciate it... as it is going to get irritating re-installing Windows left and right and I certainly do not have the 100 dollars to throw away on another product key. Thanks.

Brad Clark
 
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Just make sure you set Auto-update to ONLY NOTIFY or download but do not auto-install updates.

Then make sure you never install the "Windows Genuine Advantage" update when it shows up.

That means you will have to check the advanced box and select what updates to install every time.

The Linux driver for your chipset would be a good question for the Ubuntu forums, I am sure someone has had the same quality issues before.
 

jaded

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I have a similar setup for the feed I stream: Centos 5.x running on an old laptop. I posted a page on the wiki with some details on what I ended up doing: Ezstream on linux - The RadioReference Wiki.

I ended up using ezstream and feed it with the output from lame, which applies a LPF to get rid of some of the high-pitched junk (I was getting whine on another laptop -- the unit I use now is better, but the setup worked, so I left well enough alone).

Instead of removing Windows, only to have to reinstall it again if the experiment fails, maybe install Linux to a USB stick and boot off that (assuming the laptop can boot from USB). If you were going to run an OS off the stick long term, you might need to make some changes (e.g. flash memory has a limited lifespan, so typically flash-based installs will remove swap, turn off logging, etc.), but for just playing with it, you'd be fine.
 
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