Live Stream Update

For those who might have missed last weeks post, I had been playing with various settings for my home live stream setup, and curious about iphone streaming quality.  Concert Window has various transmission options, and I was playing with a lot of them, and finally put some into practice.

This past Saturday, I headed to the Huron Valley Farmer’s Market for a live show.  The weather forecast was ominous, and I had a very tight schedule, so I chose a stripped down setup, with only one 12″ speaker, and my microphone and guitar routed through a looping pedal directly into the speaker.  No mixer, no effects, no porchboard *kick drum type effect pedal*  The market is in a more rural community, with a quaint, small tow country feel, and has quite a lot of small shops and things to do, but I wasn’t optimistic that my cell reception would be fast enough to stream from my phone.  I did a quick test, and was surprised to find that my up/down data speeds were actually 4x faster than at home.  Concert Window says 1-3 Mbps upload speed should be fine, and I was pushing nearly 16 up, with 44 down.

 

Minimal Setup, the phone was placed on a tripod, behind the sign for tips .

 
That confirmed, I made a quick announcement on my fb music page, pulled out a tripod, with a cobbled together clip, secured my phone, and pulled up the free Busk app that works with the C.W. account.  A quick moment to aim the phone’s camera, create a broadcast name, and it was show time.  Just to be clear, I was using the phone’s microphone, and camera, and to make it even more doubtful, my phone is in a waterproof case, with the mic behind a film.  I wasn’t sure what it was going to look or sound like.  There is a viewer counter, and in theory, there is a chat window available, so you can see what fans are saying during the show.  If I were on a tablet (or my eyes were 20 years younger), it would likely work just fine, but on a phone, the screen is  just too small to read anything, and still have the camera far enough away to have a decent looking broadcast.

The first few minutes, the counter remained at ‘0’, then slowly it began to climb as people tuned in.  For an hour, I played for the market vendors and attendees, and for the onine audience that had joined me for my debut into live streaming.  All I could do was  hope that the broadcast quality didn’t suck, all the while, watching as the sky darkened all around me.   A clip from this streamed show  can be found on my Concert Window page here

At the one hour mark, I ended the stream, fearful of data overage charges, but as it turned out, the data usage came in under what I had expected.  My estimate was about 1 GB/hour, and the usage was about 750 MB.  My battery, however, was another story.  In that one hour, I had used up 80% of my charge.  Note to self, next time, bring a power cable and use it.  Anyway, broadcast at an end, I took what was supposed to be a quick intermission, checked FB, and found that the stream came through just fine, with decent sound and video.  Levels were good, and the show was enjoyed.  About that time, the sherif arrived to warn that the storm was coming and it was going to be a big one.  We began packing up, and I got my gear tucked away just in time.  The drive home was full of hydroplaning, flooded roads, and downed trees, but we made it.  Once home, I found a cool feature on Concert Window.  Artists can choose a song from their concert (must be one of their own), and make a highlight clip to share on their CW page.  Being a market show, I only had a few originals to chose from, but picked one I like to share.  Apparently, I can edit the highlight to choose a different song down the road as well.

My home setup is a little more involved.  I use an external USB webcam, an audio interface/mixer, two condenser microphones, and a laptop aas my broadcast equipment, along with a tv connected to the laptop, so that I can see the chat window clearly. 

What the camera sees is just to the right of the TV, about an inch below the seat, about where the headstock of the guitar is, and just a bit higher than this photo.

2 condenser microphones and a porchboard (the latter doesn't stream well, and has been removed)

Running 3 channels of audio at present

 

Ceiling Spotlights, a webcam, a couple of microphones and a TV for interaction with fans, and a guitar to make the music.

Looking out while playing, I can clearly see the chat window, and interact between songs.


 As you can see clearly, in these behind the scenes shots, so long as what is framed in the camera looks clean, neat and inviting, cables, or mess left over from children using the basement doesn’t matter to the quality of the broadcast.  For me, the essential  elements are good sound, good video, and a way of seeing what people are talking about in the chat room so I can engage them during the broadcast.  I tried using just the webcam’s microphone, and didn’t like the audio.  The same with the laptop’s microphone, which picked up way too much of the cooling fan.  I tried dynamic microphones, which sounded pretty good, but I felt they covered my face too much, as I had to sing right into them.   With that in mind, I’m actually going to try moving the microphones just off camera, and re-test the audio.  Since I play acoustic, I’m not bothering with a monitor, but when my son joins me on acoustic bass, he’ll be wearing earbuds, and his bass will be D.I.’d into the mixer as well as being picked up by the mics.  It’s just abit too quiet for balance to play unplugged.

Now that I’m more or less set with the technical side of the live stream equation, I’m considering set design.  I’ve been looking for cheap ideas that will dress up the plain back wall that I can implement down the road.  There’s always something to improve.  That said, you can easily make it as simple aor as complicated as you want.  Imagination is the only limit.

I’ll be scheduling a concert in the not too distant future.  I hope you ‘ll tune in.  Until next time, have a great week.

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