Avoiding the analog: Icecast2 for OS X, Sonos & Spotify Radio

Apparently, Spotify has finally released their Radio API to certain content management platforms, but until it’s built into Sonos the only way to actually get Spotify Radio on my ZP80 was to use the analog line-in.  What about creating an Icecast (Shoutcast, Podcast, etc.) local radio station that I tune in to on the Sonos locally? This would then avoid the analog hole (until I add a phonograph line stage).

There were a few sources I had to use to make this work, and I’ve only built/tested this under 32 bit 10.6.8 Snow Leopard (so your mileage may vary for 64 bit and/or more modern OS X machines).  Joao Ricardo’s blog post of  “Icecast Radio in Mac OS X” turns out to be a great starting point.  Note, that he recommends installing MacPorts, which may not strictly be necessary if you have Homebrew already installed.  I have not tried to port Icecast via Homebrew, but I imagine the installation would also work, as others have had success.   For example, here’s Josh Dzielak’s tutorial for Icecast & Darkice using Mountain Lion and Homebrew

So yes, per Joao’s instructions:

1) Install MacPorts (note: there are several dependencies, read up before you even install MacPorts)

2) In Terminal$: sudo port install icecast2

  • If doing Homebrew$: brew install icecast
  • Icecast vs. Icecast2?  I don’t know. You tell me internet, you tell me.
  • This took like 30 minutes using MacPorts on an old 32 bit Intel machine

3) Install Ladiocast.

4) Install Soundflower.

  • Reboot machine.

5) Make sure your admin/user has access/rights to “icecast -c /usr/etc/icecast.xml” as well as wherever an error for Icecast’s “access.log” and “error.log” files.  In my case they needed to added to /opt/local/etc.  You’ll need to adjust access with “chmod 755″ in this example.

6) Start playing some music on your Icecast server machine.  In OS X “Sound Preferences” make sure “Soundflower 2ch” is set as the “output device”; you can also “option + click” on the volume in the at the top right menu and select the source.

7) From Terminal$: icecast -c /usr/etc/icecast.xml

  • At this point Terminal will need to be open, obviously you can set this up as a background process, run on startup, etc. see Josh’s article linked above.

8) From within Ladiocast choose “Soundflower 2ch” as your source, click on the “main” button in Ladiocast.  You should see music bars making music.

  • From the menu in Ladiocast click on “Streamer 1” choose Icecast.  Set 127.0.0.1:8000 or whatever you machine’s IP is for the server.  The default user and pw is located the XML file.
  • For encoding, especially to work with iTunes and probably Sonos, I set it to AAC 320 kbps.  Ogg may in fact work with Sonos, I’ve not tried it.
  • Click “Connect” at the bottom there.

9) In a web browser, type in the IP for the Icecast server.  If said machine is localhost use 127.0.0.1:8000 which is the default port for the service. Click on the .m3u link and open in iTunes/Winamp or similar.  If you have music bars making music and you have a .m3u created you should hear music (double check OGG vs. AAC).

10) Final step: open the desktop Sonos App. Click “Manage” from the menu bar and then “Add Radio Station” and the enter http://127.0.0.1:8000/stream.m3u (or whatever your IP is for the Icecast machine).  Create that as a favorite radio station.

11) Works for me.  If you want an Icecast radio station globally on WAN, well, poke those holes. Google a bit.  That’s not this blog entry.  Let’s hope Sonos adds Spotify Radio sooner than later.

 

EMU 0404 USB driver finally updates….

I’ve never been displeased with the price performance of the Creative/E-MU 0404 USB 2.0 [DAC] MIDI audio interface, but seeing as how I mostly use it for music listening I’m not super reliant on the latest and greatest drivers, it’s worked fine with OS X.

From past experience, I know configuring just about any USB audio interface in Windows XP was a headache, and I am told Vista/Win7 fixes some of the audio path issues. But I don’t run Windows 7. I have 10.6.8 on my systems now, the Mini is the main playback hub. The E-MU drivers for it were old, think Rosetta, possibly PowerPC binaries, as in old, but they worked. And despite being capable, Creative/E-MU has never enabled 24 bit 192KHz playback with the 0404 USB under OS X. I’m sure it’s possible. This is all to say, when I updated to the latest drivers for 32/64 bit Snow Leopard / Lion compatibility I just wanted to make sure it didn’t break anything, if it sounds better, great, so long as it doesn’t break functionality.

Here’s a link to the October 14, 2011 64 bit Lion driver download page: http://support.creative.com/downloads/download.aspx?nDownloadId=12115

I can’t hear any difference but it didn’t seem to break anything. Still no 192KHz up-sampling option.

On a side note, C says it’s not worth it yet to sync all the songs to the cloud, too much lag, in which case I need to upgrade to a 1TB 9.5mm 2.5″ SATA drive in the Mini, as I’m running low on space. I like having most albums at 16bit/44.1KHz lossless audio, and I occasionally buy CD’s and rip it to such. For streaming over the cloud 320kbps .mp3/aac seems to be standard. At $5/mo Spotify doesn’t sound very good, comparatively, $10/mo apparently bumps the streaming quality. At home FLAC/Apple Lossless sounds better, for sure.

0S X 10.5 & the Spinning Wheel; Koshihikari Echigo and the Green Flash

On Zoe’s MacBook (white 2.2gHz Core 2 duo) running 10.5.4 the spinning wheel still happens intermittently.  It doesn’t bring down the system and I’m not sure if it’s related to only having 1GB of RAM but in Safari and other programs the little wheel pops up and then goes away.  It’s similar to some sort of disk caching lag but what’s frustrating is I’ve never seen 10.4 Tiger exhibit this behavior.   802.11 a/b/g/n Airport was another issue in that it seemed to be constantly refreshing the network list, but since 10.5.3 or n.4 it seems to have improved Airport’s stability.  It just doesn’t make sense to release an OS and still have bugs like these a year later.  Snow Leopard supposedly brings stability back, and anything is better than Microsoft’s latest ad campaign for Vista, but I’m not alone in thinking that 10.5 was put on the back burner compared to Apple’s other products.

We went out with some of Zoe’s friends last night.  I had one beer at each restaurant.  The first was a decent Japanese rice lager called “Koshihikari Echigo Beer”.  Craig (at Beers, Beers, Beers) called it a “craft take on a macro style” i.e. Asahi, Kirin or Sapporo and I agree, except that I would say the finish is much more interesting than the cheaper mass market beers and I’d say overall it has a cleaner taste.  In that first sip you notice the typical rice but in the after taste there is a significant amount more fruit and smoothness.  I think if I were to try and compare this in the US it’d be midlevel corporate, something like a Brooklyn Lager maybe Sierra Nevada would be pushing it, but there are plenty of beers out of Colorado that I imagine in this comparative craft range.  Beer Advocate  gives it a C+ and I’d say B- but really that’s nitpicking, it’s not bad at all.

The beer selection at Jimmy’s No. 43   was excellent.  Zoe went with a lighter French selection, the Jenlain Ambrée by Brasserie Duyck considered a Bière de Garde.  I chose a Belgian Tripple from San Diego’s Green Flash Brewery. Comparatively it was much sweeter and hoppier with a more alcoholic mouth taste (it is a Trippel).  What we found amazing was the Jenlain Ambrée is about 7.5% and the Trippel was 8.0% alcohol and yet the Ambree was so much lighter and smoother.  Both beers came in 13oz goblets.  Beer Advocate rates the Jenlain Ambrée the highest of the 3 beers of the evening (an “A”) but I’d say perhaps the Bière de Garde wasn’t cold enough or the tap wasn’t fresh enough to give it a fair showing as the Green Flash Trippel simply tasted fresher though certainly heavier and bolder.  I think of the three beers the French beer needs another sampling as it showed more subtlety and had great all around drinkability.  Rice Lagers and Trippels have their times, moods and places but the smooth malty amber the Jenlain Ambrée suggests any day.

Green Flash Brewery - San Diego, CA - Belgian TrippelJenlain Ambrée by Brasserie DuyckLand Brauerei Echigo-Bräu