I first performed Live Online in 1998 in one of the first Voice chat Rooms with a sound not much better than a telephone frequency but it seemed pretty cool at the time.
Today with much faster processors and broadband it is possible to stream an audio signal with incredibly high fidelity.
This happens with the same technology as Internet Radio where an MP3 file is streamed from a server and whoever logs onto the server can hear it.
Live Music requires a program called an Encoder which digitally records the live audio as a .wav file and turns it into an MP3 while it is being played. There is a small delay between when it is played and when it is received by a listener due to the encoding process.
I perform "Live" in Secondlife.com (SL). A Virtual 3D World where people from all over the world venture for what ever reasons they choose but with the brilliant graphics and Open Source Program, the users have developed the perfect environment for performing a genuine LIVE MUSIC Concert. Although all the action takes place in a virtual world the audio is streamed on the open network for whoever can connect to the stream address. The stream is made available to anyone inworld at a venue by simply turning on a radio button on screen.
The advantage of SL is the communication available to all inworld to promote and advertise and attract an audience. Live Streaming is actually done outside of SL servers and quite unrelated to their operations. It simply passes the stream address to the listener's computer.
I have messed around and gone into a general Chat Room and shared my stream address with the room. Lotta fun!
How I do it......
I rent a Shoutcast Stream from a company in SL and although Shoutcast offer a Free Encoder which simply plugs into Winamp Player, I opted to buy a Simplecast Encoder as it loads faster and does not require loading Winamp as well. This is handy, in the sometimes laggy environment of SL and saving the resources on your computer for a stronger stream.
You need a Stream Server in order to stream. I am not entirely sure what is available outside of SL, but a few searches should find something.
My Audio Equipment
My Set up for streaming is not state of the art but it does a good job. I live alone so it is easy to spread myself out comfortably and devote what space I have to my "Studio".
Not a lot is needed for basic streaming. 1 decent microphone in the right place will suffice for a basic performance. I started out with just an old Dynamic Mic, but with the sound quality of streaming, I sought to deliver a professional quality Live sound. I am always tweaking and trying new things when I can.
Microphone - I use a Rode M3. It's a very good mic for the price. Low noise and rugged enough for the real world, with all the dynamics and response of a Condenser Mic . A very true sounding mic.
For those with a lower budget and a mixer with phantom power I can only recommend the Behringer C1 it is an amazing mic for the price.. I started with one of these and I still use it for my recordings.
Mixer - I use a Yamaha MG102c Mixer. It is a feature packed unit that retails for around US$100 - US$130. This unit doesn't have any built in effects except for a compressor on channels 1 & 2. If you want Onboard Effects check out the MG82CX it is identical to the MG102c. I use the MG102c for real life shows for solo and duo shows as well.
Behringer also make very similar mixers that retail for less.
Xenyx 802 and Xenyx 1002FX.
Effects - Funnily enough, I use a Behringer V-Amp2 Guitar Multi Effects Processor.
This unit is designed for Lead Guitarists and I purchased it for that purpose, but it has a built in Tube (Valve) Pre-amp and when used over acoustic instruments and vocals it adds a lot of mid range warmth. I also add compression, chorus and reverb. I simply run it through the Effects Send on my mixer and apply it to my voice and guitar. It has 24 bit Quality and is very low noise. I can use it for guitar any time I want as it has programmable memory and with a click of a button I have my Online Sound back when I want. Although it doesn't sit too well on a Rack Mount, it retails for around US$150. There is nothing available for the price that compares with the V-Amp2.
Guitar Effects - I am an average Lead Guitarist and I use a
Boss Loop Station RC 2 to record what I play live, then play it back so I can play my own guitar solos live, over my live performance. There are bigger and better ones with more features but this suits my needs and is probably the most expensive item in my studio. It does the job but it is a little tricky to master. I am getting the Add-on stop pedal... Normally it requires you to press the pedal twice to stop it looping and this can be difficult as you stop playing lead and pick up the rhythm again without losing the beat.
I also have a Behringer V-TONE BASS BDI21 I probably should have the Acoustic Guitar model but I bought this one for recording Bass Guitar and it does a nice enough job on the acoustic. I simply use it as a stomp booster for soloing and I adjust the sound a little to give my guitar more sustain and dynamics over the rhythm track. It's a nice unit for around US$50
My Guitars - My main Guitar is a Tanglewood TW 15C FPP Deluxe Sundance series - 6 String Cutaway dreadnought with Fishman Prefix Plus pickup. Solid Spruce top, solid Mahogany back & sides. It's a very loud guitar with a nice even response across the strings and a nice neck.
My favourite guitar is my Maton M325 Cutaway 1987 Model. A beauiful sounding guitar, with wonderful resonance. I love to listen to others playing it so I can hear it from in front. I will have pictures soon!
So as you can see, you can have decent gear without spending $1000s