Updated article, January 13, 2019. After my second article about the RØDECaster Pro, a series of tweets initiated by Rob Greenlee suggested that the device should contain 5G to facilitate live audio broadcasting. The idea is obviously to facilitate live remotes with multiple microphones, Aphex realtime audio processing (noise gate/compression/EQ/ducking), virtual carts and more, from anywhere. I disagreed about putting 5G inside of the RØDECaster Pro to prevent obsolescence, and pointed out that live audio streaming from the RØDECaster Pro is already possible via a smartphone or tablet, Android or iOS. 5G is still in its infancy. It’s barely available in any smartphones or tablets yet. There’s a reason why Apple waits at least a year to implement new cellular data technology in its devices: The first generation chips tend to be bad and power inefficient. Why make your US$599 RØDECaster Pro subject to yearly or biannual upgrades when you can use your smartphone to broadcast live? This article documents how to broadcast live audio from your RØDECaster Pro using a smartphone/tablet with cellular data or WiFi, either to contribute to a conventional AM/FM station remotely, or for independent online radio shows from anywhere.
Two prior articles about the RØDECaster Pro
Here are two prior articles I published on the US$599 RØDECaster Pro (B&H).
- RØDECaster Pro audio console-first look (November 17, 2018)
- RØDECaster Pro-an unappreciated gem for LIVE production (December 30, 2018)
In this article
- Stereo vs mono live broadcasting from the RØDECaster Pro
- Example Android and iOS solution to contribute live to a conventional AM/FM radio station, using your bridge from the RØDECaster Pro to the station
- Example Android and iOS software/CDN to broadcast live from the RØDECaster Pro for independent online radio shows from anywhere
- Hardware audio connection to older Android devices which don’t support digital audio connection
- Hardware audio connection for newer Android devices that do support digital audio connection
- Hardware audio connection to iOS devices with Lighting port
Stereo vs mono live broadcasting from the RØDECaster Pro
Whether you are going to contribute to a conventional AM/FM radio station as a live remote, or you are going to broadcast live without a computer via your own independent online radio station, it’s important to understand the situation of broadcasting live in stereo or mono.
All of the microphone sources on the RØDECaster Pro are naturally mono anyway. The only elements that potentially might be stereo are the virtual carts that you play from the RØDECaster Pro’s pads (or from a connected computer via USB, but this article is all about how to work without any computer).
Although there were two mutually incompatible stereo AM systems launched in the 1980s, it began to decline due to a lack of compatible receivers (most “AM/FM stereo” radios only receive in stereo on FM). So if your conventional station is AM, you probably don’t care about broadcasting stereo at all.
If you plan to use the RØDECaster Pro to do live remotes doing contribution to an FM station, it will depend whether any of your virtual carts are stereo, and how important that is to your remote broadcast.
Your own independent online radio station
Online radio stations (including the example I’m going to include ahead in this article) definitely can be true stereo, if that is important for your show.
Live broadcasts in true stereo or mono is device-dependent, according to the Android or iOS connection to the RØDECaster Pro, as you will see ahead in this article.
Example Android and iOS solution to contribute live to a conventional AM/FM radio station, using your bridge from the RØDECaster Pro to the station.
The example solution for this section I am going to use is Cleanfeed, which I have already covered in prior articles, including an audio interview with one of its partners. Although my personal use of Cleanfeed to date has been to record remote interviews with studio quality for later editing, Cleanfeed is also capable of doing live end-to-end contribution to a conventional AM/FM station, in either stereo or mono. For this application, in essence, Cleanfeed substitutes the old-fashioned ISDN connection to the radio station with much higher quality than before, for the cost of a data connection.
Cleanfeed is not an app. It uses the browser. On Android, it uses the Chrome browser. On iOS, Cleanfeed uses the Safari app. Either way, the remote connection happens instantly with a click on the invitation link sent by the station to the remote broadcaster via email.
Example Android and iOS software/CDN to broadcast live from the RØDECaster Pro for independent online radio shows from anywhere.
Since this tweet conversation was initiated by Rob Greenlee, VP of producer relations at Voxnext/Spreaker, I am going to use the example of the free Spreaker Studio app, which is available free for Android and iOS. This Spreaker Studio app (in addition to recording locally, which is outside the scope of this article) can broadcast live in true stereo to the Spreaker CDN (the Spreaker player can then be embedded onto your website, and you can also purchase your show’s branded app for listeners to tune-in on Android or iOS). As of publication time of this article, the free Spreaker plan offers 15 minutes before having to reinitiate the broadcast. Click here to see the pricing for longer-duration live broadcasting, including 45-minutes continuous, 3-hours continuous, 5-hours continuous or 24/7 (unlimited).
Spreaker is only one example. There are other software and CDN platforms for Android and iOS to broadcast live for independent online radio shows from anywhere. I used Spreaker as an example out of respect that the initial conversation was from Rob Greenlee.
Hardware audio connection to older Android devices which don’t support digital audio connection
If you want to use an older Android phone that doesn’t support digital USB audio, you may use the ≈US$30 iRig 2 from our Italian friends at IK Multimedia (Amazon — B&H). Remember that the audio output of the RØDECaster Pro is line-level, not microphone level. The iRig 2 accepts line-level audio and attenuates it down to the level —and matches the impedance— for the TRRS input on your smartphone/tablet. With TRRS to your smartphone/tablet, even though the TRRS output is stereo, the TRRS input is always mono.
The iRig 2 uses the CTIA/AHJ wiring standard for the TRRS plug. As of today, all popular Android devices branded Google Nexus/Pixel, Lenovo, Huawei, HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, Xiaomi and more use this standard (and those iOS devices that still have a TRRS connection do too).
If all of your virtual carts are mono anyway, then you only need a single 1/4” TS patch cable to go from either of the line outputs of the RØDECaster Pro to the iRig 2, for example this one (Amazon — B&H).
Gain-staging from the RØDECaster Pro to the iRig 2 and beyond:
Start at the output of the RØDECaster Pro at about 60%. Then adjust the thumbwheel of the iRig 2 until you get a healthy level in your smartphone/tablet.
Even though this section is mainly about connecting to an Android phone/tablet that doesn’t support digital USB audio, it can also be used with any Android or iOS device with TRRS, as long as you are okay with a mono connection.
Hardware audio connection for newer Android devices that do support digital audio connection
UPDATED SECTION on January 13, 2019:
The main reason to want to connect digitally isn’t so much because you would hear a difference in audio quality, but to have the option for a true-stereo connection, if that’s important to you. Otherwise, if your Android device has a TRRS port, you might consider the iRig 2 covered in the prior section.
Because the RØDECaster Pro’s USB-C connection is class compliant, theoretically it should “just work” using a USB-C cable to the USB port of your Android device. However, there is a possibility that it might not. In fact, it did not work even with a Android phone I tried (the Pixel XL with stock Android 9) which is known to work with digital audio over USB. The lack of functionality is no fault of the Spreaker Studio app for Android. It didn’t work with any of the other Android apps that usually work with digital USB audio either. So just in case it doesn’t work digitally with your Android device, the following plan B will definitely work via analog:
- Get a ≈US$29 Behringer UCA202 interface (Amazon — B&H). The Behringer UCA202 is class compliant and works with Android USB audio. This will receive the stereo analog outputs from the RØDECaster Pro and digitize them at Spreaker’s vintage sampling rate of 44.1 kHz, without affecting the 48 kHz recording you may be making inside of the RØDECaster Pro.
- Get an appropriate adapter to connect the USB-A male from the Behringer UCA202 to go into your Android device: If your Android device has a micro USB and is OTG-compliant, be sure to choose an OTG cable like this one (Amazon — B&H). That is essential. On the other hand, if your Android has USB-C, be sure to pick an adapter that goes from USB-A female to USB-C male and passes both power and data like this one (Amazon — B&H) unless one came with your device, as it did with my Google Pixel XL.
- Get a stereo patch cable that goes from 1/4” TS to RCA (Amazon — B&H).
- Adjust the output level of the RØDECaster Pro to get a healthy level in your Android device.
Hardware audio connection to iOS devices with Lighting port
UPDATED SECTION on January 13, 2019:
I received my RØDECaster Pro unit and tested it connected digitally using the supplied USB-C to USB-A cable, to an adaptor from USB-A female to Lightning. I tested this with an iPhone SE using iOS version 12.1.2 and Spreaker Studio version 3,11,1. The Spreaker Studio app properly received the digital signal from the RØDECaster Pro. There was no problem with proper downsampling the audio from 48 kHz (used exclusively by the RØDECaster Pro) and the Spreaker Studio app version 3,11,1. The signal was downsampled to 44.1 kHz (used exclusively with the Spreaker Studio app and the Spreaker platform when streaming as of publication date of this updated article) with no noticeable audio artifacts. I don’t know whether the downsampling was handled within the Studio Spreaker app or by the iOS operating system (since the iOS knows that —unlike many other audio apps for iOS— Spreaker Studio version 3.11.1 exclusively uses 44.1 kHz). The important thing is that it worked flawlessly, without any user intervention.
Standby for my upcoming RØDECaster Pro review. Be sure to be on my mailing list to be notified.
Save US$20 on Google Fi, my favorite mobile telephony and data service
Click here to save US$20 on Google Fi, which now works on iPhone and Android. With Google Fi (covered previously in several articles), there is no extra charge for data-only SIM cards on the same account, for up to 10 devices. You only pay for the total data, and data is free after 6 GB per month. So you could be using one Google FI SIM card on your primary phone, another in a tablet or secondary phone (or third, of fourth…).
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