Streaming Audio - How it Works

Streaming Audio - How it Works

Streaming Audio is a method of delivering an audio signal to your computer over the Internet. It differs from the "normal" method of receiving Internet audio in one important way: instead of having to download a file (such as a MP3 or AAC file from Amazon or iTunes, respectively)  before being able to listen to it, you hear the sound as it arrives at your computer, and therefore do not have to wait for a complete download. The file is not stored on your computer or device but rather is "streamed" to your device much like a radio signal is sent to a receiver or radio.  

As the data arrives it is buffered for a few seconds and then playback begins. As the audio is playing, more data is constantly arriving (or streaming), and as long as you are receiving a constant stream of data, you should hear constant audio. If the buffer is empty because data is not arriving fast enough then the audio will stop playing. If there is too large of a gap in time between data packets, then the audio player will stop altogether as it cannot recovery from a severe loss of data.

An over-the-air radio broadcast on an AM or FM station is sent out to everyone simultaneously. All you need to do is tune your radio to the proper frequency to hear it. There is no individual connection or authentication required and the frequency being transmitted on has no competition from other radio stations (unless you somehow live on the fringe of two stations sharing the same frequency). 

Streaming audio via the Internet requires an individual and unique channel between the transmitter and the receiver or listener be created. This channel contends with all the other data on the Internet as well as your Internet Service Provider's network (ISP) as well as your individual connection to your ISP. All this traffic creates congestion (think rush hour on a busy highway).

In the case of a wireless connection via your Mobile Network provider, there is another factor that directly influences streaming performance - signal quality. The same thing that influences call quality as well as load times for internet applications or web pages. Mobile devices using a 3G network are much more susceptible to issues when streaming audio. As mentioned earlier, too large of a gap in time between data packets will cause the audio player to stop altogether as it cannot recovery from a severe loss of data. The audio player and method employed by us is cross-platform compatible (Mac, PC, iPhone, Android, tablet, etc.) and as such does not have the ability to buffer large amounts of data or recover from chronic congestion issues.

For mobile devices on a 3G network we strongly suggest you connect to a WiFi network (whenever available) to listen to meditations or program content. 4G or LTE networks are extremely fast and are not likely to have any issues regarding congestion due to signal quality/loss or throughput (speed).

In the case of issues with other devices that connect to a WiFi or Ethernet connection to the Internet (PCs, Macs, etc.), Satellite Internet connections often have issues with streaming reliability as do many DSL connection. Cable (better) or Fiber (best) Internet connections are very fast and very reliable but still susceptible to performance issues within your ISP's netwrok or the Internet in general. 

We employ a large number of computers (servers) in our data centers to handle a multiple of the anticipated traffic and "load test" these servers frequently to ensure the highest levels of service to you. We also tune and optimize the audio files to ensure they are carried as efficiently as possible from our servers to your device while maintaining the audio quality you have come to expect from our products.


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