If you’re planning to launch an online radio station, it’s important to choose the best equipment, both hardware and software. I will share my experience with you to help you pick the best gear for your web radio. For each suggestion, I’m providing links to check out the equipment on the provider’s website or on Amazon. If you have any additional question, feel free to send me an email.
And while you’re reading this blog post, listen to CMF Radio using the player above. Have a great time with us!
I am a huge fan of Rode microphones. They’re reliable, sound great and are not that expensive compared to other brands. I’m using two Rode Microphones, the Rode NT1a and the Rode NT-USB. Rode updated their NT1 range with the NT2A. So I’ll be linking to the NT2A Studio Pack, which includes the Rode SM6 shock mount with a pop filter, as well as a long XLR cable.
I’ve been using the Rode NT-USB for a long time. I love that microphone. My headphones are plugged in the NT-USB, which is recognized as a dedicated output on my iMac (an output which I can choose in my Audio Hijack routing, more about this later).
Initially I purchased a very cheap suspension boom arm for my Rode NT USB, to free up some space on my desk. You can find multiple variants of the same item on Amazon.
Recently I decided to upgrade my setup and purchased the amazing Elgato Wave Mic Arm.
The Elgato Wave microphone arm is a sleek and streamlined design that features internal springs and integrated cable channels for a clean and organized look. The arm is fully adjustable, with a ball head and swivel base that allows for easy positioning and movement. The arm also has an extra tall reach, with a vertical reach of 750 mm (29.5 inches) to extend over most monitors.
An included riser elevates the arm by an additional 15 cm (5.9 inches) for even more flexibility. The arm also has a custom counterweight that can adapt to the weight of your microphone for the perfect tension. This versatile arm is the perfect addition to any streaming, radio or recording setup.
Rode recently unveiled a little brother to the NT USB, the NT USB Mini. I haven’t tested it but it seems very nice and looks amazing.
I’ve had the same headphones for the past 10 years.
A pair of Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro (the Golden Standard in most studios) and a lighter pair of Bose A2 noise cancelling headphones (they now sell a more expensive wireless version).
I was recently able to find replacement cables & ear cushions on Amazon for my vintage Bose A2 headphones 😉
You don’t have to break the bank to add a small USB audio mixer to your set up. I have a Behringer Xenyx 1002Fx which is just perfect (you could even get a cheaper one). It’s recognised as an audio source by my iMac (and by the software I’m using for audio routing, Audio Hijack, see below).
I plug my iphone to a stereo input (using the jack connection) to take phone-ins via Facebook Messenger of WhatsApp. The sound is very good. I also send my ipad to the mixer (I’m using Djay Pro on the ipad to play my jingles and music during live shows). I also have my spare Rode NT1 plugged to the USB Mixer (I use the Rode NT USB for my shows, see the Audio Hijack patch).
If you have some budget you might decide to invest in the cutting edge RØDECaster Pro II or the Zoom Podtrak P8, both are great choices for serious online radio DJs / podcasters.
👉 Bear in mind that those microphones are using traditional XLR inputs (not USB mics like my Rode NT USB pictured above).
The RØDECaster Pro II is the ultimate audio solution for today’s content creators. Whether you’re a podcaster, streamer, gamer, musician or content creator, this powerful all-in-one device delivers pristine audio quality every time. With four studio-grade combo inputs and ultra-low-noise, high-gain Revolution™ preamps, you’ll capture every detail of your microphone or instrument. And with studio-grade APHEX® processing, your audio will sound even better. Dual USB-C interfaces and advanced Bluetooth™ provide unmatched connectivity with computers, smartphones and other devices, so you can easily record, stream and share your content. It’s fully customizable with nine individually assignable channels, eight programmable SMART pads, and so much more.
The Zoom Podtrak P8 is a powerful and versatile podcasting studio that is perfect for recording, editing and broadcasting high-quality audio. The device offers 6 high-quality microphone inputs with phantom power, allowing you to connect and record multiple microphones at once. With 6 headphone outputs and individual volume controls, the Podtrak P8 ensures that each person in your recording session can hear themselves clearly.
One of the standout features of the Podtrak P8 is its 9 programmable sound pads, which allow you to easily add sound effects, music, or other audio elements to your recordings. The device also has Multi-Track recording for all inputs and sound pads, making it easy to edit and mix your recordings later. The onboard editing functionality (Trim, Split, Fade) is also a great feature that allows you to make quick adjustments to your audio without having to transfer the mix to your computer.
The Podtrak P8 also has a dedicated phone call channel for remote interviews, and an Automatic Mix-Minus function that eliminates echo and feedback during call-in phone interviews. This makes it the perfect device for recording and broadcasting high-quality phone interviews. Additionally, the Podtrak P8 can be connected to a computer via USB-C to transfer your mix and to use the device as an interface.
I’m an Elgato Stream Deck early adopter and diehard fan.
I‘ve been using it for a long time for live streams (to control OBS). It’s my tool of choice to switch my microphone on & off in AudioJack (I created an automation using Automator on Mac, which I activate in all the applications I’m opening during a radio show).
Note: I would have loved to be able to use the TC-Helicon Go XLR Mini on a Mac but it’s only compatible with Windows PCs (you can use Bootcamp but I’m not a Windows fan). It would have been a nice 4-fader controller for my audio sources. If you know any alternatives, please let me know.
I subscribed to the djay app Pro annual plan (£36.99/year) a few months ago to use the app for a Disco party and when I launched CMF Radio I started using it for all my live shows.
t’s great because it gives me instant access to my tracks and enables me to have my jingles at my fingertips. It’s the perfect tool for radio live shows, software with a hardware feeling.
You have multiple SaaS options to run your online radio station. CMF Radio is using Radio.co, based in Manchester, which is a great choice, packed with advanced features. We’re currently on their Bronze scheme which is more than enough for us. You will quickly outgrown the Lite plan, which only includes 2GB of media storage. CMF Radio is currently at over 6GB for 781 tracks incl. jingles.
The great features of Radio.co are:
You might shop around and explore other platform providers like RadioKing or RadioJar which offer a similar feature set. You’ll pay approximately the same price for comparable services.
The undisputed best application to manage the audio sources (& outputs) in your Mac is Audio HiJack. I used it all the time, for all my shows and also for my OBS live streams. As of writing, it’s $71 but it’s worth every single cent. I just couldn’t work without this software.
I create multiple flows which enable mix to mix audio sources, feed my headphones, send the signal to Radio.co using the Broadcast module and to OBS using a virtual output (with the Blackhole plugin). I’m also using Audio Hijack embedded MP3 recorder to record my live shows (which I then finalise with Audacity before uploading them to MixCloud).
It’s also compatible with the VST plugins I’m using on my iMac, incl. the amazing free plugin “La Petite Excite” which gives me a very nice radio voice.
I’m using two applications to design and process the audio snippets for my online radio station (liners, jingles, sweepers, promos,…)
Audacity (free) to convert & trim files (for instance the MP3 recordings of my live shows).
FL Studio to create my jingles, liners and promos. It’s not that cheap but it’s so powerful! (If you’re on Mac, you can also use the free Garageband)
I’m also using VLC to convert some file formats into mp3.
The best platform to post your replays as podcasts is MixCloud since it manages all the copyright clearance for the songs played during your shows (even in the free plan). You can now live stream radio shows / DJ sets using MixCloud is you’re on the Pro plan, which is a massive feature if you know the pain all DJs are facing trying to stream their sets on Facebook and Youtube.
MixCloud offers gorgeous players which you can easily embed on your website.
Most SaaS platforms designed to run your online radio station offer mobile app add-ons but these are usually quite expensive (and limited to a narrow use case). I’ve found a very nice nice platform which gives you the possibility to create and publish up to 50 Android apps for $8 per month: Andromo. I’ve used it to create the CMF Radio app which you can download on the Google Play Store.
This is also an add-on offered by most radio SaaS platforms but you can quickly create an Alexa skill or Google Action, for free, using Voiceflow which seamlessly connect with an Alexa or Google developer account. You can be up & running in less than 15′ if you follow their tutorials. You’ll have to submit your skill / action for moderation. There shouldn’t be any issue if you carefully follow the instructions. This will save you at least £60 per year.
I used Voiceflow for my FR Alexa Skill. I had created the ENG skill following another online tutorial, which you can find right here. It’s a bit more complex so I really encourage you to use Voiceflow.
You can listen to CMF Radio on any Alexa device by saying “Alexa, play CMF London“.
That’s all folks!
I hope that you learned something via this long blog post.
Please share it on social media if you think it might be useful for other online radio operators. And don’t forget to tune in on CMF Radio. We have some great music for you!
If you’re an artist, you can submit songs to our playlist.