Tech Rap: What’s An Aggregator?
Recently, UK-based Internet radio station aggregator Reciva went out of business, rendering tens of thousands if not millions of Internet radios around the world unable to play any Internet radio stations. Unfortunately for the owners of those radios, there was no way to switch to a different aggregator, as such a significant work around would have required both software and hardware changes.
When we were developing our first Internet radio back in 2008 at our previous audio company, we evaluated the Reciva solution extensively for weeks. The Reciva staff were very supportive and responsive, but in the end, we chose a different solution mainly because the Reciva UI proved agonizingly slow. Those Internet radios still work to this day.
Some concerned customers contacted us inquiring whether their Como Audio music systems would be impacted by Reciva’s demise. I am happy to report that our models rely on Airable as the station aggregator, not Reciva, so none of our models were impacted. For many, this was their first introduction to station aggregation, and it was baptism by fire. I thought this an opportune time for an exclusive Q & A with Como Audio’s Internet radio station aggregator, Airable.
Your Como Audio music system draws from the over 59,000 free Internet radio stations in the data base. The data base must be continuously updated and the stations maintained and that is where Airable comes in. Based primarily in Nettetal, Germany, Airable has been around for over a decade. Airable’s Vice President of Product Management, David Litt, has personally been in the business for more than twenty years. Litt took time out of his busy schedule to address my questions for Tech Rap.
PS: For those who do not know, what does an Internet radio station aggregator do?
DL: “We organize, categorize, test [Internet radio and podcast] steams, so we are able to distribute the data for many different products with unique playback or curated requirements.”
PS: How is Airable different from other Internet station aggregators?
DL: “Responsive to user feedback, and station feedback. We automate much of our testing but have our editors review the results. We also aggregate other content services such as TIDAL, Deezer or Amazon…”
PS: What is the most common question or issue you get?
DL: “New station requests are the most common…Station requests are generally handled in one day.”
PS: If an Internet station that previously tuned fine but no longer loads and plays, what is the typical culprit?
DL: “The streaming server going temporarily bad is the most common issue, as stations usually come back within a day. The link may have also changed which involves reviewing the station’s web site for updates. We are in a better position now, in that stations usually reach out to us before stream changes are made. The more frustrating issue is when a station moves to a codec or protocol that is [not] supported…”
PS: Why don’t more stations stream using the better-sounding AAC or WMA audio codecs?
DL: “AAC is heavily used, and comprises about 30% of all streams. MP3 is about 70% of all streams. Compatibility is a big factor in choosing what codecs are used…and MP3 is an easy way to know your station will work everywhere.”
PS: What are three Internet stations you personally listen to on a regular basis?
DL: “I prefer freeform and Jazz radio, so I listen to WFMU (US), DR P8 JAZZ (Denmark), and Radio Panik (Belgium).”
PS: Is there a type of Internet station you personally would like to see that does not exist?
DL: “Yes, a station for improvised Music/Chamber Jazz/Avant-Garde Jazz. I should probably make it myself.”
PS: In your view, what is the best thing about Internet radio?
DL: “People will often say it is the variety of choice, as you can get different perspectives from news from outside your country, or listen to different genres around the world, but people in general listen to their local stations, and a few internet-only music, and some foreign stations. I think it is the ability to find what you want (what is familiar). Internet radios allow you to listen without worry about static, and offer it in higher quality than over the air. I do not want to discount discovery of stations around the world. Western Rock/Pop is ubiquitous and you will hear the same songs across the world, but there will also be local bands, or trends that will sound fresh…”
Should you ever need to report a problem with an Internet radio station or podcast, or would like to suggest a new station or podcast be added to the data base, you can open a ticket with our station aggregator using this link and report the issue or request the new station/podcast be added.
New station requests are typically added within 24 hours. Note not all stations/podcasts can be added due to codec compatibility, streaming license restrictions, etc.
Once added, scroll down the Station List menu and select “My added Stations” to find the new station, and/or find the station by searching for the station by location, genre, or station name.
On The Move
As of this month, Recommended Stations has moved to www.recommendedstations.com, where you will find my latest recommendations. There is also a contest you may wish to participate in.
I have been writing Tech Rap articles for the Como Audio blog for three years without a break, so Tech Rap will be on hiatus next month. I will see you back here in November with a brand-new Tech Rap. I cannot believe I just used the word “November” already.
As always, thank you for being a loyal Como Audio Tech Rap reader, and keep enjoying the music.
Harry Connick Jr
Jerry Lee Lewis
Como Audio General Manager Peter Skiera lives in southern MA, worked in radio broadcasting throughout New England, and also worked for Cambridge SoundWorks, B&W Loudspeakers, and Tivoli Audio for 15 years before joining Como Audio as V.P. of Product Development. In addition to Tech Rap, Peter also writes for his pwn blog, www.RecommendedStations.com. He can be reached directly at email@example.com