Author Topic: Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies  (Read 5693 times)

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Offline Goober

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Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies
« on: October 08, 2009, 12:55:31 PM »
Hi there. I\'ve been reading here for a while and using the facilities quite extensively. Thanks \'Kronalias\' for all your work; it\'s really very impressive.

I am a huge BBC fan (British and UK-based) and have been for decades! I am particularly impressed by the way the BBC, less encumbered by the need to make profits for its shareholders, has adopted such a pro-active approach to the new means of distribution and presentation of news and both audio and video programming.

I\'d like to jump in with my comments on the loss of (some of the) Real streams. Hope you don\'t mind a newcomer putting in his 2 penn\'orth! I have no inside information but have been following streaming stuff for quite some time and have a few thoughts on what\'s happening.

Real was (one of) the first into steaming technology and it ruled the roost for a number of years. When BBC started streaming it chose Real, one assumes on the basis that this would give the greatest number of people the opportunity to listen, especially as there has always been a free version available of the Realplayer (for Windows at least). The BBC stuck with Real through thick and thin and despite the fact that this format was being abandoned by other broadcasters in favour of other technologies. In particular, Windows Media Player files and MP3, AAC, OGG, FLV format streams (many using the Flash container which is the basis of the BBC iPlayer) have now taken the market away from Real.

On the premise that Real is a technology which is in decline the BBC has decided that it must offer other formats. It now allows its programmes to be heard/watched in a variety of formats. This page BITRATES gives some idea of the multiple video formats available, for example.

So you will see that the BBC is only following the market. I\'m sure this is the correct decision despite the fact that, sadly, it cuts down (and I\'m sure will eventually drop) support for legacy platforms which only support Real (some Nokia smartphones for example).

If you\'ve got this far, thanks for reading and sorry for being so long-winded. ;-)

I agree with those who say that VLC is very complicated for \'every day\' use. What you need is something like Realplayer which just pops up when you click a link in a web page (e.g. K\'s R2 example above) and plays the stream. You might like to look at Winamp which has been around for many years (and is still being developed) and has a free version. This will do what I proposed in the previous sentence.

You can get Winamp from HERE. Choose the version labelled \"full\" and \"FREE\" and click on \'download\'. Save the file to somewhere where you can find it again (I suggest \'Desktop\' is the easiest). Then install it from wherever you left it (if you used \'Desktop\' you will see it there, er... on your Desktop. I suggest you turn off (untick) all the \'extras\' as you install. Allow Winamp to load after installation.

You will then be presented with a screen called \'File Associations\'. Until you\'ve decided what else you want to use Winamp for (it can be your main music/video player if you like) I suggest you turn off (untick) all filetypes except for the following:

Winamp Specific Files - leave all ticked.
Audio Files - First, untick this whole group, then click on the \'+\' sign to open the filetype details. Then tick individually AAC, M4A and WMA.
Playlist Files - Untick the group, then open the detailed filetypes and tick ASX.
Video Files - - Untick all, then tick individually ASF, FLV, SWF and WMV.

Click through to the end (\'Finish\')

Now close Winamp.

Go back to your web browser, find K\'s R2 link above and click on it. It should open Winamp and play the stream... (seemples!).

Hope that helps somebody. If you all use Macs, I\'m Sorry I haven\'t A Clue!

Terry
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Offline Kronalias

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Re: Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2009, 04:53:18 PM »
This was an interesting and useful post (thanks Terry!) that was on another thread.

I\'ve ripped it from there and made it into a sticky as, when the Beeb kill off RealAudio they may offer something that doesn\'t need a Flash player.

There again they may not... If you know better, please post here!

Offline Goober

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Re: Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2009, 08:09:41 PM »
I feel honoured that you\'ve given my first post such special treatment, K.

I\'ve been doing some research to see if my assumption that Real would soon no longer be used by the BBC held water and I\'ve found this very important recent article:

BBC Statement on Real Streams

You may well have already seen this. I think it paints a pretty clear picture of where BBC streaming is going and confirms that the changes will take place much sooner than I expected. I was interested to see comments from other Beeb hacking wizards below the statement and it\'s good to know people who understand our needs are on the case.

Anyway, it does mean that, while it\'s currently only BBC local radio (and \'nations\' as BBC calls the regional stations) that have lost live Real streaming and no longer offer the ability to play programmes on demand other than via iPlayer, the writing is on the wall for *all* other Real streams (apart from World Service it seems).

I hope that long before the Real streams are removed, you programming experts are given the wherewithal to provide direct URLs (i.e. avoiding iPlayer) to both live streams and, probably more importantly, to the Listen Again schedules. The article appears to suggest that WMA feeds will be available for Listen Again. That will be a start but I\'d also like to see aac and/or mp3 streams. From what get_iPlayer (see below) dredges up it would appear that this is not beyond the realms of possibility. I would also be delighted if use of the awful Windows Media Player could be avoided.

I shall be watching developments closely and I urge other users of the Beebotron to do the same. Big changes are afoot.

Meanwhile, have a play with Winamp. It may be just what you need when your Realplayer stops working...

Terry

PS. K, I am indebted to you for your get_iPlayer helper. I\'d never have worked out how to get anything useful from it without your guidance!
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Terry

Offline Kronalias

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Re: Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2009, 05:10:10 PM »
Hi Terry

Thanks for the info!

That link is really good news. Real was going nowhere, and at some time it had to die. The good news is that the Beeb will make Live and Listen Again available via WMA. If and when this transpires then the Beebotron can continue as normal - it\'ll just be that when you click a link it\'ll open the programme in WinAmp (or, if you\'re that way inclined, Windows Media Player).

Hopefully it\'ll be just as easy on Linux, although I haven\'t tried the Linux port of WinAmp.

I don\'t think you\'ll ever be able to stream aac or mp3 files directly - these are provided as an RTMP stream in a Flash wrapper in the iPlayer - and I can\'t see the Beeb providing these as native streams, or at least not in the forseeable future. That means that to get streaming aac or mp3 you\'d need to go through some hoops, as in the following.

Aac, mp3 and get_iplayer. I don\'t know if you\'ve had a go at Phil\'s Web PVR Manager for get_iplayer - it\'s brilliant for downloading, but you can\'t stream either Live or Listen Again on Windows (basically because Windows doesn\'t support piping the output of one program into the input of another). You can, however, on Linux.

If you, or anyone else, has any other knowledge on when the Beeb intend to start providing WMA I\'d be really grateful if they\'d post!

Cheers, K

Offline Truthyness

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Re: Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2009, 05:34:42 PM »
Tho I understand little of the above :S, do know enough to see that when OMK expresses relief, the Collective can sit back and r-e-l-a-a-x!

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Offline Janaru

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Re: Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2009, 07:27:27 PM »
Terry, I really think you should consider posting on the R7 board about this. There quite a few Real listeners over there that will surely be caught unaware when this goes in force.

If you don\'t feel comfortable with that, perhaps you\'ll allow me to put an FYI there with a link to the article above?
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Offline Goober

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Re: Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2009, 08:24:26 PM »
Jan

I\'d be more than happy for you to put a pointer to this thread in the R7 board.

By way of introduction you should perhaps (without frightening anyone) let the R7 folks know that the BBC have now come clean on the demise of the Real streams and that by March next year (at the latest) they will all have disappeared.

This thread can then become a focus for news on what (new format) streams are becoming available over the next few months and what progress K and his colleagues are making in providing links to these so the likes of ourselves can get to all the programs as simply as we can now. No pressure K!

Also up for discussion would be the means of playing the new streams (which is where the likes of Winamp would come in).
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Offline Kronalias

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Re: Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2009, 08:26:20 PM »
I\'ll lob in another tuppenceworth...

WinAmp is a brilliant program. If you install it, like wot Terry said, and click one of the \'Possibly Worldwide\' live radio links in Beebotron Lite then off it goes.

But it\'ll do a lot more. I\'ve used it to shoutcast radio programmes that I\'ve downloaded around my house - it just needs a plugin... So before we get too complicated, let\'s just open the door to plugins - they\'re littlie gizmos that just enhance WinAmp.

WinAmp, by itself, is pretty good. As in excellent.

If you wished to practice with it - as it were, before Auntie goes WMA instead of Real, then you could do the following (this is for Windows - I\'m not too bright on Linux yet)... with a plugin!

1. Make sure you have Real installed, and that you can click on a Beebotron RealAudio link and it plays.
2. Go and install WinAmp in the way Terry described, toward the top of this thread.
3. Make sure that WinAmp works, by clicking one of the Possibly Worldwide Live Links that I mentioned above in this post.
4. Go and get Tara\'s Real Audio plugin for WinAmp. I\'ve just done a search for it and it\'s available HERE. It appears to be the same one that I\'m using - it\'s Version 1.0.3.b - and the copy I\'m using is up on the Beebotron download site, HERE. Take your choice... Mine works...
5. Download it and then doubleclick it to install.
6. Now go back and doubleclick a RealAudio link in the Beebotron, and it should play in WinAmp, rather than in the RealPlayer that you normally see.

Do be aware that the plugin is just a sort of kicker-offer to Real, so if you haven\'t got RealPlayer installed it\'s not going to work.

If you\'re not too confident about a changeover from Real to WMA in the future, then this is probably a good way to have a go and start learning about WinAmp.

WITH APOLOGIES FOR SHOUTING! If there\'s anyone out there who\'s not averse to messing about in Windows, and they have a go it would be really nice to hear if this works. Or comments on the problems they had. My idea was to try to make things easy for people who weren\'t too happy with messing about in Windows... And my PC is not exactly standard, so I\'d appreciate a hand here...

Cheers, K

[EDIT] Yup, I know, the \"Possibly Worldwide\" links should be renamed \"Worldwide\" links in Beebotron Lite, and I haven\'t put them into the main Beebotron yet... I\'ll do it i the next few days, honest... [/EDIT]

Offline Goober

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Re: Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2009, 08:49:24 PM »
Truthy

I too was pleased to note that K is confident the changeover can be managed without too much trouble.  ;)

You should however be aware that the Beeb seems to have used Local Radio as a testbed for this exercise and has failed (so far) to make any of the Listen Again streams available in the new (Windows Media) format!

These were available on Real in just the same way as the National broadcasts are. This means that I can now *only* listen to my local BBC station live; I have no access to programmes that I missed. But see note 1 below.

This doesn\'t augur well for a smooth switchover from RA to WM streaming of Listen Again material.

1. This is not precisely true as I can get to archived LR broadcasts via iPlayer. But do I want to...?
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Offline Kronalias

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Re: Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2009, 08:57:13 PM »
Arrgghhh - we were posting simultaneously! Doncha just hate it when that happens...

I completely agree with you - I suspect this thread could become extremely useful as a focus of:

1. What\'s happening
2. When it\'s happening
3. How people migrate - that was the purpose of the post that I posted at the same time as you.

I don\'t know how best to do this - nothing new there - but I know that a lot of people use the Beebotron to find out what\'s on, and then play it, record it, or whatever, in some other way. That\'s fine with me!

The site that gets hit hardest is, surprisingly (or there again, perhaps not!), the get_iplayer helper. Then it\'s Beebotron Lite, then the Beebotron main site.

Just to keep it easy on myself, I was musing that mayhap I could create another site as well -  Beebotron Lite WMA, where I could offer the WMA streams as they became available.

My gut feel is that people who like this site are... quirky... because the site is .... quirky... I know I have people in their eighties who use it, and also people in their thirties. Dunno of any younger ones.

The upshot is that I guess the majority of site users are not particularly worried about the hifi quality of the streams - they\'re more interested in the quality of the content. And, in all fairness, although Real has taken a severe slating for hifi-ness, it\'s been good enough for plays and other talkie stuff. Anyway, off we go to WMA, which is going to be good enough (better than Real?) to listen to on demand, and anyone who\'s picky can download the high quality audio and listen to it later.

It\'s all starting to sound pretty good to me! I\'m actually becoming quite excited about this...

Open to suggestions....

Cheers, K

Offline IvorThirst

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Re: Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2009, 08:58:36 PM »
Like Terry, I cannot access Local Radio programmes, not even via iPlayer. All that I get is \'Andy Whittaker: 09/10/2009 is unavailable at this time.
.       Ivor



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Offline Janaru

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Re: Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2009, 09:40:58 PM »
Thanks for that, Terry. I\'m having a sloooow brain day today, but I will put something together for posting on the R7 site tomorrow. I think the farther we can get ahead of this the better. My thoughts are to put a link to the article and to this thread, if R7 will let me, and at least a mention of it if they won\'t.

I think a WMA site would be great, K, if it\'s not too much trouble. This way we could see how the links are going to work in practical situations. We all listen a bit differently and it would be nice to have WMA Sandbox to play around in.

Again, I\'m really thankful you posted about this, Terry. It would have been a real blow without the heads-up.

My question? Why hasn\'t this BIG change been announced more over there, I haven\'t heard or seen anything over there and I\'m all over the place station and website wise every day. As much as I love the BBC this seems to be their biggest problem....lack of communication with the listeners....sort of ironic isn\'t it?
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Offline Truthyness

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Re: Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2009, 10:02:11 PM »
Sure is hun!

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Offline Kronalias

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Re: Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2009, 10:49:00 PM »
Quote from: Janaru
We all listen a bit differently and it would be nice to have WMA Sandbox to play around in.


Now that\'s a great idea - that would make it easier for me to find out how things work for people inside and outside the UK.

I still like the idea of a Beebotron Lite WMA site. A WMA Sandboxy thingy would be a good way to test things, get feedback, sort stuff, and then migrate bits into Beebotron Lite WMA as bits start working.

I\'ll open one up.

PS to Jan: I seem to remember a chat we had ages ago about Sandboxes v Sandpits... where you were trying to get me into trouble... again...  I think we\'ll stick with a Sandpit, ok?

Offline Janaru

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Re: Winamp - an alternative when RealAudio dies
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2009, 03:10:07 AM »
Yup, I\'d forgotten about that :)  I think you\'re right ;)
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