Sound Mill allows adding streaming media URIs (Web links) which can allow you to play Web radio, podcasts, music and other Internet content. Be aware that some Internet sites implement connection barriers to prevent their content from being streamed by non-approved media players.
There is no guarantee that Web streams will operate exactly the same as hard-drive based media. Network bandwidth and connection stability can be a factor. Suffice to say that Internet communications and data transfer introduce some extra complexities beyond that of local hard-drive access. You may find some streams that take two or three attempts to connect or will not connect at all. More on that below.
Streaming media is limited in terms of program features that will work. If the stream is well behaved (see Streaming Media Consistency section below), these Play Control buttons should work: Play, Stop, Pause, Resume . There are additional features in the Play Modifiers that may work depending on the media format. And some features such as Pause / Resume may behave differently based on the stream format.
Stream behavior and functionality can be very much hit or miss. Not all stream formats are created equal. That means that Stop/Pause/Resume may not behave the same way for different formats. Some stream formats will pause the stream feed and resume at the point it was pause -- not dropping any content. Other formats may simply drop any content that streams by while the program is paused.
In fact we found one test stream that did not even respond to the Stop button -- that Stream was stopped by Actions > Halt All Sounds. Apple formats were more prone to ill-behavior in our testing -- not surprizing since our media drivers are Windows based.
Load time will depend on multiple factors: Your computer's Internet bandwidth; The streaming media server's current user load (number of people hitting their server at a given time); media server's speed; and more. We also found some streams took two or three attempts to load -- by clicking Stop , then Play again.
There is a subtle difference between media files (ie MP3) that reside on a server and streamed content such as live Web Radio broadcasts. The MP3 file has an inherent length (time duration), where as the Web Radio stream length is theoretically infinity (no beginning or end). So program features that depend on having a known time length for the media may not work (ex. position scrubber bar) for the Web Radio stream.
You can make a playlist (Automation script) of Web based audio files and it should play fine. But avoid Script Steps that play Web Radio stream content (see Media Length section above). Those type of streams will not report end of media has been reached, so your script will continue to wait for an end of media signal indefinitely. Any subsequent steps in your script will not get executed.
We recommend that you first install the program in trial mode on your target machine to see how it performs. Feel free to request a 30-day evaluation key. There are many things that will affect performance: CPU speed and number of cores, hard disk seek/read speed, system bus speed, RAM memory speed, amount of RAM, operating system in use, OS services running, other programs running such as antivirus, and more.
One customer uses the program to pipe sound tracks to eleven (11) different zones in a Haunted Mansion venue simultaneously. The production machine is an old Intel Pentium 4 desktop computer with USB soundcards connected to a USB Hub. Sound Mill will take advantage of multi-core CPUs via threading. We have tested the program on a low end tower machine with Intel Pentium 4 CPU 1.6 Ghz, 768MB DDR RAM (memory) with bus speed of 266Mhz. There was no discernable degradation to sound quality on this slower machine and audio play was instantaneous when clicking the Play button.
One note on Netbook machines. If the Netbook comes with Windows 7 Starter edition (which is not supported by our products), you would need to upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium edition.
You may get a quicker audio start by disabling your anti-virus (AV) program during shows. AV may be scanning the Media File before it allow the program to open it. The same may be true of your firewall if you are playing Web streaming audio.
The following are limits and exceptions to normal operating behavior as described in the Help document.
Media Files that you download from iTunes (M4P file Extension ) are copy protected using a proprietary Apple Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. They cannot be played anywhere other than your iTunes player. If you upgrade to iTunes Plus (not free), iTunes allows you to download M4A files (non-DRM format, M4A file Extension ). We have tested and verified that M4A files can be played by Sound Mill -- verified on a test machine with the K-Lite codec package installed. There are other alternatives to "Convert from Apple iTunes Format" which you can find by Web search.