Our 7 day Trial Experience With SAM Broadcaster Cloud - A Review -

As BestOfDance.FM is looking forward into the future we are looking for 24/7 streaming options and services on Cloud and virtual servers. As first option we tried Spacial's ( Spacial is manufacturer of SAM Broadcaster Software and Cloud Service) offer to use a 7 day trial with their Cloud Audio Streaming solution called "Sam Broadcaster Cloud".

Our major expectation: "Sam Broadcaster Cloud" handling is similar to previous "Sam Brodcaster" PC solution ... But we were wrong ! A total different cloud interface did not match any of our expectation - as the web interface is totally different. It is very clear after our trial that this new Cloud Version was developped from different people than the people from the PC solution. 

We had a look into the web: Even support in Sam Broadcaster Forum  was not able to give solutions for forum members because forum support had no glue about the Cloud version ...  BUT: Sam Cloud version is available since... I guess 2015 ? According Spacial  there are a lot of stations using Sam Cloud. But we don't believe that. Indications for wide spread software and solutions are lots of Forum activities, were we found a lot for Sam Broadcaster PC versions but not for the Cloud Version. Even Spacial Forum does show only a handful entrances, there is no main category present ... Additionally on Spacial's Facebook and Twitter account: Some comments about Sam Cloud cannot be viewed ... just try it for yourself to get them visible. Very mysterious.
Our inital thoughts were to give a detailed review for Sam Cloud version but we think we can reduce it because our definitive negative  summary lead us to minimize our feedback.
Let's Start our Review with SAM Broadcaster Cloud Audio :
What's important for a webradio ?
1) Good Music
2) Good Audio
For Option 1) we suggest the webradio operator will do his best for his listeners.
For Option 2) there is need to get the knowledge of dealing with the Audio configuration / settings within your broadcasting software.No big issue with SAM Broadcaster PC version as you have multiple choices to do so.
But: SAM Broadcaster Cloud is very limited - I will say it is impossible - to change anything in the Audio settings menue. What is sold as "Audio Setting Configuration" is nothing more than "Track Setting Configuration"! Just view the promotion video placed from Spacial on Youtube (which is the same as in our trial version) here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2c5zI365-k&t=3s   If watched: anthing found for Audio ?
Below is a screenshot of the "Audio Settings" Menue, Click for large picture.
For comparison of Audio output from both PC version and SAM Cloud listen / watch our Youtube Video below. The first Audio sample belongs to our BestOfDance.FM Stream. The sceond Audio sample is SAM Cloud audio output. Both samples are streamed with same streaming conditions and recorded with same settings to show the difference. As a background info: If you upload an audio file to SAM Cloud then this file will be atomatically encoded into AAC format ! Additionally all audio output is normalized according EBU R128 standard finally creating those lousy, muted, dynamic less audio output.

Despite all findings before, there are important QUESTIONS:

1) Who will use Sam Broadcaster Cloud ?

2) And: As a potential Cloud user: How do you get your music files (Don't forget: if you have a few thousands tracks, you will have a few GB data to be uploaded !)  to your Cloud Service ? Any suggestions how to do it from Spacial ?

ANSWERS to the questions before, we will begin with answer for the second one:
2) If you have few hundreds of tracks and more you will feel the upload pain if you do have a upload speed of a regular internet connection provider. So Question Number 1) is already answered as I don't believe a large amateur web radio station with thousands of tracks can do this. And, - important -, No solution is provided from Spacial to solve this upload problem.
Finally we will close our review here as all important questions and things needed for web radio operation have been monitored and failed.


Additional comments - made on Youtube - to this review:

Comment from Spacial to our Video:

As you are using a trial, the audio settings are unavailable but with the full version, you could try increasing the gain which in your video is at zero. The audio settings enable you to increase the gain by +6dB but if you raise a support request at http://support.spacial.com we can increase this further if you prefer. We would imagine the audio gain on the first player is set much higher than the second.

>>>> Our reply to Spacial:

Dear Folks from Spacial: Your comment above does simply confirm our findings ! Thanks. As the Audio output of a service like yours is an essential thing in Radio World it seems to be a joke to excuse lousy sound with a trial version and to have to raise a "support request" to get a proper standard Audio output as usual in other streaming solutions from your competitors in the rest of the world. 1) If you would have ever watched your own promotion videos and written documentation ! you would have noticed that your comment above describing "gain settings" are INDIVIDUAL TRACK settings and no overall setting. => So: Do we need to expect to adjust the gain of ten thousands of tracks ? in the full version ? No, Thanks ! 2) It's funny to must raise a "support ticket" to adjust audio gain settings. Why must we ? Because of the poor basic standard Audio output ! Even in the full version. (Just listen to some Sam Cloud Radio Stations in the web.) => This is a No-Go ! Your comment: "..We would imagine the audio gain on the first player is set much higher than the second..." 1) Answer: If you would have read my comment under our video stating "..audio samples were recorded with the same AAC Streaming settings both PC and Cloud version as well as the recording levels were the same.." Please note: It is not set higher in the first player, it's simply physics: Your sound. We know how to compare things in a legal way. [Tip: Different Audio signal levels create different loudness in recordings at playback. => Basic Physics. Additionally just read our tip below in 2) to compare our findings ]. 2) If Spacial would have ever listened to their crappy audio output compared to normal regular streaming you would have noticed the difference. As a helpful tip: Just listen some radio stations in TuneIn for example, you will will find Sam Cloud Stations easily ... Thank you Guys from Spacial but: BOD.FM rejects usage of SAM Cloud service.

Alex W wrote:

I confirm that there is a way to increase the global station level in Audio Settings, up to +6dB increase is possible. The problem, HUGE problem, is that when setting the master volume level at +6dB, as a consequence you lose Crossfading effect. This may be due to the fact that the Intersect cross trigger level cannot be set lower than -10dB (e.g. -5dB or -3dB), then the crossfade is triggered only when the song volume is very low, causing very late transitions and almost silent gaps between tracks. I tried explaining the issue to the support, but every time I open a case it looks like I know the system better than Spacial support team. It's unbelievable and really frustrating. I hope Spacial will read this comment and find a solution!!!

>>>> Our reply to Alex W:

Thank you for your feedback. You answer reflects very well our findings noted in our blog: That even Spacial members of support and forum do not have technical background knowlegde of the Cloud version. Secondly it is nuts and useless to use "EBU R128" audio standard in streaming as it's original intention was to be used in TV and FM Radio application to have a standard average loudness. So why is R128 used in the Cloud version ? Only heaven knows ...

Alex W responded to our answer above:

BestOfDance.FM my feeling is that they use it as an excuse to cover the fact that there is no dynamic audio processing in the cloud. The sound is flat like Spotify and other streaming services. The most frustrating thing is that sometimes you understand the possible cause of an issue and they could work to fix it starting from your suggestions but they don’t. And the answer is completely out of the context!



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