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How much does a professional hardware solution cost, for streaming 8 audio channels to 100 concurrent listeners?

Do you have any suggestions on suitable solutions?

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100 concurrent listeners total? Or 100 per stream (800 total)?

100 concurrent listeners * 384kbps very high quality MP3 stream = 38.4mbps. You could do that on a computer from the late 1990's without breaking a sweat. I remember performance-testing servers back then and any 200MHz processor could saturate a 100mbps Ethernet. If this is all on one campus and your backbone/core has ~50mbps to spare (the rule of thumb is that if you over-provision your network links by ~33%, you don't need to mess with QoS), then save your money, just load your favorite SHOUTcast-equivalent MP3 streaming server on any box you have lying around and see how it does. Or better yet, if this is all one campus, and you have influence over network configuration, make sure they've got multicast working everywhere, and just multicast out a single stream.

If this is for streaming to unknown locations across the Internet, you'd need to make sure that at your colo or wherever this box is going to live, that you have guaranteed ~50mbps of dedicated bandwidth. Or see what someone like Akamai can do for you.

Let's look at the insane high-end possibility: 800 concurrent listeners at full uncompressed CD-quality stereo. 800 concurrent listeners * 44100 samples/sec * 16 bits/sample * 2 channels = 1.1gbps. Okay, I could see you needing professional hardware for that. And a super nice Internet connection as well. Actually unless this is just for listeners at one building or campus with a really nice backbone/core, you probably wouldn't want to source that all from one place, you'd probably want to pay someone like Akamai to host it for you. But I doubt you really need to go anywhere near that.

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You can start with buying a quality analogue to digital. Then connect this to a Mac Mini and capture/convert the streams to your preferred format(s). Use an internet connection that can handle 100+ listeners at your chosen bitrate. A Mac Mini has more than enough horsepower to encode the audio and server it as an IceCast stream.

Estimated Price: $2,500 hardware, $50 per month internet fees.

There are companies like StreamOn that will sell you a subscription to their services. If you mean "8 concurrent stereo streams," then you can buy 8 of these services. If you mean "8 channel surround-sound audio," then you are pretty much destined to go with the setup in paragraph 1.

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