All About Symbian - Nokia (S60) and Sony Ericsson (UIQ) smartphones unwrapped

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Old 05-01-2008, 04:30 PM
Menneisyys Menneisyys is offline
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TURORIAL: Listening to Sirius Radio on your handset

Now that I’ve published the Radio Stream Transcoding Bible (which has, in the meantime, been frontpaged by MoDaCo and All About Symbian!), I’ve received several questions and a lot of help requests on listening to Sirius streams on all mobile platforms (Windows Mobile, Symbian etc.) This article will surely help them a lot. (Note that I’ll also publish a similar article on XM Radio very soon).

Sirius Satellite Radio is one of two satellite radio services operating in the United States and Canada, along with XM Satellite Radio. It also has Internet streaming, which needs specialized clients because of the need for authorization. (Sirius’ streams aren’t free.)

1. If you have a Windows Mobile device...

... then, all you’ll need (unless you have VERY specific needs – more on them later) is SiriusWM5 downloadable HERE for free, for both Pocket PC’s (Windows Mobile 6 Professional / Classic) and MS Smartphones (Windows Mobile 6 Standard).

This app, which is just a front-end for either the built-in (Pocket) Windows Media Player, is really easy to use – you just fill in your official, Sirius login / password credentials in File / Settings (Guest accounts are disabled – don’t tick in “Guest”):



and, after saving this info, select the channel you’d like to listen to, enter the captcha text (alternatively, you’ll can also click Play (right softkey) and enter the number it says) and the playback will begin, with the song metadata (artist / title) displayed at the bottom of the screen, while the channel image in the top left corner.



Note that the metadata is only displayed in the GUI of the app, not inside the player:





Also note that, while you can use TCPMP to play back the stream, you may have a little less power consumption and a little quicker handset if you just stick with the default WMP. The reason for this is that TCPMP consumes about 4% more CPU cycles at 624 MHz than WMP when playing back WMA. Note that, fortunately, SiriusWM5 itself doesn’t contain about anything: when run in the background, about 0.1% CPU cycles and, in the foreground, with activated song metadata, about ~1%. (Again, on a 624 MHz Xscale PXA-270).

1.1 Additional goodies

In last September, the developers of SiriusWM5 started working on a vastly enhanced (and also XM Radio-compliant) version of the app. See for example THIS for more info. THIS thread may be also of interest: it elaborates on what the developers plan: transcoders running on the clients’ PPC’s etc:

1.2 When NOT to use?

If you have a Windows Mobile device, in most cases, SiriusWM5 will just suit you great. In some cases, however, you’ll want to use a transcoder to be able to listen to high-quality (!) Sirius streams over a slow GPRS connection. This is what SiriusWM5 can't provide - after all, WMA itself is useless when it comes to delivering quality sound at GPRS (read: 32 kbps bitrate at most) speeds. Then, you'll need to turn to a HE-AAC v2-capable solution.

2. uSirius-based transcoding

To be able to transcode Sirius on your desktop computer, you’ll need uSirius, which is a free download and is, in some respects (except for preserving the song metadata / other textual broadcast info), better than SiriusWM5. It’s available HERE; the latest, tested version is 1.0 Release Candidate 5.

Note that, in order to be able to access the high-quality, 128 kbps original streams, you need to subscribe to the CD-quality additional pack - currently for $2.99 a month. If you aren’t a subscriber, I don’t see much point in trying to running a local transcoder for you as that of SiriusWM5 doesn’t degrade the sound quality much – using a 32 kbps stereo WMA as can be seen in HERE, its sound quality is acceptable. As it’s transcoding a stream of already-degraded sound quality, you won’t get far better sound quality with a transcoder running on your device either.

However, Palm, iPhone, Blackberry and Symbian users, who don’t have a native front-end for Sirius, MUST rely on local transcoding. For them, the following three sections will be essential. As you’ll see, I provide you with an in all cases (even over NAT’ed connections!) working and fully remote controllable (you can listen to any of the original Sirius channels) solution.

2.1 Using uSirius

After you install and start uSirius, click the Settings button and fill in your username / password pair:



Press OK and click the now-activated Start (the mouse is hovering over it in the next screenshot):



Now, click the XBMC button (the fifth from the top) and select a target directory to export the local URL’s the streams of uSirius can be accessed at by the external transcoder tools:



and rename them to *.m3u:



(a Total Commander screenshot of doing this)

Now, you’ll need to change all occurrences of http:// to mms:// in all these files. You can do this by hand; however, if you prefer automatizing this task, download Replace in Files from HERE. Install it and let it start; quickly fill in the fields as in the following screenshot:



and press Replace All. You’ll be shown a success report:



You’ll need to import these m3u playlist files in the different transcoders – either Orb or Winamp. In the following section, I elaborate on both.
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Old 05-01-2008, 04:31 PM
Menneisyys Menneisyys is offline
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2.2 Transcoding with Orb

Importing the playlists prepared in the above way is pretty easy: as has already been explained in the Radio Transcoding Bible, right-click the Orb icon in the system tray, select Configure, go to Media and click Add in the Music folders group. Select the directory you’ve stored your M3U’s:



and you’re set – they should, sooner or later, turn up under Audio / Playlists / Imported Playlists on your handset.

2.2.1 If mass m3u playlist importing doesn’t work...

Note that the current beta version of Orb may refuse importing the M3U files for no apparent reason. If you in no way can make your files visible, you’ll need to manually add your favorite stations to Orb. This, unfortunately, involves a lot of work if you have many favorites.

To do this, go to the configuration Web page of Orb (by, for example, double-clicking the Orb icon in the system tray) and select Open Application / Audio:



In there, click “Internet Audio” and, when the new (top) context-dependent toolbar is displayed, click Add custom at the top (in the following screenshot, the mouse is hovering above it):



A new pop-up window, Add a custom channel, comes up; in there, you’ll need to fill in the station name you’d like to listen to and the local URL (to path). You can enter anything in the former field; to fill in the latter, you’ll need to do the following: in the uSirius client, click URLs (the third button from the top), select your favorite channel from the Channels drop-down list. Now, highlight the entire contents of the non-editable URL text area and right-click to access the context menu. In there, select Copy:



Note that you shouldn’t ever tick in the “Sonos / MPlayer Compatible URLs” checkbox. Then, you’ll be shown two external (as opposed to local; in these screenshots, 169.254.2.2) URLs; one of them, the MMS one, working only, but only resulting in a runtime, client-side error message like THIS. The local addresses (again, addresses starting with 169 like 169.254.2.2) will work just fine.

Note that you can do the same with the exported M3U files - just copy their contents to the clipboard. Then, you can entirely avoid having to copy all the URL's from inside uSirius.

Switching back to the browser instance running Orb configuration / maintenance, fill this info into the Path field of the Orb custom URL dialog (also fill in the “Name” field!):



Click Submit. After a quick test, it’ll be added to your Orb internet stream favorites.

Now, you can go on adding your favorites in the same manner; for example, the following screenshot shows the state after also adding Sirius 0 – The Bridge (in the foreground, I also show the uSirius URLs screen, ready for copying the next URL to the clipboard for a later import to Orb; in the background, you see the IE browser instance with the Orb configuration dialog):



Now you’re done (of course, you can still add additional Sirius stations); when you fire up your Orb client on your handset, you’ll already see the just-added streams under Audio / Internet Radio Favorites:


(VGA WM5 PPC)


(a Symbian screenshot of the same, with an additional station)

… and can start listening to it; a Symbian screenshot of this:



(Again, on Symbian, you can only use non-NAT’ed connections to access Orb.)

Unfortunately, as can be seen, the song metadata (the title / artist of the current song) isn’t displayed in either Windows Mobile or Symbian – unlike with the native WM client, SiriusWM5.

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Old 05-01-2008, 04:31 PM
Menneisyys Menneisyys is offline
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3. Non-Orb-based transcoding (Winamp)

Should you want to avoid using Orb for the reasons I’ve explained in the Radio Stream Transcoding Bible (no support for Symbian-compliant SHOUTcast; no support for the GPRS-friendly HE-AAC v2), your best choice is Winamp + the Oddcast plug-in. Then, you can dynamically switch between the stations (assuming you’ve added the local uSirius-generated URL’s to Winamp manually) with a Winamp remote controller (of which, again, there’re several – also for Symbian and Palm, if you use a Web-based controller) and can enjoy the advantages of Winamp + Icecast2-based transcoding as opposed to that of ORB, particularly if your handset is able to play back HE-AACv2 (currently, Windows Mobile handsets with TCPMP).



(click the thumbnail for the full-size image; it shows all components of the Winamp-based transcoding, including uSirius as the source, Winamp as the player, Oggcast as the transcoder, Icecast2 as the streaming server and a mobile client, CorePlayer, running in SOTi Pocket Controller, the, in my opinion, best, highly recommended remote controller for Windows Mobile)

Note that you can’t use VLC because uSirius just refuses to accept its incoming requests as can be seen in the following screenshot:



Unfortunately, in VLC, it’s not possible to modify the MMS user agent (unlike that of HTTP(S) – screenshot HERE and HERE of this, respectively).

You can’t use StreamTranscoderV3 either because it doesn’t accept MMS (WM) input, only that of SHOUTcast / Icecast.

3.1 Importing M3U files into Winamp

Importing the M3U files exported from uSirius into Winamp is, fortunately, much easier than with Orb – with guaranteed results. In the Media Library view, right-click Playlists and select Import playlist from folder:



Select the directory and all your stations become promptly available:



waiting for playing back / transcoding via, for example, the OddcastV3 plug-in.

Again and again, please DO read Radio Stream Transcoding Bible for more information on the secrets of transcoding and Winamp remote control so that you can have the same freedom of switching channels any time as with the Orb client or with SiriusWM5. You’ll find an answer to all your questions in there. Just keep trying to digest the vast amount of info I’ve presented in these Bibles – you’ll, finally, succeed, I’m absolutely sure
 

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