[Icecast] queue-size

Milton Huang mph at emotrics.com
Tue Dec 21 22:33:12 UTC 2021


Thank you for your detailed and enlightening answers. Just to make sure I
understand how 'bitrate' works here. Assuming we are just working with
audio to keep it simple. Let's also ignore metadata, as my use case is that
I am generating an electronic music stream from ffmpeg and broadcasting
that using Icecast, so I can control/calculate that.  I presume that if we
specify `audio_bitrate` for a particular mount, that is a 'target' rate
that Icecast will attempt to transmit audio data at. You mentioned that the
actual rate can vary. Am I right to assume this is because it is dependent
on the source (ffmpeg) rate for filling the 'queue', which in turn is used
to fill each buffer of each connected client?

If so, wouldn't it generally be best for the mount `audio_bitrate` to be
set to the same bitrate that the source is generating/sending at?  I have
the option of generating and compressing my mp3 stream at either a fixed
bitrate or to use a LAME VBR setting, and from what I am now understanding
it seems that using a fixed bitrate could be better to avoid leading or
lagging the queue buffer.

Thanks for educating all of us!

On Thu, Dec 16, 2021 at 9:28 AM Philipp Schafft <
phschafft at de.loewenfelsen.net> wrote:

> Good afternoon,
> On Wed, 2021-12-15 at 13:40 -0800, Milton Huang wrote:
> > Hi all,
> > I just want to make sure I understand what the `queue-size` setting
> > does in icecast.xml. My understanding is that for each mountpoint, a
> > buffer of that size (default 0.5 MB) is maintained for serving to all
> > connected clients. Each client is fed from that buffer, and if their
> > connection lags so they can't keep up with the queue contents, they
> > get kicked with a 'client has fallen too far behind' message in the
> > log.
> That is basically right. However I would like to add that the default
> queue size is fine for audio streaming and may need to be adjusted for
> video streaming. If you see a lot of said messages in logs and you are
> using the default the problem is likely not the value but something
> else (e.g. the network being saturated). Or: If you think changing this
> value will help you, rethink as it likely is not.
> > I assume if we divide the queue-size by the mount's bitrate we would
> > get the duration of how slow a connection can be which is a limit on
> > possible latency of clients.
> This is wrong. Sadly a common myth.
> The 'bitrate' of a stream is generally 0) not constant, 1) only applies
> to the audio data, not the stream.
> as for 0) it can easily jump between 0.1% and 200% of the nominal value
> for many codecs.
> as for 1) the stream consists of more than just the audio data. E.g. it
> contains of framing, setup headers, and metadata. Metadata can easily
> account for the same amount of data than several seconds, sometimes
> minutes of audio data.
> Keeping this in mind a useful value of a bitrate for a stream needs to
> be calculated over at least an entire segment (track/song/title)
> including all of it's metadata and format overhead. Also as metadata
> may be very different for different tracks the value may still be
> 'jumping around' a lot.
> All of that said it is surely possible to create a stream with a more
> constant or foreseeable bitrate. But this is NOT the general case.
> So you calculation above may at best give a very rough estimation.
> > On the client side, there is an input buffer to help with poor
> > connections.
> The input buffer needs to be there independent on the connection
> quality, but what a good size for it is, depends mostly on the quality
> of the connection.
> > This will be filled at the initial connection with a burst-on-connect
> > if enabled in the icecast settings. There will be an initial delay in
> > play while the buffer is filled, which the burst should help reduce.
> This is perfectly correct.
> > Obviously, the burst-size has to be smaller than the queue size, or
> > you will defeat the purpose of the burst.
> This is not really true. The burst-size is a request to Icecast.
> However Icecast will not send exactly this amount of bytes as it needs
> to adhere external constrains. One of them is how much data it has. So
> setting this to an overly large value will just let Icecast send as
> much as possible.
> Other such constrains are format specific aspects such as setup headers
> and metadata, but also framing/syncing.
> As a small addition:
> Similar holds true for the queue-size. E.g. if Icecast has not yet got
> a full queue-size of data from a source the buffer is smaller.
> Depending on how the data is chunked (this depends on the version of
> Icecast, the format, the operating systems, the sources, the network,
> ...) the size might be slightly smaller or larger.
> Generally those values should be considered as requests and Icecast
> tries to work with them as good as possible.
> > Do I have this all right? Any comments or clarifications?
> Please see my comments inline. :)
> With best regards,
> --
> Philipp Schafft (CEO/Geschäftsführer)
> Telephon: +49.3535 490 17 92
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