Why isn't AAC+ supported in the autoDJ?

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Recently we've been receiving an increasing number of inquiries from clients regarding support for AAC+ in the Centova Cast autoDJ.  In no small part, these have been fueled by claims made by the maker of a certain competing product (which will remain unnamed), purporting that they have developed the first autoDJ product ever to support AAC+ broadcasting.

These claims are not only misleading; they're a bit unfair to the rest of the ShoutCast control panel vendors on the market -- including, but certainly not limited to Centova Technologies -- who have made a commitment to delivering a stable, reliable customer experience.

To be clear, this competitor is not doing anything clever or innovative; they're simply using the well-known sc_trans v2 beta to provide AAC+ support.  sc_trans v2 is an unstable beta product that is, as stated by Nullsoft itself, not yet ready for production use.  

Contrary to its claims, this competitor's product is most certainly NOT the first control panel to implement sc_trans v2 support and the associated AAC+ autoDJ broadcasting capabilities.  We've been closely following sc_trans v2's development since its inception, and we added support for sc_trans v2 back in November, 2008, at least 3 months before this competitor.  We have not "pushed" sc_trans v2/AAC+ as a major feature, however, for three significant reasons:

  • sc_trans v2 is a beta product, and is not suitable for use on a production stream. It is known to crash, leak memory, etc., which is obviously not suitable for a professional stream hosting environment.
  • If you try actually installing it and using it, you'll find that it consumes a staggering 100MB of memory (or at least, it did the last time we tested it on beta drop 4 or 5). While that may be fine for small-time broadcasters hosting a single stream, for "serious" stream hosting providers with a number of streams on each machine, that is obviously impractical.
  • It is undergoing significant, fundamental changes with each new release.  We, and at least one other major control panel vendor, have made a decision to stop integrating new beta releases of sc_trans v2 because Nullsoft keeps dramatically changing how sc_trans v2beta works in each new beta release, rendering all of our past work useless, and forcing us to redo countless hours of work with each new release.
Note that none of the above is intended as a criticism of sc_trans v2; the fundamental purpose of a beta release is of course to find problems and add features, and Nullsoft are doing a great job of that.  But it's important to bear in mind that this is not a "Google-style" beta where a completely stable product is labelled "beta" for years on end; sc_trans v2 is marked as a beta for good reason.

As such, we maintain our position that sc_trans v2 will be promptly and officially supported when Nullsoft makes an official release.  We may even renew our experimental support for the beta releases when and if Nullsoft declares a feature-freeze and we can be reasonably assured that the sc_trans v2 architecture will remain stable.

In the meantime, "official" AAC+ autoDJ support is not possible because, to the best of our knowledge, sc_trans v2 is the only product available which currently supports it.  We will continue to monitor sc_trans v2's development and continue our efforts to seek out other alternatives, and at such time as a solution presents itself we will most certainly move forward with its implementation to deliver stable, reliable AAC+ autoDJ support to our clients.