Stream quality was exceptional for a 128kbps server. We streamed audio (in Australia) for an hour with no dropouts or buffering from users located in the USA and the UK. We tested a SHOUTcast V1 stream with a maximum of 100 listeners (which we had trouble filling, we don't have 100 friends unfortunately).
The control panel is a modified CentovaCast control panel skinned with the Stream101 logo. The panel features all basic features included in CentovaCast detailed below.
Stream101 includes 500MB of Auto DJ included with all packages (hooray!) and has excellent support methods including a knowledge base, email support, social media and more. Server having issues? More than likely Stream 101 is already handling it, that's what i'm talking about when it comes to their service.
Stream 101 has been in the game since 2002, that's a solid 12 years from the time of this review. Two streaming media gurus by the name of Tom and Marcus (who is one of our resident honchos in our community forums) kicked it off and have since made an excellent effort to stay on top of the stream hosting (and web hosting) market. If you want to see how Stream 101's support team can help you, just ask a question in our forums and more than likely Marcus will respond, that's the level of service Stream 101 offers.
Location & Streaming
This is where I like to have some fun, mainly because I can test out a server to its maximum capabilities by blasting some AC/DC (Yes, i'm Australian). On that note, Stream 101's servers are all located in New Jersey, USA using premium bandwidth. People often think, 'how can you class premium bandwidth?'. I can prove it, I am located in Australia, I can stream a 128kbps server on 85% listener capacity and get no dropouts within the three hours I stream. Trust me, premium bandwidth is worth it when it comes to streaming, that goes for all hosts.
Sadly Stream 101 only offers one data centre in the USA, no Europe/UK servers. That's usually a down side for European streamers, but go back and read what I said about premium bandwidth. You will not be disappointed.
In terms of streaming, it's as simple as turning your server on and streaming using your dedicated streaming software. No frills here. Centovacast really does things well, they make it so simple for the first time streamer and yet they keep the advanced features for the streaming gurus.
If you frequent some of my other reviews, you will find my major rant being that stream hosting companies don't differentiate the two types of panels. Those being the Client Portal (where you pay and see your billing stats) and the Media Control Panel (where you control the server and Auto DJ). Usually you sign up to a host, they say you can log in, you're excited, you log in, then all you see is billing information. You get frustrated.
Here's what I like about Stream101 that many hosts do not do.
That button in the top corner screams for you to click it. Not only that, but the welcome email directs you to that link. Huzzah!
But one major let down I have found with their website is that they don't easily list what comes with a server. They tell you what a SHOUTcast/Icecast server is, they tell you why you're paying them, but the only details about what comes included is AFTER the pricing where it mentions Auto DJ. The novice streamer doesn't know what typically comes with a server, nor what Auto DJ actually is, or how many songs 500MB could store.
Control Panel & Extras
On the topic of Auto DJ, Stream101 provides it for free with every server in all it's 500MB glory. This is a great opportunity to try it out for your station, if it's your thing, then upgrade your storage.
The control panel Stream101 uses is a modified Centovacast, it includes all the advanced features such as graphical statistics, real time updates, quick stream links, media handling (for auto dj) and server controls such as start and stop. Basically, it's all you need to run your station efficiently.
As usual, Centovacast also offers multiple DJ accounts (so DJ's located around the world can access your server to do their show without setting off a disaster!). One feature I love is Centovacast handling media files, for example, you upload AC/DC to your Auto DJ with correct metadata, it looks it up using Last.fm and displays the artwork. You can the use the widget to display that track and artwork on your personal website (which may or may not be hosted by Stream 101!).
Unfortunately Stream101 doesn't offer mobile apps for iPhone or Android, however it is fully compatible with the TuneIn Radio Application.
If you're looking for premium bandwidth in the USA for a reasonable price and you're comfortable with SHOUTcast V1, then Stream 101 is an option well worth considering. Support, features (Auto DJ!) and reliability are all key factors worth considering when shopping for a stream host and Stream 101 fulfils these three criteria perfectly.
It's sure hard searching through a never ending array of hosts but Stream 101 makes the search easier and certainly more affordable. Rest assured, you'll be a smiling streamer at the end of the day with Stream 101.