The BBC has announced that it will be launching HD Sound, a high quality Internet only audio stream.
The first time we get to hear it will be for the Electric Proms later this month on Radio 2, while the corporation will be launching it officially in December with BBC Radio 3’s website the lucky recipient. Other special events will also get the HD Sound treatment, while the long-term plan is to integrate the stream into the BBC iPlayer and the websites RadioPlayer.
According to the Guardian, the bit-rate is 320-kbits, and while we’re awaiting confirmation of that from the BBC, this would make it considerably higher than either DAB, which offers 128Kbps for Radio 2, and 192Kbps for Radio 3. Platforms such as satellite, cable and Freeview offer more bandwidth but even these are limited to 192Kbps.
As the BBC admits though, you’ll need decent equipment to actually perceive the benefits of the higher bit-rate stream. In a statement the BBC said, “those using small speakers built into a laptop may not notice a big difference, but listeners with a computer connected to a good-quality sound system or high-quality headphones should be able to appreciate the extra clarity and detail in the sound.”
Tim Davie, director BBC Audio & Music, said in a statement: "HD Sound is an exciting development and a signal of our commitment to innovate in digital radio for the benefit of our listeners."
Hopefully, it will become the de- facto BBC standard sooner rather than later and that other broadcasters will soon follow suit, bathing our ears in fine quality sound.