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HD Sound Coming to BBC Online Radio


HD Sound Coming to BBC Online Radio

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.

Martin Daler

October 18, 2010, 9:47 pm

is this available only via a computer running BBC iPlayer, or will it work via an internet radio, such as you reviewed on TR (like Pure Evoke or Roberts 83i). It would be a shame if radio is migrating off the radio onto the PC.


October 18, 2010, 9:59 pm

Lets cross our fingers this will be quickly available on the Sonos music system...


October 18, 2010, 11:11 pm

I don't get all the DAB bashing that goes on...sure the quality isn't amazing but 128k is enough for casual radio listening. I also love the fact I can pause, rewind, and record through my Pure Digital hifi. For me, it is certainly better than the rubbish reception and static I got with FM. I'd be interested to hear your side of the story though :)


October 18, 2010, 11:28 pm

HD? My arse.

Guessing they'll be giving us freeview at decent bitrates next and calling tha HD too ..


October 19, 2010, 12:38 am

Great to hear (!) but there's no point if the audio's dynamic range still gets fed through a compressor so it suits FM and DAB broadcasts. Do we have any information to tell us this won't be the case?


October 19, 2010, 2:18 pm

Linn has provided for quite some time a 320kbps service for its excellent 3 channels Linn Radio, Linn Jazz and Linn Classic.

Best sound I ever heard from a radio either on air or on line.

Still, it does not quite match my lossless home music server, but on the go it is smashing!


October 19, 2010, 2:28 pm

@Orinj Maybe the fact that this audio will be via the interney only will mean that broadcast compression doesnt happen. It should be unnecessary.

Nick G

October 19, 2010, 5:41 pm

> "Could this mark the death kell for DAB?"

Er no. You clearly don't understand what DAB is. You can't listen to online music in your car or while walking around and requiring people to listen via DAB when they're already on your website is pointless. There's no crossover or competition between the two formats. If you don't understand what you're talking about, please don't write articles about it. DAB is for broadcast.

Martin Daler

October 20, 2010, 1:57 am

@ Nick

A little harsh? Anyway, most Internet Radios receive both DAB and IR. Twin sources but only one output, ergo "competition between the two". Certainly that is my experience, where I listen to whichever source gives me the most reliable and convenient listening at the time from my internet radio.

I take your point that IR may not be feasible for cars - all the more strange how slow manufacturers are to install DAB radios in new cars.


October 20, 2010, 4:40 pm

@Nick - well my Nokia has an internet radio app, and iPlayer, and I've got fairly good 3G coverage on the way to work, so it is possible to listen over the internet in the car, on Symbian at least.


October 22, 2010, 1:49 pm

Poor quality of DAB was always a consequence of sacrificing quality for quantity and of using an outdated compression technology... The move is most welcome, but why limit HD Sound only to streaming? And I bet the RadioPlayer will be as restrictive and iPlayer when it comes to recording and keeping the recordings... My question is: why not HD Sound also on Freeview, Freesat and Sky (and possibly even DAB)? Radio 3 certainly deserves better quality and not everybody has access to sufficiently good internet connection...

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