HD Sound for Radio 3
In a previous BBC Internet Blog post I discussed an experimental 'Extra High Quality' (XHQ) live internet stream of Radio 3 for the last week of the 2010 BBC Proms season. The experiment received very strong support from the Radio 3 audience, with over a thousand people completing the on-line survey.
We have listened to what you told us and at the Radio Festival in Salford today, BBC Director of Audio & Music Tim Davie is announcing that BBC Radio 3 will be available in the same 'XHQ' quality on an ongoing basis from the beginning of December. The service will also be available for selected special events on other BBC Radio Networks, starting with the Electric Proms on BBC Radio 2.
The service has a new name, rather than the 'XHQ' of the experiment it's now called 'HD Sound'; we feel that this will be meaningful to the audience without further explanation. Initially HD Sound will only be available for live streaming but I hope to extend it to on demand listening in the future. Unlike the XHQ experiment, the HD Sound Radio 3 stream will only be available in the UK I'm afraid, although we are looking at options to further improve the sound we offer to the international audience.
Initially the service will be available as an alternative to the normal iPlayer stream; you will be able to access it through a web page linked from the Radio 3 home page or from the home page for each special event on the other networks.
Providing the feed as an embedded player in a web page allows us to keep the iPlayer feed as it is for the present, whilst we gather more data on how well the HD Sound stream works for a wider range of audiences than we reached with the Proms XHQ experiment. We need to find out whether the higher bit-rate causes buffering or other reliability problems for people and whether the increased dynamic range is a nuisance for some listeners.
At present we use the same source of audio for HD Sound, the iPlayer and both terrestrial and satellite TV. This means that when we offer the full dynamic range through HD Sound we also broadcast the full dynamic range on iPlayer and TV too. We will gather audience feedback on this over the coming months as we don't yet know how audiences for different types of content on different platforms will feel about the increased dynamic range.
HD Sound on the internet is not the end of the story. We received a lot of feedback about other platforms and I am committed to exploring ways to further improve the audio we deliver to our audience on all platforms.
Rupert Brun is Head of Technology for BBC Audio & Music
- Director of Audio & Music Tim Davie wrote about HD Sound on the BBC Radio blog this morning.
- Read the BBC's HD Sound press release.
- Tim Davie, BBC Director of Audio & Music, launched HD Sound on the Radio blog this morning.
- Rupert wrote about the original XHQ experiment here in September and Gabriel Gilson, head of interactive at Radio 3, wrote about it on the Radio 3 blog.
- The picture shows Finland's Meta4 Quartet rehearsing at the Wigmore Hall, London, for a live concert on BBC Radio 3 in September 2009. It's by Steve Bowbrick.