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HD Sound for Radio 3

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Post categories: %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/radio_3/" rel="tag" title="">Radio 3%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/radio_3/" rel="tag" title="">Radio 3

%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/rupert_brun/"> Rupert Brun%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/rupert_brun/">Rupert Brun | 10:43 UK time, Monday, 18 October 2010

%3Ca%20href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/bowbrick/3920046474/">Meta4 Quartet from Finland rehearsing at the Wigmore Hall for a live concert on BBC Radio 3.

In %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2010/09/bbc_proms_extra_high_quality_audio.html">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 %3Ca%20href="https://www.radioacademy.org/events/radio-festival-2010/">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 %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/electricproms/2010/">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 %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio/2010/10/launching_hd_sound.html">on the BBC Radio blog this morning.
  • Read the BBC's %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2010/10_october/18/hd_radio.shtml">HD Sound press release.
  • Tim Davie, BBC Director of Audio & Music, launched HD Sound %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio/2010/10/launching_hd_sound.html">on the Radio blog this morning.
  • Rupert wrote about the original XHQ experiment %3Ca%20href="%3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2010/09/bbc_proms_extra_high_quality_audio.html">here in September and Gabriel Gilson, head of interactive at Radio 3, wrote about it %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio3/2010/09/listening-to-the-proms---the-i.shtml">on the Radio 3 blog.
  • %3Ca%20href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/bowbrick/3920046474/">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 %3Ca%20href="https://www.flickr.com/people/bowbrick/">Steve Bowbrick.
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  • Comment number 1.

    Good news from the BBC. Could this mean that the BBC is begining to see that technical quality matters. Lets us hope it can be extended to all the radio channels.

    It about time to abandon the legacy DAB radio system and replace it with a system capable of producing this sort of quality.

    I have an Android phone and the only way I can get BBC radio is using iplayer on my browser set to non mobile mode. Please can the BBC extend the mobile version of iplayer to include live radio.

  • Comment number 2.

    Unalloyed good news! Of course,compression has its place in aiding listening in difficult(often portable or mobile)environments. This is the first effort to get way from a lowest common denominator approach which has too often cited platform neutrality as an excuse. Full dynamic range may be a shock to some(stand by for irate remote control twiddlers)but many will thrill to the fuller aural palette. This will go a long way in restoring faith in the BBC's technical leadership.

  • Comment number 3.

    HD audio is 96 kHz. If it's less than 96 kHz, you are not allowed to call it HD.

  • Comment number 4.

    To respond quickly to the important point made by "spongbros", we are calling the new service HD Sound because both HD Audio and HD Radio are already "taken".

  • Comment number 5.

    Well as a result of pleasing Radio 3 listeners,BBC Local listeners find their live streams reduced from 128 aac+ to 96 aac+ & listen again remaining at 80k mp3 to budget for these moves.

    I pay my licence fee to get improvements for me not for others.

  • Comment number 6.

    It is VITAL that the 320k stream is available on platforms other than just web browsers.

    I'm talking here of audiophile digital stream players from manufacturers such as Linn, Meridian, Naim, Sonos etc.

    The stream will therefore need to be available via radiotime.com and not just the iPlayer as the AAC+ streams are at the moment.

    This innovation is pointless otherwise.

    Looking forward to it - especially for 6 Music.

  • Comment number 7.

    Like most others commenting so far, I applaud this development. I am though a little worried about the apparent equivocation re. dynamic range, however. I wonder whether a downloadable program might be authored which would offer variable dynamic compression at the receiving computer? Something vaguely analogous, that is, to the Dynamic Range Control (DRC) associated with DAB digital radio.

  • Comment number 8.

    "Unlike the XHQ experiment, the HD Sound Radio 3 stream will only be available in the UK I'm afraid" - Little England lives what!

  • Comment number 9.

    Its great news. Thanks BBC.

  • Comment number 10.

    Thank you BBC, I am lookingforward to the improved sound thatwe had in the last week of the Proms. bws salymap

  • Comment number 11.

    Looking forward to its launch and hope it will soon extend to listen again, thank you BBC.

  • Comment number 12.

    Absolutely delighted with Radio 3 320k. It works very well indeed on my Squeezebox audio streaming equipment and finally makes me feel that digital isn't too backwards a step from FM. Many thanks.

  • Comment number 13.

    I congratulated you on the XHQ experiment in your last Blog, asking for more, and applauded it in the survey. Now you make HD audio full time, for Radio 3 at least but you deny it to your overseas listeners. There are many UK Forces personnel serving abroad. I think it's grossly unfair to deny them the service enjoyed by a domestic audience. You proved in the experiment that you could deliver this fine sound overseas, as I told you at the time. Why not make this method of delivery permanent for all, regardless of location?

  • Comment number 14.

    Congrats to those of you who will be able to enjoy this higher quality sound. It pretty much rules out any further listening by me to one of my favorite classical music stations, BBC3, since many other sites, especially in The Netherlands and Switzerland, broadcast this kind of music at a much higher bitrate than the BBC. Aside from the low bitrates, the 48 kbps stream was very unreliable last Proms season, and I almost always had to resort to the 32 kbps "Listen Again" stream for the programs. Seems a shame to have to listen to such excellent music on such an inadequate stream. BTW, the experimental 320 kbps stream was much more reliable and I only recall a few short gaps but don't recall ever losing the complete stream.
    I am slightly encouraged by Mr Brun's statement that "we are looking at options to further improve the sound we offer to the international audience." Many of us overseas listeners have been petitioning the BBC to offer a subscription service whereby we may pay a fee for better bitrates, which so far has been unsuccessful. Various reasons have been given for this, such as "rights," so here we are.
    Anyway, any further listening to BBC is pretty much out of the question for me at these bitrates given the alternatives available, and I suspect I am not alone among the international audience. Perhaps there will be improvements in future, and perhaps they will find a way to broadcast at a higher quality during the next Proms season, but failing that it's the Dutch and the Swiss for me.

  • Comment number 15.

    In response to l6m, I fully agree that the stream needs to be made available in a format that can be decoded by HiFi IP connected devices. However, there are at present very few such evices that can handle 320kbps AAC (I have heard of only one). Of course, the presence of the stream will encourage such suppliers to start to produce capable devices.

    The iPlayer HD stream will be an important second step however as there are several Home AV devices (TV's etc.) that now have it built in as standard. For example, my Sony Blu-Ray player can decode BBC Radio iPlayer streams, which can then be piped via SPDIF to my Amp. This sort of arrangement would open HD radio up to many more people who would be scared off buying a standalone player.

  • Comment number 16.

    FAO Rupert Brun

    I am registered hard of hearing and have a pair of NHS but expensive digital hearing aids.

    I understand that these only give max of 5mhz and also cut out lowest sounds because technology standards are still based on old telephone standards.

    Is there anyone creating HD quality sound for the hard of hearing?

  • Comment number 17.

    Wonderful news! Congratulations to Rupert Brun and the team for doing the initial XHQ experiment, reporting and acting upon all of our responses. My sympathies to overseas listeners like BillyR (hey Bill, don't forget the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall!) but be patient, things may well develop as the technology settles in and the audio producers learn from its implementation. As for those who want it on other platforms - use a laptop/DAC for now and wait and see. The Berlin Phil DCH also runs at 320 AAC (probably the only other classical streaming service running at this level of quality, so well done Rupert!) and it has been very successful, despite (or because of) only being available via a web page (and requiring payment!).

    I will now be looking forward to BBCSO at the Barbican, or the Halle at the Bridgewater, every bit as much as I currently do for the Berliner Philharmoniker on Saturday nights! Let's all welcome it very warmly and enjoy the heck out of it! The darkest days of winter now look a little less grim.
    Jayne Lee Wilson, Liverpool UK

  • Comment number 18.

    HaHa. I'm sure, JLW At 01:14am on 20 Oct 2010, that you saw my post just below yours on the Radio 3 Performance messageboard, and as you saw from my post here my exhilaration was short-lived! I do hope that BBC 3 will find a way to upgrade the international stream to the point that it will do a bit more justice to the fine music they broadcast, at least by the next Proms season. If not, I'll just enjoy all the other high bitrate options available.

  • Comment number 19.


    You are too good to be true - Thank you for following this through.

    Christmas will come early this year.

    Many thanks

  • Comment number 20.

    Why do we only have classical music fans at the BBC?

    I find it shocking that my favourite show on BBC London on a sunday with Tony Blackburn has been downgraded to 96 aac to pay for BBC radio 3 going 320k aac.

    I pay licence fee like everybody else who loves Radio 3.

    I also have my pc connected to Hi-Fi so require good sound.

  • Comment number 21.

    Am I being deceived or is the 320Kbps service already running on Radio 3? Right-clicking on the player window certainly shows "320kbps | aac | AK" and it sounds great.

    If this becomes the norm for streaming, even those who extol the virtues of FM will be won round.

    Very many thanks BBC for reaching excellence in one department. Now please reform DAB!

  • Comment number 22.

    Actually, I would prefer that the BBC upgraded the sound quality of DVB channels before reforming DAB - purely selfish, of course!

    I pay a small fortune to Sky so that I can receive Sky Arts in HD. The startling clarity of the picture and fantastic sound provided knock BBC's offerings into a cocked hat. Come on, BBC, you used to be in the forefront of quality broadcasting. Now that you've made a start in radio, perhaps you can catch up with the rest in television.

  • Comment number 23.

    Great news. I have been looking for the access page and any tests so I can set the system up for listening. Have I just not found it?


  • Comment number 24.

    Try this:


  • Comment number 25.

    Thanks James but I don't think this is the place. For the previous Radio Three trial, it was:-
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    Now in error.


  • Comment number 26.

    Whatever it was at the trial it can now be reached at the url above or at:


    I don't think it is available anywhere outside of iplayer. Either address works fine through a web browser. I am not familiar with internet radios so how it works with them I don't know.

    I have it working at this url on my Playstation 3. The 'console' does not work as it seems to require Java which the PS3 doesn't have. However, the PS3 does have a Toslink digital output so I can hear the best that Radio 3 has to offer through my sound system.

    I would be delighted to know why the 320AAC output is confined to iplayer. It means that only computers can access it. This is not the future of live streaming. It needs to be available to other devices via a straightforward url.

  • Comment number 27.

    Thanks everyone for the feedback. As James McCosh noticed, we’ve been experimenting further, and you were indeed getting Radio 3 at 320kb/s through iPlayer. We will be undertaking more tests over the coming weeks as I want to get the HD Sound stream available in iPlayer as soon as possible.

    I agree with those who have posted messages to the effect that we need to make this service available through the various aggregation portals used to feed WiFi radios and other IP connected devices. There are two main areas of work. Firstly, AAC in a Flash wrapper, as used by the iPlayer, is difficult for some devices to handle. Secondly, the portal managers are not accustomed to streams which exist for only a short period, as we propose to do for special events. Getting the stream onto the portals is part of the process, linking the metadata to make the concerts findable is also an important piece of work.

    I can’t make the HD Sound feed available internationally at present I’m afraid. The domestic services of the BBC (including Radio 3) are funded by the UK license payers and they are the first priority. Having said that, I do understand that there is a potential international audience for high quality services, especially for Radio 3 and it’s an area I’m going to look at.

    I would like to underline that this isn’t just about classical music – we will make Radio 3 permanently available in HD Sound because a large part of their output is live or specially recorded music. HD Sound isn’t just “normal” radio coded at 320kb/s AAC-LC. The entire signal path has to be of suitable quality, with carefully managed levels and wide dynamic range. Over time we will use HD Sound for a variety of special events covering a range of genres. I’m very pleased that we launched HD Sound with the Electric Proms, three concerts featuring Elton John, Robert Plant and Neil Diamond on Radio 2, as a clear indication that this isn’t only about classical music.

    Rupert Brun Head of Technology for BBC Audio & Music.

  • Comment number 28.

    To mop up around some of the comments, mainly regarding people physically located outside of the UK - I just want to be clear:


    *) Radio 3 UK listeners can hear a 48kbps HE-AACv2 or a 192kbps AAC-LC. The 'HD Sound' service is a 320kbps AAC-LC stream. All of these are, as Rupert commented, provided in a wrapper that allows playback in a Flash client.

    *) Radio 3 non-UK listeners can hear a 48kbps HE-AACv2 stream. There is a review of this offering currently happening.


    *) Radio 3 UK listeners receive a 48kbps HEC-AACv2 or a 192kbps AAC-LC version depending on their bandwidth, or they have chosen to listen to 48kbps.

    *) Radio 3 non-UK listeners can hear a 48kbps HE-AACv2 stream.

    It should be noted that, although the bitrate level of the 48kbps HE-AACv2 is low, the quality output is the best we can get at that bitrate. HE-AACv2, a.k.a. aacPlus, uses a combination of Spectral Band Replication and Parametric Stereo to achieve this. So - any encoding profile needs to be a balance of the bitrate and the codec that is available for the target devices.

    For more detail about HE-AAC family of codecs: %3Ca%20href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-Efficiency_Advanced_Audio_Coding">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-Efficiency_Advanced_Audio_Coding

    Please note that our existing work has been around Radio 3, and our recent testing for the Radio 2 coverage of Electric Proms, we are doing this one radio network at a time as each configuration of audio processing and profile tweaking needs to be done taking into consideration the overall audio output of that radio network.

    Regarding the requests about other devices getting higher-quality streaming, to bolster what Rupert has passed on to you - I can tell you that we are working on this and the minute we launch anything we inform many of the manufacturers in this space, including the third-parties that power the devices.

    Regarding why Nations and Local services don't currently match National Network outputs on iPlayer - this is to be reviewed.

    Alan Ogilvie
    Platform Manager, BBC

  • Comment number 29.

    Regardless of how many times you use the prefix "HD" in front of this offering, a service streaming at 320kb/s, irrespective of which codec employed or how you cache it in technical jargonese, is not, by any stretch of the imagination, "high definition" sound. Nor is claiming, as those who do when extolling the virtues of compressed music delivery, that it sounds as good as CD (which bluntly it doesn't), as the entire rationale behind any HD claims for sound quality should be that it delivers quality "better" than CD. In this instance it is clearly not the case. Therefore using the "HD" moniker is, at best hyperbole, at worst, patent nonsense.

  • Comment number 30.

    Firstly, a brief response to Coup Attempt. The 320kbps aac-lc stream is one Hell of a lot higher definition than DAB/Freeview/satellite (192kbps mp2 at best for BBC radio) or FM (Optimodded, top cut to 15kHz, and NICAM (14 bit quantisation at best) carried to the transmitters). No, it's not 192kHz sample rate and 32bit quantization, so it's not "HD Audio™". I have no problem with the Beeb's use of the moniker "HD sound" however. As it happens, for much classical music with quiet or tacet passages, 320kbps is pretty close, of sometimes even above, the data rate of a 44.1kHz 16 bit derived FLAC of the same material. Frankly I would suggest that those who believe themselves to be able to hear an improvement audio quality when switching to the CD in an A-B test between a CD of, say, a Beethoven string quartet, and a 320kbps lossy aac-lc stream derived from that CD, are kidding nobody but themselves.

    Now, to my main concern. I have noticed quite a few occasions when the 320kbps aac-lc stream bombs out and I get left with silence. I don't think this is down to my Internet connection (Virgin Media cable modem with nominal max. 20Mb rating). I thus find myself resorting to the 192kbps aac-lc on demand facility to get uninterrupted listening. What, if any, plans are there for 320kbps aac-lc on demand at some stage?

  • Comment number 31.

    Even if we accept your (debatable) point about compressed music ripped at 320kb/s as being "as good as CD" then how, in itself, does this support the "HD sound" claim? Unless, of course you are suggesting what the BBC are offering is somehow "better" than CD and is in fact equivalent to the high resolution audio available on either SACD or DVDA. Which, as I've already said, is patent nonsense.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hi, not sure if my post got missed, but it is a serious question. Is anyone working on the complete "supply chain" so that hard of hearing people do not lose out on the quality of sound that is becoming available because the available in ear delivery mechanisms may not be to equivalent qualities?

  • Comment number 33.

    RNID note there are nine million deaf and hard of hearing people in UK.

  • Comment number 34.

    Ironically, I suspect these improvements will cause a significant loss of the international audience, as the inadequate (and unreliable, at least during the Proms) 48 kbps stream seems even more anemic by comparison. And if this stream is still as unreliable as it was then, the 32 kbps "listen again" stream is even more anemic by comparison. I say "if," because I haven't listened to BBC3 since the Proms, and don't intend to resume unless and until the stream quality has been significantly improved. And for about the 500th time, I and most of the international audience are willing and eager to pay for this service if some means can be devised.

    As for all the niggling about whether 320 kbps is "HD" or not, I am currently listening to Avro Klassiek Light Classics at that bitrate, and to my non-expert ears, that sound is as good as I hear from my CDs.

    I'm slightly encouraged by Mr Brun's and Mr. Ogilvie's comments that improvements to the international stream are under review because if not, for better or worse, BBC3 will be almost exclusively heard in the UK, and the rest of us will be listening to Switzerland, The Netherlands, Germany, etc.

  • Comment number 35.

    To answer Clive Durdle’s important point about improving the experience of our output for people with hearing loss, I fear this is an area where we are in the hands of the manufacturers of hearing aids. HD Sound aims to make the audio available in a quality as close to the original as possible. The wider dynamic range of HD Sound may be less clear for people with hearing difficulties as the quieter passages will be less loud than they are during our standard broadcasts. Those with hearing disabilities or those listening in noisy environments may prefer the normal broadcast output. Sadly this is an area where we can’t please everyone – some people want wide dynamic range and others want a reasonably constant volume – both are legitimate requirements but we can’t satisfy both with one audio stream.

    In response to the points raised by “Coup Attempt”, the BBC does not claim that HD Sound is better than CD. The BBC uses HD Sound in a broadcast context, to mean a higher definition broadcast than the standard definition service previously offered. None the less, many of those who listened during the BBC Radio 3 Proms “XHQ” experiment thought the quality was extremely good, with 46% of those who completed the survey saying it sounded “about the same” as CD.

    It would be very sad if we lost some of our international audience as a result of making a better quality stream available in the UK. During the Proms XHQ trial we made adjustments to the gain settings in our coding system, the response from the audience to this change was very positive and the international streams benefited from this adjustment too. Whilst the international streams are not as good as the streams available to license payers in the UK, the international streams now offer better quality than they did before we started the work that led to HD Sound.

    Rupert Brun, Head of Technology for BBC Audio & Music.

  • Comment number 36.

    Re. Message4 31, why the manufactured 'quote', "as good as CD"? Prior to this response it is only in messages 29 and 31 (both posted by Coup Attempt) that such a phrase appears. What I asserted was quite different, "that those who believe themselves to be able to hear an improvement [in] audio quality when switching to the CD in an A-B test between a CD of, say, a Beethoven string quartet, and a 320kbps lossy aac-lc stream derived from that CD, are kidding nobody but themselves". One would not, of course, choose a lossy 320kbps aac-lc derived from 44.1 kHz sampled, 16 bit source material in preference to that source for editing or other post-production work. The entirely valid point being made was that in an A-B test you, I, or anyone but (just possibluy) a highly trained audio analyst would be hard put to hear the difference.

    As made clear by Rupert Brun in an earlier blog, the term "HD sound" was chosen as being quite distinct from Intel's Trade Mark "HD Audio" (%3Ca%20href="https://www.intel.com/design/chipsets/hdaudio.htm%29">https://www.intel.com/design/chipsets/hdaudio.htm%29. Please do not get the two terms confused. They refer to quite different levels of fidelity in audio reproduction. I leave it to anyone interested to calculate the bandwidth that would be required to carry a 2 channel 192kHz sampled, 32 bit quantization HD Audio stream over the Internet, even if a lossless codec could be found to discard the redundant data.

    Damn it, the 320 kbps aac-lc steam fell over again here a few minutes ago. :-(

  • Comment number 37.

    Avoiding the context of why I used the phrase "as good as CD" rather undermines your argument. For as long as compressed music formats have existed this claim has been made - Philips did it with the PASC compression used for DCC, Sony with ATRAC for MiniDisc, as have the various organisations behind the compression algorithms generically referred to as mp3. The claim is not mine, rather it is the exaggerated claim made by proponents of these lossy compressed formats. A claim that has been historically and repeatedly made, as if simple repetition somehow makes it "true".
    But the point is moot. I'm more than happy, as you put it, to continue "kidding" myself CD sounds better than mp3, in much the same way as those who are "kidding" themselves that there is no discernible difference.

  • Comment number 38.

    Coup Attempt, the context in which you used your phrase "as good as CD" is clear for all to see in messages 29 and 31 above. The new context you apply in message 37 is entirely different. As Rupert Brun made clear in message, "the BBC does not claim that HD Sound is better than CD. The BBC uses HD Sound in a broadcast context, to mean a higher definition broadcast than the standard definition service previously offered. None the less, many of those who listened during the BBC Radio 3 Proms “XHQ” experiment thought the quality was extremely good, with 46% of those who completed the survey saying it sounded “about the same” as CD."

  • Comment number 39.

    QED the BBC are using the results from a, no doubt highly scientific, survey to imply their so-called "HD" service sounds as good as CD. And there is the rub. If the cloth eared public can't tell the difference, then who am I to argue? Of course it changes nothing. No matter how you cache is this service is not HD in any commonly recognised sense. Why didn't the BBC just call it something that more accurately reflects what it is? Compressed Audio for Radio Playback, for example?

  • Comment number 40.

    You know if I could spell.... Compressed Radio Audio Playback even.
    Yeah I kinda blew that didn't I?

  • Comment number 41.

    Yes well... you kinda did.

    I'm wondering if this subject has run its course...

    You have made your point Coup Attempt but perhaps we should move on...

  • Comment number 42.

    Thanks for your comments

    "To answer Clive Durdle’s important point about improving the experience of our output for people with hearing loss, I fear this is an area where we are in the hands of the manufacturers of hearing aids. HD Sound aims to make the audio available in a quality as close to the original as possible. The wider dynamic range of HD Sound may be less clear for people with hearing difficulties as the quieter passages will be less loud than they are during our standard broadcasts.

    Those with hearing disabilities or those listening in noisy environments may prefer the normal broadcast output. Sadly this is an area where we can’t please everyone – some people want wide dynamic range and others want a reasonably constant volume – both are legitimate requirements but we can’t satisfy both with one audio stream."

    When I meet possibly conflicts, I think, when you have two options take the third!

    I think this is whole system issue, where all the various parties would be better working closely with each other. For example, I regularly see singers with earpieces in - I can guarantee they were not manufactured by hearing aid folk!

  • Comment number 43.

    I managed, very successfully, to access Radio 3 at 320kb/s AAC using my Sony Playstation 3. The sound through my good sound system was quite superb and demonstrated how poor the same content is via Freeview or satellite.

    Unfortunately, recently the ability of the PS3 to access the Listen Now service stopped. The relevant web page appears but the Flash player doesn't. Has the BBC changed anything to cause this? If so can it be undone?

    Once you've heard the best that broadcast/streaming sound has to offer you feel very deprived if it is taken away. Please can I have it back?!

  • Comment number 44.

    What is the chance that overseas listeners will get the HD service? I already have fiber to my house awaiting hookup soon.

    I know we don't pay a license fee, but is there a way we could contribute and increase revenue from the service?

    I'm not advocating free loading. I enjoyed the Proms this year, but it would be nice if the quality could be improved for overseas listeners also.

  • Comment number 45.


    OK, so its the beginning of December - has there been any progress with this?

    I am keen to listen to Radio 3 in 'HD'!



  • Comment number 46.

    Having listened to several concerts or part-concerts at 320 kbps AAC, including the live BBC SSO on 2/12/10, I sadly have to report my disappointment. The quality is indeed good, and the live stream is working perfectly for me as usual. But the dynamic range seems very cautious - quite tame, in fact. Improved over optimodded FM of course, and with no obvious level manipulation; but not even approaching the range and power of an average CD. What's happening here? Rupert Brun has said that the aim is to represent the sound in the hall as well as possible, so why such damping down of the dynamics? Even "microdynamics" those slighter shifts in level within the music, seem flattened. I'm very puzzled - some years ago DAB seemed, for all its mp2 roughness, dynamically unfettered. I do hope someone from the HD team can explain. It sounds as though the worry they had about some people failing to "cope" with wide dynamic range webcasts has been translated into excessive caution.
    Jayne Lee Wilson, Liverpool uk

  • Comment number 47.

    I'm listening to this stream now on my Linn DS. I've been doing some A/B comparison with the 192kbps WMA stream and I'm pleased to say that the 320k stream is considerably better. I'd like to say a big Thank You to Rupert and his colleagues for making this available. I haven't attempted any comparisons with CD and I'm sure further improvements are possible, but for now I'm pleased to be able to hear better radio sound than I've ever experienced previously. The (mis)use of the term HD is unfortunate, though.

  • Comment number 48.

    A new link for the HD sound option has appeared on the Radio 3 homepage today. Unfortunately the information page linked to there has some real technobabble garbage in it. Try this for a start:

    "The conversion of an analogue signal to a digital signal is achieved by sampling the sound waves Currently we are using a sampling rate of 128 kb/s. The HD stream is being sampled at 320 kb/s, which results in better sound."

    That's from %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/help/radio3hd.shtml">https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/help/radio3hd.shtml

    Who writes this nonsense? The radio 3 'live' iPlayer has been operating with aac-lc ate 192kbps for ages, and indeed for the past month or so it's been at 320kbps aac-lc. The sample rate has been a consistent 44.1kHz.

    Poor Rupert Brun. I bet you didn't authorise such ill-informed and thoroughly misleading drivel.

  • Comment number 49.

    Oops, I wrote the "aac-lc ate" nonsense. "aac-lc rate", of course.

  • Comment number 50.

    HD Sound is now live on BBC Radio 3, just go to the Radio 3 Home page %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/">https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/ and click on the “Listen Live in HD” button near the top right of the page. At present it is supported on computers but we are working to make it available on other internet-connected devices. I am afraid the service is only available in the UK. We are still experimenting to find out which audiences and content most benefit from HD Sound on stations other than Radio 3 and will continue to cover special events on other stations in HD Sound.

    Finally I would like to thank those who took the time and trouble to give constructive feedback during the “Proms XHQ” experiment %3Ca%20href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2010/09/bbc_proms_extra_high_quality_audio.html">https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2010/09/bbc_proms_extra_high_quality_audio.html. The feedback helped us to get the technical settings correct and just as importantly, made it very clear that a significant number of people really wanted the service to be made permanent. Enjoy it!

    Rupert Brun, Head of Technology for BBC Audio & Music.

  • Comment number 51.

    I am a UK resident who works regularly overseas. Are there any plans at all to offer HD Audio to overseas listeners? Expatriates, servicemen and overseas contractors are the one who need it most as we have no access to FM or DAB services. We pay our licenses like everybody else.

    Radio 3 at 320 kbps is dream come true and a truly world leading example of internet radio. Why not show it off?

  • Comment number 52.

    Higher bitrates for music other than on R3 is, in my respectful view, just as necessary as on R3. Your listenership has a broad taste, as you recognised by starting with the Electric Proms. Having recognised that from the outset, it is difficult to understand why thereafter you confined the higher bitrate to R3 generally .
    Further, both in the UK and overseas, the BBC's otherwise outstanding music output competes with numerous other stations on the Web. Many of those stations support various high-quality streams and have done for ages. Take for example the beloved 6 Music's direct competitor, poor, listener-supported 2 man operation Radio Paradise. 128k AAC+, 192khz mp3, Octoshape, Orban coded....all there and at no charge. Or the public-funding station KCRW.....
    There are keen listeners who tire of the 48khz compressed sound very quickly. When will these outputs be upgraded, please?
    Otherwise, thanks for the fab service. NK.

  • Comment number 53.

    Who is it at the BBC who decides where the ceiling of quality is set? HD video quality is pegged at that of a cheap HD Ready LCD modest value television. Audio quality is pegged at that of an iPod. There are many of us who expect better.



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