High Quality 320kbps streams for all BBC radio stations

2022 The WAM show

vintageaxeman

SuperWammer
Wammer Plus
Feb 25, 2010
801
218
108
The Major Oak, UK
AKA
David
HiFi Trade?
  1. Yes
I often listen to the radio in the car and on a Roberts DAB radio. But I don't currently have a DAB radio connected to my hifi....



However, I found the following info on facebook, and found that the links work for high quality listening on a computer, to any BBC channel....I don't know if this is OLD NEWS, but hopefully it may be interesting to some of you....



 



High Quality BBC Radio Streams


Somewhat lost in all the fuss about the BBC retiring its WMA internet radio streams is the fact that there are now high quality 320kbps streams for all BBC radio stations.

Apart from Radio 3, which has had a 320kbps stream for a while, the best quality it has been possible to listen to any BBC station in digitally has been 128kbps. These 128k streams have never sounded too good to my ears, especially through my Sonos system. To my knowledge, this is the first time it has been possible to listen to 6 Music in high fidelity in any format.

The new streams use the Apple developed HLS protocol, meaning you can listen to them simply by pasting the link into Safari. Another good way to listen to them is to use the VLC media player, which is available on pretty much any platform.

It is likely that these streams will only work from a UK-based IP address but I have not verified that.

Courtesy of user simoncn on the Linn forums, here are the HLS streams for the national stations:

BBC Radio 1
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_one.m3u8


BBC Radio 1Xtra
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_1xtra.m3u8


BBC Radio 2
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_two.m3u8


BBC Radio 3
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_three.m3u8


BBC Radio 4
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_fourfm.m3u8


BBC Radio 4LW
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_fourlw.m3u8


BBC Radio 4 Extra
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_four_extra.m3u8


BBC Radio 5 Live
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_five_live.m3u8


BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_five_live_sports_extra.m3u8


BBC Radio 6 Music
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_6music.m3u8


BBC Asian Network
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_asian_network.m3u8

 
Last edited by a moderator:

britishcomposers

britishcomposers
Wammer
Nov 8, 2017
601
194
0
Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Seems everyone's either having a lye-in, tidying-up or hung-over.  Very quiet on here!

I have been using Freeview as my radio source and know that for a long time, Radio 3 has been at 192kbp/s mp3, but on-line at 320kbp/s aac, (the latter as better quality than mpeg), whereas DAB fails to be credible in my home at 160kbp/s mp2 or 192 on occasion.  This last set of stats may well have been uprated by now as DAB quite rightly came in for a great deal of flack (not to be confused with FLAC), and hence more nonsense with a DAB+ system being touted as alternative, but I lost all interest when they were downgrading Radio 4 to 86kbp/s mono.  I think this last aspect has since been reversed to a higher, though still sub-standard middling bit-rate.  Barry Fox:  HFN & RR tech. journo' once wrote along the lines that, "The BBC in their wisdom, overnight and when no-one was paying any attention, hoping no-one would notice and to simply get away wiith it, lowered the bandwidth to all stations to enable further new ones onto the already crowded platform."  

I stuck with FM on a rebuilt and upgraded to stereo Leak Troughline II until I heard that my Freeview recorder at the time began making noises of a similar quality, but with increased dynamics on live R3 Prom relays, and subsequently bought a stand-alone Goodmans box feeding into a Metrum DAC.  

I often wonder if the BBC are now doing their Freeview radio transmissions with aac at 320 as well as on mp3, (as they do with Freeview tv transmissions), and indeed, if mp3 is at 320 now on R3, and whether R2, R6 & R4 have followed suit?

Radio 3 started it all with a system called XDR or XRD sound (Serge will possibly remember better and what the finer details were about), shortly followed by their contentiously named BBC Radio 3 HD Sound, but these were initially Proms-led test-bed transmissions at 320 aac running separately from the regular on-line transmissions;  Radio 3 HD Sound having a dedicated URL address for manually entering on Sonos devices and similar.  It worked rather well for a time from here.

The last test being last season's 2017 Proms running FLAC uncompressed.  Whether this will become an everyday reality is questionable, given pressures on copyright issues.

For quality sound with radio listening, there are these stations on-line that one can find good quality content programming to cover a variety of tastes that don't drop lower than 192kbp/s mp3 with little or no dynamic compression (mostly!) for putting onto the searched stations list on a music streaming device:

All Brass Radio

RCO  (recorded concerts from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam)

WGBH (recorded concerts from the Boston Symphony Orchestra)

WDR3 (German b/cast classical)

France Musique (classical and jazz)

FIP  (as France Musique)

LINN Classical

LINN Jazz

Coolradio Jazz

The Jazz Knob   

 
Last edited by a moderator:

bencat

Amplifier Destroyer
Wammer Plus
Feb 6, 2010
7,409
4,190
193
Liverpool
AKA
Andrew
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Have to be honest and say I listen to nearly all my radio via SBT streams with majority being at high quality level . As I am not a classical music listener I use Paradise Radio as my main station as it is in high quality and has no DJ or commercials . Using the SBT/Squeezlite players you get a digital output straight in to your normal DAC and system which is the only way I listen . Ihave the ability to use Free View in my living room in to my Harbeth Compact Monitors but frankly the BBC streams I can get via the Internet for all channels are high quality and so much better than the sound quality of the Free View offerings. It is also nice that the previous bias from the BBC of only offering BBC 3 in high quality (presumably as it is the only channel they consider it important to have high quality feeds from) is overturned with all the music stations offering high quality feeds (Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra are at lower quality levels).

 

MartinC

Wammer
Wammer
Jul 29, 2005
8,786
4,979
158
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I use Freeview (via external DAC) for more quality orientated radio listening at the moment but will check out whether the above streaming links may sound any better when I get chance.

I believe Freeview exceeds 128 kbps though, unless the widely available info. is out of date.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

britishcomposers

britishcomposers
Wammer
Nov 8, 2017
601
194
0
Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Most interesting.  Maybe the Beeb's internet facility has finally gone to 320 aac after all.  I'll have to look into this.  Certainly, I'd go that route if Radio 2 had less dynamic compression (Optimod) applied.  Freeview BBC Radio's 2,3 & 4 are no less than 192kbp/s and maybe no better than this, but with television now offering both aac as well as mp3, I'd be keen to hear if the radio service has been upgraded at all.

One thing is certain.  Some Freeview boxes have rather poor op-amps or D-to-A converters, so I wouldn't necessarily say that Freeview is not as good as on-line, for the sound I get is rather fine, and heard through a variety of good gear;  the boxes themselves vary considerably in performance and I just happen to have one that delivers the sonic mustard.

 

bencat

Amplifier Destroyer
Wammer Plus
Feb 6, 2010
7,409
4,190
193
Liverpool
AKA
Andrew
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Most interesting.  Maybe the Beeb's internet facility has finally gone to 320 aac after all.  I'll have to look into this.  Certainly, I'd go that route if Radio 2 had less dynamic compression (Optimod) applied.  Freeview BBC Radio's 2,3 & 4 are no less than 192kbp/s and maybe no better than this, but with television now offering both aac as well as mp3, I'd be keen to hear if the radio service has been upgraded at all.

One thing is certain.  Some Freeview boxes have rather poor op-amps or D-to-A converters, so I wouldn't necessarily say that Freeview is not as good as on-line, for the sound I get is rather fine, and heard through a variety of good gear;  the boxes themselves vary considerably in performance and I just happen to have one that delivers the sonic mustard.
Sorry I should have made it clear on all of my various TV boxes in the front room (BT TV (free view) / Amazon Fire TV /LG 4k TV) the audio is output digitally to my Onkyo AV Reciever so this will mean none of the poor Op Amps or DAC chips mentioned are involved. As all the sounds are going to the same source (Onkyo AV) the only difference for sound quality will be the steam irself and it is on this I based my comment that the Streams from the internet digital player are much better quality . Apologies as I do not keep fully up to date anymore as I do not listen to the BBC radio stations too much but last I remember the feeds were all at least 320kbs but I also seem to remember there was a HMA quality involved but this may just be fogged memory .

 

JTW

Wammer
Wammer
Jan 27, 2014
604
167
63
Cheshire
AKA
Ian
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Most interesting.  Maybe the Beeb's internet facility has finally gone to 320 aac after all.  I'll have to look into this.  Certainly, I'd go that route if Radio 2 had less dynamic compression (Optimod) applied.  Freeview BBC Radio's 2,3 & 4 are no less than 192kbp/s and maybe no better than this, but with television now offering both aac as well as mp3, I'd be keen to hear if the radio service has been upgraded at all.

One thing is certain.  Some Freeview boxes have rather poor op-amps or D-to-A converters, so I wouldn't necessarily say that Freeview is not as good as on-line, for the sound I get is rather fine, and heard through a variety of good gear;  the boxes themselves vary considerably in performance and I just happen to have one that delivers the sonic mustard.
The iPlayer streams from radio 3 are 320 aac, as is 6music,  I recently got some Radio 4 podcasts which were 128 aac.

I accessed them using get_iplayer.

 

britishcomposers

britishcomposers
Wammer
Nov 8, 2017
601
194
0
Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I have found this on-line.  It would appear BBC Radio via Freeview still trails the on-line BBC services for bit-rate levels, plus the mp3/aac differential.  

The data provided below was updated in 2016.  No mention of the test trial FLAC uncompressed that they did for the 2017 Prom season on Radio 3 on-line, (sorry to all non-classical listeners out there), but we will no-doubt see if they'll roll it out again for this year's season.  

I am assuming the higher resolution platform (FLAC) doesn't get used elsewhere, (BBC Radio's 2,4, 6 etc.), due to the playing of current recordings that would otherwise be the subject of serious copyright protection laws.

https://www.astra2sat.com/radio/uk-digital-radio-bitrates/

 

HectorHughMunro

Wammer
Wammer
Oct 29, 2006
5,628
1,641
158
London, , United Kin
What we lack is a device that picks up these streams that “Just works”. That’s the strength of DAB, that people without networking knowledge can just hit a power button and get a sound.  Even Chromecast is a step more difficult. 

 
  • Upvote
Reactions: SergeAuckland

Cable Monkey

Moderator
Staff member
May 16, 2006
8,981
1,613
158
Birmingham, UK
AKA
Henry
HiFi Trade?
  1. Yes
That is the crux of the matter. FM radio requires standard hardware to retrieve. Internet Radio can be and is done in many different ways over a number of different streaming protocols. If you rationalise the streams, suitable devices will follow.

 

slavedata

Wammer
Wammer
Mar 2, 2009
742
303
93
Bottesford Melton
AKA
Dave Slater
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
So what are the standard radio streams on a SBT are they up to this new standard or will some bright guru on the LMS forum have to write an app so we can get 320 on a SBT

 
  • Like
Reactions: SergeAuckland

Fourlegs

WAVE Digital Cables
HiFi Trade
May 5, 2014
6,164
3,693
183
Melton Mowbray
www.wavehighfidelity.com
AKA
Nick
HiFi Trade?
  1. Yes
What we lack is a device that picks up these streams that “Just works”. That’s the strength of DAB, that people without networking knowledge can just hit a power button and get a sound.  Even Chromecast is a step more difficult. 
And also in areas of flakey internet (sorry for the technical language) the DAB radio comes to the rescue. I quite often have to resort to my DAB tuner although I do pipe it through my outboard DAC.

 

SergeAuckland

Certified Measurist
Wammer
May 6, 2008
18,754
1,922
0
Bury St Edmunds, UK
AKA
Serge
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
FM is pretty difficult on portable radios without synthesiser tuning, i.e. most of them.  I have and have had several portables, mostly Roberts and Hacker, and they're all pigs to tune presets with those tiny little tuning knobs, and continuous tuning is no better.  

There are now so many stations on the FM band that tuning is hard work, even with presets as they drift, so once on a station, users will be reluctant ever to change. DAB radios just work.

S.

So what are the standard radio streams on a SBT are they up to this new standard or will some bright guru on the LMS forum have to write an app so we can get 320 on a SBT
All the BBC radio streams on my SBT are 128k, except for Radio Three at 320k. 

S

 

britishcomposers

britishcomposers
Wammer
Nov 8, 2017
601
194
0
Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
What is SBT?  

As for DAB, I won't use it on principle.  It was promoted with much BS about 'crystal clear' sound, (which is a descriptive I abhor;  rolled out by journalists or ad agencies who know very little on the given subject), and started at 192kbp/s MP2;  ancient before they even commenced broadcasting DAB digital radio.  But to then sneakily lower the bandwidth to 128kbp/s and lower, - hoping it would be acceptable practice to the end user.  Not every listener is just using a kitchen radio or in their car.  

The BBC's stock answer response for Radio Four's 86kbp/s mono quality was, "It is mainly used for speech", but ask any Radio 4 devotee what the station is all about and why it is so revered and they will tell you it is for the quality of the spoken work, such as plays, discussions, documentaries and so on.  I can enjoy such a play on my 1950's Grundig 3D Sound radio with the actors literally in the room;  such is the quality of sound, as delivered on the VHF platform.  DAB's R4 reception on the other hand is bandwidth constrained and grainy, though I grant you that they have increased it's bit-rate a little since.  Engineers in the BBC are disparagingly calling the DAB platform, 'The new AM'.

No,  the dishonesty rankles as it is all about greed with governments wanting to get their hands on FM for revenue from the mobile telecommunications companies.  If we'd been offered something that was fit for purpose instead of being lied to with false claims like 'near CD sound', then it would have been something.  But being sold such a sub-standard and crude quality second-hand model (as in MP2) is unforgivable.  What should have happened hasn't, and so as HectorHughMunro quite rightly cites, why isn't there a platform where one can just 'turn-on the radio' without having to resort to on-line models (tablet or otherwise) or television-based platforms for around the house radio?  FM remains because DAB has failed it's intended remit. 

 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Upvote
Reactions: HectorHughMunro

MartinC

Wammer
Wammer
Jul 29, 2005
8,786
4,979
158
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
And also in areas of flakey internet (sorry for the technical language) the DAB radio comes to the rescue. I quite often have to resort to my DAB tuner although I do pipe it through my outboard DAC.
If you have the means to it's probably worth trying Freeview/Freesat via you DAC instead of your DAB radio, since the bit rates for the former are probably better. See e.g. 

https://www.astra2sat.com/radio/uk-digital-radio-bitrates/

I use Freeview via my DAC into my hifi. I still use FM when listening elsewhere.

What is SBT?  
Squeezebox touch.

 

Fourlegs

WAVE Digital Cables
HiFi Trade
May 5, 2014
6,164
3,693
183
Melton Mowbray
www.wavehighfidelity.com
AKA
Nick
HiFi Trade?
  1. Yes
If you have the means to it's probably worth trying Freeview/Freesat via you DAC instead of your DAB radio, since the bit rates for the former are probably better. See e.g. 

https://www.astra2sat.com/radio/uk-digital-radio-bitrates/

I use Freeview via my DAC into my hifi. I still use FM when listening elsewhere.
I could use the FreeSat box in the main room. I will try that.

In my study I will have to install a new box although I already have a feed in there from the sat dish so it should be easy. I will be using that for dedicated radio and with no TV connected so all channel selection would have to be from the display on the FreeSat box.

Any recommendations for which box to buy for that role?