Audiofile

What bit-rates are used around the world?

31 posts in this topic

Hi everyone...  I have been advised by ACMA and broadcasters that 64Kbit/s DAB+ is an improvement over FM and should sound fantastic... well... yeah..  sure...

So what bit-rates are used around the world?  Is 64Kbit/s as high as we can reasonably expect Australian digital radio to ever get?  It's ok for headphones and background, but certainly not for lounge speakers or even in a car at a solid volume.

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For a start the ABC uses 80 kbit/s on all music stations outside Canberra. You can search the internet for others.

By the way Norway has commenced switching off all analog radio and the process will be complete by the end of this year.

 

Alanh

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Thanks...  Has Norway adopted the same low bit-rates?  What was the reaction over there?  Last I checked they did, so perhaps these bit-rates are standard around the world (which is a shame).

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On 30/03/2017 at 6:32 PM, Audiofile said:

Hi everyone...  I have been advised by ACMA and broadcasters that 64Kbit/s DAB+ is an improvement over FM and should sound fantastic... well... yeah..  sure...

So what bit-rates are used around the world?  Is 64Kbit/s as high as we can reasonably expect Australian digital radio to ever get?  It's ok for headphones and background, but certainly not for lounge speakers or even in a car at a solid volume.

http://www.wohnort.org/dab/

18 hours ago, Audiofile said:

Thanks...  Has Norway adopted the same low bit-rates?  What was the reaction over there?  Last I checked they did, so perhaps these bit-rates are standard around the world (which is a shame).

http://www.wohnort.org/dab/norway.html

 

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So Netherlands looks like 96Kbit/s+, whereas Norway resembles more like the situation here is 64KBit/s on average...

I'm still not convinced that's an improvement over FM.  It's not something you'd play through loud speakers (for example), which FM can do quite nicely.

Interesting that the Netherlands has adopted higher bit-rates than what appears to be the general standard.

How does 80Kbit/s sound on the stations outside Canberra?

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45 minutes ago, Audiofile said:

I'm still not convinced that's an improvement over FM.

Its not but you'll never convince Alan of that so dont bother.

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Well I'm glad I'm not the only one.... why does broadcasting seem like an exercise in quality degradation these days, after years of becoming accustomed to the advance of technology bringing quality improvements? Eg CD.

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3 hours ago, Audiofile said:

why does broadcasting seem like an exercise in quality degradation these days

That's the Triumph of Crapitalism!

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Oh... Right... So socialism and state run everything would have bought us better audio quality?

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Pesto loving Man, cheer up.

I have met a number of people who are called "Golden Ears" who make claims about poor sound quality in various situations. When you double blind test their ability to determine which source has the poorer sound quality they can't tell the difference.

There are too many people on sites like this who solely equate quality to a bit rate. There are many other factors which control the quality, the techniques used for lossy compression along with the quality of the reception and reproduction equipment, the listener's hearing, the acoustics and the problems of other broadcasting and recording equipment to which the sound is being compared.

The design of compressors and decompressors for xHE-AAC has been double blind tested at many bit rates using very high quality sound systems, computer logging for large number of tests and candidates, from an Engineering University in Germany. This is much more objective than a single listener who knows they are listening to the system they complain about.

 

Alanh

 

 

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64Kbits still sounds tinny, hollow and metallic with clear distortion on highs... It's pretty obvious. I don't know what will happen if we move to higher rates around 80kbits though... So what have others found?

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5 hours ago, Audiofile said:

64Kbits still sounds tinny, hollow and metallic with clear distortion on highs... It's pretty obvious. I don't know what will happen if we move to higher rates around 80kbits though... So what have others found?

The distortion on highs you have been hearing with 64kbps (nominal) would most likely be from activation of the spectral band replication (SBR) algorithm in the encoder used for the broadcast. SBR certainly adds "sparkle" but at times that sparkle can sound like gated noise rather than true music or speech.  (It doesn't always help when the broadcaster uses processing to boost the subjective "punch" of the sound. This can bring the treble into greater prominence, making SBR artefacts more noticeable.)  

In my experience, 80kps (nominal) is an improvement over 64kbps (nominal) but there is still the overall hollow quality, occasional metallic and phasey effects, and the artificial sounding bursts of treble. 

For many years , the ABC have been using 80kbps (nominal) for their Classic FM DAB+ service. For my (now rather mature-aged!) ears, that results in a restrained, bland sound for the music, and somewhat artificial sounding speech for the announcers. At home, whenever I compare the FM version of the broadcast to the DAB+ version, I much prefer the FM version, despite the fact that the FM version has slightly audible hiss in the background, and a small amount of audible distortion.

I wish the ABC would boost the bitrate for ABC classic FM and turn off the SBR. SBR is a crutch for low bitrate AAC.

In Brisbane we have a situation where a certain sports talk service1 and an easy listening music service2 operate at 104kbps (nominal). The easy listening music service provides what to my ears is noticeably better quality than the 80kbps ABC Classic FM service. It's a pity there aren't many more higher bitrate DAB+ services up around 104kbps (nominal), instead of the pedestrian 64kbps (nominal) that is often provided.

This forum has a thread with listings of DAB+ services and nominal bitrates that forum members in Australia have logged for their capital city:  http://www.dtvforum.info/index.php?/topic/96036-digital-radio-stations-list/

________

14BC1116 News Talk

2 Magic 882

Edited by MLXXX

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7 hours ago, alanh said:

The design of compressors and decompressors for xHE-AAC has been double blind tested at many bit rates using very high quality sound systems, computer logging for large number of tests and candidates, from an Engineering University in Germany. This is much more objective than a single listener who knows they are listening to the system they complain about.

I think you'll find, alanh, that most of the testing would have been of the subjective MUSHRA based variety rather than the purely objective ABX kind. When testing down around 48kbps (where a lot of testing has been done), it is not at all difficult for the majority of people to detect there is a difference between a pristine CD source and a version compressed with a psychoacoustic  codec. What is of interest to the investigators is how much less noticeable and less unpleasant the artefacts are from say HE-AAC, HE-AAC v2, or xHE-AAC , compared with say artefacts resulting from the use of mp3, or from a low-pass filter.

Despite the published findings that significant numbers of test subjects could detect degradation in the sound relative to a CD source at 48kbps (and even 64kbps), you yourself alanh will likely recall that over the last 10 years there have been a number of claims that DAB+ radio broadcasting "is" of CD quality.

And in more recent years there have been claims in India that DRM broadcasting sound quality "is" of  "near" FM broadcasting sound quality, despite the common  practice in India of the doubling up of two DRM services on the one carrier, resulting in much less than 48kbps being available per audio stream.

In my opinion there's a considerable disconnect between the more extreme claims as to what the digital radio broadcasting sound quality "is", and the audio quality actually been delivered by many of the digital radio broadcasters.

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We all know your opinions and we also know that 3.5 million Australians listen to DAB+ so the quality is not as bad as you claim.

I saw an old friend recently who has your radio. What a load of junk!

Alanh

Edited by alanh

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27 minutes ago, alanh said:

3.5 million Australians listen to DAB+ so the quality is not as bad as you claim.

Sorry, that makes no sense to me. I have never suggested that 48kbps DAB+ is not listenable to. I have suggested it is no improvement over FM.
 

 

42 minutes ago, alanh said:

I saw an old friend recently who has your radio. What a load of junk!

I don't know what led you to consider your friend's radio was junk. How did you arrive at that assessment, alanh? 

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1 hour ago, alanh said:

we also know that 3.5 million Australians listen to DAB+ so the quality is not as bad as you claim

Listening to does not equate with it being good. I would will suggest it is more a matter of convenience - like fast/junk food, and diversity. And the vast majority of them are satisfied with it because they don't know any better and believe the advertising that it IS CD quality. They could very well also be the type who have a 4:3 aspect ratio program fill their 16:9 screen and can't tell the difference between it being the correct ratio with black bars on the sides versus stretched to fill the screen.

1 hour ago, alanh said:

What a load of junk!

Did you tell them that?

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Well this is my point....it is not better than FM and my untrained consumer level ears really notice the difference. It's distorted and hollow. Period. It sounds like a poorly pirated CD. Whatever the selective industry sponsored research says, it's a noticeable step backward from FM and it's false advertising to claim otherwise below 128Kbits.... otherwise why did the Netherlands go for higher rates?

I just think it's a shame. There was so much emphasis on audio engineering and quality for such a long time. Now the emphasis seems to be on cost and convenience.

Will music producers continue pursuing high quality audio production?

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21 hours ago, alanh said:

Pesto loving Man, cheer up.

?! A strange thing to say with no reason evidence or purpose. But you often say strange things with no reason evidence or purpose.

 

21 hours ago, alanh said:

The design of compressors and decompressors for xHE-AAC has been double blind tested at many bit rates using very high quality sound systems, computer logging for large number of tests and candidates, from an Engineering University in Germany. This is much more objective than a single listener who knows they are listening to the system they complain about.

Noone said anything about xHE-AAC. But you make a good point for beleiving the people from Sony, Coding Technologies and FhG who developed the codecs and others who have tested them who all say artifacts are audible at those bitrates. And for not beleiving some random forum poster who has never developed or tested a codec who says theyre not.

 

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14 hours ago, alanh said:

we also know that 3.5 million Australians listen to DAB+ so the quality is not as bad as you claim.

From a quick count of city populatuions in Australia it seems that 10 million plus dont listen to DAB+. Does that mean nearly 3 times as many people think the quality is as bad as he claims?

No. And your r number doesnt mean anything either.

Edited by Pesto Lovin' Man

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No it does not.

You assume that everybody including babies have listened to DAB+ radio. Lots of people do not visit retailers to listen to new radios or TVs. Commonly they only visit retailers when either the equipment has failed or the equipment has been made redundant by changes in technology.

Look at the adoption of DTV in 2001. HD was being broadcast but the number of viewers of SD and HD was tiny. The picture quality was as good as it is now. This continued for nearly 10 years.The percentages only increased when the analog switchoff was announced. This is despite the introduction of flat screen displays even in SD at the start.

Alanh

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Look at the adoption of DTV in 2001. HD was being broadcast but the number of viewers of SD and HD was tiny. The picture quality was as good as it is now.


Not quite... like with digital radio, quality has deteriorated in the name of increasingly congested shared bandwidth....

I distinctly recall quality 10 years ago and I recall much higher quality with less artefacts due to more bandwidth per channel. And downloads and streaming not being a shadow of broadcast...not any more.

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12 hours ago, Audiofile said:

And downloads and streaming not being a shadow of broadcast...not any more.

Yes there was a time when downloads were typically music (audio only) as relatively low bitrate mp3's of questionable quality. Today you can find heaps of music free of charge using YouTube with both video and audio; and the audio is typically of very good subjective quality, considerably better than the subjective quality provided by 64kbps (nominal) stereo DAB+.  (And often the video is available at Full HD resolution.) 

Having such good quality audio on tap through the internet free of charge threatens the recorded music industry, but that is another story...

Edited by MLXXX

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What was the topic? Oh that's right, something vastly different to that which is being debated now, again.
Funny how most any topic to do with any aspect of audio or video quality deteriorates to the basic premise that because so many consume said product, it can't be bad - or that some participants can not accept that there are those whose who can tell when something is not good despite its prevalence. It would seem mediocrity reigns.

I think I will have to ask some of my work colleagues for their opinion on the quality of DAB+. I greatly respect their opinion given they have been doing broadcast audio professionally for longer than I have known them.

Edited by hrh
can't spell

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Sounds like a good plan... Assuming they aren't of the AM talk back market that DAB does qualify as an improvement.

I think we can all agree that the bit rates we see here are not an improvement in audio quality, but an improvement in noise levels and variety. Not that noise was typically an issue before. Agreed on reigning mediocrity.

As for globally, it looks like our situation is quite common unfortunately, with some exceptions such as the Netherlands with higher rates that would seem more reasonable.

So there's hope if we emulate the Netherlands.

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G'day,

 

We talk about the average bitrate in Australia - I think 2CH in Sydney is at 128kbps? And Nova is 112kbps last time I checked. There's surely audio samples on the internet to check how they sound. Although I do agree FM sounds loads better

 

For those in Melbourne, for former Magic now TalkingLifestyle station was always crap after it went down from 96kbps to 64kbps. Even SEN is not what it used to be at 56kbps

Edited by McDigital

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