Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Want HD-Quality Rado? Then Widen the Stream!

At what bitrate does your local public radio station stream? In other words, is it at 128 kbps (kilobits per second), also referred to as CD-quality audio? Is it faster and better than CD-audio quality sound; like at 192 kbps? Or, is it substantially slower, at speeds around 20, 32 or 48 kbps? If that slow, how good does the audio sound--what is its quality? Does it sound muffled or compressed at low bitrate speeds? You bet it does!

Also, does your station stream its broadcast in MP3, Windows Media Audio, Real Audio or Ogg Vorbis content? If so, can you download you stations streams or podcasts to your portable music player? How do these podcasts sound to you? High quality? Low quality? How much high-quality downloadable content is available?

Is HD radio really the answer? Here is a link to an inexpensive JVC-brand HD-radio for your car, from Circuit City, and here is a link to the Cambridge Soundworks 820 HD Radio from Etronics.Com (remember, installation may cost extra). Before installation, shipping & handling, and tax charges, BOTH of these HD-radios would cost you $500 total!

Colorado Public Radio Blog advises that you withhold $500 IN TOTAL from your Colorado Public Radio subscriptions for this year, and the next, and the next, and the next . . . so that you finally can afford buy new HD equipment for your home and your automobile when CPR switches off and sells off all their legacy AM stations in Denver (1340-AM), Boulder (1490-AM), and Pueblo (1230-AM).

Expect HD-quality audio content delivered to you in the ways you already listen to public radio, and to the fully digital equipment you already own! Save your money for a new computer, MP3 player, I-Pod, or I-Phone--not for an HD radio. So, how much of your public radio subscription--how many years--are you willing to withhold?


Anonymous said...

My community station, KVNF broadcasts 128 kbps MP3 for High Bandwidth users and 48 kbps for Low Bandwidth users. You can also listen using the OggVorbis Audio Stream or a Real Audio stream.

Jimmy James Jr. said...


Very nice; and complete! Thanks for reading the blog, and thanks for your comments.


Anonymous said...

Why the apparent reverence for CPR's so-called "legacy" AM stations?

A "legacy" of what? Weak signals and poor transmission. Static. Whining. Buzzing. Fading out in underpasses. And let's not overlook AM's tinny audio quality, which is very fatiguing to the ears.

Indeed, AM technology is antique, but designation of the stations as "legacy" is hardly warranted. Colorado Public Radio acquired its AM stations in 2001, a mere six years ago. It did so for one reason: there were no available FM frequencies to serve CPR's news and information listeners in Denver, Boulder and Pueblo. Not exactly the stuff of which "legacies" are made.

But (Surprise!) technology has marched forward. Thanks to HD radio, today's FM stations have the capability to transmit multiple programs on a single frequency. On HD1, KVOD has never sounded better on FM. On HD2, KCFR has never sounded better on FM or AM. And CPR's stations are not alone. Eleven (11) other Denver stations are multicasting with two channels. Others will follow. http://www.ibiquity.com/hd_radio/hdradio_find_a_station/CO/StnMarket#stationlist

Ever since Frances Koncilja went public about her disagreements with CPR's board, the prospect of selling the AM stations has been represented as a travesty that would deprive listeners of service. Either classical or news programming would be broadcast on HD2, making it available only to listeners who own HD radios.

Far worse things could happen to a format.

HD -- digital -- is the radio technology of the future. Virtually every other telecommunications service has migrated from analogue to digital, and it is inevitable that terrestrial radio will join the trend. Public radio listeners are leaders, not members of a disadvantaged underclass. Of all radio listeners, they are the most likely to embrace new technology and the most capable, financially, of doing so. They are not inclined to become Luddites.

I am astonished that the "Colorado Public Radio Blog advises that you withhold $500 from your Colorado Public Radio subscription for this year, and the next, and the next, and the next . . . so that you finally can afford [to] buy new HD equipment." That statement is inaccurate, inflammatory and irresponsible. A variety of affordable HD radios are on the market. Prices begin at $99 and will decline further. http://www.ibiquity.com/hd_radio/hdradio_buy_an_hd_radio/hdradio_products

Colorado Public Radio is imperfect in many ways, some of which have been and will continue to be debated in this blog. Discourse is healthy. But CPR's proposal to use modern technology to improve its public service is not one of its flaws.

-- A Friend of Ruby (Hill, that is)

P.S. Indeed, broadband Internet streaming can provide a satisfying listening experience, sometimes at bit-rates as low as 48 kbps. But "Do not try this AWAY from home" unless you are fortunate enough to enjoy broadband wireless capability. THAT will cut into the funds you allocate to your favorite public radio stations and many other things! (Did I mention that HD programming is free?)

PocketRadio said...

Finally, may be the good news we have been waiting for - time to put an end to the jamming:

"HD Radio - Wherefore Art Thou?"

"Just contemplate that thought for a second before moving on, because there's something around the corner that may cripple HD Radio far worse than lackluster consumer interest, or inability to get the product on store shelves. Second's up. If the push to make broadcast radio pay the same exorbitant fees for "performance royalties" that internet radio is facing wins, every side-channel that's in this rush to HD will be included in the invoice. How's that for an HD Radio killer?"


"House Judiciary Committee Hearing on Broadcast Performance Right - No Breaks for the Broadcasters"

"Congressman Howard Berman chairs the subcommittee, and he opened the hearing with a summary of the issues - indicating that he expected that the committee would move legislation this year to impose a performance royalty on broadcasters."


Here's an excellent reason NOT to invest in HD.

Anonymous said...

(Surprise!) technology has marched forward. Thanks to HD radio, today's FM stations have the capability to transmit multiple programs on a single frequency. On HD1, KVOD has never sounded better on FM. On HD2, KCFR has never sounded better on FM or AM. And CPR's stations are not alone.

I think I heard that same argument from CPR when they started to gobble up local stations across the state.

Hey, it'll be great. We'll give you premium content not currently available to listeners in rural areas. Our empire will reach out and touch all the hayseeds out in the Boonies. If CPR, or any other station thinks that HD radio is the future...good luck with that.

BTW, I don't know a single person that even has satellite radio, let alone and HD radio.

Jimmy James Jr. said...


You will note that I made the corrections in this post.


Anonymous said...

Hope to learn a lot and have a nice experience here!
my best regards guys!

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