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The digital radio scam

Tags: rants radio

Added: 2006-03-10T14:05

The digital radio scam

Digital radio. Embrace it. It's **digital**. It's better quality than analogue. Hurrah. Yay for digital radio.

However, what they don't mention is that it can be worse quality too.

Digital just means that what they transmit is what you receive (more or less). But each digital radio network only has a certain amount of radio bandwidth, and it has to divide this up amongst all its stations. So for example BBC Radio 3 is 192kbps stereo. Which is pretty good. That will sound quite nice. (It does change occasionally down to 160, or even 128 though, when the bandwidth is required elsewhere.) Radios 1, 2, and 4 have been given a lower allocation of 128kbps. But for mainly talk stations, and other minor interest channels (such as Radio 5 Live, BBC 7, World Service etc.) they wind this back, until, in some cases they're only allocated 64kbps. Most of the low bitrate channels are only available on AM, so it is actually better quality. But don't be taken in that all digital radio channels sound crystal clear.

And while I'm on this rant - I've seen some digital TV/cable/satellite, and it's usually worse than the old analogue transmissions. They usually have blocks in them, in the same manner that a .jpg picture will have if it's compressed too highly. Still, I suppose it will enable people to sell HDTV as the next latest and greatest thing.

posted by Calum on 2006-03-10T14:05 under

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