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{Updated Oct. 2017}
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BBC pilots lossless Radio 3 stream

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  • BBC pilots lossless Radio 3 stream

    I have just come across details of this pilot, see here :-

    The stream can be found here :-

    Because the stream is only available using the Firefox web browser (at the moment), it may be a bit limiting for most who may be compelled to listen via headphones connected to a computer, but there are ways to get the stream into your hifi sytem, If you have a USB DAC, or audio out via HDMI, or S/PDIF out on your computer, with a corresponding input on your amplifier.

  • #2
    It is coming through, and seems to sound just fine. However, since I am outside the UK and higher resulutions are normally not available outside the UK, does anyone know of a way to check within Firefox what bitrate I am actually receiving?


    • #3
      I have tested the BBC Radio 3 stream. The data rate seems to be in the range 80 kB/sec to 100 kB/sec. For uncompressed CD-quality stereo data, the data rate is about 176.4 kB/sec. FLAC compression of CD music typically results in the file sizes of tracks being halved. Hence, it looks as if the Radio 3 stream is sending data that is at a typical data rate commensurate with FLAC compression.


      • #4
        I do not think this trial stream is geo-blocked so you should be getting the same as UK residents.

        It is not obvious to me how to ensure bit-perfect playback from the Firefox browser. If I find out more I will report it here. In most audio players there is an option to use WASAPI output which will ensure bit-perfect playback, but that is not an option with a web browser. This web browser stream is therefore being 'processed' by the Windows audio mixer (or similar processing on MAC or Linux systems).

        Some DACs will report the sample rate and bit depth, but they will report the sample rate after the signal exits the Windows audio mixer. In other words it will be whatever the Windows mixer is configured to do. Setting the Windows mixer to the same bit depth and sample rate that the audio leaves the BBC may be the way to let this radio stream through the computer 'unmolested' by the Windows audio mixer.


        • #5
          Thank you all. It certainly sounded very good, and rather better than the low bitrate that I normally get for BBC radio 3. But there is always expectation bias.....


          • #6
            I am listening to Tristan und Isolde, live from the Met. The sound quality is excellent, but there is a continuous noise/hum in the background, easily audible in quieter passages. Would that be the Met's airconditioning?


            • #7
              If you are on a Windows 10 machine, you can go and open the Task Manager. Click the Performance tab. Then click Open Resource Monitor, located near the bottom left of the window. Click the Network tab. Look at the section labelled Network Activity, where you should see the Firefox application listed somewhere. Once there, you should be able to see the download rate for the Firefox process that is getting the Radio 3 music stream.


              • #8
                Now that I have listened a bit more, I must report that the signal is quite often dropped for a second or so. We do have pretty fast cable internet and the computer in my study has a wired ethernet connection. Otherwise I am very happy with the quality.


                • #9
                  I get a fluctuating rate between 0Mbps and 2.7 Mbps, without other processes running.


                  • #10
                    I am listening to the wonderful Johannes Passion under John Butt, who I still remember as the organ scholar at King's. The BBC sound is fantastic, as is this music. If my desert island life would allow for only one piece of music, this would be it.
                    No dropped signal this time, not even once.


                    • #11
                      I am currently listening to the live broadcast from King's College Cambridge (on my main system). The broadcast sound is indeed excellent, almost persuading me that lossless is indeed superior. The recording itself is on the dry side, without too much of the chapel's reverberant acoustics. It does not quite sound like the real thing that I happen to know so well.
                      In the interval some studio recording of piano music, with enough detail to hear the pedal mechanism... Again, no dropped signal.


                      • #12
                        I have 'dipped into' the lossless Radio 3 stream 4 or 5 times. A few times I got continual playback of music, and on 2 occasions I had problems with buffering (audio dropouts) too frequent to make the experience enjoyable.