The BBC classical music service, Radio 3, is getting an upgrade to its online stream starting in December. Dubbed “HD Sound” the new streams use improved encoding and higher bit rates (up to 320 kbps) than the BBC has traditionally used online.
According to Auntie, HD Sound also offers a wider dynamic range, accentuating the difference in volume between quiet and loud sounds.
During the 2010 BBC Proms season, a trial run on HD Sound was made under the moniker “Extra High Quality,” or XHQ. Positive feedback to XHQ tests led to the decision to implement HD Sound for Radio 3.
The HD Sound Radio 3 streams are available only to listeners in the United Kingdom, and it is accessible via the Radio 3 website or on other special-event websites where HD Sound will be offered, such as the Electric Proms on Radio 2.
At first only live programs will have an HD Sound stream option, but the BBC plans to integrate it with iPlayer and Radioplayer as the technology advances.
“At present we use the same source of audio for HD Sound, the iPlayer and both terrestrial and satellite TV. This means that when we offer the full dynamic range through HD Sound we also broadcast the full dynamic range on iPlayer and TV too,” wrote Rupert Brun, head of technology for BBC Audio & Music, on the BBC Internet Blog. “We will gather audience feedback on this over the coming months as we don't yet know how audiences for different types of content on different platforms will feel about the increased dynamic range.”