Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Music Streaming Quality Explained

Currently KryKey Personal Web Radio streams music at a maximum bitrate of 320kps. This of course depends if the music has been encoded by the radio station at this bitrate.

Bit rate refers to the speed at which a bit stream (compressed audio data in this case) will travel, or the amount of bits per second. With MP3, you usually refer to it in terms of kbps or how many thousands of bits per second.

Just like the way film works with a higher number of frames producing a better picture, the more audio data that flows in a time period, the smoother and clearer the sound. "So what real difference is there in sound quality?" you might ask. Many MP3 enthusiasts will convert to MP3 at 128 kbps (kilobytes per second) as a good medium in sound quality and file size.

However, we recommend a minimum of 160 kbps or VBR encoding, especially if you are a musician or if you have a sensitive ear to musical quality.

Below are the current Streaming Rates of companies:
  • 96kbs: The sound clearly lacks definition: as an example, hall's noises are perceived as some breath. The result is comparable to a good FM radio.
  • 112kbs: The sound seems less present and less natural than the original. The definition is a bit less good, the voice is less clear. Attacks are less spontaneous. The spatialization is different from the original recording: the sound seems to be located more far and more lower. There is however a very noticeable improvement compared to 96kbs.
  • 128kbs: Hall's noises are slightly less defined than the original. The violin is a bit less present and the piano attacks a bit less sharp. The voice is nearly identical to the original recording but sibilants are less pronounced. We can notice the same spatialization problem as with the 112kbs's one although there is again a good improvement compared to the 112kbs rate.
  • 160kbs: The sound is more natural than 128kbs but the improvement is less spectacular than during the two preceding stages. The sound is different from the original, without however being possible to tell in what. I think that the difference resides more in what we feel rather than in what we hear.
  • 192kbs: The sound is not felt as the original recording. It is however totally impossible to tell in what.
  • 256kbs: The sound is indiscernible from the original. It is impossible to make the difference with the original recording.
  • 320kbs: The sound is indiscernible from the original. It is impossible to make the difference with the original recording.
Listen to 320kps encoded music (click here) on our KryKey Internet Radio Station Demo (Radio Station).
Check out all the Radio Stations at www.KryKey.com

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