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At what bitrate does mp3 "beat" FM radio? Studio Headphones
Old 29th December 2010
  #31
Gear Head
 

Not enough.

Even at 320 constant rate it will lost frequencies and sound worst than a good fm transmission. A good FM tgransmission will blow any mp3.
The best you will go in mp3 will be at it maximum 320 constant bitrate.
Best of all is to use flac.
Old 29th December 2010
  #32
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petsematary's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheebs Goat View Post
It's kinda' funny how HD radio is marketed as a sound quality upgrade to regular FM.

...or at least it would be funny if FM stations didn't chew their sound up bad enough to make that marketing claim seem plausible.
The problem is probably that as time goes by, the networks want to expand and cram more channels into the same space, only lower bandwidth and quality. They say DAB is going to be X kbps resolution buy I wouldn't be surprised if it gets lowered after a couple of years, to make room for more channels. That's usually the case. Quality stays roughly the same, the ouput increases exponentially.
Old 29th December 2010
  #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glassmaster View Post
FM radio has the potential to sound fantastic. If you have ever had the pleasure of hearing the live Boston Symphony Orchestra broadcasts from Symphony Hall on WGBH, you'll know what I'm talking about. (I'm also dating myself.) MP3s don't come close (at any bit rate).
Yeas - but ione thing very important these days is most pop and rock stations use MP3s as their source! So there is hardly a chance for radio to sound better that way - thouygh FM can sound absolutely stunning when done right.

I used to do live music in the radio studio and with a direct broadcast it is better than records - or can be.
Old 29th December 2010
  #34
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wado1942's Avatar
 

Quote:
It's kinda' funny how HD radio is marketed as a sound quality upgrade to regular FM.
That's because the public is willing to believe anything. I remember DMX satellite radio advertising "perfect, digital, CD-quality sound" all the time. Then I actually heard it for the first time in a noisy restaurant and was horrified at the shrill, space-monkey sound. Hearing it in a better environment was even worse.

Or what about Dish Network advertising "digital quality" as if that term actually means anything. Then you view their 1.5mbps channels on your $1,500 TV and learn what it means to pay through the nose for something slightly better than You Tube.



Quote:
I personally think modern FM radio is an abomination of sound.
Yeah, and the sick thing is almost all the problems you hear are a direct result of the loudness war. Almost all the damage you hear is #1, crushed masters going through electronics that by design cause phase shift and #2, trying to counteract the effects of emphasis to make the transmission sound hotter.

So, by going with AAC transmission, you do away with a lot of the phase rotation and emphasis problems. You easily cut the number of processes used in half. Of course, everything is still crushed even more than the source material and there's multiple generations of encode/decode between the source material and you, but that's for another time.



Quote:
I would compare FM radio to a good consumer reel to reel tape recording.
You're more in the ballpark with S/N ratio, but phase, frequency response, dynamic distortion, harmonic distortion etc. are all way lower even on 7.5 I/S tape.



Quote:
Do you seriously believe that a cheap portable transmitter with 10' range represents a state-of-art FM transmitter technology?
I've had several of those and I don't think any of them implemented emphasis properly. Even if the transmitter is 1/2 meter from the receiver antenna, the sound is notably duller than the direct source or the same material from a commercial station. I know the stations use EQ to hype up the sound and that the FM signal is band-limited, but it should sound better than it does. Cheap amplifiers, cheap filters and low voltage power supplies make for an unfair comparison. I might try making my own one of these days though or modifying a discarded commercial transmitter to keep me out of trouble with the FCC.
Old 31st December 2010
  #35
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by wado1942 View Post
I've had several of those and I don't think any of them implemented emphasis properly. Even if the transmitter is 1/2 meter from the receiver antenna, the sound is notably duller than the direct source or the same material from a commercial station.
You either had only crap ones, or forgot all about multiband processing at the radio station. Some transmitters indeed do not implement pre-emph on the line input. That's a good thing for a certain group of people. Provided you got one that doesn't clip in ugly ways, and doesn't have any cheap DSP on the line input, you can get it to sound better than commercial FM.

Anyway, back to the point. If you'd ask me, it would be 192kbps.
Old 31st December 2010
  #36
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petsematary's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Th3_uN1Qu3 View Post
You either had only crap ones, or forgot all about multiband processing at the radio station. Some transmitters indeed do not implement pre-emph on the line input. That's a good thing for a certain group of people. Provided you got one that doesn't clip in ugly ways, and doesn't have any cheap DSP on the line input, you can get it to sound better than commercial FM.

Anyway, back to the point. If you'd ask me, it would be 192kbps.
When you say 192, you're talking about 192 stereo, right? That translates to 96 in mono... right? Or have I gotten it all wrong here?
Old 31st December 2010
  #37
Gear Guru
 
Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by petsematary View Post
That translates to 96 in mono... right?
I'm not a lossy encoding expert, but I believe stereo (and multi-channel surround) encoding is more intelligent than simply doing the same thing for each channel independently. The same content is often present in more than one channel, so the actual quality is higher for stereo than a simple sum of two mono bit-rates.

--Ethan
Old 31st December 2010
  #38
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petsematary's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post
I'm not a lossy encoding expert, but I believe stereo (and multi-channel surround) encoding is more intelligent than simply doing the same thing for each channel independently. The same content is often present in more than one channel, so the actual quality is higher for stereo than a simple sum of two mono bit-rates.

--Ethan
Oh, right, that's probably true. I'm no expert either though. But it makes sense. A stereo file in 192 with hard panned sound to the left would, if things are fairly intelligently set up, allow more than 96 to the channel carrying the bulk of the audio information.
Old 1st January 2011
  #39
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Verified Member
What's sad is that "broadcast quality" at one time meant better than major label record quality. Some of the finest audio I ever heard in my life came from Chicago's WFMT in the late 1960s. I was profoundly disappointed by what I heard from them a few years ago although they still remain among the best sounding stations in the United States.

The very best quality is probably a highest bit-rate 48kHz. sample rate AAC encoded from a 24 bit or better source. Whacking the audio down to 44.1x16 bits before encoding makes no technical sense.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #40
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I've got to google that station now, Bob.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #41
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeeYoo View Post
Forget radio and TV. I have learned to live without it.
Me too. Much more life in your life that way.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #42
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petsematary's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by edva View Post
Me too. Much more life in your life that way.
Depends on what you watch or listen to. It's kind of like saying reading is useless... when all you've read is comic books. Not saying that's what you do, but there's good and bad media. I find I watch about as much per day as I always have, but it's way more quality these days. I almost never watch stuff just to kill time. 90% of all the stuff I take in is useful somehow.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scottxx View Post
Even at 320 constant rate it will lost frequencies and sound worst than a good fm transmission. A good FM tgransmission will blow any mp3.
The best you will go in mp3 will be at it maximum 320 constant bitrate.
Best of all is to use flac.
such comments just make me laugh.

Also that 192 BPM MP3 sounds "like crap" compared to CD. LIKE CRAP!

Man, use a good encoder, LAME with highest effort.

The fact is, FM radio is compressed to death, and MP3 keeps the
same dynamics but sounds bad in the HF when using below 192.
Never use it below 192 kBit/s or even 160 kBit/s.

But in a comparison 192 kbit/s mp3 versus FM radio there is a clear answer,
MP3! Except you like that squashed sound!

Another story is the error tolerance. When you get audible bit errors at high distance.
That is a completely different story.

So some of you don't hear the dynamic loss BUT the hugh difference between
192 mp3 and cd. yo yo
Old 2nd January 2011
  #44
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petsematary's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by HomeProducer View Post
such comments just make me laugh.

Also that 192 BPM MP3 sounds "like crap" compared to CD. LIKE CRAP!

Man, use a good encoder, LAME with highest effort.

The fact is, FM radio is compressed to death, and MP3 keeps the
same dynamics but sounds bad in the HF when using below 192.
Never use it below 192 kBit/s or even 160 kBit/s.

But in a comparison 192 kbit/s mp3 versus FM radio there is a clear answer,
MP3! Except you like that squashed sound!

Another story is the error tolerance. When you get audible bit errors at high distance.
That is a completely different story.
I'm guessing you're mainly talking about music now, right? I have a hard time hearing the difference between 128ish bitrates and higher for voice only. Especially males.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petsematary View Post
I'm guessing you're mainly talking about music now, right? I have a hard time hearing the difference between 128ish bitrates and higher for voice only. Especially males.
Could be. I mean music, because the bandwidth is limited to 16 kHz at 128 kBit/s.
Old 4th January 2011
  #46
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Plush's Avatar
At what bitrate does mp3 "beat" FM radio?

To answer the OP's question--
MP3 will never equal the fidelity of a high quality FM signal. A high quality FM signal does not rely on data compression and offers fidelity about equivalent to a 13 bit playback.


Posted via the Gearslutz iPhone app
Old 4th January 2011
  #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
To answer the OP's question--
MP3 will never equal the fidelity of a high quality FM signal. A high quality FM signal does not rely on data compression and offers fidelity about equivalent to a 13 bit playback.


Posted via the Gearslutz iPhone app
and not to rely on data compression is automatically good ...
13 bit
Old 4th January 2011
  #48
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You do know that word length only deals with dynamic range, right? For anything outside of classical, 13 bit covers it and then some.

And that was an analogy anyway. There are no bits in FM.
Old 4th January 2011
  #49
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loujudson's Avatar
FM radio is, or was analog. If you have digital radio it will not sound as good. I hear digital TV is often worse than motion picture film...
Old 4th January 2011
  #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheebs Goat View Post
You do know that word length only deals with dynamic range, right? For anything outside of classical, 13 bit covers it and then some.

And that was an analogy anyway. There are no bits in FM.
You have once played FM radio on a normal hifi system and noticed the loss in dynamics by the DIGITAL multiband limiter? Or just in the car? This dynamic loss weights 100 times more. Bits are not the devil, source coded or not. Listening experience weights more than fruitless theoretical arguments. And digital TV can be really bad, but this is a apple-orange comparison.
Old 4th January 2011
  #51
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petsematary's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by loujudson View Post
FM radio is, or was analog. If you have digital radio it will not sound as good. I hear digital TV is often worse than motion picture film...
Eh, what? Are you saying analog always sounds "better" than digital? Why do you think they're switching from analog to digital tv and radio? Might be for a lot of reasons, but one of them's quality. Used right, digital radio such as DAB+ pees all over FM broadcasts. Listen and see for yourself.
Old 4th January 2011
  #52
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by petsematary View Post
When you say 192, you're talking about 192 stereo, right? That translates to 96 in mono... right? Or have I gotten it all wrong here?
Mostly yes. Sure there's joint stereo and stuff (the stereo encoding tricks someone mentioned above), but you still need close to double the bitrate for stereo, no advances in technology will change this (not even AAC with SBR though i have to admit it sounds decent at 48kbps).

The fact of the matter is that with any lossy encoding scheme, the more "crowded" the source material is, the worse the encoding quality and the higher the bitrate needed, since the encoder has less places to hide artifacts. It's kinda ironic that we all need to upgrade to FLAC or other lossless formats to listen to today's multiband compressed, squashed and clipped music.

With a cheapo FM transmitter and some software processing i was able to get better quality than a popular dance station, at the cost of just a few dBs. The fact of the matter is that there is no way to get FM transmission to sound exactly as loud as the original while maintaining the same level of quality - pre-emphasis and modulation limits get in the way. Once you get past this, FM can sound very good. Too bad the station owners don't want to admit it.
Old 4th January 2011
  #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petsematary View Post
Used right, digital radio such as DAB+ pees all over FM broadcasts. Listen and see for yourself.
Now that's funny.

The awful sound you hear on FM radio has nothing to do with FM itself. Most stations start with a low bitrate mp3, pound the bejeezus out of it with ramped-up loudness insanity and phase kookiness, then convert to FM and broadcast.

So yes, a low bitrate ACC pees all over a low bitrate mp3 that has been run through a meat grinder. Shocking. Your "used right" qualifier makes this an apples to oranges comparison. Process X used right is better than process Y abused by deaf monkeys.

You'd be surprised at the comparison if we even it out with "FM used right". DAB+ would run away crying.
Old 4th January 2011
  #54
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loujudson's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by petsematary View Post
Eh, what? Are you saying analog always sounds "better" than digital? Why do you think they're switching from analog to digital tv and radio? Might be for a lot of reasons, but one of them's quality. Used right, digital radio such as DAB+ pees all over FM broadcasts. Listen and see for yourself.
Don 't generalize it! I don't watch TV so I don't generalize what I said. Digital anything *can* be better but often isn't - the reason we have digital radio and TV is so the corporations can sell more bandwidth, not to deliver greater quaiity to the ears we use.

Digital broadcast radio has an arguably shorter range in which is does sound better. BUT in fringe areas I think it is much worse.

I never said "analog always sounds better" at all.
Old 4th January 2011
  #55
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wado1942's Avatar
 

Quote:
I hear digital TV is often worse than motion picture film...
That's the understatement of the century. Most DTV broadcasts are about 3mbps MPEG-2 with DTS audio for standard definition, read "99% of the information is thrown away before it gets to you". The HD signals are quite a bit better at around 8mbps, but still a far cry from the source material. Don't get me started on digital satellite TV because they cram "HD" signals into lower bit rates than most standard definition DVDs.

Now, neglecting the fact that 35mm 1.85:1 matte film typically resolves around 4,000 lines and the best HD signals are around 1,500 lines, you still have a lot of other issues. Though I admit, with big-budget "films" being shot on video or at the very least, shot on film and transferred to video where it's manipulated to death, what you see in the theater is nothing like what used to be available. Combine that with the lousy Dolby Digital sound and the 85 year-old projector design, you can get better quality images and sound at home on your Blu Ray player than in the theater now. Then there's digital projection, which is worse still because not only is the picture made of little squares, but you can see the spaces between them. The digital projectors are even lower resolution than the video they're playing and they tend to have colored streaks. Not to mention the heavy compression at use for the playback.
Old 4th January 2011
  #56
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loujudson's Avatar
Right on, Wado. Knowing what you do, how would you compare theater 35MM film projections ( as we have in one local theater, cafilm.org ) with watching a DVD on a Mac laptop? I only see movies on my laptop unless they are new or restored prints at the Rafael... sound aside, of course, it is an interesting comparison!

L
Old 4th January 2011
  #57
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Well, I hear DAB, DAB+ and FM on a daily basis. There's no question FM is the "worse" of the three. That's all the evidence I have, and all I'll ever need. The whole argument that radio stations play mp3's is ridiculous anyway, it depends on how serious they are about their audio. The last station I worked at, the engineer would've killed me on the spot if I'd even suggested playing an mp3 on the air. I think there's a lot of regional and national differences here to consider. The fact of the matter is, american radio sounds way worse than most european counterparts so naturally, it's hard to debate things like sound quality.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheebs Goat View Post
Now that's funny.

The awful sound you hear on FM radio has nothing to do with FM itself. Most stations start with a low bitrate mp3, pound the bejeezus out of it with ramped-up loudness insanity and phase kookiness, then convert to FM and broadcast.

So yes, a low bitrate ACC pees all over a low bitrate mp3 that has been run through a meat grinder. Shocking. Your "used right" qualifier makes this an apples to oranges comparison. Process X used right is better than process Y abused by deaf monkeys.

You'd be surprised at the comparison if we even it out with "FM used right". DAB+ would run away crying.
Old 5th January 2011
  #58
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Verified Member
A lot of European radio isn't run by advertising salesmen yet like most radio is here in the U.S.

One of the scariest things I ever heard was an audio marketing type in London telling me in 1968 that Europe was behind the times but they were "going to be catching up to you Americans." I didn't know how to tell him that was the last thing one would ever want to do if one really cared about audio quality.
Old 5th January 2011
  #59
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Plush's Avatar
If you're a clown, read this

For "HomeProducer" and "Cheebs Goat"---and some other goats.

I have the impression that you are both talking about something you don't know much about.
Why don't you guys talk about something you actually have knowledge of?


I am at WFMT Radio in Chicago and our signal is incredible. In fact, we have just improved it again this past spring. We are the USA's largest classical station.


Such comments as made by the above posters include:

"and not to rely on data compression is automatically good ...(?)
13 bit"

and

"You do know that word length only deals with dynamic range, right? For anything outside of classical, 13 bit covers it and then some.

And that was an analogy anyway. There are no bits in FM."


You're both clowns.

Of course it is a known fact that a super high quality FM signal is of much higher fidelity than ANY data-reduced format. It is also a known (and computed fact) that high quality FM is offering a signal of the same fidelity
as a 13 bit source. (You have to be knowledgeable about analog AND digital to compute this simple calculation.) You both don't understand what I wrote.

Sorry---I don't take kindly to those who cannot stick to the subject, cannot concentrate on the topic at hand or who hi-jack the thread by talking about video.

I see your underwear.
Old 5th January 2011
  #60
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Verified Member
Plush, you should find out exactly what was in WFMT's air chain during the mid 1960s. It was utterly amazing and I fear better than what they were using five years ago.
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