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Quality of FM Radio Today
Old 6 days ago
  #1
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Quality of FM Radio Today

Has anyone besides myself recognized just how bad FM Radio sounds in recent years?

I know most stations have switched to digital and they play most music from computers now as files. They must be using crappy MP3's for transmission however. When you listen to the high frequencies in the music they break up so badly, its painful to even listen to it.

I got some free satellite radio when I first bought my car too. I like the idea you can tune into certain topics and eras of music without all the commercials but the fidelity is even worse then AM and FM combined. The top end cant be transmitting much above 10Khz and the leftover digital artifacts are so bad it makes people sound like they have a lisp when they speak.

I suppose they think Quantity is better then Quality. I couldn't justify buying a subscription to listening to such crappy fidelity. I realize they do it to save hard drive space, but there is a point where greed becomes ridiculous. You can fit thousands of CD quality wave files on drives and the drives have never been cheaper.

Instead they are sticking tens of thousands of MP3's which simply don't make it through the transmission and reception process intact. The distortions caused by normal air transmission disturbances occur right where the treble of an MP3 is weakest and what you have left is horrid.

At least when stations were analog and they used Tape, Records, and CD's the smoothness of the music was there and the only disruption was caused by line of site interference with FM. Now you have that plus the crappy audio fidelity. They winder why they are loosing listeners? They need to stay a step above streaming music on the internet by using higher sample rate audio files.
Old 5 days ago
  #2
Here for the gear
 

I think part of it might be that they are using crappy mp3s.

However, I think it is mostly caused by lack of dynamics. Everywhere along the chain. It has become very common in recent years to squash the hell out of your mix elements to make them louder. Then the mixer very likely does buss compression on the mix to make the mix louder. Then the mastering engineer uses compression to make the masters louder. Then the radio station will VERY aggressively compress/limit the hell out of what they send out to make sure all their songs play back at the same volume.

It has been common for all of these levels of compression to exist for many years. However, it seems in the last 10-15 years or so, that it seems to get more and more aggressive. To be quite honest, I haven't been able to listen to FM radio for quite some time now because it is fatiguing to my ears. And half the time, i am on my way to the studio and don't want to tire them out before I even walk in the door, or I am on my way home from a long day of using my ears, and I can't handle the extra fatigue from the radio.
Old 5 days ago
  #3
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cavern's Avatar
 

I only listen to FM radio in my truck so it doesn't matter to me with the road noise and all. I think that's what they are shooting for nowdays. FM radio has become an after thought. A convenience.
Old 4 days ago
  #4
Lives for gear
The current state of FM transmissions is being gently pushed into a better digital world via IBOC (In-Band On Channel) digital sideband transmissions. Although from my perspective, this tech is too little to late, its capabilities are quite encouraging. Take a look at this overview PDF: [https://www.telosalliance.com/images...20And%20FM.pdf ]

The highlights are that both AM and FM will get this IBOC transmission capability. The S/N max of 70dB for FM will now be in the 92dB range, and the AM frequency response will improve from its paltry 5kHz to something in the 10kHz-15kHz range. FM will get better from its current 15kHz to around 18kHz.

All the analog processing of aggressive limiters, pre-emphasis/de-emphasis that has be piling on top of the already compromised MP3's that are probably the source material will no longer be necessary. That won't keep operators from continuing the analog-based practices, but at least the medium won't demand it for getting a usefully clear signal to the audience.

Since consumer behavior changes, and large-scale radio station ownership have both conspired to destroy the viability of radio as a place to discover new musicians, there are many business practices that will have to change in order to draw a new audience that's willing to invest in IBOC-capable receivers. We'll see how things develop.
Old 4 days ago
  #5
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boombapdame's Avatar
I've despised radio since '96 when the Telecommunications Act was signed.
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