Friday, July 04, 2008

Steam Radio ...

Whatever happened to old-fashioned radio?

Of course, it's still around. Small boys still listen to short-wave under the bed clothes ... don't they?

For me, one of the biggest developments on the web in the last couple of years has been internet radio. This is especially true since the introduction of stand-alone, wifi devices such as the Noxon iRadio and Sangean WFR-20.

I mean, listening to BBC Radio5 in real time in New Jersey, USA, let alone any of the other 14,000 or so stations around the world. How neat is that?

The interesting question is, what's happening to real radio?

There are now a number of ways of listening to radio other than over the analogue airwaves; in N America, satellite radio; Europe, DAB - Digital Audio Broadcast; via cable/satellite on your TV and via the internet.

The main problem for these new methods of delivery seems to be quality. Currently, it seems that nothing compares to a BBC Radio3, over-the-air, FM broadcast.

Contrary to DAB/satellite claims of cd quality, bitrates are far below those found on cd. In fact, many internet stations are starting to surpass DAB stations. In addition, other means of cramming stations onto limited bandwidth means that compression technology is impinging on quality and dynamic range.

For me, internet radio seems to be the way to go. There are problems, particularly if you're mobile. In-car internet radio seems a way off yet, although I see that people are already using European unlimited 3G access via an appropriate mobile device to achieve this end.

However, quality and access is rapidly developing.

I like it.

*See my hifi / media index here.