(I really need to stop biting The Buggles for my blog post titles)
I’m a bit ignorant on the tech behind this, but let’s see if I can keep up…
The broadcast industry is making moves towards digital TV and radio (often called “high definition” or “HD”). Allegedly these technologies make for better media quality, but require the purchase of all new digital receivers to make them work. And at least in the case of TV, the plan is to completely phase out analog broadcasts by the start of 2009. At which point, if you want to watch broadcast television, you’ll have to buy a new TV, or converter box. Which is pretty ridiculous. When was the last time you said “this show is good, but I wish that Spongebob’s face was just a bit crisper“?
Anyhow, I’m drifting.
One of the other (supposed) benefits of digital broadcast was that you could fit more channels in there. And just this month, radio started giving this a try. As I understand it, you would tune into a regular station, like 90.7FM, and have the option of listening to the old station at that frequency, or push a button on your digital radio to hear a second station coming out of that same frequency (of course, given the state of most radio, both stations will likely suck).
Except… maybe none of this works like it’s supposed to. DIYMedia.net tells us that the technology used for this new “multicasting” is highly flawed. For example, the sound quality of a multicast signal can’t go above 96kbps. And if you want to have more than one channel coming out of there, you have to divide that 96 up between the multiple stations. Your average mp3 file is at 128kbps, and mp3s are only “near CD quality”, and most of us internet broadcasters settle for 64kbps. Frankly, I have to wonder if my source here is accurate, just because this seems so idiotic. Would you pour money into a radio station like this if you knew that the sound quality was going to be that shitty?
DIY also tells us that digital broadcasters are looking to build anti-copying technology into the mix, so that you couldn’t pirate their low quality crap.
In conclusion, it seems that HD radio is destined to die a painful death.
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