Internet Radio Broadcasting - What's the Best Bitrate

There is a lot of discussion and disagreement among internet broadcaster about the best bitrate to use in order to get the best music quality. This article will address this topic and the other factors that affect sound quality.

Although it is widely believed that the higher the stream bitrate the better the streaming quality there are other factors involved. One important factor is the stream encoder. There are many options depending on what software you are using to encode your stream. For intance you could create a stream that is 128kbs stereo which sends the stream at 44khz. This would create a high quality broadband stream for your listeners. You can create a similar stream at lower bitrates as well.

So why use anything other setting Because 128kbs stereo doesn't necessarily give your listeners the best sound experience. In my testing a lower bitrate like 64kbs encoded in mono can produce as good or better sound quality than the 128kbs stereo stream. Every computer doesn't play your stream the same. On an average computer with two speakers quite often the mono stream will be a better listening experience. I recently received an email from a new internet broadcaster. He wanted to know why my stream at 16kbs sounded better than his 64kbs stereo stream. My 16kbs stream is using mono at 16khz. It produces the best possible 16kbs listener experience in my opinion.

The bottom line is bigger isn't always better. If you have a broadcast stream experiment with differnt bitrates and encoders. Try mono and stereo. Listen to your stream on different computers and speaker systems. Try to be the listener and experience what they will hear. This is the best way to decide on your bitrate and encoding.