The first thing people think when they want a better audio streaming quality is that the provider or the bitrate is at fault. In some cases that may be true, although below are a few other factors that the streamer has control over and can significantly increase the quality of the streams sound.
What Does Better Audio Streaming Quality Consist Of?
To get the better audio streaming quality, you need the combination of Bitrate (kbps), Frequency (Hz) and mono vs stereo.
Bitrate is the measurement of how much data is transmitted in a given amount of time. In the audio streaming world, this is commonly referred to as the audio quality and measured in kilobits per second (kbps). Of course, the higher the number, the more data is sent translating into a more accurate sound wave. The radio streams get compressed by the encoder to a bitrate that matches or is less than your server stream rate so that if can read it properly in order to re-distribute it to the listeners.
Tip: You can set your encoder to a slightly lower rate to provide a buffer cushion to ensure the data transfer at a rate that the server can handle. This can help minimize any lag or latency issues.
Sampling frequency refers to the number of times the sound data is repeated in order to facilitate the subsequent filtering of unwanted noise. The frequencies are measured in Herts (Hz) which indicates the number of samples per second.
To be more technical, the main impact of sampling frequency is the Nyquist Frequency which is a type of sampling frequency that uses signal processing defined as “half of a rate” of a discrete signal processing system. This is the highest frequency coded for a particular sampling rate in order for the signal to be reconstructed.
Mono Vs Stereo
The main difference between Mono and Stereo is the number of independent audio channels. Lets break is down:
Mono or monophonic is a single channel sound reproduction, often centered in the “sound field”.
Stereo or stereophonic is a multiple channel sound reproduction which creates the impression that sound is coming from various directions. This mimics our natural hearing which is why this is the preferred setting broadcasters would like to stream with.
With that information at hand, lets discuss why stereo is not always the best choice when broadcasting.
Due to the fact that stereo creates multiple audio channels, the bitrate will be affected by being split up between these extra channels. For example, if you have a bitrate of 64 kbps and stream is set to stereo with two channels, the bitrate will be cut in half to allow each channel to have its own independent sound. This means your sound quality per channel is reduced to 32 kbps. In this scenario, you may want to consider streaming mono to make use of the full 64 kbps in one channel to provide a better sounds quality.
On the other hand, if you have a higher bitrate such as 320 kbps for example, you could provide a much higher quality sound per channel. Each channel would have an independent stream of 160 kbps allowing the listener to hear your stream in a more clear but also more natural hearing quality. In this scenario, stereo may be a better fit.
Unfortunately there is no “one size fits all” setting for your encoder so we have put together a list as a good starting point that should work in most cases.
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