How does stream quality impact your station?

How does stream quality impact your station?

November 13th, 2023

Audio quality varies widely. The audiophiles out there will know that one vector of audio quality is the bitrate of a piece of audio. Bitrate is the number of bits that are conveyed or processed per unit of time. Put more simply — bitrate is the amount of data being transferred into audio. Generally, the higher the bitrate the higher the fidelity and the better it will sound to your ears.

We generally express bitrate in kilobits per second (kbps). For reference, MP3 bitrate normally ranges between 96–320kbps. Bitrate is one of the main factors that determine the “quality” of your stream. Stream in a bitrate too low and it won’t matter how good the music is, it won’t sound like it to your listeners.

Many audio providers recognise the benefits of higher audio quality and subsequently choose to gate those benefits behind higher paywalls. For example, Spotify Free plans only allow for audio to stream in the 128–160kbps range, whereas Spotify Premium allows users to stream between 256–320kbps.

You can see this same pattern with most internet radio streaming providers where they will lock higher stream quality behind higher priced plans. It can often be cost prohibitive for many community and independent radio stations to afford the plans that come with higher quality bitrate.

Here at Radio Cult, you can stream anywhere between 96–320kbps and change the bitrate at any time.

What is a “good” bitrate is context specific. You have to consider how end users will be listening and what they are listening on. If your content is being delivered over the web, as is the case with internet radio, then you have to consider your listeners’ internet connection too.

If many of your listeners are on mobile with poor network connection then streaming in 320kbps may cause unwanted buffering. But, if your station is centred around audio fidelity and love of music then you might not want to be forced to stream in a low bitrate.

If “good” bitrate is context specific then what really matters is that you have choice. The choice to realise your station’s dream and stream in the right bitrate for you. Radio Cult allows you to do that by letting all stations, on every plan, choose the bitrate that is right for them.

No matter if you want to stream in 96kbps or 320kbs — Radio Cult has you covered.

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