What's with the super-low-end 56kB bandwidth?

S E B broadcasts at 56 kB + 22050 Hz for several reasons.

The Codec

56k/22050 was the maximum standard codec provided by Microsoft’s public-license version of NetShow waaay back in 1999 * Archival

when this radio station launched.

My recollection is that the tooling uses Fraunhofer under the hood, but that might be a false memory.

Microsoft’s Netshow was, and still is, a good quality compressor. It does a great job pumping out the bass, and the compession artifacts are somewhat gentle.

To this very day, I continue to use this ancient compressor – housed in a virtualized Windows XP box running Nullsoft technology – because it produces very high quality for its bandwidth and the streaming requires very little CPU overhead.

I have tried out using LAME and OddCast * Archival , but they can really drain on processor time and I’ve found the quality to be marginal. That may be a thing of the past, but it was so for quite a while.

On Principle

I don’t believe that the broadcast should be much higher in quality.

I do not intend it to be a ‘perfect copy’. If you covet one of the tracks or albums or artists that you’ve heard on S E B, I strongly encourage you to hunt it down and purchase a full-fidelity copy of your own. I firmly believe that these artists should be compensated for their beautiful efforts.

Granted, much of what the station featured is very hard to find. Yet who am I to stop you from going to YouTube and doing your own ‘research’?

Source Material

A (decreasingly large) chunk of my source material was originally transcribed to MP3 at 96kB + 44100 Hz. Remember * Archival , this is back in the day when all of these playlists were being archived to precious 737 MB compact discs. So effectively, the originals already contain compression artifacts ( grrrrrr ).

I have since resampled most of the content to 320kB rates, but 96kB is still the lowest common denominator.


Although I might be be tempted to broadcast at 192kB like most other stations, it does get a bit expensive. Like, proportionatly expensive.

So I profess that we are all getting a much better bang-for-our-buck by keeping the bandwidth low. Listeners get a respectable number of connections, and I don’t have to go back to eating ramen and peanut butter just to keep S E B puffing along.

But, yeah …

I must agree that 56kB can make some insect drones, clip-art songs and vibrant jazz sound rather … hazy.

But it does stream nicel over a 3G connection. Mostly. However I’m sorry to admit, even at this creaky 56kB, there is little hope for dial-up modem connections.

Yes, I mean the screechy * Archival kind of modem. The kids, they don’t know …

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