BBC Proms 2014 – In Quad

18 Jul

As some of you might know, the Prom season starts tonight here in the UK, and this year the BBC will be yet again experimenting by broadcasting some concerts in Quadraphonic sound via the internet.

For more information, here’s the place to go:


34 Responses to “BBC Proms 2014 – In Quad”

  1. Em² September 14, 2014 at 22:30 #

    Did anyone else manage to record any of these? Steve Reich’s Desert Music was a highlight for me.I managed to preserve a few myself which I’ve saved as multi-channel FLAC files.
    I have experimented with remapping the channels to create 5.1 encoded files with a mute centre channel. Perhaps I could put back here by sharing a few of them if I could be guided on a suitable multi-channel format that most people could play back. Obviously remove this post if not appropriate or if this has already been catered for elsewhere.

    • oxforddickie September 15, 2014 at 08:40 #

      I certainly didn’t and i suspect many here didn’t either, will be in touch

  2. Em² July 21, 2014 at 14:02 #

    Forgive my newbie comments on here (hello all) but thought my experience might be of interest. I have a less than new Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop (running Ubuntu) which amazingly has analogue surround outputs (oh yes it does). These Mpeg-dash broadcasts work well via this. I find I can even record the 4 active channels via audacity during a broadcast. These files (multichannel wavs) only seem to play playback corectly via the laptop though but hey it works. Best wishes all.

    • Owen Smith July 21, 2014 at 20:59 #

      My Oppo 95 blu ray player will play multi channel FLAC files. I don’t know about it playing multichannel WAV, but it should be possible to convert the WAVs to FLAC.

      You seem to have had a much easier time getting this to work than anyone else on here. This may be because you’re running Linux, and/or the laptop has analogue multi channel outputs so no need to mess around with sound cards or HDMI.

      • Em² July 21, 2014 at 22:13 #

        Hi Owen
        Yes, nobody was more pleasantly surprised than me that this worked without too much fiddling and faffing around. Would that everything was this straightforward. Just a lucky combination of the right bits n’ bobs for this one it seems.
        I’m still experimenting with re-encodings of recordings to see if I can get a format that can be played outside of relying on the laptop as a playback source.

  3. sacdtodvda July 20, 2014 at 08:20 #

    I’ve solved it – at least for me. Here’s what I did:

    First, without connecting the HDMI, I changed my Speaker settings in the Device configurations from “Default Audio Device” to “Speakers (Realtek High Definition Device)”.

    After I had made that change, I plugged in the HDMI cable which caused a second option to come up called (on my machine) “LHD32V88AU (Interl(R) Display Audio)”. Selecting this new option, I was able to then configure the speaker layout from a range of options. I initially chose Quadraphonic and then later tested 5.1 as well. In both configurations, the rear speakers played as expected through the BBC test link.

    Unplugging the HDMI meant the Speaker setting reverted to the Realtek option.

    The only strange thing was in both the Quadraphonic and 5.1 settings, the Centre channel test played in both the Left and Right speakers, creating a “virtual” centre. OK, I’d expect that with the Quad setting, but not the 5.1. Anyway, the concerts have no Centre, so it’s just an oddity and not a big deal.

    I hope this information is useful to someone else.

  4. Owen Smith July 19, 2014 at 18:48 #

    Reading up about MPEG-DASH, it’s one of these horrid adaptive systems that tries to match the bit rate it gives you to your broadband connection so that it can stream live. So if you have some local congestion, the sound quality will drop due to suddenly using more lossy compression. This is going to a be a right pain for anyone trying to record these, they’ll want maximum quality.

    Also people with slow broadband connections are in trouble. I wish it were a fixed bit rate thing that would buffer if your connection is too slow, so you can start it playing, pause, go away and have dinner or something, and then come back and play it all nicely buffered up regardless of how slow or unreliable your broadband is.

    I just don’t understand this modern obsession with streaming everything live. I’m quite happy to trickle things in slowly and then play back a high quality copy at my leisure. Torrents have a lot going for them and do this job very well.

  5. Owen Smith July 19, 2014 at 18:07 #

    If anyone knows of an analouge sound output device that works with this please let me know. Chrome on my Vista laptop can play the audio, but it’s being folded down to stereo since I only have stereo audio devices. I’d need audio devices that connect using any of: USB 2, USB 3, FireWire 400, eSATA (unlikely) or an Express Card 34 device (I plug my USB 3 or eSATA cards into the Express Card slot, its one of the great things about this laptop).,

  6. sacdtodvda July 19, 2014 at 04:25 #

    I’d love to give this a whirl, but 8:00pm London is currently 5:00am east coast of Aus. Not only would the wife have a fit if I had the sound system on at 5:00 am, it’s still winter so it’s somewhat dark and cold at that time of day.

  7. crispin14 July 18, 2014 at 23:27 #

    There must be some sort of receiver compatibility that I don’t have.
    The Chrome browser sends the signal, and the test plays, but the left and right surround signals are reproduced like the front signals through the front speakers.

    My Home theatre system connected with HDMI looks for DTS or Dolby, and the “Direct” mode seems to be stereo only.

    Am I missing something or is my Home Theatre Receiver already out of date?

    • Owen Smith July 19, 2014 at 01:50 #

      You should be trying to use multi channel LPCM over HDMI. When Blu Ray first came out, amps couldn’t decode DTS HD MA or Dolby Tru HD so blu ray players transcoded them to multi channel LPCM over HDMI. Also some early blu rays actually had LPCM 5.1 audio on the discs.

      It’s more likely that your PC can only send stereo LPCM over HDMI so it has been folded down to stereo in your PC. See if you have any options in your PC for configuring channels in the HDMI audio output.

    • sacdtodvda July 19, 2014 at 04:03 #

      Could it be your PC only has a stereo soundcard? I suspect this is the case with the laptop we have that has the HDMI connection.

      • oxforddickie July 19, 2014 at 06:00 #

        No, tried it with a Delta 101LT, still no joy.

  8. Owen Smith July 18, 2014 at 18:03 #

    Here we go again. Why can’t they just broadcast it as an audio only Freeview (and Freesat) HD channel with multi channel audio? There would be massively more people that could listen to that.

    • oxforddickie July 18, 2014 at 21:02 #

      I asked the question, and got this reply:

      We can’t deliver over normal broadcast channels because we don’t have the bandwidth and there would be very significant costs for a small audience.

      We are using MPEG DASH because it handles surround sound well and can be decoded entirely within the browser without any third party software and this will become important as more and more consumer devices such as TVs and set top boxes have web browsers built in. It is also rapidly becoming the standard for audio and visual content delivery over the web and we need to explore how it works.

      There are more detailed explanations in the blogs from the first experiment using this technology.

      • sacdtodvda July 19, 2014 at 04:22 #

        I know I’m not fully up with the technology here, but that sounds like a bit of malarkey to me.

        Here in Aus the 5 HD TV channels all broadcast in Dulby and occasionally use this for surround for movies or sporting events – although it is sadly underused (but that is the subject of a separate rant).

        Sure the 4 or 5 radio channels use standard def stereo, but it doesn’t seem to much of a stretch to broadcast multi-channel Dulby as a radio channel, especially since SD is supposedly able to broadcast Dulby as well, and the ABC waste their HD channel on their 24 hour news station.

      • Owen Smith July 19, 2014 at 12:05 #

        It’s similar in the UK except that for Terrestrial Digital only the DVB-T2 multiplexes (intended for HD but can carry SD channels) can carry 5.1 sound. Also it’s broadcast as 5.1 AAC which is a more effective codec that Dolby Digital, our set top boxes or TVs transcode 320kbps 5.1 AAC to 640kbps 5.1 Dolby Digital which AV amps can then decode (640K is the max bit rate for Dolby Digital architecturally, it literally cannot use any higher bit rate). The sound quality is pretty good for feature films and high end dramas (eg. The Bridge, Wallander) that use the 5.1, certainly better than Dolby Digital on DVDs which have a max of 448kbps I believe. Audio Description supplemental audio also uses AAC (stereo AAC-HE) and when AD is enabled the two soundtracks are combined digitally in the codec before transcoding to Dolby Digital.

        For Digital Satellite broadcasting the UK does use Dolby Digital for 5.1 audio, I don’t know what the bit rate is since I don’t have satellite so I don’t follow the technology as closely. Satellite has more bit rate on the transponders so isn’t so bothered by the relatively small saving that Terrestrial gained by using AAC.

        And yes, it’s rubbish saying there isn’t the bit rate available for this on Digital Terrestrial. The cost might be more of an issue, bandwidth does have to be paid for.

        • oxforddickie July 19, 2014 at 12:22 #

          You learn something new every day, thanks for that info. Shame the raw AAC isn’t accessible, trans-coding always means some loss in quality.

        • Owen Smith July 19, 2014 at 13:13 #

          If you get a DVB-T2 receiver for your PC (usually a USB device) you can capture the AAC audio directly. Depending on what software you use, you can dump the entire raw multiplex data if you want. I’ve seem people extract over the air software updates for set top boxes for later downloading by USB stick, and people have even been extracting the 4K broadcasting tests and running it through HEVC decoders on PCs. They can’t play back in real time, but the stills I’ve downloaded look really sharp. Even if it is wasted on football in my opinion.

          • Owen Smith July 19, 2014 at 13:18 #

            For football read soccer (World Cup) to avoid confusion.

        • Owen Smith July 19, 2014 at 13:16 #

          The best that a set top box could do with the AAC would be to convert it to multi channel linear PCM over HDMI, there would be no loss of quality that way. I don’t know if any set top box can do that, the focus seems to be on transcoding to Dolby Digital (not even DTS, sigh). Dolby will licence the Dolby Pulse codec software which has AAC transcoding built in, so set top box manufacturers only have one licence to buy. It’s always about money.

    • Owen Smith July 19, 2014 at 01:36 #

      Thanks for asking the question OD. No bandwidth? Don’t make me laugh. The entire of Freeview HD mux COM8 is empty, all 40 mbits of it. OK they’re doing some 4K TV broadcasting trials on it, but that’s only for a very short period of time (World Cup and Commonwealth Games) and even that doesn’t use all 40 mbits. There’s plenty of room for a 320kbps AAC audio stream.

      What they are ignoring is that most people can’t be bothered to drag the laptop over to the AV amp and feed it with HDMI. TVs and set top boxes with this level of web browser and audio support simply don’t exist yet.

  9. romanotrax July 18, 2014 at 16:39 #

    Thanks for the heads up. So if I can play these would I be able to record them as well?? It would be nice to be able to keep them.

    • oxforddickie July 18, 2014 at 16:44 #

      Very good question. Last time they did this there were some serious technical issues which stopped a lot of people trying it.

      I’m hoping those problems have now been sorted. I’m ‘trying’ to get the computer to record the output’s, but i’m suspecting the best option would be to record to an external multi-track recorder or computer.

      they’ve not given enough of a heads-up on this, it was only posted today.

      it would be good if someone manages to record some of them, would be good to release them for all to hear.

      • Bob Romano July 18, 2014 at 22:41 #

        Well unfortunately I don’t have HDMI from my computer to my receiver (my receiver in my studio doesn’t have HDMI anyway) and this will not play over the TOSLink that I have (my MAudio 1010LT doesn’t decode MPEG-DASH) and it will not output to ASIO which is the way I have MultiChannel out. So it looks like I may be out of luck. BOO!!

        • oxforddickie July 18, 2014 at 23:03 #

          I think that’s the same for most of us 😦

        • Owen Smith July 19, 2014 at 01:46 #

          Which is my point. They way they’re doing it, the audience might be countable in double digits.

  10. rockyofpittsburgh July 18, 2014 at 15:55 #

    That is interesting. i am happy to learn that the BBC is still broadcasting in quadrophonic.

    I don’t understand all the technical details, but I suppose if I connect a laptop to my receiver with an HDMI cable, my receiver’s Dolby Pro Logic would decode it?

    I think that 19:30 London time is 3:30 PM New York City time. I’ll try.

    • oxforddickie July 18, 2014 at 16:12 #

      This has nothing to do with Dulby. You need to read all of the information supplied by the BBC, it explains everything that you need to have and do.

      • rockyofpittsburgh July 18, 2014 at 16:41 #

        Oh, OK, thanks. It won’t work for me. I don’t use Chrome. I avoid Google like the plague because they have no respect for anyone’s privacy.

        Still, it is nice the BBC is doing this.

      • Owen Smith July 18, 2014 at 18:08 #

        I now have Chrome installed on my laptop, my company’s shareview (discount employee share options) site only works properly on Chrome for some strange reason.

        However I use Vista not Windows 7, and more to the point I think my laptop’s HDMI audio output is stereo only so this may not work. I’ll give the test page a try and see what happens.

      • Owen Smith July 19, 2014 at 01:41 #

        Brain failure, my AV amp has no HDMI audio in so what my laptop can generate is irrelevant. I’d either have to transcode to DTS (and there seems no way of doing that with this browser technology) or buy a 4 output analogue audio card. I’m not sure I can be bothererd since there is no gaurantee this will work on Vista. If the BBC can’t tempt someone like me following this quad blog into trying it out, that shows the barriers.

        Can’t they make a .iso of a DVD-Audio for people to download after the concert? That would be a lot more accessible.

        • Owen Smith July 19, 2014 at 01:42 #

          Or multi channel FLACs to download, though those aren’t as well supported. It just happens that my Oppo 95 can play them.

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