High Quality BBC Radio Streams

Somewhat lost in all the fuss about the BBC retiring its WMA internet radio streams is the fact that there are now high quality 320kbps streams for all BBC radio stations.

Apart from Radio 3, which has had a 320kbps stream for a while, the best quality it has been possible to listen to any BBC station in digitally has been 128kbps. These 128k streams have never sounded too good to my ears, especially through my Sonos system. To my knowledge, this is the first time it has been possible to listen to 6 Music in high fidelity in any format.

The new streams use the Apple developed HLS protocol, meaning you can listen to them simply by pasting the link into Safari. Another good way to listen to them is to use the VLC media player, which is available on pretty much any platform.

It is likely that these streams will only work from a UK-based IP address but I have not verified that.

Courtesy of user simoncn on the Linn forums, here are the HLS streams for the national stations:


BBC Radio 1
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_one.m3u8

BBC Radio 1Xtra
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_1xtra.m3u8

BBC Radio 2
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_two.m3u8

BBC Radio 3
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_three.m3u8

BBC Radio 4
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_fourfm.m3u8

BBC Radio 4LW
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_fourlw.m3u8

BBC Radio 4 Extra
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_four_extra.m3u8

BBC Radio 5 Live
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_five_live.m3u8

BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_five_live_sports_extra.m3u8

BBC Radio 6 Music
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_6music.m3u8

BBC Asian Network
http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_asian_network.m3u8

16 thoughts on “High Quality BBC Radio Streams

  1. Clive Cowin

    Hi Steve
    Thanks for these, I have my desktop PC with widows 7 connected via HDMI to my Harman Kardon AVR 3500 receiver and used to listen to the radio via winamp. The quality was not as good through the WMA format, but it was better than nothing when the BBC decided to turn it off. Anyway I find it a faff using the BBC website and the sound keeps “dropping out” which is annoying. I’ve been looking for something like this for a while and so glad I stumbled upon these. Like you suggested, I have made a playlist in VLC player and saved it to the desktop for easy access. Cant wait now to test the quality by turning up the volume a bit

    Thanks again

    Clive

    Reply
  2. Tim

    Did a bit of experimentation with stream capture today using the URLs above, and noticed that although the bitrate is 320kbps, the frequency response of the audio is chopped off around 17kHz for 6music and BBC2 – Radio 3 is full bandwidth as far as I can see. So there seems to be some codec stacking involved.

    Reply
  3. david

    Hi Steve,

    great idea but I am struggling to actually play these, vlc does so but is very demanding of resources especially with my small and underpowered laptop.

    Any experiences of how to use the streams with a normal music player e.g. foobar, itunes, media monkey?

    Thanks

    david

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      To play HLS streams in iTunes, go to File->Open Stream, and paste in the stream url, replacing “http” with “itls”.

      For example:
      itls://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_two.m3u8

      Reply
  4. Bbconetwo

    Hi have you any streams for bbc TV channels bbc 1 and 2? I’m
    A blind person so I’d like to get the urls so I can use them as a custom url in tunein radio

    Many thank in advance

    Reply
  5. Ian Kendrick

    Hi

    Thanks for this! Have been looking to get high quality streams of BBC stations, this is just the ticket.

    I am using either a Mac or iPad or iPhone. And I have just purchased a Chromecast Audio. With iPlayer on any of the platforms, I can get all of the content through Chromecast perfectly.

    If I use your URLs, they work great in Safari, but that does not support Chromecast. I installed Chrome browser and when I put the same URL into it, iTunes runs and plays the file, and of course iTunes does not support Chromecast. Meanwhile if I play anyhting else through Chrome, it streams through Chromecast perfectly. AAARRGHHH!!!

    Any thoughts?

    Many thanks

    ian k

    Reply
    1. Ian Kendrick

      Found what for me is a good solution. Using an old iPhone 4 with an Arcam drDock, i can feed the hifi system with the streams. All i had to do was to bookmark them, select the one I want and put the phone into the dock. As an extra extravagance I am using the digital out from the drDock to feed a good quality DAC. All seems to work very well. Such phones and docks are not expensive these days and it saves having to hook up a Mac or PC to the system.

      All good really

      Thanks Steve, am listening to 6Music and it actually sounds OK now, for the first time.

      best

      i

      Reply
  6. Andrew Wigglesworth

    Thanks for this. I use the MPD audio daemon in Debian GNU/Linux.

    I use the ncmpcpp interface (I like text interfaces), but there are well developed GUI interfaces as well.

    I downloaded the playlist files into a directory in my music directory, and then updated the database.

    It all works perfectly.

    I had made some m3u playlists of other streams previously, but these are much better quality.

    Reply
  7. Carl Anthony Skidmore

    I have experienced an audible kind of “snatch” quite often when listening from either the BBC website or tunein via the HLS stream.
    However, when I select the AAC 320 stream from tunein, the sound is more open and detailed without these snatches, as far as recent listening is concerned.
    Any thoughts at all?
    Many thanks indeed.
    Sincere regards.
    Carl A. Skidmore

    Reply
  8. cycling

    listening to hls stream on vlc, much better that using bbciplayer app, less compressed and more range. BBC6 sounds really good.

    Reply
  9. Steven

    Thanks for the tip with iTunes, using itls instead of http. This works but what I find with these solutions is they work for a day then you have to repeat the process all over the next day to get it to play again (something to do with the BBC changing the file every day for overseas rights reasons?). I will find out tomorrow but wondered if this was true of this stream too?

    Reply

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