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

BBC Radio 1Xtra

BBC Radio 2

BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4LW

BBC Radio 4 Extra

BBC Radio 5 Live

BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra

BBC Radio 6 Music

BBC Asian Network

54 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


  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.

  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?



    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:

      1. Gary Lee

        Hi sorry to trouble you but have you got the radio streams for 5 live, 5live sports extra and bbc radio Sheffield in .MP3 or .PLS format pls? I’m trying to use the streams in Audials radio app as my own stream if you could help that’d be great pls pls

          1. Gary lee

            Hi Steve I can’t get that to work in his machine is there anyway to change that link to just M3U or PLS stream? M3U8 won’t work and I don’t really now how to explain it better than that sorry for been a pain

          2. admin Post author

            No, these streams are a different format. They will work in the VLC player if that is of use to you?

          3. Gary Lee

            Hi Steve sorry to trouble you
            Is there anyway to contact you privately to ask you re a stream link regards something else about the stream? Could I email you on the link that’s on the page?


  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

      1. Gary Lee

        Hi sorry to trouble you but have you got the radio streams for 5 live, 5live sports extra and bbc radio Sheffield in .MP3 or .PLS format pls? I’m trying to use the streams in Audials radio app as my own stream if you could help that’d be great pls pls

  5. Ian Kendrick


    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

    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.



    2. j

      Hi Ian,

      In case you read this, I had the Sam problem with my Chromecast audio.

      Solution that worked for me was to download an app called rocket which works as a browser. Add the URLs and it works perfectly, great quality radio.

  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.

  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

  8. cycling

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

  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?

  10. Stefan

    Hi there

    On my Onkyo I use Vtuner to listen online radio stations. Is there any way to get this 320 stream to my receiver via Vtuner?

    Kind regards,


  11. Peter Mitchell

    I listen to BBC radio 2 and radio Manchester on FM tuner, appalling!!!
    Or through my Samsung Smart tv connected to my SKY HD box, just as bad.
    I also listen through my Cocktail Audio X10, all BBC radio channels are very poor but I sometimes listen to Adore Jazz via this medium and this is perfect.
    How can I improve my listening experience?
    I am an OAP and not very technically experienced.
    Thank you for any advice.

  12. Eerke

    Hi, the original post was almost two years ago. I was under impression HLS was a stop gap till DASH & there is a blog from them in 2013 about testing it.

    I would like to add a higher quality stream manually to my internet radio. It is currently just the MP3 stream. I am anticipating it might not be able to do the proprietary Http Live Streaming, but wanted to try the DASH. Unfortunately the German manufacturer, woerlein, ignore emails & I can’t find the answer n the BBC. Do you have any idea what is happening?



  13. Gary Lee

    Hi has anyone got any streams m3u or mp3 of the BBC news channel or BBC one/two and BBC parliament? It’s to play through Tunein app…the ones posted earlier don’t work…. my dad’s blind so hopefully you can help as I’m not very technical thank you so much

  14. Richard

    Am I the only one who thinks these “high quality” feeds sound different from the 128k feeds, rather than better?

    If most source’s sample rate is 44.1k, why make the AAC feed 48k? The additional unnecessary processing is not going to improve the sound quality.

    The BBC feeds certainly sound inferior to other radio streams using 320k mp3 and they lack meta-data, which does not give me any confidence that the BBC “Audio Factory” knows what they are doing.

    1. Tim

      The sample rate of the source is irrelevant. Nyquist tells us that frequencies up to 22k will be perfectly represented in a lossless CD source. Resampling that at a higher bitrate does no damage. Encoding into aac at 320 will essentially not cause discernible losses. Anyway a lot of BBC music is being transferred from analogue tapes.

      The main problem is compression. If you compare a 6music in concert rebroadcast (for example) in aac@320 with a good tape of a broadcast, or a transcription disk, you’ll see the dynamic range is vastly reduced.

      1. Gary Lee

        Hi sorry to trouble you but it’s not in regard to the above…. is there a stream link for bbc world tv news channel and bbc news 24 thanks in advance

      2. Richard

        I think most people with an interest in sound quality would say it is a good idea to minimize any processing. You might not hear any degradation, but why do it? If Radio 6 sources most of its music from 44.1 files, why would you convert them to 48k and remove the metadata before AAC coding?

        Obviously, video sources or DAT tapes might be 48k, but most of the broadcast output does not come from these sources and, if it did, it would make sense to standardise all streams to 48k. I do not know what the sample rate used in BBC studios is. Perhaps even the radio studios are set up for TV.

        I do realise that Radio 6 applies the most appalling compression at times, to the point that it is unlistenable. The high quality stream should be as close to the original recording as possible, which is my point. It’s not just Radio 6, though.

        1. Mirek

          48 kHz sample rate is common in broadcasting systems (all TV and radio services use this sample rate in their distribution systems). It’s also the most common internal audio processing frequency in sound devices. 44.1 kHz was typical for the CDs and was dictated by… video synchronisation common to old analogue systems PAL and NTSC (they provided PCM data on the video cassettes – there was no other medium of enough capacity to carry such a vast amount of data). All radio station use 48 kHz (or it’s doubled counterpart – 96 kHz) mixing devices – there is no reason to come back to 44.1 kHz in the broadcast. Frequency resampling from 44.1 to 48 (and vice versa) is not trivial in terms of digital signal processing and better not to over-use it. When I see 48 kHz sampling in any broadcast I’m always sure it comes from top broadcaster.

  15. Gary lee

    Hi have you got a stream for bbc radio Sheffield?i can’t find local football commentary anywhere on the streams could you pls help?
    Thanks merry Xmas

  16. Gary Lee

    Hi sorry to trouble you just wondered if you had a stream for radio Sheffield yet?? It’s for my dad to listen to the football as he is blind


  17. Gary Lee

    This is a message for Steve and Simoncn sorry to trouble just wondered if the bbc streams above work through VLC? If possible could the above streams be changed into .MP3 or .PLS links?
    I’m having trouble setting them up in my dads specialised machine as he is blind… could you also add bbc radio Sheffield if possible to it’d be a great help to him many thanks
    To be honest I don’t know where to start looking or anything to get it sorted for him


    1. Gary Lee

      Morning Richard
      It’s not the reason I was asking it was something else…. is there anyway to private message someone on here n I’ll explain


  18. Gary Lee

    Hi could anyone pls assist with a new link for the bbc one tv channel and bbc news channel?
    You in advance all

  19. Mick davies

    Hi Steve. I can report that I’ve used these streams for many years. A search for “high quality BBC audio streams” always brings them up. I have a funky NAD amp that runs Bluos. I can talk to it with a web browser, so will try instead of the dodgy inbuilt player. Do far, I’ve not found a device that didn’t play them. Currently streaming radio6 from chrome on a pixel 7. Significantly better than the dab stream.

    Thank you

  20. Guy Sivey

    Hello Steve,
    In case you haven’t yet been informed, these URLs are no longer supported. They all return the one word “gone”.

  21. Acer Forge

    Sadly these streams have all been discontinued as of today. (27th October 2023 )

    Any chance of a petition? I’m afraid its all part of the conversion of the BBC from a public service to a commercial broadcaster with the right to tax every citizen of the UK.

  22. Acer Forge

    The streams listed on github do work but are low quality. The alternative I have found is to use Logitech Media Server ( open source and available for windows, linux, and RPi ). This has a BBC Sounds plug-in which can be configured with a BBC personal account. I have this running on a RaspberryPi 4 and its a versatile though complex solution. Its strength is that it is accessible via browser control interfaces on any computer on my home network and also supports UPNP players via a UPNP Bridge plugin.

  23. A. Dias

    I noticed that BBC Sounds 320kbps AAC-LC when sent via Chromecast to WiiM Pro is decoded in a DAC as 48kHz samples. However, the same stream if played on an iPad (latest iOS) is decoded in an external DAC as 44.1kHz samples. Why the difference?

    1. Marmite Sandwich

      My understanding was that all BBC audio is recorded and transmitted in 48kHz. I have always experienced that (but then I don’t use Apple kit). This suggests to me that iOs/Sounds transcodes to 44.1k. Any Apple users out there able to confirm that iOs likes to transcode to 44.1k?

      1. A. Dias

        That’s what looks like. Note though that I am using BBC’s own BBC Sounds app for iOS. They should be able to control that.

        It would indeed be nice if iOS users running the BBC Soumnds app could confirm that.


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