I listen to BBC radio stations in the UK (I’m in the UK) using Airable through my dCS network bridge.
The BBC has announced its switching off its streaming radio services!
Will dCS/Airable make changes so I can continue to listen?
Will non-BBC services, like Paradise Radio, be affected by this change?
The first thing to make clear is that the BBC is NOT switching off its streaming radio services. It is moving the platform that it uses from Shoutcast to HLS and Dash. The effect if this is that the radio aggregator TuneIn will not have access to it nor will any of the devices which use the TuneIn service. See:
The BBC is trying to ensure that the route for listening on the internet in the UK will be via their BBC Sounds App.
The airable aggregator is not mentioned anywhere in their notices and the dispute seems to focus on their relationship with TuneIn . However their moving platform solution would seem to affect airable anyway. Sounds is not a streaming radio station but a portal which allows access to individual BBC stations and their archived programmes. At face value that would not be supported by airable which seems to me to be effectively a graphic interface above the URL of the station. Further information gratefully received. I would imagine that the only way Sounds might be available via Mosaic would be for dCS to get an API for sounds from the BBC and add Sounds as a service as per Tidal, Qobuz, Deezer etc. However Sounds is officially limited to the UK . For various reasons including the relatively small numbers affected this may not be realistic.
For internet listeners outside of the UK the BBC says things will continue as they are now.
So where does this leave dCS’ UK customers? As dCS devices are AirPlay compatible then the Sounds app can be downloaded to iOS devices and BBC repertoire reached like this. However BBC channels like Radio 3 HD ( important to me) may not become available as dCS do not currently support HLS ( Radio 3 HD is currently AAC).
You may also like to read:
Non BBC services are not affected.
looks like the ball is in dCS court…
Thank you for this detailed explanation!
Thank you so much PAR for this informative summary. On point to clarify is that BBC sounds is available outside the UK. While there are some limits (the stream rate is reduced and some programming isn’t available) it pretty much functions the same here in Canada as it does in the UK. In fact the reduced bit rate sound quality is actually better than our local CBC stream!
Streaming BBC sounds via airplay is a breeze
One caveat is that the Bartok only supports Airplay1 not Airplay 2. The downside here is that you cannot simultaneously stream to the Bartok and other airplay devices. Not the end of the world for me.
Reading about Airplay I think that my solution might not work. Airplay seems to support formats that Apple have decided are compatible and I am unsure that includes HLS/Dash. So I would be grateful for anybody to respond who knowns more about this aspect.
Of course HLS is an Apple thing so it should, of course. I suppose it will be necessary to await the actual changeover to make sure.
Pete, if I’m not mistaken, Airplay transcodes to ALAC when streaming? Which would mean as long as the iDevice supports HLS/DASH, you should have no problem streaming that over Airplay to the dCS.
Easily verified if you have an HLS site to test.
Thanks Anup. That is very reassuring.
Unfortunately for anyone awaiting some feedback from me on this I must explain that I cannot test anything as a major part of my Vivaldi stack is on its way back to Swavesey for a little TLC. I will try to report in due course and hope it won’t be too long.
Pete, I tested a couple of HLS Streaming test sites from my MacBook Pro, all seem to have no problems then Airplay’ing to my Bartok. Like this site for example; https://castr.io/hlsplayer/
I’m guessing the BBC Sounds app will operate just as seamlessly with Airplay
Thanks for this. I look forward to getting my Vivaldi back in due course when I will also be able to find out if Sounds provides HD streams for Radio 3 . That flavour is only available to us in the UK so I understand.
Can’t imagine the BBC altering the AirPlay interface of the Sounds app. We use Sounds several times a week via AirPlay and it works flawlessly
Thanks but as you said earlier for Canada:
In the UK BBC Radio 3 is available in what they call Radio 3 HD. That is 320kB/s AAC and sounds very good indeed and is the reason for my last posting.
For the Proms season four or so years ago there was an experimental stream of it and all Radio 3 as FLAC which sounded incredible but also had some downsides where live mixing was involved as if microphone set ups were switched mid-stream or faders moved it was distractingly obvious.
Anyway I am assuming that you don’t get the HD version for this station. Elsewhere USA correspondents have told me they can only get lower rate streams.
However if I am incorrect that would be interesting.
Hi Pete - you are correct - here in Canada we don’t get the HD service. We only get the lower stream which is only 96kbs. yes it does sound compressed, however the quality is still quite good.
I’m very envious of you in the UK to have such a high bit rate stream. (I enjoy it when I travel to the UK on business)
I did experimented with a VPN service and while one can get the high bit rate steam, the hassle of dealing with A VPN on a regular computer is a pain
Continuing the discussion from BBC switching off streaming radio in UK:
Radio 3 in HD is really important to me - I listen to it for a couple of hours most evenings.
Were it not any longer available through dcs with similarly convenient interface as now, I would lose a significant part of my listening pleasure, which led me to purchase my dcs Rossini in the first place, and encouraged me to upgrade to Apex.
PS - if dcs were informed back in summer 2022 of the BBC’s intentions, why was I not warned of this possibility before I upgraded to Apex?
Are you sure dCS were made aware of this last summer? BBC has posted a list of the known (o them) units to be affected and dCS is , unsurprisingly, not amongst them. Why? Because The BBC see this issue focussed upon the radio integrator TuneIn with whom they have had a dispute over payment. BBC may well be unaware of airable AFAIK who are caught up in the outcome of the BBC’s actions. Please let me know how dCS would have been made aware before the BBC made their decision public in January this year ?
In any case any action that dCS may take concerns their relationship with airable whom we know are aware of this. Should dCS take steps to ensure that the BBC stations continue to be listed in the selection provided by airable and displayed on Mosaic we may only find out in due course as dCS do not give advance notification of firmware upgrades.
Whatever happens here will be no loss of Radio 3 HD to you as I find that it is what is uniformly offered to online UK residents when selecting Radio 3. So even if it disappears from Mosaic you should still be able to hear it via AirPlay.
It would seem that quite a number of HiFi companies are being caught up in this issue . The main thing for the BBC is that they are under considerable pressure from Government to justify the free services it offers and which are funded by the license fee . In order to get accurate and informed data to fight the pressure the BBC has made BBC Sounds which you have to be signed in to and then registers when you are streaming and listening to any BBC service.
TuneIn as it is a world wide service refused to do any work on their service which would enable the BBC to register and count a listener via their service and as such the BBC is not going to allow that no identified method of accessing their streams.
Not a great deal of help I know to dCS users of there network players but I use Logitech Media Server which is free open source software and within three days of the announcement they had constructed a Plugin with the BBC,s help that allows me to register in to BBC sounds and then gives me a GUI in my media server software which allows to access all the various offerings on BBC Sounds. As this is not a commercial software and no one is making any profit from its use and the BBC helped and assisted the engineers of the software to cone up with a mutually agreed solution which means you sign in and then get a token which lasts about two years at which time you then sign in again and get another token for two years it should not be that difficult for dCS or any other company to approach the BBC and get something worked out that would enable access . In all cases as this is sort added service for no additional payment the company has to want to and be prepared to fund the work to keep its customers happy .
Keep in mind there are estimated to be over 4.2 million users of LMS on various platforms and this is a full worldwide used software all of whom could have ended up unable to listen both in the UK and elsewhere so given BBC wants numbers they were only too happy to find a solution . I doubt that there are much more than a few thousand (if that) users of the dCS service to access which means no pressure for a solution .