..actually at £18.75 a month it does start to make DAB in the car look far more attractive.
Last month BMW rolled out the first cars to come with a fully integrated on-demand music-streaming service built in. Just before Xmas I took it through its paces to see how it performed and after an hour I was forced to conclude that things look ominous for digital radio, which is likely to be squeezed harder as on-demand …
I've been using a DAB unit in my car (a Pure Highway > Aux in) and it is only on some routes that I can use it, such is DAB reception. For speech content, I tend to just stream from my phone (to Aux in). I tend to just fall back onto FM or an SD Card full of albums.
The price of this BMW system looks expensive now, but then so did all mobile data not so long ago.
I actually hate the overcompressed sound that DAB produces (IMHO) when compared to FM, but I have a DAB/FM radio in the car, and in fairness, despite the appalling compressed/low bit rate sound, I haven't actually had many occasions when I get the DAB reception disappearing/bubbling mud. I suppose that depends where you live. I do much prefer the sound quality of FM though.
Again, in fairness to the technology, if only the broadcasters were not intent on making it sound as loud as possible (hint: I have a volume control to adjust that to personal taste, thank you) by compressing the stream to death, and reducing bandwidth to squeeze in more crap channels, it might be decent.
But then there is the power consumption and the varying delay vs FM to consider too I suppose.
It might interest you to know that a number of stations' DAB broadcasts are actually straight out the desk - no processing applied. Seems counterintuitive initially, but actually you realise it makes sense because most broadcast processing is done to overcome the limitations of FM (preemphasis to counter the high noise floor, 15 kHz frequency response, prevent overmodulation).
With DAB, as long as it fits into its mux bandwidth, anything goes. A/Bing DAB and FM signals on a good system (with a good bitrate station, sigh) will reveal the higher frequency response on DAB.
There's a separate argument about finding a decent quality station on DAB... Classic FM (if you can force yourself to listen to it) is essentially unprocessed on DAB. Compare it with FM and see what you think.
The Pure Highway > Aux in solution is cack. The receiver is an old, insensitive design that has long been superseded (think of early '90s RDS!) and the antenna it comes with is useless. I had one and ditched it for a Kenwood DAB head unit and a roof mounted, properly grounded multi-frequency amplified antenna with DAB output (ie. to the same standard as most cars now provide for FM). The difference is phenomenal.
Most people's experience of DAB is as an afterthought....
"TheRegister's anti-DAB bias is ridiculous. Next week there will be an article on how sitting in total silence is better than listening to DAB."
Its simply offering the alternative point of view to that of Ofcom & the BBC that DAB is the future of radio. It isn't. Reception is poor in a lot of areas and the appalling low bitrates put paid to any "near CD" quality BS we've heard from various vested interests over the years.
Lets get this straight - 64 Kbs MP2 (yes MP TWO , not three - TWO - AKA musicam , a 1980s codec) in *mono* which is what a lot of stations broadcast at, is NOT the future of radio in any sane persons eyes. If DAB was being marketed as a replacement for AM radio then sure, no problem, but FM? No damn chance.
"Lets get this straight - 64 Kbs ... is NOT the future of radio in any sane persons eyes"
And yet a paid service which doesn't even offer this yet is being touted by the Reg as superior to DAB - not just analysed on its own merits but specifically positioned as a DAB-killer.
I would guess that's the sort of thing the previous poster meant when claiming a ridiculous degree of anti-DAB bias on this site.
That's only later, first you need to get past the £27 a month for a year. For a 48kbit/s stream. It was at this point in the article I laughed heartedly and stopped reading.
I suppose if you're driving a BMW that kind of monthly cost isn't going to choke you, but it assumes you're not only rich, but also stupid and deaf.
Are you stone cold barking mad? That must sound like sticking your head in a goldfish bowl. Even with the latest in psycho-acoustic magic there's not enough data there.
For a site that like to bash DAB as often as possible for it's "quantity over quality" approach (and coverage, and cost and anything else...); praising something that poor seems odd.
Plus at least with DAB (and analogue) it's "pay once" and you're done. With this you're forking out hundreds of pounds a year for the privilege of appalling quality sound.
Just connect your MP3 player full of high-quality rips\purchases and be done with it all.
"Tracks stream in at 48kbit/s with 64kbit/s Dolby Pulse due later this year"
Not sure why 48 KHz is being mentioned (which as a sampling frequency would be quite acceptable) - the article is talking about 48kbit/s bit rate, which I imagine sounds appalling...
48KHz is fine, that's the sample frequency.
No, it's the bit rate, and it is 48kb/s, not 48Khz. In terms of quality, that takes us back to the pre-FM days of the 1940s. Unbelievable. Please let it be a misprint.
...you can spell out requests letter-by-letter...
While driving ? Seriously ?
...£27 a month...
I give up. Many new cars already have USB integrated with music and VDU/satnav functions. All your music on a £15 thumb drive at 320 kb/s, available all the time, everywhere, for free, along with high quality FM stations offering curated music, sports, speech, jokes, whatever you fancy...
Not necessarily. If it's AAC-HEv2 then 48 kbps is a good compromise and more than sufficient for FM-quality audio. AAC-HEv2 at 48 kbps is subjectively identical to MP3 at 128 kbps; it's also far more efficient and quick to buffer and play.)
When you're sat in a resonant metal box with a two litre combustion engine up front and road noise from all around you, are you really going to hear those subtle transients on that piece of Brahms you just put on?
There's a lot of hysteria and much of it is unfounded. I've been waiting for cars to have SIM slots / integrated 3G for almost ten years now, BMW can't bring this to market soon enough (plus Omnifone have an impressive catalogue of major and indie labels' repertoire, meaning this is officially A Good Start). What they need to do is get enough rich early adopters onboard so they can recoup on their capex on the data packages, then they can drop the subscription price...
"If it's AAC-HEv2 then 48 kbps is a good compromise and more than sufficient for FM-quality audio."
Really? All the subjective and objective studies - note 'studies', not 'claims' - of HE-AACv2 I've ever seen consistently rank the sound quality @ 64kbps as worse than marginal FM reception, and well below the quality of average FM reception.
On top of that, coming from a country where HE-AACv2 at 48~64kbps is common on DAB+, I can tell you that it sounds like shit for music, and is distinctively noticeable even on speech.
Can you see the dots on a 1080 mobile phone screen?
That hasn't stopped them being widespread.
Recording at 96Khz or 192Khz is done for a good reason, to capture harmonics that exist in instruments such as guitars. The theory is that losing inaudible harmonics degrades the sound.
Of course these are often rendered down to 44.1Khz for CD, but the rendering and mastering process can aim to maximise the sound quality. The end result being better than if you'd recorded at 44.1Khz. Much like capturing a 12MP picture and scaling down to VGA still produces a better end result than capturing at VGA resolution.
With 24-bit or 32-bit recording the aim is to have some headroom, to accept a louder signal than 16-bit recording. Once the recording is downscaled to 16-bit the noise floor is downscaled too, so the end result is a cleaner recording.
Of course all of these quality factors are completely destroyed with modern over-compression processes to inflate the volume of music on the radio and TV.
But I think the point is there's no point in distributing audio at much above 16/48 (even though as you say there's a benefit in recording/mixing in 24 bits)
This is a great article for those interested why http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html
This in relation to a previous AC comment?
> You drive your wife's 5 series into the garage in addition to parking your own car (Austin Princess) at the end of the street? Douche.
No, the BMWs are business cars. However, I do not understand why you bothered to post so unconstructively? Care to explain, Luke?
Interesting you'd mention that. My old G4 came with Apple's standard digital sampling/recording application bundled with the OS, and its "CD quality" setting was 48Khz, with the sampling rate at something like 256kbps. I tried a few tests at that setting, and I honestly couldn't tell the difference between the stereo digital samples and my original source material, a metal-oxide analog cassette, in good condition, with Dolby C.
I can't remember where I read the article or the research it cited -- it's been some years -- but, yeah, as you mentioned, there's supposed to be a threshold for "average" human hearing at around the 48Khz neighborhood.
As far as samplng rates, my own personal ears start hearing those "swishy noise" artifacts in the quiet spaces and what I call "audio pixellation" at anything under 128kbps, but I won't speak for anybody else's ears here.
No. The accepted average is 20Hz to 20kHz for an adult (wider for younger folks). which makes 40kHz (double of 20kHz) a starting point for sampling. But the whole "48kHz" discussion starts from a typo as there is no mention of kHz in the article. I made a joke but got down voted.
> there's supposed to be a threshold for "average" human hearing at around the 48Khz neighborhood.
Much, much lower than that.
TV flyback frequency is 15.6KHz, and most adults can't hear that. The cutoff frequency - even for young ears - is a little over 20KHz, which is why CDs sample at 44.1KHz - it gives a response up to 22.05KHz.
The service isn't cheap at a shade over £27 a month
So, that makes DAB about £27 a month cheaper?
You get what you pay for, frankly for £27/month I'd prefer to have a decent 3G data plan and be able to stream anything I wanted from any internet station over my bluetooth-equipped phone, along with email and browsing when required. If I'm only going to get "curated" channels and on-demand music it would seem better, and cheaper, just to have my own MP3 collection with me. As you say, the accoustic environment of a car means that decent VBR MP3s are plenty good enough.
This system does sound like a new, improved, version of the Sirius XM satellite stuff in the US, and my experience of that in rental cars is that it's akin to having an erratic MP3 player loaded with someone else's playlists.
I don't know about you but whenever I'm in the car there's always at least my 3G phone, my passenger's 3G phone, and probably in a lot of cars things like TomTom's with Live Traffic (also a 33G connection) already.
If you haven't already noticed a problem, I doubt you'll notice one now.
And, yes, my phone does 3G for traffic with CoPilot Premium and checks every five minutes, not to mention the background tasks like my GMail checking, and I've never noticed an outage more significant than a tunnel or poor reception (i.e. where even GPS gets poor reception anyway).
I've noticed 3G signal drop-outs on near stationary motorway traffic jams.... it might have just been my phone playing up, or it might have been the large number of nearby handsets saying hello to the base station / sending Google GPS data etc.
Did I read on The Reg that 4G will in time become more efficient at sending / receiving small packets of data than 3G is today?
So something else is trying to encourage people into a cloud services based world, doubtless in the hope that they can charge subscriptions for it all once we're tied to it with no alternatives. Personally I've taken a different route, albeit one that requires a bit of manual effort. My desktop machine at home is my equivalent of a cloud server, with all my music, videos, documents and pictures on it. I then rsync all or a subset of this between my laptop, tablet and phone. The tablet or phone can be connected to the line in socket of my car stereo. The manual part of this is that I have to deal with data that's been modified more recently on the mobile devices and sync it back to the desktop machine by hand. It worth pointing out that I can do this since the desktop and laptop run Linux, while the tablet and phone run Android - not sure how feasible this would be using a mix of MS or Apple operating systems.
I concur and have done much the same.
I will propose another convenience to all this. My car in the US is a toyota which has handsfree bluetooth and plenty of spare 12V plugs.
I bought some cheap($20!) Blackberry bluetooth stereo audio modules and connected itto the 3.5mm car line input, and it only comes on when the ignition is on. Multiple devices can connect and they all get patched through the car audio and so get muted when a phone call comes in.
I love it when tech just works....
"...bluetooth...I love it when tech just works...."
Exactly! Even my almost bottom of the range Kia has bluetooth audio, Aux in, USB port and the CD player plays MP3s from disc too, A plethora of options included by default.
I see this thing as another Beemer status thing rather than anything truly revolutionary.
What would really be truly revolutionary would be for the car manufactures to agree a standard for car "entrainment" systems with an open API so tablet/phones can link in seamlessly and be controlled from the steering wheel/stalk controls whether you have Andriod, iOS, Win8m or even Blackberry via an installed app. This would allow the app devs to do everything BMW have just announced and so much more with new features and upgrades just a download away. Oh yes, and the convenience of it working in any car such as partners, friends, hires, etc., not just the beemer penis substitute.
"What would really be truly revolutionary would be for the car manufactures to agree a standard for car "entrainment" systems with an open API so tablet/phones can link in seamlessly and be controlled from the steering wheel/stalk controls whether you have Andriod, iOS, Win8m or even Blackberry via an installed app"
It already exists and guess what it is called bluetooth. Your car stereo and phone need to support the correct bluetooth profiles for it all to work, but I can assure you that when they do it does indeed work.
"So something else is trying to encourage people into a cloud services based world, doubtless in the hope that they can charge subscriptions for it all once we're tied to it with no alternatives. Personally I've taken a different route, albeit one that requires a bit of manual effort. My desktop machine at home is my equivalent of a cloud server, with all my music, videos, documents and pictures on it..."
Sounds pretty much like what I do.
My old G4 iBook is now my studio "media server", with iTunes and a couple of different video players running on it, connected to a big-assed FireWire drive with all my albums and "mixtapes" (even though they aren't really on tape anymore) and movies and favorite old TV episodes on it, and I use either iTunes or VLC Player to cue up a working day's worth of music and video that plays while I work... and the whole mess is backed up to DVD ROMs. But, yeah, like you said... private cloud.
" My desktop machine at home is my equivalent of a cloud server, with all my music, videos, documents and pictures on it. I then rsync all or a subset of this between my laptop, tablet and phone."
I do similar, but also use a cheapo pay-as-you-go phone with 15 quid for 30 days unlimited data (which I already have for other purposes) so I can stream my personalstuff over the internet, therefore not needing to store/sync much on the phone itself.
A *true* 'private cloud' !
The article says the car has DAB, so you still listen to Planet Rock or Test Match Special.
It does strike me that if many hours of Spotify can be cached to the car before the journey, one wouldn't really need the 3G- as I believe one can do with some mobile devices. The problem is, one would then be in DRM territory (and need to extend WiFi to wherever you park your car)
Cache spotify? spotify will stream in various qualities up at least 320kbps, it can also be set to download the tracks and store them at whatever bitrate you choose. So you can download them as you play/stream or download them before leaving the house, or even download them wherever over mobile. Far superior to this service from BMW.
Ever tried driving outside a city? Mobile internet when switching between cell towers at 70mph+ just doesn't cut it. Take a journey up the M5 and try to sustain a connection. Worse what about Scotland or the Welsh valleys or Cumbria? Sometimes the live chat of a radio station is what you are looking for - not a pre created playlist of music.
Actually, recently switched to EE (because of the appalling Vodafone 3G coverage) and drove down the A1 from Harrogate to London streaming 6Music catchup on the iPlayer radio app on my phone. No problems.
Don't have DAB in the car. Not sure why I would want to?
Makes me think, rather than having a dedicated service like this Rara cloud service, why not just go for a in car system which offers internet and allows people to access what they like? As 4G rolls out, it will offer better service and coverage than 3G (or DAB, come to that), and more to the point, the IP backend connectivity will be more future proof than a DAB service which will just end up with a legacy installed base when we want to move to something better.
Concentrate the money on providing decent nationwide IP connectivity, and then you can dispose of these new "obsolescent" broadcast technologies that they are desperately trying to get people to adopt.
Analogue radio + IP looks like a much better way forward than trying to drag people kicking and screaming to DAB when they can't prise the Trannies out of their clenched fingers.
>why not just go for a in car system which offers internet and allows people to access what they like?
That is what Volvo have just done - their car acts as a WiFi hotspot.
However, will what *you* want to listen to be available through a reliable and sensible interface, suitable for using whilst driving?
The only reason you might want to limit the functionality is if you are trying to wrangle a better deal from the mobile service operators: having the car's 3G tied to a music-only service means that it won't cannibalise data tariff sales to the consumer's mobile phone. Therefore, the operators might offer a Europe-roaming car-music-only tariff at a much cheaper rate (on the grounds that it is better to take some money than no money)
Not round here. I'd be delighted to be rid of the inane babble of DJs, pretend "local" news from pretend "local" radio stations, incessant and irritatingly cr@p adverts for the same businesses over and over again, and worst of all, DJ's reading postings off Farcebook or Twitter. Thank goodness the phone in is mostly dead.
For three miles on my route to work, I have no signal with O2. Not even 2G. Things are a little better with EE, but there are still dropouts. Internet radio would need to cache at least five minutes worth, preferably ten, which makes it useless as "radio" - I may as well listen to the iPod classic. I go through three river valleys and their associated hills which means that signal quality really does fluctuate!
DAB gets a good signal. I only get flutters occasionally and then only in built-up areas. It is like AM used to be before the move to FM, and I don't mind that.
As for streaming music killing radio, I disagree. There are some great stations on DAB now - as well as the oft mentioned 6Music, you have TeamRock Radio, which makes DAB worth it. Commercial-free commercial radio with presenters that know the music and keep out of the way unless necessary. Then the additional Absolute stations (80's, 90's).
Compare to FM with its three non BBC stations - Absolute Radio, a random asian music station and Crapital FM. No choice there.
Leave the arguments about dead technologies or that we should have gone to DAB+ Mk3v2, and remember that there are parts of the country with large populations that the mobile internet simply cannot reach. And that FM radio is crap.
I have a reasonably-priced bluetooth (but not DAB) enabled car stereo from a few years back, and recently I've paired it with an unlimited data mobile deal, and now I can listen to my station of choice (6Music) via the iPlayer Radio app. Service is good enough for my daily commute (there's a few black spots but I only lose connectivity for under a minute) and I didn't need to splash out for anything newer or more expensive.
I'm going to be looking at a new home radio soon and I suspect I'll be looking at IP radio, not DAB.
You have to be joking. Unless all you're doing is pootling about London, or any other large city, then this will be about as much use as a chocolate fireguard in the 'real world', where 3G (and the yet rarer 4G) signals fluctuate like the preverbial prostitutes underpants. If the telcos ever get their acts together to provide at least 75% coverage at a decent enough signal strength then, just maybe.
That said, by that sort of signal saturation, we'll probably be able to stream directly into our cooking brains.
I will agree with you to an extent on DAB though.
Unless all you're doing is pootling about London, or any other large city, then this will be about as much use as a chocolate fireguard in the 'real world', where 3G (and the yet rarer 4G) signals fluctuate like the preverbial prostitutes underpants.
Pootling around London wont be much fun either. I can't get a 3G signal when I'm walking around in Londonbridge, let alone driving around some of the 'burbs.
(By the way, I had a large bag of dried apricots this morning and I now have fluctuating underpants as well).
I tried streaming bbc 6 in my car driving to Cornwall. I expected it to be a failure and drop off as soon as I left London. To my surprise it probably only dropped out 2 or 3 times over 4 hours and each time it restarted before i could reach over to the phone and see what had happened.
It wasn't quite so good on the return journey and needed to be re started but i was amazed how good the 3G was. using threes network if anyones wondering
I recently gave this a try too but using an Android app called Livio Radio (as it includes a station I enjoy from the US) which includes some limited caching ability but I haven't felt the need to enable it yet. I do around 35 miles each way to work and back along a mix of motorway and local roads. The most it has cut out was twice, each time it started streaming again in a few seconds. This was on the 3 network too.
I think the key is that it's a driver experience rather than just a listener one. The driver experience is set up to be safer so that you don't take your eyes and attention off the road longer than necessary. Fiddling with your phone to change stations / tracks, etc., is more dangerous than a system designed specifically with the driver in mind. However as in other posts Bluetooth® can achieve this.
It's not clear from the article whether 48Kb/s is the streaming rate or the compressed data rate of the music. A 128Kb/s file is just about bearable, assuming it's AAC or equivalent compression. I can't imagine how bad a 48Kb/s music track will sound. If it's the streaming rate, I suppose you could download stuff in advance the night before, or perhaps just enjoy the long periods of silence in between tracks from Lady Gaga's latest offering.
The benefit of integrating iOS or Android would be to allow me to use my own music service and in particular apps like TuneIn Pro, rather than BMW's chosen service. I already subscribe to a music service, don't need another, and I have a number of internet radio stations I like to listen to depending on what kind of music I fancy. What I really want is a system that allows me to load whatever music service or internet radio app I want to use.
This system is like buying a car where the radio is tuned to Radio 1 and can't be changed.
I still don't get why we aren't into Satellite radio in the UK.
In the US, every car I've hired has Sat radio built in and gets hundreds of channels, reliably. Makes a huge difference when driving through many states just gives you "both kinds of music" on FM.
DAB is expensive, reception is poor in rural areas limiting the choice of channels, few car manufacturers want to invest in it, and few other countries use it (those that do have limited availability and might be on a different band your radio doesn't support anyway. Sat radio at least might still be available in other parts of Europe and likely you'll get all the same UK stations.
hundreds of channels, reliably.
Hundres of channels, each with a repeating 20 song playlist :(
It's also not reliable. Fine on a wide open freeway, but it drops out every time you go under a bridge, and when driving through forested areas on country roads it's up & down as often as the aforementioned tarts' knickers. Unusable.
POS: Sat Radio "is also not reliable".
Strange. I agree that if you *stop* under an overhead obstacle, then yes the signal cuts out after a few seconds. Happens everyday at one traffic signal on my daily commute. If you *drive* under an overpass at speed, it typically does *not* cut out. Reason being, there are satellites in at least two orbital locations. And the signal also contains temporal redundancy on most channels. Makes it reasonably reliable. As good as FM that sometimes gets into a multi-path null at some traffic lights.
In northern locations with steep hills (e.g. the lovely island of Cape Breton), then the old XM signal from the geostationary belt will be blocked by the mountains. The legacy Sirius satellites are in a very high Molniya orbit and are typically not blocked. Sirius birds are typically not even blocked in the deep canyons (those with roads) of Colorado (been there, done that, lovely drive).
"Hundres of channels, each with a repeating 20 song playlist :("
I'd go for that! The local (NSW) 'Classic Rock - All your Favourite tracks from the 70s 80s & 90s' only ever plays Hotel California, Baker Street and My Baby Is The Centrefold. Although in fairness, they do add Roy Wood's 'Thank Christ it isn't Christmas Every day' (or whatever) into the mix.
So an extra 16-17 songs would be amazing.
I use my iPod daily in the car, and it will work under tunnels, bridges, etc. And it just works. I don't pay a monthly fee for it, and it has all the music I want.
That said, anyone with enough money to buy a new BMW probably won't mind paying £x per month for some music.
"iPod? How quaint!"
It isn't broken so there's no need to fix it. The day they release a solid state drive offering 120Gb of space (size of my iPod) then it'll be boxed away for future generations to enjoy the musical stylings of Bruce Springsteen.
Until then, I'll keep the doylies on the dashboard!
...but I get to hear Planet Rock all the time in my car now instead of never. I even get TeamRock if too much acoustic stuff is on Planet Rock. I had to put my antenna horizontal because Fords heated front windscreens are basically radio opaque in the vertical orientation, however, I still get a good signal almost everywhere around me.
It is disappointing that the quality (in terms of bps) is lower (it is 64kbs and mono now - the most disappointing change) but it is still better by so far to listening to local pop radio that the choice for me is moot - AC/DC sounds okay at lower bit rates compared to Mozart.
Since Planet Rock is not on Freeview, I bought a Bluetooth/DAB thingy for the kitchen so I can have Planet Rock there without the palaver of streaming it via the phone. A WiFi radio would have been nice but not £40 I suspect. Also, the radio works when the internet doesn't.
As for curated radio in the car, like others here, paying that kind of money may suit BMW drivers at the upper end of the spectrum but not ordinary folks I expect. Nokia's curated radio, which I don't use much because of the aforesaid Planet Rock and the lack of an unlimited data package, is excellent, free, permanent and even allows downloading for off-line use.
Besides, having a DJ makes you feel you are part of a group like watching a movie at the cinema instead of a DVD at home. If the DJ doesn't witter on, it is fine. I quite like most of the Planet Rock DJs; they are self deprecating in general, not too full of themselves and one of them is Alice Cooper so the stories are much more interesting! The amount of time they waste is reasonable and the ads are not too bad. The only flaw is they often join ads to news or traffic, good for the DJs toilet/fag break but less good for us - far better to cue up a song guys.
... it would have to come down to £10 a month to start competing with Spotify. In the meantime, I will keep attaching my phones output to AUX IN on the desk for Spotify online or offline; or playing via bluetooth; or playing my own CDs ripped to SD.
But I understand, BMW buyers pay for convenience without much regard to cost. Let them.
This streaming thingie is way overpriced. I am even more astonished, that BMW is not be able or willing to provide a proper integration for Spotify into the ConnectedDrive. I already have a Spotify subscription and I want to use it. Yes I can use Bluetooth and it is working okay, but you are not able to navigate through your playlists... That would be important, not this over priced useless streaming thing.
The service offering appears to be similar to that from XM Radio in the US, but that is delivered by satellite. I guess no-one was able to put together a viable business plan for a Euro-wide XM lookalike. Even the US one has had its problems. Nevetheless I've used XM in hire cars & with friends on one or two US trips, and it works well, even in the middle of Yellowstone Park where mobile coverage is all but nonexistent. Perhaps the dense mobile coverage in Europe makes it more viable, but it really needs a good multicast infrastructure over 3G/4G to make the economics work.
Unlucky! I fled from the blithering of idiot DJs in the early eighties and listened to music from a 'cassette' ( a kind of prehistoric iPod ). Since then, the technology has improved steadily and although this streaming-from-the-cloud idea seems pretty cool, I would need some financial incentive to switch to a system which had less of the music I like than my current multiGb SSD setup.
I reckon if they dropped the subscription price by £35 a month, I might give it a go. The extra couple of quid a week in my pocket would be nice.
And yet again, as with 90% of tech these days, it's a solution looking for a problem that simply doesn't exist.
I still have a cassette player (remember those) in my car with an adapter that allows me to plug my musically fully-populated Z10 with 30GB of my tracks into an old-style analogue sound system has a nice, rich, warm and full sound. No messing about with pairing on Bluetooth, I have a car playlist or 2, the phone sits within finger-touch distance of the steering wheel in an iBolt Dock so I don't have to let go of the wheel, and my eyes stay pretty much on the road. Takes about 10 seconds to mount the phone and plug it in to the USB charger and radio. I don't think a few nano-seconds possibly saved but 'new' tech will make a huge impact or difference to my life. And I have Radio2 on FM. Life is good. We have a DAB at home and frankly it's rubbish. Keeps on cutting out.
It's bad enough when cars came out with an iPod dock, but now the entertainment systems are tied to proprietary services which probably be bitrotten or semi functional in 5 years. It's bad enough when a "smart" TV packs in all this crap but I would run a mile from any vehicle which did it.
There is absolutely no need for it either. There are standards for bluetooth which would allow someone to play or stream music from their phone and do so in a standards compliant way.
Bluetooth... further encodes / decodes what is already received / stored in a compressed format. Unless those two codec formats are the same, you're going to suffer a further loss in quality.
Many people take time in their car as an opportunity to charge their phone, so using audio over microUSB won't require the user to plug in any more cables than they were going to anyway.
Audio doesn't *have* to be re-encoded. A streaming service like Spotify or a phone-based music player could pass AAC audio straight over to A2DP without reencoding it. That depends on the phone. Point being the standard doesn't care and it's up to phone makers to fill that niche. And even if it is reencoded, we're talking about a 320kbs audio stream. I doubt it makes much difference in standard driving conditions.
Certainly when we look at the bitrate for this Rara service. A 48-64kbs stream even if it's not reencoded may still sound worse than a not-so-smart phone reencoding a 320kbs stream. And the price of this subscription service is awful - £27 a month. If I had to stream I'd subscribe to Spotify (or a similar service) and use the difference on the phone plan.
"On-demand music eats into the entire raison d'être of DAB. If UK radio isn't already in a crisis, as it insists, then the horizon looks quite forbidding now."
The technical bit is just fluff, Radio is not in crisis at all!
Yes I like to listen to my own tracks but I enjoy listening to the radio just as much.
How wants a BMW anyway? No matter what the cost they are just cheap, for the cheap.
...... with the 6 CD auto changer (came with the car, Panasonic I think). Tried MP3's in previous cars and it just didn't seem to sound that good to me despite the rip quality. So now if I get a CD I want in the car I just copy it and use the copy in the changer. Doesn't get changed for months unless I have a long journey to go on and sounds fantastic.
Cos from what I've seen and used of it, it's similar to FM in quality, but generally MUCH shitter in everything else.
For example: My DAB alarm clock used to get reception. I haven't moved the antenna, or tuned to a different station or moved the radio itself, yet all I now hear is gurgling sounds, like someone threw my radio in a lake of mud.
On topic - why would anyone think that a £324 per year internet streaming service (which is worse than Spotify), using a 3G data connection, in a MOVING vehicle (often moving miles from any civilisation let alone a 3G mast) , is a good idea? WHY!?!?
I would rather car manufacturers stopped trying to be clever with integrated music systems in the dash and just provided a standard double-DIN slot. Nearly every modern car has a cheap and nasty music system that sounds crap and is almost impossible to replace.
All I want from a car stereo is to be able to play a USB stick full of mp3's with acceptable sound quality. But importantly, I want the ability to replace it with a newer stereo once USB and mp3 become obsolete.
Large capacity Solid State HDD, uC, podcast client, wifi. Park outside your house, car wakes up in the middle of the night, connects to your household hotspot, downloads all sorts of interesting podcasts. Next day you have yet another 68 hours of interesting content to listen to. $200 option. $0.00 per month in fees. Enough audio on file to drive around the world. Add your own (stolen) music via a USB stick or wifi link.
The only assumption is that you can park your motor not too far from your residence. Those with proper stand-alone housing should be fine. Those in apartment blocks are probably out of luck; perhaps there could be a removable, battery powered module to allow the wifi-brick to be brought indoors. Silly.
Yes, I realize that this is functionally indistinguishable from the built-in function of a smartphone, but you're probably not allow to touch that while driving. And it'd be nice to have a TB instead of just 32 or 64 GB.
We have XM/Sirius satellite radio. It's built into many cars. About $200-$300 per year (YMMV). Works well, except underground.
Amusingly, I use it almost exclusively to listen to BBC World Service. If I lived in the UK, then I couldn't get Sirius satellite radio - but then again I wouldn't need it anyway.
I really can't think why streaming over the air something that is not being broadcast live is even being seriously considered.
Wouldn't you just sync a ton of music to a big on-board hard drive at home via WiFi while the machine in in the garage or at the side of the road?
Why would you need to stream it live over the air anyway?
Seems like a solution looking hard for a problem.
> More distractions with which the driver can fiddle - great.
You must counterbalance that against the driver losing its alertness due to lack of stimuli. Music is a great way to keep you alert on long journeys[*]
[*] This being the internet now some smartarse is going to come and say "Why not take a rest instead, etc., etc." Yes, of course you do that too, eat light, sleep well, wear comfortable clothing, drink coffee and tea, and all that, and in addition to that you also listen to music while travelling. Does it really need saying?
> I really can't think why streaming over the air something that is not being broadcast live is even being seriously considered.
Most radio content is not being broadcast live. This way you get more choice as to what you want to listen to. It's also more bandwidth efficient compared to traditional radio, although a lot more expensive. :(
I have not seen this streaming service, but I drive company-owned 5 series on certain occasions, in addition to my own vehicle, an upper range Audi.
What I have to say is that I am very impressed with BMW's navigation and, to a lesser extent, entertainment system. The screen is big and with good resolution and visibility, and it presents navigation info with great clarity, while it also has loads of options and a very detailed database. At the same time, our cars (at least some of them) include their own SIM so one can navigate to any address that you can Google, directly on the car--there is also Google Earth and, more interestingly, Street View integration, which is useful in some circumstances.
On the minus side, playback is sometimes jerky, with tracks "skipping" as if the CPU could not keep up with demand, and I find the user interaction can sometimes demand too much attention from the driver, who should be concentrating on the external environment. In this respect, I prefer Audi's much more sober approach, which minimises distraction.
The HUD is not really a HUD (Heads Up Display) in the usual sense of having information projected on the windscreen in front of you (as Audi has, and probably other brands), but just a normal LCD display at closer to eye level than the rest of the dashboard, which is useful in terms of keeping peripheral vision (which is good at detecting movement) on the road. I just resent it being called a HUD when it's not.
The "funny wheel" is in my mind the biggest improvement in driver-car interaction that there has been for years. It is indeed an eight-way joystick, push button, and dial (and apparently in the new versions: touchpad) all into the same knob. That, along with the protruding LCD display, allow safe, quick, and accurate control of many aspects of the car's settings, navigation, and entertainment system.
I prefer BMW's and Mercedes' funny wheels to Audi's as the latter have less degrees of freedom, although on the other hand Audi does have a touchpad which is used as Orlowski describes: you scribble letters on it with your finger and the thing does pretty good character recognition. That said, I would rather have a tactile screen with a full keyboard to write with, as Volkswagens do. It is true that in theory the touchpad is easier and safer to use while driving, but I would not dream of e.g., entering navigation waypoints or performing other complex interactions while mobile, and at the same time, it is easier for a passenger to use a full keyboard on a touch screen than the little touchpad, especially if they are right-handed.
Just my experience on these things, as a simple user. All systems have their pros and cons, but I appreciate that a lot of thought has been put into each one of them, and they all do the job well.
I have a parrot asteroid in my car and for the last 18 months or so have not listened to british radio.
I have been listening to Antenne Bayern from Germany, Horizon Fm in Tenerife and 2day fm in Australia. Oh and fox news radio when something kicks off over their.
British commercial radio is going down hill. I wanted a new radio and considered DAB, but paid a little more to have the asteroid and am very surprised how good the network connection is.
I travel from Salford Quays to London a few times a month and the only 'blackspot' I have is down the M6 toll road where mobile signal is poor.
I think Internet radio is a good global standard - OFCOM won't like it as they can't make much money on it!
"Thank goodness the phone in is mostly dead."
Oh doG, don't ever come to Oz. Down here, Speech Radio==Talk Radio==Phone In Radio.
24/7 opportunities to listen to the banal, opinionated and mostly simply bonkers outpourings of my countrymen, especially late night phone ins, when we let the REAL crazies use the phones.
If it wasn't for ABC News/Classic/Jazz and the free gift of R4 & R4 Extra to the Intertubes (for which alone I would gladly have the BBC's children), the radio would never get switched on.
"with the service performing on-line lookups via the integrated 3G connection."
1 - Coverage will cause them hassles in many non-city areas worldwide - good to see they thought of that and cache everything though, but it will still look pretty dodgy when you can't use it parked in your garage.
2 - What happens once 3G has been replaced and telcos start switching off 3G support? The car and stereo are likely to last far longer than that, and BMW's don't normally have a simple DIN hole to whack your own new unit in.
3 - What happens if prices for the data rise? Is there a contract? Are there clauses for price rises?
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