Streaming audio and formats

Streaming technologies allow you to hear pre-recorded or live audio over the internet.

Due to the constraints on internet bandwidth, virtually all audio streams are currently compressed using lossy codecs. This situation is sure to improve as internet bandwidth increases.

A broadband connection is needed to hear streamed music in the highest available qualities.

When comparing internet streaming quality, one starting point is to consider the alternatives available: analogue and digital terrestrial broadcast options such as FM, DAB and DAB+ in the UK and HD Radio in the US.

Most internet radio station streams available are still not as high quality as a decent FM signal but are often better than DAB or DAB+. The American HD Audio system has far better audio capabilities than all other broadcast options, using a hybrid FM / digital signal. Unfortunately for those outside the US, we do not have this CD quality broadcast option available to us.

Many internet streaming stations do not tell you exactly what quality level they are streaming at. More commonly, they only tell you which software package 'player' to use, to decode the stream. It is possible, though sometimes tricky, to discover the codec and quality being used. We ask all streaming music stations to add this information to their DreamStreaming page, along with any other useful background data they wish to add about their site.

In this section you will find information about the commonly used (free) software Player packages available that enable you to listen to music over the internet.