Monday, July 6, 2009
A listener wrote us recently and asked us how exactly using the VPR Audio Player sounds better and saves VPR money, as he's been hearing us report on the air.
The Audio Player saves VPR money because we pay for bandwidth streaming capacity and the Audio Player uses less bandwidth than listening to comparable MP3 streams in iTunes or Windows. Online streaming is like a utility, like electricity or gas, in the sense that the more we use, the more we pay. We offer 3 different bandwidth options for our MP3 streams at VPR.net: 24k, 64k, and 96k for VPR, and 24k, 64k, and 128k for VPR Classical. When listening via iTunes or Windows, listeners can choose any of these streams. When a listener chooses a lower bandwidth stream, such as 24k, she's streaming less audio data, therefore costing VPR less than the person streaming at 64k or 128k.
The VPR Audio Player offers only 2 options for each stream: a Low bandwidth at 24k, and a High bandwidth at 64k. Most listeners who use iTunes or Windows choose the higher bandwidth options (96k and 128k) because in general, the higher the bandwidth, the better the sound. For every listener who switches to the Audio Player from a 96k or 128k stream, we save bandwidth costs.
The other point about the Audio Player is that it sounds better. The Low options on the Audio Player are the same 24k MP3 streams offered through iTunes & Windows, so there's no difference there. However, the 64k High streams on the Audio Player are not MP3 streams, they're AACPlus streams. You can learn more about AAC, Advanced Audio Encoding, at Wikipedia, but basically AACPlus is an improvement on MP3 which sounds better than MP3 and uses less bandwidth. Our audio engineers and music director agree that the 64k AACPlus stream sounds better than the 96k and 128k MP3 streams, so we feel confident in claiming that it sounds better for listeners who switch over.
Originally, the primary reason for developing the Audio Player was that lots of listeners wanted to be able to stream online through the website without having to use iTunes or Windows Media. The fact that it saves bandwidth and sounds better were compelling reasons as well, but the demand we heard from listeners was primarily about the ease of use.
You can find the Audio Player in the top right corner of any page on VPR.net: look for the button that says "Listen Live". We hope you'll give the VPR Audio Player a try and tell us what you think, but we invite listeners to choose the player and stream that works best for them.
And no matter how you choose to listen, thanks for listening.