TuneIn: Choosing from different stream qualities.

  • 24 October 2013
  • 36 replies
  • 16357 views

I'm using the TuneInApp for several years now on my smartphone, tablet, Mac and - of course - on my Sonos devices. iTunes offers hearers the possibility to choose from different stream qualities a radio station provides. It would be great if I also may choose them from within the Sonos controller apps. This may also practical when a user is on holidays: when the user takes his Sonos Play: loudspeaker with him 😉 and connects it to a mobile 3G/LTE router this could help saving bandwidth.

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36 replies

I know that Tunein actually "chooses" the bitrate, but I don't know if there's any dynamic or "intelligent" method for selecting a bitrate. I do know that sometimes a radio station sounds lossy and other times it sounds fine. I too would like to be able to have a degree of control over the bitrate.
In the TuneIn app for mobile devices you've the possibility to manually choose an appropriate streaming quality (if the sender provides different qualities). This is what I would like to have built in the Sonos GUI.
Yes, but it's important to understand that currently TUNEIN dictates the bitrate transmitted via Sonos to your player. Sonos do not decide this currently.
This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Sonos is not using the high quality radio/TuneIn streams.. We have a lot of radio stations from DR (the Danish BBC) and they are all available in 96kb and 192kb, but Sonos seems to use the low quality stream. I'm using a 60/60Mbit fiber connection and it's been quite reliable so I doubt it's a problem with my line. Please make it possible to use choose between the available streams.

Example radio station: http://tunein.com/radio/DR-P3-939-s24861/
Userlevel 1
I have also found that the BBC stations via Tunein always seem to default to the low quality 56k streams, which makes them sound very poor.  I actually raised this with Tunein support and they responded with the following:
Thank you for contacting us regarding this issue. We have requested that Sonos implement the ability for the end user to choose the stream quality from all of the streams that are available within TuneIn. We hope they implement this feature in the future. Currently Sonos takes many things into consideration including stream reliability and quality when selecting the stream. There is not a way to override this selection.
I am currently getting around this by adding my own manual radio stations via the Sonos PC controller.  For example the following url can be used for BBC Radio 1 at 128k stream quality:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/listen/live/r1.asx

The only downside is that you don't get the station images and 'On Now' info.  Sonos, please implement something to allow us to pick the stream quality.
Let's hope Sonos implements that feature soon.
Yes, I also had a reply after a long wait from Tunein which contradicted what I'd been told previously by somebody at Sonos, but it confirms what was said above. Basically Sonos is choosing the stream. "Thank you for contacting us regarding this issue. The Sonos system picks one stream from our back end API. There is no way to change the stream that is picked. " I can understand this from a reliability perspective, but it does not make sense when the client internet speed is +30mbs but Sonos is choosing 56k streams, to the detriment of the sound quality. Let's work to fix this, Sonos.
Userlevel 1
Just to keep you guys updated, Sonos support have been looking into this and they've found the following:
  • When you play a Radio Station via TuneIn, TuneIn sends the Sonos player a list of streams.
  • Sonos selects the first playable stream.
  • In the case of the BBC stations (and many others I guess), the first one is the lowest quality stream (56k for Radio 1), and the second one is higher quality (128K for Radio 1).
  • The support person has asked TuneIn if they can change the order of the streams, but their response was that they could not change it.
  • The support person is now raising it internally to see what can be done to fix this.
Lets hope they find a way to fix it!!
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Andy,

I just want to share my experience with National Danish radio.

National Danish Radio for a very long time, perhaps years, only had played with their lowest streaming quality on Sonos.

A year ago I brought a Sonos system but returned it to the shop because of this.

 

Then two month ago I came across a Sonos system and noticed that Danish Radio was still playing the lowest streaming quality on Sonos.

I then tried to dig into this problem.

I installed the Tunein app on my iPad and noticed that on the list of possible streams, Danish Radio had placed the lowest quality stream on top of the streaming list.

 

I then several times e-mailed Danish Radio about this Sonos sound problem.

I never got an answer but a week later, the streaming list was changed, and the best stream was placed on top, and my Sonos system was playing with the best sound quality!

 

Some weeks ago one of their stations again had the lowest streaming quality on top, and Sonos was playing this stream.

 

I then e-mailed Danish Radio again about this problem.

And one hour later the problem was solved, the best stream was back on top of the list.

It seems that the radio stations have the possibility to move the streams up and down on the streaming list that Tunein is sending to the Sonos system !

 

Therefore if you have problems with the streaming quality on Sonos I think you should contact the responsible technical people at the Radio Station.

 

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Andy,

I just want to share my experience with National Danish radio.

National Danish Radio for a very long time, perhaps years, only had played with their lowest streaming quality on Sonos.

A year ago I brought a Sonos system but returned it to the shop because of this.

 

Then two month ago I came across a Sonos system and noticed that Danish Radio was still playing the lowest streaming quality on Sonos.

I then tried to dig into this problem.

I installed the Tunein app on my iPad and noticed that on the list of possible streams, Danish Radio had placed the lowest quality stream on top of the streaming list.

 

I then several times e-mailed Danish Radio about this Sonos sound problem.

I never got an answer but a week later, the streaming list was changed, and the best stream was placed on top, and my Sonos system was playing with the best sound quality!

 

Some weeks ago one of their stations again had the lowest streaming quality on top, and Sonos was playing this stream.

 

I then e-mailed Danish Radio again about this problem.

And one hour later the problem was solved, the best stream was back on top of the list.

It seems that the radio stations have the possibility to move the streams up and down on the streaming list that Tunein is sending to the Sonos system !

 

Therefore if you have problems with the streaming quality on Sonos I think you should contact the responsible technical people at the Radio Station.

 

Write a reply   

Hi Gert,

Thanks for your suggestion, but I don't think it would be practical for users, Sonos or TuneIn to ask all the worldwide radio stations to re-order their streams (I think this issue could affect many other stations).  Some stations would, but others wouldn't, and then they may change them again in the future - it's just very messy.

A better option is for Sonos/TuneIn to allow us to choose the stream we want, or to somehow default to the higher quality one.  I'm not entirely sure how this would be best implemented though, maybe Sonos could have an option to allow a user to 'favourite' a particular stream.

Having said all that, I will also ask the BBC if re-ordering the streams is an option, just in case Sonos reject this functionality request.

Andy
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Hi Andy,

I totally agree with you, the best solution to this problem would be if it was possible for the Sonos user to choose the streams by themselves.

Just for info underneath is a part of a longer e-mail I have send to Sonos approximately 6 weeks ago.

 

Proposal for improving the Tunein, sound quality.

I feel that the Tunein sound quality on Sonos from the Danish National Radio “DR” is really bad.

National Danish Radio is streaming their broadcasts in two qualities, 96 kbps and 192 kbps, and Sonos constantly choose the low 96 kbps quality.
On different Danish hi-fi forums I can see that I am not the only Sonos user who has noticed this.


Before I have used the Tunein app on my iPad with a cheap Bluetooth receiver connected to my Hi-Fi.

And the DR sound quality was much better on this set up, when I select 192 kbps than on my new Sonos system, because Sonos only chooses to play DR with the 96 kbps stream.

Perhaps you would say that this is a Tunein problem and not a Sonos problem, but I think it is a Sonos problem.

I therefore propose that you on the controller app make it possible to change the Tunein streaming quality.


I think that on all other streamers that uses Tunein such as Philips, Bluesound etc. you as a user has the possibility to choose the streaming quality.

And this coming year the competition on the streaming market is getting harder. It will bring for example. Denon Heos, Panasonic Home AV Allplay, Samsung WAM, LG Wireless Audio Systems etc. and it seems they all use Tunein to play radio stations.
Therefore if Sonos do not allow the customers to get the best radio sound quality, this will be a big Sonos problem

My suggestion is that the costumer should have the possibility, to somewhere under Advanced Settings, to be able to save the Tunein streaming quality for the saved preset/my radio stations

.
Then when you select a radio station from My Radio Stations it will play the station with the stream you by yourself have chosen.

This would give Sonos an advantage over the completion, because on Bluesound etc. you have to choose the streaming quality every time you change a radio station.


If the streaming quality is saved under each preset it will save the user many keystrokes and Sonos will always play the radio stations with the highest possible streaming quality you by yourself have chosen.



 

PS: for now it seems that the problem with DR has been solved, therefore if you only have read this post, then please read this thread from the start.
Userlevel 1
After emailing the BBC to ask them to re-order their streams, I got the following response:
Thanks for contacting the BBC iPlayer Support Team.
I understand you would like us to re-order our streams used for BBC Radio 1-3 to allow the higher quality stream to come first.
We're aware that a non-BBC station has made a similar change along these lines previously.
Your suggestion has been used to inform a report which is sent to the BBC iPlayer radio team, including the head of BBC iPlayer Radio
There's obviously no guarantee that they will do anything, but I suppose it's good that they appear to be at least looking into it.

If anyone else listens to BBC stations on their Sonos, it might be worth you also emailing them - the more people that ask more likely it is that they will do something.  I used the following URL to contact them (I selected "Make a suggestion"):

https://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/tv/forms
I hope that this can be implemented.  I listen to BBC 6 music and Sonos selects their lower bit rate, but i don't have a Windows or Mac PC, so can't add the url for the higher bit rate.
Sounds like a good idea, except for those of us stuck on prehistoric rural broadband where defaulting to the highest bitrate would probably cause problems. User selected bitrate and being able to hear the radio at all would be preferable to unattainable high quality.
Thanks for your comments, Felicity.  That's actually what we're asking for, user selectable bitrates, so that users can choose their preferred speed/quality.
Userlevel 4
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How do people know what bitrate the radio station is being played at? Sonos doesn't tell you, so are you going by the perceived audio quality or is there a tool ?
Just the audio quality. It's very noticeable.
Userlevel 4
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sorry, i meant how does one see the audio quality (bitrate) currently. How do I know what bitrate my radio stations, even manually added ones are currently using?
Userlevel 1
sorry, i meant how does one see the audio quality (bitrate) currently. How do I know what bitrate my radio stations, even manually added ones are currently using?
Have a look at this forum post, this is the method that I use:

http://forums.sonos.com/showthread.php?t=39657
sorry, i meant how does one see the audio quality (bitrate) currently. How do I know what bitrate my radio stations, even manually added ones are currently using?
I've not got access to Windows. Luckily when I did I added the 6 music stream. It didn't appear again after moving house until I added my Connect. So I have 6 music streaming now at decent quality
Userlevel 2
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If it's true that the first stream in the list gets selected that is just poor programming. Shame on you Sonos, if that's true. What they should do is look at the all stream info for a station and sort them according to bitrate pick the best one.
It does seem odd and unacceptable that Sonos, which is high end kit, does not give an option for TuneIn such as "always choose highest bitrate". Listening at sub optimal bitrates is not consistent with the Sonos brand and needs to be addressed. From a programming point of view this must be possible.
Userlevel 4
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Yes, I find the whole thing astonishing. Still, their new controller has lovely pictures and menus... But no bitrate option/info.
Userlevel 4
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A big +1 for this suggestion.  The current arrangement leaves sound quality of most radio stations to chance for the great majority of users (who will never venture into researching and storing their own custom radio station URL's).  This does nothing for Sonos's otherwise well-earned reputation for quality music reproduction.

I was reminded of this today when I mistakenly played BBC Radio 1 via the TuneIn button - it was pretty much unlistenable at 56kbps.
Userlevel 4
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Another point:  BBC are stopping all their WMA radio streams from February, and replacing them with aac and SHOUTcast streams.  These WMA streams are the ones I currently use on Sonos (via custom radio station URLs), giving eg Radio 1 & 6 Music at 128kbps.

I keep my fingers crossed that when the BBC implement this change, they will change their station URL lists to put the highest bit rate streams at the top, so that Sonos picks these in preference. But we shouldn't have to leave it to chance - an option to choose highest/lowest bit-rate stream would give us control.