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BBC Radio 4 Extra on DAB

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
Has anyone else noticed that archive recordings of old comedy shows broadcast as above seem to go in and out of clarity?

It's weird: some sections (within the same programme, eg Hancock) are crystal clear, and then suddenly the sound switches to "muddy" as if maybe that section of the programme is missing from the archive of master tapes and they've had to source it from somebody's off-air copy - but it happens too often for me to think that is the real explanation.

Could the DAB bit rate be switching like that?
 
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EEPhil

Number 28
Has anyone else noticed that archive recordings of old comedy shows broadcast as above seem to go in and out of clarity?

It's weird: some sections (within the same programme, eg Handcock) are crystal clear, and then suddenly the sound switches to "muddy" as if maybe that section of the programme is missing from the archive of master tapes and they've had to source it from somebody's off-air copy - but it happens too often for me to think that is the real explanation.

Could the DAB bit rate be switching like that?
No to DAB switching, yes to the emphasised text. The archive sometimes had reasonably clean recordings of versions used for "overseas sales", which often cut a line here or there because it was thought the reference was esoterically British. Whole sketches in Round The Horne might vanish if the overseas version was too long. The BBC has been trying to recover the archive, and does source material from off-air (possibly medium wave) recordings. They clean it up and edit it in and it sounds like you have observed.
 

prpr

Well-Known Member
DAB bit rate switching does happen, to accommodate extra services coming and going, but it's probably unlikely to happen randomly in the middle of your programme. Do you have an example?
(I'm sure you know it's Hancock not Handcock!)
 

EEPhil

Number 28
DAB bit rate switching does happen, to accommodate extra services coming and going, but it's probably unlikely to happen randomly in the middle of your programme.
Good point. I usually listen to the programmes via DVB where the switching doesn't happen.
DAB switching doesn't happen very often on R4X (DAB). It is already in 80kbit/s mono. Radio 4 often switches between 128kbit/s stereo and 80kbit/s mono just before The News Quiz.
(I'm sure you know it's Hancock not Handcock!)
Freudian slip?
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
DAB bit rate switching does happen, to accommodate extra services coming and going, but it's probably unlikely to happen randomly in the middle of your programme. Do you have an example?
A specific occurrence you mean? Marriage Lines, 12-12.30pm today.
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
I can do the same; if the sound quality is the same throughout it can't be the tape that's the problem. I might even be able to arrange to listen on DAB at the same time.

(don't expect high quality entertainment though!)
 

EEPhil

Number 28
I can hear the problem you referred to on the DVB recording. My guess is that this is one of those recovered recordings - the bulk is from someone else's archive (South Africa or Australia are the usual suspects) and that it had been trimmed (to allow for adverts?). The way it goes from clean to muffled sound is just like I've heard with episodes of Round The Horne and I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again. Not DAB problems then.
 

MontysEvilTwin

Well-Known Member
FYI - If you use Get_iPlayer you can download recordings from BBC stations (including 4extra) at 320k in AAC format (as a m4a files). I think the stream mode is 'HLS best'.
 

EEPhil

Number 28
Don't think that'll make any difference in this case. The recording has been rebuilt from different quality sources.
 

gomezz

Well-Known Member
I usually listen to these by iPlayer Radio downloads and hear the same thing so that seems to confirm this is part of the recording being used rather than the broadcast platform.
 
OP
Black Hole

Black Hole

May contain traces of nut
I can hear the problem you referred to on the DVB recording. My guess is that this is one of those recovered recordings - the bulk is from someone else's archive (South Africa or Australia are the usual suspects) and that it had been trimmed (to allow for adverts?). The way it goes from clean to muffled sound is just like I've heard with episodes of Round The Horne and I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again. Not DAB problems then.
Yes, I notice it regularly - add Men from the Ministry to the list. I only listen to these things when I'm driving and there's nothing better.

I could not understand why sections would be missing from the masters on such a regular basis, but if as you say these have been sourced from abroad and the missing sections are unimportant to the plot* and were removed to make the programme shorter, that explains it well.

What I am less convinced by is where the infill comes from. It sounds too good to be an off-air copy.

I find the jumps in sound quality objectionable. I would prefer either the good quality shortened version or the full version in poorer quality. Somebody's gone to a lot of trouble to splice them together, and I wish they hadn't bothered!

* irony
 

EEPhil

Number 28
The change in quality is offputting. I guess the BBC wishes to recreate the archive with the full(est) clean(est) version available. Ironic because they are now censoring the archive - eg. ISIRTA removing the Rolf Harris dirty songbook ("I'm Jake the peg with the extra [beep]").
On the whole, I prefer the programmes in full. I'm not sure I want it all in a poorer quality. Some programmes have been returned to the archive in this manner. The original Dick Barton story was lost. The BBC re-recorded an abridged version the first story with the original actors in 1972, broadcast it (in stereo) and then wiped it! The version that is now played on R4X, or can be bought on CD, is a crackly mono version fom a tape recorded off air.
What I am less convinced by is where the infill comes from. It sounds too good to be an off-air copy.
I suppose there are many possible sources. I do know the BBC has been looking to the public to find missing items (2012) http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radio/entries/bc8f8394-716e-3124-b3ba-98754e1dacfe .
 
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