"Streaming Audio' vs. HDRadio

Here's an interesting question: I can now get my local FM Radio station on my computer using 'streaming audio' and I can also get the feed from a conventional tuner and also on an HDRadio receiver. So far, HDRadio receivers can be found for car stereos and just a few are available for home use. Might it be possible that so few home HDRadio receivers are available because we can get just as good a signal on our computer? I do assume the 'streaming audio' signal is digital...?
I listen to local KLSX here in LA on my computer at work and am waiting for Sirius to start streaming Howard Stern online. The problem I see with streaming on the computer is bandwith and usage.

If you have a poor internet connection or share your pipes with many people like in a corporate atmosphere or are located a long distance from your internet provider you could experience additional drop outs and reduced sound quality.

So far, I'm finding internet radio in general to sound tinny and unnatural. Same with Sirius satellite radio. I think DirecTV music channels sounds slightly better.
You are probably right in that the streaming ausdio feed is dependant on what it must go through to get here. I am sure that DSL would help a bit. Another factor would be that a streaming audio feed is quite compressed.
HD radio is pretty much brand new. That's why there are so few receivers. Of course, it may not catch on. We'll have to see.

Streaming audio, HD radio, and satellite radio are all compressed. Their relative quality depends on how compressed they are and what codec they use. In the case of HD radio, there is also the matter of signal strength. If it's too weak, it reverts to analog (which probably won't be that great, either).
The determining factor here is definitely the bitrate of the stream. If you have dialup, it's impossible to get a high quality stream as the bandwidth just won't support it. My experience is a 64Kb stream is listenable on computer speakers at work, but on my big rig it has to be at least 128Kb to be enjoyable. If you use iTunes, all the radio stations there have the bitrate indicated - you can experiment and hear the differences at the different speeds.

If you want to hear what streaming radio could sound like in a perfect world, listen to KWVA:


They stream RealAudio at 320Kb! The stream is WAY better than their broadcast signal and with my cable modem Internet access I never have dropouts. Pure college radio joy.

The determining factor is not just bitrate. It's also the choice of codec. 48kbps AAC+ will sound significantly better than 64kbps MP3. XM, I believe, uses the former.

All things being equal, of course, more bits is better. And I'd certainly expect 320kbps anything to outperform over-the-air radio.

While I agree the choice of codec makes a difference, the problem is we rarely get to make that choice in the streaming radio world. I agree that at the same bitrate, AAC beats MP3 - Ogg Vorbis probably beats both. But I'm not aware of any free Internet stations (or even pay ones) that use AAC. Generally they use one of either MP3, Real, or Windows Media - occasionally they'll offer two of the three. KWVA used to offer 192Kb MP3 and 192Kb Real, but the Real stream sounded so much better that all their users (including me) flocked to it, so they reallocated their bandwidth as 64Kb MP3 and 320Kb Real.

The biggest problem with Internet stations is they tend to be run on a shoestring, so they come and go at a pretty rapid rate. Maybe we should call that the biterate. :-)
Interesting. I would have thought that an OTA HD feed would be better. It seems that I just saved some money on buying an in-house HD Radio receiver.

I see you've posted to other HD radio threads in the past. If some of the posters in those threads are correct in their assumption that HD radio is at most 96Kb, I think that explains why HD radio is inferior to a good Internet stream. At a much lower bitrate, there's just not the same fidelity.

Satellite and HD radio make sense for moving targets like vehicles or walker/runners, but will have a tough time competing, at least on sound quality, at fixed installations, where you have a lot more options.
I live in an area where I can get really fantastic HD picture quality using an antenna mounted on my roof. The local PBS feed as well as Monday Night Football equal the picture quality of my Dish Satellite HD receiver.

I was sort of hoping that since most all music coming from FM stations begins with a CD, a local HD Radio feed might equal what I get on my NEC Plasma.

Still, much of the above convinces me that streaming audio on DSL will be the way to go.
For a home system I agree 100%, as long as you can get the content you want on the Internet. If you're station-specific, there will always be gaps as most commercial broadcast stations don't stream and won't for the foreseeable future, as they're too dependent on the Arbitron ratings. Public stations are plentiful on the Web, as are Internet-only streams. I care much more about content than any station, so the Internet is perfect for the way I listen.