In a UK first, the mighty Beeb will air the BBC Proms in lossless audio format for 2017. Audiophiles will love the high quality FLAC reproduction, which captures every note and instrument with crystal clarity. Here's how to stream and listen to the BBC Proms 2017 with the best possible sound quality.
For decades now, the BBC has famously innovated when it comes to audio output. Following the first radio broadcast in 1927, the Beeb also gave us stereo sound in 1958, quadrophonic in the seventies and even binaural 3D in recent times (including some terrifying Halloween dramas where the terror comes at you from all directions).
The next frontier is high quality FLAC audio, sent over the interwebs. This offers impressive playback of musical productions, in a format that won't kill your internet stream.
Great news for fans of classic music, as the BBC Proms 2017 will be one of the first major BBC productions to enjoy that high quality broadcast. All you'll need is an internet connection and access to BBC Radio 3 online, and you're good to go.
Here’s how you can listen in and enjoy next-gen BBC audio during this season's Proms.
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What is FLAC audio?
FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec, with the most important part of that being 'Lossless'. Well, the 'free' bit is pretty good too, of course.
Essentially FLAC is the way in which music is encoded at the source, to be sent over an internet connection in a more efficient form (i.e. compressed down to a smaller amount of data than the original file size). This compressed data is then decoded at the other end by your listening device of choice (be it smartphone, laptop or whatever).
Since this format is lossless, the end result will be of the same quality as the original recording, before it was condensed right down for transmission. Clever stuff indeed.
Lossless audio already exists in many forms, with plenty of streaming services adding the option of higher quality music listening. These vary in quality of course depending on the service.
How to listen to the BBC Proms with a high-quality stream
To get at the lossless feed for this year's Proms, you’ll need to go via BBC Radio 3. Since this high-quality format can’t currently be transmitted over radio, this will have to be done using an internet connection instead.
Listening from your computer, a tablet or a smartphone should all allow for the lossless audio stream. Just make sure that you have a decent internet connection, so the stream can flow smoothly (with no irritating stutters or buffering to ruin the experience). If your internet can be a bit patchy, try shutting down any other device that connects to the 'net before settling down to listen.
Of course, your device also has to be powerful enough to play the stream, which most modern phones, tablets and computers should be. The result should hopefully be a jump-free and intensely immersive listening experience.
Do I have the right equipment to enjoy the BBC Proms in high quality lossless audio?
To get the full experience of the BBC Proms 2017 with a high quality output, it’s best to have a decent audio setup at home. Either a good pair of headphones or an impressive set of speakers are the best way to listen. Of course, you can also listen through your computer speaker or phone's tinny effort, but don’t expect to pick up much in the way of quality enhancements.
Your best bet is to pick up a decent set of headphones, to be truly immersed in the experience so it feels like you’re really there. One way to maximise this is to go for cans that cut out any background noise around the listener, like a set from out pick of the best noise cancelling headphones.
Bear in mind that older Bluetooth headphones might not have the aptX connectivity that allows for maximum quality streaming from device to headphones. Also, wireless headphones won't offer as high-quality playback as a wired pair, as some information is occasionally lost during transfer.
When is the BBC Proms 2017 start date?
The BBC will begin airing the Proms 2017 on BBC Radio 3 from Friday July 14. The end date for the Proms is Saturday September 9. You can listen via your radio, DAB radio or internet-connected device.
Check out the BBC Proms website for a complete listing of who is going to be playing throughout the festival.