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Audio Quality on the Air in DAB Digital Radio in Norway

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The same program heard on DAB at 128 kbit/s and 192 kbit/s has been compared with a high quality FM stereo signal. The result from informal listening tests is that there are audible impairments in the stereo imaging of high-frequency instruments, and in particular hi-hats at 128 kbit/s. Some examples of songs where this effect can be heard are given. The effect can be explained by spectral analysis of the output of a DAB radio which shows that at 128 kbit/s, 3 kHz is used as the switch frequency for the intensity stereo coding of the MPEG-I layer 2 encoder, effectively removing all phase information above this frequency. This degradation cannot be heard in a good quality FM stereo signal.

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