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Old 22nd Jul 2014, 12:19 pm   #121
bobbyball
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Just had a listen and indeed there is sibilance, sounds horrible.
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Old 22nd Jul 2014, 12:43 pm   #122
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

You could try a short, clear and not over technical email to BBCR4 'Feedback'.

Roger Bolton ('Feedback' presenter) has tackled the messy and incoherent info about 198 maintenance breaks in Droitwich transmission. He may be happy to get 'experts' to address the poor sound quality on 198 Droitwich (have we confirmed that Westerglen and Burghead are unaffected?) and get them to explain why the problem keeps coming back.

Why spend all this money on Droitwich if the audio is so bad, or can we be assured that this will be addressed when all work is complete?

Surely this is particularly embarrassing for the BBC (regardless of who operates the transmission network) as it compares very poorly to other European LW stations.

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Old 22nd Jul 2014, 1:11 pm   #123
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Comments in previous threads have suggested this is a distribution fault affecting both Droitwich and Westerglen, and not a transmitter fault as such.

Arqiva (who own the transmitters) will know exactly what is going on, but nobody will be in a position to comment in public. The hints we get from Martin are likely to be the closest to well informed info that we're going to get, and it's unfair to expect him to criticise other companies here.

Anybody feel like putting in a Freedom of Information request to the BBC?
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Old 22nd Jul 2014, 1:15 pm   #124
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Agreed, but Joe Public will perceive it as a transmitter fault.

It's certainly a fault between the microphone and the transmitter's aerial rather than between the receiver's aerial and the loudspeaker.
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Old 22nd Jul 2014, 1:52 pm   #125
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulsherwin View Post
The BBC is the only official point of contact regarding transmission faults, but unfortunately they haven't owned the distribution or transmission systems themselves for many years so can't actually do anything.
My 'contract' as a listener is with the BBC - I have just renewed my licence - and so I complain to them. That the BBC rents a facility from someone else is, so to speak, 'their problem'.

In the same way that if say I was leasing a car and the alternator failed I would expect the leasing company to deal with it, who in turn would have a contract with the manufacturer/supplier of the car and they would pass it down the line. I wouldn't expect to complain to the manufacturer of the alternator - in fact it wouldn't be my place to do so.

I think an item on 'Feedback' would be a good way to go. Perhaps one of our experts could quiz the BBC representative.

Last edited by Junk Box Nick; 22nd Jul 2014 at 1:54 pm. Reason: Clarity
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Old 22nd Jul 2014, 3:52 pm   #126
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Junk Box Nick View Post
My 'contract' as a listener is with the BBC - I have just renewed my licence -

Actually, no. Your 'contract' to use such a term, is with HMG - and in particular with the treasury. The 'licence' is just that - it is a licence, to own and operate television reception equipment'. It contains absolutely no obligation to provide any form of service at any level of quality. This is an issue I've had to explain to many complainants over the years, and its all quite clear on the back!

The fact that the revenue stream goes to the BBC, and that the BBC have the enforcement power, is irrelevant in this case. Just as you have to pay your road tax, but the Highways Agency are not actually obliged to provide you a road to drive on!

The TV licence also is directly applicable only to television reception. No licence has been levied for radio reception for many years.

Sadly, playing the licence card will hold no sway whatsoever
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Old 22nd Jul 2014, 6:00 pm   #127
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Just tried 4LW on my Hacker, horrible, dab tuner into my AMT3000 panty job , lovely on the Hacker. That feed is even cheaper than the solution Paul gave and more than good enough for LW/MW AM work.
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Old 22nd Jul 2014, 6:58 pm   #128
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

This is going to sound fanciful, but before condemning it out of hand, look at the logic behind it, the known facts (both technical and commercial) and remember the old saying about working out what's going on, which is 'follow the money'. Hope I don't get told off for this, but I think that it needs an airing. This is actually pretty important to enthusiasts.

Background:

It's known that the government, BBC and Ofcom want an end to analogue radio broadcasting (although this has been kicked into the long-grass a bit, at least for FM).

The LW transmitter is becoming harder to maintain, even if we suspect that this isn't as hard a problem as is sometimes painted. Valves, even big ones, can be re-manufactured.

The number of listeners is declining, now pretty much just cricket fans, ex-pats on the continent, traditionalists and a small number of enthusiasts.

The BBC et al were astounded by the reaction to the idea that LW AM might have to close soon due to valve shortages.

LW AM has no long-term future - or so it would seem . . .

Current status

The transmitter is viable (for a while) with some current stocks of output PA valves.

The antenna has just been refurbished by Arqiva (good work there).

There's been a lot of outages due to antenna (and other?) operations.

The seemingly recurring sibilance problem (network feed?) makes listening to LW BBC AM almost unbearable.

The strategic demand for LW 198 has been removed by the government.

Do we know any more?

Plans afoot?

The BBC et al want out of AM so why not progressively make it unattractive to listeners through a combination of outages/programme scheduling divisions/minor (but objectionable) technical problems (sibilance) and negative publicity?

Has Arqiva senior management been 'given the nod' that the BBC will be vacating 198, freeing up the frequency allocation for another service. Investment was needed for the antenna and is this is part of the long-term deal?

What's it to be for? A full European coverage LW transmitter must have some uses, maybe not AM sound broadcasting? Suggestions on a post card . . .

Conclusion

Shoot me down, call me a conspiracy-monger (!), but does this not work as a plan? On the other hand, it might all be innocent and the BBC is committed to LW AM for another 10 years, Arqiva is being fully dutiful with the antenna work and the government isn't out for a fast buck on the frequency rights sale.

Time will tell. Let's see in 5 years time . . .

Best conspirational wishes,

Paul M

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Old 22nd Jul 2014, 7:12 pm   #129
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

OK, that's enough conspiracy theories. Please stay on topic.
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Old 22nd Jul 2014, 8:18 pm   #130
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Ultimately though, we pay for it all, so why should we accept a substandard service?!
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Old 22nd Jul 2014, 8:28 pm   #131
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin G7MRV View Post
Actually, no. Your 'contract' to use such a term, is with HMG
In strictly legal terms you are correct.

However, perhaps the general thrust of my argument is understood.
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Old 22nd Jul 2014, 8:34 pm   #132
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulM View Post
Has Arqiva senior management been 'given the nod' that the BBC will be vacating 198, freeing up the frequency allocation for another service.
A shame that 200kHz spot was moved by 2kHz instead of 1kHz.

"This is Radio Caroline on 199. Your all day music station."
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Old 22nd Jul 2014, 10:10 pm   #133
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

I've just been listening to R4 and it sounds quite poor with all the presenters sounding like they are wearing poor fitting false teeth!

However, my old homebrew 10MHz offair standard locks to R4 198kHz and it seems to be still working fine despite the poor audio quality of the broadcast transmission.

There's always a bit of jitter due to propagation effects etc but it seems to be performing very well. It's typically best during the day and also late at night. The worst time for jitter is around dawn (in theory) or dusk.
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 8:21 am   #134
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

The issue is known about by our field team and investigation is underway
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 9:12 am   #135
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

News at 23.00 last night was clear as a bell.

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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 1:05 pm   #136
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

I am glad it has been reported I was going to report it but thought the distortion was due to the on going engineering works.
I wonder if its a tuning problem as the Droitwich aerial instead of being a quarter wave Marconi aerial is in fact only an eighth wave as the masts are only 700' high when ideally they should be at least 1300' high.
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 1:20 pm   #137
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

No, it's a distribution fault, which is why Arqiva can't just sort it out themselves. There are several companies between the BBC and the Arqiva transmitters including BT and Siemens. Martin will know who's responsible but understandably won't want to comment in public.
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 7:29 pm   #138
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Thanks must go to Martin for his help in this regard.
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 10:38 pm   #139
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hybrid tellies View Post
...the Droitwich aerial instead of being a quarter wave Marconi aerial is in fact only an eighth wave as the masts are only 700' high when ideally they should be at least 1300' high.
I think the top-loading enables a shorter vertical wire to be used. A 1,300 foot mast would be quite a structure! The tallest mast in the UK currently seems to be around 1,200 feet. Droitwich was built in the 1930s so 700 feet was no mean achievement back then.

I've had a tune across the Long Wave band this evening and all the other broadcasters, of which there are several, sound very nice on my ITT/KB Golf Preset. BBC Radio Four sounds poor by comparison, but to be honest I think the sibilance is not so pronounced.
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Old 23rd Jul 2014, 11:04 pm   #140
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

The Droitwich aerial has changed over the years.

In the 1970s it seemed to be a standard T arrangement - The top horizontal section consisted of four parallel wires and strung from the centre four parallel vertical wires formed the vertical part. Where the vertical joined the horizontal they were all strapped and also strapped at each tower end of the horizontal. I asume the vertical section would have been strapped at the base too.

These days there are still four wires making up the top but the vertical section seems to be in the form of a square 'box cage' arranement.

Also back in the 70s there was a MF vertical consisting of two parallel wires strapped and suspended from a guy from one of the towers and another arrangement had a third shorter lattice mast with what looked like an exact copy of the this mast but formed of wire strung from a guy from the other larger tower, presumeably giving this arrangement some directional characteristics. I guess that one was for Radio 4 (then on MW) 276m or 285m and the other was for Radio 1 247m.

These days there are two shorter lattice towers just to the north of the large towers - which I expect is Virgin 1215 or whatever it may be now.

On my various receivers - Philips being the vintage set in most regular use - R4 is quite the poorest audio quality on the LW band.
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