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Old 25th Jul 2014, 7:49 pm   #161
paulsherwin
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

It must be said that, although this latest manifestation of the problem has been fixed fairly quicky, there has been intermittent sibilance and distortion on 198 for several years. There may have been multiple unrelated faults which resulted in similar symptoms, but this seems unlikely.

You can't help but wonder how long it will be before the sibilance returns.
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Old 25th Jul 2014, 8:36 pm   #162
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

There's just been an article on R4's 'Feedback' about the pips distortion. Apparently BH are updating their digital studio equipment and have had to patch the pips (sent to the studio at 44.1khz) into the new equipment designed for 48khz...and the result is pips with harmonics. Or at least that's the gist of it.
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Old 25th Jul 2014, 9:16 pm   #163
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Only occasionally tune to Radio four in the car on FM but have just checked on my RIC1 (closest available with a PP9) and surprised how good it sounds.
Thanks to all concerned.

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Old 26th Jul 2014, 1:20 am   #164
Martin G7MRV
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

It would seem the issue was due to the age of some of the modulation equipment, which has been overhauled as part of the ongoing renovations. I can see how that might have led to intermittent issues of this sort for a long time
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Old 26th Jul 2014, 1:26 am   #165
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Thanks for that Martin. Hopefully the problem won't return.
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Old 29th Jul 2014, 10:53 am   #166
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

As a frequent 198 kHz listener, I'm very pleased that Martin was able to do what was required to resolve the problem - perhaps by short-circuiting the bureaucracy? Thank you Martin.

But as an ex-BBC engineer myself (BBC Receiving Stanton, Crowsley Park - closed in the 1990s), I'm curious to know what would have happened if Martin had not been available.

When I was working at Crowsley Park in the early days any problem with 198 kHz would have been noticed within hours and contact made with Droitwich who - if they hadn't already noticed it themselves - would locate the fault.

But with the fragmentation of the BBC and the de-staffing of most (all?) UK transmitter sites, I wonder how long the problem would have existed. I suspect there would have been a very small number of listeners who would have managed to make an official complaint via the convoluted official channels, and an even smaller number of those complains actually reaching the appropriate desk.

When I reported the fault through the BBC website last year I don't even get an acknowledgement, let alone a "thank you for your report, we know there is a problem and it will be resolved in due course" type response.

I'm pretty sure someone in a position to sort out the problem was aware of it (there are still some engineers at the BBC who would have noticed at home), and maybe it was going to be resolved with the present round of Droitwich engineering, but it's a little unsettling for an old boy like me to see the problem had reappeared from time to time for years!

Having left the BBC only in the past three years, I can imagine there was buck-passing between the BBC and different non-BBC organizations along with a bit of "Oh it's only a minor fault and it's only LW. Have there been any complaints?"

Anyway, it's gratifying (and to me a little surprising given recent official BBC comments about the long-term viability of 198 kHz) that the future for for that broadcast platform looks secure for some time yet.

Regards,

Ian
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Old 29th Jul 2014, 11:14 am   #167
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

We are indeed lucky to have Martin's help with regard to this problem.

With a plethora of transmitters on a number of platforms and other factors it is clear that constant or even regular monitoring is not possible.

Thus it boils down to "complain early and complain often".

If no complaints then organisations of all sorts assume that all is well with their products.

When JazzFM was on national DAB there were weeks when the audio quality was so appalling as to be unlistenable. This became a topic on another chat-site so it was clear that it wasn't my local transmitter but something in the system. A small commercial operation will not have the resources to monitor its transmissions - though you would have thought the service provider might - and so I sent in emails and when I knew there was a live presenter in the studio (not that often as many shows were voice-tracked) sent an email to them.

In the case of R4 198kHz think it is down to us regular LW listeners to raise the issue once it appears and keep raising it until it disappears. In most areas of life it is a fact that he who shouts loudest gets the attention.
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Old 29th Jul 2014, 1:26 pm   #168
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Apparently 'Twitter' (never used it myself) is a good way to feed information to corporations etc..
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Old 29th Jul 2014, 7:18 pm   #169
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Hi

I am surprised there is not an automated test system on all the transmitters, running 24/7.

In this digital age how hard can it be?

Not my field at all, but some form of computerised receiver, with a THD type unit comparing what goes in to what comes out, maybe using the time pips or

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Old 29th Jul 2014, 7:28 pm   #170
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

If it's not specified in the contract/service-level-agreement, it doesn't get to happen.
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Old 29th Jul 2014, 8:05 pm   #171
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Absolutely spot on. This would be technically quite easy to do, but just wasn't considered when the big transmitters were demanned and human off air monitoring ended. Arqiva do have lots of telemetry at the transmitter sites, but that doesn't flag up this sort of fault. It's mostly there so that somebody notices when a transmitter falls off air.
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Old 25th Aug 2014, 4:40 pm   #172
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

I fired up the old Ekco A144 today and - guess what? - the sibilance is back. Can anybody confirm this?
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Old 25th Aug 2014, 4:52 pm   #173
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Have to say it sounds OK-ish to me on my DAC90A in the living room, Paul, but I've only had the quickest of listens.
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Old 25th Aug 2014, 4:54 pm   #174
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

I think you're right, Paul, it is back, although not as severe as on the previous occasion.

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Old 25th Aug 2014, 4:54 pm   #175
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Listened this morning on my Grundig and quality seemed okayish - as okay as it ever is these days - certainly not as bad (unlistenable) as it was a few weeks ago when this thread was last active. Just checked on my Sony and there is some sibilance - perhaps slightly worse than normal - and it seemed to depend on the person speaking as to how noticeable it was.

The quality of R4 LW is nowhere near as good as RTE on 252. I use LW more than MW and listen to RTE quite a lot.
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Old 25th Aug 2014, 4:55 pm   #176
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

It's not as bad as it was last month, but it's definitely wrong. You can hear it clearly on the 's' and 't' sounds.
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Old 25th Aug 2014, 4:58 pm   #177
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

I think the truth is, Paul, that it's never been that right!

It just isn't as wrong as it was...
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Old 25th Aug 2014, 5:47 pm   #178
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

Yes is does seem to be back again. I thought it was my radio but it seems not
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Old 25th Aug 2014, 6:01 pm   #179
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

I listened yesterday and thought exactly the same thing - a rasping roughness on the "SSS"es. It was all too good to last.
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Old 25th Aug 2014, 11:54 pm   #180
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Default Re: R4 Longwave sibilance again.

That distortion has been gradually getting worse again and was bad when I listened earlier today.
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