Why is there Noise on the Car Radio but not on the Internet?


Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

When someone asks why there’s noise (static) on a car radio but not on an internet radio, you can explain it like this.

The quality of music can vary significantly between FM radio stations and internet streaming services due to several factors. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences:

FM Radio

  1. Signal Quality: FM radio relies on terrestrial radio waves. The quality of the signal can be affected by distance from the transmitter, physical obstructions (like buildings and mountains), and weather conditions. Static and interference can degrade the listening experience.
  2. Audio Compression: FM radio broadcasts at a limited bandwidth, typically around 15 kHz. The audio is compressed to fit within this bandwidth, which can lead to a loss of some higher frequency details and overall audio quality.
  3. Stereo Separation: FM radio provides stereo sound, but the separation between left and right channels is less precise compared to digital sources. This can affect the spatial quality of the music.
  4. Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR): FM radio has a lower SNR compared to digital sources, meaning there is more background noise relative to the signal, which can affect the clarity of the music.

Internet Streaming

  1. Digital Quality: Internet music streaming uses digital transmission, which is not subject to the same interference and degradation as analog FM signals. This generally results in clearer, more consistent audio quality.
  2. Bitrate and Compression: Internet streaming services often offer higher bitrates (e.g., 128 kbps to 320 kbps or higher) compared to FM radio. Some services offer lossless streaming (e.g., FLAC) with bitrates upwards of 1,411 kbps. Higher bitrates preserve more of the original audio details and result in better sound quality.
  3. Frequency Response: Digital music can cover the full range of human hearing (20 Hz to 20 kHz) without the bandwidth limitations of FM radio, providing a richer and more detailed listening experience.
  4. Stereo and Surround Sound: Internet streaming can support advanced audio formats, including high-quality stereo and even surround sound formats, offering better channel separation and spatial audio effects.
  5. Customizability: Streaming services often allow users to choose the quality of the audio stream based on their internet connection, with options for high-resolution audio for audiophiles.


  • FM Radio: Generally lower quality due to signal interference, limited bandwidth, and compression artifacts. Suitable for casual listening where convenience and accessibility are more important than audio fidelity.
  • Internet Streaming: Higher quality due to digital transmission, higher bitrates, and better frequency response. Suitable for listeners who prioritize audio fidelity and have access to a stable internet connection.

In summary, for the best audio quality, internet streaming is typically superior to FM radio.



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