dinkypumpkin edited this page Aug 9, 2018 · 89 revisions

Recording quality

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Recording modes

BBC iPlayer makes programmes available in different streaming formats at multiple levels of video and audio quality. get_iplayer represents each combination of format and quality with an alphanumeric code, referred to as a "mode". Different combinations of modes can be specified with shortcuts. You can find details of available recording modes, quality levels, and shortcuts in Recording modes reference.

Configuring recording quality

By default, get_iplayer will download the best quality available from the default mode list for the given programme type (TV or radio). If you are using the Web PVR Manager, you should remove any previous setting in the Recording Modes field in order to download with the default settings.

The only decision most users will need to make is whether or not to configure a maximum quality level for recordings. Some reasons you may wish to configure a maximum quality level:

  • HD TV requires 2GB+ storage per hour of video, which may be too much for your needs
  • You may feel that 320kbps is unnecessary if you only record speech radio programmes

You can enforce maximum quality levels by adding the necessary settings to your preferences. Use the tables below as a guide to configure get_iplayer.

Video storage

Rough estimates of the storage requirements for HLS TV downloads at each video resolution and frame rate:

Resolution FPS Storage
1280x720 50fps ~2.2 GB/hr
960x540 50fps ~1.2 GB/hr
704x396 50fps ~0.8 GB/hr
1280x720 25fps ~1.0 GB/hr
960x540 25fps ~0.8 GB/hr
704x396 25fps ~0.5 GB/hr
512x288 25fps ~0.3 GB/hr

TV

By default, get_iplayer uses 50fps streams where available, with fallback to 25fps.

Max Size Max FPS Max Bit Rate Max Quality Configuration Notes
1280x720 50 5 Mbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --tvmode=best default
960x540 50 3 Mbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --tvmode=better
704x396 50 1.7 Mbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --tvmode=good
512x288 25 550 kbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --tvmode=worst

The --fps25 option configures get_iplayer to use only 25fps streams. No HD video is available (but see hlshd mode).

Max Size Max FPS Max Bit Rate Max Quality Configuration Notes
960x540 25 1.7 Mbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --tvmode=best --fps25 default with --fps25
960x540 25 1.7 Mbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --tvmode=better --fps25
704x396 25 950 kbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --tvmode=good --fps25
512x288 25 550 kbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --tvmode=worst --fps25

Radio

Max Bit Rate Max Quality Configuration Notes
320 kbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --radiomode=best default
128 kbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --radiomode=better
96 kbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --radiomode=good
48 kbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --radiomode=worst

NOTE: 96kbps is the highest bit rate normally available to international users, though some have reported higher bit rates available.

Combined TV and radio

You can use the --modes option to configure the maximum quality level for both TV and radio. If you do so, you should employ separate quality levels for TV and radio, using a "tv" or "radio" prefix as appropriate. The table below assumes you wish to always download the best available radio streams while adjusting the maximum quality for TV, but the maximum quality for radio can be adjusted independently.

By default, get_iplayer uses 50fps streams where available, with fallback to 25fps.

Max Size Max FPS Max Bit Rate Max Quality Configuration Notes
1280x720 50 5 Mbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --modes=tvbest,radiobest default
960x540 50 3 Mbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --modes=tvbetter,radiobest
704x396 50 1.7 Mbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --modes=tvgood,radiobest
512x288 25 550 kbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --modes=tvworst,radiobest

The --fps25 option configures get_iplayer to use only 25fps streams. No HD video is available (but see hlshd mode).

Max Size Max FPS Max Bit Rate Max Quality Configuration Notes
960x540 25 1.7 Mbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --modes=tvbest,radiobest --fps25 default with --fps25
960x540 25 1.7 Mbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --modes=tvbetter,radiobest --fps25
704x396 25 950 kbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --modes=tvgood,radiobest --fps25
512x288 25 550 kbps get_iplayer --prefs-add --modes=tvworst,radiobest --fps25

NOTE: Do not insert spaces between mode values

Web PVR Manager

For the Web PVR Manager, use the Recording Modes field. The Web PVR Manager uses --modes behind the scenes, so configuration is much the same as the combined TV and radio settings. After entering the desired values in the Recording Modes field, click Save As Default to apply the new settings to all recordings. The table below assumes you wish to always download the best available radio streams while adjusting the maximum quality for TV, but the maximum quality for radio can be adjusted independently.

By default, get_iplayer uses 50fps streams where available, with fallback to 25fps.

Max Size Max FPS Max Bit Rate Recording Modes Notes
1280x720 50 5 Mbps tvbest,radiobest default
960x540 50 3 Mbps tvbetter,radiobest
704x396 50 1.7 Mbps tvgood,radiobest
512x288 25 550 kbps tvworst,radiobest

The Use only 25fps streams option in the Recording tab configures get_iplayer to use only 25fps streams. No HD video is available (but see hlshd mode).

Max Size Max FPS Max Bit Rate Max Quality Configuration Notes
960x540 25 1.7 Mbps tvbest,radiobest default with Use only 25fps streams = On
960x540 25 1.7 Mbps tvbetter,radiobest
704x396 25 950 kbps tvgood,radiobest
512x288 25 550 kbps tvworst,radiobest

NOTE: Do not insert spaces between mode values

Overriding configured quality

There are somes circumstances in which you may wish to override the default/configured quality settings for single recordings. Any recording modes or quality levels set on the command line will override the defaults and those configured in your preferences. Some examples are listed below.

Download 25fps HD stream (if it exists) with fallback to 50fps streams if not found:

get_iplayer --tvmode=hlshd,tvbest [...]

Download 25fps HD stream (if it exists) with fallback to lower-resolution 50fps streams if not found:

get_iplayer --tvmode=hlshd,tvbetter [...]

Download 25fps HD stream (if it exists) with fallback to lower-resolution 25fps streams if not found:

get_iplayer --tvmode=hlshd,tvbetter --fps25 [...]

Download an HLS or DASH HD stream (25fps preferred if it exists) without fallback to lower-resolution streams:

get_iplayer --tvmode=hlshd,hd [...]

Download an HLS or DASH 50fps HD stream without fallback to lower-resolution streams:

get_iplayer --tvmode=hd [...]

Download an HLS or DASH 50fps HD stream with fallback to next lower-resolution 50fps stream:

get_iplayer --tvmode=hd,sd [...]

Download an HLS HD stream without fallback to lower-resolution streams:

get_iplayer --tvmode=hvfhd [...]

Download a 50fps SD stream with fallback to next lower-resolution 50fps stream:

get_iplayer --tvmode=sd,high [...]

Download a 25fps SD stream with fallback to next lower-resolution 25fps stream:

get_iplayer --tvmode=sd,high --fps25 [...]

Download lowest-quality SD stream with fallback to next higher-resolution 50fps stream:

get_iplayer --tvmode=low,high [...]

Download lowest-quality SD stream with fallback to next higher-resolution 25fps stream:

get_iplayer --tvmode=low,high --fps25 [...]

Download a 128k audio stream for a radio programme without fallback to lower-bitrate streams:

get_iplayer --radiomode=std [...]

Download a 320k stream for a radio programm, for podcast version only, without fallback to lower-bitrate streams:

get_iplayer --radiomode=high --version=podcast [...]

Download a 320k audio stream for a radio programme with fallback to 96k stream:

get_iplayer --radiomode=high,med [...]
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