Having settled on MP3 as a format for your internet radio station you’ll need to choose a bit rate to broadcast at. The term bit rate refers to the number of individual bits of information used to model the information stored in a file, with MP3 bit rates represented in kilobits per second or kb/s. The more bits used, the better the reproduction of the source material although the inherent strenghts and weaknesses of the algorithm (also known as a codec) in use, whether LAME (good) or ACM (not as good) in the case of MP3, also factor of course.
All of which which leads us to the general rule that MP3 files encoded at a higher bit will sound better but will also be bigger in size.
Standard bit rates for MP3 format range from 32kb/s to 320kb/s. But the lowest bit rate you should really consider these days is 128kb/s. 128kb/s offers quite a bit of compression at the expense of lot of sound quality. It’s storage space and bandwidth efficient but doesn’t sound all that great unless you’re broadcasting talk, which is often considered not to need such high bit rate to preserve it’s original quality.
A much better choice, particularly for broadcasting music, might be a bitrate of 256kb/s which is roughly comparable to CD audio quality and will sound notably better.
If storage and bandwidth are plentiful however you really should use 320kb/s broadcast quality. With files encoded at this bit rate coming in at roughly 1 megabyte per minute. It’s not quite loss less quality audio but it’s close and sounds entirely better again. The difference between lossy and loss less audio formats being that when encoding files using the former some of the original sound quality is lost no matter what you do, but not the latter.
In summary when choosing the right bit rate for your radio station. You will need to consider a bit rate that is appropriate for the type of content you plan to broadcast, as well as the amount of storage space and internet bandwidth available to you.