Tuning in to Internet Radio

Internet radio (also variously known as streaming radio, web radio, and ‘net radio) is a digital technology that continuously transmits streaming audio that can’t be paused or replayed over the Internet to your computer or other device. Broadcasting over the Internet is called “webcasting” typically, and it is different from “podcasting” which usually requires users to download a webcast, rather than streaming it “live.”

The benefits of Internet radio

Internet radio is ideal for people who like a wide variety of music genres. As Internet radio gives you access to literally thousands of radio stations that you wouldn’t normally be able to listen to due to the limitations of your particular location, you will have an almost unlimited supply of new music to explore from all over the globe—much of which is absolutely free. And, as you stream this content instead of having to download it, you are saving both time and precious space on your computer’s hard drive.

Internet radio stations are also not solely limited to audio transmissions. They have the option to share graphics, photos and links with their listeners, or to create chat rooms and message boards.

How does Internet radio work?

Internet radio services are usually accessible from anywhere in the world with a suitable internet connection. Users can, for example, listen to a British station from Australia or Canada. Streaming technology is used to distribute web radio, with audio data continuously transmitted serially (which is what streaming means) over the local network or internet in TCP or UDP packets, then reassembled at the receiver and played a second or two later. This delay is called “lag,” and is introduced at several stages of digital audio broadcasting.

How to listen to Internet radio

Listening to internet radio is really quite easy. You can listen on your desktop or laptop computer, but the onboard sound system might not be all that great. You can also listen to web radio using your smartphone, too. However, for better quality audio, many opt to invest in an internet radio player. These gadgets are great for listening to internet radio webcasts anywhere in your office or around your home. You will of course need an internet connection, but these internet radio players require no complicated setup. Just put them down somewhere convenient, plug them in (or insert the batteries), connect to the Wi-Fi network, and start streaming your favourite genre of music or internet radio station.

Internet Radio buying tips

Not everyone will want the same features out of an internet radio player, but here are some things to consider before buying any particular model.

Audio quality

Look for a player with two or more speakers. One speaker, no matter the audio wizardry or equalizer behind it, will still not sound as good as something with multiple speakers.

Internet connectivity

Most mainstream web radio players allow you to connect to the internet through Wi-Fi. These models tend to be preferred because they allow you to listen without being tethered to one particular location by a physical internet connection. That means you can move your player around and stream internet radio stations anywhere you want.

Remote control

A good remote control will help to further untether you from your player. Some remotes include an LCD display that allows you more control and more entertainment from the palm of your hand as you can often view album art and photos with them.

Other internet radio player functions

Other features you may want to consider include advanced equalizers, the ability to save station pre-sets, or internet radio players that offer alarm clock functionality, as well. Some models even feature AM/FM band tuners for when you want to listen to something more local that may not have a presence on the Internet.