We’ve received a lot of emails and several comments about the confusion surrounding “internet radio”. What is it? How does it work? How do I pick the right radio? So we put together some of the pros and cons and then a few additional considerations. In this post, we aren’t recommending one particular radio over another but rather giving you some points to consider when making your decision so you can pick the right product for you.

First, let’s establish that there is a pre-requisite to using WiFi Internet radio –

  • You need to have a high-speed internet connection. Most internet radios will work on WiFi. Some have an option for a direct Ethernet connection (that network jack on the back of the radio that provides a connection to the router. Sometimes a USB to Ethernet adapter might be necessary.).

Let’s jump into the benefits for you as a listener –

  • First, a Crystal clear signal – no static, no fade.
    • Need your radio fix but you get terrible AM reception at your office or in your apartment complex?
    • Tired of listening to the whine of static on your favorite radio talk show or having it fade out right when something important is being discussed? WiFi Internet radio to the rescue.
  • The second benefit – stations from literally everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re 3 miles away or 3,000 miles away.
    • If you have recently relocated and you now live in Los Angeles but your favorite station is in Boston, WiFi Internet Radio might allow you to receive it.
    • Maybe your transplant was even further – you moved to the U.S. from Italy. You can listen to Italian Parliament right on your radio.
    • Maybe your local station stopped carrying your favorite host and now you can’t receive that show anymore – it’s almost a guarantee there is a station on WiFi Internet radio that is broadcasting this show.
    • If you just can’t get enough of the Beatles, you can choose from several Beatles stations that play all Beatles all the time.
  • Third, you can avoid entering personal information through a form to access the stream or trying to translate international web pages that have the stream you want to hear. They’re already on the radio and are easily accessible so you don’t have to get additional spam from strange countries because you want to hear their music. No ad tracking cookies that “learn” what you like.
  • Another benefit – no subscription fees for the free streams (unless you’re using something premium see notes below). Yes, you’ll still have to pay your high-speed internet bill but you don’t have to pay a subscription fee to listen to your favorite station.
  • Bluetooth – Many newer radios have Bluetooth which makes it really convenient to use with your compatible devices.
  • If you purchase from C. Crane, it comes with lifetime US-based tech support
  • Often stations can be added through the service provider’s website if you know the station stream URL and it’s a compatible format.

We’re often asked if there are any drawbacks, and as with anything, there are a few.

  • First, there is a slight delay in broadcasting the signal. So if you’re listening to a show on your AM radio and have it going on a WiFi Internet radio at the same time you’ll hear the information on your AM radio a few seconds before you hear it on the Internet radio. Some people consider this a drawback.
  • Another inconvenience is some programming that is broadcast over regular radio is not broadcast on the internet due to licensing issues – primarily these are specific sporting events like MLB games, NFL and NBA, even some college sports. Every now and then, if you know the local stations that have the rights, there are exceptions but if you buy it with that intent, you will be disappointed. You may be able to use your subscription to MLB or Sirius XM or others depending on the radio. If this is important to you, confirm the radio supports what you’re looking for prior to purchasing. 
  • This one is a blessing and a curse. There are currently several thousand stations on internet radio, with more being added every day. This means there is an endless supply of radio stations from around the world to listen to. It also means if you don’t know what you want to hear, you could spend a lot of time trying to find what you want. The good part is there is a lot of organization by genre and there is a search option. The best solution to prevent overload is to get a radio that has memory presets and use them. So with the touch of a couple buttons, you can go right to your favorite station.
  • Buffering (the slow or intermittent load of stations) – depends on the signal from the station that is streaming. It is also dependent on your own network. If your significant other is in the other room binge-watching Netflix you may experience more buffering.
  • Most are not portable – for some people, this is a deal-breaker. It just depends on what you need. If you like to take your radio with you, then this might not be the right product for you. The Grace Digital Mondo Elite is something we consider semi-portable with its rechargeable battery pack. Definitely an important consideration.
  • The radio is dependent on your internet connection, if the internet is down, so is your radio.
  • The software used to compile the stations is a service and could potentially go out of business or become obsolete someday (just like every other piece of technology) – this might mean you’ll have to purchase a different model in the future. 

When selecting a WiFi Internet Radio, take into consideration some of the same things you would consider for any radio like size, audio jacks, clock, alarms, etc.

Some additional benefits with an Internet radio are: if you like to listen to services like NPR, iHeart, CBS, Podcasts, or other similar services, many of these radios will work. If you have special subscriptions for MLB baseball, Pandora, Spotify, Sirius, or others that require a special interface, you’ll want to find a radio that supports your specific application.

One last thing, there are many changes taking place in the industry where stations are being consolidated, and shows are being changed. The owners of the content, are in many cases, only allowing their stream to be streamed on certain devices or their own app. If you’re not sure about which radio and you want to see if your station or content is available, please contact us!

*The company, product, and service names used in this newsletter are for identification purposes only. All trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners.