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. Check out our CC WiFi 3 Internet Radio with Bluetooth.
- 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.
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If you feed your internet radio into a C.Crane FM Boadcaster-2 you then can have internet radio and handy portability. I am able to listen to the BBC all over our property with this set-up.
I have branched out to three internet radios and three FM Broadcasters so I can choose between BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4, and Conyers Old Time Radio whereever I am about the house and grounds.
And then if the power goes out, wind storm or earthquake, you lose the AC power at home, then you have no internet and WiFi. What you need is the good old fashioned AM/FM battery powered radio!
Most radio ”Hobbies” own several radios. Some radios are AC and some are battery operated and yes some are both. So most hobbies always have several packs of batteries as backups. Hey, solar? AJY
I enjoyed your comments about the pros and cons of internet radio.I have been a very avid user and listener of internet radio for well over 5 years. In fact The only time I do not to internet radio is when I am in the car.
Another con is many of these stations will change their stream without any kind of notice or reason.Sometimes it takes weeks or months to be able to find them again
One other aspect of Internet Radio (which some will consider a blessing and others may consider a curse) is that some localism is removed from the stream. If you live in Florida and are listening to a Boston station, you will hear commercials for Florida businesses, not Boston. The commercials are localized for your listening area.
I agree this is a blessing/curse. Personally, I would prefer to hear the commercials from the originating station. This whole scheme is a revenue stream, often run by third parties — i.e., the originating station may have little or no input into what Internet commercials are placed. So we’re stuck with what we get — sometimes for the originating city, sometimes for our local area, and sometimes having no logic at all. Sigh.
I’ve had an internet radio for about 12 years. When the first one , still working, became “obsolete”, I bought your new model. Love it! I am in Michigan, and listen to my classical music, 24/7, from a favorite station in NC. C Crane’s service is wonderful to top it off !!!
Lifetime US based Tech Support,
unless it is the WiFi 1.
Love the features on my WiFi 2 but
It is getting long in the tooth.
I wish those features and looks
we’re on the WiFi 3. I have two of
Amen to that brother ! I have a WiFi 1 obsolete, WiFi 2 love it also and all it’s features and two WiFi 3s, home/workshop. Wish
WiFi3 had the sames looks & features.
I regularly listen to distant “big city” stations, primarily for the higher-quality content and personnel. There is a BIG drawback (in my opinion) to Internet radio…although it hasn’t yet caused me to stop listening! You mentioned “…some programming that is broadcast over regular radio is not broadcast on the internet due to licensing issues”. That is true not only for programs but also for many commercials. Some stations I listen to “cover” their local commercials with ones that are run and rerun ad nauseum. I do, sometimes, turn off the radio and scream (inside my head). These commercials are not only repetitive (like EVERY SINGLE BREAK) but many are also dumb. The upsides of Internet Radio are many, but also be aware of this downside!
I have asked many manufacturers of internet radio, C Crane included,to fix the problem of entering in radio station call letters and then search to see if they are available. You have to use there cryptic way of selecting alpha characters , changing screens to select numbers, and where is that decimal point you need occasionally. It takes more than an hour to select an find the stations you want and program your presets. Especially when the channel you want is not available, lots of wasted time. They need to put a keyboard interface into the unit so we can use a standard keyboard to this. You can then enter all your presets in a minute or two and future searches for channels won’t be a dreaded exercise.
The Grace radio that C. Crane also offers allows you to input stations (and streams) from your regular computer. Once you link your radio’s ID number to the online list of your favorite stations, podcasts and streams that you create with the computer (and full keyboard!), they become available on the radio. Easy to edit and add to as well.
Something else worth mentioning. A lot of people like listening to internet radio via personal assistants like Alexa and Google devices. I have a couple around the house myself. But I have some privacy issues with radios that have microphones in them. I know, some of you are thinking that the same privacy issues exist with smart phones and you’d be right. But internet radio’s like the CCrane and Grace offerings don’t have a microphone and they don’t track what you listen too. So if that’s important to you its another pro/con to think about.
I have approx.80 stations programmed into my internet radio.The ones I listen to the most are the ones with out any commercials.The problem that I now have is I can only listen to one station at a time LOL.
I use a pillow speaker connected to the earphone jack. On my CC
radio there is enough amplitude to hear the speaker through the speaker. On my Grace digital receiver there is not enough amplitude to hear the speaker through the pillow. I am curious to know if your internet radio has the amplitude through the earphone jack to hear through my pillow.
What if God forbid an EMP Occurs, or would that effect ALL RADIOS ???
An EMP would not affect vacuum-tube radios, but there are very few of those currently in working order in people’s homes. All the solid-state stuff would be useless after a close-enough EMP, unless it happened to be in a Faraday cage at the time of the EMP (highly unlikely).
Creo que la mayoría de las radios que captan internet utilizan Pandora. Aquí en Uruguay no funciona Pandora, entonces perdería gran cantidad de contenidos. Seguramente en un futuro se solucionará ese tema, pero por el momento no me atrevo a comprar porque invertir en algo que funcione parcialmente no me atrae. Tengo mi C Crane Am SW, FM y banda aérea, ademas de otra amarilla pequeña que fue la primera que adquirí hace más de 10 años.
Just ask C Crane how many previous models of “internet” radios are now
“bricks”…no more service! They are great while the service exist,but after that….you are out of luck!
Thanks for the info. Grandpa loves listening to AM radio & shortwave. Might have to try this new technology.
Have been listening to AM broadcast band radio stations at late night since I was seven years old (1950). Seventy years later (2023) I am still doing this (now expanded to day and night time listening) and it’s NEVER BEEN BETTER since I started to use CC Crane WIFI radios. Reception is crystal clear and totally free from interference… and quality listening is available at any time (night and day)!
Thank you for the info. Very helpful
What is considered “high speed” internet?
Is there a website that you can look up the radio stations for the Wi-Fi radio
I find the WI-FI Internet Radio interesting. Thanks for the article concerning such. It was well written and informative. I figure sometime in the next several months I’ll have a unit on my desk.