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Best Internet Radio Stations

By on Apr 1, 2006 in Reviews, Tech Takes | 0 comments

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Wondering what Internet radio is? Well, you have normal radio on airwaves, Internet radio is just it’s counterpart in cyberspace. The music is ‘streamed’ to you, that is, in small packets which allow instant play. Hooray, no waiting for slow downloads from P2P networks. The second advantage is, that it’s COMPLETELY legal, so no sleepless nights thinking that fearing that RIAA will slap a violation-of-DRM case on you tell you to pay thousands of bucks.

Requirements for different providers are different. And different formats may be used to stream the music, like mp3, Real Audio streaming, WindowsMedia streaming, and sometimes even more obscure ones like Ogg Vorbis (which is the open-source alternative to mp3; don’t panic Winamp and Real Player can easily play this). In the time when dinosaurs ruled, Real Audio was the preferred format, but post-Microsoft, many have shifted to MP3 or Windows Media. Also, some allow you to simply play, by just going to a site and tuning in, others require users to download special software. Some use external software, but leave it up to you to choose which one. Then again, some allow you to create your own customized station by allowing you rate songs, artists and albums; others have fixed stations which you can listen too.

Now I’ve been using Internet radio for quite some time, and I feel that Yahoo! Music LAUNCHcast is THE BEST service, because of the fact that it has one of the largest collections, and run special features like Y! Music Live, Dig it or Dis it (visit the site to know what I mean), videos. It also allows anyone with a Yahoo! ID to setup their own customized station. I tried to find out about similar services and spent the whole day trying out new Internet services, all for mine (and your) benefit. Since I’m a freebie-loving guy, I’ll only include the free services. Note that some of them have free, as well as paid services. The drawback about free service is that it is generally ad-supported, but I don’t mind being interrupted once in while, it provides the ideal opportunity to go to the loo if you have to. I’ve already talked about Yahoo!, so now on with the rest. Also, I’ll omit the ones which don’t offer mainstream music, like the Download.com music section, or the n-number of alternative stations. So let’s begin.

Almost forgot; for most of these you need a reasonably fast connection, let’s say at least 64 kbps be the bare minimum. Otherwise, the music will be intermittent as the streaming packets will take time to download. There are stations aimed at narrowband / dialup users though, and you’ll have to look out for that. When choosing a station, make sure that you check the speed (it’s generally mentioned) and steer clear of the ones with bandwidth requirement way above yours. An important thing to note is don’t do too much of multitasking while browsing other websites (while listening to music), it’ll only hamper your music stream; i.e., unless you have a high speed connection, let’s say about 128 kbps above. Again as I tell you, what you can do is limited by your connection speed.



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