Streaming Radio Stations

After years of futzing with things like the dreadfully in-your-face RealPlayer, I didn’t think it would work. A newsletter from KDFC, my favorite classical station, prompted me to visit their KDFC website. I noticed a “Click to Listen” link in the upper left corner of the page, and clicked it. (You will have to do the same, as the link is done in Flash and can’t be copied and pasted here).

The “Listen Online” page provides links to the free online streams that best matches Windows Media Player, WinAmp or iTunes, RealPlayer (broadband), or Windows Media Player or WinAmp or iTunes (dialup). I use iTunes as my default player. I was invited to open or save a file named “broadband.m3u”. I saved it to the desktop. I double-clicked it.

Even with my PC speakers, the computer room was filled with full, rich, uncompromised stereo sound of startling clarity.

I have a “desktop sound system” for my PC consisting of a very compact little Denon receiver and a pair of high-quality 5 inch bookshelf speakers. I switched over to this. I must say the sound is every bit the equal of the living room audio system sound on this station. There I have a quarter wave indoor whip antenna, feeding an expensive dedicated FM tuner. A moderately nice Denon AV receiver pipes the sound to Klipsch (front channel) and Boston speakers (rear channel) with Klipsch center channel and subwoofer. Of course, I don’t dare turn that system up in an apartment, where the larger room needs extra volume for best results.

We live in a real valley, an FM-poor reception area. Static with less powerful transmitters is a constant problem with any system. With the streaming audio, this is all gone. No more fiddling with amplified rabbit ears and tunable FM front ends. I have done my mail and done some web surfing and am still getting stutter-free CD quality sound.

My PC runs a dual core 3800+ AMD CPU with 2GB of memory. All audio is piped through the RealTek AC97 onboard sound processor; I don’t use a sound card. The machine was build about a year ago. While it is still more than beefy enough for most of today’s tasks, gamers and overclockers certainly wouldn’t consider it state of the art.

Even if your machine is several years old, you might give this a try and see how it works for you. I was impressed. It doesn’t have to be my favorite classical station, of course. iTunes lists about a dozen radio stations it supports natively (including classical), and I’m sure there must be a way to add more.

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2 thoughts on “Streaming Radio Stations

  1. I’m surprised I was so slow on the uptake: since this is an internet stream, there should be no reason why I can’t still listen to my favorite Bay Area FM radio station while in Phoenix. I’m taking my M3U Audio Playlist down south and trying it out. Imagine, 600-mile “FM” reception, and no rabbit ears!

  2. Wait, there’s more: I’m listening to KDFC in Phoenix now. To those of you young enough that satellite radio has ALWAYS been around since you started caring about such things: streaming makes perfect sense to me, but I hail from an age when long distance radio reception meant making your own antennas. To me, streaming is even cooler than satellite. For me, “radio reception” was a tuned half-wave 40 meter twisted copper cable strung from my second story bedroom window to a tree in the far back yard. It didn’t make my entry-level receiver a better short wave receiver, but I had a lot of fun with it.

    The reproduction and broadcast of music has come SO far since I was a kid that I feel like a kid again. It’s the new age of invention and discovery. “Perfect reception” of Bay area FM stations … in Phoenix. Haw, haw. To even talk of such a thing in the 1950’s was even more ridiculous than to talk of men walking on the moon.

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