Wireless Internet Radio Player with the best menu and recall system?
August 1, 2014 9:20 AM   Subscribe

I love world music! I'm looking for a stand-alone (no computer) wireless internet-radio music player, but get exasperated with wonky interface/station recall/ menu systems on the ones I've seen. Any suggestions? I need two: one for a gift in the US, one for me (european outlet). Also, speaker recommendations for streaming from a laptop welcome!

One of my favorite things is listening to streaming internet radio from the places I've travelled. After much research I bought a tivoli wireless internet music player to (independent of the computer) play my favorite foreign radio stations. I also bought a pair of audioengine5 speakers to stream grooveshark from my mac when my laptop was at home. Very happy with both purchases.

The tivoli was beautiful, but the navigation buttons and menu (placed on the back) made it a pain to call up my favorite stations.

Now I'm in europe (Norway) and I'm looking for replacements. Purchasing/shipping to the US and to France for eventual pick-up are both options.

Sound quality is important (which is why I went with the tivoli two-speaker system in the first place). But that silly menu on the back I'd sure like to avoid. Are there any alternatives out there? What about speakers? It would probably be best to find a european distributor for voltage/shipping reasons, but I could ship to the US and pick it up on a visit.

Secondly, I'd like to gift an internet radio player to someone in the US. It wouldn't need very many presets, there's only one or two she will likely ever listen to- but listen to a lot. Bonus if it still retains the presets if it is accidentally unplugged. Sound quality doesn't have to be top notch. US power outlet.

Both should work without paid subscription (sirius etc), ideally. Any alternate options I've not considered, are very welcome too!

Bonus question: If I have to use a converter for the electricity in europe, I'm of the mind that the cheap (~14$) smaller converters will be sufficient, but I could be mistaken (in the case of the speakers). Is there a simple guideline to follow for how much of a converter to use (this pertains to small items, and nothing larger than the speakers). Thanks!
posted by iiniisfree to Technology (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was the Software UI Engineer for the Logitech Squeezebox Radio, which has great sound quality, nice internet radio menus, and a great set of hardware preset buttons. I'd recommend it, except for the fact that Logitech discontinued it. You can still pick them up through secondary outlets, but the price has gone way up because supply is low and demand continues.

I don't think there is a functional equivalent to Squeezebox Radio on the market now of reasonable quality (there are some cheap-o ones like Grace, but they are a big step down IMO). Sonos kind of owns the space now, and they don't put any UI at all on their devices. That is to say, they expect your smartphone to be the controller.

FWIW, the reason Logitech dropped Squeezebox is that they started investing all of their efforts into bluetooth speakers for smartphones. I'm not as big of a fan of this model, but if you're willing to use a bluetooth speaker and stream internet radio to it from a smartphone, your cup runneth over with options.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:55 AM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Pure have the nicest products that I've used. They don't list Norway as one of their markets on their website, but they do have a Danish site. Their Evoke F4, like most modern electronics, will work without a voltage converter anywhere in the world. Sound is good enough, in my experience.

I've tried using Bluetooth audio with wireless streaming on my phone, and for me at least, the Bluetooth and the WiFi interfere with each other enough that I lose the WiFi signal, but the radio spectrum is very crowded and with lots of stone walls where I live.
posted by ambrosen at 11:48 AM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a Revo Heritage but they have quite a few different models. To be honest, it is a little fiddly to set up internet stations from the radio itself (about what you'd expect from a small screen operated with buttons), but perhaps their touch screen models would be better for your purpose.

Their radios also link to an online portal where you can do all the sorting and selecting to create your favorites list (which then appear on the radio). The Heritage does hold a set of favorites on the hardware buttons - I haven't unplugged it for a long period, but on a brief unplug it has held them.
posted by AnnaRat at 2:46 PM on August 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just use an older Android phone or tablet with any internet radio app plugged into powered speakers. My Archos 5 will do this, but I use wired speakers because it also has trouble with simultaneous WiFi and Bluetooth.
posted by rfs at 6:27 PM on August 1, 2014

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