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Ways To Access Internet Radio Stations Using Your Computer
Nearly all Internet radio stations have their own web page which you can access direct from your browser. Typically, you enter the URL for the station's web page in your browser. The page itself contains information about the radio station, and then a link to the audio feed. Clicking on the link will open an audio player in a new window or audio plug-in, typically Windows Media Player or Real Audio Player, or iTunes if you have defined iTunes as your default audio player for the required format.
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Using Your Favourite Music Player
Your favorite digital audio player such as iTunes or Songbird has facilities to play Internet radio alongside providing access to your own digital music library. This has the advantage of keeping all your music options in one place. However, I think that these players are not always the easiest way to access Internet radio stations. Find out more in my article on accessing Internet radio stations using iTunes and Songbird.
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Internet Radio Portal Sites
There are a large number of sites designed to provide access to multiple Internet radio stations from one source, and help you find stations broadcasting the kind of music you want to listen to. Examples include Shoutcast.com and Live365.com. These sites add value through track information and search facilities. A specialist example is the BBC iPlayer which is limited to BBC stations only and is limited by licensing agreements as well. However, it provides a very flexible and rich way to listen to Internet if the material you are seeking is available.
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Internet Radio Software Applications
You can also install specialist software applications on your own PC, which provide richer functionality than the portal sites and add features such as allowing you to record a digital stream for later listening and extract mp3 tracks for replay on your own digital player. Although these claim to be legal, the listener is reminded to check copyright rules for themselves.
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Ways To Access Internet Radio Stations Without Using A Computer
If you want to access Internet Radio stations without a computer, these days you can a radio receiver similar to one designed to receive FM or DAB broadcasts. They can have timer and alarm facilities just as any other radio receiver, just with lots more channels.
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Internet Radios for your car
In 2009, the first internet radios have been introduced for your car. In-car satellite radios have been popular for cars in North America for a while, but the first internet car radios appeared in 2009. Hopefully, the driver will leave searching through 1000s of stations to the passenger!
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Multi-room Digital Music Streaming Systems
Multi-room audio systems such as Sonos and SqueezeBox also offer Internet radio facilities. These facilities can operate without the need for a computer, giving access to a wide range of stations in any room in your house. If you favour this route, it is worth considering an option with a good interface, either the Sonos or one of the Squeezebox options with a clear screen. These options allow you to feed Internet radio into your own audio systems, providing some of the highest audio quality options.