Internet radios let you listen to the 20,000+ radio stations available online in addition to all the regular radio stations you can get on DAB and FM. This gives you the biggest possible choice of music and speech programmes. You can also listen to podcasts and other online audio.
An internet radio is perfect if you want to listen to stations from other countries or learn other languages. It’s also great if the FM and DAB reception in your area is poor but you have a good internet connection.
Read on for our reviews of the internet radios in 2018, or scroll to the end for some advice on choosing an internet radio.
Best Internet Radios (UK 2018)
About Internet Radios
Internet radios are still relatively new products, and there’s a good chance you’re looking to buy your first internet radio. This means you’ll probably have a lot of questions about how internet radios work and how you can choose one that suits you.
Why get an internet radio?
Internet radios offer some great advantages over regular FM and DAB radios. Here are just a few reasons to consider choosing an internet radio:
- Choice: On an FM radio you might get around 10 stations. On DAB you might get 50 or so. With an internet radio, you will be able to receive around 20,000 stations from across the world, including all the popular local and national stations.
- Reception: If you live in an area with poor DAB or FM reception, an internet radio is a good idea. As long as you have a stable internet connection, you won’t have any issues with reception.
If you’re researching internet radios the following thought might have crossed your mind: “Why not just use my laptop or smartphone to listen to internet radio and connect it to some good speakers?” This can be a good alternative to buying a standalone internet radio. You could also get a wireless speaker like the SONOS Play, which can stream internet radio without needing to connect to a computer or phone.
Standalone internet radios and wireless speakers have several advantages over just listening to online radio on your computer or phone. Here are a few:
- Convenience: You don’t need to start your laptop up to listen to the radio—you just turn the radio on.
- Ease of use: Listening to the radio on an internet radio is easier than finding a stream online. It’s also easier to find new stations as you can usually browse by genre, country and region.
- Battery: You won’t wear down your laptop or phone’s battery by using an internet radio instead.
How internet radios work
Most internet radios connect to the internet wirelessly. This means you will need a good amount of bandwidth and a decent wireless router to enjoy listening to the radio without it cutting out or it slowing down other things you use the internet for.
Internet radio usually broadcasts with a bitrate between 128 and 320 kilobytes per second, meaning it will use between 57.6 and 140.62 megabytes of data an hour. The average internet speed in the UK can cope with this easily, but it might be an issue if you have a busy network with lots of people using the internet at the same time.
You can also buy wired internet radios that connect to the internet via an Ethernet cable. One radio that offers this possibility is the Ocean Digital WR80, which can also be used wirelessly.
Instead of requiring you to enter a web address for each radio station, internet radios usually have a menu that you use to find stations. This means that it’s easy to discover new radio stations, but has the downside that some stations might not be accessible.
Most internet radios will also let you listen to podcasts and other on-demand audio, though not every podcast will be available. Many internet radios have a special feature for connecting to Spotify, though this usually requires you to sign up for a paid Spotify membership. Most internet radios also come with DAB and sometimes FM, though some are internet-only.
Internet Radio Brands
Some of the leading brands of internet radios are Pure, Roberts, Majority, Ocean Digital and Revo. Pure and Roberts are both British brands that produce high-quality radios at mid-range prices. These radios will be good options for most households.
If you’re looking for something cheaper, you should consider getting a Majority or Ocean Digital radio. Majority are a Cambridge-based brand whose products are manufactured in the Far East. Ocean Digital are a Hong Kong brand that produce inexpensive internet and DAB radios. Both brands generally offer great value for money, but don’t have the prestige or reputation of Pure or Roberts.
If money is no option, one of the best brands is Revo. Revo produce some of the best-sounding (and most expensive) internet radios, with impressive features. They also produce a more affordable radio, the Revo PiXiS RX.
Internet Radio Glossary
Here are a few common terms used that you might not be familiar with:
- Aux in – Aux in (short for auxiliary in) is a 3.5 mm socket that can be used to connect an audio cable with a 3.5 mm jack. If your radio has an aux in port you could use it to play music from an MP3 player or computer using the correct cable.
- Bluetooth – Bluetooth is a technology used for transmitting data wirelessly. If your radio has Bluetooth this means you can wirelessly stream audio through the speakers from another Bluetooth-enabled device such as a smartphone or tablet, within a limited range. This essentially turns the radio into a Bluetooth speaker.
- Dual alarm – This refers to the ability to set two independent alarms, for example one alarm for weekdays and one for weekends.
- Ethernet port – If your radio has an Ethernet port this means you can connect it to the internet using a cable rather than having to rely on wireless. This could be a good option if you want to position the radio a long way from the wireless router, or if you want a more stable and fast internet connection.
- EQ – EQ stands for equalisation and refers to the balance of bass, mid and treble frequencies. If your radio has an adjustable EQ this means you will be able to alter the tone, changing the bass and treble levels to get the sound you want.
- Sleep timer – A sleep timer can be programmed to turn the radio off after a set amount of time. They often give you a choice of between 10 and 90 minutes or so. This is useful if you like to fall asleep with the radio on and don’t want to leave it turned on all night.
- Spotify Connect – Spotify Connect is a method for streaming audio from Spotify through a speaker. It uses the internet rather than Bluetooth to stream audio directly from Spotify, and can be controlled from your phone using the Spotify app. Spotify Connect is not free, and is only available with the premium version of Spotify.
- UNDOK app – UNDOK is an app that functions like a remote control and also lets you find and play audio content from services such as Spotify Connect and Deezer.
Internet Radio FAQs
How do internet radios connect to the internet?
Internet radios usually connect via WiFi, but many also have an ethernet port so you can connect using an ethernet cable.
It’s usually very easy to connect your internet radio to WiFi. The instructions manual will explain how to connect to the internet when you first turn the radio on. After that, the radio will remember your WiFi settings so you don’t need to reconnect each time you use the radio.
Often you can connect to the internet quickly using the WPS button on your router, which lets you connect without entering the network name and password.
Which stations can you listen to on an internet radio?
The short answer to this question is, “almost every radio station!” Since most radio stations broadcast online in addition to AM, FM or DAB, you can listen to most stations with an internet radio. This includes all the popular UK stations including those from the BBC and commercial stations.
You can also receive stations from other countries, making an internet radio station a good choice if you want to listen to foreign stations or pick up UK radio while you’re abroad.
Can you listen to podcasts on an internet radio?
Some internet radios offer this feature, though not all do. If you want to listen to podcasts on your radio, check that it has this feature before buying. If podcasts aren’t available from the radio’s interface but the radio has Bluetooth, you could stream podcasts from your phone or laptop via Bluetooth.
What are the pros and cons of internet radios?
As with all tech products, internet radios have both pros and cons. Here’s a summary of them:
- Huge choice of stations
- Potentially better sound quality with less interference
- Ideal if you live in an area with poor radio reception
- Usually more expensive than FM/DAB radios
- Use bandwidth, so if you’re using the internet for other things at the same time it might slow things down
Is the sound quality on internet radios better than on DAB/FM?
The short answer to this question is, “it depends…” The highest quality internet radio streams have better sound quality than FM and DAB radio. However, not all internet radio stations broadcast at high bitrates. The sound quality also depends on the particular radio you are listening to—a high-quality internet radio stream on a cheap internet radio might sound worse than a lower bitrate DAB broadcast on a high-end DAB radio.
See this article for a more in-depth look at internet radio sound quality.
Can you use your phone as a remote control?
Lots of internet radios offer this feature. You will need to download an app such as UNDOK.
If we had to pick just one of these radios to recommend it would be the Roberts Stream 94i. It’s a popular and highly rated product from an established and respected brand. The Stream 94i is mid-priced, stylish and has some useful additional features such as Bluetooth and an alarm clock.