Internet radio

What is Internet radio? – Who?

Internet radio is accessible online, so you need a broadband connection and a home Wi-Fi network rather than a traditional antenna to receive it. Alternatively, you can connect your radio to the Internet using an Ethernet cable, but this is only useful if you plan to have your radio near your router.

Some, but not all digital radios can broadcast audio from the Internet. They tend to be more expensive than the average FM or DAB radio. However, you don’t even need to own a conventional radio to listen to internet radio. It can be accessed using a media player or web browser on your computer or laptop or through an app on your smartphone, tablet or smart TV.

Whether in DAB, FM or internet, find the radios we recommend with our Best Buy Radios.

What is special about Internet radio?

There are a number of notable advantages of listening to radio over the Internet. Firstly, it is not limited by locally broadcast signals, so you can listen to thousands of radio broadcasts from all over the world in real time. There is no need to struggle to tune in a station manually or interrupt your program due to reception or signal problems.

It is also possible to catch up on programs already broadcast, and many major Internet radio stations allow you to listen to last week’s shows. In some cases, like with the BBC, you can listen to any radio show that aired in the past month.

To find out which are the best radios we’ve tested with internet radio connectivity, read our guide to the the best internet radios.

Signal strength is not a problem as the high speed internet power allows the transmission of fast and reliable signals, so it is possible to stream high quality recordings flawlessly, provided of course you have a Decent Wi-Fi. You can use our free broadband speed test checker to make sure your internet speed is working as well as it should.

Most Internet radios, for example the Pure Evoke F3, Roberts iStream 2 and Roberts Stream 93i, not only allow listeners to access internet radio stations, but they are all linked to Spotify music streaming subscription service. They also allow you to stream music from your PC through the radio speakers, giving you a plethora of different options in terms of what you can listen to.

Using data with Internet radio

Everything you do on the internet uses a certain amount of data, and unless you have unlimited broadband, the amount you use will be deducted from your monthly data allowance.

The amount of data used will depend on the quality of the radio stream, but if you are listening to the radio with your smartphone, it is best to make sure your device is connected to the internet via wi-fi; otherwise, you will quickly burn your mobile data allowance while listening to internet radio.

If you want to listen to Internet radio when you are on the move, it is possible to download radio programs and podcasts for offline listening. It is possible to connect to a public Wi-Fi network, but the signal may not always be strong enough to handle audio streaming from the Internet.

Using a web browser or media player

Internet radio is accessible using your web browser or you can use a media player if you prefer. Windows Media Player and VLC are both suitable programs for streaming Internet radio, and you can bookmark your favorite stations for easy access.

To stream internet radio stations through your player of choice, you must first find the URL of the stream and put it in the box labeled “Network URL”. Streaming URLs for online radio stations usually end in .m3u or .pls and can be easily found using Google.

Free Internet Radio Apps

These radio streaming apps are free to download and provide access to tens of thousands of Internet radio stations on a variety of different devices.


Radioplayer is a non-profit partnership between the BBC and a commercial radio station in the UK. It has over 450 UK radio stations and can recommend stations based on where you are, what the current trend is and what else you’ve been listening to. It is easy to record particular stations and shows for quick and easy access.

It works with all Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, as well as Amazon Kindle Fire, Windows Phone 8, Amazon Echo, and Apple Watch. It has a car mode, so you can even play it while you’re driving, or activate the sleep timer if you want to fall asleep on a show without worrying about draining your device’s battery.

TuneIn Radio

With a global audience of over 60 million people, TuneIn Radio has something for absolutely everyone. It offers the largest selection of free radio stations on sports, music, debates and news from around the world. You can even download your own radio station to add to the 100,000 it currently has on the app.

The TuneIn app is compatible with Apple and Android smartphones and tablets, as well as Blackberry and Windows phones. It also works on Amazon Kindle, Xbox One, Sonos, Google Chromecast, and Roku speakers, as well as Samsung and Panasonic smart TVs.

Audials Radio

You can search for radio stations on Audials Radio by entering the names of your favorite artists or selecting a music genre, country or local station near you. It is the only radio app that allows you to record songs and shows as MP3 files for offline playback whenever you want. If you’ve just heard a hit on the radio but forgot to save it, you can still save the song in MP3 format by finding it in the history of the radio station.

The Audials app is available on most Apple and Android devices, as well as Windows phones and tablets, and Google Chrome browsers. It has a sleep timer and an alarm function (with a snooze button), so you can fall asleep and wake up to your favorite radio station.

Now find the perfect digital radio for you by reading our expert opinion on digital radio.