Web radio offers free supply of MP3s

By Berti Kolbow, dpa

Bremen (dpa) - Radio listeners know the problem all too well: many stations broadcast programs that are practically identical, while one's own personal favourites are nowhere to be heard.

The internet offers something different. Listeners can tune into web radio anywhere in the world with only a computer and an internet connection. Special software can be used to record the songs - completely legal and cost free.

"Web radio is suitable for all music enthusiasts who want variety, have specific tastes or who want to use exotic music to reawaken memories of vacation," says Uwe Roselius from Bremen's Hepstedt. His web site Radio Web TV Webradio Musik Radiosender Online lists several thousand stations, offering everything from chart hits to trendy material and world music.

There are roughly 12,000 professional and amateur stations worldwide broadcasting music exclusively over the Internet, Uwe Roselius estimates. In addition, there are also traditional radio stations that provide their program streaming online.

"In Germany, that now includes almost every broadcaster." An overview can be seen at Radio-Locator, Online Radio Stations with Internet Radio. Listen to Music Online + News, Talk, Sports..., Live Internet Radio and TV LIVE-RADIO.COM Live Radio, VirtualTuner.com , live.Internet-Radio.net , World-Radio.net , StreamDirectory.com , StreamBox.net, Live Internet Radio from around the World or SHOUTcast | Free internet radio!, among others.

Broadcasts can be received over the internet with little more than an out of date PC with sound card and a web browser. Media players are often needed to play back the audio streams. Web radio expert Uwe Roselius recommends a number of cost-free players, including Real Player, Windows Media Player or Winamp. An ISDN connection to the internet is the minimum technical requirement, and DSL helps boost the listening pleasure.

Clever music fans don't just stop at listening. They harness web radio as a free source for MP3 files. "With the right software, you select a broadcast, record a piece of music, and save it to your hard drive," explains Ruediger Pein from Munich-based PC Professionell magazine. Another advantage: the files have no DRM copy protection and can generally be played on any MP3 player.

Web radio recordings are an alternative to fee-based online music shops and illegal file sharing. "Recording music from web radio for private use does not violate copyrights, as long as the radio station has the necessary broadcast rights," explains Nils Schumacher- Deutzmann, a lawyer from Dusseldorf. Distributing the files including music exchanges, is not allowed, however.

Many of the programs come with the music broadcasters already programmed in. Computer expert Rudiger Pein took a closer look at several of them in a recent edition of PC Professionell. The winner was Hit recorder, which can effectively process and administer titles. It can record up to 20 radio streams at once. Given that it can be installed on a USB stick, the program is even usable on the go.

OnlineTV 2, Webradio Deluxe, and AudioJack 2 are all programs that faired equally well. In addition to commercial software costing between 10 and 40 dollars, there are also several free programs such as StreamRipper, ClipInc, or No23 Recorder.

Those looking to record music should pay attention to the transmission quality, advises Uwe Roselius from surfmusik.de. CD quality corresponds to 128 kilobits per second, but 192 kbit/s is better. Pein also notes the importance of an uninterrupted internet connection. Otherwise the recording program will record the title improperly and listeners will need to rework the files afterward.
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