Ask LH: How Can I Find A Good Wi-Fi Radio?

Hey Lifehacker, I recently moved house and the FM radio reception is horrible! As a Triple J listener I have been streaming the tunes online via a PC. I'm now looking for a WiFi smart radio that has reasonably good sound for the kitchen -- hopefully one that doesn't require a monthly subscription to be able to configure the thing! Any suggestions? Cheers, Radio Gaga

Dear RGG,

If you're looking for a basic and affordable solution, we'd plump for a DAB+ digital radio with inbuilt Wi-Fi and a 3.5mm stereo audio output. DAB+ provides better signal degradation in poor reception areas while the addition of 802.11 Wi-Fi will allow you to access internet radio stations or stream audio from your PC.

The Kogan Digital Internet Radio & iPhone Dock (RRP: $109) ticks all of these boxes and also comes with an iPhone/iPod docking station that's compatible with the iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S and iPods with 30-pin connectors. You can register this device on the internet for direct access to internet radio stations. While we haven't tested the Kogan Digital Internet Radio & iPhone Dock personally, online reports suggest that the sound quality and UI are impressive for the asking price.

If you'd prefer to go down the DIY route, we've looked at several Internet-enabled wireless radio projects in the past -- some recent examples include a Raspberry Pi-powered vintage radio that uses jQuery to pull down radio streams and this similar Wi-Fi Jukebox creation from internet radio specialists The-radio. You can see a video of how the latter was built below:

We'll also throw this question over to our readers: share your personal picks for smart radio models and DIY streaming solutions in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Go for the Premium Kogan model, with Stereo speakers.. I have an earlier model and can't speak highly enough of it. (I assume the new model is at least comparable)

      I have a friend who owns 2 Of the Kogan radios and swears by them. He also has the older models.

      Stereo is a big factor, otherwise it just seems far too basic. I do not want to take a step down from what I previously had on the kitchen counter, my 1993 Panasonic portable radio cassette (stereo and still working well).

      The Deluxe had very good sound and was great overall, but has now disappeared from the Kogan website and is probably discontinued.

      I am not a happy camper as my Deluxe lasted for a month and then died. I returned it and Kogan found it to be faulty but could not give me a replacement as "there is no replacement stock" (read: it's been discontinued).

      Instead, I have just been offered credit good for 3 months. But with no decent alternative to the Deluxe and the fact that I really don't want anything else from Kogan, I'm in no man's land and about to do my money.

      There is a severe lack of competition, as well!!

      Last edited 05/02/14 8:19 pm

    I don't like DAB as you can't have multiple devices on around the house because you get different signal processing lag between each one.

    The Roberts company makes good streaming kitchen radios in a variety of form factors, and distributes in Australia.

    Last edited 26/11/13 2:16 pm

    And also DAB is still only available on Digital Radios in metro areas

    I live in a very remote part of OZ and the local radio station just dives me nuts. Audio quality is a HUGE must for me, from the bedside clock radio to lounge room receiver. After some extensive research I setup:

    1) Bedside radios, Logitech Boombox (his and her so we have 2). Audio quality is excellent and the alarm clock function is great.

    2) Sideboard in the lounge room, I have the Logitech Radio. Great device, excellent audio quality, can use a remote or buttons on the front. Natively decodes AAC streams so no transcoding is required (transcoding required for Boombox + Duet). Has a battery so it can run for 6 hours without mains

    3) Loungeroom sound system, Logitech Duet. Really simple device, has a great remote. You dont need to have a TV turned on, the remote has a small screen and its so simple to use.

    You can either install the server on your Linux/Windows machine or use Logitech's server to manage the box. I use my own server on Linux so it has points to my music collection and online favorites from internode. The Radio and Duet also support Spotify so that subscription is now worth it. All devices can run on wifi or cat5.

    I had never been much of a logitech fan however after listening to the audio quality, it is built very well which helps it sound great.

    Good Luck !

    The worst thing about online radio streams is their quality (kbps). I'd love something > 96 kbps.

      AAC at 96kbps is significantly better than FM or mp3 at the same bit rate. There's heaps out there with this or better quality if you look.

      I use tunein on my phone and there are tons of Aussie stations at decent bit rates, as well as thousands from overseas.

    The "logitech UE Smart Radio" is the best I've seen yet... It's not perfect, but bloody close. You can set the backlight as low as you like, it has an excellent speaker, you can access it via the net and you can set as many alarms as you want...! I've had three now, including a Kogan piece of crap and this is the best hands down...! :)

    Last edited 26/11/13 5:39 pm

    Kogan Bluetooth Retro Digital Internet Radio with Stylish Wood Grain Finish - DAB and Internet. Best of both worlds and looks great.

    We had an internet only radio, but the ABC are not allowed to broadcast the cricket on the Internet, so we needed the DAB side.

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