Internet Radio Recorder

Reviewed by: William M. Frazier, January 2005, send e-mail
Published by: Fogware Publishing, go to the web site
Requires: Windows 2000/XP, Intel CPU with CD-ROM (CD-R recommended), 100MB HD space, sound card, speakers, Internet Connection (high speed connection recommended)
MSRP: $39.99 (download); $39.99 plus shipping (retail box)

Internet Radio Recorder—what a concept! This program does just what it says. It connects to Internet radio stations and then records what it finds. My first impression went along the lines of "Who needs this?" Well first impressions can sometimes be wrong. The more I used this program, the more I came to like it. Internet Radio Recorder (IRR) does much more than just listen to and record Internet radio stations. You can capture audio, edit audio files, convert audio files between formats, and record your own CDs.

The center of IRR is the radio receiver. This is where you find, organize and select the radio stations you want to hear. To select a station, simply double click on the one you want from the list of available stations. There are thousands of them. You can narrow the field by using the search function and the search fields cover most user requirements. You can search by station names, music genre, bit rate, or stream type (MP3 or Ogg Vorbis). I received the most relevant results by searching for a specific genre. Just type in Trance and you get a list of all the stations that list trance music in their genre information.

Selecting and playing stations is easy. The status screen lists both the name of the station, the stream bit rate and whether the stream is stereo or mono. You also receive information naming the artist and title of the current song. Once you select a station you can record by pressing the record button. You can record the entire session as a single file or have the recorder create individual song files using each artist/title as file names. You can also split files by time, duration or file size.

I loved the ability to record each song as a separate file, but there can be problems depending on which station you select. Some stations delay sending out the artist/title information until after the song begins. This will make the recorder start the file sometime after the song actually starts. The end of the file will also contain a portion of the beginning of the next song. IRR allows you to adjust for this type of station. When you choose to split files by artist/title you can also tell IRR that the track starts ‘x’ seconds before or after receiving the track information from the station. You can also tell IRR that the title overlaps by ‘x’ number of seconds. This helps a lot, and will solve the overlap problems on most stations. However, there are stations that vary the overlap time from track to track and I was unable to find a solution to file split overlap on these stations.

Technical support was both excellent and abysmal. You can say "Hey, you can't have it both ways", but I think this is a special case. My first question involved a perceived problem with the program’s help file. The View tab under the Settings menu allows you to add or remove items displayed on the Task pane. One of these items is labeled Help. I checked the box and then looked for the Help icon on the Task pane. It wasn't there. I went back to the View tab and saw the item was unchecked. I checked the box again and went back to the Task pane. The Help icon still wasn't there. Went back to the View tab and it was again unchecked. It was time to call tech support. I tried the support e-mail option first. This was on a Monday evening at 6:30 PM PST. The reply came back just 1 hour later. I give Fogware an A+ for speed. Unfortunately the content wasn't as helpful. The reply directed me to where a downloadable copy of the User Manual could be found. I already had it and it didn't address the problem. The next day I called Fogware via phone to see if anyone could help. The phone was answered after just a few rings. I was placed on hold. Just eight minutes later I had tech support on the line (not bad by today’s standards). Unfortunately the people on the other end of the line couldn't help, and finally suggested I send another e-mail to the support address (same one I used in the first place). I did send a second e-mail but it was never answered. So, how to grade them? They respond (at least at first) pretty quickly, but don't ask them anything out of the ordinary.

There are many functions besides the recorder. The Capture Audio function allows you to record audio from numerous sources. In fact, this function allows you to record streams that can't normally be captured due to proprietary formats, such as RealAudio or Windows Media Audio. The only drawback to this function is that you end up with one big file instead of lots of small ones. Internet Radio Recorder can also be used to edit audio files and convert audio among the supported formats (MP2, MP3, OggVorbis, WAV and WMA).

The final main function is Record CD/DVD. I made a number of data CDs on CD-RW media with no problems at all. When I tried to create an audio CD I didn't succeed. I'm not sure what the problem was, but the resulting CD was never recognized as an audio CD. Using the same WAV files, I recorded an audio CD with Roxio’s Easy CD Creator v5. The resulting audio CD played with no problems. I don't know if the program has difficulty creating audio CDs or if I was the problem, but if you need an audio CD, use another program— it’s much easier.

The extra tools included with IRR that are used the most are Erase RW Media and the Label Editor. I do have one caution regarding the Label Editor. The supplied template is for A4 paper (210mm×297mm or 8.27"×11.69") the normal paper size for both domestic and business purposes in all countries except the United States, Mexico and Canada). In order to use standard US Letter (8.5"x11" label sheet) media, you will need to create your own template.

I want to give this program a high recommendation. I really like it and it has a number of useful functions, but you need to be aware that it isn't as polished as it should be for the $39.99 price tag. There are thousands of Internet radio stations out there and many of them are streaming files in either MP3 or Ogg Vorbis format. With Internet Radio Recorder you can capture and save the individual files, and listen to them later, save them to CD, or whatever. If you like new MP3 files, Internet Radio Recorder is a must have.

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