Radium is a desktop internet radio player for Mac OS X which gives the user almost instant access to an absolute abundance of radio stations from all over the world. There are a whole host of services such as this available all over the web and they vary in not only price, but overall quality and simplicity so how does Radium stack up?
As you know, first impressions are everything in this fast paced society in which we live. When I downloaded and installed Radium on my Apple Mac Mini, you can probably imagine my reaction when I was provided access to thousands of stations within a minute or two of adding it to my applications folder. You see, the ease of set up with Radium is astonishing. OK I would never expect such a service to take hours of configuration and installation, but upon opening Radium for the first time you are given a seemingly endless list of stations to choose from and you simply select the ones you are interested in which are subsequently added to a drop down list located on the top menubar.
Although the quantity of stations is massive to say the least, this by no means makes any of them inaccessible. The list is organised clearly and a simple and accurate search function allows you to filter the stations by name, genre or frequency. The interface is neat with a small window from which you can navigate between a preference pane, a list of radio networks and software update settings.
Once you have added you favourite stations to your main list, you can switch between them at any time by selecting the icon in the menu bar and scrolling through your favourites. Below the list, you will find controls for the radio station featuring the only 2 necessary functions, a volume bar and a stop button, as well as the ‘Quit Radium’ button below that. The user interface is a crucially impressive aspect to Radium which has no over the top graphics or animations, it’s discreet and simplistic. Therefore perfect.
When it comes down to it though, aesthetics aside, what people want from Internet Radio is clear and crisp audio quality and a real variety of stations. I’m happy to say that Radium delivers in this department as well. I tested several radio stations whilst going through my usual computing habits which include browsing the web as well as downloading sometimes large files. This means that the service was extensively tested whilst a lot of bandwidth was being swallowed up elsewhere. Gladly though, it seemed to have little effect on the consistency of playback with smooth sound even with the ‘high quality’ preference selected. Although admittedly, I recently upgraded to a 50Mb connection which is more than sufficient to handle whatever is thrown at it from the web these days.
One negative I would like to add though, tiny as it may be, is the inability to filter out unwanted BBC radio stations. It seems you can only add ‘BBC Radio’ which adds a plethora of unwanted stations to your list rather than selecting maybe Radio 1 or 2 as well as a local station. I was concerned when I found pretty much every local BBC station listed.
However, to end on another positive, an excellent feature of the software is that when you switch station or the song changes, users of the ‘Growl’ application in Mac OS X will get a notification on their desktop informing them of the artist and track name.
Overall I found Radium to be a great piece of software and if listening to the radio is your thing it is ideal for Mac users. Having only used it for a couple of days and already finding it an integral part of my menu bar, I can’t see anything which would stop me from recommending it!