Of Web Radios and Vacuum Tubes

Recently, I bought a radio so I could listen to my favorite radio stations in the kitchen. It's not an FM radio, of course as my favorite radio stations are not broadcast over the air and hey, the world has moved on that's too low tech these days anyway. No, it had to be a Wi-Fi web radio to connect me to radio stations in Italy so the Spaghetti become extra 'al dente' and to stations in the US for the fries to get extra crispy.

While the radio works well and sounds good there is one major disadvantage: When I switch it on it takes 20-25 seconds before I hear the first music. That's how long it takes for the radio to boot, to connect to the Wi-Fi access point, open a radio stream and buffer a few seconds. Hm, I would have almost accepted this, but then I remembered that my smartphone and tablet remain connected to my local Wi-Fi even while in standby mode with little power consumption and are instantly fully connected again when unlocking them. In other words, from a technical point of view there are tons of devices out there that show that it can be done a lot better.

The initial delay also doesn't compare very favorably to an FM radio that works instantly when switched on. That reminds me a bit of how it must have been in the times when vacuum tube radios had their high times. At least switching between stations is fast enough with a delay of around 2-3 seconds.

Do you have a Wi-Fi connected web radio? If so, how long does it take yours to connect to the network and a radio station before it starts playing when you switch it on?

2 thoughts on “Of Web Radios and Vacuum Tubes”

  1. my SONOS kit stays connected to its own mesh WiFi (one device connected to wired LAN), and when I hit “play” or “start” on a music source (be it NAS, streaming or internet radio) it’s instantly there (well, maybe a second or two).

  2. I have tried a few of those. My sonoro elements W ( http://de-en.sonoro-audio.com/elements-w.html ) always takes 45 seconds to start, even if I just turned it off. This is quite an expensive model, however it seems it uses the same internet radio software by Reciva as Tangent and many other cheaper manufacturers do.

    My other Wi-Fi radio, Nokia Home Music ( http://www.reghardware.com/2010/09/08/nokia_home_music_review/ ) starts buffering immediately when turned on (power button -> playback = 5 seconds), at least when I turned it off, waited 10 minutes and turned it on again. Not sure how it behaves if it has been turned off for a longer time.

    As a comparison, my Yamaha RX-V1067, which is connected by cable, starts playing as fast as the amplifier starts, which is about 7 seconds. It is connected by cable to my Apple airport express (which is wirelessly connected to my Wi-Fi AP), so it is still wireless, but the link is always on.
    It would of course be interesting to test connecting the sonoro to the Airport Express in order to shorten the startup time.

    It seems like there are two main platforms (/services) for these radios, Reciva and vTuner (which my Yamaha is using). In addition to these, a few manufacturers (like Nokia and probably Sonos) use their of services and station listings. It would be interesting to hear which radio you have and if it uses any of these services.

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