Grace Wireless Internet Radio -- it's a retro rush
I like radio. A lot. But over the years I've increasingly disliked the limited choices available on the AM/FM dial here in rural Virginia. So I was extremely happy to check out the new Grace Wireless Internet Radio.
Crutchfield carries a variety of these wireless PC music players, but the Grace radio really appealed to me. It looks like a regular radio with its big tuning dial and preset buttons. And its single full-range speaker makes the Grace sound like a regular radio, too — but instead of receiving over-the-air broadcasts, the Grace taps into your home Wi-Fi network to access the audio content available online.
What I really liked about this unit is that I didn't need my computer. The radio found my router, and away we went. Using the radio's dial controls, I scrolled through countries, genres, and even call letters to find the Internet radio stations I wanted to listen to.
Many of these stations stream at a fairly low bitrate (usually between 64 kbps and 96 kbps), so the single full-range speaker was more than adequate. It delivered a nice, warm mono sound that reminded me of my old, long-gone Emerson transistor radio.
In addition to Internet-only stations, such as the Technicolor Web of Sound (one of my favorites), the Grace also played audio streams from terrestrial stations. So I could listen to the BBC, or KCRW, or even WTJU. The latter was a real plus, because even through the station's less than 40 miles away, due to terrain obstacles I can't pick up their over-the-air broadcast at my house.
The icing on the cake for me, though, was that the Grace Internet radio works with Pandora. Before, I could only listen to my custom Pandora stations at my computer, where I could approve or ban the songs that came up from my playlists. I could do all that through the Grace radio, which freed up the computer for my wife (and meant I could do other things while I listened).
So now I'm digging radio again. And while the sound of the Grace Wireless Internet Radio may harken back to my old transistor, the music selection is much, much, much, much better.