Replay Radio Review

Replay Radio

Submitted by mirsarvat on Thu, 2008-03-20 23:20.
Author's Product Rating:
Ease of Use: 
Sound Quality: 
The lowest price: 44.95$
You can buy it at RegNow for that price.
Records streaming audio Accepts any streaming format for which you have a player Multiple output options Tremendous flexibility
Bugs when used with WinAmp Can't record one thing and listen to another Quick Recording anomalies

Replay Radio is an application designed to capture internet streaming audio, and reprocess it into a conveniently portable form--perfect for providing music, news, and talk to mobile device users.

Available online are thousands of streaming audio stations, ranging from talk to techno. If you listen to music, you can always benefit from exposure to new material; if you don't, there are still myriad possibilities to be found in internet radio. (Your Moment of Zen: the big buzzword associated with radio broadcasting, when it got going in the early part of the last century, was 'wireless'.) With so much to offer, being able to save your preferred programming on your personal machine for convenient listening becomes simple common sense.

Replay Radio comes in two parts: a desktop application that does the recording, and PocketPC player designed for playing back long audio segments. These sell independently, the desktop software for $30, the PPC player for $20. Fear not though, you don't actually need the PocketPC player if you don't want it--it's strictly a convenience. Any MP3 player will do, including Palms and stand-alone ones such as the iPod.

The desktop software isn't flashy, but quite useable. You're provided with options for scheduling blocks on certain preloaded channels, selecting specific programs to record every time they're on, or inputting your own choices for streams. You can view a list of your recordings, or find new streams through a program window that draws on Internet Explorer to provide web browsing within Replay.

The PocketPC add-on is essentially an MP3 player designed for long segments of audio, rather than short individual songs. The interface is a set of large, finger friendly buttons bearing the standard functions such as Play, Pause, Stop, etcetera. Also included are a handy set of commands for jumping backwards 15 seconds, or jumping ahead by :30, 1:00, or 2:00 minutes. This is great both for skipping commercials (if your favored stream has commercials) or quickly getting past some other extreme unpleasantness, like a song by Justin Timberlake. One annoying fact though, the player can't be closed from program management applications like Switcher Bar and WISbar. You must use the File > Exit command on the program's menu. Blah.

My first goal after installing the desktop and PocketPC software was to port over my favorite music station. Unfortunately, this was easier said than done. RR seemed to have difficulty recognizing the Shoutcast audio steam when I pasted the address into it. After a few minutes of fooling, I discovered that Replay doesn't actually deal with the streaming audio itself. Rather, it's designed to record whatever audio is playing through your computer. So how then does it retrieve the audio to record? Simply put, it stores a list of the 'activating' URLs for a large number of streaming audio servers, including new ones that you define. When it is scheduled to record something, it launches the URL, and the associated player takes over.

This is a little bit of a two-edged sword. The good news is that it allows Replay to record any streaming format for which there is a Windows player. That includes Windows Media Audio, Real Audio, Shoutcast/MP3, Ogg Vorbis, anything. Also, because it does an end run around the actual streams, it's not affected by the original format or any restrictions on it. Your favorite station broadcast in Real Audio, but your player doesn't support it? No problem--Replay Radio saves everything as your choice of MP3 with three settings of compression, or pure uncompromised WAV audio. It will even automatically burn an audio CD for you.

The downside? Because RR records whatever audio your PC is producing, it also records audio from games, web pages, videos, alarms, etcetera. Depending on your sound card, you may or may not be able to play multiple audio sources at once, but even if you can Replay seems to clamp onto one audio source and record only it, though it eludes me how it chooses the one source to record.

The three levels of MP3 quality come in at 7, 28, and 56 Megabytes per hour of recorded audio--Or if you prefer, 16, 64, and 128 Kbits per second. If you intend to record CD-quality music in any reasonably listenable state, the 28 or 56 settings are definitely preferable, however I was surprised by how relatively good the lowest quality setting was. While I wouldn't want to listen to music on it, it seems more than adequate for talk programs, provided that the audio is in good quality to begin with. Replay also offers WAV audio output, so you can use your preferred encoder to produce Ogg, WMA, or high-bitrate MP3 files. The integrated CD burning applet is very simple, offering only a selection of which drive and speed to use, and whether CDR or CDRW media, but if you need more than that you can probably take the WAV output and use your preferred burning program.

After punching in one of the presets on RR's list, it launched Windows Media Player without a hitch, connected to my chosen program, and began recording. No fuss, no muss.

Results weren't quite so good trying to listen to Shoutcast stations through WinAmp. Every so often, while recording audio, WinAmp would simply crash and recording would cease. I also encountered a far higher than normal rate of freezes, random fatal errors, and other anomalies, and my previously perfect copy of WinAmp began to malfunction severely even when Replay was not running. Even after cleanly reinstalling WinAmp, the random-crash problems persisted. While recording functioned properly, the stability left something to be desired.

I encountered a different though less serious set of problems while using Quick Recordings. Quick Recordings is a simple option to begin recording immediately, rather than setting defined start and end times. Once in a while, recording would randomly terminate after several minutes, with no errors, no notification, and no explanation, despite the otherwise stable system and ample disk space.

If you can work around its idiosyncrasies, Replay Radio is a really nice tool for working with hard-to-capture audio streams, and it's a must for serious archivists. The control it gives you is excellent. It may not play too well with WinAmp, but overall it's very solid


A fine streaming audio tool with some WinAmp problems