• Mac App Review - Radium

    Internet radio is awesome, but only if you know the right way to listen to it. That is to say, you shouldn't be listening on your favourite radio station's website, because chances are each site is going to offer a clunky proprietary Flash audio stream. Instead, there are dozens of radio clients that do a much better looking and more efficient job: the excellent Snowtape or Rogue Amoeba's Pulsar for subscription radio streaming are two options with big feature sets and customisation, but if you're looking for something really simple, the answer may just be a little app called Radium.

    Rather than living in a dedicated window, Radium sits in the menu bar. Considering the only purpose of this app is to play audio, having it in a panel that is only seen when clicked makes a lot of sense to me. When you do click on Radium you'll find a search bar, with your favourite stations underneath (add these by clicking on the heart button next to search results), followed by what's currently playing, a list of speakers (AirPort Express/Apple TV/AirPlay speakers will show up here) plus individual volume controls and play/stop list items.

    It's difficult to find a radio app on any platform that has a directory of all your favourite stations, but Radium does well in this regard too. The search bar is the only way to find a station, so those looking to discover new music should apply elsewhere but the app has such a large range of radio stations available (I have not found a station that isn't available on Radium yet) that anyone with a station in mind should have no trouble in listening to it. SiriusXM subscribers can access all paid stations through Radium, with Last.fm support and other subscription sites joining the satellite radio service.

    One of Radium's hidden features is also its best. Next to the aforementioned search bar you'll find a gear icon which reveals a list of options, including the History item. Clicking on that reveals a window of tagged music from your listening history (as shown above). Better yet, if the song is available on iTunes, clicking on the track's artwork will start a thirty second preview and the opportunity to purchase it directly from the app. Of course, mileage will vary with the stations you listen to, but a good majority of stations support tagging. Once you start using it, you'll be surprised by how useful it is.

    Radium hides in the background once a station is selected, allowing you to get on with whatever you're doing without another window cluttering up valuable screen real estate. Inside the app itself, you'll find an interface which is very much inspired by Apple's own Spotlight in the top right corner. A blue bar for searching with a list of found items underneath is incredibly easy to use. The favourites (selected by users by clicking on the red heart icon next to each station) list displays by default when Radium is opened for quick access. Some parts of the app (Preferences and History, for example) require a separate window to be opened.

    Best of all, Radium is almost flawless. I've been using it regularly for the past few months and I've rarely encountered any difficulties. Sometimes the app will fail to launch after login (auto-open is an option inside the app, with the ability to begin playing the last listened to station if desired) but this is the only serious issue I've had. If an individual stream doesn't play, some research usually reveals that it's a problem with the radio station's site rather than Radium itself.

    Radio apps don't get much better than Radium. With a beautifully clean interface and an enormous range of stations for listening, you really can't go wrong here. Previously at $25, the app is now on the Mac App Store for less than half the price or you can choose to purchase directly from the developer's website for just over $10. Even at its original price, Radium is a worthy investment for anyone who likes to tune in regularly. While features such as recording and live pause are reserved for other applications, this app brings out the very best in the internet radio experience.

    Version reviewed: 2.7.7
    Price: $12.99
    Developer: CatPig Studios
    App Store
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