Caught somewhere between the melee of traditional radio and online music piracy lies Internet radio. There’s such a broad spectrum of radio stations now operating online from small hobby DJs broadcasting only a few hours a week to commercial operations live 24 hours a day.
Unfortunately, the entertainment industry has lurched towards ‘On Demand’ over the past few years. Paid services such as Netflix and widespread torrenting has left what could have been Generation Z’s version of old school pirate radio lying by the wayside.
However, Internet radio lives on. It is particularly prevalent among niche interests and alternative music scenes which simply aren’t covered by commercial organisations. Thousands of stations broadcast on their own dedicated websites and streaming services – often converting live shows into podcasts for those who forgot to tune in.
Radio Maximus is a new piece of Windows Software that offers a more powerful listening experience as well as tools to find, organise and store Internet radio stations and podcasts. There are dozens of competitors so I was interested to see what Radio Maximus could do differently – and what it could do better.
At first glance, Radio Maximus looks like any other free podcast software available. There’s all the typical navigation features, panes and controls which is actually a huge plus because it enables the user to get going right away.
The install is quick and clean lasting only a couple of minutes from start to finish. A small batch of folders will be created on your PC where your podcasts and shows will be stored later on. This makes for ease of use but of course you can always change this to your own podcast or music folder.
The search feature is extremely powerful with listings of thousands of Internet radio stations pulled from dozens of directories across the web. From small niche genres to large private stations, Radio Maximus can find it. Search results are displayed in a list format as you can see above and can be filtered down by name, category and tags.
You can listen to any radio station right away by selecting it. The audio is crisp and clear even on slow connections, I’ve found. I tested out some alternative rock stations as well as chat shows and never ran into any problems with sound or connection lag.
Of course, many Internet radio stations don’t offer backdated episodes of their shows so Radio Maximus allows you to record Internet radio. I was concerned about this as I thought the process would be littered with bugs, glitches and poor quality. I was pleasantly surprised when I listened to the playback and found the quality to be the same as the live broadcasts.
But what if two of your favourite shows are on at the same time? Well Radio Maximus allows you to record dozens of streams at once even during live playback so you never miss a show. Again, I tested this out with five different simultaneous recordings and didn’t encounter a single glitch. The whole process is extremely easy.
You can also schedule recordings if you’ll be away from your PC including regular repeat recordings if you want to record a show daily or weekly. Most stations, when recorded will create an mp3 file which will then be stored on your hard drive. What I liked most about this was that Radio Maximus will also download the ID3 tag of the broadcast which will save the file along with the Title, genre, date of creation and so on. This means that recording several stations daily doesn’t leave the user with loads of organisation work to be done.
Last.fm is something of a stronghold for Internet radio lovers. Thankfully, Radio Maximus includes support for Last.fm making use of a users already existing library. I really liked this feature as I feel it bridges the gap between cloud-based web apps and good old fashioned machine based programs.
Finally, the mini player which can be launched allows you to have a small functional player open with the main program closed so you can listen to Internet radio while concentrating on more important windows.
The design of Radio Maximus is arguably its weakest link. The program has heaps of functionality but delivers it with ‘everyday’ design work. Don’t get me wrong, it looks good and gets the job done but simply isn’t anywhere near as sleek as other players on the market.
I think the design team could have done a better job particularly on the colour scheme and buttons adding a little more personality to what is a good program.
That said, streaming, downloading and recording at the same time can be a handful for some machines and internet connections which is why we see glitches and slow response times with competitors software. It’d be nice if Radio Maximus looked better – but if that means sacrificing any of that functionality and power they’ve created then I’ll deal with the mediocre looks.
Radio Maximus is definitely one of the best free pieces of software available for Windows in this category at the minute. The sheer ability to record and organise dozens of radio stations at once would have Christian Slater in Pump up the Volume howling at the moon.
For anyone who listens to Internet radio stations regularly, and in particular Last.fm users, this is a must-have for making the most out of the net’s virtual broadcasters. It’s also a great way to get into listening to Internet radio which in many instances are far better than local, national and commercial stations.
Radio Maximus is a free program for Windows which allows you to organise, listen to and record your favourite Internet radio stations. It draws upon several directories allowing the user to filter by location, genre and keywords. It's also compatable with Last.fm accounts.8