8 Apps for Radio Listening and Recording on your Mac

Radio is a technology that has evolved a great deal, and it doesn’t seem to show any sign of disappearing. It’s very convenient to just turn on the radio and get a continuous stream of music for hours, without having to choose anything yourself. It’s very practical, and a brilliant wat to find new music!

However, local radio stations aren’t usually very good. Sometimes you want to listen to a station that plays a certain genre, or a specific talk show that isn’t aired on your local radio stations. That’s where online radio comes in.

There’s an amazing number of online radio stations out there, and plenty of variety to choose from. But of course, you’ll need something to listen to those stations. Today, we present you some of our favorite software picks for radio listening and recording.

iTunes

iTunes

You might not be aware of iTunes’ radio capabilities. They’re not particularly impressive or in-depth, but they work well. You might have to go into your iTunes settings to activate this feature. Once you do you’ll see a “Radio” tab on your library. If you click it you’ll have access to a bunch of categories, where you’ll have plenty of radio stations to pick from.

As far as functionality goes, the iTunes Radio player is lackluster. You can add your own stations, even though iTunes already comes with an impressive number of radio stations. But unfortunately there’s no way to mark stations as “favorites”, you can’t record what you are listening to, and you can’t even search for keywords within stations.

It’s simple, but not very useful. If you already use iTunes, you might as well stick with it for your radio listening, unless you want a more complete app.

Price: Free
Requires: iTunes 2 or higher
Developer: Apple

Radium

Radium

Radium is a simple menu bar app that allows you to listen to pretty much any radio station you desire. You can import stations from iTunes, or from a URL, or you can just search a keyword, such as “indie” to bring up a handful of radios that meet that keyword.

Once you are listening to a radio station, it will bring up a Growl notification every time a new song starts. There’s a history log of every song you’ve listened to, and you can share your songs with Twitter and Facebook.

You can even add subscription radio sites, like Last.fm and Sirius. The best part is that everything is managed through your menu bar in a very simple manner.

Price: $24.95
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5 or higher
Developer: Catpig Studios

Last.fm

Last.fm

Last.fm is one of my favorite websites. It’s a music social network that also has a radio, and can keep track of everything you listen to (making for some fascinating statistics).

Last.fm also has a Mac client that has various purposes. One of them is to “scrobble” (send to their website) what you listen to, another is to interact with the songs you listen to (love them, tag them, share them, get info of them, etc.). But the most useful feature is probably the radio.

Last.fm’s radio is very different from any other app. It gathers info from what you listen to, and only plays tracks that you might like based on what other people with a similar music taste listen to. It’s a great tool for discovering new music that you will actually like. The only downside is that if you are not in the US or the UK, you have to pay for the radio service.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or higher
Developer: Last.fm

Snowtape

Snowtape 2.0

Snowtape is one of the most complete radio players I have ever seen. It’s full of features: it can record audio, it can schedule radio programming, it can add pretty much any station you tell it to, it can send your recordings to iTunes, it can scrobble your plays, and it comes preloaded with an impressive amount of radio stations.

Its main feature, like its name says, is that it can record the music that you listen to (and it does a great job of it). It lets you edit your music and find artwork for it. The downside: the price. It’s very expensive, but it’s also great. It even found nearby stations to my location.

Price: $33
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or higher
Developer: Vemedio

Pulsar

Pulsar

Pulsar is exclusively a satelite radio player, meaning you need an account and a subscription to a satellite radio service like Sirius in order to take full advantage of it.

It has a nice iTunes-like interface, along with support for features like “Favorites”, pausing, and Growl support. The negatives: it only supports satellite radio, and it can’t record audio. This is pretty much a desktop solution to streaming Sirius on your browser.

Price: $20
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5 or higher
Developer: Rogue Amoeba

PandoraOne

Pandora One

Pandora is similar to Last.fm; a radio service that plays music that you might like based on your music taste. Pandora One is a deluxe service that you can pay for in order to get a bunch of extra features.

One of those extra features is access to a desktop app that allows you to use Pandora from your desktop. This app runs on Adobe AIR and doesn’t do much other than give you the Pandora experience on your desktop.

Price: $36/year
Requires: Adobe AIR
Developer: Pandora

FStream

FStream

FStream is a free alternative to all the pricier options we have listed above. It’s very barebones, it barely has an interface. It doesn’t come preloaded with any stations – you’ll have to look for those by yourself.

Once you add a source, it’ll keep it in its log, so that’s good. It also lets you record songs and it has an equalizer. That’s about it. It’s super basic and it doesn’t do much, but it’s also free!

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or higher
Developer: Source Mac

Radioshift

Radioshift

Radioshift is made by the same people that make Pulsar, and they’re both very similar, except that Radioshift is not focused solely on satellite radio services.

It has a very simple iTunes-like interface, and it’s really easy to get used to it. You can search radio stations or you can browse the popular ones provided by the app. Various types of recording are possible, but they’re not quite as easy to use as several of the other applications featured here. You can also easily favourite stations, and subscribe to them. It has a solid interface, and it’s easy to understand, but it’s a fairly expensive option.

Price: $32
Requires: Mac OS X 10.5 or higher
Developer: Rogue Amoeba

Conclusion

As you can see, there are plenty of options out there for listening to the radoi on your Mac. Most of them cost a few dollars, but it’s a small price to pay if you’re a big radio fan. While you may find some good free alternatives, like iTunes, they tend to lack a few features that you might want to use.

If you think you’ll use a radio app a lot and would like to take advantage of features like recording, you might want to go for an app like Radium or Snowtape. Otherwise, you could probably live with iTunes’ radio features.

Would you like to recommend any other software? Are there any that you use that we didn’t include in this roundup? We’d love to hear about them in the comment section below!


  • Craig

    OK, that does it! I’ve finally had enough.

    Will reviewers (everywhere, not just here) please stop referring to $30, $40 applications as ‘very expensive’ (Snowtape in this case). Seriously. I don’t care who you are, if you fall within the demographic that most review/news etc sites target, then that amount of money is *not* ‘very expensive’. It’s probably a stretch call it expensive even. Sure, it’s not dirt cheap, but there is a pretty wide area in between cheap and (actually) very expensive.

    If you feel the need to comment on the fact that the price might be high compared to it’s competitors, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to so, then say something like “the price is comparatively high compared to the competition”, or something like that.

    I realise that people are starting to get used to really low prices like those that can be found on the various app stores, but that doesn’t mean that reasonable prices for someones hard work are no longer allowed.

    • http://about.me/jorgerdz Jorge Rodriguez

      The truth is, people are used to getting things for free on the internet, so when an app that costs more than $20 or $30 bucks comes along, it’s seen as “expensive” by comparison. It’s relative, really. If there’s a free alternative that offers pretty much the same features than a $30 dollar app, the $30 dollar app will be seen as expensive.

      I agree with your point, though. I have no problem paying $40 bucks for an app that I know I’ll use a lot, I’m just stating the facts.

      • Jeff Smars

        Considering there is free software for both Windows and Linux that does this for free, it should not cost more then $9… or it expensive. I mean, it is recording a stream. It’s not that damn complicated. You sound like a whining broke amateur programmer.

    • Eduard M.

      (Warning: No Mac vs. Windows war, I barely use Windows anymore any I love my Mac, probably more than I love myself.)

      The prices aren’t big for real, but it kinda encourages the ones that come from Windows… where 90% of the software was free, and all the other programs were less than $20.

      Just think a little bit… how many Mac apps are so cheap, and how many work as good as their Windows counterparts? Look at TextExpander, which is $40, and the much more powerful free AutoHotkey…

      Do a Google search for something like “Windows free radio”… you will most likely find a more powerful program than Radium or Pulsar… and probably also a really cheap alternative for Snowtape. Just without the Apple juice.

      • moi

        Just got to say, the fact that you love an inanimate object more than yourself is pretty sad.

  • Apipoulai

    Jorge,

    I’m disappointed in your article. The whole point of RadioShift is to _time*shift_ radio. So yes, you definitely can record radio programs, because that is what it is designed to do.

    As a very happy user of RadioShift, I suggest you give it another go.

    • http://chickencola.com Andrew Ford

      While its true that Radioshift records (as the article author missed), Its my belief that it does so awkwardly.
      Radioshift seems great for recording talk radio, or episodic radio that occurs regularly for a fixed allotment of time. I didn’t find it great for recording individual music tracks.

      The reason for this is that anytime I wanted to record I had to ‘schedule’ the recording. I couldn’t find a button (as with Snowtape) where I could just start the application recording a radio stream, and stop it when I wanted to.
      It also didn’t seem to split the music it recorded into tracks based on meta-data, rather it would export the scheduled recording session as a single audio file to iTunes or my hard-disk.

      For this reason, I was disappointed with Radioshift. I make use of Snowtape for the purpose of music recording now, which works wonderfully.

    • http://about.me/jorgerdz Jorge Rodriguez

      You are absolutely right, Radioshift does record radio on schedule, my bad. However, as Andrew mentioned, the feature isn’t very well implemented. I was expecting a “Record” button like the one found in Snowtape. Instead, Radioshift’s recording feature is quite hidden and works awkwardly if you want to record songs and not talk shows.

      • Apipoulai

        Jorge, thanks for your reply.
        SnowTape’s song splitting feature is a definite plus compared to RadioShift. I personally never really use this as most of my favourite streams don’t use metadata at all.

        I might give SnowTape a go though.

    • http://davidappleyard.net David Appleyard

      Thanks for pointing that out – I should have caught that inaccuracy. My bad! The article is now updated.

  • Deskman

    Check the specs of Radioshift!
    It can record, it can record your favorite broadcast automatically, it can record while playing another station and it can record several stations simultaneously.

    That’s why It’s my app of choice!

    http://www.rogueamoeba.com/radioshift/

  • Mark

    Don’t forget PandoraJam.

    • http://ericsebasta.us Eric Sebasta

      I wanted an app to record Pandora, that simple. This is the only thing mentioned that did what I wanted. Thank You!

  • //adrusi.com/ Adrian

    I use the iTunes radio feature and there _is_ a way to make “favorite” stations. If you make a playlist folder called “radio”, you can drag stations from the radio menu into that folder and get easy access to those stations. I use this so I can access them from frontrow when I listen from across the room

  • Mike

    I use Soundflower to route my audio and then Audacity to record it….all open source and all for free.

    Of course it’s a little verbose but it gets the job done and I don’t have a need to record radio too often.

  • Allen Shull

    Seconded. The biggest “wow” app I show my Windows friends. Mix with PandoraOne for best results.

  • http://pixelsnsounds.blogspot.com/ dz

    well…after i read this…i decided to give fstream a try … it looks nice, very minimalistic … but it’s incredible slow!! (at least with radio stations from itunes) … so i decided to stick to vlc … which is very nice and stable. i think u can record with vlc as well …and u get to see the title and artist without any flipping and radio station infos :)

  • meh

    For the record, Radium also supports satellite radio.

  • Mackley

    I really like Radium, I use it everyday to listen my favorite politics radio !

  • JFern

    I have to second PandoraJam. Been using it for years. It’s basically Pandora in a small webkit window, BUT it allows you to individually record Pandora songs with all the metadata directly into iTunes. It even creates playlists that mimic your Pandora stations. I think it’s a nifty little program.

    I just wish someone would come out with one that records Sirius Radio in the same way. I don’t like having to log in to Sirius and use a popup window player. It should be an app with a nice interface.

    BTW, I do like Radium. I’m not a big net radio fan, due to the wild inconsistencies of bit quality, however Radium does a nice job of putting everything in one place with a decent interface.

  • Pamike

    I want to share my most powerful sound team:

    ANY music (or sounds) source(s) (my favorite: Pandora radio) and AHPro. This app rocks and do it all:
    record (lots of configurations and formats) , equalize, add effects (many effects!), you can even use Scripts for scheduled operations on ICal for instance and a lot of other very “wow” advanced functions.
    The final sound I get on my home audio system throw this pipe is simply amazing.

    Hugs from Chile.
    Pamike

  • nate8nate

    I personally prefer to use Pianopub for my Pandora listening. No Flash needed!

    • Rodrigo

      Thanks! Pianopub is really cool.

  • Hugh

    PandoraJam is a glaring omission. It’s reconnected me to Pandora, which I had pretty much stopped using. The ability to record music directly into iTunes – with metadata and artwork – is a huge plus. The full version is $15, but the demo version simply stops recording after a bunch of songs. When I hear a song I like, I switch over and make sure it’s recording… So the free version is quite good. But even if you don’t record a thing, it’s a dandy little desktop player.

  • http://meerzdaily.blogspot.com Meerz

    Radium is the only way to go!

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  • http://james-irwin.com rebolyte

    I didn’t know last.fm had an app. Thanks for the post!

  • Greg

    While I don’t use it very often, there is also RadioGaga.

  • Chris

    Too bad you Americans can’t enjoy Spotify. It fucking rocks!

  • Chris

    A cool feature of Snowtape you didn’t mention is that there is a compatible iPhone app that will let you control all of Snowtape’s features remotely, i.e. you don’t have to be sitting in front of your Mac when they start playing that favorite song you’ve always wanted to record.

    IMHO, that capability alone justifies the higher price.

    • jeezus

      …I think you mean, “you don’t have to be sitting in front of your Mac when they start playing that favorite song you’ve always wanted to [steal].”

      The more people steal music, the less producers see the point in making a solid investment in the industry, resulting in sub-par music quality all around.

      If you like a song, pay for it. It helps the artists and producers know they are doing something you like and that they should make more of it.

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  • http://www.moverslondon.org.uk removal services London

    As I read some of the comments I see that I won’t appear as a total hater if I say that all of Apple’s products are sh*t. Don’t get me wrong I had my share of the cake, I had a Mac Mini, Apple Wireless Keybouad и Маgic Trackpad, before that I worked with MacBook, with a Mac OS Leopard, Snow Leopard and Lion.
    To add finalise this, I completely agree with Craig’s opinion.

  • http://cobases.com Military Bases

    The best applications I do use on my Mac is iTunes and Pandora.
    The good thing about iTunes is full integration into mac, but it is too bulky and too many things are placed at one place so you can get confused about it

  • http://www.arcondicionado.org Ar Condicionado

    I should have caught that inaccuracy. My bad! The article is now updated.

  • Tim

    macradyo.com?

  • McMari

    Does anybody know a tool for the MAC that can record (mp3, split, tag) the music stream of LAST.FM ?

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  • Frank L.

    There is also an app available that does this job in a fine manner: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/radio-recorder/id475736169?mt=12

  • Howard

    RadioShift has been discontinued.

  • Howard

    Radium Requires: Mac OS X 10.8 or higher !!!!

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