A little closer to Paradise with the UnitiQute
As promised in the review of the Naim UnitiQute in the November issue, on sale this week, here's how to access the higher-quality AAC stream for Radio Paradise.
This online station broadcasts out of Paradise, California, and offers music 'carefully blended together to flow smoothly between different musical styles & genres - just like real DJs used to do on FM'. And even better, it streams in a wide variety of qualities and formats, of which the 128k AAC version is by far the best-sounding.
This procedure will work on both the NaimUniti and UnitiQute, as well as other digital radios designed to allow you to add stations via a web-based interface.
To kick off, go to the Radio Paradise website, click the 'Listen' tab and select the '128k AAC' option.
That will start the stream playing in your computer's media player: if you need one of those, the best choice is VLC, which is available free here.
With the station playing in VLC, either open Tools/Media Information, or click the button bottom right on the player window, which will open up the info. Copy and past the stream URL, which will be something like http://scfire-dtc-aa02.stream.aol.com:80/stream/1049.
In your web browser, open up the Naim vTuner site and log in using the MAC address of your NaimUniti or UnitiQute. You can find this in the Naim's Settings (spanner) menu, under Network Settings.
You can now go to My Added Stations, and add the Radio Paradise AAC feed by pasting in the stream URL. Save, close...
Job done – next time the Naim refreshes its internet radio list, you'll be able to go straight to the Radio Paradise stream, and save it as a preset.
And yes, it's well worth it: the station sounds great in MP3, but even better in AAC, despite a fairly low (128kbps) bitrate. It's all in the encoding, you see…
All of which got us thinking about some of our favourite internet radio stations, and I have to say I spend quite a lot of time listening to the AVRO Klassiek stations from the Netherlands. As the name suggests, these are classical music offerings, with some streamed at 320kbps, the rest at 256kbps – still much better than DAB radio.
Special faves are the mothership – AVRO Klassiek itself –, Baroque Around The Clock and Klassiek Film, the last being a non-stop film music station. If you want to wallow in sweeping strings and thumping chords from Dances With Wolves to Lord of the Rings, you're in the right place.
From features editor Simon Lucas comes a big thumbs-up for French station FIP, a choice endorsed by whathifi.com editor Andy Clough.
Simon says FIP has 'Hardly any blather (and what blather there is is inevitably of the sultry-voiced French kind), no ads and they mix up the usual French obsessions with jazz and reggae with indigenous obscurities, chanson, disproportionate amounts of Tom Waits and the odd bit of patriotic classical.
'It’s divine – It’s usually 128kbps but I have been treated to 192kbps in the past.'
Magazine editor Dominic Dawes flags up Seattle-based KEXP, which also gets a vote from Ultimate Guides editor Andy Kerr for its 'great playlist and decent-ish sound.'
Andy K also suggests Roots Reggae: 'it's lo-fi, but great.'
Technical Editor Ketan Bharadia, meanwhile, is reported still to be looking for an internet station playing LPs…
That's one of the beauties of internet radio: with the number of stations out there running into six figures, new ones popping up (and old ones vanishing) all the time, chances are almost anyone can find a station perfect for their needs.
Just don't blame us if one night you find yourself all alone listening to Prescott, Arizona's very own KDDL Cattle Country 94.3FM...