The 3 Best Online Radio Players For Your Desktop

Sandra Lawrence 01-07-2009

The 3 Best Online Radio Players For Your Desktop discovermusic02We make a lot of player recommendations here at Make Use Of, where everyone is an addict, and we’ve even given you advice on how to record streaming radio as mp3 3 Easy Tools to Record Streaming Music as MP3 Files Read More .


With the list of free players growing all the time (iffy companies are cropping up all over the web like raging teen acne – awful to behold and tough to stamp out) it’s time to narrow your choice down to the best available players.

I’ve listed 3 really good free online radio players for your desktop (Windows, Mac and Linux).

For PC

Screamer Radio

The 3 Best Online Radio Players For Your Desktop a2j screamer2

This free radio phenomenon is described in detail here. Record Streaming Audio with Screamer Radio Read More Screamer is simple to use and can handle just about any streaming format.

  • Shoutcast and Icecast MP3 Streaming
  • Icecast OGG Vorbis Streaming
  • WMA Streaming
  • AAC Streaming

Best of all, it’s ad free and virtually indetectable (sound aside, of course). Your computer won’t even feel it, and the player window itself is teeny tiny.

The 3 Best Online Radio Players For Your Desktop sr screenshot

By searching the Screamer radio directory, you can build a presets list – this is the collection of stations the app has collected for you. You can search by genre, language, network or region. The selection of genres is very broad and gets quite exotic, from Anime Music to something called ‘Reggaeton’. There’s also a section called ‘Salsa, Bachata, Merengue’ and a category of Nerd Music. Nerd Music!

The sheer extent of the radio database is the best thing about Screamer. But if that doesn’t impress you, maybe you’ll be moved by its handy< a href=”//”>extra functions. Screamer doubles as a recorder and encoder!


Features include:

  • Recording buffer: start recording in the middle and still save the entire song!
  • Direct MP3 Audio stream saving, no loss of quality.
  • Direct OGG Vorbis stream saving, no loss of quality.
  • Or encode OGG Vorbis as MP3 using Lame
  • Encode WMA or AAC to MP3 using Lame

Lame has an awful name. It’s anything but! This is considered one of the best mp3 encoders at mid to high bitrates.

To select the destination folder for your recorded tracks, go to the Screamer Preferences window and select the Recording tab. You can also define file name patterns and buffer sizes here.

The 3 Best Online Radio Players For Your Desktop a2j screamer 3


In the General Preferences window, you can set Display and Startup options. For example, hide Screamer Startup if it annoys you and make this little player as inconspicuous as possible.

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For Windows or Mac

The 3 Best Online Radio Players For Your Desktop musicovery1Musicovery. This one is highly interactive and customisable – very easy to use. It was good enough for our editor Aibek, who mentioned it as one of his favorite online music services! The 8 Best Free Online Music Streaming Services With No Limitations Want to listen to free music without limitations? Here are the best free music streaming services with no restrictions. Read More Commentators gush that Musicovery is great for discovering new music because of the plethora of ways you can define your tastes, do searches and get recommendations.

Most famously… it’s mood-searchable!


The 3 Best Online Radio Players For Your Desktop m1

What you do is define the mood you want on the north-south-east-west compass, which reminds me those political compasses where you answer some questions about your social attitudes and get placed on a spectrum: welfare state proponent vs. free market capitalist (up and down scale) AND socially liberal vs. socially conservative (left and right scale).

Musicovery Musicovery: Interactive webRadio Read More does the same with mood by getting you to place yourself between Dark and Positive, and Energetic and Calm.

Once you’ve clicked somewhere on this 2D chart, you must limit yourself to an era and a genre.

The 3 Best Online Radio Players For Your Desktop m2

This is what you see when you ask for dark, energetic electro!

For Linux


The 3 Best Online Radio Players For Your Desktop a2j rhythmOriginally inspired by Apple’s iTunes, Rhythmbox is based on the powerful GStreamer open source framework.  Linux users will get:

1. An easy to use browser

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The Rhythmbox tab list (on the far left) allows you to view your Play Queue, Library, Podcasts, Radio preferences and streams. So, you get a lot more than radio streaming. And people whinge about the poor player options on Linux!

2. Comprehensive audio format support through GStreamer

GStreamer is a multimedia framework written in C which allows the programmer to create media-handling components like audio and video playback , recording, streaming and editing. The popular Entertainer media center for Linux (mentioned in this article Using Your Linux Computer As A Media Center (Part 1) Read More ) uses this technology. It’s tops.

3. Options to transfer music to and from iPod, MTP, and USB Mass Storage music players

The iPod tab will appear on the left when you connect your device, just like on iTunes.

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4. Direct access to Jamendo

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Jamendo is marketed as a ‘new model for artists to promote, publish and get paid for their music’, and Simon previously covered it in his article The Best Sites to Download Free Music Read More about the best sites to download music.

With Rhythmbox, you get access to the immense range of Jamendo downloads. These are free and legal music downloads shared under Creative Commons 3 Tips For Getting More Out Of Creative Commons Read More licenses.

5. streaming

Find the plugin here and import a lot of the things that  made that player great. Build a station straight from Rhythmbox!

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6. Plugins

There is an impressive list of third party plugins available on the Rhythmbox Developer page. You’ll also find desktop art, ripping/recording devices and a plugin called Remuco that lets you control Rhythmbox remotely from your cell phone!

Besides Rhythmbox, you can also find a bunch of alternative here 5 Great Alternative Linux Music Players Read More , as Damien has listed out.

What are you favourite desktop radio players? Do you use an app that wasn’t listed here? Do share them with us in the comments!

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. ajax
    July 17, 2009 at 9:26 am

    link for screamer is broke

  2. ashbob58
    July 17, 2009 at 7:36 am

    Streamtuner and Tunepie2 are VERY good internet radio player frontends for XMMS and Audacious players and allow dead easy recording of audio streams via KStreamRipper. Don't know about Gnome, but they work perfectly on KDE - PCLinux.

  3. defalder
    July 10, 2009 at 3:29 am

    With Rhythmbox, you get access to the immense range of Jamendo downloads

  4. 1fastbullet
    July 6, 2009 at 1:11 pm


    In this sense of the word, I suppose Pandora Internet Radio isn't a consideration but while I was operating a Windows machine I was completely happy with Pandora.

    I no longer use Windows more than maybe 1% of the time I spend on a computer and Pandora seems to have issues with Adobe flash under Ubuntu. That's the story according to Pandora's people, anyway.

    I've tried a few of the options listed in your article and some of those in the comments. I still would choose Pandora's programmability if it worked for me in Linux without requiring wine. As it stands, I'm using what's available from Shoutcast via Amorok. I'll give it credit for a multitude of choices.

  5. ffatman
    July 2, 2009 at 11:03 am

    For Jamendo is Pyjama under the Ubuntu.

  6. Johnny C
    July 1, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Songbird rules. I use it on Ubuntu.
    By far the best Music Player I have used.

  7. Sunfizz
    July 1, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    This is a very nice article. As of right now, I am fully enjoying screamer radio thanks to you. I might have to try musicovery sometime.

  8. Anonstrubator
    July 1, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Nice article. I hope, since your reading up on the issue, that a best music streams post is on the way.

    Rhythmbox is by far the best music player for gnome in my opinion. is getting really good and with their radio something I'm considering paying for.

  9. Sotiris Z
    July 1, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Screamer Radio is a really cool app...but Radio Sure is also worthy of mention for 'sure'.In my opinion is one of the greatest Radio Desktop Players:portable,with about 12.500 radio stations directory and comes with plenty of cool customizable skins.Take a look:

    • Donzi
      July 19, 2009 at 7:09 am

      Agree with you 100% - RADIO SURE is awesome !