Internet radio – free online radio?

Internet radio – free online radio?

Internet radio allows you to listen to thousands of programs from all over the world in the comfort of your own home, from your favorite station based in Hawaii to oldies broadcast by a British show to classic tunes from Austria. As long as you have a functioning Wi-Fi connection, you can access a myriad of programs in a multitude of languages from different radio stations around the globe, in addition to your very own local broadcaster.

Web radio makes this possible in premium sound quality, which is why it is ideal for areas with poor reception. It comes without the static noise that used to be an inherent part of many FM stations, such as BBC Radio 1 in the UK or Radio Bob out of German. 

While every listener seemed to have their own recipe for improving FM reception, the most common strategy was to search for a station by means of the tuner. If that proved fruitless, the next step was usually to realign the antenna, followed by trying to extend it with the help of some tinfoil. Whatever works, right? Even if it takes time – because that’s what it took, for sure.

More often than not, adjusting the radio to receive high-quality sound was a time-consuming project, and finding and choosing the right Hi-fi system usually took just as long. Nonetheless, the radio was the first mass medium, and it kept developing and improving thanks to its popularity: From FM radio to DAB and DAB+ radio (digital radio) to internet radio.

Internet radio – what’s behind it?

As opposed to traditional Hi-Fi systems, the sound quality of internet radio or web radio does not rely on an external antenna that might be impacted by either the elements or a poor signal. And as opposed to FM radio, which can only receive local radio stations, internet radio allows users to receive content from all over the world in the comfort of their home.

According to estimates, it offers access to tens of thousands of radio stations from around the globe. Apart from an internet radio, the terminal device can also be any other gadget that is able to receive content via Wi-Fi, such as laptops or smartphones with iOS or Android operating systems. Another benefit of internet radio is the variety of topics it offers.

Web radio enables listeners to access various types of content apart from music, for instance talk shows, podcasts or audio dramas. These days, almost every single analog FM station offers its program digitally too.

How do internet radios work?

Basically, an internet radio or web radio doesn’t receive the programme via FM or DAB+, but it gets its reception signal from the web. As opposed to classic FM devices that can only receive radio waves from local stations, internet radios stream content from the world wide web. In addition, they can also receive FM and DAB respectively the newer DAB+ standard. 

A home network, consisting of a DSL connection, modem and a Wi-Fi router to connect the internet radio to the internet is a prerequisite. If this is given, listening to the radio via livestream is possible, provided the desired station has uploaded its radio programme to an internet server. An internet radio will retrieve the saved content via DSL connection and send it via Wi-Fi so that the loudspeakers can output music, podcasts etc. 

Can I listen to internet radio without an internet connection? 

Yes, you can actually listen to internet radio without either Wi-Fi or network cables because an internet radio can always receive content via FM and DAB or the newer DAB+ standard. DAB+ radio is the successor of the traditional FM radio standard and stands for digital-terrestrial radio, in other words, digital radio that can be received directly from the transmission tower without the user having to pay internet fees.

As opposed to FM radios, DAB+ radios transmit several stations via one and the same frequency, but this obviously requires a DAB+ compatible internet radio. However, if you use it to listen to radio offline, you can only receive a limited number of stations from the area you are located in. Consequently, digital radios offer much less choice than web radios.

Is web radio free of charge?

Most internet radio stations offer their programs free of charge. Some providers may intersperse their content with commercials to cover their costs. However, in order to transmit data via Hi-Fi streaming, an internet connection is necessary. These days, most providers offer flat rate contracts with an unlimited amount of data at a fixed price. Is this the case, listening to internet radio will cause no additional costs other than, of course, the purchasing price for your internet-enabled radio device. 

Let us take a final closer look at internet costs: Costs will differ for private and commercial users who for instance use internet radio in their shops, in which case they will have to pay an added fee. 

What are the best internet radio stations?

The sky’s the limit and you can be sure to find what you are looking for amongst the tens of thousands of radio stations that are available online, from BBC Radio to Heart FM to Classic FM or Magic Radio or something else entirely. You don’t know what you are looking for?

We have put together a list of the top 3 most popular and best internet radio stations in the UK, Germany, and the EU. 

Great Britain

1. BBC Radio 1 – Broadcasting from London

BBC Radio 1 offers a well-made mix of new, unknown hits and artists as well as pieces from famous bands to its target group of 15- to 29-year old music lovers.  

2. BBC Radio 6

Just like BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 6 is headquartered in the UK but as opposed to its counterpart that is mainly focused on mainstream music, BBC 6 aims to put newcomers and independent artists in the spotlight. 

3. Pop Hits

Beloved amongst listeners in the United Kingdom, and not without good reason: As the name suggests, the station plays pop songs covering all the decades from the 80s, interspersed with news, weather reports and bits and bobs around anything showbiz.


1. Radio Bob – Rock for any taste

Radio Bob has a large selection covering the entire Rock genre, from Classic Rock to Hardrock to Indie. As a plus, the station allows listeners to stream their preferred Rock genre via several channels and to listen to the most current playlists.  

2. Flux FM – Alternative Music

Broadcasting from its station in Germany’s capital Berlin, Flux FM serves as some kind of musical guidance by playing all the newest artists, covering genres such as House but also Hip-Hop, Alternative Rock but also Metal or Electronica. In other words: Alternative Music for every taste.

3. – High-quality internet radio is a private web radio station broadcasting its moderated live streams from Leipzig. Listeners have the choice between pure music streams and a variety of podcasts. The programme proves to be a success: has been nominated for the Grimme Online Award, one of Germany’s most important journalistic awards.


1. FIP – Radio musicale éclectique

FIP broadcasts its colourful programme from Paris, covering everything from Jazz to Electronica and classical music to Reggae and Pop. Very, very different indeed.

2. NRJ – French energy

The runner-up also hails – or rather, broadcasts – from France. NRJ, short for energy, sticks to its motto of “music only”. You will hardly ever hear a presenter interrupting the constant stream of top-40 pop hits.

3. 1FM – Radio power made in Switzerland

1FM offers more than 60 stations in its program, aiming at covering the entire global music portfolio, starting from Dance and Acappella via Old School and Trance all the way to Chill-out and Latino Pop.

How much are internet radios?

The price range for internet radios is a big one and covers everything from relatively affordable radios with alarm features to portable travel radios to compact gadgets like the Pure Elan Connect or a fully-fledged sound system like the Pure Evoke Home, with price and quality obviously correlating. 

If you are looking for a high-quality terminal device that will provide you with sound for many years to come, you should consider a sound-strong internet radio that usually comes with a lot of exciting additional features such as Spotify Connect, foldable display, extra CD player, color display or extra-large memory.

In case you don’t really know what to look for, it is a good idea to get some initial guidance by reading the customer ratings on Amazon. Good-quality, compact devices such as the Pure Elan Connect are available from around GBP 80, while an intuitive all-in-one music system like the Pure Evoke Home is available from around GBP 450.

Where best to buy internet radio devices?

Internet radio with Evoke Home special edition with wooden speaker grill

Pure is a global leader for radios. Our audio products are tailored to provide an uncomplicated live- and on-demand sound experience and top-notch sound quality, but we also aim to please visually. Our designs are straightforward, clean and timelessly elegant.

The Evoke Home Special Edition of the new Evoke music system has a wooden loudspeaker grille to provide an optimum in terms of sound as well as design – ideal for the living room.

The more compact Evoke Spot is a great companion for the kitchen, as it will fit on every countertop or shelf; and even though it is space-saving in size, the sound quality remains the same. In terms of looks, this model excels with ecologically friendly, certified sheep’s wool, turning every Evoke into a unique piece.

Next stop, bedroom: If you like to wake up to good music, you should consider an internet radio with integrated alarm feature and sleep timer, such as the Evoke Play.

If listening to music while in the shower is your thing, the Elan Connect will happily accompany you in the bathroom. And when balmy evenings on the terrace call for music, the Pure Evoke Play with carrying handle and optional battery pack – the so-called ChargePak –  (with 12 hours of battery life) is happy to stand by, with its front made of certified, recycled wool making sure every Evoke is a unique piece.

FAQ’s internet radio:

What is an internet radio?

A web radio that allows access to tens of thousands of radio stations from around the world via the internet. 

Is internet radio free of charge?

Yes. Principally, internet radio stations offer their programs free of charge. However, as those programs are streamed via the internet, charges will apply for data use, and it is best to get a flat-rate contract.

Does internet radio work via Wi-Fi? 

Yes. If you want to stream a radio station via the internet, you need a DSL connection, a modem and a Wi-Fi router to transmit the signal.

Are Wi-Fi radio, DAB radio and internet radio the same thing?

Internet radio and Wi-Fi radio are both terms to describe web radios that are able to receive programmes online. A DAB radio is a digital radio that can receive stations directly from the transmission tower, without requiring an internet connection. All internet radios are able to receive radio programmes via DAB.  

How can I listen to internet radio free of charge?

By using a receiving device, for instance an internet radio or an Android or iOS smartphone, to access content saved on the server via streaming.

Can I listen to internet radio without a radio?

Yes. Internet radio can be received via other internet-enabled devices, such as laptops or smartphones – and listened to via loudspeaker or headphones. DAB radios that are Wi-Fi-enabled or connectable to the sound source via Bluetooth can also be used to listen to internet radio.