April 20, 2024

State of the Art: A Library of Listening, Made by You

I mean, what is there, other than your iPod music, your phone, AM/FM radio, satellite radio, podcasts, Internet radio stations, Pandora, Rhapsody, Napster, Slacker, Live365 and maybe one or two hundred other sources?

I kid, of course. The thing is, though, they’re all compromises. The free ones don’t let you choose exactly what you want to hear or when; the ones that do cost money.

But that’s about to change. One phrase should tell you all you need to know about the latest development: free TiVo for radio.

That’s the promise of DAR.fm, a Web site that lists every single radio show on every one of 1,800 AM and FM stations across the country. (It stands for Digital Audio Recorder.)

You can search, sort, slice and dice those listings any way you want: by genre, by radio station, by search phrase. It’s all here: NPR, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck. Music shows. Talk shows. Religion, sports, technology. Politics by the pound.

You don’t know or care when your show will actually be aired, or on what station. You only know that you’ve requested it. Shortly thereafter, an e-mail message lets you know that your freshly baked show is ready for listening.

You get every episode, automatically. And why not? It’s not your hard drive they’re filling up. You get two gigabytes of free storage, enough for about 100 hours of recorded shows. If you fill in the application page at MP3Tunes.com, you get a free upgrade to 10 gigabytes. That’s 500 hours of radio, which is almost enough to cover your next layover at O’Hare.

And here’s the best part: you can listen absolutely anywhere. For starters, you can listen right there on the DAR.fm Web page. The page that lists your recordings wasn’t designed by, you know, Monet, but it gets the job done. You can pause, rewind and fast-forward through your recordings, and there are 30-second skip forward/skip backward buttons.

Actually, maybe this part is even better: Many radio stations transmit the names of the songs and bands they’re playing. DAR.fm captures that information and detects song breaks. In other words, if you record a day or so of a music station, you’ve suddenly got a tidy list of songs, identified (and sortable) by title or band. You can listen to individual songs, skip the turkeys and otherwise enjoy your totally free song collection. It’s crazy cool, like a hybrid of iTunes and satellite radio.

You can also listen to your recordings on an app phone, using a free app for that purpose. (The app for iPhone is called Airband; for Android, it’s MP3Tunes; for Windows Phone 7, Locker Player; for WebOS, MP3tunes.) Can you imagine having the last few weeks’ worth of every worthwhile radio show, right on your phone? Sure, subscribing to podcasts achieves a similar goal — but not every show is available as a podcast. And this way, you never have to sync your phone with your computer.

For best results, listen when your phone is in a Wi-Fi hot spot. Otherwise, streaming music will rip through your monthly data allowance like the winner of a hot-dog-eating contest.

Or use the trick described at dar.fm/faq.php. It tells you how to download your recordings, so you can listen to them later without an Internet connection. (Yes, you can even download individual songs that you captured. The record-company lawyers must love that part.)

Even more intriguingly, you can listen to your recordings on an actual, physical radio. You know, one of those tabletop things with speakers and knobs. These days, they come with wireless Internet connections — which is all DAR.fm needs to know.

The Wi-Fi radios from Grace Digital ($80 to $200) list DAR.fm right on the main menu. Selecting that source instantly presents your list of recorded radio shows.

But Grace radios aren’t your only option. The person who created DAR.fm also runs a company called MP3Tunes.com. It’s an online storage locker for your music files, so that you can play them from any computer or phone, anywhere you go.

(If this sounds familiar, it’s because Amazon introduced a nearly identical service last month, called Amazon Cloud Player. Google just opened a “cloud music locker” service, too. Needless to say, the headlines about this “new” kind of music service drives the MP3Tunes guy crazy; his site has been in operation for four years.)

Whenever you record a show at DAR.fm, it shows up automatically in your MP3Tunes.com music locker. And the contents of that locker are viewable, and playable, on 30 different Wi-Fi radio models from various manufacturers, and even the Roku set-top TV box.

E-mail: pogue@nytimes.com

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=84cff07e6790e81c9303b0dfd99c33a9

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