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Thread: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radio) ?

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    Flashaholic* Martin's Avatar
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    Default Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radio) ?

    For a while now I have been looking for a system that is capable of recording specific talk radio shows so I can listen to them on the road at another time.

    My requirements are:
    - For each recording task, programmable band/frequency, start time, stop time with repetitive timer options such as every Sunday, Mo-Fr, Mo & We & Fr, daily..
    - Recording as MP3
    - AM / FM receiver, SW would be nice
    - External antenna connector
    - External power option
    - Reasonable size, power consumption and stability (unlike a PC system that runs 24/7 and hangs once in a week)
    - Storage on flash card or hard drive
    - Access to the recordings by removing the flash card or hard drive. Or by Ethernet, WLAN or USB connection.

    These features would be nice but aren't essential:
    - radio-controlled clock so I don't have to adjust it every month. I'm located in Europe, so it would be DCF77.
    - User-selectable bitrate and mono/stereo for MP3 encoder
    - A way to browse and play its own recordings
    - Line-in as a possible source for timed recordings plus IR-transmitter to control a satellite receiver (like TiVo is doing it)

    I've looked around and found just two companies making products that come close. The PoGo Radio Yourway
    (various versions) and the Griffin RadioShark. From what I've read, the Radio YourWay has a couple of flaws (poor receiver sensitivity, limited to small flash cards and having little internal memory, buggy software, doesn't record as MP3 but needs a special conversion software, hard to find a Europe-version at a good price) and the RadioShark is none better, it needs a computer running all the time, and it has been discontinued.

    Now I ask myself am I missing something ? The technology is not a big deal. There are MP3-players with radio and recording option. Timers have been around for ages. Just none seems to put these things together so that they are good for timed recordings the way I described it.

    Who has done it before, who had the same requirement and found a solution ?

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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    I have owned both of these at one time or another for the exact same purpose, recording talk radio shows. Of the two, the RYW was better than the Shark. I never could get the Shark to function properly, there were random dropouts of the transmission, so I returned it. I had one of the very first RYW receivers, so they may have made significant improvements since then. Yes, due to the small size and antenna, the reception was somewhat poor and susceptible to interference. It would get very weak inside the concrete block and sheet metal buildings at work. And although the format was proprietary, the converter for Windows Media file format worked well. At the time I was actively researching these devices, the RYW was the only recorder that had AM radio capability. Plenty of MP3 players have FM, but I haven't seen any others with AM. The last several years I have been working night shift instead of days, so I find that on-the-fly recording of shows off the radio is no longer needed. Instead, I subscribe to some show downloads and others I record on my computer using a radio connected to the line-in jack. Then I can just download all the MP3 files to a standard player before going to work.

    BTW, PoGo's customer service is pretty good. After about 2 years, my RYW had a cracked screen and the buttons were becoming "iffy". IIRC, for just a $30 service charge, I got my RYW completely refurbished. And the turn around time was fairly quick. If I have need for such a device in the future, one of the PoGo products will probably be my first choice unless something better comes along in the meantime.

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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    Unless you need something portable, scrounge an old laptop computer (Craigslist...) and plug a good quality radio into the audio input. There's gotta be timed recording software around that does what you want.

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    I don't know if CCrane ships Intl but CCrane's Pogo records in mp3.

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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    Quote Originally Posted by paulr View Post
    Unless you need something portable, scrounge an old laptop computer (Craigslist...) and plug a good quality radio into the audio input. There's gotta be timed recording software around that does what you want.
    That's basically what I do now. I have my Bose Wave Radio on all the time with the volume turned down and the Audio out on the radio plugged into the Line In on the computer. Then I use the Total Recorder software to record the shows at various times during the day. And I can also use Total Recorder to remove the commercials, news, etc. That cuts almost half the time out of a 3 hour talk radio show.

    One caution on using a radio as your input source: try to use one that has a constant volume line out instead of using the headphone jack. You can set the recording level with Total Recorder, but even a small change in the output volume on the headphone jack can drastically affect the recording quality. Total Recorder lets you adjust the level after recording, but you get less distortion if it's recorded at the right level to start with.

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    Flashaholic* Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    If I decided on the PoGo Radio YourWay or the Radio YourWay LX I'd have to buy the European version (expensive, hard to find), the US version will be pretty much useless on FM due to the different channel raster. The Radio YourWay Mini is new and if I understand the PoGo website right, it's a global design. From the single review I find on the Amazon website, it again looks like a half-cooked product so I feel it's too early to spend money on it.

    I have had a look around PC-based solutions:
    AudioTime - no use because records WAV only
    BlazeAudioPowerRecord - looks promising
    Cybercorder2000 - looks promising
    PDMarqAudioRecorder - possible with external task manager
    PowerMP3WMArecorder - website gives no company location, I don't trust
    ACAaudioRecorder - looks like a Chinese software, I expect bugs and no support
    None of these software products has all the functions I need, I'd always have to supplement them with additional software such as task managers, encoders, hardware control for the radio.

    I haven't yet checked out TotalRecorder, but maybe DonShock can tell from his experience:
    Is there a way to change frequency / band of an attached radio ?
    I understand the Pro-Version will power down the PC, but does it power up the PC in time for the next recording ?

    My conclusion on PC solutions is that none is doing exactly what is needed, so more or less I would have to assemble something myself. The individual parts would be these:
    1) Task manager (easy to find)
    2) Command-line tool for power-up and power-down (from mainboard manufacturer / BIOS software house)
    3) Command-line tool to record MP3 from line-in (probably can be found, I remember the old Frauenhofer L3ENC)
    4a) Command-line tool to set an attached radio (could be harder to find, I would have to check with folks like Pinnacle or Hauppauge who make TV-cards where some cover radio bands, but usually no AM.
    or 4b) Tool that is able to record IR codes for setting an external radio, save these and re-transmit them with a command-line tool (haven't found this yet).
    Hmmm.. Looks complex

    Another approach I thought about is pure hardware:
    Use an old car radio with memory buttons.
    Add a universal panel-mount timer with multiple outputs, to select one of the radio buttons, at the same time power a relais that switches the radio's power supply and also actuates the record-button on a flash-based mp3-player.
    So I get a quality radio receiver, I can have a radio-controlled timer clock, I am able to select band & frequency on the radio, I am free to select an mp3-player/recorder that uses the storage media that I like.
    The only issue here is that mp3-players are not easily brought into record mode by just pressing a button, they need the user to go through menus with arrow keys and press a whole sequence of buttons before they start recording. Well..

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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin View Post
    .....I haven't yet checked out TotalRecorder, but maybe DonShock can tell from his experience:
    Is there a way to change frequency / band of an attached radio ?
    I understand the Pro-Version will power down the PC, but does it power up the PC in time for the next recording ?

    My conclusion on PC solutions is that none is doing exactly what is needed, so more or less I would have to assemble something myself. The individual parts would be these:
    1) Task manager (easy to find)
    2) Command-line tool for power-up and power-down (from mainboard manufacturer / BIOS software house)
    3) Command-line tool to record MP3 from line-in (probably can be found, I remember the old Frauenhofer L3ENC)
    4a) Command-line tool to set an attached radio (could be harder to find, I would have to check with folks like Pinnacle or Hauppauge who make TV-cards where some cover radio bands, but usually no AM.
    or 4b) Tool that is able to record IR codes for setting an external radio, save these and re-transmit them with a command-line tool (haven't found this yet).
    Hmmm.. Looks complex.........
    I'll have to check when I get home in a few hours, but I think Total Recorder will power up the PC if the Wake On settings are correct. I don't use the feature myself since I record something Mon-Sat so I leave the PC and radio on all the time. However, it is an audio recording software only, it has no hardware interface outside the computer, so it can't change the stations. All my shows are on the same local station so this is no problem for me. Total Recorder does automatically record to MP3 format from the Line In. It can also automatically connect to a website streaming podcast and record from that. I have 4 shows I want MP3 files of during the week. One is subscription based and the MP3 files are directly downloaded. One is captured from a streamed podcast. And two others are recorded directly from the radio. TR lets you set the input source, time, format, recording levels, etc. for each scheduled recording individually.

    If you want to try out Total Recorder, the free version will do the scheduled recording functions. IIRC the pro version is where you get some of the enhanced editing functions for the finished recordings. I think the only recording function that is omitted in the standard version is the ability to automatically split the recording into specified segments. But I'm not sure because I've been using the pro version for so many years.

    Also, again I'm not sure because it's been a couple years, but I had a Hauppage TV/Radio card and I think it had the ability to do timed tune in on radio channels and TV channels both.

    UPDATE: Sorry, no go on the automatic startup with Total Recorder.
    Last edited by DonShock; 12-31-2007 at 09:59 AM.

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    Flashaholic* Sub_Umbra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    How many program memories do you need?

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    Flashaholic* Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    Quote Originally Posted by Sub_Umbra View Post
    How many program memories do you need?
    Currently 3, but I'd rather have 5 just in case.

    Today I have found a hardware MP3 recorder called iKEY, this will record from line-in to an attached USB stick upon pressing a button. It even allows different bitrates for the encoding. Now this looks pretty close to what I need to complete the hardware-only approach. I have contacted the company to understand the details of the iKEY, and though the device costs USD100, it's so universal that I will be able to use it for years to come, even if I need to change the radio from analog to DAB or satellite.

    I've also found a promising product by KAITO, the KA1121 radio which looks like it would do what I want. They don't reveal many details on their website, so I contacted them. Let's see what I find out.

    DonShock, TotalRecorder Pro in general, would you say it has been made with care and when there are issues they are being fixed ?

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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin View Post
    ....DonShock, TotalRecorder Pro in general, would you say it has been made with care and when there are issues they are being fixed ?
    Yes, very well done software. I have never experienced any glitches at all so I can't really speak as to how fast it would be addressed if a problem did occur. IIRC, when I started using it in 2003, it was version 5.0 and it's now version 6.1 which was released a year ago.

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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    It sounds like you're on the right track.

    I asked about how many program memories you need because back in the 90s I used to record two shortwave shows every day and the same method I used could be made to work with AM.

    I had a radio that had an automatic timer that would turn the radio on and off up to four times for freqs, times and duration punched in. Then I bought a cheap pocket cassette recorder with VOX and put it in record mode with VOX enabled. With the mic input plugged into the headphone jack it would record whenever the radio turned on. Even the cheap tape recorders I used did a great job of adjusting the gain for a wide range of volumes.

    Today it would be even easier. I've got VOX on my digital voice recorder.

    It's a bit of a kludge but it's quite solid if you ever need to do it.

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    Flashaholic* Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    Quote Originally Posted by Sub_Umbra View Post
    It sounds like you're on the right track.

    I asked about how many program memories you need because back in the 90s I used to record two shortwave shows every day and the same method I used could be made to work with AM.

    I had a radio that had an automatic timer that would turn the radio on and off up to four times for freqs, times and duration punched in. Then I bought a cheap pocket cassette recorder with VOX and put it in record mode with VOX enabled. With the mic input plugged into the headphone jack it would record whenever the radio turned on. Even the cheap tape recorders I used did a great job of adjusting the gain for a wide range of volumes.

    Today it would be even easier. I've got VOX on my digital voice recorder.

    It's a bit of a kludge but it's quite solid if you ever need to do it.
    This is an excellent idea. I can either try to find some old Grundig radio with a timer on EBAY or I wire a timer to an old car radio. I have seen voice-activated mp3 recorders for security purpose as well as digital memo recorders though many of these have a small built-in memory that's not expandable.

    Last night I've been struck by another idea:
    There are car radios that do MP3 encoding onto SD-card. They cover AM, FM, LW and being car radios, their tuner is usually quite good and accepts an external antenna. Some come with an IR remote control.
    Then, I've seen universal remote controls that allow timed macros. Here's one. With this, I can turn on the radio, select the desired station, start recording at a certain time. Later, another timed macro would turn it all off again. It still needs some research to find out how flexible the programming of the remote is, but this concept is truly universal and doesn't require that I solder on the radio or the remote.

    Then I had this other idea on how to control ANY device from the PC by IR-commands: Just record the IR from the original remote as an audio signal into a WAV file, (needs an IR receiver - no big deal), then play it back as a scheduled task, with an IR driver and LED connected to the PC's speaker output.

    I will give TotalRecorder a try, it looks like a marvel that I can't pass by. And maybe some of the things I like to do can be added by plug-in or batch job.

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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    If the programs you want are not available on some Internet radio site or as a pod cast, I'd try a digital voice recorder with VOX. That might work well. Olympus made one a few years ago and those might still be available. Very small, connects to a PC, and used to be available for about $50-60USD. An attenuating patch cord will take care of headphone jack to microphone input connections pretty well. I use a similar setup to record from two way radios. The digital recorders out there might even include one with a built in clock/timer with programmable features.
    "Show them a light, and they'll follow it anywhere..."

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    Flashaholic* Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    In the meanwhile I have contacted several electronics manufacturers and dealers to find out if they sell / manufacture / plan the device of my dreams. A lot of them have replied and here's a summary:

    Hardware-Only solutions
    ---------------------------
    Technaxx MPR1 (MP3 radio): FM only, 2 timers only

    iRiver T50 (MP3 player): FM only, no SD-Card but works like a USB stick, only one timer (but can do weekly, daily, workdaily,..). It works very well, I've tried it. I've asked the manufacturer to add some more timers, no reply yet.

    Technisat Digicorder S2 (Sat receiver, PVR): Records transport streams, needs conversion. No SD-card, but works as a USB device and can address a USB device. This is a full PVR with HDD, somewhat overkill.

    Kathrein UFS-822 (Sat receiver, PVR): Records transport streams, needs conversion. No SD-card but Ethernet connection. This is a full PVR with HDD, somewhat overkill.

    Kaito 1121: MP3-Recorder has 256 MByte only and is not expandable. UI is awkward.

    Robertsradio MP30 (DAB radio): Records DAB-stations only (not FM) and uses protected MP2 format which can be converted to MP3 on a PC.


    PC-Based Solutions
    ---------------------
    Radiator (Freeware that controls a wide variety of PC radios): I am using this now with a Gemtek Radio21 (FM only) but there's a lot more radios that work with it, some are AM. Works from Win95 through WinXP. Powerful scripting for the timed recordings. I cannot get the automatic power-up from standby working as intended which is probably related to my PC. Now I'm running the PC 24/7 but I will stop this as soon as I found an alternative.

    VCRadio V1.8 (controls a wide variety of radios. Cost is USD 17.95). Works from Win95 through Vista. UNTESTED.

    Any Terratec TV card with the "Home Cinema" Software: Will do timed recording as desired but record MP2, not MP3. Will wake up from standby. UNTESTED.


    The following companies confirmed they don't have what I'm looking for:
    Sangean, JVC, Odys/Axdia, Albrecht/Alan, Panasonic (automotive entertainment), Blaupunkt (automotive entertainment)

    I will continue to use the Radiator software and the Gemtek Radio21 until I find something that's really convincing. Maybe the CES unveils something.
    Last edited by Martin; 01-12-2008 at 03:42 PM. Reason: just saving as not to lose it

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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    Despite the limitations of the Kaito-KA1121's MP3 player it is available on Ebay. If interested

    Ebay listing
    I came across it looking for a simpler radio
    The dead batteries were given out free of charge

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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    The Kaito KA1121 is also available at Universal Radio. I bought my KA1102 from them and was quite pleased with their service.

    http://www.universal-radio.com/catal...able/0021.html


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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    Have you looked at the Sangean PR-D8 ?

    http://www.sangean.com/products/prod...=62&pan=4&um=0

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    Flashaholic* Martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice: What radio with timed MP3 recording capability (to capture talk radi

    I've started this thread abt 2.5 years ago and a lot of things have happened. Thanks to everyone for staying tuned.

    In the meanwhile..
    I've been happily running the Radiator software and the Gemtek Radio21 on an office machine that anyhow ran 24h. It worked OK. When that old PC was upgraded to a Lenovo laptop, it had frequent crashes. With these, the ini of the Radiator s/w was often reset. That would happen every 1 to 3 days. So I discontinued using that PC-based solution.

    In the meantime, several of my favorite shows had become available as podcasts. I used "Synclosure" to download these and it works like a charm. Unfortunately, not all my favorite shows were available as podcasts. And so I continued looking for a h/w solution.

    At that time I was quite unhappy with my satellite TV receiver and in the course of adding a dish for the UK Sky service, I also upgraded the receiver: The Technisat Digicorder HD S2 is capable of very flexible scheduled recording, both TV and radio. Astra / Sky covered all the radio stations I wanted and I was almost there. Only problem was that the Technisat would record MP2 and not MP3 while my car stereo wouldn't play MP2s (neither if renamed to .MP3). Conversion s/w worked but was a hassle. A new car stereo was the solution.

    At the time when the car stereo developed problems with the SD-card reader and got replaced, all my favorite shows had become available as podcasts so that the Technisat started to gather dust.
    This is the status today and I'm happy. But let's not close this thread, yet.

    The PR-D8 looks a great radio. Reviews say that it's properly designed, reception quality is good and MP3 encoding works as expected. But why does it have a single recording timer only ? This is what I understand from the PR-D8 manual. My iRiver T50 can do this.

    I'm sure it doesn't take long before someone comes up with something like the PR-D8, adding multiple recording timers. The PR-D8 has set the quality standard, now we're only talking about a small software feature. This product will then be too late for ME, but this thread will wait until it's there.

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