I HATE Elana’s transistor radio. It has the most annoying crackle when AM radio is on and even FM radio sounds terrible. I’ve tried to throw it out and replace it with a WiFi radio or an iPod touch numerous times.
But like a bad penny it keeps coming back. Yup, none of the solutions I offered to Elana as replacements for her radio were good enough for her. She kept going back to that THING. Until now! Grace Audio was kind enough to send me a review unit of their Allegro Wi-Fi Radio Portable Wireless Radio & Streamer. I like the radio a lot. More important to me, however, Elana likes it. In fact, she likes it enough that it HAS replaced her radio. Alas, she won’t let me actually throw that horrid thing she calls a radio out, so the door remains open to it making a renewed appearance at some point … but my fingers ARE crossed.
Nevertheless, let’s take a look at the Allegro Wi-Fi Radio Portable Wireless Radio & Streamer that has finally freed my home from static.
From Grace Audio:
Crystal clear streaming music inside or outside your house. The Allegro Wi-Fi radio rocks your house and backyard with a built in class D digital amplifier and rear ported full range speaker. Listen to infinite music, sports, and talk with this all-in-one portable Wi-Fi radio – without a computer. Access online music services like Pandora, Live365, and SIRIUS with a touch of a button. The music listening options with this Wi-Fi internet radio are endless. Free your music.
Fully Integrated Pandora Capabilities- Thumbs up, thumbs down. skip, just like being on Pandora’s web-interface. You can bookmark songs to listen to later or even purchase them later from Amazon or iTunes, all without turning on your computer.
100% Portable Wi-Fi Radio- Listen to the over 17,000 free radio stations inside your house or outdoors in your yard or garage. The Wi-Fi radio can be powered by an AC adaptor or rechargeable batteries (not included). A perfect companion just in time for summer.
Rechargeable Batteries- The Allegro features a built-in battery recharging circuit to recharge all your NiMH rechargeable batteries making the radio 100% portable. Please do not mix old and new batteries or alkaline and rechargeable batteries in the Allegro. Use either 6 Alkaline OR 6 rechargeable batteries.
Full-function Remote Control- With a full-function remote control you’ll be able to choose 1 of your 10 preset stations, search for new stations, skip songs, and give feedback on Pandora from any location in your room.
Equalization Settings- Located under the ‘Settings’ menu option are the equalization controls. You can boost your highs and raise your lows to really fine tune the Allegro’s audio performance.
High Contrast LCD Display- The adjustable 4-line, backlit LCD display makes it easy to view your selections, adjust your audio settings or display song title and artist details.
Remote Control iPhone App- The Grace Remote control application allows you to go where no IR remote has gone before. Control 1 or more of your Grace Internet radios from you iPhone or iPod Touch. You can change the volume, turn it on or off, find stations and set presets or even set any one of your five alarms.
Large Snooze Bar- Located on the top of the Allegro is a large snooze bar to easily turn off your alarms and sleep timers.
The unit is small, simple and relatively compact. It’s understated design lets it pretty much disappear into the background. Its small footprint means it can go just about anywhere. It would work perfectly on a night table, especially since it has a fully featured built-in clock radio complete with five different alarms and the ability to wake up to music. We have been keeping it in the corner of the kitchen on the countertop and it doesn’t get in the way a bit. If you are looking for a radio with artistic interest that will add some flair or tech to your home this is not the radio for you. If you want something that works well while not drawing attention to itself, however, you will be quite happy.
It is impressive what this little device can do. With it you can listen to over 50,000 radio stations, podcast, and on demand content. It also supports online music services such as Pandora, Live365 and SIRIUS internet radio. If you are an iPhone or iPod touch user the radio is compatible with the Grace iPhone/Touch remote control application. The app is free and makes using the radio a far easier process. More on that in a bit.
In the Box:
Allegro Wi-Fi Radio
Remote Control and Batteries
Add in the fact that it can run on batteries and you have an Internet radio that can go anywhere you have WiFi available. In fact, if you have a MiFi or some other WiFi-hotspot enabled device, you should be able to take the unit anywhere and listen to music.
The fact that it has a built-in battery recharging circuit so you can recharge NiMH rechargeable batteries makes me very happy. I am quickly moving in the direction of NEVER using disposable batteries. The waste factor involved is tremendous and while I am sure rechargeables are not “good” for the environment I have to believe they are better than throwing away dozens upon dozens of batteries each year.
Setting the radio up on my home network was simple. In fact, this description form the grace Audio Web site it pretty much exactly what I did.
Within a minute or so I was online with it and listening to music.
Setting up the stations, however, was a bit more cumbersome. There are three ways to do it.
You can use the controls on the radio itself.
You can use the included remote.
Or you can use the Grace Audio iPhone/iPod touch app.
Of the three I found that the iPhone app was the best way to get going. Still, the interface is a bit cumbersome but that is coming from someone who spends most of his “device-time” using Apple’s products and their intuitive interface.
Regardless, it takes some time to initially set up the stations and radio services you want but, once done, actually using the radio is as simple as turning it on.
The unit is small and looks simple but its specs impress. It offers…
4 line high contrast backlit display displays Station, Song Title & Artist info
Full function remote w/10 presets- 5 presets on the radio + 99 station folder
Audio- High powered Class D Digital amplifier, Large soundstage full range speaker, 3.5mm Stereo headphone jack, Built in dual band equalizer
Supported audio formats: AIFF, AIFC, WAVE, CAF, NeXT, ADTS, MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, WMA
Supported playlist formats: ASX, M3U, PLS
Supported streaming protocols: HTTP, HTTPS, RTSP, WSMP, Shoutcast
Built in media player streams your audio files from your PC or MAC
True 802.11g wireless connectivity and works with all 802.11b/g/n routers
Supports WPA Personal, WPA2-AES, and 64/128-bit WEP encryption
Clock & Alarm: 12 or 24 hour clock with date, Clock is auto synched via the internet, 5 individual alarms, Wake to buzzer or music, Set each alarm for daily, weekly, weekend, week days or one time, Sleep Timer: 30 seconds to 23 hours, 30 backlight brightness settings, Large Snooze Bar
12 Language Menu: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Japanese
At the end of the day, however, it isn’t the looks, the portability or the aesthetics of an Internet radio that really matters. No, what matters is how easy it is to use and how good it sounds. Since I have not been the one actually using the radio for the past few weeks I turned to Elana and asked for feedback. Here’s what she told me.
Her biggest complaint is the limited number of programmable hardware buttons on the unit itself. Because she listens to a number of different stations, five buttons just aren’t enough. Sure, the remote has ten buttons but she is not a huge fan of remotes.
Other than that she likes the radio quite a bit. She said she likes the sound quality. It is “excellent and clear”. Personally I am grateful to Grace Audio for the fact that I might finally be living in a house without the crackle of AM radio. Elana also commented that, once set up, the radio is simple to use. She has not made much use of Pandora on it yet but, as a Pandora listener, I suspect she will soon be using the radio when she works out here at home.
In all, the Allegro Wi-Fi Radio Portable Wireless Radio & Streamer from Grace Audio is a winner. The small footprint, ease of use and tremendous number of features make it a great Internet radio for anyone looking for good sound and flexibility. I mean… look at this small sampling of what you can access with this diminutive radio…
What I Like: Good sound; streams Internet radio, Pandora and a host of other music services; built-in clock radio; works with rechargeable batteries; equalizer lets you customize the way it sounds to your liking; works with free iPhone app
What Needs Improvement: Only five presets on the unit itself; setting up stations takes some time