For software that isn't tied to one machine.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

RadioSure Portable vs. Screamer Portable

Two excellent internet music programs with a lot in common so it didn't make sense to just review them.  Instead, a look at which one is better.
Features they share: 

  • Seem to play all the major formats (mp3, ogg, aac, and wma)
  • Can save favorites easily
  • Will record radio stations
    • In MP3 (WMA and AAC stations will be converted to MP3)
    • In high quality formats (tested up to 256)
    • Into individual files named for the song titles in a subdirectory named for the channel.  This is great to find an artist you really love, one of the best parts about the Pandora service.
    • With commercials, but named something obvious so you can delete them.
  • Have a small window with most settings and components in the menus.
  • Are not up to date.  Have a lot of stations in its presets that don't work anymore.
  • Don't support PLS files, used by most Internet radio stations.


  • Channel organization is searchable.  If you leave the search box empty, it shows all channels.  If you type just a few characters, it filters all channels instantly.
  • Records audio to an automatic bitrate setting.  Good if you're listening to MP3 stations.
  • Skinnable. 

  • Default peak meter is visually loud, haven't tried the skins available for it to see if makes it less noticeable.
  • Its in the "good section" but this records audio to an automatic bitrate setting.  If you listen to non-MP3 stations, will result in a quality decrease.  For example, a 64-bit WMA station recorded at 64-bit MP3 will sound flat and dull.  It needs to be manually set to a higher setting (at least 128 in this case).  This is still better than Screamer, which has no automatic function at all.


  • Records directly to Ogg Vorbis (oddly, RadioSure does not despite being an open protocol).
  • Channels by a variety of categories - genre, region, and language, followed by genres of music, talk, etc.
  • Prefer its interface -- not as visually loud.
  • Can change the colors of the peak meter as well as just disable it.
  • Latest version claims to download the latest radio stations but still going through its lengthy menu system to reach a channel several times before finding a live station. Very annoying.
  • Have to set the quality meter yourself.  By default its 128, which is fine for most normal recordings but higher quality will be reduced and lower quality will produce bigger file sizes.
  • Record button not as obvious
  • Not as portable -- doesn't use relative directory names
  • No skins.
  • Froze while I was using it, stuck in "idle" mode.
Winner: RadioSure - navigating radio stations is much easier, most stations are in MP3 anyway so its better to have the automatic bitrate, and has yet to crash even after running all night.  Still want to hang on to Screamer in case you come across an Ogg channel you like.  Not recompressing your audio where possible is important.

Suggestion for use: to grow your music collection overnight, just copy and paste another version of RadioSure and have them run concurrently on a station you enjoy. Run both programs with the volume down and then fill your player in the morning.


Version: 2.0.872.0
Size: 4.41 megs (save some by deleting non-English files under \Lang)
RAM Usage: 30 megs
License: Freeware (donate)
Score: 7 out of 10 - Minor updates such as the PLS issue (not a difficult addition) and recording to Ogg would work wonders.  No complaints about the search window, but would like categories like Screamer's too.

Version: 0.4.3
Size: 2.63 megs (save about 200 k by deleting non-English files under \languages)
RAM Usage: 13 megs
License: Freeware (donate)
Score: 6 out of 10 - Menu system use should be great but because of so many dead channels, is extremely annoying.