Here's a common conversation I've had with listeners...
Listener: "Hey I love Chill!"
Me: "Thanks very much, we love making it!"
Listener: "But I can't listen any more..."
Me: "oh... why not?"
Listener: "I used to listen on DAB, but now I've moved / come back from holiday / etc and you're not on in my area. Aaaagh!"
Me: "You know you can listen online at http://www.helpmechill.com/, right?"
Listener: "Yeah but I want it in my bedroom / in the kitchen / I don't want a big computer whirring away / my PC sounds rubbish / etc (x lots)"
If you're getting this, you might like to know about internet radios. I've been wanting to share this for a while, but I didn't know what to recommend until I got one and tried setting it up myself. If it wasn't easy to do, or if it didn't sound nice, I couldn't recommend it as a way to chill. Now thanks to a birthday pressie from my wife, I've been able to try this at home, and it's great news - it works, it's quite easy, and it sounds amazing!
All you need at home to set one up is a wireless router and an internet radio. You don't need your computer to listen to Chill!
What's a wireless router?
This is the box you use to get a wireless broadband ("wi-fi") connection. This is now standard with a lot of decent web packages, like BT's Total Broadband where you get a free "BT Home Hub". Looking online right now, it looks like all of Sky Broadband's packages come with a wireless router, and they are also offered by O2, Orange, and others. Here is a list of popular broadband packages. If you need to switch to get a good offer, I've found this pretty easy in the past.
I'm on Virgin Media's basic package, so I had to buy a wireless router. Just search for the words "wireless router" on your favourite shopping site. I have used this Belkin router for over a year now (it costs £35), but there are loads of alternatives.
Where does the router go, and what does it do?
Every broadband connection comes with a modem, where you can connect your computer directly. A router lives between your computer and the modem. It's like having a 4-plug mains adapter - the router lets you use one socket to connect several computers at once. The best bit is that a wireless router lets you do this... wirelessly - hooray!
That's the complicated bit. When that's done, connecting an internet radio and listening to Chill is simple.
These boxes simply connect wirelessly to your router, and play internet radio stations. Some will also play MP3s, or other music on your computers, or charge your iPod or whatever, but let's keep it simple...
I got this Pinnacle Soundbridge radio. I had to go here to download the latest software for it to connect to my router. That was the hardest bit, and I needed an SD memory card to get the software from my computer to the radio, but it only took about 3 minutes. Then it got online as soon as I popped in the password.
It came with a big list of preset stations, including "Chill - United Kingdom" - that's us! It took about five seconds to get a connection, then ran uninterrupted for hours. In a week of listening, I've only heard the stream interrupted once, and it took five seconds (and no fiddling required) for it to fix itself.
Best of all, the sound quality is amazing. I love my Pure Evoke 1 DAB radio, and didn't think I could find a small box with a better sound, but this does the job.
Is this better than DAB?
To be honest, I think DAB is still much easier to set up - if you're in an area where you get us, you can simply switch on the radio and there we are. DAB is also cheaper, with sets available from £15 now, with no other equipment needed.
Setting up this internet radio wasn't too hard because I already had a wireless router. It was annoying that, for me, it didn't work straight out of the box. You would have to be technically minded to go and get the latest software for it instinctively... but as long as you know about it, and you can put it on an SD card from your computer, it doesn't take long.
The best bit was enjoying the end result, which is a great sounding box which I can plug in anywhere at home, and remembers how to set itself up in seconds after the first time. This means I can (and do) listen in bed, in the kitchen and over dinner with friends, without lugging a computer around.
If that sounds good to you, and you can get a mate to help with any of the bits which prove hard in the setup, I can highly recommend the listening experience.
What if I get a different internet radio and it doesn't have Chill as a preset?
Most internet radios have some way of entering addresses for your favourite stations. Some have keys to do it, others (like mine) have their own web pages you can access from a computer on your network, and you enter one of these addresses for Chill:
Does it work for you?
I would love to hear about your experiences of listening on internet radio, as I know lots of people do now. What radio do you use, how easy was it to set up, and would you recommend it to Chill listeners? You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment.