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Top 5 digital music utilities

PC World

(IDG)

  1. myCaster: Have you ever listened to a radio DJ play a mix songs and thought you could do better? Well, here is your chance. This free Web radio application lets you create a list of songs and then broadcast them over the Internet. All you need to do is connect to the Internet, drag and drop your favorite MP3s into the myCaster interface, and you're ready to start blasting your tunes. If you have a microphone, you can add a voiceover to your songs. A step-by-step tutorial shows you how to set up your own station, and a built-in chat system lets you talk to other DJs for direct feedback, even while your tunes are playing. Go to the Web site and you'll find music independently created by listeners. Listen to Techno, Top 40, Tejano, or tunes from the 70s or 80s. If you don't find what you're looking for, a simple search will turn up artists such as TLC, Eminem, Limp Bizkit, or Shania Twain. My only gripe is that sometimes the streaming audio was a little choppy.


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  3. RadioSpy: This streaming audio player (formerly MP3Spy) let's you listen to Internet radio broadcast in three popular formats: RealAudio, WinAmp, and Shoutcast. Select songs from a list that categorizes the music into different genres. Then, double click on the song you want to listen to, and it's pulled from remote servers located all over the Web. Finding a radio station was very simple. I typed in the name of the station (or the call number), and I was listening to live music within minutes. I was also able to search by song title and artist across all categories including Gospel, Reggae, and Pop. If you're a mix-master, and you want to create a unique sound, the RadioSpy feature lets you build your own server so you can broadcast your music.


  4. Spinner Plus: With over 130 music channels (21 preset), and over 350,000 songs, this music player has the most diverse selection of songs out there. You can listen to music in categories such as Bluegrass, British Invasion, Chicago Blues, Top Pop, Jungle, and Latin. The clean interface lets you customize your channel selection and provides you with detailed information about the song you're tuned in to. For example, if you're listening to a blast from the past and can't recall who performed it, the information window provides you with the name of the artist, the title of the album, the song title, and which channel it's on. You even get a sneak peak at which artist is coming up next. Spinner Plus also includes a free music downloads section with files that are legal to download (they're dispensed by radio companies as a promotional gesture). You can also download Spinner Playlist-to-Go, a customized list of songs picked by Spinner's music staff. However, you'll have to download an MP3 player, such as WinAmp to collect and organize your favorite songs.


  5. Wired Planet: If you love music from all genres, this Internet Radio/MP3 player may be just what you're looking for. Download the free player, then look for songs on the Web site or from one of the five preset stations. For would-be DJs, there's a MyStation feature that walks you though creating and broadcasting your own tunes. The Genre section caters to different tastes including Hip Hop, Rock, Gospel, and Classical tunes. I found a Mood station, which would be perfect for decompressing after work or for creating atmosphere for a quiet dinner (if you like to eat in front of your PC). And there's more: A User Stations feature lets you search for songs by other listeners, underground artists, or producers within the WiredPlanet community, and a Favorites button highlights the top stations rated by listeners. The plug-in interface features a Rate It slider that lets you adjust how often you want to hear a song. My only real gripe: while you're using Wired Planet, free product banner ads run along bottom.


  6. Yahoo Player: You know all about the search engine, now check out the radio player. Just like the Web portal, Yahoo radio offers a wide selection of Internet music and talk radio stations from all over the United States. To search for radio stations, click on the Find Stations button and a list of stations will appear, organized into categories such as love songs, oldies, and classic rock. A QuickPiks section containing songs from six preset stations is available as well. The Digital Browser button takes you to an area on the Web site where you can search for free MP3s or music to buy. The player can play many multimedia file types, including video, CD, and MP3s. In addition, you can shuffle and repeat songs as you would with a CD player. Another slick feature: You can download a skin to customize the look of your player. If you come across a song that you really like, select the Add Favorite button on the toolbar, and save the song in one of the preset buttons. Customize the player to display the stations you like, and give the interface a whole new look by adding a skin.




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