Tech Rap: Changes to Internet Radio
Posted on May 09 2019
By Peter Skiera
In early May we had a system-wide outage of the service that supplies stations to our Internet radio tuner. For nearly 12 hours, I along with the rest of you, were all unable to enjoy our favorite Internet radio stations. As I later remarked to a relative, you do not realize how much you rely on something until it is gone. I went the entire day in my office without Internet radio. Service was eventually restored that evening. However, we were advised by the station aggregator that the service would eventually be switched off entirely in the very near future without advanced notice.
Not wanting our customers’ expensive units to not have working Internet radio, immediate action was taken to source another aggregator and get a basic system in place to transition all of our models over to the new aggregator within an extremely short window of time. Once we knew the facts and had an action plan, I crafted a message to all of our customers which was sent via email, social media, our websites, and even through our three previous Kickstarter campaigns. If you do not subscribe to any of those outlets then you did not get the message. We did our very best to notify our customers short of personally calling everyone, and we did it as quickly as we could. In a perfect world, we would have provided more notice and a smoother transition, but things are hardly perfect, especially in the world of technology. If you are not signed up to our email list, I would strongly encourage you to do so ASAP in order to keep up to date on all things Como Audio (we do not share or sell your information to other companies).
You should also know the aggregator change was not unique to Como Audio. The change impacted nearly 3 million radios around the world from multiple brands.
The new aggregator has been involved in the business for almost 20 years and is based in Germany. Some of their clients include Yamaha, Revox, Moon, Arcam, Panasonic, and now, Como Audio.
As I later remarked to a relative, you do not realize how much you rely on something until it is gone.
The transition required no software update…it was automatic and has been completed. If you do not believe your model has transitioned, simply turn it off for a few minutes and then turn it back on again. When the unit transitions, you will hear a spoken audio message advising to re-save your preset stations.
NO SOUND/UNABLE TO SAVE PRESETS
Some random units have no sound in Internet radio mode after the transition and thus have no spoken message, though other sources work fine (FM, Bluetooth, etc.). Still others do not permit saving an Internet station to a preset. In such cases, please press the small reboot button on the rear panel (Amico and Musica models only) and try again. For Solo and Duetto, please go into the menu, select System settings, then System reboot, and try again. If this does not restore the sound and allow you to tune stations and save presets, then please go back into the menu again, select System settings, and then select Factory reset. This will require you to repeat the Setup process, so please try the reboot option first. Below is a recap of the steps:
To save Presets and/or restore sound:
Reboot your Como Audio music system by selecting System reboot in the System settings menu (in Internet radio mode, press and hold the remote’s Play/Pause key > System settings > scroll up and select System reboot), by pressing the rear panel reboot button (Musica and Amico only), or by unplugging the power cord and plugging it back in.
2. Tune a Station:
After the unit reboots, in Internet radio mode, press and hold the Play/Pause key on the remote control, select Station list > Stations > select either Location, Genre, or Search stations to find and select an Internet radio station.
3. Save and Enjoy the Music:
After the station loads and plays, press and hold one of the front panel Preset buttons to store that station to a preset. Repeat steps 2 and 3 above to store more stations to the remaining Presets.
If you enjoyed any or all of the five preset Internet radio stations your unit came set with and would like to re-save them, here is reminder of those stations which you can search for and store in the front panel preset buttons again:
Radio Swiss Jazz
BBC Radio 6 Music
WGBH (WCRB Classical)
BBC World Service
Soma FM Left Coast 70’s (Musica)
Hi On Line Radio Jazz (Musica)
You will notice some changes besides your presets missing. The menus in Internet radio mode are slightly different. For example, “Local stations” in North America is now named “Local United States”, but will still list only local stations in your area.
The new menu is slimmer, but there are still tens of thousands of radio stations available.
Another change- some Internet radio station names are different. Some new stations and Podcasts will be available, while others may be missing. You can request a station or podcast be added (or report a problem with a station) using this form.
After you successfully submit the form you will receive an acknowledgment email along with an invitation to register to check the status of your request. You will receive a follow-up email confirming whether your station could be added. Currently, this could take several weeks or longer due to the large volume of requests all at once, but is expected to take less than 24-48 hours in the future.
MY FAVORITES & THE INTERNET RADIO PORTAL
The biggest changes are to My Favorites and the Internet radio portal. It was not possible to build such features from scratch within a few hours. The new aggregator is working on supporting a similar Favorites feature, as well as the ability for you to add a station’s URL directly rather than open a ticket and wait for a new station to be added. This requires a great deal of effort and will take some time. Our immediate concern was to restore reliable Internet radio service to our customers. We used those features just as you did, perhaps even more so, and are equally disappointed. That said, our conclusion was this new service, lacking those features as it did, was preferable to having no Internet radio at all. As a partial work around, “Last listened” (press and hold the Play/Pause key on the remote in Internet radio mode) will display up to 10 last listened stations which will provide faster station access than manually tuning stations. Also, if you own multiple Como Audio models and have them grouped, you can store different stations on each model and the grouped units will play them. For example, if you own two Solos that are grouped, you have 12 presets total with which to store 12 different stations (6 presets per model; 8 in the case of Musica).
The new aggregator will provide reliable, stable service- the primary reason for the migration. They employ a modern, cloud-based platform, and they perform auto-testing of radio and podcast streams to continually verify their validity. Changes to meta data and station logos are handled directly by individual Internet stations, allowing for faster updates.
As you can well imagine, we have been swamped with emails and calls from our customers. The vast majority have been very understanding and supportive. Others…well, let’s just say some others have been less understanding. We do not know how we could have handled the situation any better given the extremely brief amount of time we had.
I would like to personally thank all of you for your patience and understanding during this critical period. I would also like to sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this transition may have caused. In the long run, we believe the new service will prove more reliable and robust for our customers. For those of you who remain unhappy, all I can say is we felt we did what we had to in order for you to continue to enjoy the music.
Peter Skiera lives in southern MA, worked in radio broadcasting throughout New England, and also worked for Cambridge SoundWorks, B&W Loudspeakers, and Tivoli Audio for 15 years before joining Como Audio as V.P. of Product Development in 2016. Peter can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org