129 of 135 people found the following review helpful
The "Grace Digital Wireless Hi-fi Internet Radio Tuner" is one of the best tuners that I have ever seen. The ease of setup and the multiple choices that you have for your listening pleasure (Internet Radio, Pandora, Live365, and others) was honestly quite astonishing to me. With the WiFi I have in my house, I had 5 bars on everything and the radio comes in crystal clear. And the channels! There were so many of them that I had trouble selecting JUST one. It also has a nice bright display that includes a clock (as well as an Alarm setting) and a headphone jack. As far as setup goes, it was as basic as plugging in power and then piping it into an output device (I used my old stereo since its already hooked into the speakers). It's actually a quite attractive system (I guess I like the blue LED display), it is light (maybe too light when you are pushing the buttons on the front) and the profile is quite low - about as tall as your typical high end blu-ray player.
However there is a BIG "but". The User interface system that Grace uses is archaic. It's been awhile, and I'm dating myself here, but I felt like I was programming the clock on my hi-fi that I got in 1980 (that still had an 8-track player in it BTW). All the initial setup uses the Tuner's knob and the frame refresh rate makes the display constantly flash if you scroll faster than say 1 or 2 channels a second. The display only shows a few stations/songs at a time and there is no way to fast forward or go back beyond the simply pushing the forward and back buttons over and over and over again - so you basically have none of the time-saving buttons that we have all come accustomed to in your basic $25 stereo or any car radio built in the last 10 years. And just wait until you want to queue up more than 2 or 3 songs at a time - I think it took me about 2 or 3 minutes to setup music that then only played for maybe 10 min - a huge waste of time - because when you pick a song (or a radio station), the unit goes back to the top of the list for your next selection and NOT to the place where you last selected. So like if I chose a station called "Klassic Kristian" music, scrolling all the way down from "AAA AM" (and going from A to K on the radio takes a LONG TIME), the next time I want to pick a station (mind you w/o turning the tuner off) it is back up at the top at "AAA AM". As you can probably assertain for yourself, I have never gotten out of the "A's" on the internet radio because 1) there are so many stations and 2) it takes so long to scroll down. Which means that I basically use about 10% of it's capability - a huge waste of this unit's vaste potential. After you do the initial setup, there is no interface with the front of the unit - everything is on the remote - so God forbid if you lose that sucker.
So the Pandora and internet radio are really, honestly God sends and this unit plays them with crystal clarity. I really love the look of it and there is a vast potential that I have yet to even tap. However, the interface system is so awful that I rarely bother. I've had it setup in my house for 4 months and I think I've only used it half a dozen times and my kids don't even try - it just takes way too much time. What a crying shame...
********* UPDATE ***********
You can download an Apple/Android app that allows your I-Pod/smartphone to act as an advanced remote. Although I have not tried it, I got rid of the radio in frustration about 5 months after I got it, this would be a huge benefit! Grace has obviously worked very hard to please their customers - read comments below. I now wish I still had mine.... :-(
72 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2011
Most other reviewer ratings are pretty accurate as far as usability and value. The Grace GDI-IRDT200 is a unique, rare find - a true internet radio tuner made to compliment an existing audio system. Audiophiles will like its clean rack format and analog, optical and digital outputs. It has a pretty decent analog FM tuner - it picked up most local FM stations with its little 3 foot supplied antenna, where as my vintage higher end NAD and Marantz gear insist on a large attic FM antenna.
So take my 3 stars and the following with a grain of salt since this is a high value unit at $150 (a Grace refurbished unit from Amazon, which looked like brand new) - it's not reasonable for me to be too picky at this price level.
Interface: As others have noted, the interface is dated and you will be pressing a LOT of buttons. Button-city is is OK for one time setup duties, but not for daily operation since at some point you want to relax and easily change music and not be a button minion. It has the same poor ergonomics as many badly designed after market car stereo head units, so if you are OK with those, you are OK here. Sadly, basic functions like simple front panel/remote control one-push presets buttons to switch between my favorite stations and my local DLNA/UPnP media server, are missing from the Grace - and in all fairness, from almost all other modern audio gear (when did endless, serial menus, needed to accomplish basic functions, became desirable to consumers, other than for cost savings?). A web browser interface, like used for home networking gear, would go a long way.
Operation: The unit was decent to setup and wifi configuration was no more complicated than a basic router or firewall network appliance, WAP, dedicated IP and all. It quickly found my 3COM wifi access point and never had a single wifi issue during a few days of 24 hour use. The unit is good looking, well made, it does not run hot - an issue for other appliances like fanless DVRs, some of which will overheat themselves to death. In contrast to earlier Amazon reviews, this particular unit uses a very tiny switching power supply-wall wart, which even after a couple of days, was barely warm to the touch. Also very nice - even after removing AC power for an hour, settings were not lost - a notable plus.
Local Streaming: It detected and worked well with my Synology Diskstation DLNA/UPnP server, only getting lost once and requiring a reboot (rear panel full on/off switch) in order to find the Synology server music playlist again.
My Issue: The real reason why I rate this 3 stars and not 4 or 5, and sadly must return it; the GDI-IRDT200 only supports specific premium internet stations listed on the Grace website. The premium stations Grace does support are really great, but I also use others like sky.fm premium which it cannot support (i.e. there is no way on the GDI-IRDT200 to enter the user ID and Password for other premium providers). I wish Grace would have made it clear that other premium stations are 'not' supported, since I have spent years streaming using a ubiquitous spare laptop connected to my audio system, with no limitations what so ever. I understand Grace can only negotiate and support so many premium stations, and suspect this is common to other internet radio appliances. To most of you, this will likely be an irrelevant, tiny nit, if at all.
Support: My use of Grace support was great - I emailed support at 7pm asking about premium support and got a decent response a couple hours later, on a Friday night no less.
Summary: If it was not for this one premium station support limitation issue, I'd give this 4 or 5 stars and have it still. If all the nits and complaints were rectified, this thing would cost $400 and we'd probably be complaining about the price. Overall, its a good deal for a unique item which only costs $150-200. e.
Update - since I returned this, I could not leave a seller Feedback, which would have been 100% positive. So please note, Grace is a real pleasure to do business with. No questions asked, and quickly refunded - the hard part of being a good seller. e.
87 of 91 people found the following review helpful
It is a very strong performer with lot of features. The team that came up the specs did a wonderful job. Tonnes and tonnes of features. WIFI, Radio, Alarm clock, DLNA music client, Windows network share, headphone output, digital SPDIF and Optical output etc etc. I can't find any thing lacking in terms of connectivity or features. Once I plugged and connected every thing it worked flawless, I didnt hear any noise or jitter. Played well with tough AKG headphones, digital output quality was fantastic. I didnt hear any difference between Audio CD and DLNA streamed media. I use a Bel canto DAC3 as external DAC. Features wise it is top notch. I dont think any one who buys this will miss any thing. It found almost all the radio stations, lot of variety. It has support for high bit rate audio via digital output, in built DAC can only support 16 bit audio.
Now comes the cons. All of them are related to the User Interface, Remotecontrol and LCD screen. The LCD screen is a pre-historic 4 frames/sec refresh screen. If you scroll faster it blinks and is hard to read. The menu system has lot of issues. Every time you hit return it goes back to the start the list. Let's say you have 1000 songs in your folder, you want to play the 500 and 501th song. In IPod you go scroll down choose the 500th song once it is over, you can just go down and choose the 501th song. Here it goes back to 1st, then you have to scroll down again to choose 501th. It get annoying when you want to put more than 10 songs in the queue. You have to scroll down 10 times. The remote control is useless, all the initial configuration like WPA key etc has to be done via the knob. You can't do the initial configuration like setting up WPA via remote control, you have to use the dial and there is no easy way to do DEL or BACKSPACE. Every thing from setting time to WPA key has to be done via the front panel buttons and knobs. There is another annoying bug with media streaming, it skips the first 10 seconds.
There is no pause, next, prev buttons on the front panel. You need to use the remote for that. For scrolling down(which you will do a lot). If not for the user interface annoyance, it will be a 5 start product. Unable to measure jitter as my sound card input didnt work, from what I could hear I sounded flawless. Iam not expecting great things from the inbuilt DAC, it is probably as good as cheap laptop DACs. Use a external DAC or your pre-amp DAC to get the best sound.
I replaced the default wireless duck with a larger 5db antenna, it improved the range a lot. Now I see 5 bars all across on the other side of the house. It is a very strong performer, if you are willing to forgive some of the user interface annoyances.
69 of 78 people found the following review helpful
Wow! What a sweet device this is for the even the not so techo-inclined. Installation was a breeze as there were only 2 cables to hook-up: power, and RCA jacks. I piped it into my receiver and hit the power button and bingo! it found my network over it's installed handy dandy wireless network adapter (G). It prompted me for my password, which I entered (by turning the knob, which was kind of a pain) and it connected no problem. You can also wire your connection through the network cable slot in the back, however, no network cable was included.
After that, I chose internet radio and I had choices galore. The real beauty of this device is how you can personalize it. Got a Pandora account? Pipe it through this baby with ease. How about Live365? You can do that too. Want to search the internet radio via genre? No sweat. Absolutely amazing I tell you.
I created my Grace account, added stations online and podcasts and after unplugging the device and plugging back in (yah, they tell you to do that so it updates the streams), my customization was found on the device and away I went.
Here is the absolute frosting on the cake...I'm now streaming all of my music from my laptop and external hard drive to this device! Sort by genre, album, album artist, create a queue, you name it, this thing can do it. This kills the Windows Media Center that never worked right with my 360.
Who knew you could have so much fun with a radio??
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2012
I was looking for a replacement for my Sirius "Table Top" radio which began having connection problems. I needed something which had a line out jack. I chose this radio after much shopping and comparing features of other Grace radios. This model has an Ethernet jack in addition to wireless - a good feature to have if you have a flaky wireless network.
Grace opened up a whole world of listening for me, rather than just listening to Sirius streaming. So many stations and options.
Total time it took me to bring the box in from the car to listening to music: 30 minutes, without reading the manual. That included removing my TTR1, hunting for an audio cable, entering my WEP password, entering my Sirius password, and entering my computer password to browse. I have a Mac running Snow Leopard and Grace logged in without problems and was browsing my disk. I registered the radio and added my free Pandora account. It was playing for a while before I heard a commercial, so I upgraded my Pandora account to their paid service to never hear advertising again.
The network settings allowed me to connect DHCP or modify the DNS, gateway, and IP address. I tweaked the settings to set a static IP address on the network. The audio seems better than the Sirius TTR1 as well.
Digital optical output jack is available.
The presets switch service as well as station. I can easily switch between Sirius channel presets and Pandora presets. The radio appears to keep playing the old station while it acquires the new one, decreasing dead air time.
Bear in mind these are complicated beasts. Performance relies on your Internet provider and the equipment you have installed. I never expect every feature to work perfectly.
My first gripe - no audio cable. Yea, it's nice that they've included a digital output jack which I still don't have the equipment to use. But, I needed to dig through my closet for a simple audio cable to hook it up. If they could include batteries for the remote they could toss in a cheap set of RCA cables too.
By default, the "stay connected" setting is on. This doesn't work for me. It works for a while, but overnight the radio cannot connect with this setting on. I had to manually run through the settings every time until I turned it off. The radio should be smart enough to re-connect if it looses its connection. Meanwhile, I just tolerate the extra 5 seconds it takes to re-connect the wireless network, which is still much faster than the Sirius TTR1.
The iPhone app is really bad for connecting to the radio, I'm guessing since I let the radio disconnect from the network and I'm using wireless. It may be easier to control if I had it wired. The iPhone app is essential for scrolling through all the local stations and browsing when you don't know what you're looking for... because,
The interface. ugg. There is a backlight contrast setting, but unless I'm missing something not much in the way of controlling the brightness of the display or timeout. I've just left it on default settings.
The radio seems to designed for rack mounted systems, so it's much wider than it has to be. There aren't enough buttons on the front panel. I need a combination of the front panel, iPhone app, and the included remote to quickly access everything.
Conclusion: I'm still rating it 5 stars despite its flaws because it does what I want it to do. It plays music. The audio sounds wonderful. I have access to whole world of music with many options, such as browsing my Mac for music, using an SD card in the front panel jack, or acquiring signals off the air.
I will be exploring with this radio for a long time.
edit 2/24/2012 - opps. After many hours of listening the radio couldn't find the wireless network. The radio convinced itself that it was wired-only while I've never plugged a cable to the RJ45 jack. A factory reset didn't resolve it. I also needed to unplug it for a while, factory reset, then it found the network once but couldn't re-connect after a station update. I was using a static IP over wireless. I rebooted my router and set the radio for full DHCP on wireless-only. Disabled the "stay connected" setting again. Now it's working again. I hope I don't have to do that too often. Funny, but with a factory reset I did not have to re-enter my Sirius information - although I did register the radio.
edit 3/16/2012 - opps again. I had turned off the radio using the iPhone app remote. Boy, that was a mistake. When I turned it back on, it was able to log into the network but it would just sit and spin trying to connect to anything without timing out. The solution was to unplug the radio for a minute. Then it couldn't find the network and prompted me to use the existing WEP key or enter a new one. I re-entered my key. From there the radio worked just fine.
I knocked my original 5-star review to 4-stars since Grace still does not report any firmware updates to address some of these connection problems. Seems the thing to do when the radio gets "weird" is to unplug it for a minute. Also, avoid using the iPhone app to power it off. That caused bad things to happen.
edit 3/26/2012 - I think we've hit bottom now. After connecting for a week, the radio would display "Internal Error 1074 690" for about a minute, then restart. I would try a "Factory Reset" and unplug it for a few minutes which might or might not get it connect. At this point, I figure there's something unreasonably wrong with the radio and visited Grace Digital's website to ask for repair. In the process of submitting a ticket I was offered a few choices to fix my problem before confirming the repair ticket. One option is something called a "Master Factory Reset."
Master Factory Reset is apparently different than the Factory Reset which can be reached by navigating the menus. The Master Factory Reset is accomplished by unplugging the radio, holding down the select button, then plugging the radio in while continuing to hold down the select button until a confirmation message is displayed. This is quite tricky if you don't have long arms to reach both the plug and the select button at the same time.
No problems connecting immediately following the reset. And, I've noticed a few options which were really set to factory defaults when just the plain "Factory Reset" did not do it. If it fails again I'm returning it.
edit 4/8/2012 - Working perfectly. It's been a struggle to have the radio work as designed. Here are a few tips. This radio prefers wired over wireless connection. Do not download updated firmware if it's not broke. Disable the "Stay Connected" setting in the network settings; those 20 seconds it will save you powering up will cost you a lot more time trying to re-connect when it fails. Use the presets to save your favorite channels, which changes the source as well as the station. That way you can easily switch between Pandora and Sirius with a single button press rather than a frustrating game of "What button do I have to press now?"
edit 9/16/2012 - Wireless connection is useless. Grace, if you're listening, fire the engineer who wrote your firmware because they know not what they do. I needed to do a power-off, factory reset two more times, re-enter the WEP password, only to have it fail in just a few days. As a hack, I'm now using a ASUS 802.11b/g/n Portable Wireless Router (WL-330N) to give it a wireless connection through it's LAN jack and it's working as it should.
The symptoms are it gives me an internal fault and says the jack is unplugged. ya, it's unplugged. It was wireless. But, after it crashes, the wireless options just vanish from the menu and it wants a hard-line. Fine. Whatever. I knocked off yet another star for poor firmware.
edit 9/18/2013 - I was able to get more life out of the radio by connecting my wireless gateway to the RJ45 jack, thereby bypassing whatever bugs they had in the wireless software which kept corrupting memory. Still no firmware update is available.
But, I am finally weary of the dance. Power up. See the "Could not connect" error. Press #1 on the presets. Have it play for a few minutes then say "Stream closed" or stuck on "Buffering.... 0%" until I pressed the preset again or powered off and back on again. I used the Grace iPhone app to cycle power on it from the other room to continue to listen. Finally, ahhghgh. I give up.
I purchased the Sirius Tabletop Radio for half the price. This is my second tabletop radio. The first failed after several years of service. The new radio connected and played flawlessly for hours until I powered it off. Disadvantage: it only plays Sirius Radio. Advantage: I can play music by simply pressing the power button.
Curse you, Grace Digital. For such a wonderful design, your firmware is just awful and you are providing no updates. I give up.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2012
I bought this Grace WIFI tuner because FM reception is very spotty in my area. I enjoy listening to Classical music throughout the day and had to rely on two distant stations. This tuner changes all that!
All I can say is...BUY ONE. It's a super bargain, well-made and easy to use. There are literally thousands of Internet stations and even though you can pay to subscribe to Sirius, I see little need to do that. You can even bring up a Google search (online, of course...NOT on the tuner!) to find stations worldwide, all free. Or you can 'browse' through stations on the tuner itself.
College stations, NPR, Live365, Pandora, BBC, you name it, this tuner will play them.
This tuner has made 'radio' listening fun again!
Just like anything new, there's a bit of a "learning curve" associated with the tuner, but after familiarizing myself with it over the course of a weekend, it's nearly as easy to use as anybody's analog tuner. Just have a bit of patience, read the manual thoroughly and learn the quirks.
Audio quality seems on a par with just about anything I've listened to, meaning very good; and the absence of static and hash from weak stations makes me giddy with delight. I wish I had gotten one of these ten years ago!
Excellent product, Grace Audio...I couldn't be more pleased.
*** Update to review 5/11/2012: Since writing this I have read several other reviews where people complained about the 'dated interface' and the tuner's tendencies to lose the signal. While the interface might be a bit awkward and time-consuming, it does work. As I stated in my original review, have patience with the unit and you will be rewarded.
Perhaps I'm just so happy to have all these stations available to me that I'm willing to overlook the minor annoyances that come with the tuner. And...maybe I'm one of the lucky ones, but I haven't experienced the signal drop-out others have mentioned.
Even considering the few and minor built-in irritations I'm still willing to give this tuner a 5-star rating. In fact, I'm considering a second unit for my main system. I like it that well.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2015
I'm an audiophile from Manila and I bought this device and made a risk hoping that it can go head with the likes of Cocktail Audio, Cambridge Audio Stream Magic, and Pioneer N-30 based on reviews and it actually did!! The 24/96 FLAC and WAV files sounds crystal clear when it comes to details and dynamics. It made instruments come to life in deeper layers while voice sounded more authoritative. What's amazing is that for it's price range, signal noise and jitter is not audible when I turned the volume of my amp vs my previous digital player.
I believe this device does not come with a built-in DAC so in order to maximize it's full potential you have to connect this device to an external DAC with a good asynchronous clock using good quality digital Co-Axial cable like Silver Sonic from DH Labs. I'm also using a Philips 64GB Solid State Drive to store/play my FLAC files as added layer of jitter protection vs. SATA HDD where jitter is notorious.
The Internet Radio is just okay I actually bought this device to play HD FLAC files for my Onix system and B&W speakers. I believe you must not spend that much in audiophile media players because compared to other Hifi systems this is the one that has the shortest product life cycle. and expensive audiophile digital players are just so insane
Net net, Grace Digital produced a great HD FLAC player for digital audiophiles who buy records from HDTracks.com with great value and it looks good too. No need to spend $500 for digital music players.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2013
The device I bought has several fatal of flaws:
- It seems to have a mind of its own, self-booting several times a day, unbidden by me.
- Its WiFi antenna is ~10 feet from the main router's antenna. All my laptops show 100% signal strength at the location of this device, yet this device shows only 10% signal strength and drops WiFi connections frequently, while the Ethernet connection works tolerably well.
- It has forgotten preset channels at random.
With all this, Grace Digital tech support's only suggestion is to do a hard reset which, of course, wipes all presets. Had I known that this device would be so aggravating, I'd never have bought it under any circumstances. Sadly, it showed great promise, but fails to deliver in a huge way. The same statement could be applied to Grace Digital tech support.
Edit: To make matters worse, I tried a firmware upgrade following the instructions in the manual to the letter. The download took place as anticipated and was apparently installed as indicated by the climbing percentages shown on the display, but the receiver has now bricked itself and is totally useless. I anticipated a period in which the upgrade installation would take place in the background, but two hours later, the receiver had not come back on line. Power down an hour later for 30 seconds did not bring it back, nor did an overnight power down. One could successfully load and initialize a mainframe computer from punchcards in less time.
Edit, 10/30/13: I finally got a rep from Grace Digital to issue an RMA and returned the receiver to the service department. I got an acknowledgement that they had received the unit via email. Several days later, I got another email indicating that they had replaced the "RECIVA" module, and that the unit had been shipped back. It just arrived and was powered up successfully, and is showing 100% signal strength on the wireless connection for the first time ever. So far, so good. Let's see how long it lasts. Thanks to Grace Digital for having finally repaired the original issue.
Edit, 12/07/13: So far, so good. This device is finally doing as it should have all along. Looks like Grace Digital's manufacturing quality control needs some serious work. The user interface is nothing but archaic. The good news is that it now shows 100% signal strength 35 feet from the router. The audio output feeds into my Bose Wave Radio, so the audio quality is superb.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2012
I cannot believe they are still selling this product. I purchased mine in April 2012. The interface is a joke. With channels that display the songs being played the display crawls at snails pace, then stops and stutters so you may never see who the artist and song are. This thing sometimes takes forever to connect to a station (I play Radio Paradise most of the time so it's not like I am jumping from station to station). And worst of all, at least 4 times or more a week, it re-boots itself and resets, which is a process that sometimes takes a half hour as it constantly reboots itself until finally it sits on the internet radio setting choice and you have go back and go to My Stuff, then My Stations, then scroll until you find and connect with the station you want to listen to. HORRIBLE. As soon as I can afford it I am getting rid of it and getting something that works in the 21st Century. DO NOT PURCHASE THIS PRODUCT.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2013
I purchased this as a Christmas gift and it has never worked properly. Scrolling through the clunky interface will sometimes cause it to hang after which it will reboot and reconnect. Hooking up the hardwired connection doesn't work at all! It can't even properly connect when wired directly into my router.
Oh, and did I say that it reboots. Continuously. Sometimes the only way to prevent that is to hit the power switch. No, not the one on the front. That won't respond. Give it the reach around and hit the button.
Then maybe, just maybe, it will stop resetting. I've reserved its own IP address matched to its MAC.
Forget it. Save your money.