Pandora Radio is a streaming music service with radio stations that can understand your preferences and line up such songs for you. In that way, you don’t need to keep switching stations or sites. Pandora classifies songs according to certain characteristics known as Music Genome. So when you indicate you like a song through a ‘thumb up’, Pandora goes ahead to line up songs with similar characteristics or DNA for you. Amazing right! If you want to know more about Pandora, this article is a Pandora Radio Review.
- Excellent service for music discovery.
- Smart algorithms help you to quickly build customized radio stations.
- Introduction of a new sleeker-looking HTML 5 interface that offers a better and faster user experience.
- Pandora One yearly subscription cost is good value for money.
- Good social networking facilities.
- Pandora is only available in the U.S.
- Skip limits (Pandora One subscribers: 6 song skips per hour (per station) / Free accounts: 12 skips per day)
- Broadband connection
- Internet Browser (Windows: Internet Explorer / Firefox / Chrome) ¦ (MAC OS X: Safari / Firefox / Chrome)
- Windows Minimum Hardware Specs: Desktop (CPU: 2 Ghz+ / RAM: 1 GB+) ¦ Laptop (CPU:1.6 Ghz+ / RAM: 1 GB+)
- Mac Minimum Hardware Specs: Desktop (CPU: PowerPC G5 1.8 Ghz+ / RAM: 1 GB+) ¦ Laptop (CPU: 1.5 Ghz+ / RAM: 1 GB+)
Streaming Audio Specifications:
- Compression format: AACplus
- Bitrate: Normal Quality: 128 Kbps / High Quality: 192 Kbps (Pandora One only)
Pandora Radio’s Website and Features
Pandora now has a newer site that offers a faster and better experience with the introduction of HTML 5. This new interface is more intuitive and user-friendly compared to their old website. There are a few new features too like better auto-complete music searching; enhanced integrated music control, and a social networking facility called, Music Feed, that helps you to see what your friends are listening to and discover what other users are enjoying with similar tastes to yours.
Signing up to Pandora Radio is a simple process that only takes a few minutes — that’s provided you reside in the United States of course. If you live outside the U.S., you’ll see a message displayed with your IP address advising you that Pandora isn’t available in your country. This is a big downside to Pandora Radio that isn’t going to be resolved anytime soon — due to the complexities of international music licensing rules. If you reside in U.S., all you have to do is provide an email address, password, birth year, and zip code. This step is necessary for you to be able to create an account for saving your personalized radio stations and accessing Pandora from multiple computers or mobile devices.
Pandora Radio Music Service Options
- Pandora Free Account
Firstly, Pandora offers a free account. This level is what you’ll initially get when you create a Pandora account. However, the trade-off for getting a free service (as always) is that it comes with advertisements along with other restrictions. Currently, there is a 40-hour listening maximum per month for free accounts. If you reach this limit before the end of the month, all is not lost. For a small fee ($0.99 at present), you can upgrade to unlimited listening for the remainder of that month. This is a handy additional option if you plan to stay at this level.
Another restriction is a daily limit on the number of songs you can skip (maximum of 12 skips per day).
Even though Pandora’s free account has some restrictions, they are minor and don’t overshadow the fact that you can access millions of full-length songs for free. This service level is also a great way of discovering new music without the financial commitment that some other services demand.
Pandora One ($36)/Pandora Radio Review
If you find that the free account doesn’t offer everything you need, then you can upgrade to Pandora One for $36 per year. There’s only one ‘paid alternative’ to choose, but it packs a good range of extra features. There’re no advertisements for a start, do no interruptions. Paying a yearly subscription also gives you the luxury of unlimited music streaming.
There is a downside however that Pandora hasn’t been able to shake even for its subscription model– song skip limits. Although not as tight as the free account, you will still be limited to 6 song skips per hour (per station). If you have created a lot of stations, then this probably won’t be a major issue as you can listen to other stations for an hour while this mechanism resets. However, if you have only built up a few Pandora Radio stations, then you might find that this limit gets in the way far too often. Incidentally, song skips can be accrued by clicking the Skip icon or Thumbs Down button while a song is playing.
Subscribing to Pandora One also gives you other benefits like an option to switch to a higher-quality streaming mode. During our listening testing, this enhanced audio mode made a big difference — streams come down at 192 Kbps rather than 128 Kbps. Other extras include the Pandora desktop application; custom skins, and listening for up to 5 hours without having to interact with Pandora.
Finding New Music Using Pandora’s Radio Skitations and Social Networng Tools
Probably one of the biggest benefits of using Pandora over other Internet radio stations is its ability to quickly and accurately help you find new music using its powerful Genome system. This is a unique feature of Pandora that makes it one of the best music discovery services to use for exploring the world of music. This Internet radio service also serves up a lot of background information on the artists you listen to (including song lyrics and other relevant albums you might not even know about). However, the amazing thing about Pandora as you use it is the consistency of the information that it displays. Other recommended artists are usually very close to the style of the music you’re listening to.
Pandora Radio Stations/ Pandora Radio Review
The hub of your digital music experience in Pandora is through the creation of radio stations; you can create up to 100 unique stations. To get started, you can simply type in an artist, song, or composer in the text box at the top-left of the screen. once you’ve created a station, it can be tweaked by using the Add Variety button. This is where the true power of using Pandora shines through by having a more granular control on how you customize your stations. You can hybridize your station by adding similar artists. It’s beyond the scope of this review to detail all the options that revolve around Pandora radio stations, but you can tweak to your heart’s content and watch your custom stations evolve over time.
When you’ve built up a selection of different stations, the shuffle feature in Pandora is quite flexible in allowing you to playback your playlists in a number of ways. You can choose quick-mixes that have: genre combinations, only the stations you choose, or all of them!
Social Networking/Pandora Radio Review
There’s a great multi-faceted social structure to Pandora that is never very far away from wherever you are on the website. For example, you can click the Like button for an artist and comment on a particular album you’ve found, or see what other users think. Creating stations is very social too. You can share your creations with others, find people who also have similar musical tastes, and leave comments on stations about your thoughts — you can also share just one track. As well as sharing on the Pandora network, you can also extend your social networking reach to other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or even good old email.
Pandora’s Music Feed tool is a particularly impressive social feature. It enables you to follow what other people are listening to (and vice-versa of course). This is a great tool for two-way music discovery and helps you to follow your Facebook friends who also use Pandora. Alternatively, you can find people using the search box in Music Feed and type in their name or email address if you know it.