Classic FM streaming update

Digital Radio; photo by Stephen Martin, used under terms of a Creative Commons licenceEver since Classic FM’s owners made half-hearted attempts to stop overseas listeners from listening online a few years ago, people around the world have been listening quite happily to internet streams of the station. If the streams are accessed directly by URL, for example using a media player, there is no check of the listener’s location. However, even if they use the official player on the website, overseas residents need only to enter a valid UK postcode in order to listen, and those are not exactly top-secret.

In recent weeks, Classic FM has been advertising its website player, referring to it as “Radioplayer”. What is not obvious from those adverts is that Radioplayer is actually a collaboration by all the major national British radio stations – both the BBC and commercial stations – that allows them all to be accessed from a single site. I can only assume Classic FM don’t advertise this fact because they don’t want people to listen to other stations, although in that case, why did Global Radio participate in the project at all?

It appears that as part of the move to the Radioplayer platform, Classic FM’s internet streams have moved to new URLs, meaning that the links people have used for a long time no longer function. It is still possible for people around the world to listen online using Radioplayer. Some people have reported that this asks for a postode, but that should be easy enough to find.

However, many people find it more convenient to use a stream URL directly, rather than having to keep a browser window open in order to listen. This is still possible, as various streams still exist. In fact, far from trying to hide these away, Global Radio have a page, albeit not a particularly public-facing one, that lists streams for their stations. There are three different streams for Classic FM, of different bitrates and formats. Each is also available either as a direct link to the raw stream, or as a playlist, meaning nine URLs in total: more than a little confusing!

The highest quality stream available is a 128kb/s MP3 stream. This will probably give better sound than the old streams. However, the higher bitrate means that overseas listeners may find the broadcast is interrupted as their connection struggles to keep up. This isn’t a case of Global Radio trying to stop foreign listerners from using it, but simply the fact that internet traffic is more likely to be delayed when it is travelling further. Some overseas listeners have already reported problems with this stream stopping after a few minutes, but in the UK I can listen to it without interruption for hours.

There are then two streams that use a lower bitrate of 48kb/s. These are likely to work better as they require less bandwidth. One stream is in AAC format and the other is MP3. The AAC stream should give higher quality sound as AAC uses more efficient compression than MP3. Therfore I only recommend people use the 48kb/s MP3 if they are unable to play the AAC stream or find it unreliable.

To summarise, in order of highest to lowest sound quality, the streams available are:

It is important to note that these link directly to raw streams, which your browser may try to download if you click on them. Such a download may never complete as the stream should continue indefinitely! You can open them in a media player, though, by choosing “Open URL” or similar from the player’s menu.

For access from a web browser, each stream has a corresponding playlist URL. This should tell your PC that it needs to use a media player in order to open the actual stream. Two playlist formats are available: M3U and XSPF. It is easy to form URLs for these playlists. Simply add .m3u or .xspf to the above. So for the highest quality MP3 stream, the M3U URL is

and the M3U URL for the AAC stream, which is probably the best bet for overseas listeners, is:

I’m sure you have the idea by now, if you require a different format.

For completeness, there is one further set of streams available, although these are probably of limited use to the average listener. They are the streams used by Radioplayer. They use a protocol called RTMP, which most media players don’t support: RTMP is the protocol used by the Flash plugin. However, if you have a media player that does support this protocol, it may provide a more robust stream than using the HTTP streams above. The RTMP URLs are in the format:

  • rtmp://cdn-sov-2.musicradio.com:80/LiveAudio/ClassicFM

That will give the AAC stream, but as before you can add “MP3” or “MP3LOW” to the end to obtain the other stream formats.

I hope this information will be of some use to Classic FM listeners from around the world, and will enable them to enjoy their favourite station from the comfort of their computers. Everything should also apply equally to the other stations listed on Global Radio’s page. Please leave comments below to let everyone know whether the streams work for you, and to ask for further help if needed.

25 responses to “Classic FM streaming update”

Showing comments 1 to 20

  1. Mika

    Thank you Jonathan for your ongoing work to help us foreigners to listen to Classic FM and other UK radio stations, it´s most appreciated.

    I use MP3 128 kb/s stream with Windows Media Player and it works perfectly. I have a plug-in for MP3 that can be download free of charge from http://openplsinwmp.codeplex.com/

    I´m a “long-timer” and thou I don´t like some of today’s presenter, a morning without C FM is not a good morning. ~ Mika ~ a grateful granny from Sweden

  2. Russ

    Outstanding work ! – I bought my mum a wifi portable radio just so she could listen to classic fm here in Australia (the computer is a bit too much trouble for a 90yo!) She listens to it for at least 10 hours a day and has been so disappointed in the last couple of weeks when the feed for it was turned off. Now everyting is working fine again…

  3. Jonathan

    Russ – do you mean you had to enter details of the stream manually into the wifi radio? Do you know which system the radio uses for indexing streams, etc. (i.e. is there a website you can go to for setting up the radio – in the UK, popular systems include Reciva and Frontier Silicon)? If Classic FM aren’t updating such sites with details of the new streams, that’s an interesting development.

  4. Mika

    WMP is up and running again on http://mediasrv.musicradio.com/classicfm
    During the weekend the problem(s) was (apparently) fixed and it is running smoothly=no hacking, no repetitious buffering, unexplained stops etc.

    ~ Mika ~from Sweden

  5. Raphael

    For background listening and occupational recording you may use an application which is not part of your browser.
    A good application for background listening is ClickGaGa.
    You can find it here http://clickgaga.com

  6. Luis

    Brilliant! as the British would say….Thank you very much for your time, energy and effort Jonathan.

    Cheers from San Diego California

  7. Ted

    My old link stopped working so cheers for the new links matey !!

  8. Peter Morris

    Thank you very much Jonathan. The old link had stopped working a long time ago. Thanks to your updated web page I’ve successfully added the URL http://media-ice.musicradio.com/ClassicFM to my playlist on fStream for the Mac.

    It’s Christmas Eve, and the carols playing on Classic FM are warming our hearts!

  9. Michael de Groot

    Was searching how to play Classic FM inside iTunes and now I can, fantastic, thank you for your great information, much appreciated and keep up the great work!

  10. Laura in France & Italy

    So pleased to find this comprehensive information that appears to explain why we can listen to BBC radio and others all day without interruption but Classic FM jumps & spits & farts like crazy!
    One thing; is someone able to explain how to translate the URL instructions for use on an Internet radio please? The Evoke Flow to be precise. Thank you!

  11. Jonathan

    Laura, you usually need to log on to the website for your radio to add stations. From there you can choose to add a custom station to your favourites.

  12. Laura in France & Italy

    OK, thank you so much for the guidance, from which I learnt several things. However, I got some way toward sorting it but the custom channels I added won’t play. I used the Help and tried a few things but couldn’t fix it. The latest info I found from the Pure info page says:
    “Pure internet radios support:
    MPEG: 8kbps – 320kbps (this includes MPEG-1-Layer -III, MPEG-2Layer-III and MPEG2.5-Layer-III)
    WMA: 64kbps – 385kbps (WMA4, WMA7, WMA8 and WMA9, including support for VBR & CBR)
    Cook (Real Audio): 8kbps – 96.3kbps
    AAC-LC: 16kbps – 320kbps (M4A but not M4P) – media streaming only.
    All PURE internet radios support DAB+

    Pure internet radios do not currently support:
    WMA Pro 10 radio streams or
    WAV in media player mode.
    All lossless formats such as Apple Lossless
    AAC+ codecs. Some AAC M4A files use the AAC codec and some use the AAC+ codec, so be sure you’re running the correct codec for your radio”
    This is beyond me I’m afraid. AAC is mentioned in both sections and Mp3 isn’t mentioned at all! Can you understand what it is saying and does it answer why I can’t get the streaming to work?

  13. Jonathan

    My suggestion would be to try all the streams until you find one that works! The stream will probably be standard AAC not AAC+, and MP3 is “MPEG Layer III”, so your radio should support any of them.

  14. Laura in France & Italy

    Thank you so much. I did create 4 streams actually, medium and low in each format but none worked. I’m going to send a question to the Pure tech help so I’ll stop bothering you now. Hope you don’t have second thoughts about posting useful stuff after this!!! Best regards, Laura.

  15. How to add Classic FM to iTunes Radio play list. | IT Tips, Tricks and Good Advice Pingback

    […] iTunes, listen to it on your Mac or stream it over your Air Play speakers.  I must give credit to Jonathan Rawle’s excellent blog that detailed where to find the stream URL’s for Classic FM.   I had to […]

  16. Linda

    I’ve wanted to add Classic FM to iTunes for ages but could never find the right URL. Thanks for doing this research. I’ve written up a step by step guide for plugging this into iTunes which might help other people. See http://www.itmanagement101.co.uk/. Thanks again. Linda

  17. Courtney

    I found your page last year when I was hunting down a good stream link (for work.. teehee…) but forgot to thank you. So, with much enthusiasm and gratitude, THANKS FOR THIS POST!

  18. Alexander

    Warm regards from Russia, sir.

  19. Chris

    Thank you.

    The AAC stream was terrible, but the AAS stream works perfectly in Audacious and VLC.

    Warm regards from the south.

  20. Thiru

    Can you help me get this stream work on my WiFi Radio Player?
    Station is from Singapore. I am in UK.
    I was up until July able to listen to this station here in UK without any difficulty. Since they changed their format in July, I am unable to stream this on WiFi Radio player (OXX Vantage is my radio receiver)

    http://liveradio.mediacorp.sg/meradio/public/xinmsn/player/?station=968fm

    I tried to put m3u but does not play.

    Have you got any idea to get this stream work on my free standing WiFi Radio player?
    Regards

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