Bush TR2015WIFI Wi-Fi Radio

I thought I’d write a brief review of the recently released Bush Wi-Fi radio. With the growing number of home networks being set up, this has to be a growth area for radio, and I’ve only really been waiting for prices to fall far enough to buy one.
This particular model can be purchased at Argos for £119.99 currently, although I also hear that it’s available for £80 + VAT at Makro if you’ve got one of their trade cards.
Anyway, back to the product in hand. Setting it up was really very simple with a quick scan for local networks and then a prompt to enter any appropriate passwords. There’s also a process for networks with hidden SSIDs so everyone should be catered for.
A couple of quick station listing updates (via Reciva), and I was away.
The three main options at the start are Stations, Media Player and Configure. I jumped to Stations, then selecting first Location, then Europe and then the UK which has 484 stations listed. First up had to be Virgin Radio. The sounds was good with nice bass considering that there’s only a single speaker on the unit.
The buffering was very quick, and under the station name, a second line told me that it’s Real Enabled. But another piece of text told me that it was actually using the 128k MP3 stream that Virgin offers. That made it sound awfully good. Plugging headphones in, just showed the quality of the audio – it was much better than our usual DAB signal, but I’ll leave that argument to others.
128k MP3 streams were also used for Virgin Radio Xtreme, Virgin Radio Classic Rock and Virgin Radio Groove, or “Virgin Radio G” as it comes up on the somewhat limited display.
Flicking over to Talksport, a station I’d never ordinarily listen to, revealed what happens when you use too little bandwidth for streaming. Their 20k WMA stream was worse than a decent AM signal. I found it pretty unlistenable. The buffering took longer as well.
Over on Capital Radio, the 32k WMA was only marginally better, but disappointing for a music station. The buffering wasn’t as bad as it was for Talksport, but really this isn’t up to DAB or FM in quality.
Similarly, Classic FM was also only on a 32k WMA stream, but the piece of music I listened to wasn’t as bad sounding as Shakira had been on Capital.
Moving over to the BBC, I tuned to BBC Radio 3. Choosing a BBC station gives you a choice of Live or On Demand. I chose live, and after a pre-roll informing me that I was listening to the streaming version of the station, it was onto the service which was encoded in a 44k Real format. I suspect that Real is the default option when there are choices, but that tends to be the BBC default anyway since it’s available on more platforms. Listening via headphones, the unit had good sound to the live concert that was being broadcast when I was testing it. You could hear a little “noise” in some quieter moments though. Reasonably acceptable, although not as good as a strong FM or DAB signal.
What’s really powerful about the BBC’s offering, is of course, the On Demand listening. Choosing On Demand from Radio 4, I was presented with an up to date list of current programmes. If there are multiple editions, then I get a day by day breakdown to choose the one I want to hear.
Some stations, like Virgin Radio, have a variety of streams available to listen, and the radio doesn’t really give you the option to choose. That’s down to Reciva picking the appropriate one.
It’s worth noting that I didn’t do anything too bandwidth heavy whilst listening. So no torrents or anything, but I did download a couple of sizeable files whilst listening to Virgin and BBC stations, without any interruptions or buffering.
Listening to the odd on demand programmes, I did notice the occasional break-up, and the BBC has that slightly annoying habit of changing bit-rates mid-stream. But it’s all very good.
There’s one more part of this radio that really needs addressing. As I’ve mentioned, Reciva are responsible for the station list. They supply the list to pretty much all the available wi-fi radios currently on the market. If you go to the Reciva website you can register your set online which creates a “My Stuff” section which lets you add your own streams and station favourites. So, although there are ten presets built in for favourites, you can have more by going to the My Stuff menu option.
Adding streams is especially useful if you want to use a higher quality version of a stream than the one offered by default. Unfortunately, none of the three I’ve tried so far has worked. I listen to Paul Harris on KMOX a bit, and CBS has an annoying new system of making you register before you get a player launched. Discovering the exact stream took a bit of detective work. But although it works in Windows Media Player, the radio fails to play the stream.
What’s really curious is that there is precisely no mention of Reciva or its website and the functionality it offers, anywhere in the Bush manual. You just have to “know” to get there.
I do think that some radio stations need to ask some serious questions about the quality that they’re currently using to encode their streams. As more people start to get these radios (and I’ve heard that one manufacturer is planning on building wi-fi into most of their digital radios in the future), sub-standard streaming is going to become as issue. And only offering streams locked into players is not going to be enormously helpful, unless the stations at least let Reciva know what the real addresses of their streams are.
The only two things I can say at this early stage that could do with improving are the size of the display, which is a little small, and the shame that there’s no way of getting some of the scrolling text that various players can offer. Obviously with no single standard for players, this latter is going to be a problem.
Still, all said and done, the ease with which you can just listen on demand to programming when you feel like it without booting up a computer, makes this a killer device. Roll on the advent of listening on demand in commercial radio in the UK.
By the way, it’s probably a bit misleading of Argos to print details on DAB Digital Radio in their catalogue in the entry for this unit. There’s no DAB or AM/FM on this product. They even print the DAB logo. Mind you, the photo shows the radio as having an antenna when it doesn’t.

16 Comments

  1. Hi Adam, a quick question about this radio: does it a have an internal or external power supply? Cheers

  2. Hi Carlos,
    Unfortunately, it’s an external power supply. There’s no battery option either, so you’re left with a small “brick” to plug in. I’m not convinced that there’s a great deal of power drain, but it’s external, nonetheless.

  3. Hi Adam,
    I’ve been reviewing the AE 17 radio which is a bit more costly than the Bush and was thinking about the Bush when it has to go back- couple of questions for you…
    Have you used the radio to access music files on your PC is it easy to set up?
    Is it a stereo radio – what does it sound like through an external amp and speakers?
    Tim

  4. Hello Adam,
    Thanks for this review. I’ve been pondering on getting one of these & now you’ve confirmed that that they work I’m going to treat myself. However I’ve discovered that they’re cheaper here:
    http://www.aqdab.com/store/en/products/41/324/?add_product=2278
    I’ll have to keep an eye on my broadband usage because I have a monthly download limit.
    Interesting that Reciva have such a central role. Someone on one of their forums questioned what would happen if they folded. I hope that someone else would see an opportunity and step in.
    Regards

  5. Hi Adam,
    I’ve been reviewing the AE 17 radio which is a bit more costly than the Bush and was thinking about the Bush when it has to go back- couple of questions for you…
    Have you used the radio to access music files on your PC is it easy to set up?
    Is it a stereo radio – what does it sound like through an external amp and speakers?
    Tim

  6. Tim,
    It’s not a stereo radio. It does have stereo output through the headphone socket, but it only has a single speaker in the unit. I put it through my mini system, and it can sound good if the station’s well encoded.
    John,
    That looks like a good price for the Bush. It seems like an equivalent price to the ones that are seemingly available in Makro as I mentioned.
    I don’t think I could cope with a download limit on my broadband, and I couldn’t really say what, say, an hour of BBC Radio is like in usage terms.
    I suppose it is a little worrying that one company has the monopoly on internet radio. It must be said that if you unplug the unit, the next time you use it, it contacts Reciva to get an updated list of stations having lost the previous list. Having said that, the most useful part of the radio for me is the BBC on demand listening and that must be a list that the BBC regularly update for Reciva. And Reciva do seem to update the station list very regularly.
    On the plus side, BT just released their internet radio model this week, so let’s hope that we continue to see growth in this market which should keep Reciva (or similar companies) on firm financial ground.
    Other things to note are that it can be a bit of a pain scrolling through 2,000+ American stations, and the power pack gets a little warm when left on. But I’m still pretty happy with my purchase.

  7. Adam,
    Did this radio have a decent alarm function and is the LCD display too bright to use in a bedroom?
    Simon

  8. Adam,
    Did this radio have a decent alarm function and is the LCD display too bright to use in a bedroom?
    Simon

  9. Simon,
    There’s no radio alarm function on this radio. I guess it could be added via a firmware upgrade but there’s nothing there just now.
    The LED is reasonably bright even when the radio’s off. I guess it depends on where you place the radio and how much light affects your sleeping. The light certainly doesn’t bother me, but it does have an unnecessary glow which, given the radio’s design, points upwards.
    If I was honest, I’d say that this is a first generation set in terms of styling and additional functionality. The buttons on the top are too small and all the same for example.
    Having said all that, I still think it’s a great radio.

  10. I’ve been using, bar the last two months (due to being in hospital), the Bush unit since October last year.
    Got no issues with the set, the control layout or anything really. Even the bright display makes an interesting glow that makes a nice night-light in my room (since i have a big sleep issue, i tended to have phones plugged in at night and send myself to sleep listening to stuff).
    However, i should mention that i have been working and messing with many many kinds of comms, professional and amateur comms receivers over most of the last 15 years or so (name a classic example, and as sure as bear crap in the woods, i had my time with em). So maybe that makes me a tad more tolerent of controls and simplistic vs complex controls. The AE sets have generally a simplistic but comprehensive ‘domestic user’ control set (as would be the case for any digital audio based receiver).
    As for audio quality, well… it comes down to…, if you feed it sh*t, you get sh*t out :p
    That’s not me criticising netcasting, just reflecting that when the audio transmission is using a bit-rate/sample-rate combo that is way under what the content needs (often done to balance bandwidth issues at the host end), then it’ll stink ‘relatively speaking’ or shine depending on how the stream is setup.
    As with the author of the article, i never had any issues over latency that were not due to LAN and ISP issues (had a few that proved to be host side latency issues, that got proven by delicate use of the PC to monitor the output of such sources).
    It’s a nice, ‘roberts radio’, type set, the Bush unit – if you think of modern Roberts analogue sets or DAB units – in look, feel and sound (again, sound is relative, but it’s inbuilt speaker is far from lousy, and is good enough when you are away from phones or a hifi or active speaker set).
    I’d agree with some of the comments about how where there is a choice of links (if you listened via a PC), the AE sets tend to pick up on the default choice – but that usually translates to being caused by the database at Receiva (the urls that get used are mostly the default url links the netcasters use when there is more than one link/choice).
    But if you can demux the url on an alternative link, then you can add a private choice under your My Streams at Reciva and then update the radio by getting it to resync with the DB server.
    There is also scope, given you have worked out the alternative link suitably, to submit a new entry to the Reciva db (so you could potentially add a ‘XYZ FM (128k)’ entry to supplement the exist ‘XYZ FM’ link. Never actually posted one to the db that way (i’m happy to add them to My Streams and that’s good enough).
    Sure it’s, like most of the AE Radio receivers, a first-gen example of the breed/design – but hey, i’ve seen many ‘first gen’ examples of technology that seriously stunk and make the AE Radios look like first-gen right first time.
    Overall, i aint complaining – in fact, since i owned an example, i hardly listen to my Acoustic Solutions SP-110 (DAB) Receiver.. only time i did was where the station had no netcast simulcast.
    In fact, i am kinda missing the Bush at the moment, and have been stuck with analog and DAB (DAB reception being better in the ward).
    First order for me, in techy mod terms, will be to make a battery pack for the Bush, rechargable of course, so that if i ever get stuck away from home like this again.. and can ‘borrow’ an AP (which i can do at the moment), i can still enjoy. Kinda beats having yer laptop switched on all night like at the mo if i want to listen in.
    Regards
    Chris – M1BIK

  11. don’t know if you could assist me .having difficultiew with some of the special characters when trying to enter the wap key , special characters are limited and one the characters on my wap key is not on the list of radios characters , any suggestions pls !!

  12. In response to some questions here.
    I have just bought a Tangent Quatto WIFI radio. It does all that the Bush does and has perhaps some advantages: (1) It has scrolling text on the display so you can read the whole names of stations unlike the Bush; (2) It allows you to control the bightness of the LCD display, and turn it down to zero if you wish, so shouldnt disturb sleep; (3) It has a built in alarm which allows you to wake up to a buzzer or the last radio station you listened to before going to sleep!
    Overall I find it to be very well designed and the sound quality is excellent (Tangent are well known for producing good radios). Like the Bush it has just one speaker but stereo output. And like the Bush and other WIFI radios, it uses RECIVA. Main drawback from my point of view is that there are only 5 pre-sets. But as with the Bush you can also set up “My Stations” and “My Streams” to group your favourite stations in one place or include stations not yet on RECIVA.

  13. In response to some questions here.
    I have just bought a Tangent Quatto WIFI radio. It does all that the Bush does and has perhaps some advantages: (1) It has scrolling text on the display so you can read the whole names of stations unlike the Bush; (2) It allows you to control the bightness of the LCD display, and turn it down to zero if you wish, so shouldnt disturb sleep; (3) It has a built in alarm which allows you to wake up to a buzzer or the last radio station you listened to before going to sleep!
    Overall I find it to be very well designed and the sound quality is excellent (Tangent are well known for producing good radios). Like the Bush it has just one speaker but stereo output. And like the Bush and other WIFI radios, it uses RECIVA. Main drawback from my point of view is that there are only 5 pre-sets. But as with the Bush you can also set up “My Stations” and “My Streams” to group your favourite stations in one place or include stations not yet on RECIVA.

  14. Hi
    I just ordered one of these. Sorry to be a newbie, but how will I go about getting the station scans via Reciva?
    Thanks!

  15. I have two desktop PC’s connected to broadand internet via a modem and a D-Link wired router which has two vacant LAN Ports. Can I connect the Bush TR2015WIFI WiFi Radio to the internet using a 10 metre long LAN Cable into one of the routers LAN ports or must I change set up and buy a wireless router. I don’t wish to connect via my PC but direct to internet.
    Any ideas, thanks John

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