More and more radio stations are streaming online, and there's a lot of great music and other programming broadcast throughout the Interwebs everyday. With Alexander Nottelmann's fab freeware StreamWriter, you can record streaming audio as easily as you could pop a tape in a deck and press "record" to capture traditional broadcasts. Not only is StreamWriter free, it's open source and community supported, with regular updates, bug fixes, and enhancements. StreamWriter can record multiple audio streams simultaneously and save them as MP3 or AAC files and worked great for me in my evaluation.
StreamWriter offers several language options, but its installation wizard is in German, a likely surprise for English speakers. However, even if you don't sprechen sie Deutsch, you should have no trouble installing the program and getting started. Thankfully, the setup wizard is written in in English. During installation, you can choose to install the program to the Windows Registry or use it in portable mode. You can also select your default output format and limit bandwidth for recordings.
An intro screen describes StreamWriter's main functions, providing a quick guide for manually recording streams and automatically recording specific songs and programs. StreamWriter's user interface is plain, but that's not a bad thing at all--it's clean, efficient, and packed with useful controls instead of logos and unnecessary extras.
StreamWriter searches for and displays user-rated streams in the right sidebar and plays music like most other Internet radio players, with a full suite of player controls, a volume slider, and tabs for managing Charts, Lists, and Saved songs. User can select from a set of provided stations or enter URLs for other stations directly. Stream then appear in the main window. Right-clicking an entry opens a menu that allows for stopping, starting, and managing recordings. There's a full Help menu, but even those who start clicking around with no background or experience shold easily get the hang of the app.
The big question: how do the streamed audio files sound? Fairly decent, actually. We're talking Internet radio using compressed formats here, so it's nothing near "CD-quality," but StreamWriter offers a great way to discover new music and save it for later listening.