Grace Digital Primo Wi-Fi Internet Radio Streamer review

{ 16 comments }

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When I was a kid I had a radio that could pull in all sorts of stations and bands. I loved turning the tuning knob very slowly so I could find every station possible, sometimes even finding foreign stations, which was always super cool. I’m guessing the market for radios like that one has pretty much dried up these days because people have satellite radio in their cars and can stream Pandora and other internet radio stations from their PCs and phones. Streaming music in your car or from your phone and PC when you’re mobile works great, but I want to show you a nice little solution to use when you want a dedicated device that can connect to your home stereo or speaker system. It’s the Primo Wi-Fi Internet Radio Streamer from Grace Digital. Let’s check it out.

Note: Images can be clicked to view a larger size.

Hardware specs

3.5 inch color display
Audio out: 3.5mm Stereo headphone jack or high quality RCA jack stereo connectors
Built in dual band equalizer
Supported audio formats: AIFF, AIFC, WAVE, CAF, NeXT, ADTS, MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, WMA
Supported playlist formats: ASX, M3U, PLS
Supported streaming protocols: HTTP, HTTPS, RTSP, WSMP, Shoutcast
Built in media player streams your audio files from your PC or MAC
12 or 24 hour clock with date autosyncs with internet
Networking: 802.11b/g/n, Ethernet with optional adapter (sold separately)
Width: 7.5 in Depth: 3.2 in Height: 3.34 in
Weight: 1 lbs

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What’s in the box?

Grace Digital Primo Internet Radio (GDI-IRCA700)
Remote Control with batteries
Power Adapter
RCA to mini cable for optional iPhone / mp3 player, CD player connection
Manual

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I’ve reviewed plenty of internet radios, but this is probably the smallest one I’ve ever had the chance to test. My first impression when I pulled it out of the box was “wow, this thing is tiny”. In the image above you can see it next to my LG G3 smartphone.

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The Primo has a shiny black plastic case with a 3.5″ color display and a panel of rubber buttons with a large knob in the center. The buttons control music playback and also can be programmed to store your favorite stations. The radio can store up to 110 stations for easy access. From the radio you can access 8 presets using the buttons and on the remote you can access 10 presets. On the radio you can store 100 stations in your ‘my stations folder’ and you can add multiple ‘my station’ sub-folders for specific genres, locations, or family members.

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Here’s a side view of the Primo showing that the face of the device is angled slightly to allow for easy viewing of the display.

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You’ll find all the connections on the back of the unit. There’s a 3.5mm stereo headset jack, RCA line out, USB port (to play flash drive music or optional Grace Digital USB to Ethernet Adapter – sold separately) and an AC power jack.

The first thing you need to know about the Primo is that it does NOT have any built-in speakers. You’ll either need to use headphones with it or connect it to your home stereo or other speakers using the included RCA Y cable.

The first time you power up the Primo, it will scan for your local WiFi connection and prompt you to enter the password if it’s protected. After it’s connected to WiFi (and a speaker), you’re ready to start listening to tunes.

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Like other internet radios from Grace Digital, the Primo has a simple interface consisting of icons. Using the knob on the front you can highlight the desired service and then press the button to launch it. As you can see from the screenshot above, the Primo is capable of using Pandora, iHeartRadio, NOAA, SiriusXM and more. You will need to register the Primo in order to use it with Pandora and other premium services, but that’s easy enough to do.

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There are 100’s if not 1000’s of internet radio stations that feature a wide variety of music styles and genres. Using the knob you can scroll through lists and select the one you want to play. It will then buffer the stream for a few seconds before starting to play the music. Some stations provide the song title and artist, and some do not.

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You can even enter the address for your favorite streaming station if it’s not in the lists.

In addition to listening to streaming music, the Primo can display the weather using the installed weather app. I’m not really sure I’d trust it though as every time I checked it, it showed it was night time and 49 degrees. This was in the middle of the day when it was over 70 degrees. However, the forecast looked correct.

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The Primo can also serve as a clock radio with the ability to set alarms. When in standby mode, it shows a digital clock on the 3.5″ color display.

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I like the remote control because it has real buttons and can be used to control the Primo from your couch. It can also be used to access stored favorite station presets and control your Pandora stations. But, the first time I tried to use the remote, it didn’t work…

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So I took off the back cover to see if batteries were installed. Batteries had been included, but as you can see from the image above, they were leaking. Yikes! Needless to say, I replaced them ASAP and then the remote worked perfectly.

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I’ve been testing the Grace Digital Primo Wi-Fi Internet Radio Streamer for a couple of weeks and other than the bad batteries in the remote control, I’ve had no issues with this device. It hasn’t crashed or had problems buffering stations. It’s easy to use and I really like the small size. I do wish it had its own speaker though… But as it is, it’s a fun little internet radio that brings back fond memories of the days when the word “streaming” was used to describe water flowing instead of music flowing through the clouds.

Source: The sample for this review was provided by Grace Digital. Please https://gracedigital.com/ visit for more info.

 

Product Information

Price:$149.99
Manufacturer:Grace Digital
Pros:
  • Small
  • Nice remote
  • Easy to use
Cons:
  • Does not have a built in speaker
  • Batteries in remote were leaking
Posted in: Audio, Video, TV, Reviews
{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Andrew Baker September 25, 2014, 11:41 am

    Julie, is that monitor in the picture ridiculously WIDE? or is that some kind of optical effect I’m seeing. Because I LIKE it.

  • JD September 25, 2014, 3:10 pm

    The fact that it doesn’t have a speaker shouldn’t be listed as a con. It’s a receiver, receivers don’t have speakers. Grace sells other products with built in speakers.
    Mine came with a leaky battery too.

    • Julie Strietelmeier September 25, 2014, 3:28 pm

      @JD I think it should have a speaker to make it a little standalone device if desired.

  • JD September 25, 2014, 3:47 pm

    Just because you think it, doesn’t make that a con. The device is marketed as a receiver designed to connect to your home stereo.

    That’s like saying you think your toaster should have a rotisserie.

    They make a separate standalone device with a speaker that has allof the same features.

    https://gracedigital.com/shop/mondo/#.VCRvn_ldW7w

  • Bill Henderson September 25, 2014, 9:46 pm

    My Grace Mondo (with speaker) resides in my kitchen and I have been spoiled by it. Plus I can set the stations from my ipad — so cool.

  • MerryMarjie September 26, 2014, 11:16 am

    Bill: The Grace Mondo looks just like my Logitech UE, which they no longer sell and which I’ve had for years. I love Internet radio because of the variety and ease of use, no longer trying to tune in old AM stations from afar, LOL.

    I think that not having a speaker IS a con because it’s so convenient to use in various places without having to hook up speakers when you have an all-in-one unit. That being said, I also use earphones for my radio at night so I don’t disturb my husband, and I have two other portable Internet radios around the house. Nothing like being a fanatic!

    Thanks for your review, Julie; I’m always interested in the latest and greatest.

  • JD September 26, 2014, 2:24 pm

    UGGGGH>>> RECEIVERS Don’t have speakers. That is why they have a different unit with a speaker. Yikes.

  • Greg Fadul September 28, 2014, 12:29 am

    Thanks for the quality reviews as always. As a note the Primo has a big cousin called the Mondo. The Mondo has a built in speaker if you want a similar product to the Primo with a speaker .

  • Jhon September 28, 2014, 11:36 pm

    I agree with the ‘remove “no speaker” from con’ movement. Receivers don’t have speakers — they are a component. Some integrated receivers have preamps built in to power speakers, and may actually include speakers in a combined package but they are separate and wired. This doesn’t appear to have a built in preamp. It’s just a component receiver.

    Add price to “con” as I didn’t see anything commenting on the quality of the sound coming from the component. A $150 gizmo that sounds like a modest AM or FM radio really isn’t that great. However, if the sound is decent, having a dedicated device to a HTS or sound system for internet radio might be worth $150.

    Julie: Did you hook it to a quality sound system? How did the quality of the sound compare to a standard component receiver?

  • JD September 29, 2014, 9:22 am

    The sound quality is good. I have mine paired with vintage Yamaha CA-1000 integrated preamp with a NAD 2600A power AMP and Bose 901 Series VI direct reflect speakers.
    *Note I am using the RCA outputs not the variable headphone line out so this disables volume control on the Grace. The quality is much better than say a tablet, iphone or some other streaming device that doesn’t have RCA out.
    I am listening to mostly flac files from my media server and stream WBGO Newark, I am not sure of WBGO’s bitrate, but it must be between 128k and 192k. The quality is very good.

    http://www.wbgo.org/

    Pandora, iHeart radio sound a little flatter and the compression is somewhat noticeable, but fine for sitting around the house background music.

  • Jhon September 29, 2014, 3:53 pm

    JD:

    Thanks! If the SHAPE was different (rack-mountable) I think I might pull the trigger in a heartbeat. But you’ve given me something to mull over.

  • Greg September 29, 2014, 4:41 pm

    – iheartradio stations are typically 48kbs AAC
    – Pandora on all home devices is 128kbps AAC+ (both Pandora and Pandora One are 128kbps on home devices. They increase it to 192kbps with Pandora One when listening specifically on a PC.
    – WBGO is 128kbps mp3 which typically does not sounds as good as 128 AAC / AAC +

    For a rack mount style internet radio http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Digital-GDI-IRDT200-Hi-Fi-Internet/dp/B00395ZQMK/ref=zg_bs_3236446011_3

  • Steve December 28, 2014, 10:25 am

    Hey man, can I play Slacker Radio on this? That’s the main music streamer I use. I know I can switch but I’ve worked a lot over the last few years to have my slacker station just the way I want it. Grace Digital usually doesn’t support Slacker but was hoping the new model would.

    • Julie Strietelmeier December 28, 2014, 10:50 am

      @Steve Sorry, it doesn’t support Slacker, but it does support Pandora. Funny thing is that I was a big fan of Slacker until recently. I’ve just switched to Pandora.

  • David Smith September 13, 2015, 7:38 pm

    I bought a Primo a year or so ago. (Yep: the remote’s batteries were bad.) Initially it worked Ok. Sound out of the 1/8 stereo jack was every bit as good as out of a CD player. But after some months, and the apartments around us filled up with returning college students, the Primo started having trouble with losing the signal. Not just pausing the music: losing the station. A check of the Wifi spectrum showed maybe twenty WIFI signals. I decide to change from wireless to wired. Skipping some extended agravation with Grace Digital customer interface: the bottom line was that they no longer offered the USB-ethernet adapter. Skipping some more middle part: turns out a “Trendnet TU-ET100C USB-internet adapter” works with the Primo. I just raan a wire, plugged the pieces together, did a power-off reset of the Primo… and music happened. No more dropouts. For those who care: when hitched to a Windows XP computer, the Trendnet comes up in Device Manager as a “ADMtek ADM8511 USB to fast ethernet adapter”

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