In our last week's poll, we asked you your thoughts on the best overall Android music player, and over 1500 of you responded, clearly putting PowerAMP ahead of the competition, followed by Winamp. PowerAMP released the full version shortly after and still occupies the #1 spot for playing local music in my book.
However, rightfully so, some of you noted that there are some players out there specializing on remote media streaming, and by that I don't mean Shoutcast streams - I mean streaming your own music collections. Google's music service may one day supposedly join the party, as we saw demoed at Google I/O earlier this year, but right now, that solution does not yet exist. Today's poll is here to establish which music streaming app currently on the Market deserves to be named the best.
Right off the bat, there are 2 giants in this space, namely Audiogalaxy and Subsonic. I've been playing with both of them for the past week, and here are my thoughts on each.
- the server and the Android client are both free
- the server is not written in Java and occupies a fair amount of memory (70MB for my collection)
- no need to open router ports to access the music, although this means it's technically less secure, as data flows through Audiogalaxy's servers. However, I am still putting this as a pro because to most users, ease of use is what matters
- the Android client can jump into any part of the song at any time, whether it's been downloaded or not - i.e. true streaming
- headset controls in the latest client version
- much better collection shuffling - shuffles the whole collection and starts playing right away until its end
- playlist support
- a very limited server interface with almost no options
- the server seems to be quite CPU intensive while scanning media
- Windows and Mac only - no Linux
- impossible to browse your library on the client by directory structure, so you have to know either the artist or the album name, or use search
- very basic bitrate limiting support - there is only 1 setting called "High Quality Audio" which can be turned on or off (I keep it on)
- while it's possible to switch users to play media from multiple servers, it's completely impractical, so if you have more than 1 media server, Subsonic is a much better choice
- available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, thanks to Java portability
- a highly configurable server interface, with lots of options
- the server is relatively easy on the CPU while scanning media
- easily configurable client cache size (i.e. set it to 2GB, and it will cache the last played 2GB worth of music)
- support for multiple servers (3) on the Android client - switch between them in 2 clicks
- headset controls, though they can't be disabled, which is annoying
- configurable ability to preload songs on the client for really seamless playback
- configurable ability to limit max bitrate on both WiFi and mobile connection in case you get skips or want to cut down on traffic
- easy to browse the library on the client, especially if you want to use your directory structure
- playlist support
- collection shuffling works very well (via the Shuffle All button). Don't confuse this with the Random button, which pulls up a random list of albums
- New: just found this one - you can actually switch Subsonic into Offline mode, and it will only show the media that has been cached - perfect for trips with slow or interrupting Internet connection
- the Android client is free but after 30 days requires you to register the server with a minimum €10 donation
- the positives of Java are also its negatives - the server is written in Java and occupies a metric crapton of memory (400MB+ for my collection)
- you need to open router ports to access the music, although this technically means it's more secure because no data needs to flow through Subsonic's servers. However, I am still putting this as a con because to most users, ease of use is what matters
- the Android client cannot jump to any part of the song unless it has already pre-downloaded the media in full (i.e. progressive download and not true streaming)
Above, I've taken a look at 2 of the top Android music streaming apps: Audiogalaxy and Subsonic. Both apps are pretty good, but none is really polished enough to even compare them to the likes of PowerAMP or Winamp - I have to say, they're both pretty mediocre UI-wise. Feature-wise, both Subsonic and Audiogalaxy are good, and it really comes down to whether any of the individual cons or pros listed above are going to be deal breakers for you.
For me, for example, browsing by directory structure was more important than anything else, so Subsonic ended up being the player I use the most. However, if it weren't for that feature, I have to say Audiogalaxy is definitely the winner due to its much lower memory footprint, a cool price of free, and true streaming capability.
Which one of the 2 is your favorite? Alternatively, if you have other media streaming players in mind (again, these have to stream your own media, not Internet radio), let us know in the comments.
If I missed anything or made a mistake, please also let me know down below.