Last week’s short film about PLEX and Plexamp showed how we can turn a multi-TB library of FLAC files into a personal/private streaming service:
1) Connect the hard-drive to a computer and install PLEX for it to scan the hard drive’s contents, index the library and overlay a Roon-like layer of metadata: album info, cover art, artist bios, photos etc.
2) To stream any album losslessly from PLEX over the Internet to our smartphone we need to install Plexamp (Android, iOS) — an app that usefully preserves PLEX’s metadata layer. With PLEX and Plexamp permanently joined via an encrypted Internet connection, our hard drive’s contents are available to us anywhere, all of the time. In effect, we have our own private Tidal or Qobuz!
From its settings menu, Plexamp lets us optionally drop the streaming quality from lossless to (OPUS codec) lossy for on-the-fly server-side transcoding — our choice of bitrate up to 320kbps. Now PLEX/Plexamp behaves more like Spotify!
The kicker, however, is another slice of streaming service emulation: Plexamp permits the temporary offlining of any album to its downloads section – useful if we don’t wish to eat any of our smartphone’s monthly data allocation whilst out and about. Find a wifi network, offline and go!
And yet PLEX/Plexamp isn’t the only way to stream losslessly from a home computer’s hard-drive to a smartphone. What follows are five more software possibilities for personal/private streaming service generation:
“A versatile music app for Plex & Apple Music.”
“iBroadcast is a service where you can consolidate all of your music online. We organize it for you and make it easy to manage your library and play your music on any computer or device you have without having to sync a thing. Plus, we do it all for free and without any ads.”
“DS audio allows you to stream music stored on your DiskStation with your Android/iOS device wherever an Internet connection is available. Better yet, with the offline mode you can listen to songs stored in the device’s local memory for when no network connection is available. You can browse music by albums, artists, folders or genres, create your own playlists or share them with your friends, and even rate your music! And if you have dedicated stereo speakers at home, DS audio can also become a remote control to stream music to them.”
“Have a large music collection on your computer? Browse and play it from your iPhone and iPad using MusicStreamer. Rediscover your music and create playlists of favourites. Use search and filtering to find great tracks. Then use simple download controls and take your music anywhere.”
“Build your own lossless streaming service. No need to pay 10$ per month if you want to listen to your favourite lossless music on your iPhone or iPad. Just connect any cloud storage with your music and build your own streaming service for FREE. Download your playlists, albums, artists for offline playback. Connect your MAC or PC in one tap and stream your music to Chromecast or Airplay.”
Whataboutists note #1: Apple Music + iTunes Match allows us to put up to 100,000 of our own songs onto their servers but we cannot stream them back to our smartphones losslessly.
Whataboutists note #2: Sane pricing on microSD cards currently tops out at 1TB. That’s clearly insufficient for anyone wanting to take a larger library out into the street with a portable player. My own FLAC library is 3TB. Transcoding the whole lot to a less data-intensive codec means we instantly lose lossless playback possibilities. Furthermore, each time we add a new download or CD rip to the primary lossless library we also have to transcode it and manually add it to our secondary microSD-carded library. Moreover, the secondary library’s metadata is wholly dependent on the primary’s as no current DAP’s operating system will add an extra metadata layer.