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March 18th 2014 5:13 pm

iTunes Match, Google Music or Amazon Cloud Player. Do you use them and which do you prefer?

Currently I have a computer running Subsonic so that I can easily access my library anywhere. For a while I loved the software, but of late it has been less than stellar. Not to mention the local client support for OSX is getting pretty terrible.

I've been looking into alternatives, but I'm finding options are pretty limited with what I need. I'm ultimately looking for a service that is similar, but still offers me the things I enjoyed about Subsonic. Mainly having access to my files still (no uploading needed), iOS and OSX apps and a web interface. There just aren't a lot of them out there. The closest is jRiver but there is no iOS app.

So I started looking into the cloud solutions and all three have pros & cons but neither is blowing me away.
  • iTunes Match -- $25 year and matching of up to 25000 songs (at a higher quality) is pretty awesome, but it replaces all your content with clean versions. Plus if I understand correctly it needs to download the whole song before playing whereas Subsonic does stream + buffer
  • Amazon Cloud Player -- again, fairly cheap at $25 a year. Where this becomes less than a great deal is the lack of match/quality upgrade is lacking. In my reading Apple's AAC is better than a MP3.
  • Google Music -- Aside from trying to avoid Google Music, I believe there is still no native desktop client and I was less than thrilled with their interface and lack of ability to manage your files
  • I also pay for Rdio, so is this complete overkill at this point?
If you're using these services which one do you like the best? If you're not, what are you using to access your music remotely and from your mobile device?

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6 replies

I prefer Amazon Cloud over Apple's iCloud. Got burned with early adoption of Apple hardware and iOS; laptop and all in one failed miserably with overheat and forever spinning beach ball. From the original x86 iMac with dead video chip to the iMac two years ago. I don't have very good luck with Apple and its closed environment. Since I use multiple Windows computers now, Amazon Cloud is a better match for me. I skip anything with Google name due to really bad experience with Android phones with all the unnecessary Google services in the background draining the battery; I didn't want to have to root my phone to load a clean ROM.
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Apple's lossless format? iTunes Match uses 256 kbps AAC lossy format files.
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I was under the impression they used the ALAC format when I wrote this. After testing it out I realized they're using AAC.
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We are using Plex in our house and it has been pretty good for music playback. Have you tried it? Of the purely internet streaming options, I like Amazon the best, mostly because it has the best player of the options available to me on Android. I still purchase discs of the new CDs from bands and musicians I really like, and the Amazon AutoRip feature is great since I don't have to wait for the disc to arrive to start playing the music. Not having to rip the CDs myself is a nice bonus since the quality is good enough that I haven't felt compelled to rip it when I get the disc. I just hope they decide to offer an all-access plan in the future. Oh, and you can install Amazon Cloud Player on the Roku, so keep that in mind if you are a Roku owner.
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I use Plex daily, but using it as a music player is a no go. I like to keep my player open and switching albums often, media keys, etc. That doesn't work with Plex.

Amazon looks to have the most robust option, but their matching solution isn't as great. They upgrade to 256 kbps versus Apple's lossless AAC format. I may buy a test album from them and see if I can tell that much of a difference or not.
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I've liked Amazon Cloud Player, and I generally only keep a subset of newer music I've purchased on it (along with whatever I purchase from the Amazon MP3 store), so I've never paid for it. Sounds like Cloud Player would meet your other criteria. For anything it can't match you can upload your own files (time consuming, but not difficult).
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