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Google has officially launched its online service for storing your digital music on its servers, following closely in Amazon's footsteps. The company unveiled the service Tuesday morning at its annual developer conference in downtown San Francisco. The service can be used across PCs and notebooks as well as Android smartphones …
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I used Subsonic to stream to my mobile over 3g for a while - even at 128kbps the sound quality was reasonable (for a car system - actually a light van) and it still chewed through data like mad!
Bandwidth and practicality are the main reasons for compressed format streaming, I suspect; if you want to listen to FLAC on your device, I'd suggest copying it locally and saving yourself the 60+mb per track it could well cost you.
Automagic transcodation is actually a pretty handy feature - buy it in flac, listen to it on the go in MP3 immediately (so it doesn't destroy your bandwidth) and then transfer to device at home.
With any luck 4g networks and (fervent prayer) less restrictive data capping might make mobile FLAC streaming a possibilty though.
I'd have thought they would have tapped the APIs to do wifi state discovery to allow lossless streaming though - I'll give you that. I had a second Subsonic server set up for 'local' streaming at higher bitrates on my own wifi network.
Not a bad start though - subsonic is nice, but the setup needs a bit of knowledge to get going. A 'cloudy' variant is a nice idea.
Shame about the lack of UK usage though. Ah well...
*fires up Subsonic servers*
I don't know what you're listening to but my average FLAC file size is about 20Mb. I doubt that Google's streaming protocol manages to increase it by 300%.
Most Youtube movies are bigger than this and yet people still stream them, some people even use Youtube as a music player so I don't see what's the problem.
Streaming your entire music collection over 3G is pointless anyway, compressed or not if many people start doing it over many hours a day you can be sure mobile operators will be rushing to downgrade this traffic, even if you're on the rare unlimited plans. 128kbits? No thanks.
I was using ballpark figures in my head, while working on a particularly gnarly job - so my math was somewhat out - oopsy.
But for streaming to a car/non-audio-friendly situation, such as boggo headphones on a train etc, 128-256 is acceptable, but for proper listening, through a hifi or reference-ish headphones, you probably want local FLAC files, rather than streamed FLACs (bit for bit in terms of data usage vs sound quality).
That said, my FLAC rip of Chinese Democracy is 475Mb, 15 tracks, 30mb each on average (only a few tracks are below 30mb, actually) - so I'm not that far off the mark (compared to reasonably MP3 where almost every track is below 10mb even at 320kbps it's still huge - three times the size), although it would depend on the type of music, of course.
Using that as a reference though, if you listen to five different, complete albums a month, that's near 2gb, which is pretty much on the verge of most mobile ISPs data caps - hence my point of moderate level MP3 compression being useful for 'non-reference' listening. It's good enough, and doesn't destroy your bandwidth allowance - hence why it's probably the optimal choice.
Even 320kbps is a around half to one third of the size of FLAC - which makes a massive difference when comparing transfer rates and sizes.
I'm surprised Google haven't used their WebM experience to create their own audio-only codec though, which would be Very Google, if you think about it...
Anyway, as I say, you're not wrong, but I stick to my point - I can see why they went with MP3; it makes sense in terms of quality vs bandwidth. If you want lossless quality you can copy it locally. If you want easy, accessible-from-anywhere-access, MP3 is (Alas) the way to go.
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