When it comes to streaming Audio, many people think Pandora is the best choice out there, but with so many other options appearing these days, is that still the case? Here we will have a look at all the options and see whether Pandora still comes out on top.
Although certain of these services offer inbuilt downloading for a premium cost, it is perfectly possible to download your stations from all of them on the free options, by using a dedicated audio recorder, such as iMusic.
iMusic is a fantastic choice because of the support features that go with its high quality recording ability, primarily the filter system. Audio recorder detects what it is recording and filters out any gaps, ads and so on from the actual music tracks, as well as split tracks into separate files.
In addition, as it is recording your music, the software can use the ID3 tag identification technology to add in the appropriate tags for Artist, Title, Album and Genre, exactly as you would find in the rest of your iTunes library or music collection, making searching for individual tracks and sorting tracks so much easier. The tags are also editable manually if you wish to change or add to them for any reason in the future.
The original, and despite the big names entering the market, still the best known streaming audio service there is. Built around a music discovery concept, other than the initial station set up, you cannot search for specific sings to play them. Pandora's stations build upon your initial song choice, with the user able to accept and reject further suggestions, and those responses in turn contribute to the criteria for further music recommendations. The amount of negative responses is limited per station per day. Pandora claim to use over 400 separate musical attributes for each recommendation, with the service becoming more accurate to a user’s taste the longer they use it.
Pandora is available through browsers, and via and app for both iOS and Android, and is even integrated into several manufacturers standard fit car audio systems.
Slacker Radio has recently undergone something of a revolution, bringing a more streamlined look to the interface. Depending on how much you pay, there are different ways to consume your music. For free users, it is streaming only, ad supported (with a lot of ads), you cannot pick songs directly, just stations, and are restricted to 6 song skips per hour.
The next tier up includes an ad free service, unlimited song skips, and inbuilt downloading of your favorite stations for offline listening. The premium level carries an increased fee, but with it comes on-demand, you simply choose a song and stream it, no need to find a station that may play it and wait.
Last.fm can be accessed through a browser, or via Last.fm apps for iOS, Android, Windows, Mac and Linux. Last.fm has several ways of providing music, you can simply select one of Last.fm's own stations to listen to, and these are usually based around a genre or artist. You can also find playlists from other services such as Rdio which allows you to listen to those. If you have a Spotify account, you can listen to Spotify on demand music through the last.fm website. Finally, you can listen to music direct from an artist or label, these are often added to last.fm for promotional purposes.
Last.fm's social and personalization functions are based around "scrobbling", which is the act of uploading a record of the song you are listening to directly to last.fm, this is recorded on your last.fm music profile and can influence what music is recommended in the future for you, this data is also available to your friends and connections in last.fm itself.
Apple's offering is an extension of iTunes, and so has the benefit of the familiar, easy to use and very clear iTunes interface. It also means it is available on a wide variety of platforms, if you can install iTunes on your device, you can get iTunes Radio.
Like others, iTunes radio uses the concept of stations to provide music for you to enjoy, with iTunes recommendations becoming more accurate the more you listen.
Stations can be built around artists, songs and genres, all of which you can set up yourself. On Apple devices, voice control via Siri is fully integrated into the system.
As you expect with Apple, their offering is slick, attractive and functions very well.
Rdio can be used directly within a browser, or through Android, iOS and Windows desktop apps, although the mobile versions require a paid subscription beyond a 14 day trial. Whatever you use to access it, the interface is as simple as they come, but none the worse for it.
Rdio offers station listening for free, with on demand and downloading requiring a paid subscription, although it does stand out by offering a 6 month trial of all the services, including on demand, before you have to start paying, plenty of time to see if this is the service for you.
The most unwieldy interface on display here, Jango does however offer the benefit of only a single ad per day, it is available through a browser and via both Android and iOS apps.
Jango uses a similar vote up and down system to Pandora to improve recommendations, and in addition you can select songs directly if you wish, and Jango also incorporates optional music videos into the interface where they are available.
|Slacker||Free/$3.99/$9.99||USA, Canada||Yes||13m||Android, iOS, Windows||128 Kbps|
|Pandora||Free/$4.99||USA/Australia/New Zealand||No||1m||Web, Android, iOS, Blackberry, media streamers||192 Kbps|
|Last.fm||Free/$3.00||USA/UK/Germany||Yes||Variable||Android, iOS, Linux, OS X, Windows||128 Kbps|
|iTunes Radio||Free||United States and Australia||No||26m||iOS, OS X, Windows, Apple TV||256 Kbps|
|Rdio||Free/$9.99||Europe, North and South America, Australia and New Zealand||Yes||20M||Web, Android, iOS, OS X, Windows||192 Kbps|
|Jango||Free||Everywhere||No||Undisclosed||Web, Android, iOS||Undisclosed|
Overall, I would have to say it is Rdio that takes the crown, it offers one of the widest regional availabilities along with one of the largest music catalogues, but the redesigned, simple interface, choice of pricing plans and worthwhile added functionality make it the best right now. I would also praise iTunes radio as a free service, but its restricted access puts it behind Rdio overall.
Interestingly, despite differences in bitrates, all the services provided good sound quality with no real stand outs there, and the streaming worked smoothly and without any annoying hiccups on every service.
Recording any of these services is a simple process with iMusic, as we can see below.
Click the download button below get the latest iMusic. It has different versions for Mac and Windows PC. Install the software on your computer and click "GET MUSIC". From there, you can see 3 options to get music: Discover- built-in music library; Download - copy & paste URL of a song to download; and Record- record music from music sites. You're supposed to click "Record" since this article is about how to record music from music sites.
Click the red record button, preparing the recording. Launch your web browser and open the song you want to record. Play the song, letting the software do the rest for you. This audio recorder can remove any ads or gaps and split the tracks into separate files as well as tag each one with its title, artist and album name as it goes using the ID3 protocol. Once you want to finish recording, simply press the Stop button and exit Pandora.
All the recorded songs will be saved to your iTunes Library if you have installed the iTunes on your computer. Otherwise, they will be saved to your other media library. Click "LIBRARY" on iMusic to check out the recorded songs or transfer them to your other devices for playback.