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Google Play Music- Lossless to MP3

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Mods/Admins - Decided to put this here in the portable section as this relates to all android players.

 

Google play has had music storage for quite some time but was never intrested in it. My brother actually convinced me to give it a try as I have lots of space in lossless music but his collection puts me to shame (He has about 60,000+ songs mostly focused on classical music).

 

So I took the dive.

 

Google play uses Google Music Manager to upload music from your PC to Google play. The format of the source is irrelevant. I have used both FLAC and WMA lossless (I know it does not support ALAC) and "Google" will automatically convert them to MP3 320k and download the appropiate cover art. So far it has even found some very very obscure CD's without any issue (ie Racer-X. For anyone that is not familiar, this is Paul Gilbert's first foray into Guitar Shredding).

 

The storage is cloud based so regardless of device. If you have access to Google Play (even on the web it works), you can access all your "MP3". On Android you have the capability of downloading the MP3 to your device for offline playing.

 

For comparison, it would be iTunes+iCloud

 

Once uploaded and converted, you can download the converted MP3 with album art emdedded in the MP3 along with tags. Currently not sure what MP3 tags they use.

 

I will warn you, Currently 100GB worth of music is at 2 days and counting. If you have a cap on bandwidth from your ISP, You WILL chew it in no time flat.


Edited by figgie - 9/27/12 at 12:27am
post #2 of 11

I was just wondering about this very topic. Thanks for the info.

post #3 of 11

Yep I did the same.  It's great to have my entire library in the cloud for easy access.  However, note that you have to convert your lossless ALAC files first if you have any, GMusic does not support uploading them:

(http://support.google.com/googleplay/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1100462).  

 

There is a "high quality" streaming option in the Play Music app in Android that you should turn on as well if you have a decent signal or are on wifi.

post #4 of 11

I've done this too. It takes days to upload a large library even with a good wifi connection, but the result is worth the wait. The 20,000 track limit- with no cap on actual amount of data- is extremely generous, and the quality of the streamed audio is indistinguishable from the stuff that's actually on my SD card (everything I have is either 256 kbps AAC rips or 320 kbps MP3 purchased music, and that's exactly what went up to the cloud and what streams back to my phone; indistinguishable from CD quality to my ears, even through my very revealing Ety HF5s). I stream only when wifi is available, but when it is (including playing music through my stereo at home- who needs CDs?) it's great to have available a virtually unlimited supplement to what fits on my SD card. With this available, I will now rip a lot more CDs that I hadn't previously planned to do; eventually, all of them. Bravo, Google.


Edited by supersleuth - 9/26/12 at 6:34am
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

I have been doing some listening and agree.. indistinguishable from the CD itself.

 

I myself do use Cell signal for this.. Let see how fast I eat 5GB. ;)

post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by figgie View Post

I have been doing some listening and agree.. indistinguishable from the CD itself.

 

I myself do use Cell signal for this.. Let see how fast I eat 5GB. ;)

Unfortunately I get only half that before Virgin would throttle me to dialup-like speeds, so it's wifi or bust for me. But that's why I have a 32 GB SD card in my phone!

post #7 of 11

320k indistinguishable from lossless?  That depends on your gear.  On my desktop system the difference is pretty easily distinguishable, tougher and not on all/most tracks with the portable set-up.  And that's just $200 earbuds- no DAC/amp.  Still, I can't give Google raves for this- let the user have the choice.  I'd gladly pay a bit each month to have lossless on android and I don't stream.

post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by SVO View Post

320k indistinguishable from lossless?  That depends on your gear.  On my desktop system the difference is pretty easily distinguishable, tougher and not on all/most tracks with the portable set-up.  And that's just $200 earbuds- no DAC/amp.  Still, I can't give Google raves for this- let the user have the choice.  I'd gladly pay a bit each month to have lossless on android and I don't stream.

Indeed from what I've read online, people cannot distinguish the two in blind tests even with the best gear unless they have trained themselves to hear the differences (as you likely have).  This is why it makes no sense for Google to provide lossless streaming.  Most people have data limits on their smartphone (and their home internet service), so streaming lossless for negligible benefits would be wasting bandwidth at best, and giving users a poor experience with delays/skipping/buffering at worst.   

 

If you want lossless on Android but don't stream, that option is already there for you through various 3rd party music player apps.

post #9 of 11

"Indeed from what I've read online, people cannot distinguish the two in blind tests even with the best gear unless they have trained themselves to hear the differences (as you likely have)."  Site the source with a link please. 

 

I will say that it was a number of years ago when I did a self-test.  Perhaps the codecs have improved.  But my uninitiated and indifferent wife could hear the 320k/lossless distinction on my desktop- my reality check.  At that time at least ITunes 128k tracks were pitifully awful.  Yes, 320 is more than 128.  I buy CDs regardless- guess I'm old school.  I actually conducted some user tests on this topic with college students a decade ago.  It was with mediocre gear, but most could make the 160k/lossless distinction readily.  On the other hand few really cared about it.

 

My ISP is Comcast so with a 300GB monthly limit so I don't sweat it.  That works out to about continuous lossless streaming 24/7 (assuming no other usage).

 

What's a good desktop player for Mac with Android?  I am shopping for a 'droid phone but have no experience.

post #10 of 11

Well as you know, truly well-done studies are difficult to find on this topic.  A quick google search reveals that 320kbps vs lossless is a highly contested debate across many audio forums, so at best I would say it's not settled that they can be distinguished.  My impression is that this is highly debated because there are so many factors that go into it (tracks used, gear used, individual biology), making a broad conclusion difficult to reach.  Also as you know, you can't trust your own ears.  Our brains are tricky things, and you really have to rely on large samples and statistics.  Here's one study I found with a large number of samples, where the author found "as you'd expect, nobody can hear the difference between a 320kbps CBR audio file and the CD." (http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/06/concluding-the-great-mp3-bitrate-experiment.html).

 

I'm a Mac and Android user.  I simply use iTunes for my lossless collection since it's simple and bit perfect, and I stream my collection on my Android phone via Google Music.  So I never plug my phone into my Mac for any type of sycing.  

post #11 of 11

Yeah, that great bit rate experiment has a large sample but zero controls.  Not worth much.  It always bugs me that the audiophiles who buy $1k speaker cables and the sellers of same won't conduct some good tests to prove themselves right.  MANY years ago Stereo Review did a really solid test with experts and laymen on fancy cables vs. lamp cord.  The results:  None could differentiate.

 

Well, I went back and did a quick spot test on this and I have to say that I could not distinguish a new 320k track/VBR from lossless.  It's been a number of years (8?) since I did this so it may be my ears degrading or codecs improving or both, but for practical purposes the reason is irrelevant.  I'll probably be moving my collection to Google music soon.  At 160k/VBR it was damn close and even 128k/VBR was good enough, at least for mobile contexts.  This was just not the case a few years ago IMHO.  I listen mostly in my car (Classic iPod) or at the desktop so storage has never been an issue with lossless tracks but Google Music looks to be more convenient.  I won't bother going into detail, but I have a good deal of professional experience designing, installing, calibrating and tuning custom audio systems.  I'm probably a bit more aware of my personal listening biases than most.

 

So in my Mac/Android near future I will still need to have audio files resident on my phone.  I live at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and spend a lot of time outside of cellular coverage.  It looks like the Google Play app can accommodate that.  Anyone using it that way, i.e. offline listening?

 

Thanks.  This thread has been truly useful.

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