Posts Tagged ‘ Mp3 ’

PowerAMP – Forget the Llama’s Pyjamas, this is the Cat’s Knackers.

PowerAMP Music Player (Trial)

A wise man once said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”, this rule could also apply to the Android Marketplace. Less than two weeks ago I was singing the praises of Winamp for Android to the high heavens but now, out of nowhere, a new app has appeared to completely ruin the Winamp party. PowerAMP is a music player (currently in a trial period) loaded with features missing from other media players such as EQ control, album art downloading and support for a wide range of audio formats.

The 'Now Playing' screen even adds a background effect to match your album artwork

One of the main plus points of PowerAMP is it’s ability to offer numerous options to the user without losing them in a wealth of menus and buttons which is quite a feat considering how wonderfully flexible this app is.
On first start up PowerAMP will scan your SD card for media folders (once you tell it where to look) and it impressively takes an instant to complete this process. Once set up, your media library is clearly listed (either sorted by folder or by Android’s system media library) with album art and once you’re inside an album folder you can control whether to play the whole album, play a single track, add a track (or all of them) to a playlist, make it a ringtone plus much more. The main ‘now playing’ screen is excellently designed, from the clear controls, to the album art (which scrolls deliciously when you change albums), the simple access to your music library and the option to adjust your EQ.
That’s right, EQ.

AT LAST! EQ on an Android music player

Ever since buying my Android handset I have mourned the lack of being able to adjust the EQ when listening to music, having to put up with flat sounding audio was never fun. Not anymore, PowerAMP boasts a 10 band graphic equalizer complete with presets. You can also adjust the parameters yourself and easily create excellent results thanks to the fast, responsive interface. Speaking of interfaces, PowerAMP gives you a choice of three skins as well as a selection of homescreen widgets and a fully tooled up lock screen all of which work superbly. Headset support is also included, when you remove your headset the music stops. Plug your headset back in, the music picks up exactly from where you left off, excellent.
PowerAMP also supports Last.Fm scrobbling as well as mp3 tag editing and comes complete with numerous ‘under the hood’ options to give you plenty of room to make the app work the way you want it to. (Tip : If your album tracks appear in the wrong order (ie. alphabetically) try going into settings>sorting> and tweaking the options until you get the desired result)
Given the choice between this and Winamp right now I think I would have to go for PowerAMP, it does lots of things Winamp doesn’t do (as yet). One feature Winamp does have in it’s favour is the wireless streaming which would have made it a closer call, had I been able to get it to work. PowerAMP is a hugely impressive application and one that is quite rightly generating a lot of excitement in the Android community. As yet there are no details of what will happen when the free trial version expires but for the right price this app could well be an essential purchase.

Link : Install via AppBrain

Bottom line : It looks good, it works even better and it sounds superb. So far this is the best music player I have found on Android. Try it asap before the trial expires.

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Winamp Beta – It’s The Llama’s Pyjamas

Winamp Beta

If, like me, you rock an Android handset then I guess that, also like me, you’re thinking it must be Christmas right now. At the time of writing this we’ve had Angry Birds, Tweetdeck, an updated YouTube app, all in the last 10 days and now Winamp Beta has popped up on the Marketplace to a rapturous reception from the Android community.

Hello old friend, it's been a while. My, you're looking nice.

I’ve always struggled to find an Android based music player that I’m 100% happy with but the Winamp team, thanks to their talent for appealing and intuitive design, have ported their popular media player to the Android platform with great success. This truly is the trusty old Winamp experience scaled down to your Android handset right down to the familiar ‘Winamp, It Whips The Llama’s Ass’ soundclip when you first start up the app; it’s like meeting an old friend who happens to have kept themselves in great shape.
Hands down the UI on Winamp is the best I have found on Android so far for playing music. It’s not overly flash or fussy but it helps you get the job done with ease. From the home screen you can access Artists, Albums, Songs, Playlists, History or the Search function, menus are responsive and the program runs perfectly. Wherever you are in the UI you can usually get to wherever you want to go with a minimal amount of navigation thanks in part to the excellent ‘drag-up’ Now Playing screen. For me, the Now Playing screen is the most important part in any music player and should be accessible as easily as possible (take note Audiogalaxy), the ‘drag up’ feature of Winamp makes this possible.

In this case the Now Playing screen also includes some shameless cross promotion.

The Now Playing screen features everything you need, play/seek controls, album art, access to the current playlist, a list of all tracks / albums by the current artist, shuffle/repeat controls and the all important home button. Creating and editing playlists on your handset is easily done via long pressing on songs when in a tracklist. Also tucked away in the long press menu are options to use a particular track as a ringtone and a search function to find the track on Youtube or the Internet. For widget fans Winamp also comes with a very tidy widget with all the basic controls you need to control your music from your home screen, there’s only one size at the moment but I would assume that more will be developed as the program moves closer towards a final release.
Scrobbling to Last.fm is also possible, you’ll need to install the Last.fm app on your handset; as yet there are no options to share info on currently playing tracks to Twitter or Facebook.
If you install the new Beta version of Winamp on your PC you can also stream your music library to your handset via Wi-Fi. Sadly I could not get the Winamp Beta program to install on my Windows 7 installation. That’s the downside of a Beta I guess, someone will always be at the worse end of the testing experience, in this case it just happens to be me. Even without the streaming capabilities Winamp Beta has easily pushed aside all other media players on my handset, if they include shoutcast radio or video playback in future versions then I could be finding myself throwing all kinds of other apps on the scrapheap (or should that be Appheap?, sorry).

Links : Install via AppBrain, Official Winamp Blog Post

Bottom line : Boasting a superb and robust UI with easy to access features; this is the best audio player app I’ve used on Android so far. As a music player it ticks all the boxes, if you can get the streaming library to work then it’s an utterly essential app.

Audiogalaxy – My God, It’s Full Of Stars

Audiogalaxy

Whilst spending this week looking for media streaming apps for my HTC Desire I was quite surprised to come across Audiogalaxy. Originally, back in 2001 Audiogalaxy was a website that attracted file sharers who were abandoning Napster at the time. Eventually it’s main file sharing functions were shut down and users drifted away to get their content elsewhere. In 2010 Audiogalaxy relaunched as a service that allows you to stream your DRM-free music stored on your home computer to your phone from anywhere using 3G, EDGE, or WiFi, and all for free. Imagine having tonnes of music right there on your handset ready to stream with no limit set by storage space, I’m happy to say Audiogalaxy (which is currently in beta) achieves what it promises.

The 'now playing' screen pretty much has everything you need.

First, you need to register at www.audiogalaxy.com so you can download Auidogalaxy for the PC or MAC, wherever you install this is where your tunes will be streamed from. This is a painless step although once installed Audiogalaxy immediately runs off searching for your stored music which I’d rather wish it didn’t do. I didn’t want all my music online straight away, I wanted to pick certain folders first. You can eventually tell Audiogalaxy what folders to focus on but not before the program has sniffed out a bunch of tracks and added them to your library. It’s not a negative aspect and it’s something that sorts itself out once you’ve specified your music folders, it’s just annoying that you’re already having to reign the program back under control before you even get started. Once that’s done, you just download the app to your handset, log in and stream away.
The menu screens are fairly basic but they get the job done, you can look at your playlists, browse via artist or album, use the search function and see what’s currently playing. Slightly annoyingly, albums are only sorted by title name whereas some people may like them grouped or sorted by artist name, it’s not a massive problem though. The search function is great, whatever you enter is cross-referenced with song, artist and albums titles, results pop up quick and are presented in a tidy list with album artwork. In all lists of tracks you can long click a song and choose whether to listen now or add to the queue. From here it would be nice to have a way to go straight to the now playing screen but instead you have to go back to the main menu in order to do that. This doesn’t ruin the experience but it’s a small niggle all the same.

Searching for tracks works a treat.

Quite simply, everything works very well, especially on wi-fi. Even on a 3G signal (of average strength) I streamed music for over 20 minutes with only two stutters to allow the app time to buffer more music. Tracks load up quickly, the ‘now playing’ screen shows artwork if available and whilst not being flashy, it does everything you need it to do. From here you can also easily save the current queue of music to a new playlist, ideal for those ‘on-the-fly’ playlist creations.
Audiogalaxy is totally lacking in options, pressing the menu key only gives you a choice of refreshing the screen or logging out. An option to increase the buffer would be handy (although to be fair Audiogalaxy seems to do an ok job of managing this itself), and some kind of EQ would be great. I imagine a number of users will also lament the lack of a widget or Last.FM scrobbling which I can understand. Still, considering that this app is still only in Beta these are hopefully features that will appear in further updates. Right now I am just glad this app works as well as it does.

Links : Install via AppBrain, Official Site

Bottom line : A great music streaming app which confidently does the job it sets out to do. Whilst the UI isn’t perfect and it’s lacking certain features the fact that it’s a totally free app makes it a recommended install.

Homepipe – The Internet is a series of… Pipes?

HomePipe Free

It didn’t work. The End.

What? You want more?

Fine, let’s dive in then.

HomePipe allows you to stream your media from your home storage direct to your Android handset. Wherever you are you can access videos, music, view photos and all for free. There’s a few steps involved with setting it all up but they are very simple. All you need do is download the Homepipe client for your ‘storage’ computer and sync with the Homepipe app on your Android handset and then you are all geared up to stream. It all sounds brilliant except for one problem…
I couldn’t get it to work.
Browsing files works just fine, everything processes at the speed you expect and there’s something nerdishly exciting about having access to all of your media wherever you are. For my first go, seeing as I was on a 3G signal, I decided to stick with streaming mp3’s; no point taxing my connection with bandwidth heavy videos that it couldn’t handle. I picked a song, it started to buffer and so I waited, and waited… and waited some more. In the end I gave up. I tried another mp3 but this time one of a lower bitrate, still the same. This happened with every file I tried and I initially put it down to poor performance over 3G.
Later that day when I had access to a wi-fi network I gave it another go only to continue having the same problem. I could browse through my media perfectly fine but every file I tried to play ended in buffer flavoured fail. There’s a support thread over at getsatisfaction.com which I posted in and it would seem that this is an issue that has been around for at least 3 months. I can appreciate that when you create something like this it’s not easy keeping up with various support issues but leaving a crucial one like this hanging for a quarter of a year isn’t going to inspire confidence in your product. As it stands there seems to be no immediate solution to this and I’ve since found an alternative app that does work (review coming up after this one). I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who get on fine with Homepipe (let us know in the comments if you do) and I wish I was one of them but sadly, I am not.

Links : Install via AppBrain, Official Page

Bottom Line : An app that could have ruled them all, had it actually worked.

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