Neutral Axis

AudioGalaxy Streaming Music Server Review

by on Nov.29, 2012, under Uncategorized

For several years I used FirePlay to stream music from my home music collection to my office computer. The music is stored on a Linux server running mt-daapd (also known as Firefly) as a music server. FirePlay worked well, but it was flash based, so wouldn’t work on my iPhone. About a year ago, I found Audiogalaxy, and have been using it since. It had a nice web interface, and also had an iPhone and Android app. It’s a Windows program though, which meant I had to keep my library on an always-on Windows machine. That situation has changed.

Audiogalaxy used to be a Napster clone. It’s gone legit though, and now works as a way to stream your own media as well as a couple of other tricks. The program consists of an online account you create at audiogalaxy.com, and what they call the “helper app” you install on your computer where your music library resides. The helper app scans whatever folders you choose for music and acts as the streaming server. Your music is not uploaded to audiogalaxy. The helper app has been a Windows program that sits quietly in the system tray. It monitors your selected folders and very quickly catalogs anything new that shows up there. There are no settings needed to open ports or do any kind of port forwarding required. I think what happens is the helper app stays in touch with audiogalaxy.com to keep it informed of my IP address and keep the ports open. See update below.

Apparently, as of May, Audiogalaxy began offering 32bit and 64bit Linux versions. I installed the 32bit version today on Ubuntu 10.04 and it works great. [See below for installation issues.] After about 20 minutes, it had my nearly 20,000 song library scanned and ready to play. When you then go to audiogalaxy.com and sign in, this is what you see.

From a mobile iOS device like iPhone, it looks like this.

Playlists from iTunes are automatically imported if your iTunes XML file is in the Audiogalaxy scan path. Playlists can also be created from the web app.

Mixes are kind of like Pandora. You identify a city, genre, or artist, and it plays related songs. And the songs aren’t necessarily songs you already own. In fact, you can specify that it is NOT to play songs you already own. Another interesting feature to Mixes, is that they’re available even if the Audiogalaxy helper app goes offline. If that happens, you can’t play your own songs, but you can play mixes.

The Genie mode is also similar to Pandora, but only within your own collection.

There’s also a Share mechanism which I haven’t explored, where you can allow friends to have access to your collection while you get access to theirs.

The only complaint I’ve had with Audiogalaxy has been with cover art. Whether there is cover art in the metadata for the file or not, Audiogalaxy doesn’t use it. It gets its album art from elsewhere and it’s not always correct.

In my new game room, I’ve set up an old iPhone in a dock connected to a set of powered Bose speakers. With the Audiogalaxy app, I have a nice, easy to browse, compact stereo system.

Regarding installation in Ubuntu.  What you’ll download is an archived folder “.audiogalaxy”.  You’ll want to un-archive that folder and put it somewhere you have access to it.  I just put mine in my Home directory.  I also removed the “.” so that it’s not a hidden folder.  In that folder you’ll find an ag-bin and a audiogalaxy file.  Run the audiogalaxy file in terminal mode and it will prompt you for some items it needs to find your music, audiogalaxy username and password.  When it’s finished, the terminal window stays open but doesn’t return you to a prompt.  If you close the terminal window, the helper app quits working.  It took me a few times to realize that once I didn’t need to continue running it in terminal mode after that first time.  If you run it regular, it doesn’t open a window at all.  Nor is there an icon to tell you it’s running (which would be a welcome addition.)  I also added it to my startup programs so it starts when Ubuntu boots.

[Update: I guess when I call this a streaming server, that’s not really correct. Songs aren’t literally played as they stream in. The songs begin playing immediately, but the remainder of the song downloads as fast as the connection allows. The files must be located somewhere on the receiving computers hard drive as temporary files. More on that in a future post.]


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