Shazam is the best-known music recognition app, but is it best? Join us as we add Shazam to two competitors: SoundHound and Musixmatch.
We start with a brief overview of each app, followed by several rounds of increasingly difficult music identification challenges.
At the end of the competition, we should know which is the best music recognition app to identify songs.
Based on popularity alone, you can look at the biggest features that each "name as tune" app offers.
The best features of each song finder app
Shazam is the app to turn in this showdown. The app has a simple interface. When you open it, you can tap the iconic blue button to start listening to music.
The Panel Discover shows news from the music world, including new releases. You can also search for music here to hear previews or add songs to your favorites. Shazam Charts shows you what others are scanning with the app.
Each song you tag is collected in My Shazam panel, which gives you access to lots of information about the song. Here you can listen to an example, share it with others, listen to it on Spotify or Apple Music, watch the music video or find other tracks from this artist.
You can also tap Settings equipment on this page to connect to social accounts and adjust any preferences. Shazam especially has the Auto Shazam feature, which constantly listens for music and IDs even if you don't have the app open.
If you are offline, Shazam will save what it hears and find a match when you are back online. The app also has Visual Shazam to scan special brands with your camera for extra goodies.
Apple has owned Shazam since September 201
Download: Shazam for Android | IOS (Free)
When looking for an app that identifies songs, SoundHound is probably the first competitor of Shazam you find. The main game is similar, but it does provide some differences that make it worth seeing.
SoundHound, like Shazam, has a large orange button on its website to start tagging. SoundHound also makes a large part of its support for voice control. Saying "OK, Hound" lets you mark music and use other features of the app hands-free. The company even offers a standalone Hound Voice Assistant app, but there's not much reason to use it over Google Assistant or Siri.
On the Charts tab, you find that SoundHound also has its own music player. This can play samples (or full songs via YouTube or Spotify Premium) you've tagged as well as popular tracks from charts. After tagging a song, you can buy it with various services, add it to your favorites, read the lyrics, or see which album the song came from.
Interestingly, SoundHound also supports song or humming music to identify it. Since other apps do not, we will not test this feature. SoundHound is supported by ads and offers an upgrade to SoundHound Infinite to remove them.
Download: Soundhound for Android | IOS (Free)
Download: SoundHound Infinite for Android ($ 6) | IOS ($ 7)
Our latest song identifier app, Musixmatch, used to be paired with Spotify to provide text. While the two are no longer connected, Musixmatch is another app that recognizes songs as well.
Because Musixmatch is more a text app than a music ID app, it does not focus on popular charts like the others (although it does show new releases). Instead, you can play music from your local library (or Spotify) through the app to see music lyrics. You will also see them when you mark a song.
The app also has a floating text function, which lets you view text in real time while listening to music. In addition to this, if you create an account, you can contribute to lyrics for your favorite songs.
Musixmatch's premium plan is $ 3 / month and gives you some benefits like letting you save the lyrics for offline use and removing annoying ads. Due to the nature of the app, it will not work when used offline, so you can't save the branded music for later as Shazam does.
Because of its unique text angle, Musixmatch is worth staying even if you usually use Shazam or SoundHound. Of course, we will only compare the app's ability to identify songs correctly in this match.
Download: Musixmatch for Android | iOS (free, subscription available)
Song Recognition Summary
If you choose an app based on looks and features alone, it is not a clear decision. Shazam is clean and has no ads, while SoundHound has the unique humming and singing feature.
We believe Shazam is the best overall choice, but give SoundHound a try to see if it fits your needs. As mentioned, Musixmatch makes a great sidekick for one of them.
While there are other programs like Shazam on Google Play on the App Store, these are the three best choices. Sony shuttered its Track ID service a while back, and other programs like Music ID have not seen updates this year. There is little point in testing them when they are not in active development.
Music Recognition App Battle: The Rules
Now it's time to move on the fun part: pitting these apps against each other. This showdown consists of three rounds containing two songs each.
Since these apps are used for popular music, we do not want to give them any simple tasks. We start with songs that are relatively unknown before they switch to music that few people have ever heard.
I performed the test on Pixel 3 by playing music from Spotify. To simulate a typical mode of use, each track begins in a minute's field. We note how long it takes for each app to ID the song.
Each app can take two attempts to identify the song. An app will receive a 10-second penalty for each attempt it fails. And because accuracy is important for music recognition applications, a 15-second penalty will apply to error identifiers.
Round one: Moderate difficulty level
Let's start with two tracks that you don't want to listen to the radio but who have their own niches. Both of these songs have less than 10,000 games on Spotify.
Track 1: Alone tonight of Kiros on a single beach (2008)
- Shazam: Identified track in 10 seconds.
- SoundHound: ] Identified track in 16 seconds.
- Musix Match: Identified the track in six seconds.
Track 2: Did she ask me about Ronnie McDowell on American music (1989)
- Shazam: ] Identified the song for 11 seconds.
- SoundHound: Failed both attempts (20 seconds penalty).
- Musix Match: Identified the song in four seconds.
After a round, SoundHound is already in trouble with two misses. Shazam identified both tracks, but Musixmatch did so in record speed.
Round One Winner: Musixmatch
Round Two: Hard Difficulty
Next, we move into some traces of the Spotify depths. Both of these songs have less than 1,000 games on the service.
Track 3: Forgotten Planet by RushJet1 at Out There (2017)
Track 4: See Me Through Orange
The Chiptune track was definitely difficult for all three apps, with only one attempt of six succeeding in identifying the song. SoundHound is pretty much out of race now, but can Shazam catch up to Musixmatch? Let's move on to the third and final round.
Round Two Winner: Musixmatch
Round Three: Extreme Difficulty
For the last round, we want music that almost no one has heard. For this, we use Forgotten-a service to discover songs that have zero play on Spotify. This is perfect music to challenge the music recognition apps.
Track 5: Aroosi by Nader at Khat Va Neshoon (1988)
- Shazam: Identified the song for 10 seconds.
- SoundHound: Failed both attempts (20 second penalty).
- Musix match: Failed both attempts (20 second penalty).
Track 6: Small Suite In Old Style: Andante Cantabile by Barratt-Dues Junior Orchestra at Asheim / Kraggerud / Grieg / Hellstenius (1999)
- Shazam: Identified the song for 11 seconds.
- SoundHound: Failed both attempts (20 seconds penalty).
- Musix Match: Identified the song for four seconds.
Musix match had a rare stumble here, while Shazam remained consistent. SoundHound proved to be very disappointing in this competition.
Round Three Winner: Shazam
And the winner of the Best Song Finder App is …
SoundHound comes in a distant third as it just identified one track out of six correctly. At every second attempt, it was not possible to identify the music, including an incorrect ID. With these 105 second penalties, SoundHound ends with a time of 121 seconds .
The other two went much better. Shazam consistently identified songs in about 10 seconds, except track 4 where it gave two different error IDs. Tallying their time, Shazam took 53 seconds to the ID songs. By adding 30 penalty sequences we get 83 seconds total for Shazam.
It just gives us Musixmatch. While the app stumbled a little more than Shazam did, the overall time for ID was faster. The total time was 33 seconds; Adding penalties of 35 seconds means that Musixmatch completes with a score of 68 seconds .
This means that the best song recognition app is Musix Match !
The choice is clear on this. Not only was Musixmatch the only app to identify track 3, but it consistently recognized songs in half the time Shazam took. You can thus have confidence in Musixmatch as a great app to both display text and identify music.
Which music identifier application do you prefer?
Were you surprised at these results? Previously, Shazam has come out on top, so Musixmatch must have been hard at work, which recently made its recognition system better. It's a shame that the app has annoying ads, so if you don't want them, Shazam is still a good choice.
If these tracks have made you want new melodies, take a look at some ways to discover new music you will love
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