TrackID Reviews

Good alternative to Shazam & Co.

Positive Review by Anamon
about TrackID and SoundHound, Sound Search for Google Play, Shazam Jul 2016

I currently have four music identification apps installed on my phone: Shazam, SoundHound, Google Sound Search, and Track ID, which came pre-installed on my Xperia Z5 Compact. Their shortcuts are lined up along each other on my homescreen, so I can quickly try them one after the other when some of them fail to recognise the track played – being able to do this quickly is, of course, important if you want to identify a track playing at a live event where you can't rewind. What I've learned is that for each of those four apps, I've had at least a couple of tracks that they were the only app to recognise it successfully. The same is true for Track ID by Sony.

From what I could gather, Track ID relies on an audio fingerprint database by Gracenote. Shazam has its own, and I believe so does Google. SoundHound is different from all of those in that it relies on harmonies, which makes it the only one to also work if you sing, hum, or whistle a tune yourself.

I have found Shazam to have the highest hit rate, closely followed by Google. However, I listen to a very diverse range of genres, and results vary wildly. For some more underground electronic genres, for instance, such as Jungle, Track ID has turned out to be the most reliable. Shazam occasionally gets one, but most often just seems to go for a random pick among some thousands of track that used a similar drum sample. It basically detects the general genre you're listening to more often than the specific track. SoundHound does something similar sometimes, but due to its unique algorithm is at least more helpful in that it sometimes detects another track that was sampled by the one you're listening to. Definitely much better than having nothing at all. Google usually fails miserably for electronic music in general. Track ID is the one that, in my experience, is most successful in detecting some incredibly obscure, old, forgotten underground releases. And it does so with by far the shortest audio sample required out of all the apps, which is a great advantage.

There are some downsides regarding the app itself. It seems that since a couple of versions ago, a Sony login is required to use the app, which would be only half as bad if it didn't forget the login credentials every few months (or maybe after being updated). It also seems to have more trouble than the other apps in accessing the microphone. It's not a problem if it's the first app you try, but if you tried any of the other identification apps right before, it might take a while before Track ID will work. You'll notice this if the identification button spins only for a second before deactivating again. I have no idea why Track ID is more sensitive to that than the other apps, because I assume all of them should try to access the microphone the same way. If it works, though, the hitrate is much higher than you might expect for an app that is much less known than its competitors'.

I'm not even sure if you can install Track ID if you don't own a Sony phone, but if you can, it's very much worth having installed along the other track ID apps.

Update Nov 2016: New versions of TrackID no longer have the problem of failing to start listening. Apparently it was an issue with getting a lock on the device microphone. Now it works much more reliably. What I wrote about the other ID apps still pretty much holds, except for the fact that Shazam has noticeably worsened over the past year or so, and now barely works at all anymore – see my Shazam review for more details.

[Edited by Anamon, November 28]

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