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  #1  
Old Dec 10th, 2011, 05:22 PM
jdefuria650 jdefuria650 is offline
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Default Slacker, MOG or Spotify....

So...I'm just about ready to start an internet subscription and after having done a fair amount of research I believe I've settled on 3 candidates for trials: Slacker, MOG, and Spotify. I am in the U.S.

Edit: I am expanding my research to also include Rhapsody. I am no longer considering Spotify because of the requirement to have a linked FaceBook account. I will update my results periodically in post #2 below as I get a feel for each of the services.

My requirements are:
1) Some level of integreated support with Sonos (duh)
2) Able to stream on-demand selections
3) Robust music discovery / "radio" play
4) Music quality
5) Other mobile device support

From what I can tell, Spotify and MOG are pretty similar in their offerings. Both stream at high quality (320K), have among the largest libraries, but have rather limited music discovery options.

Slacker would be a step down in audio quality (128K streams), a small step down in music library size, but has one of the better / best music discovery / radio implementations. It also has great mobile device support (windows phone and blakcberry included.)

The one thing that is tough to tell without actually trying all three for a period as premium subscriber, is how well each is integrated with sonos.

For example, I assume with each of these services, I can search the catalog for on-demand play via the sonos controller, correct?

What about creating playlists? Can this be done with a sonos controller, or must it be done on a PC (or mobile app), prior to use on Sonos? (Or does it vary by service?)

For example, MOG touts its "slider" that creates a radio station based on artist, that creates the station anywhere from "artist only" to "similar artists only".

Is that slider functionality built in to the Sonos implementation, or do you create the playlist / station via app, and then the playlist / app is made available to Sonos?

In the end, I guess I'm going to have to try all three...but if anyone else can shed light specifically on the level of integration of these services with Sonos...I'd appreciate it.

Last edited by jdefuria650; Dec 13th, 2011 at 10:25 AM.
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  #2  
Old Dec 11th, 2011, 05:00 PM
jdefuria650 jdefuria650 is offline
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Default Slacker and MOG

For those interested...

Well, I've played with MOG, Slacker, and Rhapsody a bit just to get familiar with the functionality and level of Sonos integration.

Unfortunately, for the time being I will NOT be testing Spotify. I did not realize that Spotify requires that you have and link to a facebook account. I don't have a FB account and don't plan on opening one. Bad form, Spotify. I've seen that there is not surprisingly a fair amount of public backlash over this recent requirement of spotify...maybe they will revert back or at least make it optional...

Anyway....

First about the services themselves.

MOG Service

It's primary service is delivering high quality (320K bit) audio streams on demand. There are no professionally managed "stations" really other than editor "top picks" which are individual albums.

However, they do have what they call their "mobius slider" which, if you call up an artist, you can have MOG feed you music that varies on a 10 point scale from

1) Play songs only from that artist
to
10) Play songs only from similar artists, but not the selected artist itself

So in that way, you can "discover" music with MOG.


Slacker Service

The service itself began centered around "radio" style playing...the ability to play on-demand tracks as a premium service was only recently added (this year, I believe). So it's not surprising that the core of the service is centered around both profesionally managed "radio stations" (mostly built atound genres and sub-genres) as well as stations you create. You create a station by seeding them with artists and setting various fine tuning options which Slacker uses to find similar music and play on the "station."

You can "fine tune" any station so that upcoming tracks are geared more towards your taste: Older vs. current tracks, wide or narrower scope of artist discovery, popular vs less popular tracks. Very slick.

The concept of Stations is so paramount at Slacker, that the stations actually replace the concept of a genre. You won't find genre's to browse through or search: you do that through the stations. For the most part, this works well. Slacker has one group of stations grouped together as a "Slacker Spotlight" for more editorial type presentation (for example, the 'one hit woneder' station, or 'Great Songs you Forgot')

The ability to play tracks on demand is more of an "added feature" on top of their core radio-style play, and it shows IMO. There is no concept of a "library" function in Slacker like there is (for example) in Rhapsody. If you want to add a track to your library (so to speak), you can mark it as a favorite...this puts it in a long list of "Favorite Songs" simply organized by author. This is fairly useless IMO, since the "Favorite songs" list also includes tracks that you've "hearted" for radio stations (which is different).

Anyway, you can build Slacker play-lists, which is really what your slacker "library" would compose of.


Rhapsody Service

NOTE: I have not yet logged directly into the Rhapsody site since the Sonos trial does not include a standard log in. Over the next couple weeks though, I will register for the standard Rhapsody 14 day trial...sometime closer to the Holiday when I know I'll have more dedicated time to explore it.

The Rhapsody service appears similar to Slacker in many respects. Similar library sizes and similar quality music stream. Though there are key differences:

While there are stations ("channels") on Rhapsody, they are not customizable, nor can you create your own. You can, however, select any artist and play Artist Radio based on that artist. I don't know if using Rhapsody's web site you can dive into a channel to see which artists drive it, but at least on the Sonos app you just have to discern the content by the name of the channel.

Rhapsody's "editorial" type secion is called "Rhapsody Recommends", and includes staff pick albums, as well as Featured Playlists (which right now is populated with exclusively Holiday related playlists.)

Music in Rhapsody can be browsed or searched by artist, album, track and (unlike Slacker) Genre and sub Genre.

Rhapsody uses the concept of "My Library" for you to organize tracks that you want to keep handy. Any time you add a track to your library it becomes browsable by Artist, Album, Genre or the track itself.

You can of course create your own Rhapsody playlists.


Sonos Integration

The level of integration of both services into Sonos is pretty good. In both cases (as expected) you will have to manage your playlists /radio stations via the provider's web site...and then those play-lists / stations are made available to Sonos. The notable limitations of both are centered around playback of "ad-hoc artist radio" (playing back tracks based on a searched for artist), but for different reasons.

MOG Integration

As far as music playback goes...you can do most things that you can do via the native MOG player: browse via Editor's Picks, Top Albums, artists and tracks, and of course your own playlists.

The one notable exception is that on Sonos...the "Mobius Slider" as described above is basically reduced to the two extreme options (Play Artist Only and Play Similar Artists Only). You cannot choose anything in between.

And unfortunately, MOG does not allow you to save an "Artist Station" as a playlist. So if I want to play some music that is a combination of "some Tony Bennett plus other related artists" that just cannot be done on Sonos readily. Using the MOG app, you'd need to create an actual playlist of tracks, and save that playlist to play on Sonos.

In short, the only real thing needed imo from the sonos integration of the MOG service is the addition of one or two additional levels of "artist radio" playback to allow both a mixture of the desired artist and similar artists.

The other music discovery limitations are simply inherent in the MOG service.

Slacker Integration

Again, most of what you would expect when playing content is available in Sonos (although not on all controllers...surprisingly, the Desktop controllers lack some of the functionality that the mobile device controllers have).

You can play any of the Slacker stations, your own created stations or playlists, read album and artist information, "heart" a song or "ban" a song from any given station.

You can search for an artist and play "artist radio" ad-hoc based on that artist...which brings me to the one significant shortfall of how Slacker currently works.

Right now, if you are a premium subscriber and elect to play "artist radio" (via either Sonos or the Slacker web app) it will only play tracks by that artist.

On the web app, you can then alter the behavior to expand playback to related artists, but on Sonos you cannot do this.

This somewhat limits any "ad-hoc" artist based music discovery you can do directly from the Sonos controller. You would have to go to the slacker web app or device app and then create and save a station based on that artist and turn artist discovery on.

This is really a slacker limitation more than a sonos integration limitation, but it is a significant annoyance....espcially since you can only connect to slacker with one device at a time. So if you're in sonos, you ultimately have to disconnect before logging in via slacker's web site...create the custom station...log back out of the web site...go back into Sonos and connect to the services...find the custom station...


Rhapsody Integration

It feels as if the Rhapsody integration is fairly complete in support of the service. You can browse or search by artist, track, album, or genra. You can browse to any Channel (radio station), play artist radio for any artist you find, etc. You can also add tracks or albums to your library, browse your library, etc.

As you are browsing through a genra, you can browse all artists within it, or go to the "charts" to get the top artists, albums and/or tracks. There are also "key Artists" and albums, as well as a Genre Sampler which is handy to play to get a feel for the type of music. (You can choose to play all tracks in the sampler, or just pick and choose.)

What's more, you can then drill down into sub genres and have the same option. So, for example you can play a "Rock/Pop" genre sampler, or you can drill down to Adult Alternative which will narrow the scope of the artists, tracks, etc.

What you can't do is play a "genre station / channel". You either have to build a playlist of tracks from artists / albums / tracks that you find within the Genre....or back out to the standard Rhapsody Channel and see if they have one that's related.

You also can't easily select "all the tracks by an artist" to play as a play-list or station.

Rhapsody vs. Slacker

Because these two are so similar, it might be best to mention how they differ, more than how they are alike. Essentially, it is easier in Slacker to have them "push" music to you based on criteria you select. It's not quite as convenient to browse through music and hand pick songs to build a custom library or play-list.

Rhapsody is the other way around...you have a bit more control and a more organized way imo to browse through genres and hand-pick albums / tracks / artists you may want, but the ability for you to instruct Rhapsody to go on its own and push to you "the kind of music I want to hear" is not as robust as Slacker.

Last edited by jdefuria650; Dec 14th, 2011 at 03:48 PM. Reason: Added some info about Rhapsody
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  #3  
Old Dec 14th, 2011, 10:11 AM
kbyrd kbyrd is offline
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I had a spotify account already, and I just upgraded to Spotify premium using their 30-days-free promotion.

At first glance, it appears Spotify has artist-based radio, which will play similar artists as well as the selected artist. I have not found a way to fine-tune the station by giving the current track.

As far as the Sonos-specific Spotify client, it seems I can only do on-demand play. There are pre-configured "top tracks" and "new releases", but I can't find any radio features.

Last edited by kbyrd; Dec 14th, 2011 at 12:10 PM.
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  #4  
Old Dec 26th, 2011, 07:07 AM
floid floid is offline
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Default Sonos + Spotify = not so good

You've already ruled out Spotify, but for other readers, I'll add to this. Sonos + Spotify = not a great service. I just cancelled my Spotify premium subscription. Two primary reasons:

First, I mostly play music on my Sonos system, and Spotify frequently cuts out. Reading the blogs, it seems that Sonos connects to a Spotify server, then that server gets busy, but Sonos doesn't switch to a less busy server, thus the cut-outs. Just yesterday we had people over and listening to Christmas music, but frustrating when the music keeps cutting out. I checked the router and internet bandwidth/connection, but everything was good there. I switch over to Slacker and the music was very good and seemless.

Second, Sonos/Spotify seem to have an ongoing problem with playlists. Many songs are not available on Spotify playlists when played using Sonos. This is very frustrating. If you want to manually search for an unavailable song using the Sonos controller, it can be found and added successfully. Kind of defeats the purpose of a multi-device playlist.

I will say, that I have been using Slacker since Sonos started supporting it. So far it works really well as long as you are ok with automated radio stations. The play-on-demand style of listening is not so good with Slacker though.
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  #5  
Old Dec 26th, 2011, 07:31 AM
tsanchez tsanchez is offline
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Default MOG vs. Rhapsody

The biggest difference between MOG and Rhapsody in my own experience is in how and on what system you will be listening to the music, once you begin listening. I have been a subscriber to Rhapsody for as long as it has exsisted, and have used the service to stream music through Sonos for 5 plus years. I have used MOG for two days.

MOG represents to me what Rhapsody could have been had they made any commitment to streaming quality. There is a great difference in the sound quality between the two services, and the higher up the equipment ladder you climb, the bigger the gap. MOG has a killer Android app as well, I do not find
Rhapsody to be as well thought out.

Over the last several years I found myself listening to less and less Vinyl and CD's and spending the majority of my time streaming Rhapsody because of the on the fly playlist building. The sound at times bordered on dreadful, but the music access is addicting.

Now with MOG, the compromises in sound have been addressed. If it is your thing, integrating one of your Zone players into a main system by connecting the digital out to an outboard DAC is a serious source of higher fidelity reproduction that was only a dream with Rhapsody, IMO.

Now if I could only find the right cloud to put my hard drive music on that will integrate with SONOS, well that would be a second Christmas!!!!
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  #6  
Old Dec 28th, 2011, 03:22 PM
fermata fermata is offline
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Default Sonos + Spotify or MOG

It's true, Spotify playlists accessed through the Sonos controller (Windows in my case) is a bad deal. Many of the tracks are x'ed out. Spotify blames Sonos; Sonos blames Spotify.

MOG promises a desktop app coming up first quarter in 2012, though I had to drag that info out of their otherwise very good tech support. I'd really love an iTunes replacement, which is part of Spotify's marketing campaign, but with the Sonos integration flaws, no matter whose fault it is, Spotify just won't work for me. The MOG HTML5 website is OK, but they REMOVED functionality that was in their prior version - basic stuff like being able to bookmark/subscribe to/copy someone else's playlist. Again, their support folks are very apologetic and promise that the new version will soon have all the capabilities of the old one qtr1/2012. It's a big strike against MOG, for me at least, that they would release a user interface that's lacking some basic functionality. But, I like the MOG Android app better and the quality is 320kbps, no if's and's or but's, whereas Spotify has been transitioning to higher quality forever. I'm on a 30 day premium trial of both and will probably extend with MOG.

Both have FB integration, and to the original poster, you can run either service WITHOUT using their FB integration. They tend to bury it, but you can have a Spotify or MOG only account/no FB integration. They push it because of their recent partnering agreements with Mr. Zuckerberg, the latest king of the world. I personally like the FB integration as it helps with music discovery, and Spotify has many more of my FB friends signed up than MOG does, thanks to their aggressive marketing, but the Sonos integration hassles are a show-stopper for me.

By the way, I have a connect:amp hooked up to some very nice high efficiency bookshelf speakers, so sound quality does matter to me. In fact, I'm in the process of (re)ripping my CD's to lossless so that my own collection sounds as good as possible.
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  #7  
Old Dec 30th, 2011, 01:22 PM
boatlesspirate boatlesspirate is offline
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Default My two cents

If you want to listen to a "type" of music, then go with a Pandora account. After you've listened to the station and tweaked it a bit, I find Pandora pretty dead on.

If you want a specific song or artist, then MOG all the way. MOG's sound is superior, and if the artist or song was reasonably popular, you'll find it on MOG. Echoing other comments, MOG's radio slider which works kind (and nowhere near as good as) of like Panodra. Also, there are MANY playlist already built on MOG by people that you can just copy into your own playlist.

I've played with all iRadio stations, and these two seem to work best for me and my family.
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  #8  
Old Dec 30th, 2011, 02:29 PM
kbyrd kbyrd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boatlesspirate View Post
If you want to listen to a "type" of music, then go with a Pandora account. After you've listened to the station and tweaked it a bit, I find Pandora pretty dead on.
Except that Pandora's catalog is more limited. That's what led me to search out other services.
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  #9  
Old Jan 2nd, 2012, 07:36 AM
AustinJerry AustinJerry is offline
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I agree with Boatlesspirate. When I set up a station on Pandora, I normally am very pleased with the content and diversity that is delivered. When I discover new artists or songs on Pandora, I make a note of the artist and then look up the artist on MOG. This allows me to preview albums and, if I like them, I purchase them and create a lossless file for my permanent music collection. I find the audio quality and delivery reliability of both Pandora and MOG excellent.

So, discover with Pandora, try with MOG, and then buy. Priceless!
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  #10  
Old Jan 2nd, 2012, 08:32 AM
jdefuria650 jdefuria650 is offline
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For my family, it turns out that we are going to go with Slacker for the time being as our single subscription service.


1) We don't want two subscription services, so while having both "radio" focused plus an "on-demand" service combo (like MOG+ Pandora / Rhapsody / Slacker) might be ideal, we prefer to pay for and deal with a single service.

2) MOG just doesn't have the radio station type layout / programming that we want.

3) Pandora's library just isn't as diverse as any of the others.

We will still be purchasing CDs of the music we really like, and the quality of Slacker streams is perfectly acceptable for everyday playing and discovery.

For us, it came down to a choice between Slacker and Rhapsody. We ended up going for Slacker due to some more appropriate "youth" stations that they have, along with the ability to fine-tune and customize the stations.

That being said, my Wife tended to prefer Rhapsody's music selection on their default stations for music other than "youth" oriented.
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