Itunes Library Streaming From DropBox
July 11, 2013 1:38 PM   Subscribe

I want to stream my iTunes music from my DropBox via an iOs app called Tunebox. But my music's Apple Lossless, and Tunebox only handles AAC/MP3. So I need to efficiently recreate/duplicate all playlists with lossy versions and figure out where to store the darned music library.

Hijack Prevention Statement: I insist on streaming from DropBox. I don't want to use iTunes Match, Amazon, Google or any other set-up. I'm open to iOs app suggestions beyond Tunebox, but don't see any that better suit my needs. I'm uninterested in opinions about the quality of audio formats or bit rates

I recently upgraded to DropBox Pro, and want to throw all music there, to stream from anywhere onto my iPhone (thus removing most music locally-stored on the iPhone). Tunebox seems like the go-to app for such streaming.

I tossed a symbolic link of my music library into DropBox, and Tunebox found all the music. Cool. But then I learned that Tunebox only plays MP3 and AAC. So I'm going to need to down-convert.

I have room in my DropBox for large audio files (even my Lossless library takes up only 50gb), so I intend to go with 256 kbps AAC. But I don't want two versions of every file in my iTunes, and I certainly don't want to painstakingly create new AAC version playlists for all my old ones.

So how do I handle the conversion, how do I organize the library, and what exactly goes in Dropbox?

One option: create a new and separate iTunes library in Dropbox JUST for the down-converted files. Since I don't often new music, I wouldn't need to open that library much with the iTunes app, so the existence of two libraries shouldn't(??) confuse it too much.

Other option, is since 256AAC is, to my ears, nearly as good as Apple Lossless, I guess I could just deep-archive the lossless rips somewhere and keep only the AACs in iTunes for every day use. And just stay with using a symlink from iTUnes music in Dropbox.

Any other ideas?
posted by Quisp Lover to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The conversion shouldn't be too hard -- any batch converter worth its salt will convert and put the new file in the same location as the old one. The playlists, though...that's a different story.

You might find some help in Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes. What I ended up doing, however, was creating my own batch script (I did it in Linux, but presumably you should be able to execute it from the terminal on a Mac or the Windows command line) to simple find and replace bits of text in all my actual playlist files.

Here's a Stack Overflow about creating a batch script (bonus: the command line will do this for you, *and* the command is "fart") to find/replace in multiple files.

Good luck. It always seemed like this kind of thing should be easy, but it's not ever easy when iTunes is involved, in my experience.
posted by nosila at 2:08 PM on July 11, 2013


"It always seemed like this kind of thing should be easy, but it's not ever easy when iTunes is involved"

Amen. I always feel like I'm the only one who ever wants to do a given thing....even when the thing is the most obvious thing in the world (like stream my music to my iphone via dropbox)!

And Doug's is great, but most of his stuff is pretty old, and won't work with recent versions of iTunes, alas.

Thanks for the script stuff. Helpful!
posted by Quisp Lover at 2:32 PM on July 11, 2013


I'm the author of Tunebox and thought I'd weigh in here.

The obvious other answer to your question is, well, Tunebox should just play lossless formats. I haven't done that so far, mostly because lossless files are big enough that streaming performance is likely to be pretty terrible (and if you stream on a cell connection, you'll burn through a ton of data usage).

But, now that I've added an offline mode to Tunebox, it might make sense to add support for lossless audio. You could save albums while you're on WiFi and play them later. Streaming bandwidth isn't an issue as long as the file is local. I'm still not sure the benefits are worth the effort + potential problems, but am thinking it over.

So anyway, I'm psyched that you're so excited about my app you're willing to transcode all your audio to be able to use it! If you're interested in talking more about lossless support, drop me a line (support@yearofcode.com) and I'd be happy to chat more about it.
posted by phil_yearofcode at 1:57 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Phil, great to have your input. Thanks. I'd guess it'd make most sense for you as well as future readers-along to answer questions here rather than via email. So.....

I haven't done that so far, mostly because lossless files are big enough that streaming performance is likely to be pretty terrible

Good to know. That means my plan to use 256 AAC files (which are quite large, too) might be doomed, as well. What format would you suggest, given that I'd stream in some areas with sketchy reception? (shouldn't all this be in a FAQ somewhere?).


But, now that I've added an offline mode to Tunebox, it might make sense to add support for lossless audio. You could save albums while you're on WiFi and play them later.

Not to be thick-headed, but what's the advantage of my using offline Tunebox as opposed to keeping music files local on the device via iTunes/Music?
posted by Quisp Lover at 11:05 AM on July 17, 2013


Also, in the prefs, what does "enable wireless download" mean?

Again, a FAQ somewhere would sure help!
posted by Quisp Lover at 11:06 AM on July 17, 2013


So, even fairly high bitrate AAC audio should be several times smaller than ALAC or other lossless audio. Most of my audio is AAC at around 192kbps, but I'd recommend whatever bitrate you're comfortable with listening to.

The idea behind "offline mode" is that if you're going to be offline, in sketchy cell service, or whatever, you can pre-download songs/albums so they'll be available. Tap the download button next to a song to grab it. There's a button at the bottom of each album to get the whole album.

This is pretty similar to the functionality that iTunes Match provides, so if you have all your music in iTunes and you've paid for iTunes Match, that might be a good option. Advantages to Tunebox are that you don't need to do any syncing ahead of time, you can use any music that's in your Dropbox (might be easier to add to on the go) and you can stream or download for later playback as you prefer.

The "enable wireless download" setting just changes whether or not downloading songs for offline play can happen on a wireless/cell connection (vs. WiFi). If you turn it off, Tunebox will still stream audio over a cell connection, but will wait until you're on WiFi to download tracks you've asked it to get for offline play. That's there because you can really chew through a ton of wireless data if you pull down a bunch of albums -- way more than you would streaming.

There's also an "offline mode" button. Tap that and Tunebox will pretend it has no network connection, and won't use any data at all. Might be helpful if you're roaming and data is pricy.

There should be a FAQ for all of this, I agree. I'll try to make that happen soon.
posted by phil_yearofcode at 8:39 AM on July 22, 2013


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