Self-hosted Streaming Music Server? (Subsonic Alternative)
July 9, 2018 11:15 PM   Subscribe

I've used Subsonic for many years now. I've had a LOT of issues with it being able to stream - so I'm looking for alternatives. Must be self-hosted.

Minimums requirements would be:
Support for all audio codecs and bitrates.
Video serving would be *very* nice, but I don't want that to be the focus. Transcoding.

UI is important to me, Something *very* similar to Subsonic with a simple alpha list of artists. Album image view is fine, but I prefer simple text to browse. Reactive UI/smooth and a nice in-browser player would be good (though I suppose using external app is fine, too)

In the past I've used Zina & Jinzora before Subsonic...

I don't want it to be any sort of library manager or take over my music library, just load a directory/subdirectories and serve webpages.

I have no problems running apache/sql/php, etc... Of course easier is preferred. But I can handle manual configs etc...

Madsonic : Fork of Subsonic
Libresonic : Fork of Subsonic
Ampache : Looks decent? Similar to what I used before Subsonic (
Koel : New - never heard of it before, looks interesting?
Sonorezh - Not too keen on the UI I see here.
CherryMusic - Never heard of it before, not sure I like what I see.
Sockso - Tried it once, but didn't like UI.

Plex seems a bit more movie-centric, and maybe a little too commercial for my tastes, but if enough people swear by it, then I'll consider it, too.
posted by symbioid to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Emby and Ampache are the ones I've been looking at. There seems to be a certain kind of person who is gung-ho for Plex, and there are a lot of them, but I'm under the impression there's kind of a hot rodding quality to it, which doesn't really appeal to me personally.
posted by rhizome at 12:03 AM on July 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

What’s your hardware & software?
posted by wenestvedt at 3:28 AM on July 10, 2018

I'm a Plex user, and in my opinion it's worth a couple hours to try out the free version as a music server, especially if you're already coming from Subsonic and you want to manage your own Music library simply.
Here's the full rundown:

Start: Download Plex Media Server from their site and install on a Windows, Mac, or Linux OS machine. I started with Plex on an old Atom box as my music server if that means anything about resources to you. 10 mins.
Finish: Open the web UI (will look a lot like the Dark Mode for Subsonic) and click to add a 'Library' of type 'Music', and point it at your already existing directory path(s) for where your music is currently stored. Local and Network share drives are fine; I've found that USB shares on Linux can be a bit fiddly to set the correct plexserver-user permissions on, least under Ubuntu. Other than that, no configurations are necessary. 10 mins

That will start Plex scanning your music directories and matching them against CDDB etc to get album art, etc.
It WILL NOT mess with your existing directories, append files, rename, or otherwise try to 'help manage your collection for you'; it just reads what you've got, leaves it alone where it is, and does all the indexing, gathering and appending of metadata within itself. Your files don't get 'Plex'ed' in any way. That scan will take as long as it takes depending on the size of your existing library, but you can start fooling around with interface preferences using whatever albums/artists/tracks pop up first while it continues to scan.

Once you've done that, you can locally stream your music through the web UI or any of a zillion client apps, from Android to Xbox. "Music not in aac flac mp3 m4a and wav formats will be automatically transcoded for compatibility" - so if you've got .ogg tracks and you're using the Plex app on iPhone, your Plex server will detect that and transcode them to another format that the iPhone can play.

If you're happy with what you see after that hour or so of installing indexing and fooling with it, then you're done.

Since the commercialization of Plex was mentioned...
That comes in two main ways: enhanced metadata (better album/artist info, lyrics, automatically generated 'mood' playlists based on track fingerprinting, etc) and more importantly, streaming outside your local network.
Both are paid 'Plex Pass' premium features. If your're fine with sticking to in-home streaming, and don't need the info enhancements, Plex is free.
If you decide to pay $15 for 3 months or $120 for a Lifetime of Plex Pass, your Plex server will do a better job automatically matching and enhancing the info for your collection, and will automatically handle connecting back to your home Plex server through whatever outside network you're on (no setting up a static IP, apache configs, remote credentials, etc) when you're away.

Since you mentioned video would be a bonus for you...
Yes, Plex owes its vitality to users who wanted a friendly & convenient & attractive way to put all the video files they um, acquired, from their computers onto their living room TVs and mobile devices. That makes video the focus of development; but at least it's actively being developed, and since music is so much easier than video, Plex does music just fine.
Video libraries work the same way as Music in Plex; create a 'Library' in the web UI, point it at your video file storage path and Plex will do the rest. Plex Pass subscribers can fancy things up with previews, star ratings and reviews, etc, but if IMDB knows what movie it is, you'll get the poster art thumbnail in the free version. So if you can handle Handbrake or MakeMKV, you can rip your video collection and put it into Plex as well, and use your server as an HTPC or play back through your game console or your Roku or whatever.

Since 'hotrodding' (or as I like to call it, "I built a home media server as a project and.... shit, I guess this is my life now") has also been mentioned...
Video file formats are a hassle, and video transcoding is even moreso, since you've got both device compatibility and bandwidth to deal with. That means hardware, which turns into time and money and headaches.

For just an MP3 music collection, you can probably get away with a tiny Raspberry Pi or an old laptop and USB hard drives if that's your thing. In which case stop there for your own sanity and free weekends.

If you'd like to do a video server because you've got a bunch of old DVD cases cluttering up your living space and you'd rather rip them to .mp4/Stereo and put the physical discs away in the attic, that's easy, do that and stop there for god's sake.

Because beyond that is a whole deep dark rabbit-hole of "Encoded in 4K/7.1 Dolby for the TV but I also want to watch it on my phone in the bathroom stall at work" and "I want it to be a DVR for broadcast TV too, but I want to record, strip out the commercials, re-encode as .mp4, then add it to the library, all as an automated process" hair loss and teeth grinding that I'd advise against unless that sort of goosechase brings you personal joy in itself.
If you're interested in that, I can tell you more and save you a bunch of hassle.

But spend an hour on music in the free version of Plex, and maybe rip a DVD or point it at an .avi file or two if you like what you see first. If you've got a need for a media server, Plex is totally worth a Thursday evening tryout.
posted by bartleby at 3:41 AM on July 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

Madsonic : Fork of Subsonic
Libresonic : Fork of Subsonic

I've read that the communities for these isn't as active, but Airsonic (another fork) is.
posted by bluecore at 4:28 AM on July 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm a LONG time ampache user (like, well over a decade) - it's still actively maintained, and you can use your subsonic client of choice with it, as it has a subsonic backend that just works (I used DSub for streaming audio from my ampache server to my Android devices).

Highly recommended.
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:10 AM on July 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the replies. Wenestvedt, I've got an i5 w/8 gigs of ram. In theory it should be capable. Maybe video could use a bit more heft but I haven't run into any issues with subsonic until the recent issues w/streaming.

I guess I'll try some of the recs here and see how I like them :) Thanks for the airsonic mention, hadn't heard of that one.

Anyone else has other suggestions or recs - will still gladly listen :)
posted by symbioid at 8:30 AM on July 10, 2018

I'm a hardcore Plex user but I think it kind of sucks for music. It works fine for me streaming from their browser app but their phone apps are.... not very good at all. In fact they just made their phone app way worse which led me down this same road this week, trying to find a solution for syncing and streaming music.

I looked at Ampache but the phone clients are all pretty bad too. I ended up going with Airsonic which I run along side Plex, and use Dsub on my phone.
posted by bradbane at 9:27 AM on July 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

I didn't realize Ampache had a Subsonic API, I guess I need to take a closer look at that
posted by bradbane at 10:47 AM on July 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So - I installed plex, and tried to set my local port and it refused, so I then thought that ports under something like 10k are blocked at the ISP level, but then, I realized that I was able to pull up subsonic page, just not streaming, so that wouldn't be it. It's weird it wouldn't see my custom port when it would work before, maybe UDP (is that the serial/synchronous protocol - forgot off the top of my head) - but maybe that's why?

But yeah I looked at the Plex, and the app kinda sucks, really disappointed for the tablet, and even the Music UI in the web browser leaves me feeling high and dry. I don't want to pay for the plex app after seeing what it does. Also holy cow did it take forever to metadata the files, etc... Man.

Guess I'll mess with ampache, airsonic and emby to see how they roll.
posted by symbioid at 5:58 PM on July 12, 2018

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