Open source Plex alternatives for music libraries?
August 17, 2019 4:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm using Plex right now for music streaming of my collection, but I'd like something that's open source and a bit better for music specifically. Specifics inside.

I've been using Plex for a while, but while I like it fine for movies and TV shows it's not quite what I want for music. I'd like to switch it out for something open source, if possible.

My gripes with Plex currently are 1) doesn't do crossfade, so there are often gaps between songs in albums where there should not be, 2) editing metadata in Plex doesn't carry over to the files themselves, and 3) often Plex will freeze up or the player freezes up while playing music on my home network. I don't run into this with movies or TV shows, unclear on whether the problem is the player or the server.

My collection is about 1TB, split into 3 libraries (a main library, a library for jazz/classical, and a library I put things that I'm not sure I'm going to keep). Something that's very good at tagging/categorizing music is really a bonus.

Needs to run on Linux, and bonus points if there's an iOS app that it can sync to. That's a big bonus but not mandatory.

Needs to support FLAC and MP3. Currently trying to convert everything to FLAC, but I still have a lot of MP3s and probably won't get to converting everything for some time.

Any top-notch recommendations?
posted by jzb to Technology (9 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
might want to check out subsonic. I think it meets most of your criteria, Im not sure about the metadata requirement. (runs on linux, does flac, crossfade, ios access) you will need to pay for the monthly ($1) or lifetime ($99) if you want to use the ios/android app to access.

There is a handful of other music servers that may serve your need here: including madsonic, which is a fork of the subsonic, not sure what the client access capabilities are though.
posted by edman at 5:14 PM on August 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

MPD (clients, mpad/pod appears to be called Rigelian now)
posted by rhizome at 5:38 PM on August 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Look into slimserver. It's the server software for slimp3 (that was subsequently purchased by Logitech and then abandoned several years later). I don't know how actively it's being developed and supported but I believe it has working ports for several operating systems and clients for many operating systems and devices. I've only ever used it on Windows servers but it's served (no pun intended) me well for about 15 years across many computers and devices.
posted by ElKevbo at 5:58 PM on August 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Subsonic is weird in that it's open source but the version from the developer isn't really free. Essential features are locked (what's a streamer that can't stream to a phone?). IT works pretty well for music/audiobooks though.

However, it is open source and people have forked versions that remove the limitations. It's a bit more work to build and install if you use one of the freer forked versions.
posted by jclarkin at 7:43 PM on August 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

What are you streaming to? Only Local or over the internet? For local, mpd is the traditional starting point for whole house audio or ice cast streaming. is a dedicated distribution and web front end for mpd that’s worth checking out. None of the MPD remixes offer metadata editing, you’re expected to directly modify the files. Cross fade is supported.
posted by unknown knowns at 12:25 AM on August 18, 2019

Is the music stored on the same system where the server software will run, or do you share it from another device (NAS, server, etc.)?
posted by wenestvedt at 4:38 AM on August 18, 2019

"What are you streaming to?"

Mostly local network. Occasionally I've used Plex to play music at friends' homes, but rarely.

"Is the music stored on the same system where the server software will run, or do you share it from another device (NAS, server, etc.)?"

Currently it's local storage, though I keep thinking about setting up a NAS for local backups and media storage, so it may be NAS at some point.
posted by jzb at 5:35 AM on August 18, 2019

The thing with MPD is that it's AFAIK more of a jukebox where you queue up songs that are played over audio devices connected to the server and/or streamed over HTTP (in a relatively common way). One playlist, one stream.

It's not a streaming server in the way that each client gets to play whatever song they want on a per-client basis. Multiple clients, multiple streams.

I'm also not sure how easy it would be to have multiple independent collections without e.g. running multiple MPD servers one for each collection.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:49 PM on August 18, 2019

I see MPD listed up above, which is best (IMO) if you want music played at one place, and controlled from potentially multiple sources. When this was our use case I was quite happy with it, but we've moved away from computer connected to speakers/tv and moved to roku/chromecast video/chomecast audio in multiple locations.

I use Libre Sonic which is a free version of SubSonic which was mentioned up above. Any client that works with SubSonic will work with Libre Sonic. My wife get's easy access to our music while she's at work, and we've got playlists on our phones for bluetooth playing in our cars.

For Android, my favourite client is dSub - it's $5 on the Play store, but it doesn't crash like the other clients, and works with chromecast audio. One can configure to turn off non-wifi streaming, or limit the number of songs to preload if they're not already cached. The cache size is configurable.
posted by nobeagle at 6:11 AM on August 19, 2019

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