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Have you ever stopped to think about how amazing music identification apps are? In a matter of seconds, they can search through millions upon millions of songs to find out which one is playing near you 4 Ways To Find Out The Name Of That Elusive Song 4 Ways To Find Out The Name Of That Elusive Song Read More . It’s much better than the old days of trying to Google bits and pieces of lyrics that you remember.

Shazam is a household name in the music ID department, but it isn’t uncontested. Just like we did on iOS Which Music Identification App Is King? Which Music Identification App Is King? Smartphones armed with music recognition apps make it easy to find out which song is playing at any given time, but which service is best? We compared Shazam, SoundHound and MusicID to find out. Read More , we’ve selected the five most popular apps in this category to go head-to-head. We’ll start with a brief overview of each app, followed by several rounds of increasingly difficult identification challenges.

May the best app win!

App Overviews

First, let’s look at the biggest features that each app offers.

Shazam

Based on popularity alone, Shazam is the app to beat in this showdown. The app features a clean, four-panel interface. Its Home tab features its iconic blue button that you can tap to start listening. Shazam also features an auto-listen feature Shazam Gets Continuous Listening in New iPhone and iPod Touch Update Shazam Gets Continuous Listening in New iPhone and iPod Touch Update The recent update of the free iPhone and iPod touch app, Shazam, includes a feature for continuously recognizing popular songs and TV shows it hears. Read More that can identify the music around you even when the app isn’t open.

shazam-android

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If you’re offline, Shazam will save what it hears and find a match for you later. It also contains ads, which you can remove for a pricey $6 upgrade to Shazam Encore. Overall, Shazam’s interface is clean, offers a lot of information when you tag a song, and offers neat music discovery features.

Note that Shazam can also ID movies and TV shows Think Shazam Only Identifies Music? Think Again [iPhone] Think Shazam Only Identifies Music? Think Again [iPhone] More often that not, the creator of an app is content to sit back and enjoy the success and not evolve. That's fine in some situations, but it's really fantastic when an app creator is... Read More , along with special new tags on products. Since other apps can’t do this, we won’t compare those features.

Download: Shazam (Free)

SoundHound

SoundHound is probably Shazam’s biggest competitor. Its main feature set is similar, but it offers a few differences that make it more appealing to those who want a full-featured app. SoundHound features a big orange button for music tagging, but it also support voice controls.

Saying “OK, Hound” allows you to tag music and search for information on artists without your hands. It’s not that much more useful than the built-in functionality of Google Now 6 Google Now Features That Will Change How You Search 6 Google Now Features That Will Change How You Search You may already be using Google Now on your Android device, but are you getting all that you can out of it? Knowing about these small features can make a big difference. Read More , but it’s still neat.

soundhound-android

SoundHound also features its own music player, which can play songs you’ve tagged, or popular song mixes. Anytime you tag a song, you can listen to or purchase it with various services, add it to your favorites, read the lyrics, or see what album the song came from.

Interestingly, you can sing or hum music and SoundHound will try to identify it. Again, since other apps don’t do this, we won’t compare this feature, but if you often have a tune stuck in your head, this could help you find more music. SoundHound is supported by ads and offers a $6 upgrade to SoundHound Infinite.

Overall, it’s a solid app that offers enough features over Shazam to make it worth a try. While some of these features are duplicate or inferior to other apps or tools (the voice search is basically Google Now, and the music player isn’t the best The 15 Best Non-Streaming Android Music Player Apps in 2016 The 15 Best Non-Streaming Android Music Player Apps in 2016 Want to play local music on your Android device? One of these apps is going to work for you. Read More ), you might like it if Shazam feels a little bare to you.

Download: Soundhound (Free)

TrackID

Though not as popular as the above two, Sony’s TrackID still boasts a lot of downloads. Its app is much slimmer than its counterparts, as the app only features three main tabs. The Discover tab is like the others and lets you see what’s hot.

A unique feature to TrackID is its Live map which shows you real-time tags from people around the world, with the option to listen to a few seconds of each song as it comes in. This is a pretty cool way to see what people around the world are listening to Music Makes The World Go Around [We Ask You Results] Music Makes The World Go Around [We Ask You Results] We asked where you go music, and loved the response: over 100 comments (and counting) make for a fascinating discussion. Read More .

trackid-android

Other than that, this one is pretty barebones. When tagging a song, this app gives you the fewest options. You won’t find direct links to music videos or lyrics. Instead, the app will send you to YouTube or AZLyrics 6 Non-Crappy Ways to Find Lyrics for Your Favorite Songs 6 Non-Crappy Ways to Find Lyrics for Your Favorite Songs When it comes to music, I'm a lyrics maniac. When the Internet came along, I was looking for lyrics for any new song I encountered, wanting to make sure I really knew what this song... Read More search to find them. This keeps the app from feeling bloated, so those who like to keep it simple should give TrackID a try.

TrackID is supported by ads, but there doesn’t seem to be a way to remove them.

Download: TrackID (Free)

Musixmatch Lyrics

Musixmatch, which used to be paired up with Spotify How to Restore the Best Features Spotify Has Removed How to Restore the Best Features Spotify Has Removed Spotify may be the best music streaming service available, but it has shed a few features in recent years. Find out how to get the best lost features of Spotify back for good. Read More to provide lyrics, also identifies music.

Because Musixmatch is more of a lyrics app than a music ID app, it doesn’t feature the popular charts or anything like the others. Instead, you can play music from your local library through the app to see its lyrics. The app also has a floating lyrics feature, which lets you see lyrics in real-time as you listen to music.

musixmatch-android

Musixmatch’s premium plan is $10/year and lets you save lyrics for offline use, as well as removing the ads. Because of its nature, it won’t work when used offline The Best Offline Android Apps for Living Without Data The Best Offline Android Apps for Living Without Data Data plans are expensive, and you don't need them. Here's how you can get by without one and still take full advantage of your Android smartphone. Read More , so you can’t save tags for later.

When performing general testing with popular music, Musixmatch was incredibly snappy. The lyrics sync perfectly with the song, no matter where it starts listening. It’s a pretty slick app, and probably worth having in addition to one of the other full-featured ID apps mentioned here.

Of course, we’ll only compare the app’s ability to correctly identify songs in this battle.

Download: Musixmatch Lyrics (Free)

MusicID

By far the least popular of the apps on this list, we gave MusicID a try on iOS and figured we’d include it this time too. Like the others, it includes a Charts feature to find popular music. It’s definitely a minimalistic app.

musicid-android

Upon tagging a song, you can add a comment to remind yourself why you liked that song later. In our testing, the music information screen was incredibly slow to respond; we had difficulty getting a sample to play or adding a comment. MusicID’s artist pages are pretty slim, as they contain only albums and similar artists.

You aren’t able to tag songs offline at all in this app. While TrackID feels slimmed-down for a reason, MusicID ends up a little short compared to the other choices here. It’s not awful, but it’s definitely the worst of the five.

Download: MusicID (Free)

Summary of Interfaces

Overall, there’s no clear-cut winner in the app design department like there used to be. Shazam is a safe pick and contains plenty of ways to share and interact with music. SoundHound is great for singing or humming, and its voice controls and music player are nice bonuses.

TrackID doesn’t bog you down will all sorts of extras, and Musixmatch is a lyricist’s dream. There’s really no reason to go with MusicID.

The Showdown

To keep things equal, all apps were tested using music from Spotify Is It Worth Upgrading to Spotify Premium? Is It Worth Upgrading to Spotify Premium? Spotify Free brings you tons of music at no cost, but are the extra features of Spotify Premium worth shelling out for? Let's find out... Read More played at the same volume with my Nexus 6P Nexus 6P Review and Giveaway Nexus 6P Review and Giveaway Google's newest high-end Nexus phone is here, but is the fingerprint sensor enough to make this pure Android device worth it? Read More in the same place. We’ll start each track at one minute into its running time since songs may start out with instrumentals or silence. Each app will be given up to three attempts to identify the song if needed.

I will note how long it takes each app to ID the song so we can get the best results. Since these apps are used to popular music, we don’t want to use any easy Top 40 tracks. We’ll start at a moderate difficulty and make it harder as we go.

Round One — Medium Difficulty

Let’s start things off with two tracks that you don’t hear every day, but aren’t terribly unknown either. Both of these songs have under 10,000 plays on Spotify, and their artists have fewer than 1,000 followers.

Track 1: Save Me by Runaway City on Armored Heart (2010)

  • Shazam: Identified the track in 11 seconds.
  • SoundHound: Identified the track in 15 seconds.
  • TrackID: Failed three attempts.
  • MusixMatch: Identified the track in 5 seconds.
  • MusicID: Failed three attempts.

Track 2: Fluid by Seven Channels on Seven Channels (2001)

  • Shazam: Identified the song in 2 seconds.
  • SoundHound: Identified the song in 14 seconds.
  • TrackID: Failed three attempts.
  • MusixMatch: Identified the song in 5 seconds.
  • MusicID: Failed three attempts.

In the easiest round, two apps weren’t able to identify the songs at all! They’ll probably struggle with the harder rounds coming up.

After one round, Musixmatch is in first with 10 seconds total, Shazam in second with 13, and SoundHound is behind, with a total of 29 seconds.

Round 1 Winner: Musixmatch

Round Two — Hard Difficulty

Next, we move into some tougher tracks. Both these songs have under 1,000 plays on Spotify and their artists have fewer than 100 followers.

Track 3: Annapolis Anthem (feat. Gda) by Airbud (Single, 2016)

  • Shazam: Incorrectly identified the song as Fabrics by Felly on all three attempts.
  • SoundHound: Failed three attempts.
  • TrackID: Failed three attempts.
  • MusixMatch: Failed three attempts.
  • MusicID: Failed three attempts.

Track 4: Thank You, Teddy Roosevelt! by Daddy Crimbo on Daddy Crimbo!! (2006)

  • Shazam: Identified the song in 11 seconds.
  • SoundHound: Failed three attempts.
  • TrackID: Failed three attempts.
  • MusixMatch: Identified the song in 3 seconds.
  • MusicID: Failed three attempts.

The apps struggled a lot more with this round than they did in the iOS challenge. Three of the apps failed to identify either song from this round, and Shazam got one wrong! We’ll tally up the penalties and failures at the end.

Round 2 Winner: Musixmatch

Round Three — Extreme Difficulty

For the final round, we want music that almost nobody has heard. For this, we’ll use Forgotify — a service that lets you listen to songs from Spotify that have zero plays Forgotify Helps You Discover Unloved Music On Spotify Forgotify Helps You Discover Unloved Music On Spotify Spotify has 20 million tracks sitting there waiting to be found and loved. This is where Forgotify enters into the equation. It dedicates itself to delivering the undiscovered tracks no one has yet played on... Read More . This is perfect for our use — the more random the songs, the better!

Track 5: Sway by Antonio Nasca on Volare…in swing (2006)

  • Shazam: Identified the song in 11 seconds.
  • SoundHound: Incorrectly identified the song as Sway (Michael Buble) by Karaoke on Zoom Platinum Artists [Volume 77]. Incorrectly identified the song as Sway by Michael Buble on Michael Buble on the third attempt.
  • TrackID: Failed three attempts.
  • MusixMatch: Failed three attempts.
  • MusicID: Failed three attempts.

Track 6: You Don’t Know – Schoko Remix by South & Burnz on You Don’t Know (2013)

  • Shazam: Identified the song in 11 seconds.
  • SoundHound: Identified the song in 16 seconds.
  • TrackID: No surprise — failed three attempts.
  • MusixMatch: Identified the song in 7 seconds.
  • MusicID: You guessed it — failed three attempts.

It seems like the apps did better with the unknown music than they did in the previous round. Shazam is the only app that identified both songs in this round, making it the winner.

Round 3 Winner: Shazam

And the Winner Is…

Let’s tally up the results!

MusicID and TrackID tie for last, as both apps failed to identify a single song in this challenge. SoundHound took 45 seconds to identify everything, plus two failures and a penalty for an incorrect ID.

Musixmatch took only 20 seconds to identify everything, but had two failures. Shazam took a grand total of 46 seconds to identify the songs, plus one penalty for an incorrect identification.

If we convert each incorrect matching penalty to ten seconds, our subtotals are:

  • MusicID/TrackID – Fail
  • SoundHound – 55 seconds, two failures
  • Musixmatch – 20 seconds, two failures
  • Shazam – 56 seconds

Finally, converting each failure into 20 penalty seconds gives us the winner:

  1. Shazam at 56 seconds.
  2. Musixmatch at 60 seconds.
  3. SoundHound at 95 seconds.
  4. MusicID and TrackID with nothing.

While Musixmatch was a lot faster than Shazam, it also had two failures. Shazam wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t fail to identify any songs. Thus, we crown the best music identification app on Android as:

Shazam!

Because Musixmatch doesn’t have all the features of the others, we recommend trying out Musixmatch for lyrics but keeping Shazam installed as well. Musixmatch gives you instant lyrics and quick matches, while Shazam brings discovery features and links with other services.

SoundHound is worth a try for its alternate features. Only use TrackID if you need a slim app, and don’t even bother with MusicID, as it performed poorly in the testing and its feature set is bested by TrackID.

Which music ID app did you use before this test, and will you switch based on these results? Let us know if you found this interesting, and try throwing some uncommon tracks at your music apps too!

Originally written by Yaara Lancet on April 29th, 2013.

  1. Jim Carter
    November 24, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    Pitiful test. I want immediate identification from the song intro. Additionally; I would have chosen songs from different eras and genres. In my unbiased tests, Google beats all these apps.

    • Ben Stegner
      November 24, 2016 at 7:14 pm

      Thanks, glad the two hours I spent here were appreciated.

      Google doesn't seem to provide its Sound ID widget anymore; thus I didn't test it here.

  2. Tara
    May 29, 2016 at 3:04 am

    Hello there! there is a song that I have been trying to find out the name of and who it is by for about 20 years now. The first time that I heard this song predates smartphones and predates Shazam and as a matter of fact it was a DJ friend of mine who made this mix and recorded it on to cassette tape for me and his girlfriend. I played that tape so much that it broke. Well, the very last song on that tape was my absolute favorite and to this day still is. I asked him repeatedly for months and months to tell me what the song was and who it was by what record he got it off of and he always refused to tell me. I've tried using Shazam when I heard the same song or at least part of it playing in the background of an astronomy show that I was watching on the Science Channel. Shaxam couldl not pick it up. Which app do you recommend to use to try and figure out what song this is.? It'sa song that I have been trying to find out what it is for about half of my life now. Can you please help me?

  3. kukekkk
    February 15, 2016 at 3:17 am

    The champion of MIREX2015 in audio fingerprinting algorithm competition, ACRCloud, and it provides audio recognition web service SDKs and APIs, which is easy to integrate, also supports singing and humming. So, there's nothing difficult to do audio recognition now.

  4. Anonymous
    May 6, 2015 at 9:34 am

    I find shazam can recognize classical well.its amazing

  5. Richard
    December 18, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    I would suggest trying some of the many of the orchestral pieces on the web. all of the pieces from Disney's fantasia and Fantasia 2000 are available, as well well as those from an Italian homage to fantasia called Allegro Non Troppo (which is a great movie by the way - ravel's Valse Triste and Debussy's Prelude de l'Apresmidi d'un Faun are favourites). The San Francisco Ballet's version of Strvinsky's Rite of Spring is also available on-line (and if the app can't recognise this one, I would declare it useless from classical.

    Rico P

  6. don
    September 24, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Seriously, I've used them all But Google Ears / Google Sound Search is the best out there.

    • Yaara L
      September 25, 2013 at 4:51 am

      As I mention in the post, Google decided to limit this to US only. It may have changes since, though.

  7. Zach
    July 4, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    I like how none of the songs were classical songs or orchestral pieces. These apps dont do very well finding even popular classical songs and that is a shame.

    • Yaara Lancet
      July 5, 2013 at 2:08 pm

      Well, I did include the Bear Mcreary track, which is instrumental, but I don't know many orchestral pieces to try. I believe some of them would have recognized the more famous classical pieces, but probably not the more obscure one. It's worth a try.

      • Zach
        July 5, 2013 at 6:54 pm

        Thanks for your reply. I was trying so hard to learn the name of this piece but was unable too. It may just be an obscure piece but like you said I just gave it a shot.

  8. richard Lowe
    June 13, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    After downloading Soundhound, Shazam and musixmatch, I played several tunes on a Steinway piano in mint condition including the Star Spangled Banner, Darn That Dream, It Could Happen to You and no match was found. Really great apps. Any ideas ?

    • Tina Sieber
      June 21, 2013 at 9:05 pm

      Maybe your input method is too sophisticated. Did you try to hum the tunes instead?

    • Yaara Lancet
      June 22, 2013 at 8:20 am

      I believe most of these apps work only with recordings of actual songs, so they might have a rough time with piano playing. Shazam is the only one that supports singing and humming, so it's the only one I would expect to work using this method. But even that might not be accurate. I guess mobile apps can't do everything just yet!

  9. salim benhouhou
    April 30, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    i tried Musixmatch it does a very good job

  10. Xeon Shu
    April 30, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    I am a Sony user and have TrackID as a stock apps.
    I tried several alternative including Shazam and SoundHound,but I chose to stick with TrackID as it has the simplest interface and it is a free and stock app, work well for me.Well,it's stock and free, just a little ads that didn't really annoy me,I might just as well live with it.

  11. macwitty
    April 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    I have used Shazam for a while and good to know I can stay ; But also good to know the alternative when Shazam fail

  12. Nevzat A
    April 30, 2013 at 9:39 am

    I don't know what happened to good old SoundHound but it can't recognize the songs properly anymore. It used to be my fav. :(

  13. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    April 29, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    Ignore my earlier comment. Was supposed to delete it, but clicked 'post' instead. After reading the post again, it's clear that TrackID is still as good as ever in finding rare tracks.

    • Yaara Lancet
      April 30, 2013 at 6:06 am

      Got it. :) TrackID indeed is a pretty good app, it managed to completely surprise me a couple of times!

  14. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    April 29, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Back in 2009's, before TrackID was still a preinstalled app in some Sony Ericsson's phones, it was pretty impressive, managed to find almost everything I threw including obscure tracks and tracks in Chinese and Japanese. Too bad the current incarnation sounds so poor.

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