February 5, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Hands-On Review: Audiobox’s Music Cloud Locker Pretty Much Rules

audiobox fm web ios review cloud music

My recording of a Christmas roast sizzling on SoundCloud is right there, along with my cloud music in a slew of other places. Now, I can make iOS-cache-able playlists across all of them.

One big problem with music — arguably the biggest, because it could solve so many of the others — is that services and formats don’t work together very well. In a perfect world, every song you’ve ever bought on any format, liked, “Liked,” or tagged would be available to you, forever, anywhere, without you doing much to make that happen (other than paying a reasonable monthly fee).

We might not ever get there, but we’re getting closer. Another sign: iCoreTech Audiobox, a do-it-yourself cloud locker service, wraps up a bunch of official-style cloud music services into one neat package for the web and, now, on iOS devices too.

Without paying a cent, you can stream music from your own computers to any other computer or iOS device. It’s super easy, once they all get indexed — you basically just install the desktop software and mobile apps, create an account, and pick the folder on your computer that you want to turn into a free DIY cloud music service.

Oh, and you can turn any of that music into playlists that can be cached on your iOS device, so you don’t even need a connection to play them. It’s your cloud in a box! That right there would make this a worthwhile app for both the web and iOS, especially because it also includes all the music you’ve uploaded to YouTube and SoundCloud.

But if you pay, things get more interesting.

For $1 per month and up, your account adds an Audiobox cloud locker (5GB and up), plus the ability to play music from other lockers, such as Dropbox, Box.net, Google Drive and SkyDrive (full list below). So basically, for a dollar a month (none of which goes to copyright holders, presumably), you can run your own cloud music service drawing on all of your cloud lockers, your SoundCloud uploads, your YouTube uploads, and of course all of your own computers. If you’re still living in a “buy or download” world and want to do the music cloud, this is the way to do it.

Audiobox also offers a feature list that is justifiably described as “kickass.” The following are available in the free version, for the price of a confirmed email address:

  • Streaming any music on your home computer (Linux, Mac, or Windows), so long as it’s switched on and running the DIY music locker software
  • Offline playback (crucial to media’s future)
  • Native AirPlay integration (on iOS) so you don’t have to do this to put your music on AirPlay speakers
  • MusixMatch lyrics
  • Social sharing
  • Gapless playback
  • Every song you have uploaded to YouTube (it would be nice if you could access other YouTube music too, but that’s cool)
  • Everything you have uploaded to SoundCloud (ditto)
  • Ability to control iOS playback from compatible car stereo
  • Integration for sharing and scrobbling with your Facebook, Last.fm, musiXmatch, SongKick, Twitch.tv, and Twitter accounts.

If you pay at least $1 (for 5GB of Audiobox storage), you’ll also get all the music in your Dropbox, Google Drive, Box.net, and/or SkyDrive accounts, so you don’t even need to rely on Audiobox (or your own computer) for storing files. These services can automatically sync folders — like, for instance, your music folder — to the cloud, meaning that you can play all of the music on your home computer without having it turned on, the way you must with the free plan. But you can also do that.

And, again, you can make downloadable playlists from across all of these places, and your own home computer, by just dragging and dropping songs in the web interface.

We’ve been testing Audiobox a great deal today, after seeing the flurry of press coverage following yesterday’s announcement. Now that we’ve actually put it through its paces, we heartily recommend it.

(the announcement)