Android apps: SoundHound

Posted on June 21, 2010

I’ve been meaning to do a section where I spotlight apps in the Android market, so this is as good a place as any to start.

The app: SoundHound
Cost: Free for 5 songs/mo; or $5 paid

SoundHound is basically Shazam on crack. At its core, the app does music identification. So if you’re, say, at a bar and there’s a song on, you can fire up SoundHound, hit the big orange button, and it’ll record the song through and identify it for you. But here are two places where it diverges from Shazam: for one, it’s way faster. Shazam has to record a full fifteen seconds or so before it starts identifying; SoundHound, by comparison, starts recognizing songs after six or seven seconds. On one test I just did, it added a little caption after awhile that let me know I could stop recording even before it finished. And even then it wasn’t necessary; after eight seconds or so it displayed the exact track I was playing.

The second, and far cooler difference, is that it can pick up on any sort of audio. You can hum or sing part of the song and it’ll recognize it. I attempted a rather poor version of the main Fellowship melody from The Fellowship of the Ring, and it recognized it. That’s a fairly obscure melody, I would think, but their system still recognized it. (Another test that’s marginally more embarrassing also worked.)

The 5 song per month limitation is a bit low, especially when Shazam is free, but apparently you can earn more songs if you post on Twitter or something. Still, for $5, it’s honestly worth shelling out, even if you use it a handful of times. I’d gladly support further research for a system like that. Well worth checking out.

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