Non-Streaming Alternatives to iTunes/iPod

The Allented Mr Ripley

holden
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Oct 2, 2003
11,595
South Shore, MA
I currently have a 5-year old iPod touch on its last legs that needs to be replaced soon. I could just buy a new one, but I've been unhappy with some of the repetitive glitches of the platform, most prominently any new iTunes purchases rarely syncing to my iPod playlists (the majority of my listening is playlist-based).

So I'm entertaining the thought of buying a different DAP. Some items of note:

1. I have an Android phone (Samsung Galaxy 8), but I prefer to have a separate device to store/play music for a variety of reasons. Maybe someone could convince me that this is totally stupid and redundant, but I doubt it, although I'm open to compelling arguments.

2. I prefer to own my music rather than stream it via Spotify or the like. As an artist myself, ethically/morally I'd rather pay for the music I consume outright and own it; if someone could show me any math that says artists make as much money from me streaming their music on Spotify as they do when I purchase their songs, I'd reconsider that stance, but I don't think that's the case. I'm also a completist philosophically; I like to own my songs, not rent.

3. The device needs to have bluetooth/wi-fi capability and at least 128GB of storage.

4. Ideally the user interface is relatively easy, including purchasing/adding new music and building playlists.

Should I just suck it up and get a new iPod touch? Or do I have viable alternatives?
 
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Greg Blosser

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Aug 24, 2001
2,300
Destination Greenpoint
I bought a Fiio X5 (3rd generation) a couple of years ago and love it. The memory is expandable to at least 256GB. It has bluetooth, but I never use it. The sound is incredible - far beyond my old iPod classic.

That said, the interface and the controls are goofy as hell. Everything just seems counterintuititive. You get used to it eventually but it's pretty annoying at first. But for $300, I don't think you'll more bang for your buck than the X5.
 

Gagliano

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Sep 19, 2001
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For what it’s worth, I just bought the new 128 GB iPod touch after a lot of deliberation. Like you, I prefer to purchase my music and download it, and used iTunes for years. I also like that I could convert some of my old albums to MP3s and add them to iTunes.

But, about six months ago I subscribed to Amazon music unlimited, and I’ll never go back. At first I was worried that I would always have to have an Internet connection or cell service to use it, but it turns out that you can download as many albums as you want as long as you have an iOS device. That precluded any kind of android or mini laptop.

Compared to iTunes, the Amazon music app is a breeze (not to be confused with playing music through Alexa, which sucks). It would take sitting down side-by-side with both systems to really see the differences, but like I said, i used iTunes for years, and I’m done with them.

The one advantage of iTunes is that it can import your own music. Currently, Amazon music cannot do that in either online or off-line mode. But, there are third party apps that will do that instead, so I’m fine with that. Yeah, my bootleg Jimi Hendrix albums won’t show up in Amazon Music, but I can still listen to them.

Just my two cents.
 

brs3

sings praises of pinstripes
SoSH Member
May 20, 2008
4,655
Jackson Heights, NYC
I currently have a 5-year old iPod touch on its last legs that needs to be replaced soon. I could just buy a new one, but I've been unhappy with some of the repetitive glitches of the platform, most prominently any new iTunes purchases rarely syncing to my iPod playlists (the majority of my listening is playlist-based).

So I'm entertaining the thought of buying another DAP. Some items of note:

2. I prefer to own my music rather than stream it via Spotify or the like (as an artist myself, I'd rather pay for the music I consume outright and own it). If someone could show me any math that says artists make as much money from me streaming their music on Spotify as they do when I purchase their songs, I'd reconsider that stance, but I don't think that's the case. I'm also a completist philosophically; I like to own my songs, not rent.

3. The device needs to have bluetooth/wi-fi capability and at least 128GB of storage.

4. Ideally the user interface is relatively easy, including purchasing/adding new music and building playlists.

Should I just suck it up and get a new iPod touch? Or do I have viable alternatives?
The financial numbers are dependent partly on ownership of the music, and distribution of money from labels if it's the labels that own the music. Who owns the music, who has writing credit, sample credits, etc. I won't pretend to understand the money breakdown, but for my favorite artists that I support, I will purchase their physical album and then stream it via Spotify. My rationale is I bought the album(say, $14 for 12 songs), and contribute to the number of streams, which eventually add up. Just buying the album alone limits the support I can give. Even if it's a nickel for the amount of music I consume, it's a nickel they didn't otherwise receive. I listen to the entire catalog of a band, so the album I bought 10 years ago for $14, I'm still providing support when I stream their music.
 
On the software side, I've used MediaMonkey for a bunch of years: https://www.mediamonkey.com/ I think a new version is coming out soon (it's in beta now) that will add stuff like streaming to Chromecast Audio (maybe other devices too, but that's what I used to stream to my stereo) from the desktop if that's your thing. Fairly customizable platform (without being as brutal for newcomers as, say, Foobar2000) and doesn't get bogged down with large libraries. Can play lossy, lossless and HiRes files. Supports, I believe, just about any digital player you can throw at it.

In terms of portable digital players, as mentioned, the Fiio line is quite good, and have different products at different price points.
 

Kliq

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Mar 31, 2013
9,691
Not a lot to add and I can't help you philosophically, but the $10 bucks I spend on Spotify Premium is the best $10 I spend every month.
 

flymrfreakjar

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Jun 30, 2006
2,691
Brooklyn
Can’t help with the hardware, but Bandcamp is 100% the platform that pays artists the most, and it’s not even close. And you can of course download the files, or even order physical media from them in addition to streaming. Thousands of Spotify streams usually gets independent artists $5 or less. Thousands.

And thank you so much brs3 for buying records by artists you like, it makes a bigger difference than you think and the world would be a much better place if people followed your example.

I wish streaming platforms would adopt a system where the first 5 streams of a song were free and then after that, if you like it so much you want to listen again, you have to buy the song for a buck. Even that would be a huge step up, as depressing as that is.
 

santadevil

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Aug 1, 2006
3,794
Saskatchestan
Not a lot to add and I can't help you philosophically, but the $10 bucks I spend on Spotify Premium is the best $10 I spend every month.
I'm in this boat too, but I use Google Play Music instead. We have a family plan for $14.99/month, so the wife and 2 oldest kids have their own app and recommendations based on that and can play whatever they want. It's been awesome.
I don't recall any songs I can't find, I have multiple playlists, some of which are downloaded to my phone, so I can stream offline too if I'm out of a service area.

Last night, I was able to install Google Music on my Huawei Watch 2, download a playlist, pair it up with my wireless earbuds and take off for a run, using the Nike Run Club app that I use. No phone needed.