November 29, 2018

Turning Plex Music up to Eleventy: TIDAL integration and massive player upgrades!

If you use music in Plex, today is a very exciting day for you, because we’re adding some ridiculously cool new features, like a killer integration with TIDAL. And if you don’t, today might just be the day you start…

I’m old enough to remember ripping every CD I owned, one by one, on a really slow computer. Having instant access to my entire collection felt like the future. Now that it actually is the future and everyone can easily stream just about any track, anywhere, for a few bucks a month, it’s like we’re all walking around with the library of Alexandria in our pocket (only a bit less… burney).

For those of us who have personal music collections, we have a conundrum. How do we keep discovering quality new music? How do we avoid losing ourselves, and our curated albums, in an infinite sea of music? How can we put technology to work for us? Well, dear reader, we’ve taken a serious run at solving those problems. We’ve partnered with TIDAL, who has a vast universe of music, most of it available in high quality FLAC, and we’ve worked out some really, really great ways to combine it with your own library.

You don’t even need a server to enjoy TIDAL’s full catalog at your fingertips inside our Plex apps. If you’ve been on the fence about getting a Plex Pass, there’s never been a better time, as we have some killer deals which combine a TIDAL subscription with a Plex Pass. With the month free trial, you can easily give it a try—dust off your music collection, check out the TIDAL catalog, buy that subwoofer, annoy your neighbors.

Artist recommendations: On the artist page, we’ll recommend other artists you might like which aren’t in your library.

Filling in missing albums: Huge fan of “The Sign” but missing some of Ace of Base’s newer work? No worries, Plex will show you any missing albums from the artist.

Augmented artist radio: You know that awesome artist radio feature we added? First seen in Plexamp, Artist Radio builds a playlist of tracks from your library that captures a musical theme for a given artist. Now it’s even more awesome, as it will mix in tracks from TIDAL as well!

New releases for you: It’s hard to keep up with all the new releases, but we’ve made it easier, by recommending new albums from artists in your library. But only if you don’t already have them. It’s like a butler saying “sir, you may be interested in this” while you sip a Bloody Mary on the balcony in your silk dressing gown.

Universal playlists: It’s never been easier to create the perfect playlist, as you can now mix and match from your own server, shared servers, and TIDAL.

Universal Search: Hear about a new band? (Remember, know who Arcade Fire is.) Our apps now return TIDAL results alongside matches from your library, for maximum convenience.

Discovery Radio: The Plex media server knows you, because it knows your library. It knows what music you’ve been listening to, so it can build a special playlist just for you which contains artists that are not already in your library, so you can discover new gems. It does not know if you’ve been naughty or nice.

And by the way, all you die-hard users of any other streaming music service– I mean really, almost any– there is a solid chance that you have playlists that you care deeply about and that you want to bring with you. Fear not! Soundiiz is the service for you: it will take your playlists and transfer them into TIDAL with just a coupla clicks of your mouse. Magic!

Having access to a universe of high-quality music is just one piece of the puzzle. In order to truly enjoy it, you must also have a world-class music player. If there was one thing that the Plexamp project showed us, it’s that having a great player makes a huge difference. So we asked ourselves: could we bring the best features of that player to our apps, and maybe even add some additional goodness to it? Why yes, we could, and we did. Here are the highlights of the player we’re pleased to be launching today on iOS and Android mobile:

  • Highest quality audio: Direct play of streamed FLAC, ALAC, MP3, AAC, APE and MPC. Floating point processing pipeline. For low-bandwidth scenarios, we offer best-in-class transcodes (Opus is an amazing codec).
  • Gapless: For you Dave Matthews, Phish and EDM fans, you can now have seamless transitions between tracks.
  • Loudness leveling: [Plex Pass] Normalizes audio levels between tracks and albums. You can’t live without it when you’re shuffling, unless you want to develop carpal tunnel from reaching for the volume knob.
  • Sweet fades: [Plex Pass] Crossfades are tired. Sweet fades are wired. Dumb crossfades just overlap tracks by a fixed amount; our sweet fades compute the optimal crossover point between every single pair of tracks and use that to deliver an ear-delighting mix.
  • Advanced hybrid caching: Especially in mobile environments, caching ahead is key! Our player not only caches the entire current track to disk, but will read ahead the entire next track as well, to ensure continuous playback even across network transitions and glitches. The cache also stores recently played tracks so you can avoid cellular usage when possible. Keep the music playing!
  • Soft pauses: Details matter. We do a gentle fade out/in when you’re pausing. Life is harsh, interruptions to your music shouldn’t be.
  • Silence compression: [Plex Pass] Ever listen to a podcast where there’s quite a bit of dead air? Our advanced silence compression feature shrinks periods of silence in spoken word content like Podcasts. Often you’ll see a 10% speedup with virtually no perceptible difference. And remember, time is the most valuable thing.
  • Voice boost: [Plex Pass] Interesting fact: not every podcast producer has high quality studio equipment and trained audio engineers on staff. Not to worry though, our sophisticated voice-boosting compression algorithm makes it seem like they do.

We have one more little goodie for you, which should hopefully show you how obsessed we are with making your music experience amazing. We added artist radio to give you the ability to get a great mix from a bunch of different artists, but what if you just want to listen to a single artist? Enter Magic Artist Shuffle. We’ve rewritten the naive shuffle to take into account your listening history, track ratings, popularity, duplicate tracks, and more. Now available for all in the latest media server release, just hit shuffle on any artist to experience the new goodness.

We made heavy use of Barkley’s sensitive ears to tune our new music player.

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Turning Plex Music up to Eleventy: TIDAL integration and massive player upgrades! is a premium feature and requires a Plex Pass subscription.

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