Which is better: SoundHound or Shazam?
When you're out at a bar or in the car and a song comes on, but you don't know who sings it, where do you turn? This is especially prudent if you happen to love the song and want to have it to listen to all the time.
Shazam gets top billing for music identification services because its developers marketed the hell out of it, and it took off. Have your heard of SoundHound? It's another music identification service that has about half the downloads of Shazam, but it's a diamond in the rough and worth your consideration.
But which one's better? It all depends on what you want it for.
As a pure music identification service
First and foremost, Shazam and SoundHound are there to identify whatever song is playing in your immediate environment. SoundHound is much better at discerning songs, and it does so with the most satisfying flourishes.
When I first downloaded SoundHound years ago, I had a song stuck in my head for days, but I didn't know any words nor did I know the artist. I had heard about Shazam, and, at my wit's end, decided to download it. I "sang" into it with gibberish words to see if it could come up with the song. Every single time it came back with "We didn't get that; try again."
It was driving me nuts, so I researched other services and found SoundHound. I figured I'd give these apps another go, so away I went singing gibberish to SoundHound. Before I could tap done, it came back with a list of three results. Two were same song — a studio version and a live version. I checked them out. YUP. FOUND.
SoundHound is vastly superior to Shazam when it comes to song identification. It's better able to pick songs out in a noisy environment (even in a bowling alley!), and it'll even give you the specific version of a certain song. I was listening to a live track once and SoundHound even came up with the specific concert. Shazam still doesn't handle live versions of songs very well, and it has trouble in noisier environments.
If you're looking for pure music identification prowess, then go with SoundHound. Hands-down.
The social aspect
As with all apps, Shazam has developed a social side, and with its recent Snapchat-like update, it's now more of a social platform than song identifier (and rightly so, because it's barely the latter).
When Shazam identifies a song, it then connects you to multiple related platforms, so you can watch YouTube videos, get lyrics, preview songs in Apple Music, add them to Rdio and Spotify playlists, find Pandora radio stations based on the artist, and more. You can even see what certain celebrities are Shazaming.
Shazam also has other interesting gimmicks, where you can take photos of the Shazam logo in various places to hear certain exclusive songs by artists.
All that being said, SoundHound easily connects to your Spotify account, and it has Apple Music integration to let you find and play songs quickly and easily. It als features an embedded YouTube players so you can watch music videos and listen to songs for free. So really all SoundHound lacks is the gimmicky stuff Shazam has, like the celebrity connections and the Snapchatty interface. And some people love that stuff, so if that's your angle, check out Shazam.
But if you just want to be able to play the tunes your discover in your Spotify or Apple Music playlists, then SoundHound is still winning. Shazam's kind of just the "sellout" version.
Which should you use? SoundHound
From a pure "it just works" perspective, SoundHound is the winner. The app simply does exactly what it's supposed to do, and where Shazam fails, SoundHound strongly prevails. You can hum to SoundHound; you can sing gibberish; you can be in a louder environment, and you'll still get results. Don't get me wrong; it doesn't work every time, but it does work much better than Shazam.
If you like the social side of things: discovering music by photographing the Shazam logo at certain businesses, seeing what celebrities are listening to, and receiving your own curated "mix" (based on artists you choose), then Shazam wins.
As far as Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube integration are concerned, these apps are relative equals, though SoundHound's hands-free "Ok Hound", which lets you control the app and add songs to Spotify and Apple Music hands-free notches it forward a bit.
All in all, SoundHound does its job better than Shazam, and if an app's going to take up space on your phone, it might as well be a good one.
Which do you use?
Let us know in the comments below.