Grooveshark Android Anywhere Review

Recently the folks over at Grooveshark reached out and gave me some love in the form of a free VIP membership to Grooveshark Anywhere, the premium version of their very popular platform. I’ve been testing it for about three weeks now. Is it worth shelling out your cold hard cash even though the free version is well, free? Read on to find out.

The Mobile Version Of Grooveshark is available at http://m.grooveshark.com/

Grooveshark Anywhere allows you to access Grooveshark from a number of different devices, most notably from an Android phone, for about $10 per month. It also allows you to use the Grooveshark Desktop Client on your Mac or PC so you don’t have to watch the random YouTube video before streaming your music. This review deals with the Grooveshark Android App

After 3 weeks of using the application on my phone (HTC One X), it’s been a mostly positive experience, but not without hiccups…

Grooveshark Android Review

User Interface

The Grooveshark Android interface is cleanly laid out and very self explanatory. The fact that there’s not much to say about, is in itself praise to the Grooveshark designers. You know what everything is and how it works without having to learn.

grooveshark android  Grooveshark Android User Interface

 

Sound Quality

I’m a picky bastard when it comes to my music. I listen to it all day long, so having to put up with bad quality can ruin my experience. Fortunately, this is not the case on the Grooveshark app. In the setttings menu you have the option to stream high quality files. You can choose if you want this on all the time or only on wifi.

I tried the feature using my phone’s 3G connection (1mb line) and the results where great. Crisp, clear audio with detailed midsections and full low end.

Play high quality files on Grooveshark android

Ease of Use

Overall this is a very easy app to use. Select a playlist and then hit play, it’s that simple. The radio feature allows you to choose a station based on genre and then let it play. Popular is just that – music other Grooveshark users think is good (the results are scary, so I don’t use this).

You can access songs you’ve added your collection or your favourites using the icons on the main menu, all with no trouble.

Sharing

Offline Mode

Grooveshark Android Offline Mode
One of the major selling points for GSA is that it allows you to choose which songs you would like to save on your device to be accessed in offline mode. You’re able to select individual song or grab an entire playlist in one go.

In the app settings you can choose how much space you want to assign to Offline songs, so you won’t need to worry about Grooveshark Anywhere chomping through more memory than you’re comfortable with. Because the HTC One X doesn’t have an SD card slot, I wasn’t able to test if the file location can be specified.

Obviously, stations and sharing are not available in offline mode, along with any music that you have not saved to your phone.

Frustrations

Offline mode is the major source of my frustration. When downloading a playlist to Offline mode and then listening back , songs would frequently stop playing or not start to play at all. The App would then pause for a while and jump back to the first song in the list.

This happened pretty much all of the time I used the offline feature, so it got quite annoying. When GS released an update for the app. (2.7.1) the annoyance dropped to about 20%, but didn’t disappear.

Another annoying bug is that sometimes the next song in a playlist would load but not play. This means I have to take the phone out of my pocket and hit play a couple of times during a playlist. This becomes a real pain in the ass when docking your phone and loading a playlist, only to have to walk over and hit play every couple of songs. Hopefully this is an easy fix and something that can be rectified in a future update.

Another small but niggling problem is the long delay between songs in offline mode. Sometimes the delay would be as much as 5 seconds between songs. This isn’t an eternity, but because of the problem mentioned above, I kept checking my phone to see if there was a problem with the playlist. A couple of times there was in fact a problem. Even when there was a hint of a problem, I started to get annoyed thinking that the list had stopped again.

Update: Apparently these are HTC issues and the Grooveshark team is working on it.

Other things to like

Caching of recently played songs and album artwork – this is a nifty feature that saves the most recently played songs as well as album covers on your phone so that GS doesn’t need to load it every time.

LastFM Scrobbling – just like the Grooveshark desktop player, the Anywhere app will log the music you play with Last FM so you can access them later and see exactly what you’ve been listening to (for no good reason).

Media Button Reponse – the app responded to the controls on both the stock HTC headset as well as my ZAGG smartbuds. There’s a teeensy bit of lag, but nothing to get worked up.

Conclusion

Even though the bugs in Grooveshark really bug me, it turns out they weren’t dealbreakers. I haven’t used my iPod since I started using this Grooveshark Anywhere App, which is a win for me since I now have less thing to carry around (it also helps me rationalize how much I spent on my phone) .

I think that with a few bug updates and fixes, this will prove to be an amazing app, but until then you’ll need to settle for pretty damned good. Is it worth your $9,99? I think it is.

Feature Requests

There are still somethings that would be nice to see in the Grooveshark Android Client

  • Edit playlists (specifically removing unwanted songs from a playlist)
  • Share Playlist with another Grooveshark user
  • Update

    After Jessica mentioned that the issues I was experiencing might be unique to HTC phones, I took the Grooveshark app for another test on a Samsung Galaxy S. So far, the offline issues have not presented themselves, but there is still a fair amount of lag between songs in Offline mode.

    Footnote: This review was done on Grooveshark App version 2.7 and 2.7.1 using a 2012 HTC One X and a 1MB 3G connection to access the internet.

    Grooveshark logo

50 Dilla Joints in a Grooveshark Playlist

J Dilla (aka Dilla, Jay Dee, James Yancey) is arguably one of hip hops greatest producers. The main man behind Slum Village and a key member of the Soulquarians and definitely lost to soon. Grooveshark user Scotty Dizzle Dizzle put together this J Dilla Playlist of 50 Dilla produced tracks for our enjoyment.

Don’t forget to bookmark this page, so you can enjoy this playlist whenever you want.You can also subscribe to the playlist on your Grooveshark account

J Dilla playlist

J Dilla by Scotty Dizzle Dizzle on Grooveshark

J Dilla Playlist

If you enjoyed this playlist, you should also check out the Questlove DJ set put together to commemorate the 6th anniversary of Dilla’s passing.

El Michels Affair – Sounding Out The City – Grooveshark Playlist

The way I found El Michels Affair is a little back to front.  I discovered a track off their second album “Enter The 37th Chamber” called C.R.E.A.M. It’s not just any track, but a cover of a Wu Tan Clan Classic. After listening to the rest of the Chamber album, I then discoved their 2005 debut album – Sounding Out The City. I’m a huge Dusty Fingers fan, so this kind of blues, soul and funk inspired Jazz is right up my alley.  If you’re looking for something laid back and instrumental to put you in a good mood, this is just the thing.

Scroll down and listen to the full Sounding Out The City album in the Grooveshark playlist

Sounding Out The City by El Michel's Affair

El Michel’s Affair – Sounding Out The City by Lester Hein on Grooveshark

The Cinematic Orchestra – Everyday – Grooveshark Playlist

Listening to anything by The Cinematic Orchestra usually calms me down. “Everyday” was one of the first of their albums that I got my hands on, and I love the sounds, textures and phrasing employed.

Listen to the full album on the Grooveshark playlist below.

The Cinematic Orchestra – Every Day by Lester Hein on Grooveshark

cinematic-orchestra-everday

Rock Dust Light Star – Jamiroquai on Grooveshark Monday

Today’s Grooveshark playlist is by one of my favourite bands of all time – Jamiroquai. Rock Dust Light Star is their seventh studio album and continues in the disco/funk/dance vein that made their ealier works popular.

Listen to the full album below on the Grooveshark player.

Black Light – Groove Armada – 8.5/10

Groove Armada -Black Light- 8.5/10

AlbumRating: ★★★★★★★★½☆ 

Genre: Electronica/ Dance
Release Date: January 2010
Favourite Tracks: History; Look Me In The Eye Sister; I Won’t Kneel

The Short Version
Even though this album is a dance album, it gives a very firm nod to rock and roll with lush guitar tones, live drumming and acoustic vocals. The first thing that struck me when I listened to this album was that this was the record The Killers should have made after Hot Fuss. It has the same textures, the same dark urgency and vocal intensity. If you put The Killers, Moloko, Moby and David Bowie in a blender, the result is this synth heavy glam rock dance smoothie. Sip slowly and enjoy

 
Groove Armada – Black Light by Lester Hein on Grooveshark
 

Groove Armada - Black Light

Control Grooveshark Desktop with the Media Keys on your keyboard

After moving to a new computer I’m having to re-install all my programs and get it tweaked just the way I like it. One the things I like to be able to do is control my Grooveshark Desktop Player with the media keys on my Logitech Access 600 keyboard.

Control GrooveShark With Keyboard Media Keys

To do this, I installed the Grooveshark GSDesktop Global Keyboard Shortcuts driver. You can find it on the Grooveshark wiki here – http://grooveshark.wikia.com/wiki/GSDesktop_Global_Keyboard_Shortcuts

Be sure to set it so that the Keyboard Shortcuts starts with Windows, otherwise you’ll need to run it manually every time you restart your computer.

Control Grooveshark with your keybaord

Before I could get it to work, I had to make sure that I had the  right keyboard drivers, which installed in a snap. Download Logitech Access Keyboard 600 drivers

et voila. Keyboard controlled happiness

UPDATE
I’m now using an Apple wired keyboard with Numpad on my windows machine (to keep the typing experience consistent when I move from Mac to Windows) and this hack works fine to control grooveshark with the media keys on the keyboard.

All I had to do was to map the keys to do what I wanted. I used a registry entry program called SharpKeys – http://www.randyrants.com/sharpkeys/

 

UPDATE: Windows 8
The Grooveshark Helper works for controlling Grooveshark with your keyboard in Windows 8 as well. You will be presented with a popup saying that Windows has blocked the application. Click on the ‘More Info’ link and then on the ‘Run Anyway’ button.