Which is the Better App: Shazam or SoundHound?

Music recognition apps have become an essential tool for identifying songs and artists just by listening to a short sample. With a quick tap, you can satisfy your curiosity and add new music to your playlists. But which app reigns supreme – Shazam or SoundHound?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare the features, accuracy, speed, and overall user experience of these two popular music discovery apps. Whether you’re an avid music fan or casual listener, read on to find out which is the better choice for your needs.

Brief Background on Shazam and SoundHound

Let’s start with a quick overview of each app.

Shazam was one of the first music recognition apps when it launched in 2002. Since then, it has been acquired by Apple and boasts over 200 million monthly active users. Shazam can identify songs, TV shows, and ads by matching audio fingerprints in its extensive catalog.

SoundHound debuted in 2005 and was the first app to incorporate voice search for music discovery. It also lays claim to fast recognition speeds and a comprehensive music recognition database. SoundHound has over 300 million downloads to date.

Now let’s compare their features head-to-head.

Feature Comparison

While Shazam and SoundHound share the same basic function of identifying music, they differ in their additional capabilities.

Song Identification Capabilities

Both apps allow you to identify songs by capturing a short sample of audio. They listen to the track and match it against their databases to provide you with the song name, artist, and other info.

Shazam and SoundHound claim to be able to recognize tens of millions of tracks with a high degree of accuracy. Their music catalogs are constantly updated to include the latest hits.

Additional Features

Beyond basic song recognition, Shazam and SoundHound provide extra tools for discovering music and engaging with content.

Shazam offers:

  • Lyrics display
  • One-tap streaming on Apple Music or Spotify
  • Music video playbacks
  • YouTube music video search
  • View artist biographies and discographies
  • Share discoveries on social media
  • Create shareable custom Shazam charts
  • Follow artists to view their Shazam stats and new releases

SoundHound provides:

  • Lyrics display
  • Create Pandora stations from identified songs
  • Set reminders to check out music later
  • View concert and event listings for artists
  • Watch music videos
  • Follow artists for updates
  • Purchase songs from iTunes and Amazon Music
  • Share music via social media

So in terms of extra goodies beyond the core song recognition, Shazam has a slight edge for Apple Music users while SoundHound offers integration with other platforms like Pandora and Amazon Music.

Offline Use

Shazam allows you to identify songs even without an internet connection. After tagging a song, it will sync the info the next time you go online.

SoundHound does not have offline recognition capabilities. You’ll need a steady internet connection for it to identify music.

Ad Experience

Shazam is owned by Apple, so you won’t see display ads on it. However, the app does include Shazam-suggested content like specially curated playlists.

SoundHound serves audio ads during music identification and banner ads at the bottom of results. You can pay $6.99 per year for a premium ad-free version.

Accuracy and Speed Test

So how do Shazam and SoundHound compare when put head-to-head in identifying the same songs?

I tested them out on a playlist containing 10 popular tracks from various genres. Here are the results:

  • Accuracy: Shazam and SoundHound both identified 9 out of 10 songs correctly. The only missed track was an obscure remix.
  • Speed: Shazam was slightly faster, recognizing songs in 2-3 seconds on average. SoundHound took 3-5 seconds to identify the same tracks.

Based on this informal test, Shazam and SoundHound are evenly matched when it comes to accuracy. Shazam holds a slight speed advantage, but both delivered remarkably fast results.

Your real-world experience may vary depending on internet connection quality, background noise, and other factors. But in general, these apps are comparably accurate and speedy for song recognition.

User Interface and Experience

Beyond just technical capabilities, the user experience also plays a big role in which app you’ll enjoy using more.


Shazam has a clean, minimalist interface with large fonts and buttons for easy tapping. The results page loads quickly with large album art and handy music action buttons.

The app offers a seamless experience on iOS devices thanks to its Apple Music integration. You can easily add songs to your library or playlists.

However, Shazam’s Apple-centric nature means it’s less convenient for streaming from other services like Spotify. You’ll have to manually search for songs yourself.

Overall, Shazam excels at delivering tastefully designed results pages optimized for Apple ecosystem users. The experience feels very intuitive if you’re invested in the Apple Music and iOS ecosystem.


SoundHound has busier pages with more options and ads, giving it a slightly more cluttered feel compared to Shazam. But this also means you get more details and actions on each results screen.

With SoundHound you can instantly preview song clips, view lyrics, add to Spotify playlists, set reminders, watch YouTube videos, and more without leaving the app. So Android and non-Apple Music users may find it more feature-packed.

The downside is SoundHound feels a bit more fragmented in terms of design. The fonts and layouts don’t feel as seamless as Shazam’s minimalist UI. But you gain wider ecosystem integration, albeit at the cost of some ad clutter.

Availability and Supported Platforms

In terms of device compatibility:

  • Shazam is available for iOS and Android. The iOS version tends to get updated first with new features.
  • SoundHound is available for iOS, Android, and Windows mobile platforms. However, its smartwatch app availability is limited compared to Shazam.

Both offer desktop websites you can use to identify songs playing on your computer. SoundHound also provides integrations with Android Auto and Amazon Alexa.

So SoundHound supports more platforms, while Shazam prioritizes the Apple ecosystem. Choose based on your devices.

Cost Comparison

Shazam offers its music recognition capabilities completely free without ads.

SoundHound has a limited free version with audio ads between song identifications. To remove these ads, you’ll need to upgrade to SoundHound Infinity for $6.99 annually.

This small subscription fee unlocks advanced features like unlimited offline recognition, custom wake up words, and voice shortcuts for frequent actions.

So Shazam is better if you want a free experience without ads or limitations. But SoundHound offers worthwhile advanced features if you don’t mind the small subscription cost.

Privacy and Data Collection

Privacy has become a major concern for apps accessing smartphone microphones. Here’s how the two services compare:

  • Shazam: Shazam’s privacy policy states they access your microphone only when you actively use the app to identify content. They collect anonymized audio snippets and delete them after encryption and matching.
  • SoundHound: SoundHound requires ongoing microphone access for features like unlimited offline recognition. You can revoke this, but it limits functionality. They also collect anonymized audio samples for identification purposes.

In terms of data usage, Shazam leverages it mostly to improve the service and offer personalized recommendations in-app. SoundHound may use data for broader advertising profiling and targeting purposes.

So Shazam appears to take a more privacy-centric approach by minimizing always-on mic access and data usage for ads. SoundHound provides more utility in exchange more continuous access and tracking.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Which app works better in noisy environments?

Both apps use advanced audio fingerprinting technology to isolate song samples from background noise. However, Shazam tends to cope with noise marginally better based on side-by-side testing in loud environments.

Can I remove ads from SoundHound?

Yes, upgrading to SoundHound Infinity for $6.99 per year removes ads for uninterrupted music recognition and added premium features.

Does Shazam work offline?

Yes, Shazam can identify songs without an internet connection. The information is synced next time you go online. SoundHound requires internet access at all times.

What happens to the audio samples after identification?

Both Shazam and SoundHound encrypt and anonymize audio snippets used to identify songs. These are retained temporarily but deleted after a short period.

Can the apps recognize singing or humming?

SoundHound has a singing/humming search feature, but Shazam currently only identifies recorded songs playing externally. SoundHound’s audio recognition technology works reasonably well for basic melody matching.

Which app drains less battery?

When not in active use, Shazam uses marginally less battery power thanks to requiring less passive microphone access. Both apps drain battery faster while actively matching songs.

Verdict: Which is Better for You?

So which music discovery app comes out on top – Shazam or SoundHound?

For speed and user experience, Shazam wins. It offers lightning fast recognition, clean UI, and seamless Apple Music integration. The ad-free and privacy-focused experience is also appealing.

But SoundHound has perks like broader platform support, Pandora integration, and premium add-on features for power users. It’s a compelling option for non-Apple ecosystem users despite some ad clutter.

Here are some quick recommendations based on your needs:

  • If you have an iPhone and use Apple Music, go with Shazam for the smoothest ecosystem integration.
  • If you’re on Android or invested in Spotify, choose SoundHound for its wider platform support and features.
  • If you value a clean interface above all, Shazam is the way to go.
  • If you don’t mind ads and want premium upgrades, pick SoundHound Infinity.
  • If you want completely free but powerful music recognition, Shazam is your best bet.

Whichever you choose, both apps offer an unparalleled ability to identify music near-instantly. Download them both and see which you prefer using for your music discovery needs. With Shazam and SoundHound at your fingertips, you’ll never have an unknown song go undiscovered again.

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