Software Review: Subsonic Media Server

by Stephen Fluin 2011.07.29

A lot of conversations are happening right now around the cloud and media streaming. Apple is launching iCloud, and Google runs YouTube, and Google recently added video purchases to the Android Marketplace. The upside for these types of services is that they are hosted by a 3rd party, and that the content library is going to be extensively provided by someone with automatic access to the latest content.

If you are unwilling to rely on 3rd parties that will charge you for, or monitor, your streaming, Subsonic is a great solution. Subsonic is an open source project that is wrapped in a paid packag by the creator. You can download the java-based server and install it on your Linux, Windows, or Mac based system by visiting The Download Subsonic Page.

Features of Subsonic

  • Native Android and iOS clients (Android relies on Flash in the browser)
  • Subsonic automatically converts your content to an
  • Content Search - The system will index and allow search for each of the folders you have selected to share.
  • Full User System - You can share your media files with others with by giving them a username and password. The application has specific controls for things such as max bitrate, ability to download vs. stream, and monitoring for each users' interactions.
  • Support for SSL - You can ensure that all streaming is performed over SSL, and that unintended users cannot see what files and data you are streaming.
  • Podcast Managements - Subsonic can be connected to feeds so that it automatically downloads and makes available audio or video podcasts.

Unique Benefits of Subsonic

Subsonic's reliance on live use of ffmpeg allows it to work with your existing media collection, regardless of what format it is currently in. This is unique compared to other applications.

Problems and Concerns of Subsonic

The biggest problem with Subsonic is the fact that you need to run a server. Additionally, this server needs to be relatively beefy to adequately support the media search and indexing, as well as the live transcoding that enables you to stream to any device. Second to that is that you will only have access to media that you have acquired, whether legally or illegally. This problem is shared with services like Google Music Beta, but still lacks functionality compared to web services such as Grooveshark.