Steam Music: A Look at the Beta

Steam Music: A Look at the Beta

Steam Music is a very basic service at the moment, but the foundation is both solid and promising.

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A preference of many music enthusiasts, especially many that prefer the FLAC format, is loudness normalization via the Replaygain tagging, which is completely open and implementable by Valve with free libraries.

Spotify actually does loudness normalization, though they have a very high reference level that pushes older music down since it is less squashed than almost all content released in the past 15 years. Replaygain uses -18 LUFS (LUFS defined by the EBU R128 recommendation) as a reference. ITunes Soundcheck around -16.7 LUFS and it uses its own clumsy loudness scanning algorithm which works less well according to some mastering engineers, such as Bob Katz.

Nothing is more irritating than having to fiddle with the volume dial for every song, just like in TV broadcasting, which is why loudness normalization is now the norm there. Even radio stations have been doing it, though with destructive means and not an overall volume change to the one song at a time.

That's what I'd consider a good component of a pleasant listening experience, which Spotify delivers to a reasonoable degree.

Soundcloud for example does not. And if Valve fails to do it, the Steam music service will be infuriatingly less practical than using a good music player like Foobar2000.

I don't get it. A media player for PC that does far less than every single one that already exists. What possible reason could anyone have to use it? Seriously, "limited" local options - as in it can't play most music, can't do playlists, can't do literally anything that anyone would actually want it to - and no non-local options whatsoever? That's not a "solid foundation", it's a completely useless piece of crap.

Kahani:
I don't get it. A media player for PC that does far less than every single one that already exists. What possible reason could anyone have to use it? Seriously, "limited" local options - as in it can't play most music, can't do playlists, can't do literally anything that anyone would actually want it to - and no non-local options whatsoever? That's not a "solid foundation", it's a completely useless piece of crap.

I believe the point here is for people using SteamOS, it'll be the native default music player - much like windows comes with windows media player, SteamOS will come with Steam Music. Doesn't stop you using another player if you wish to, but basic functionality is already there and ready to go. I suspect this is also why the service is limited to Big Picture Mode - for a desktop user, its entirely useless as you almost certainly already have another program to do this for you.

Having said that, if they want widespread adoption not having a desktop version does seem a bit silly to me, as at least for now BPM users are in the significant minority, I would have thought.

Devin Connors:
although, admittedly, there's no need to leave the BPM version of Steam unless you detest it for some reason

I would like to be able to multitask on my computer, which BPM pretty much curtails. I'll never understand the push toward "Full-screen apps"; it doesn't make sense on a desktop system. For mobile, yes, screen real-estate is limited anyway, trying to add window management will just make it impossible to use, and consoles suffer similarly due to controller input limitations... But on desktop (or laptop) window management - proper multitasking - is one of its primary advantages.

Kahani:
I don't get it. A media player for PC that does far less than every single one that already exists. What possible reason could anyone have to use it? Seriously, "limited" local options - as in it can't play most music, can't do playlists, can't do literally anything that anyone would actually want it to - and no non-local options whatsoever? That's not a "solid foundation", it's a completely useless piece of crap.

Let's see. It's an incomplete, unstable, horribly buggy, extremely early beta of an integrated Steam feature, that's prone to crashing Steam altogether. I also don't see how it can compete with the likes of Foobar right now.

 

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