Plex's new Super Sonic feature matches ‘sonically similar’ music to make playlists

Despite the massive influence of streaming music services like Spotify and Apple Music, many people still listen to music that they’ve purchased and stored digitally on their PCs. Plex provides a new opportunity for those folks to find musical connections inside their own collections.

Super Sonic is a new feature included with a Plex Pass membership ($5 per month, $40 per year) that launched today. The company claims to do a neural A.I. analysis on all of the music in your collection with the help of this new feature and then create “sonically similar” lists based on the results.

If you happen to own Taylor Swift’s two most recent albums, one example is given. You might be shocked to find that they sound musically close to Lana Del Rey’s music, given how different they sound from many of the artist’s previous songs.

Within your music library, the algorithm can identify sound matches for artists, albums, and tracks. Plex says that because its matching method is based on dozens of data points from each song, rather than recommendation engines on music services, which are generally focused on customers’ listening habits, it can find similarities even among your most obscure indie favorites.

Another example is Neil Young’s Mirror Ball, which turns out to be a musical match for Pearl Jam’s Vitalogy.

plex super sonic feature
Credit: Plex

Super Sonic requires the installation of Plex Media Server on a Mac, PC, or Linux system. The company even warns that your system may get extremely hot when the first database is produced due to the complexity and intensity of the neural A.I. process. As a result, Super Sonic isn’t supported on Plex Servers that operate on ARM-based devices like NAS drives or the Nvidia Shield TV.

For playback, you’ll need to utilize the company’s Plexamp music client. The Plexamp interface displays all sonically comparable matches that aren’t available in the normal Plex web client or applications for popular streaming devices like Roku or Apple TV.

The company is also using the Super Sonic dataset to replace the Plex Mix feature, which has been deactivated, with new options like Track Radio, Album Radio, and Mixes For You, which creates playlists based on your most-played music, interspersed with sonically similar selections that you might not play as often.

Unfortunately, Super Sonic’s potential as a music-finding tool may be limited. Because it only works with music in your library, the system won’t be able to do that match if you don’t own the Taylor Swift albums mentioned above, as well as some Lana Del Rey tracks. Similarly, if you possess every album in Swift’s discography, Del Rey is unlikely to appear as a musically comparable artist because the comparison is limited to Swift’s most recent albums and singles.

So, even if your favorite K-Pop band sounds a lot like one of the popular boy bands from the 1990s, Super Sonic won’t help you figure out the link unless you possess both. Even if you have a Tidal membership, the only streaming music provider that can be linked directly into the Plex interface, this is true.

Plex may be able to significantly increase Super Sonic’s capabilities, but in order to do so, it will almost certainly need to collaborate with a music service or record company to obtain the data it needs to conduct matches that aren’t in its user’s personal library.

To know more about this feature visit the official blog here.


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