MOG: A Spotify alternative

After testing stream music services for last week’s post, Rdio came out the winner but had some shortcomings; its stream was sub-CD quality and the music library had noticeable gaps. That lead me to MOG, an early entrant into the U.S. mobile streaming market. I passed over the service a year ago, but with recent praise of the service’s sound quality on Twitter, I decided to give it another look for the past week.

Bottom line: after only a few days of MOG usage, I’m impressed. I’ll be signing up for both MOG and Rdio’s $5 a month web plans for the foreseeable feature. There’s a few reasons you should consider MOG as well, especially if you’re intrigued by Spotify:

  • Every song is streamed at a consistent 320kbps bit rate over the web and can be stored offline on mobile devices at the same quality. For audiophiles this feature is probably worth $5 per month on its own. It’s the only streaming music service I’ve used that rivals the sound quality of my CD rips and downloads from services like Amazon, iTunes and 7Digital.

  • Track selection is excellent, closely matching Spotify’s offerings. There isn’t a clear winner between the two services; Spotify tends to have better euro-pop and electronic selections while MOG has better coverage of classic and indie rock. Either way, at least from my informal tests, it was hard to find serious gaps in either.

  • MOG has the best artist radio service around. Granted, picking an artist and listening to an auto constructed playlist selection isn’t new; Pandora pioneered the format and Rdio offers a similar option, albeit in a very simplified form. Yet MOG’s version is excellent: By default, a radio station just has music from a single artist, but as you move a slider to the right, more related artists are gradually mixed in. It’s a very slick, customizable tool for more passive listening sessions.

  • MOG’s player is web based while retaining fast performance for track and playlist curation. For a lot of people, Spotify’s desktop client at work is not an option due to installation restrictions; therefore web clients are essential for them. Web clients are also easier to access on a public or friend’s computer.

MOG still has weaknesses: Lag between tracks is more significant than with Rdio and Spotify. Their new beta player, which cleans up nearly all the of the clutter from their previous UI (and strongly resembles an HTML5 version of the Spotify player) still has some minor bugs to be worked out. Social networking and music is also fairly limited, even compared to Spotify.

Nevertheless, if sound quality and library size are important factors to your listening experience, I’d highly recommend giving MOG a try. Some may find MOG’s relative lack of social media and good discovery options aggravating, but there’s several ways to remedy this problem. First, Spotify already has a set of useful playlist web sites for inspiration. Alternatively, you can follow my route: retain an account on Rdio almost exclusively for music discovery while relying on MOG as the primary player.