Save Streaming Audio Files on Ubuntu-based Linux Distributions
Tagged with audio, linux, music, spotify, ubuntu on December 21, 2023
You can save streaming audio as files to your devices, but not with the usual download options. I can’t tell you how to do it on Windows or Macintosh computers, Linux distributions not based on Ubuntu, or mobile devices.
Some streaming audio services provide Linux versions of their desktop clients, including Spotify. The sound quality isn’t the best with the free option (at 128 Kbps), and you have to deal with advertisements. If you upgrade to premium, you can get the best quality music they offer without advertisements. You may not care about the best quality for podcasts and other non-music audio.
The Downloaded Streaming Audio
The highest quality with some streaming audio services is 320 Kbps (lossy). Spotify calls that “Very High”. Tidal provides true lossless quality, as does Deezer. They have clients for Windows and Macintosh, but unfortunately, not for Linux. The web players for each would probably be sufficient, but I wouldn’t want to rely on them.
With Spotify, The downloaded files are not saved as actual audio files, they’re saved as cache files (and I don’t doubt some others work the same way). The converters I’ve found by searching are either designed for Windows only (and aren’t free) or are too old to be of any use. The easiest thing to do, though time-consuming, is to simply record the audio as it’s being played, just like I used to do when I was a teenager in the 1970s.
Recording Streaming Audio with Audio Recorder
With Ubuntu-based Linux distributions, you can install “Audio Recorder”. After I save songs, I verify that I’ve saved them correctly when my “Rhythmbox” audio player displays the correct bitrates.
I download (cache) the Spotify playlists. When I don’t, I can experience “stutter” when my Wi-Fi connection starts acting up. I don’t experience it at all if I remember to download first. Deleting a song from a playlist will delete the cache files pertaining to it, so I don’t have to worry about the storage space it consumes.
To install the audio recorder in a terminal:
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:audio-recorder/ppa sudo apt update sudo apt install audio-recorder
The developer creates a new version for every new version of Ubuntu.
Is This Legal?
Absolutely. Feel free to read about the “Audio Home Recording Act”. The law basically legalized what we all did before computers became household items, and then extended it. We recorded music from radio to tape, sometimes with the commercials added and sometimes with some DJ nonsense added as well.
Doing it this way is the same thing, but without all the background noise. The recording industry and associated affiliates don’t like it, but they can’t stop it.
Recording audio from Spotify, if it’s named as the source in the interface, is automated. As soon as you hit play on the first song in the playlist, the audio recorder starts and stops with each song until the playlist is finished. If automation for a certain service isn’t available, recording is more tedious and time-consuming. You have to listen to what’s playing as you record it in its entirety.
The next step is to edit the tags with something like “EasyTAG” (which is what I use). Completing both steps for one file doesn’t take long, but doing it for a lot of files will consume hours of your time.
Gigabytes of Music
I have more than my fair share of music files, and I store them on high-capacity external media. My music is from the 60s onward, with most of it being 80s rock and new wave music. I have some from other genres as well, including country, R&B, and soul. Even though I detest most rap songs, I even have a few of those.
I don’t like being limited to one device or another. Saving music as audio files means I can listen to those files on any device I own or will ever own. Saving it at the highest lossy quality available means I probably won’t have to do it again. By the time I do (if that ever happens), I’ll probably be too old to care.
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