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How do Shazam and SoundHound work: The Science Behind Music Recognition Technology

shazam and soundhound | shazam vs soundhound logo

Music recognition technology has become a cornerstone of our daily lives. Whether we’re at a party, in a coffee shop or just hearing a new tune on the radio, Shazam and SoundHound have become our trusty allies in identifying the songs that we love. But how do they work? In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the science behind music recognition technology and explore the similarities and differences between these two popular apps.

The Basics of Music Recognition Technology

Source | A digital fingerprint of the audio is created and, within seconds, matched against the music recognition app (Shazam and SoundHound) database of millions of tracks.

Music recognition technology is a complex process that involves analyzing an audio signal and comparing it to a database of audio fingerprints. An audio fingerprint is essentially a digital signature of a sound that’s been extracted from a music track. The recognition software uses a variety of algorithms to identify and match the audio fingerprint to a song within its database. Once a match is found, the app will display information about the song, such as the artist, album, and song title.

But how does this technology actually work? When you use a music recognition app, such as Shazam or SoundHound, to identify a song, the app first records a short audio clip of the song. This clip is then analyzed by the app’s algorithms, which break it down into its component parts, such as the melody, rhythm, and harmony. The app then compares these parts to its database of audio fingerprints, searching for a match.

One of the key challenges in music recognition is dealing with variations in sound quality and background noise. To address this, many apps use advanced noise reduction techniques, as well as machine learning algorithms that can adapt to different types of audio environments.

What is Music Recognition?

At its core, music recognition is the process of identifying music through the use of machine learning algorithms. The algorithms analyze the characteristics of a song, such as its tempo, melody, and beat structure, to create a unique audio fingerprint. This fingerprint is then compared against a database of millions of songs to find a match.

Music recognition technology has a wide range of applications beyond just identifying songs. For example, it can be used in the music industry to track the use of copyrighted material, or in the field of music therapy to help patients with cognitive or physical disabilities engage with music.

Shazam and SoundHound: The Evolution of Music Recognition Apps

The concept of music recognition technology has been around for decades. The first system was developed in the 1980s and used a spectrogram to analyze sound waves. However, it wasn’t until the growth of the internet and the widespread adoption of smartphones that music recognition technology really took off.

Today, music recognition apps are used by millions of people around the world. In addition to identifying songs, many apps also provide users with additional information about the music they’re listening to, such as lyrics, artist bios, and concert information.

As technology continues to evolve, it’s likely that music recognition technology will become even more sophisticated. For example, some researchers are exploring the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to create more accurate and efficient music recognition algorithms.

Overall, music recognition technology has had a significant impact on the way we listen to and interact with music. Whether you’re a casual music fan or a professional in the music industry, these apps can help you discover new music and learn more about the songs you love.

Shazam and SoundHound: How Shazam Works

Shazam App

Shazam is a popular music identification app that has become a household name. It is used by millions of people worldwide to identify songs they hear on the radio, in stores, or on television. But have you ever wondered how Shazam works?

The Unique Audio Fingerprint

Shazam creates a digital signature of a song using a specific audio fingerprinting algorithm. The algorithm takes a small audio sample, usually around 10 seconds in length, and creates a unique fingerprint based on the characteristics of the sound.

These characteristics include things like the tempo, melody, and rhythm of the song. The algorithm then compares these characteristics to a massive database of millions of songs to identify the track.

This process is incredibly fast and accurate, and it allows Shazam to identify songs in just a few seconds.

Shazam’s Database and Matching Process

Shazam has a vast database of over 11 million songs. When you use Shazam to identify a new song, the app sends the unique fingerprint to its servers, which then search through its extensive library for a match.

The database is constantly updated with new songs and artists, ensuring that Shazam can identify even the most obscure tracks.

Once the app finds a match, it will display information about the song, including the title, artist, and album. It may also provide links to the song on various music streaming platforms, such as Spotify or Apple Music.

Shazam’s Features and Limitations

Shazam has a variety of features beyond its music recognition capabilities. For example, you can use the app to stream music, create playlists, and view music videos.

Additionally, Shazam has a social component that allows you to share your music discoveries with friends and see what others are Shazaming.

However, Shazam has a few limitations. It can’t recognize live performances or songs with low-quality sound, and it requires an internet connection to work.

Despite these limitations, Shazam remains one of the most popular music identification apps on the market. Its unique audio fingerprinting algorithm and massive database of songs make it an essential tool for any music lover.

Shazam and SoundHound: How SoundHound Works

SoundHound App

SoundHound’s Approach to Audio Fingerprinting

SoundHound uses a unique approach to audio fingerprinting that’s based on the concept of pattern matching. Instead of creating a digital signature of a song, SoundHound’s algorithm looks for patterns within the audio signal to identify the track. This approach allows SoundHound to recognize live performances and songs with poor sound quality, which Shazam can sometimes struggle with.

SoundHound’s Database and Matching Process

SoundHound has a database of over 40 million songs, making it one of the most extensive music libraries available. When you use SoundHound to identify a song, the app analyzes the audio signal and searches its database for a match. Like Shazam, the process takes only a few seconds, and once a match is found, the app will display additional information about the song.

SoundHound’s Features and Limitations

SoundHound has a variety of features beyond its music recognition capabilities. For example, you can use the app to identify a song by singing or humming it yourself. Additionally, SoundHound can recognize songs that are playing in the background, even if you’re using the app for something else. However, like Shazam, SoundHound requires an internet connection to work.

Comparing Shazam and SoundHound

Source | Shazam vs SoundHound

Music identification apps have become increasingly popular over the years, with Shazam and SoundHound being two of the most well-known options. While both apps serve the same basic purpose of identifying songs, they have their own unique features and strengths.

Speed and Accuracy

When it comes to speed and accuracy, both Shazam and SoundHound are excellent performers. Shazam is typically faster at recognizing songs due to its unique audio fingerprinting algorithm, which matches the audio sample to a vast database of songs. SoundHound, on the other hand, is known for its ability to recognize live performances and songs with poor sound quality. This is due to its use of sound pattern recognition technology, which can identify songs even if they’re not playing at full volume or have background noise.

Both apps also have a high success rate in identifying songs, with Shazam boasting a 95% accuracy rate and SoundHound claiming a 98% accuracy rate.

User Interface and Experience

Both apps have user-friendly interfaces that allow users to quickly and easily identify songs. Shazam features a streamlined interface that’s easy to use, with a large button that users can tap to identify a song. Once a song is identified, users can view information about the song, listen to a preview, and even add it to their Spotify playlist.

SoundHound, on the other hand, has a more robust interface with additional features like voice commands and lyrics integration. Users can identify songs by speaking or singing into the app, and SoundHound will provide the song title and lyrics. The app also has a feature called “LiveLyrics,” which displays the lyrics in real-time as the song is playing.

Additional Features and Integrations

Shazam and SoundHound both have a range of additional features beyond their music recognition abilities. Shazam allows users to stream music, view music videos, and create playlists. The app also has a feature called “Shazam for TV,” which can identify TV shows and movies by listening to the audio.

SoundHound, on the other hand, can identify songs by singing or humming them, which is a unique feature that sets it apart from other music identification apps. The app also has integration with services like Spotify and Apple Music, allowing users to easily add identified songs to their playlists.

Overall, both Shazam and SoundHound are excellent options for identifying songs, with their own unique features and strengths. Whether you’re looking for a fast and accurate music identification app or a more robust app with additional features, both apps have something to offer. Check out our detailed article on Shazam vs SoundHound to know more.


Music recognition technology has come a long way since the days of the spectrogram. Today, both Shazam and SoundHound offer powerful music recognition capabilities that allow users to quickly and easily identify songs. Whether you prefer Shazam’s fast and accurate audio fingerprinting or SoundHound’s pattern-matching approach, both apps offer a great user experience and a range of additional features to enhance your music listening experience.

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