Lossless music playback on iOS

I have a few albums that I’ve bought over the years, digital and physical, that I’ve backed up as FLAC. I want to have the option of playing them on my iPhone while at the office, or when travelling.

The problem? Apple Music.

Like many music listeners in currentYear I subscribe to a streaming service. It’s handy for music discovery, and to have access to their library in case you have friends over and you want to play DJ. I subscribe to Apple Music.

With Apple Music comes the mandatory cloud sync if you want access to the Apple Music library on the device. But, with this turned on your lossless music from the Mac converts to AAC before it syncs to iCloud.

So I need an app. And there are a few.

I’m not the first one to go on a search for an iOS music player that can handle lossless audio. Beebomb have a listicle of ten optionsThe third option will surprise you! 🙃

Of the ten, Vox ends up as the winner for me.

Something I don’t like with Vox is the dark pattern of tricking you to sign up for an account. You can use the app without an account. But, during setup a button to skip account creation hides in a small dark grey font on the a black background.

Don’t be like this.

Once past the sign-up hurdle the app itself is pretty nice. It can connect to your iTunes library, but since I’m looking for a FLAC-player I turn this off.

The app comes with a demo track ready to play that hecking slaps and acts like a good headphone tester. This track also introduces you to playback controls. This way you can test the app before syncing anything. A great first impression that more music apps should mimic.

The player UI makes room for a large album artwork on a black backround. On the bottom of the screen you get a scrolling visualization of the song that you can drag to skip to a specific part. There are no play/pause or skip buttons. Instead you rely on gestures like swiping and tapping anywhere on the screen. A tutorial explains how things work, but if you like having buttons to press this may not be an app for you.

Collections replace playlists. The lists have plenty of air between tracks, and without options to customize the density. For large libraries and long playlists I can imagine scrolling will get a bit tedious. There’s search available if you know what you’re looking for.

If you’re looking for a FLAC player for your iOS device, give Vox a try.