You have to be a music nerd to even pose the problem that an app like Flacbox was created to solve: for owners of mobile devices that want to play high resolution music files better than the quality of Spotify, but from your own collection rather than from a hi rez platforms like Tidal or Qobuz. The reasons for this are that you might have your own huge collection of music already, of tracks that aren’t on streaming services, in higher quality and in different file types than what most players can handle, or maybe you don’t want to pay a monthly fee for it.
For free or a one time fee of $9.99 for the full feature set, Flacbox is the solution. It was the best reviewed of the iOS apps for this, though users warned of things like lost settings or having to laboriously re-sync. With that in mind I gave it a shot.
Upon download, you’re prompted to connect to one of nearly a dozen cloud services (Dropbox, Google Drive, Mediafire, etc.) If you plan to stream, you’ll need one. Otherwise, after swiping a few times you have the option to connect to your music library on your home computer via cable or WiFi or to insert a USB.
That’s actually all it took to get Flacbox working. I did not run into any of the problems reviews warned about — using v.4.2 for my iPhone worked fine and across several weeks of use. Some hiccups might be excused by this fact: Apple, being a provider of one monthly streaming service, really doesn’t want you to be able to do this on your own. They’re not going to make it easy. It’s a little miracle this app was approved at all.
Notwithstanding the name, Flacbox can handle more files than just FLAC. It plays WAV and AIFF (which were most of what I used), M4A, M4V, OPUS, AAC and many more. Even if this doesn’t become your go-to method of streaming, Flacbox is useful to have on a phone anyway because it can open almost any file — a useful option for a music producer or DJ. It also has a really nice audio EQ, which is a feature every other music app should have but doesn’t.
Free is probably enough to decide if you have the problem Flacbox was made to solve. It’s $9.99 as a one time purchase (non-recurring) for the full feature set — things like connecting unlimited cloud services and removing all ads (which are of the full-screen jpg of a car variety. All ads are annoying but these in particular are really annoying.)