So, you’ve heard about Soulseek, the peer-to-peer music sharing program with a huge library of high-quality audio. But you’re not sure how the heck it works.
After all, it’s a bit different than torrenting, and most of us haven’t used similar apps – like Napster or Limewire – in years. Well, that’s exactly what we’re here for!
This guide will cover everything you need to know about how to use Soulseek, including installing the program, finding and downloading files, and avoiding being banned.
[+] 'Using Soulseek' contents (select to expand)
Is Soulseek Safe? A Word of Advice About P2P Downloads
Before you start using Soulseek, we want to give you a quick warning regarding its safety – or lack thereof.
Soulseek uses peer-to-peer downloads, which means you’re downloading (and uploading) directly to and from another user. Unlike torrents, these files are only being shared between two individual users, rather than a “swarm” of multiple seeders and leechers.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s safer, especially when you’re sharing GBs or even TBs of music, like many users.
That means you’ll want to use a secure and reliable VPN when connected to Soulseek, since it’ll both hide your identity and encrypt your traffic. Preferably one which allows port forwarding, which will make it easier to share files with a larger number of users.
Our top choice for Soulseek (and torrenting) is PIA VPN, since it provides top-notch p2p security at a very affordable price.
How to Install Soulseek
If you’re installing Soulseek for the first time, these steps will guide you through the process. But if you’ve already got it installed and just need help using it, you can skip to the next section.
1. Download the version of Soulseek that matches your operating system (Windows 32-bit, Windows 64-bit, Mac, or Linux.
2. Run the installer.
3. Choose the install location and hit ‘Next’. Note: The default location is fine.
4. Set your start menu folder and hit ‘Next’.
5. Click the box if you want to create a shortcut on your desktop. Hit ‘Next’.
6. Click ‘Install’.
7. After installation, hit ‘Finish’ to launch the app.
How to Use Soulseek
1. When opening SoulseekQT for the first time, you’ll be asked to enter a username and password. If you don’t already have one, don’t worry: the info you enter will create an account and become your new log-in.
2. Next, you’ll be asked if you want to share files. If you plan to use Soulseek a lot, we recommend setting this up, since it’ll stop you from getting banned. Note: You can read more on that below.
3. You may also want/need to set your download folder. This is where the files you get from Soulseek will go. You can find this under Options → File Sharing → Download Folder. The default location in Windows is C:/Users/[your Windows username]/Documents/Soulseek Downloads.
If you’d like to change it, you can either enter your new file location, or click on ‘Set Download Folder Above’. This will open a window that will allow you to navigate through your computer’s files and select the folder location you’d like to download to.
Now that everything is setup, you’re ready to start downloading. Here’s a quick overview of how to search for files on Soulseek.
Simply navigate to Search tab and enter the name or keyword for the files you’re looking for.
Depending on the file you searched for, there are probably numerous options, so look at things like audio quality and the uploading user to make a decision on which one is best for you.
When you find the one you want, right click on it and select either Download File (to download that individual file) or Download Folder (to download the whole folder). For instance, you may want a single song or a whole album.
Downloads will then be added to the Transfers tab, and when they’re finished, you’ll find them in the downloads folder you set up earlier.
If you want to goof around on Soulseek a bit more, there are also Rooms where you can chat with other users based on interests, and a Chat tab where you can send and receive messages from other users.
How to Avoid Getting Banned on Soulseek
One of the least obvious aspects of Soulseek for newbies is its community features.
Unlike torrents, it’s not as easy to be a leech on Soulseek. That’s because users can actually see who is downloading their files and whether they’re sharing any files of their own.
For this reason, downloading without sharing can lead to consequences, like the automated messages you’ll receive from members you download from or being outright banned from downloading from individual users.
So, we’ll share a few tips to avoid these problems:
1. Share files:
The easiest and most obvious way to avoid being banned or blocked for not sharing is… to share. During install, you can set up sharing by following step #2 in the section above. But if you didn’t follow that step – or would like to change your share folder – we’ll show you how to share files on Soulseek at any time.
Simply go to Options → File Sharing and clicking on the blue ‘Shared Folder’ at the top. You can also set who has access to this folder: everyone, a specific list, or no one (by unchecking both permissions).
To make sure it’s working, it may be a good idea to go to Options and then ‘Disconnect’, then ‘Connect’ again. You may even want to close the app completely and reopen it.
If you’d like to check that you’re sharing, go to Users → User List and hit the Add User button.
From here, enter your own username and add yourself. Once you’ve done this, you will be able to see if and how many files you’re sharing to the right of your username (under Files).
2. Check user info:
If you insist on not sharing, you can check for users who are more likely to get mad and ban you if you download their files. Simply right click on their name on the file screen and go to ‘User info’.
Many users don’t have anything here, but it still gives you a chance to see who you’re dealing with.
3. Download sparingly or from multiple users:
If you’re simply using Soulseek to download the occasional file, it doesn’t matter as much if you get banned, since you’re unlikely to get banned for a single download from a single user, and you can always just download from someone else if you do.
So, if you don’t want to share, try to be sparing in what you grab. That being said, if you’re interested in very rare or high-quality rips, this becomes a little less viable, since getting banned by high-tier sharers can cut you off from certain files or file types (FLAC, etc.) completely.
Is Soulseek Good? Soulseek vs. Torrents and Usenet
If you’re new to Soulseek – and especially if you’re a torrent or Usenet user – you may be wondering, what’s the big deal?
Is Soulseek even good? And how does it compare to other methods of downloading music (or other audio files), like torrents or Usenet?
Soulseek compared to torrents
In general, Soulseek can be compared to private torrent trackers, especially music related ones, like Redacted. That is to say, you’re much more likely to find either rare files that you can’t find anywhere else, the highest-quality audio rips, or both.
Head to head, Soulseek vs. Redacted (or Orpheus) is going to be a win for the torrent sites, since they simply have more and better content overall. That being said, Soulseek is quite close – and perhaps more importantly, is easier to join and maintain good standing.
Soulseek compared to Usenet
We love Usenet. But it’s not really the best option for music, at least not compared to Soulseek or torrents. There simply aren’t as many uploads as you’ll find on the other, more music-focused options.
Though there are some advantages to using Usenet for music, like not requiring peer-to-peer downloads. It’s also less of a private social club, as you can just download whatever you want without worrying about sharing or seeding.
How to Use Soulseek: Wrap-Up
Hopefully by now you have a pretty good idea of what Soulseek does and how to use it, whether it’s installing the app, downloading files, or sharing files of your own.
We think you’ll find that it’s actually not that complicated once you get everything set up.
Is there anything else you want to know about Soulseek? Let us know in the comments!