I love it when I read a post that makes me decide to do something totally differently. CyberNetNews are doing a series of daily giveaways of useful software, and yesterday they were giving away three copies of MediaMonkey Gold the reknowned music player.
I don’t know what possessed me to read the story, as I thought I was happy with iTunes, but when Ryan started that MediaMonkey provided full iPod support I had to check it out. I’m glad I did, as not only has MediaMonkey helped me to finally break free from Apple’s iTunes/iPod stranglehold, it’s also provided to the solution to the problems I was having building a lossless music collection.
I have a very big music collection of around 20k tracks that I’ve accumulated over the years. Although at home I listen to these via my Vista Media Centers, I was still using iTunes to manage my playlists and my iPods. The problem this was creating was that now that I have tonnes of storage available on my home server, I want to re-import my CDs in a lossless format, but if I use the format available within iTunes I won’t be able to play my files on my Media Centers (I did manage to find a way to play the files but without the metadata which was a waste of time).
The beauty of MediaMonkey is that it provides support for both ripping and tagging various lossless formats such as WAV, FLAC and APE. FLAC in particular is an open format, so I’ve chosen it as my lossless format as it provides the greatest compatibility. Although FLAC isn’t supported by MCE out of the box, it only took one search to find a way to play FLAC in Windows Media Center. Much better than the hours I’d spent trying to play AAC files in MCE……
I think Apple should hang their heads in shame after looking at the iPod sync options available in MediaMonkey. Not only can you control easily what parts of your library are synchronised e.g. albums, artists etc, but you have full control over how much is synced. The most important option for me though are the conversion rules that can be created. If I were to sync all my lossless files, even with 160GB on my iPod Classic I wouldn’t get far. With MediaMonkey I can create rules so that when big filed are sync’d, they are converted on the fly to a smaller format, so that they can all fit onto the device. Brilliant!
What was even better with the move away from iTunes was the ease with which it was done. All I add to do was scan my music directory, and MediaMonkey added my info. Because my music was so well tagged, nearly all my iTunes library info was available. The info that was missing e.g. playcounts was added at the second pass automatically by MediaMonkey using a very cool wizard (an option was available for WMP in addition to iTunes).
There are so many options available in MediaMonkey I’m going to enjoy managing my music collection again. The interface is so much quicker to use, and I love the inbuilt tagging tools and album art import. It’s also considerably faster than iTunes – when you have 20k files iTunes is a real drag to use. I can’t wait to have fun creating new playlists faster, listening to my new lossless music tracks and also messing around with MediaMonkey plugins.
V3 of MediaMonkey is out soon and I really can’t wait!