What is the best music management application?
January 3, 2006 3:17 AM   Subscribe

What is the best (iTunes-like) music management application for USB based MP3 players?

I have a project related around a device that plays music files (mainly MP3, could be some others) which plugs into your computers USB port to sync.

As such, I need to look at music management applications to make this experience as plesant as possible. Obviously "power users" could hit it with the Explorer - but for everyone else, something a bit slicker will be needed. If you hadn't already guessed, this is for Microsoft Windows.

In short, I'm looking for something which is very similar to iTunes. It doesn't need support for a shop-front but does need to handle detection of the device, viewing of music in a clean way, playlists (both user defined and smart), ratings, album art, lyrics and obviously syncing (including support for downsampling music prior to loading it onto the device to compensate for a small capacity).

Additionally, it needs to have support for common languages (English, Spanish, German is a good start) and some theming capabilities would be nice (but isn't essential).

As much as I like it, iTunes is simply not an option because it belongs to Apple, so I need to evaluate something else. From some basic research, I've come up with the following:

- MediaMonkey
- J River Media Center
- musikCube
- Foobar 2000

I'm aware that some of the applications may need specific functionality on the syncing device to support some of the features. Again, this isn't an issue, as long as the documentation is available.

What other Windows based music management software would you recommend? Price is not an issue so please mention anything you can think of, however expensive. In fact, I'd probably be more interested in the ones that cost as they're more likely to have a solid company behind them which can be used for support.
posted by mr_silver to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
I haven't used any of the above, but Yahoo MusicMatch Jukebox is just about identical to iTunes, but seems less bloated and a bit more intuitive to me. I use Winamp Pro ($15.00) and unequivocally recommend it. Extremely light, no learning curve, pretty much idiot-proof, fast, good support.
posted by iconomy at 4:15 AM on January 3, 2006

Why not Windows Media Player? It does everything you ask, is free, and ubiquitous. I don't use it myself, but it seems capable.
posted by TonyRobots at 5:49 AM on January 3, 2006

Not an option because it belongs to Apple? Bah.. They got it right with iTunes.
posted by joshgray at 6:03 AM on January 3, 2006

Response by poster: iTunes is not an option because Apple won't let you use it in any other devices which play music without paying them a very large licencing fee. Motorola ponied up the money and agreed the terms, my project can't and won't go down this route.

As such, iTunes is not an option (however much we all know they did it right).
posted by mr_silver at 6:32 AM on January 3, 2006

I use amaroK. Sure, you'd (assumedly) have to switch operating systems, but it very well may be worth it. They also put out a Live CD which is worth trying.
posted by 7878ponce at 6:34 AM on January 3, 2006

You might want to keep an eye on songbird. Actual working version is a bit in the future but it looks very promising.
posted by twistedonion at 7:16 AM on January 3, 2006

I love MediaMonkey. I don't know if it works with the player you have or not, but I use it, and it's awesome.

Note: I like it because I'm very picky about making sure things are tagged right (it can auto-pull them from amazon!) and named/sorted right (it has a great mass rename feature that can use the ID3 tags). I also use it to grab album art for my iPod photo.

As far as sync functionality - it's pretty similar to everything else out there... it's what I can do before I sync it that makes it so great.
posted by twiggy at 7:37 AM on January 3, 2006

Third MediaMonkey, although I haven't used any of the others on your list.

Even if it doesn't support your player directly, it will work fine if it can mount as a drive letter under Windows.

I don't know about automatic downsampling though.
posted by Caviar at 8:58 AM on January 3, 2006

Check out Sveta from dbPowerAmp. Doesn't necessarily do everything on your list, but it does do automatic, on the fly downsampling.

I use their music conversion software, and their forums are well staffed and responsive.

As for all of you who keep thinking Apple "got it right" with iTunes... you should see it cough up a lung on my 12,000 song database. While iTunes has one or two nice features, I find Windows Media Player 10 to be far better, at least on the PC.
posted by Dunwitty at 11:34 AM on January 3, 2006

I used several of those and have also found a fave in MediaMonkey.
posted by sourwookie at 11:41 AM on January 3, 2006

I recently saw a demo of jRiver and thought it looked pretty impressive. I didn't get any hands-on time, but I liked what I saw of it. I think its worth a closer look.
posted by freshgroundpepper at 1:04 AM on January 4, 2006

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