MediaMonkey is an advanced music manager comprising a music player, cd ripper, audio converter, ID3 Tag editor, and playlist generator. It also supports external MP3 players, including the Ipod.
If you’ve been looking for a free program that can be a kind of one-stop-shop of audio, doing everything that you might possibly want to do with your library of audio files (and doing it well) – MediaMonkey just might be that program.
Here are some of the reasons why this program is so cool:
- Audio format conversions. Supported formats are MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV, and FLAC.
- Rips and burns music CD’s.
- Powerful Tag editing functionality: as good as it gets, with support for importing ID3 tags and album art from external resources like Amazon and Freedb. Auto tagging tracks and saving album art from Amazon is just beautiful!
- Organization: allows you to automatically change your music library’s folder structure based on your audio files’ tag information.
- Dynamic Playlists: you can easily create these, e.g. “all tracks from the ‘Electronic’ genre from 2004 to 2006″. Unfortunately, advanced dynamic playlists based on multiple criteria are only availabe in the paid ‘Gold’ version of the program.
- Search: makes it possible to find the music you are looking for in a snap.
- It offers versatile scripting support. In fact there are hundreds of downloadable scripts and skins that a community of enthusiasts have created that enable MediaMonkey to do pretty much anything you could think of.
- Also offers compatibility with Winamp 2 plugins.
- Synchronization with MP3 players, including the Ipod is seamless. The paid version allows for automatic file conversion when syncing music with hardware players (this sounds nice but I can certainly live without it).
- It is a music player not an audio player. As far as I am concerned this is a huge PLUS, as this would have been over-reach, and I already have my favorite freeware video players which I am extremely happy with (VLC media player and GOM Player).
- The program also features a motley collection of cool little features, such as controlling the player by mouse gestures, support for skins, a right-click ‘find more from the same’ command that delivers tracks from the same artist, album, genre, etc.
- MediaMonkey seems to me to be less resource intensive than some other shareware ‘Music Management’ software that I have used (specifically Media Center and Musicmatch).
Here are some of the reasons why it is not as cool as it could be:
- The iTunes like interface is functional but not very exciting.
- No support for browsing by album art. This is surprising as many shareware music managers have this. Note that I DID find a script that adds this functionality to MediaMonkey here (works great); it required a bit of manual fiddling with the registry to run properly, though.
- No support for some protected file formats such as WMA v10 and protected AAC files (a non-issue to me, but some might want to know this).
- Forces you to manually install LAME MP3 encoder if you want to still be able to encode and convert to MP3 after 30 days of installation. This is a nuisance, but doable fairly easily (click here for instructions).
Differences between free and paid versions: The two most important features that the paid version provides are (1) real-time audio library scanning, which keeps your library updated without you telling MediaMonkey to re-scan your folders, and (2) advanced dynamic playlist generation for multiple criteria (e.g. I want a playlist for all ‘Rock’ genre tracks rated 4 and above where the year is between 2005 and 2006). Other differences include the need to manually install the MP3 encoder I mentioned above, plus a few others which to me aren’t that significant.
For all of MediaMonkey’s functions you could find strong 100% freeware titles that can do each one of them seperately. You could have the Music Management and dynamic playlists portion with the excellent MusikCube, ID3 Tagging and Amazon/CDDB resources are offered with Mp3Tag, and encoding and converting is offered by many programs, e.g. BonkEnc. MediaMonkey offers all of these functions at the same place, does a really good job at each one of them, and syncs with external MP3 players and the Ipod (as of this writing MusikCube does not have Ipod support).
Additionally, one of the real strengths of MediaMonkey is the community that has grown around it of people who absolutely love it (and create all sorts of scripts and plugins for it). If you’re an Ipod owner and do not want to use iTunes you could do worse than use MediaMonkey. I recommend it higly.
Version tested: 126.96.36.1998