JRiver Media Jukebox is an advanced music manager that has recently turned 100% freeware.
It provides most of the tools that you will ever need to play and manage your audio library, including audio format conversion, CD burning and ripping with online tag and album art support, full smartlists support, a tag editor, Ipod and device management, podcast support, sound recording, ad-hoc album art downloading, visualizations, skins, and extendibility through a wide range of freely downloadable plugins (including a pre-installed Last.FM audioscrobbler plugin). It supports most audio file formats.
Yes you might have heard of this program and yes, it is now released as 100% no-strings attached freeware.
This program is a perfect replacement of ITunes and if you were looking for a single program that can do it all (or at least do more than 90% of what you might want to do with your audio library), Media Jukebox is it. It also looks and feels pretty darn good to boot. Here are some notes on this program:
More info on this program:
- The User Interface: is one of the nicest aspects of this program. Your audio tracks or albums can be displayed in list view or a very pleasing tiled thumbnail view. One of the more useful features is filtering pane split into 3 sections (genre/artist/ablum) which allows you to check boxes to filter your music, and is very useful when you are trying to fix or manage your library’s ID3 tags.
- The context menu: most operations can be done by selecting multiple tracks (using CTRL or Shift-clicking) then right-clicking to access the function you want (e.g. converting tracks to other formats, managing album art, group tag-editing, sending to a device, etc.) Generally speaking this makes for a very intuitive way of working with your audio library.
- Tag editing: has everything you would expect from a tagging program, including file to properties and vice vera, and various cleanup functions (e.g. underscore to space, etc.) One thing I like is that you can set it such that it automatically updates the database to reflect changes to the tags that are done externally with other programs.
- Normalization: optionally built in on playback. Make sure to perform an audio track analysis on your library which will help this process (right click to library tools/analyze audio, or use advanced tools from the tools menu).
- Audio format conversion: can natively encode into MP3. Flac, APE, Musepac, Ogg Vorbis, WMV, and WAV, or alternatively you can download and use other encoders from the site. Strangely, it uses WMV as default when first installed.
- CD burning: with the option of converting your audio into a desired format before burning them to disk. Can create audio CDs and DVDs. You can simply drag and drop files into a dropzone, and in fact you can use it to burn any kind of files and folders to CD/DVD, not just music files.
- Smartlists: the program supports a number of pre-set smartlists (e.g. top 100 played, top rated, albums without cover art, etc.) These are easily created through an intuitive and simple interface. You can add as many contingent rules as you want and work with them using an intuitive interface.
- Album art support: one thing I never could quite figure out is why so many freeware music suites lack cover art support. Not the case here; select multiple tracks and the program can download all the different covers for all sequentially (from Amazon) in one go. The program has two modes for downloading album art, a stringent and more liberal one that has a larger margin of error. You can also remove, copy, and paste cover art at will. It will not, unfortunately, allow you to manipulate search strings yourself for tracks for which it cannot find cover art. Cover art can be saved on your hard drive, in the audio file itself, or both.
- Audio recording: records line-in, Microphone and CD audio inputs. You can use this to convert, say, cassettes to MP3s or even to re-record DRM protected files. It can also split tracks automatically based on gaps in the signal. (Note: I did not try this one myself).
- Device support: Ipod, Sony PSP, and all PlaysForSure devices and phones. It will most likely support your device; try it.
- Plugins: this program has been around for a long time, and there is a wealth of plugins, skins, and visualizations that can be added covering all
- Search box: makes finding the music you want a breeze.
- Visualization Studio: allows you to create your own custom visualizations. Did not try this one myself.
- Other functions: Podcast support (subscribe to podcast RSS’s), custom label and cover printing, EQ, DSP and audio effects, can connect to the Amazon DRM-free music store (which you can also disable), Windows shell integration, etc.
- Resource utilization: approx 30 megs in memory (compare to approx 60 megs for ITunes and it’s ’helper’ processes). Mediamonkey takes up 38 megs.
- But is it free?: yes; it was recently changed from being shareware. The makers of Media Jukebox are hoping that you will like it so much you will buy its cousin, JRiver Media Center, which handles images and videos as well as audio.
- Folder-watching/auto importing: i.e. watching a folder or folders for changes or new audio file additions and automatically reflecting those in the database. There is actually an auto importing plugin that will do this but I was not able to download and install it.
- Allowing the user to enter the search strings when searching for album art.
Media Jukebox vs. Mediamonkey: I prefer Media Jukebox’s look and feel to that of Mediamonkey. I like its interface better and the fact that it comes with pretty much everything you need (e.g. album art support, Ipod support, LastFM support and pre-installed encoders; Mediamonkey forces you to install the LAME mp3 encoder manually).
Media Jukebox also offers a more complete set of tools (e.g. sound recording, advanced smartlists — which in Mediamonkey is only supported in the paid version) and I prefer its filtering panel to Mediamonkey’s explorer style left pane. Although both are mature programs that have been around for a very long time and can be extendible through all sorts of plugins, Mediamonkey has a larger community following and more third party additions, and can also use WinAmp plugins. Finally, Mediamokey is scriptable while Media Jukebox isn’t, which some advanced users might want.
The verdict: a fantastic, mature, comprehensive program that is a joy to use, and is my favorite all-around Audio Management application. Highly recommended.
Version Tested: 12.0.29
Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 12 megs).