Media players.

What are the few things that everyone has on their computer ? well, everyone has a browser. everyone has a calculator and everyone has media players.
what media players are out there ?

Every one knows about iTunes.
there is also windows media player.
Winamp is another, as is foobar2000
Amarok is one for linux, as is xmms.
Songbird is one of the newer ones.

Ive tried them all, and I keep looking for one that is going to do everything I want.
I have thousands of music tracks on my computer (not least as I make on average 3 per day by myself.

so, what are we looking for in a media player ?

well, the ability to play every kind of music track you have and can get would be nice.
real audio, wma, mp3, flac, ape, .pls playlists, .m3u playlists, stuff like that, instead of having forty different players, one for each format.

videos would be nice, but you can have a separate app for all your videos (i dont mind running one application specifically for music and another specifically for videos) though you can get everything to play in one app.

so, I have decided to focus purely on music for this. since I like music.

im going to show you a way to sync your windows media player library and your itunes library, how to import your library from itunes into songbird, how to embed all the nice high res artwork that itunes adds to your mp3’s so that all your media players can benefit and also how to ditch itunes and windows media player all together and start using songbird. with all the cool features that you like from both itunes and windows media player.

so, lets have a look at the media players.

windows media player 11

so, the interface is ok, its not the best (search seems to take an age and it waits for you to stop typing and press enter before it starts)

it has a ‘now playing’ list at the side, where you can drag and drop songs that you want to play.
all pretty standard.
it doesnt, however have one of the main features that i’m looking for.
the ability to play songs and NOT add them to your library. but It’s slow as hell. I want my media player to open in less than 30 seconds, infact, I want my media player to open in less than 2 seconds. I dont need it to automatically search folders for new music. If I add new music then I want to make sure that I get all the metadata correct, and so I can add it to the library when I want to add it to the library.

It does look pretty good though.

itunes just got upgraded to version 8. Its bloated and very slow. the ‘new’ layout for the albums view is ok, but I prefer the old way to do it – ill pick a genre, or an artist, then I want to see the albums and a list of the tracks, like in windows media player. on the up side itunes does have fantastic support for all your album artwork, which is nice. still, it does take an age to search for it.

which brings us to songbird.

it looks like itunes. it behaves much like itunes, it can import your library from itunes. but it does struggle with the artwork.
if your artwork is perfect in itunes then you can go to this site and download a script called itunes_insert_artworkmake sure you close itunes.
then run the script, and it will embed all the artwork from itunes into the metadata for the songs. that way when you import the metadata from itunes into your songbird all the high res artwork is already there.

one of the major benefits to songbird is that it is based on mozilla stuff – so it has a built in browser. and therefor all the benefits that can bring – stuff like tourdates for the currently playing artist, their wikipedia info, and other cool stuff (if you want it) it can even do the swooshy itunes and ipod touch album art view, there are addons for it, like you get addons for firefox.

thats the best feature about songbird. by far.
dont like it ? change it!
it doesnt support X, Y or Z – get the addon that does.

so now I have songbird setup with all my artwork (it has an addon that can search for artwork from amazon, and a host of other sites, so if your itunes didnt find the artwork, then you can search for it inside the app).

a few addons I suggest for song bird are:

Concerts – a songkick plugin that tells you the tour dates for bands in your library.
Album art manager – manage all the cover artwork in your collection.
Media flow – the funky itunes cover browser.
MashTape – get tourdates, pictures, videos, etc of the currently playing artist.
The Exorcist – a tool to show you duplicate / missing tracks in your library – one of the best plugins out there !

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. auto

    Well, I personally think that Songbird is still in the early stages of development and I’m gonna stick with Mediamonkey. It’s been a while since i checked out Songbird so I may be a bit behind the times. I’ll have another look.

  2. jonathan

    yeah, its a bit better, abnd it gets better all the time – I keep going to it and then changing back to itunes, the import library from itunes is fantastic (if it only knew how to get the artwork on its own it would be ready for me)
    once you run the script that embeds all the itunes artwork info in the metadata of the mp3 then all your media players get to use that info and all of them have excellent artwork, which kinda negates the need to use itunes (except for buying music from your player)
    if songbird had a plugin that let you buy the itunes tracks from within it then it would be fantastic (add to that the fact that you could add every kind of online music store via addins and you would only ever need to go to one app to buy and listen to all your music)
    for now im staying with songbird, it wins over itunes in terms of speed.

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