Originally Posted by bigred727
OK, so I have about 50gb of wma's, mp3's, etc...I want to get them all converted to mp3 format...tons of tags that need to be updated...and a bunch of other just organizational and standardization stuff I want to get done.
I'm sure I can get this done with stuff like windows media player, iTunes, WinAMP, etc...but if at all possible, I'd love to pay $20-$50 for a tool that can automate or work with some intelligence through some of these tasks...and turn this into a weekend project versus month long one.
Any thoughts or suggestions??
This, of course, is one of those questions where you ask 10 people and get 11 different opinions! When I got into building an MP3 library several years ago, I looked at lots of different options and tried several, including all of those you mention.
That was before I found MediaMonkey (aka MM, at http://www.mediamonkey.com
), which to me blows all the others away hands-down. Of course, MM has all the usual stuff like ripping (including tag lookup from CDDB), playlists, sync with portable devices, built-in player with equalizer and DSP, etc. But there's also a lot of fairly unique things that make it stand out, including:
- MM installs and uses a real SQL database to manage your collection. That means it's very robust, can handle huge collections with ease (mine's over 30k tracks now), and is very fast when searching or sorting your catalog.
- It has extensive features for tagging that have been able to handle everything I've ever wanted or needed to do. Select a group of tracks, and MM scans the entire Amazon database to find the matching album. Click 'Auto-Tag', and all your ID2/ID3 tags are updated automatically: Not just artist and album titles, but track artists, album notes, cover photo, year, label, genre, etc... and there's tons of flexibility during the process to be sure you have the right info. Of course, you can also manually change the tags for any track (or group of tracks) using a Properties dialog or by typing right into the spreadsheet-like display. There are even tools to swap artist and album title (I've needed this frequently) or to sequentially renumber a set of tracks (unbelievably helpful when you have a multi-CD album but prefer as I do to simply group them all together as a single entry with tracks incrementally numbered from 1 to "n".
- You can automatically reorganize the physical disk storage of your collection. You simply define folder/file naming pattern(s), which can include any metadata info from your tags like album, artist, track number/name, genre, etc. You can also include your own text or even substrings of tags (I use "first letter of artist's name" to organize into top-level folders named 'A' to 'Z', followed by a 2nd-level folder for each artist, and finally filenames formed from the album name, track #, and track name). Then simply select a group of tracks and apply the desired pattern -- MM moves and renames all your physical files to match, and updates its own database accordingly. Couldn't be much easier!
- MM supports just about every audio format known to man, and has built-in transcoding to/from any of those formats. I often get files in WMA format, but want them in MP3 to support my iPod. Just select them in MM, specify the desired bitrate (including VBR MP3, which I use exclusively), and hit 'convert'... done!
- MM will synch with almost any portable device, including iPods -- and will even do it bi-directionally! So if a friend has an iPod or Zune, just plug it in and instantly copy any/all of the unprotected tracks (fully tagged, of course) right into your own library -- then retag/rename/organize as desired.
- There is a huge and active user community with an online forum and a large number of user-created plugins available to extend functionality. MM can use almost any WinAmp plugin as well.
- If anyone collects classical music, MM's new version 3 (now in open beta) is the only product I've yet discovered that fully supports the additional tags you need (orchestra, conductor, composer, etc.) If you've ever tried to catalog classical stuff with iTunes or WMP, you know how frustrating it is to only have basics like album name, artist, and track available!
- Best of all -- it's free! There is a lifetime "pro" version available for some low cost ($20 or so?) that adds just a few features, but the only big one is auto-updating of the catalog by monitoring of the disk for changes. This is really nice when (as I do) you have several computers pointing at a shared music drive - if you change anything, the other computers pick up the changes. I very seldom purchase shareware, but MM is an exception. This product is so good, I'd donate even if everything was free!
MM version 2 is the current production product, and will do everything I described above and then some. For that plus a ton of other new features, MM v.3 beta is also available - you'll find the download link, change logs, known bugs, etc. by going to the MM Forums. Despite all their warnings, v.3 has been stable enough for me that I now use it exclusively - the new features like classical tagging and iTunes-like album cover browsing more than offset any small bugs that might turn up. You can even use both versions on the same PC.
You may find things a bit frustrating or complex at first, but trust me - it's like any other very powerful software: Once you get the hang of it, you'll find it very easy and logical to use. My best advice: Don't ever assume that MM can't quickly do something you want - research the online help and/or the forums, and you'll almost always find the solution. I continue to be amazed at the power and breadth of this product, especially considering it's free!
Sorry for the long post, but hopefully this info will help others as well. I have no connection at all with the product, other than being incredibly happy with it vs. everything else I've tried along the way. For a big collection, I can't see using anything else!