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5,000 files. 18 gigabytes. All in a week! Numbers like these put me in the elite of digital music aficionados. I spent a full week using one of my favorite programs, Stationripper (http://www.stationripper.com), reviewed by me in the past.
In its free version, Stationripper lets you record 2 Shoutcast MP3 streams (http://yp.shoutcast.com) at a time. Stationripper is cool because it saves songs downloaded as individual files with their proper names. It's a great way to build a large music collection in just a few days - and it's all completely legal (http://www.newzgeek.com/092404-Digital-Repentance.htm)!
Getting music is no longer a problem, and playing it is easy, too. The only problem is trying to get a handle on my collection! Right now, all my files are in one folder; it would be nice to set up playlists by artists, genres, even albums. But who has time to figure out what songs go with which albums? And who has time to set up playlists according to mood mixes, artists, music types or whatever?
The Monkey has the time - as well as the ability! Media Monkey is perhaps the most complete, efficient and intelligent media organizer out there. Throw at it your digital music collection and Media Monkey will know exactly what to do with it - automatically making it one smart primate! Media Monkey can do so many tricks, it's difficult to know where to start - or even which ones to list!
One problem with downloading music from a source like Stationripper or from cassette tapes you've digitized or CDs you've burned manually, for example, is the fact that nearly all files are missing information you need to classify a specific song using organization tags. In order to make an album list for a song, you need to know the name of the album. In order to do that, you have to go rummaging around the Internet looking for the information - and then manually enter the data in the information box of the MP3 file. Would you bother?
I wouldn't either - but Media Monkey makes it look easy. Right click on a file and choose "Auto-tag from Amazon" - and the program will find the appropriate album on Amazon and list your song's missing detail tags, which you can click to add automatically. Media Monkey will even download the album cover's artwork and will display it for you when you play the song!
Now that you have tags, you can use Media Monkey's powerful sorting and classification functions to build playlists based on whatever criteria strike your fancy. The truth is that lots of programs have similar sorting functions - but only Media Monkey lets you acquire the essential data you need to use those functions with a single click.
Compared to other popular music management programs, Media Monkey is a pleasure to use. It's certainly easier to use than iTunes, which - until I discovered Media Monkey - I thought was a lot easier to use than other Windows-based organizers, like MusicMatch. Media Monkey seems to have fewer restrictions on the way it lets you work with files. For example, iTunes insists that you import files into the program (i.e. converting it into a format it knows) in order to perform advanced functions, while Music Monkey lets you add and subtract files in a wide variety of formats, including MP3, wav, aac, ogg, wma - nearly all of them, except Real Audio, which you should stay far away from anyway, what with all the heavy handedness Real Audio wreaks upon your system.
One of the dangers of wholesale downloading with Stationripper is that you don't have control over what you're recording - resulting in duplicates. But once again, Media Monkey saves you time and effort; instead of making you pore over your files to eliminate duplicates, the program will examine the "digital signatures" of songs to see which ones match and offer to eliminate them. The same goes with music you rip from CD into MP3 formats - if you already have a digital copy of the song, the program will avoid the duplication. And when it comes to playlists and keeping track of your music, Media Monkey is just as versatile: You can create playlists by dragging and dropping files, and if a file gets moved subsequently to another folder or disk, Media Monkey will still keep track of its whereabouts, and keep it on the playlist. And of course, you can play songs - as well as burn CDs and DVDs - from within the program.
It took Media Monkey all of three minutes to set up its library with all 5,000 of my files - over a network! Media Monkey can handle libraries of up to 50,000 songs with aplomb.
I'm just scratching the surface with this program, by the way. The free version of Media Monkey has all these features and many more - and there is a "Gold" version, which will set you back all of $20.
Download Media Monkey free from http://www.mediamonkey.com; for Windows 98 and better.