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knobtwiddler
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software for playing/managing digital audio library on PC

If you were starting from scratch and did not own ANY DRM-ed AAC audio files what software library player (on the desktop PC) would you use?

I've heard Apple's iTunes is the best music interface (on the computer).
Now first and foremost I am starting my library and down the road will purchase a portable music player.
Okay I am about to start converting my CD library for the very first time.

Hardrives are cheap enough and only getting cheaper.
I don't want to take the time to have to compress/transcode to a lossless format but I'm concerned with a portable player being able to store more songs and not use up the battery playing .WAV files off the harddrive (currently a 160GB or larger portable music player with a HDD not 32GB or less flash storage). I WILL NOT be using Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC), Apple's Apple Lossless, MPEG-4 ALS, Monkey's Audio, and TTA lossless file formats at all.

I will probably start next year ripping my audio CDs to .WAV and have the Gracenote thing just give me the song titles & album names.
I'm a big picture guy. I will save all my (16-bit/44.1kHz) .WAV files on a HDD forever.
Down the road I will convert from the .WAV files to whatever (MP3, The current version of the MPEG-4 Audio/ISO/IEC 14496-3:2009 AKA MPEG-4 HE-AAC v2). At the moment I have Adobe Audition 2.0 software which I can make MP3s from but not MPEG-4 HE-AAC v2 files.

Also I'm not familiar with what software I can do batch encodes to MPEG-4 HE-AAC v2 from that will keep all the metadata.

I'd rather not get into any of these topics here:
-portable player hardware
-DACs-from-computer
-"PC vs MAC"
-lossless audio codecs vs lossy audio codecs
but just discuss the software to manage my library and make playlists.

JoeE SP9
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Re: software for playing/managing digital audio library on PC

I'm not fond of closed systems so iTunes is low on my list of desirable software. If ASIO is not important you could try Songbird. It's open source software that has lots of nice features. If you have tried and liked the Firefox browser Songbird may be the one for you. The ability to change the skin is a plus for me. Songbird has plenty of skin options.
It does all the other usual stuff and then some. The best thing is that it's free so trying it costs nothing.

Foobar is another application you should investigate. It's also free.

struts
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Re: software for playing/managing digital audio library on PC

Replay: Foobar2000
Ripping/Batch transcodes: dBpoweramp

bertdw
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Re: software for playing/managing digital audio library on PC

Check out MediaMonkey. I haven't used it, but I've seen it mentioned a lot, so I thought I'd drop the name.

http://www.mediamonkey.com/

jackfish
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Re: software for playing/managing digital audio library on PC

I use VLC Media Player. Its free and open source.

http://www.videolan.org/vlc/

mrlowry
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Re: software for playing/managing digital audio library on PC

On important thing to note the WAV file format does NOT support robust metadata. Meaning that if you were to use iTunes(and probably most other programs too) and rip everything to WAV and then move the file folder, say from one hard drive to another improperly the only thing that will be a part of the music file will be the song title. The artist name, album title, composer, etc. etc. will all be lost. There is a similar format to WAV called AIFF which DOES support metadata and if you want fully uncompressed files that have good tagging and naming that might be the way to go. I learned this one the heard way and had to re-encode about 90 Gig of music.

knobtwiddler
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file formats & metadata for a library


Quote:
On important thing to note the WAV file format does NOT support robust metadata.


Thanks for that.
I'm a big picture guy. I will save all my uncompressed .WAV files on a HDD forever as who knows what other formats will come along I'll have to encode to (again).
At the moment I'm researching MPEG-7 & MPEG-21 and audio and how this will affect a music library for the next 5-20 years.
Since AAC was designed to be the successor of the MP3 format, I would then choose the most compatible audio codec that will be around for 25 years and convert from the .WAV files to whatever (either MP3 or the current version of the MPEG-4 Audio/ISO/IEC 14496-3:2009 AKA MPEG-4 HE-AAC v2)

About MPEG-7
application example: Digital library: Image/video catalogue, musical dictionary.

I'm also not kidding about MPEG-21 since it considers e-book, an audio or video file, or an image all as "resources". Also A dual-purpose MP4 and MP21 file, for example, would play just the MPEG-4 data on an MP4 player, and would play the MPEG-21 data on an MP21 player.

cyclebrain
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Re: file formats & metadata for a library

Not an expert at all, but here is what I have done. Started out with Winamp and FLAC files from all of my discs. Had it set up just the way I wanted it. Then Winamp got bought by some commertial company (don't remember, don't care). Every time I tried to use Winamp it connected to the internet and it completely screwed up my settings. Wouldn't work with the network link turned off. What started out great became unusable. Now using Monkey Media. Working well (for now).

knobtwiddler
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library software

Yes as the above poster mentioned a well known music player software WinAmp this is a concern with whatever software my library is made by. It has to be around for many years to come or else the library would have to be totally reorganized from scratch.
There is something to be said about the iTunes software being so popular is that it will be around for a while.
Now does Windows 7 have a much better way of organizing music or because it is an OS I should not rely on that to do my library specifically?
Playlists are an obvious advantage in a music software library and that is something iTunes offers.

CharlyD
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Re: software for playing/managing digital audio library on PC

I feel that the whole lot of PC/Mac music players are woefully inadequate for any libary containg extensive classical, jazz, world or any other genre that does not fit easily into the Artist/Album/Track buckets used by all players I know of. A break needs to be made between the content file and the metadata which describes that content. True, this means a proprietary database (unless a "standard" somehow gets defined), but this notion of storing all metadata as tags in the content file is extremely limiting.

All the current players I'm aware of use the content file tags as a basis to build their proprietary databases. In some cases, the fields included in these databases may be extended, but it is always up to the user to define these extensions and how they will be queried.

A nice tool which could also be offered by whoever develops such a libary management tool would be a web service which could analyze your entire library and automatically build a database based on a defined set of metadata fields. These fields could allow the defintion of the whole cast of an opera or all the sidemen in a jazz combo. This would eliminate the requirement for the end user to design their own database and manually enter the data.

The goal of any such tool should be to provide the abilities to easily find content based on a wide range of criteria and to provide at least all the information available in a CD booklet on that content.

Listener
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Re: software for playing/managing digital audio library on PC


Quote:
I feel that the whole lot of PC/Mac music players are woefully inadequate for any libary containg extensive classical, jazz, world or any other genre that does not fit easily into the Artist/Album/Track buckets used by all players I know of.

All the current players I'm aware of use the content file tags as a basis to build their proprietary databases. In some cases, the fields included in these databases may be extended, but it is always up to the user to define these extensions and how they will be queried.

Most of my ~2500 CD music collection is classical music, broadway shows and show tunes CDs for which Composer and (performing) Artist are equally important. Most of the rest is jazz CDs. The J. River Media Center (JRMC) player was the best fit for my collection and my way of browsing it. I can use more tags than the usual Genre/Artist/Album/Song tags. I can define other tags and use them to browse and search.

I haven't found any online metadata source for filling out tags automatically. I fill them out myself using the tag editing features in JRMC. It takes less than 1 minute to enter all tags except individual track titles and under 3 minutes to enter everything including the track titles. (JRMC has a good secure ripper so I rip CDs in that environment.)

I use the Flac file format and define whatever tags I feel I need. JRMC can also use database only fields that are not stores in music file tags.

You don't have to settle for the poor fit of standard tags and the limitations of most players. There are choices available that do a better job.

Bill

CharlyD
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Re: software for playing/managing digital audio library on PC

After brief experiences with WMP then Winamp and Foobar, I settled on JRiver Jukebox as my libary management/player application. JRJ is an audio-only, feature-reduced and free version of JRMC but retains most of the core architecture. It's far better than the others I tested, but, while the feature set is very good, it's still up to the user to define the database schema and how the queries will be executed.

I'd really like to see a libary management tool that offers a defined (but extensible) schema and set of queries which truly simplify finding content in large libraries. For example, it would be great to have a functional genre/sub-genre selection in which selection of a genre would show all sub-genre children of that top-level genre. For example, selecting the "Classical" genre would show a list of all sub-genres associated with Classical such as "Baroque", "Romantic", "Contemporary", "Opera", etc. Selecting "Jazz" as the top level would show "Dixieland", "West Coast", "Free", "Fusion", etc. As I've said before, it would be great if this could be accomplished without significant effort by the user.

ncdrawl
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Re: file formats & metadata for a library

Foobar. Flac.

sorted.

anyone in the know uses foobar, while the rest flounder about with compromised, bloated, clunky garbage.

the only one I am interested in outside of Foobar is

http://cplay.sourceforge.net/

struts
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Re: software for playing/managing digital audio library on PC


Quote:
I'd really like to see a libary management tool that offers a defined (but extensible) schema and set of queries which truly simplify finding content in large libraries. For example, it would be great to have a functional genre/sub-genre selection in which selection of a genre would show all sub-genre children of that top-level genre. For example, selecting the "Classical" genre would show a list of all sub-genres associated with Classical such as "Baroque", "Romantic", "Contemporary", "Opera", etc. Selecting "Jazz" as the top level would show "Dixieland", "West Coast", "Free", "Fusion", etc. As I've said before, it would be great if this could be accomplished without significant effort by the user.


Couldn't agree more, CharlyD. But while we're at it why not devise a metadata solution that deals elegantly with all the common problems?? (per my earlier post):

  • Names: J S Bach == J.S. Bach == Johann Sebastian Bach == Bach, Johann Sebastian (and maybe even common misspellings such as Johan?)
  • Languages: Johannes-Passion == St. John Passion == Passion selon saint Jean, Quartett == Quartet == Quatuor
  • The conundrum of the definite article: The Beatles == Beatles == Beatles, The
  • Abbreviations: Siouxsie & the Banshees == Siouxsie and the Banshees == Siouxsie + the Banshees
  • International characters: I Musici de Montreal == I Musici de Montr

CharlyD
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Re: software for playing/managing digital audio library on PC


Quote:
why not devise a metadata solution that deals elegantly with all the common problems??


Absolutely! What I'm suggesting is a database with a defined but extensible schema. The web application could analyze your entire library and determine the unique signatures for each track stored (the technology exists today). The database is populated with metadata according to fixed formats (no mispellings, inverted firstname/surname, etc.). The schema for this database would allow entry of a wide variety of data on each track (e.g. all performers, lyrics, lyricist, etc.) but would be extensible to allow the user to add new fields. There would be a set of pre-defined user interfaces and queries (e.g. the genre/sub-genre model I described), but there would be a toolset for the user to also customize these features.

This database and its services would be accessible as a PC/Mac desktop application or as a set of services hosted on a DLNA/UPnP media server.

Any vendors listening? I could go on about this for days.

knobtwiddler
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metadata tags

Okay the proprietary databases that put tags on files seem to be the issue.

I think it comes down to what type of tags you really want. ID3 is not the only metadata tagging game in town.
What tagging format will MPEG-7 & MPEG-21 players use for tags in the years to come?
MP3 specific players wont be around forever...

ID3 is a metadata container most often used in conjunction with the MP3 audio file format.
MP4 also allows the embedding of an ID3 tag although this isn't widely supported.
specifically ID3v2 Embedded Image Extension. ID3v2.4 is the latest version of the standard, dated November 1, 2000.

foobar2000 and Winamp can also tag MP3 files with APEv2 tags instead of ID3 tags

Since I'm planning for long term I would like to choose the best metadata tag creation that will last and have room to grow to allow video files in the library too.
How difficult is it to use a tag editor and D.I.Y.?

Currently from my short research so far I've found there are ID3v2.4 or APEv2 tag formats.
I can't believe there isn't something bigger that is almost standardized? Anyone know more about this?
Since I'm starting my library from scratch I don't have to cobble it together from 2 or 3 metadata tag formats.

CharlyD
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Re: metadata tags

I'm not talking about tags embedded within a file. In the scenario I'm descibing all metadata or URLs to metadata are stored in a database which exists separately from the content. The content download vendors or users ripping physical media would not be required to include any metadata with their files. You build a libary of content files any way you wish. You then access a web service which analyzes your libary. This analysis determines a signature for each of your content files, finds all the metadata for all you content and builds a database with a standardized schema on your server/PC/Mac for your library. There would be an option to export data from this database to tag the files in your library in the case you wish to move those files to some device which would not have access to the database (e.g. an iPod). The technology for this scenario already exists.

struts
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Re: metadata tags


Quote:
I'm not talking about tags embedded within a file. In the scenario I'm descibing all metadata or URLs to metadata are stored in a database which exists separately from the content.


Again, I'm with you, CharlyD. Studying the history of metadata tagging standards, one could easily conclude that the current situation (lack of standardization beyond the most basic metadata) is more-or-less a direct result of prioritizing space-efficiency over richness, primarily with a view to portable environments.

It strikes me that no UI of any portable player I am aware of provides the facility to access any but the most basic metadata (Artist/Album/Track) during replay. Even searchable values like Genre can seldom be displayed during playback, let alone 'extended' tags such as Conductor. If there really is less demand/need for rich metadata in the portable environment your proposed architecture would seem to make perfect sense.

CharlyD
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Re: metadata tags


Quote:
one could easily conclude that the current situation (lack of standardization beyond the most basic metadata) is more-or-less a direct result of prioritizing space-efficiency over richness, primarily with a view to portable environments.

Absolutely! Hopefully this content as digital files thing will take off at some point, but right now this attachment to a seriously limited libary management architecture is a boat anchor. This will be a major project for whomever takes this on. Rovi is one of the best positioned companies for this task, and I hope something like this is in their plans.

struts
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Re: metadata tags


Quote:
Rovi is one of the best positioned companies for this task, and I hope something like this is in their plans.


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