Music & Video Tools

Posted by Garth on Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In the last year or two I've become a huge fan of open-source and other free software.  Actually, I was always a fan, but it's only been recently (at least IMHO) that this stuff has really started to compete with the (really expensive) pay software, or bloated MS native offerings (Windows Media Player anyone?).  I was going to post all of my favorite tools in one post, but there's just too many of them and I don't want to sit writing this post for hours.  So I've broken it up into multiple categories:  Music & Video, Photo & Image Management, Internet, Mobility, Developer, and System.  So, without further adieu, here's my top picks for Music & Video tools.

Music & Video

Media Player Classic Homecinema


My go-to media player.  Far more lightweight than Windows Media Player (WMP).  On my Vista64 install, WMP uses 20mb of memory, while Media Player Classic (MPC) uses just 4mb.  It supports DVD playback natively and without any licensing cost.  It natively supports DivX, Xvid, H.264, DTS/AC3 and a slew of other codecs and formats.  It has native support for subtitles, including a built-in lookup which references (I've even managed to get it to properly display Thai subtitles).  It supports custom channel mapping for up to 18 input and 18 output (speaker) channels.  It suppors on-the-fly volume normalizing or boost.  It even has a built-in web server for performing automation-type functions using a web browser or other web-based application.  There are both 32 and 64 bit versions available.  I use this application for all video playback and most audio playback.  Basically, I have all media filetypes associated with MPC, but on the occasions that I want more granular music control or the ability to use visualizations, I use MediaMonkey.

Note that I do combine MPC with some variation (usually Full or Standard) of the K-Lite Codec Pack.



MediaMonkey is the shiznit as far as music library management goes.  It's extremely robust with a ton of useful (and not so useful) features.  I realize that virtually all music playback software are feature-rich these days, and in the end it comes down to personal preference.  However I'll outline a few of the key features of MediaMonkey that make it my choice.

The user interface is very flexible.  Being a power user, I prefer a lot of information displayed, and even when maximized there's information that MediaMonkey is capable of displaying that I just don't have room for.  It can convert between formats (OGG, MP3, Flac, etc.) and does so quickly and quietly.  It can play Winamp Visualizations, which above all I covet (have you seen MilkDropRyan Geiss is a genius).  It does crazy shit with organizing, renaming, grabbing info and album art, and generally just keeping your music library in tip-top shape.  Oh, and I can control it with my phone over Bluetooth using Salling Clicker.  I'd go on, but it would take a post unto itself, if not many posts, to delve deeply into MediaMonkey's features.  Download it.  Try it.  Love it.

Note that even though I use MPC as my default MP3 and other music filetypes player, when I want to queue up a bunch of tracks and kick back MediaMonkey is all I consider.  The only reason I don't have it as my default player is the time it takes to launch as compared with MPC.  If I just want to double-click an mp3 or wav file, I want it to play immediately, not load up my whole music library.



A very lightweight app that does one thing and does it well.  It normalizes a set of MP3s so that they all play back at roughly the same volume.  In the bar I own we use USB keys to play music, and having to adjust the volume between tracks because of differences in the way they were encoded just isn't an option.  Passing all the tracks through MP3Gain before copying them to the USB key makes a world of difference.

Note that MediaMonkey can do the same thing, but in my experience MP3Gain just does it better.



Nothing too fancy here (well, there is, but not that I use).  Basically a music file editor and recorder.  Cuts, inserts, etc.  Handy for fixing broken tracks, cutting out weird silences or creating custom tracks for use as ringtones or the like.  I also use it for recording the audio from web sources such as YouTube that don't offer the audio track as an option for downloading.  It does a lot more than this, but I'm a pretty basic user on this one.


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