MediaMonkey 4 Gold is the paid version of the excellent media management and playback program for the Windows operating system.
Windows users have lots of choices when it comes to playing music on their computer. They can make use of Windows Media Player for instance, or download and install a third party music player like iTunes, Winamp or AIMP3. The choice of available program shrinks significantly when it comes to software that not only plays music but also offers management capabilities.
And if you add other requirements like CD ripping and burning, music conversions, synchronization or sharing, you probably end up with less than a handful of tools that offer all of that to the user.
MediaMonkey 4 Gold is one of those programs. But music is just one of the things the program handles. The big new feature of the latest version of the product is video support. This basically means that you can use many of the program's management options for video files as well.
Installation, First Start
All users install the free version of MediaMonkey first. Gold users can enter the registration key in the program to enable the Gold features.
First thing that new users may want to do is to add their music collection to the program. MediaMonkey displays a first start wizard by default which you can do for that purpose, or, if you have closed it, in the following way:
Click on the Insert key or select File > Add/Rescan Files to the library. This opens a file browser where one or multiple folders can be selected. MediaMonkey can scan the selected folders once, or include them in the program's folder monitoring feature to scan them continuously for new media. This adds new media automatically to the program's database.
The options button loads the library preferences which define how files are added to the program library.
Information are taken from file names and tags, with options to use file paths as well. MediaMonkey will furthermore scan the directories for artwork, ignore files shorter than 20 Kilobytes, remove unused attributes and generate thumbnails for videos. Additional options that need to be selected include analyzing files for duplicates, ignoring files that have a playtime of less than x seconds and removing unavailable items.
The file types button highlights the supported file types. Not all media files are automatically selected, ogg video and RealMedia video files are for instance not included in the scan by default.
A click on ok starts the scan which may take a while depending on the performance of the PC, the amount of media files and the structure they are stored in.
It took less than five minutes to scan two large folders on a test system with thousands of video and music files. MediaMonkey offers to import data from programs like iTunes or Windows Media Player if they are detected on the system.
Working with the program
Once you have started to add media to the program you are ready to make use of the functionality offered. You can play media with a double-click on a file. Both music and video are played in the program interface and not a third-party program.
The program displays locations and collections on the left which you can use to filter music or access music stored on media servers, hard drives or the web.
Once you have selected an entry point, the middle pane is populated with information about genres, artists, albums and songs.
You can use the selection easily to find and play music or videos, or use the built-in search for that instead.
The right pane displays the current playlists as well as information about the file that is playing.
MediaMonkey users with a less than perfectly organized media collection may want to use the program's automatic tagging and organization features to bring order to their collection. All media files that cannot be identified properly are listed under unknown. It makes sense to start there to identify those tracks properly.
A click on Tools > Auto-Tag from Web scans the collection for music that is not properly tagged. MediaMonkey tries to match the music with albums, and displays the finding in its interface. Information are retrieved from Amazon.
Auto-organization of files can move and rename files to a new destination based on file tags. This can be useful to create a distinct structure that all media files follow.
While you may follow the program's suggestions, you don't have to. Plus, you can at any time edit tags of a media file or files by right-clicking on the selection and selecting properties from the context menu.
The context menu holds other options, including the previously auto-tag from web option.
Another option provided let's you analyze the volume of selected music files and level. Other options include converting media files to different formats, burning music to CD or creating virtual CDs. The virtual CD option can be used to create a mixed music CD easily or to have virtual copies of your music CDs on your computer.
Selected music can also be synced with mobile media players like Apple's iPod, Iphone or Android phones. Plug-ins need to be downloaded and installed for some devices.
MediaMonkey 4 Gold supports the creation of multiple media collections which can be configured with their own distinct display modes and playback rules.
For example, a Classical Music collection can be configured to display a Conductor node and an Original Year column, and play with cross-fading disabled, whereas Contemporary Music wouldn't.
Advanced playlist options give you all the options you could possible want and then some. It takes a single click to create a playlist with the overall top 50 songs of a collection, to fill an audio CD with music, or a playlist with songs from a specific year, genre or composer. Custom playlists using any of the parameters shown below can be created in little time.
Another interesting option is the ability to right-click on files to find more of the same (by artist, genre, year, album or location).
Sometimes you may want to organize different types of media files differently. Classic music for instance by composer, videos by date or TV series by season. The auto organization rules, configurable in the options, allow you do configure specific organization rules for collections, genres and playlists.
MediaMonkey 4 Gold introduces additional new features, like a new portable mode to run the program from an USB device, secure ripping of CDs to improve the accuracy of the ripping, tabs to browse different parts of the music collection at the same time, automatic synchronization with mobile devices and a new sharing option to share via UPnP/DLNA with compatible devices such as Microsoft's Xbox, Sony's Playstation or compatible telvisions and media stations.
MediaMonkey 4 Gold vs Free
MediaMonkey 4 Free is a very capable media manager but the Gold version adds the following features and changes to the application:
MediaMonkey 4 gold has improved a lot in the last year. The addition of video support improves the capabilities of the software significantly. Not all video formats are supported right now, but the developers promised to add support for additional formats like mkv in future releases.
Even inexperienced users can setup the program in little time. Advanced users will love the new features that the devs have added. The initial configuration may take some time, but once setup correctly it saves the user a lot of time in the long run. Interested users can download MediaMonkey 4 from the developer website.
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