iTunes vs Zune vs Songbird: Music Organizer Showdown

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compguytracy

Lets see ms boys, and im not an apple fan, but i do have to say, i have a 160 ipod classic, and that is because i wanted to hold all my music, even when i bought it i was close to 80gb, and knew there would be more music to put on. so the zune loses, big time, just in capacity. now, i am an it guy, love my puters, fix them all the time, know alot more than most, not as much as some. but i uses itunes only because it synchs my ipod. i know other programs do the same thing, mm, winamp, etc. i can even get a plug in for wmp, if i wanted. but i have played around with itunes enough that i have an automatic script to scan my music library, itlu btw. cleans out deleted music, adds new music, updates ipod, cleans my room, etc. if i could find a program like that would do this, id switch, as itunes is slow, i have over 100gb of music, and it takes almost a minute to start. i tried songbird, slow, winamp, not cool looking enough, mm, didnt updated my ipod playlist even though i updated mm playlist.

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Fecal Face

Holy shit, if it takes 2.5 hours to make a Smart DJ mix, you either have a LOT of music, or something got screwed up. I only have around 1500 songs and it takes 1-2 seconds to make a Smart DJ mix.

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Zune HD = Happiness

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inan

Media Monkey, absolutely!

Media Monkey has been my media player of choice for 6 years and in that time I have tried probably any competitor you can think of. 

The real benefit is its speed. 

I just crossed the 250 GB of music line and everything still loads instantly. Scrolling through the library and filtering or searching is fast. Compare this to iTunes, which goes into cardiac arrest if your library is over 20 GB, and lag skips when you try to scroll through your library.

 

After its latest update it has become perfect, fixing a problem with syncing to the iPhone. 

 

I could write a senior thesis on this program, but I'll leave it at my opinion.. I love Media Monkey

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HellcatM

I've used a few different sofwares and Media Monkey is pretty good.  Double Twist is good because it uses Amazon Store.  I use Sharepod when I want to quickly put my library on my computer from my ipod or put a new album on my ipod because its quick and easy...also its portable so I can put it on a thumb drive and bring it over friends houses.

 

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Baer

The newer versions of iTunes load Bonjour service on to your P C. This seems to search for an Apple network and in general it sucks up resorces and shows the average P C down, especially when on the web. You do not need Bonjour on a P C to use iTunes so why do they load it in.I have fixed slow down issues on a number of P C's by uninstalling Bonjour and then also the Apple updater which will just add it back. iTunes still runs just fine. It almost seems like a plot to give grist for the mac vs PC ads. iTunes also loads Qtime (Q task) at start up. Why? If you need QT running it will start, why have it running in the background sucking up cycles when you do not need it. (disable it in msconfig, you will never miss it) More Apple mac vs P C plot?? You tell me!

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cochese

Personally, I prefer Winamp to all of these. Though, When I had my Zune, I really dug the Zune software.

Winamp works quite well with all of the iPods prior to the Touch.

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buChloe

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jmilest

None of the programs reviewed in this article surpass MediaMonkey 3 in terms of tools for keeping a music library properly tagged and organized.

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NH3MAN

IMHO, its a shame not to have Media Monkey in here. One son has ITunes for his ITouch, One son has Zune for his HD and I am the IT for both.  I have Media Monkey for my extensive MP3 and Flac collection and its the best by far for Music file mangement.  Both ITunes and  Zune have there pluses if you want stuff pushed at you but they can't compare to MM when it comes to getting all your jam the way you want it to be plus it doesn't mind if your device is a PDA phone like the TP2 or Diamond 2.

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hacklan07

I agree.  MediaMonkey works with with most if not all mp3 players and has superior features to any of these programs.  Even MediaMonkey's visualiser is the best I've seen among WMP, Itunes, or the Zune player!

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maseone

How did MediaMonkey get left out of this one?  While I realize it's my opinion that it's hands down better than the three softwares reviewed - how did it get left out?  Slippin' man.

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Mr_Histamine

But, as you mention in the article, it still feels like it's lacking a lot of useful features.  Hopefully they stop following the same functionality route as iTunes, and utilize the incredibly useful functions of WMP.  Hopefully Microsoft doesn't drop the ball on this one, because they could prove to people that you can have a painfully beautiful and fun interface, with boatloads of functionality.

It's a nice alternative to SongBird (especially since mine has been crashing on the regular ever since I upgraded to Windows 7), but isn't a replacement. 

________________________________________________________________________________

Please deposit your pride, life, and other garbage in the receptacles at the back of the theater before you leave. Thanks!

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Cohiba

 

I'm suprised that no one's taking a real look at the zune.net website.  If you have a zune pass you can listen to music directly and it makes a good web-site based podcast aggregator.

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whr4usa

MPC yal are 1 of my favorite information aggregating sources but what happened with this..?

you disregard WMP12 based on past versions of wmp & then list 2 positives for iTunes that apply to WMP12 & others that didn't make the list!! what's up with that!!??

as an IT Pro I've been testing W7 & therefore WMP12 since before the public beta was actually public, I love my music & since Ms always pushes the multimedia edge I did a lot of comparison shopping with music apps myself

first in WMP12 you can access the iTunes store & utilize your iTunes cards etc directly as well as several other online music stores apparrently with more coming so strike the "Online Store" off the list as an iTunes exclusive

second wmp12 also has amazing custom data dump features . . . maybe not as many as iTunes but I never counted, I've never needed to because I've always been able to sort it however I wanted since beta testing W7

thirdly I've never ran across a computer with iTunes that didn't also have Apple Updater, Bonjour, various iterations of QuickTime & associated launchers\plugins etc or other Apple software ifnot all of those installed along with iTunes usually without the users' knowledge & almost always automatically starting . . . major hit to performance, not to mention security issues . . . iTunes may become the new limewire

in the end the debate is mute because if you've got Apple hardware you'll probably have iTunes . . . if you've got W7 or Vista you'll have WMP12 whether you give it a chance or not along with MediaCenter & the other relatively decent Ms-made multimedia programs & if you own a Zune you'll have the Zune player too, then songbird fills in the gaps

I'd never use more applications than necessary for a single pupose & until I'm *permanently* sold on a ZuneHD or iTouch etc I'll refuse to install software that locks me into using certain devices for no reason other than job security

I'm still in disbelief that MPC disowned WMP12 from the start & bolstered iTunes without their usual indepth research & objective reporting or well-informed opinions but I still love you guys lol.

4 is the magic number in technology . . . hex anybody? only aving 3 apps to compare should've warned yal :P

 

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NicciAdonai

I use Zune for the interface, the simplicity, and the Zune device support. When I want to build a playlist, however, I go back to Windows Media player; I maintain a few playlists whose criteria overlap with each other, and I cannot easily add the same song to multiple playlists with Zune. Even for browsing music, Media Player has all the options I've ever wanted (sans music recommendation/discovery). iTunes may have those options, but more than once I've wanted to crush its intangible source code with my bare hands because it wouldn't let me do what I wanted (or maybe I am not hip enough to find my way around an Apple product). While I probably won't go back to WMP from Zune, I've often felt like I've taken a step back in functionality. Also, while Zune does have its own scrobbler, I wish it had the support for last.fm that WMP does.

 

The glass is at fifty percent.

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whr4usa

I agree.

mostly

read above.

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birch

Hands down, Zune wins... I would rather have a root canal than use iTunes, it's that painful. I'm surprised Maximum PC left out it's integration with Xbox. You can stream from any PC running Zune software to an Xbox 360. The setup to do that is pretty easy, just make sure your firewall allows connection between the two. You can also connect a Zune via USB to an Xbox 360 and play media off
the device. As for taking "2.5+ hours to make a Smart DJ mix", that is just ridiculous. It does this in a matter of minutes for me, and I have over 30GB of music. Note that there is an issue with IE settings which can affect performance of the Zune Marketplace.

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teamost

Will any or all of these automatically monitor what's in your music library, or do you have to do something manually to keep it up to date?  I don't keep terribly much music on my computer, but I do add and delete music frequently.  I'd like a media player that will keep up with all that quietly in the background without my having to either tell it to look for changes, or without having to make those changes through the program itself (I just do that via Windows Explorer).  Winamp too, for that matter?  Thanks.

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birch

Zune will automatically monitor your Music folder, and it updates instantly when new music is added.

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AndySocial

As someone who owns neither a Zune nor an iPod, I have no interest in their device-specific features.  Discounting that, I've tried a number of Windows music management tools, and I've really been quite happy with Mediamonkey.

Songbird, even in its most recent build (tried it again last week), is just sluggish and odd.  It doesn't handle my Sansa players anywhere near as smoothly as Mediamonkey does. BTW, does anyone else find it odd that Sandisk has the #2 line of MP3 players, but most computer magazines would make you think that Microsoft is #2 behind Apple?

With MM, I build playlists either manually or via automated criteria (ratings, years, genres, whatever) and sync them to my MP3 players. It handles Podcasts reasonably well, synchronizes ratings to and from my players, and otherwise is just simple and functional. And it never tries to sell me anything.

As for extra features, a decent scripting community has built up around MM, so I can auto-import lyrics into the ID3 tags, as well as use the really nice auto-tag feature to download album art. It can also handle whatever organization you use on your system, or optionally impose order on your files by organizing them in any sort of hierarchy you tell it to use.

I guess it just comes down to control. MM allows me to make decisions about how my music is handled, and it's not tied to any piece of hardware. Very recommended.

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Tekzel

I agree. Which would I use? None of them. MediaMonkey is way better than any of them for me.

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Cohiba

 

You don't need to get marketplace samples in your playlist. Its tricky to find but ....

When you create a Smart DJ playlist on the Zune, if you edit its settings, you can set "Local Collection" , "Mix Songs from collection and Marketplace" and "Marketplace Only."

 It defaults to the middle setting, but its easy enough to change. 

I like the zune for 2 reasons, Zune Pass (so I can try new music) and wireless syncing of podcasts over my home's WiFi.  I charge my zunes upstairs and my PC is in the basement.  When they charge, they sync new podcasts automatically.

  

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cheezonline

zune supports 64 bit.

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Ulrich

was refering to songbird.

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Ulrich

Why not add a few more in to this comparison?

 Windows Media player

Media Go (sony)

at least these both work with 64bit. not a whole lot of sense in reviewing programs that don't support 64 since most have upgraded.

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zstadt

Gets the job done for me, and I love its infinitely customizable UI.

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cheezonline

Ok, so after the whining on zune forums i can whine here as well.

Im a windows 7 user (no windows 7 wasn't my idea) and i was looking for a new music player for my huge collection.

I hate iTunes. On my macbook i can't hear a damn song just like that, i have to put it in the library and , you know how it goes.

 So i said, no i ain't using iTunes on my PC and bam! it hit me, zune software! Looking awesome and does exactly what i want (i also got the media player for any random playlist i wanna listen just for the occasion). downloaded and used it right away. On version 4.0 zune software i was able to ADD FOLDER from where i had my music stored and everything was good. No messing up with my libraries that i got em set up the way I want. Smart Dj is THE feature i love(d). Get back home from work, hit one of the Smart Dj Lists you have and enjoy music.

Then the 4.2 update came out. Zune thought it will be better to mess with my libraries and not let me just ADD FOLDER that i used to do. So it fucked up my libraries as well, putting there all the music that i told it where to find it. That was not cool. Then after that i saw that there was no Smart Dj feature (i live in Greece, so forgive me for my poor english btw.) because they say, that Smart Dj feature , all of a sudden is available to US users only - yea thats what i said WTF?!

Zune was great, really, but i uninstalled it and too bad i had to find another software, so what we have? ye, iTunes, songbird fails for me, so i end up using this ugly crap made by Apple. If there are two things i hate more , is iTunes and Mighty mouse..

I might try installing the previous version again and try all over and never update it. 

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birch

Upgrading to 4.2 did not screw up my library and the Add Folder option is still available.

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Nogoodname

He is talking about the fact that in windows 7, the libraries that are used in windows explorer are now used in the zune software. That means anything folder that you add in the zune software will be added in the windows explorer software libraries thing.

 

I totally agree with him that, they should not have done that. At least let us choose.

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thematejka

Unfortunately, I'm still stuck on Itunes. I own a Creative Zen X-FI, and I'm forced to use their interface for syncing music, but I love the simplicity of being able to stream, rip, and download my podcasts with 1 click. I also purchased the Tuneup app for Itunes which helps it incredibly. I just hate that it is slow on startup. I tried song bird, and the only thing that pulled me into it was the addons, but I didn't use them much. Song Bird is quite fast if you have no addons... I think Winamp should have made the list. I don't use it anymore but it is definitely worth a test. I haven't tried the zune software yet, I will when I buy a Zune HD, but I won't buy any new mp3 player until someone comes out with a better player (for audiophiles like me) than the Zen X-FI.

 

Does the Zen x-fi sync with songbird? I tried but it wouldn't work.  

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GeneralTso294

Maybe this is just me... but I believe Winamp is a major music player. With both free and paid versions, Winamp offers its own list of pros and cons. I think this should be included in the review...

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lien_meat

personally I don't like itunes cause it always seems slow...especially when adding LOTS of music to the library.  I've never used zune...so I can't talk about that, but it does LOOK amazing...but the limited file formats would be a no-go for me personally.  I used songbird some a year or so ago, and while it's ok, it's not my favorite (well, not in linux anyway).  I mostly run linux, and that said, I prefer both amarok and rhythmbox to songbird (or itunes on windows).  Both media players support nearly every format known to man, (minus video...they focus solely on audio), and both have really awesome plugins.   Another big reason for me though, is that they import new music REALLY fast comparatively.  Compared with songbird, it's just kindof a personal preferance thing for me I think...

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ThermoGel

Amarok is the best media player out there. Well at least for linux, too bad the windows version is not as good as the linux one.

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Neufeldt2002

Hmmm, I guess I am the odd man out. I have everything manually setup. No need for itunes, zune, or songbird. However, I do use Media Monkey for their tagging abilities. I have two playlists, one for a mix of everything but christmas, and one for christmas. And no, my library is not small (several thousand).

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I wanted a signature, but all I got was this ________

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AndySocial

I used to manually organize my files, and just used WinAmp (before it became a library program as well) to play music on my PC.  But, once my collection built into the tens of thousands of tracks, a jukebox program became nice to have. Sure, it's not essential, but it's nice.

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Ayapec

@Neufeldt2002

No, you're not the odd man out (although definitely in the minority). I too like managing all my files manually, mainly because I never liked the rigid pigeonholing effect of being married to a particular program. I used to use iTunes originally, with one of my early-generation iPods, but rather quickly got turned off by the program's "our way or the highway" mentality. I stopped using it and never went back. I MAY give Zune a shot now, because I just bought a Zune HD, and would be willing to explore its functionality a bit. But if I don't find it flexible enough, I will ditch it and go back to my old-fashioned way.

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kjrviking

As a PC user with a Zune 80, iPod Touch, and Zune HD, i must say that the Zune software is better on the PC and all PC users would be wise to get this, but one thing it is lacking is offline support - i tried to install it onto my laptop that didnt have internet (it was quite old, running xp) but no dice, but iTunes works on it... - but all in all, Apple needs to take a look at the Zune software and borrow some looks from it because it looks way better than iTunes does.

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mrlhxc

I use iTunes for the store, download podcasts, and sync stuff to my iPod Touch. I use Zune to play the music. It's weird but Zune uses less RAM and starts faster for me. I also like how iTunes has more options about Podcast management and you can easily convert the podcast to MP3 if you want. I would love to use Songbird but i have Windows 7 x64. Hopefully they release a x64 version some day. Honestly, i don't torrent so i don't have the issues that most people do with managing their 200GB + music library. iTunes and Zune works for me.I would NEVER buy music with a ZUNE Pass. After you stop paying all your music disappears expect for the 10 songs you get per month. That's a ripoff.

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birch

ZunePass is a music subscription service. You are renting the songs you download via ZunePass. Once you stop paying, the songs disappear. Except for the 10 free tracks you get each month, those are yours to keep forever.

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Ayapec

Bro, you're not making sense. I have not used Zune pass yet, so I cannot defend all its aspects (although I heard very good things about it from other heavy music lovers like myself)-- but I will say that on the numbers alone, it is most definitely NOT a ripoff. You pay $15 a month, and get to keep 10 DRM free songs. While a buck fifty a song is not the rock bottom cheapest around, the whole shebang is like a music buffet, and for anyone looking to discover NEW music, you can stream, discard the stuff that doesn't impress, and download what you like-- all in all building a nice library pretty quickly. If the service has no other merits, it's a deal for that fact alone.

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deadsolid

You rent the songs.  Thats what the ZunePass is.  And before you go claiming it's a ripoff analyze yourself for a minute.  It seems like you're one to buy only the songs you really want.  Which is fine, but the ZunePass is for people who like to fill their devices with lots of music, maybe even stuff they wouldn't normally listen to.  Paying $5 a month to legally listen to unlimited songs whenever you want is a really good deal.  It's only a rip off if you don't take advantage of it.

 

BTW, ever since my first purchase of the ZunePass I've noticed that the DRM doesn't activate immediately.  It can be as short as a week after or as long as a few months.  Sometimes I don't even notice my Pass is up for two or three months.

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gothliciouz

 itunes all the way!...it's a no brainer choice

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GreenTurtle

Still no Zune pass in Canada :(

The main reason I bought a Zune. Probably never will be. I do like the player though and I have always liked the software.

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birch

I thought ZunePass was coming to Canada, no?

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ryantmer

Not in the foreseeable future, unfortunately =/

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bbecker42

Why does everywone criticize the ZunePass? The pass really only costs you 5 dollars a month and the other ten dollars buys you ten songs. It makes me feel good going on a music downloading spree that is legal and the artists get paid, unlike FrostWire or LimeWire. With the 1000 songs I bought would normally cost me 1000, that same 1000 could pay for ZunePass for 66 months, or 5 and a half years.

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TheMurph

I'm not criticizing the service -- I'm criticizing its promotion.  Zune too frequently mixes recommendations with store listings.  If you have a huge library, you might otherwise assume that a band similar to the band you're listening to is one you actually own the music for.  In actuality, you'll pull up a 30-second song sample from said band's work.  'tis annoying!

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birch

If you have ZunePass you will be able to listen to the full song, and download it, as opposed to a 30 second sample. If you are using Smart DJ, you can specifically select to use only your local library.

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deadsolid

Although I'm a little biased (Zune 80, HD owner) I think that, for PC at least, Zune is the clear winner.  It's user friendly, looks amazing, and does everything.  It does have it's minor flaws like audiobooks issue, but overall it kicks ass. 

I've recommended it to a few people that normally use iTunes and everyone was really pleased.  In fact, Zune should come installed on every computer.  Ditch Media Player (although it does have nice codec support) or merge it into Zune and call it a day.  

Microsoft has some really good ideas, but they seem to hold on to their old ideas a bit too long.  Maybe a little more advanced planning is in order?

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air467

I've always like the Zune interface a lot more than iTunes.

But when I upgraded it to version 4.0, the program would not start. It would say "You must restart your computer after setup." which I do. But the message pops up again.

So right now I can only use iTunes other than the Zune player

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