Damaged Gears

Evolve your Gears

Splash Damage: Jukebox Paradigm

with 2 comments

Or the great question: Albums vs. Tracks.

Which side do you fall on? I tend to fall on the side of album side of things, preferring to listen to albums (though I will fill up my iShuffle-resurrected thanks to MediaMonkey-with random tracks) and organize my library in that manner. Sure, it's bit more complicated than that but for I find that it works.

So, unsurprisingly, I tend to like Jukeboxes that are designed in that manner. Rather than handling my libraries in a spreadsheet, I prefer to see an overview of albums within a certain hierarchy. So in that regards, I find the way Windows Media Player 11 handles the library heads and shoulders above anything out there.

Instead of using spreadsheet, it organizes in piles, with Album Art (where available). The piles of albums, each organized by Artists, or perhaps genre or year, is perfect for organizing albums physically. To a limited degree, SonicStage provides this–to be honest, the more intriguing feature on SonicStage is the Artist Link, something which I've yet to explore fully (will come in a future post). Either way, it provides the user a much more elegant way of organizing albums than iTunes ever can with its browse/search feature, which is clunk when it comes to albums.
Where iTunes shines, however that other jukeboxes do not, is where it manages tracks. As I've noted earlier elsewhere, if you have 50,000 disseparate tracks, the spreadsheet and individual search functionality provides a much easier task of finding a single track. In that case, I'd rather be looking at few search returns on a spreadsheet (or a google like interface) than albums and such. This would probably fall better under the Singles paradigm, which iTunes and iPods with their much ballyhooed shuffle functionality shows its strength. Several other Jukeboxes, including WMP10, SonicStage (if you so wish), MediaMonkey, etc. uses this paradigm. Of course, they tend to work rather well with iPods when paired with Smart Playlisting and Autofill. This tends to work better on a smaller library as well-this being backed up by coincidental evidence that most iPod users tend to use only about 4GB of the capacity available, despite whatever the size of the iPod happens to be. The Nano's and Mini's success would also seem to back this notion as well.

This isn't necessairly to indict one paradigm as an inferior one over the other. It is also interesting to note that none of the jukeboxes have really given the user the option of managing their tracks in either of the ways (tracks or albums) rather easily. If one offers the album method, invariably, the track organization leaves a bit to be desired, and vice versa.

So when you boil the question that I've been beating around the bush: Which is better? Honestly, I can't say. I prefer the album way of sorting things, because that's how I've always done it. For all I know, you prefer just dumping everything in a single directory and letting iTunes handle the tracks. That's fine as well, those programs are perfectly capable of organizing tracks, better than I can no doubt.

Additional notes:

I sort of wish MediaMonkey would use something other than Trees/Spreadsheet to organize the library (or I haven't dug deep enough yet, no doubt). It seems to handle the album as well as any other jukeboxes, but the way it presents itselfs needs a bit of work. The tree format may have worked couple of years ago when everyone was still figuring out way to neatly organize media libraries. However, working with Windows Media PC and WMP 11, I can say for certain that Microsoft has figured out a logical way of organizing even the largest libraries.

Those of you with Nano's that are still unscratched (or repaired with a bit of Brasso, that wonder tonic) would do well to invest in a pack of Palm Branded universal Screen Protectors. You get 13 of those protectors for $20. The protector is thick and resiliant yet cheap enough for replacing when the mood strikes. Of course, you're going to need a sharp pair of scissors to make the process easier, and to trim the protector screen to size. However, that extra 4 minutes you spend trimming is worth the money that you save (and the quality that you gain). Yes, the sides of your Nano's going to get scuffed. But that's why you have that Brasso, right?

Creative's supposedly gained the rights to use the Sigmatel's Rio System on a Chip package, this according to Dapreview. All the major audio and video codecs, OGG Vorbis support (Sorry, not quite major yet), very small footprint, and more. Though I'm not sure if this is the same chip that the newest Sansa are using. What is known is that Rio's and Shuffle (both praised for better than average SQ) uses some form of Sigmatel's chip, so this is a boon for Creative's lagging line of Zen's. This can only help the staggering Creative, who is more or less fighting for their life. The same Creative who about five years ago looked unbeatable with their Soundcard business (Live! and Audigy) and poised to do the same for the MP3. Sure, they may have helped to legitimize the MP3 and Digital Audio Players/Jukeboxes, but they're on life support right now.

Maybe they ought to tell people to think "iShouldn't."

Edit: Interesting time frame when this got posted, no?


Written by Damage

06/6/06 at 6:06 am

Posted in Et Cetera, Soapbox

2 Responses

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  1. Spreadsheet format has its merits, but I agree that by itself it’s a hard way to manage a large library of albums, and inevitably if you’re going to fill up a 30-60gb iPod with the software it comes with… you’ll be dealing with albums. I just like the spreadsheet for editing multiple tracks at once.


    06/6/06 at 10:42 pm

  2. i’m much more album oriented, one of the reasons i’m more fond of sony’s hardware & even software compared to the market leading apple products.


    06/10/06 at 6:36 am

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