Mediamonkey vs. Musicbee throwdown

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Mediamonkey vs. Musicbee throwdown

Postby theta_wave » Tue Jan 26, 2016 3:12 pm

In the past, I installed Musicbee on a few occasions, imported a few albums and fiddled around with it for half an hour before ultimately uninstalling it. However, during the past two weeks, I've been testing out the latest stable and beta builds of Musicbee (MB) and I must say that I'm very impressed with it. However, it isn't my full Mediamonkey (MM) replacement (yet) but it still sports several advantages. I'll just list several pros and cons of MB with respect to MM from my subjective point of view.

Bottomline (TL;WR): Musicbee sits comfortably between Mediamonkey and Foobar2k offering good looks and sane defaults while providing a ton of customizing options for more adventurous users.

Pros:
1) Speed - Good god is MB fast and its database compact. In Mediamonkey, I center my experience around auto-playlists because sorting options set there are retained, something that never really worked in MM's music node. With 170,000+ tracks in my library, I'm concerned with the speed of the respective music\media managers I use. When querying autoplaylists in MM, it can take ~5s or more at times to display them. In MB, results from using the same criteria is near instantaneous. The only music managers I've experienced that were this fast are mpd and Amarok (1.4.10 + mysql), both linux software that are in many ways more limited than both MB and MM. Lastly, my MM db size is 1.7GB and MB's 294MB! I regularly optimize my MM database ("Quick" b/c it is stored on an SSD), yet MB's db is stored on a 5200rpm HDD and still outperforms MM by a wide margin.

2) Design - MM has become quite the ugly duckling over the years and working with its theme editor brings little joy. Also, MM's skinning community has stalled in the past year or so. MB, on the other hand has a very active skinning community with new additions everyday. Here's a cool one someone published yesterday: http://albertnis.com/php/darkmod/index.html. Here, a user can select which shades to color MB's skin and download the xml file for it. Wrt to MM, someone recently tried to bring MM skin design kicking and screaming into the modern era (viewtopic.php?f=9&t=80902), but sadly he doesn't have time for it any more.

3) Virtual tags - This is MB's killer feature (IMHO). Here, MB took MM's file masking functions or FB2K's formatting functions (whichever way one likes to look at it) and applied it to virtual tags; one can also use MB's functions wherever the user can enter a tagfield. Now I can sort <Album Artist> one way and if <Album Artist> = <Various Artists> I can sort it another way all in the same playlist! In MM, I have to split up my playlist between <Album Artist> and Compilations for each <genre>. Another example in MB, I can split titles in <Title> via a delimiter and have the first half serve as a grouping function (see my MB classical layout below, [img=http://i.imgur.com/H4I0ZWv.jpg]first pic in the MB album[/img], where a <Title> format of "Piece: Movement" is now split with "Piece" grouping the "Movements").

4) Customization (namely, different views) - I don't want to view every genre the same way. For example, I like to view soundtracks differently from other genres. In MM, if one sets one view, that's the view for all. In MB, I have a different views saved for soundtracks (album art), classical music and regular music. I wonder if this could be done using the collection function in MM? Regardless, I like to have these playlists in the same tree.

5) Auto-playlists and views stored outside of the database - This is key, as I can load up my saved views and playlists all in NP++ and make mass changes to all of them quickly.

6) Options discoverability - I believe that MB's preferences/options UI is better laid out than MM's. Although both can use massive cleanups, I feel that I've been able to discover MB myriad of options much more easily than MM's.

EDIT: 7) MB ignores prefixes in fields other than artists - I almost forgot this one. One thing that irks me when viewing through soundtracks organized by album titles in MM is that the the prefix "The" is not ignored in <Album>. Therefore, an album like "The Crow" shows up under "T" rather than "C". MB appears to have sorted this out awhile ago.

Cons:
1) Does not play all music formats "out of the box" - MB plays all of the popular lossy and lossless codecs out of the box. However, for me (and probably one other person or two here), I have quite a few tracker modules from the early 90s that I've kept to this day and MM plays them (almost) flawlessly; I converted problematic ones to FLAC using OpenMPT. MB does not play them unfortunately and despite added support for in_mod.dll recently, it is still very buggy.

2) Podcast handling - MB's handling of podcasts is rather limited and presents only a few options to users. For example, one cannot instruct MB to save podcasts that have a certain rating. MM wins big here.

3) Closed off database accessibility - On the very few occasions (probably 4-5 the past seven years) that I needed to jump into MM.db to make some changes (hardware ID's for example) or fix a location issue or two, it has come in handy. MB's db, as of this moment, remains closed. I don't know how it recognizes hardware, but if it is by an assigned ID, the MB user may be SOL.

4) Memory usage - On initial boot with my setup, MM uses 125MB and MB uses 700MB of RAM. A big win for MM in this department, but I'll gladly sacrifice memory usage if it means snappier performance for the music manager; I have 16GB to spare. So far, I haven't seen an issue with memory leaks in MB, but then again I haven't been playing close attention to either MM or MB in this regard.

Undetermined:
1) Device synchronization - I haven't tried this in MB, but trying to sync my Samsung Galaxy S5 with MM has been a PITA. MTP is a horrible protocol and I expect MB to be just as horrible as MM in this regard. As for wifi-sync, I have no interest in MM's ability to sync my playlists to non-discoverable folders in my phone's micro sdcard. These days, I take out my phone's microsd card, insert it into its caddy and sync via my computer's sdcard slot. However, MM even had problems with that when it keeps nuking past syncs (I've worked with MM's devs on trying to figure this out). Syncing and transcoding 8000+ files every time is no walk in the park. If MB manages to sync my playlists onto my microsd card and thereafter simply syncs changes or new files in the next go-around, then it will clearly beat MM in this regard.

2) UPnP\DLNA capability - MM's built-in capability is rather nice the times I've tried it. It mostly does the job without much fuss. A minor detail I wish it had was to sync tags when it transcodes FLAC files. As of now, transcoded FLACs display no information on my television screen. MB has a UPnP\DLNA plugin, but I haven't had time to try it out hence it is under "Undetermined."

3) Auto-tagging - I have been using MP3Tag and customized Musicbrainz and discogs scripts for many years and I'm not going to change.

4) Movie handling - MM is pretty decent in this regard. I haven't tested MB's approach but it allows users to select between Windows' default player (mine is set to MPC-HC) and an external one. I do not see any difference in either options.

My current views:

Musicbee
Album: http://imgur.com/a/nnZIz
Shown: 3.0.5657beta (FREE)

Mediamonkey
http://imgur.com/Pjiqp7U
Shown: 4.1.10.1778 (PAID)
Last edited by theta_wave on Wed Jan 27, 2016 2:44 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Mediamonkey vs. Musicbee throwdown

Postby jiri » Wed Jan 27, 2016 3:44 am

As for speed, it has always been one of our top priorities. I'd like to know more about the reasons for the problems you observe. Could you please mail me your database together with a descriptions of steps to reproduce it?

Thanks,
Jiri
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Re: Mediamonkey vs. Musicbee throwdown

Postby theta_wave » Wed Jan 27, 2016 3:12 pm

jiri wrote:As for speed, it has always been one of our top priorities. I'd like to know more about the reasons for the problems you observe. Could you please mail me your database together with a descriptions of steps to reproduce it?

Thanks,
Jiri

Sent and here's the video of the steps I took to reproduce it. The video starts up soon after starting up both MB and MM: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bc6vuh0NjsY
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Computer: Lenovo Y580 System: Win7 Ultimate x64 SP1 / Arch Linux Mediamonkey 4: w/ Monkeyrok 5.6, Minilyrics 1.4b, iMonkey Skin
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Re: Mediamonkey vs. Musicbee throwdown

Postby jiri » Tue Feb 02, 2016 4:03 am

Thanks for the files!

As for the speed, the main difference is already mentioned - MM uses a true DB (SQLite based), while MB apparently uses a flat file. Both has its advantages, certainly flat file can get away with very little overhead, on the other hand, I suspect that for example _very_ large libraries (I know about MM users with almost 1mil tracks) with a lot of metadata could hit 32bit process address space limit (but not sure about the particular implementation). Anyway, we'd like to bring some speed improvements in MM5, at least as much as possible with a DB based solution.

As for DB size - part of it is related to what's mentioned above (full DB), big part is the full-text search index. This will be _probably_ improved in near future (i.e. smaller DB size, possibly even faster searches in large DBs).

As for Design - I can't agree more, this is where MM5 will bring a huge improvement with much better default looks, significantly more friendly and powerful (!) skinning and much more.

And, certainly, we'll continue to improve all parts of MM, feel free to describe your needs, we will bring new features in faster pace in the new framework of MM5.

Jiri
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Re: Mediamonkey vs. Musicbee throwdown

Postby theta_wave » Tue Feb 02, 2016 12:57 pm

jiri wrote:Thanks for the files!

My pleasure. Thanks for taking the time to look at them!
jiri wrote:As for the speed, the main difference is already mentioned - MM uses a true DB (SQLite based), while MB apparently uses a flat file. Both has its advantages, certainly flat file can get away with very little overhead, on the other hand, I suspect that for example _very_ large libraries (I know about MM users with almost 1mil tracks) with a lot of metadata could hit 32bit process address space limit (but not sure about the particular implementation). Anyway, we'd like to bring some speed improvements in MM5, at least as much as possible with a DB based solution.

As for DB size - part of it is related to what's mentioned above (full DB), big part is the full-text search index. This will be _probably_ improved in near future (i.e. smaller DB size, possibly even faster searches in large DBs).
It is good to hear how MM's DB is structured to support large collections, thank you. Many albums in my library have <comment> fields populated with full album credits as well as classical work descriptions and reviews, many of the latter being pretty lengthy, so I expected a large DB size. I'm not so concerned about its size (so long it is reasonable) as I am about its performance, which is why I emphasized performance much more than the size of the respective DBs in my write up. I am glad to hear that DB optimizations are being worked on.
jiri wrote:As for Design - I can't agree more, this is where MM5 will bring a huge improvement with much better default looks, significantly more friendly and powerful (!) skinning and much more.

And, certainly, we'll continue to improve all parts of MM, feel free to describe your needs, we will bring new features in faster pace in the new framework of MM5.

Jiri
This is very good to hear. Thank you for your detailed reply. I appreciate it very much!
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Re: Mediamonkey vs. Musicbee throwdown

Postby wwootton1 » Sat Oct 22, 2016 7:45 am

Here's a few things I like about MM more so than MB...
Tag Cleanup- I use Musicbrainz as well but the tag features, mainly available through third party are plenty flexible and I don't require anything outside of MM to clean up any tags.

Tagging multi fields ie... mood/Occasion etc.. Again, atleast through third party efforts, i can have simple check boxes to add and remove any tags. Much like in foobar

iphone sync.. Eliminates any need i have for itunes

Where MB beats MM...

id3v2.4 tags... Keeps my music clean and consistent across all my other devices.. especially Kodi. The biggest issue has been how MM forces me to use "/" for multiple artists. This is by far the biggest thing for me.

If MM had support for id3v2.4 or atleast let me keep multi artists separate I'd still be using MM4 that I purchased and purchasing MM5. As it is... I use and contribute to MB for the features I listed and listed by the other user above and deal with itunes to sync my iphone.
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