So yesterday, after pointing iTunes back to my NAS server in order to access all of my music, movies, and multi-media content (for the 5th time…why does it keep on doing this?), I finally gave up on iTunes when I tried to play a song and it kept skipping and having significant problems to access the track. And I know that Apple fans will want to start a war, but actually, the problem here is entirely iTunes bloatware which while cool in many respects, doesn’t seem to handle network-server access very well.
Now before you say "you must have an old computer," I assure you that I don’t. I bought a brand new laptop with all of the bells and whistles and lots of extra computing power. I probably only use 30% of what the laptop would be capable of doing. So it’s not that.
And before you say "all software has this problem," let me assure you that’s not true either. For example, if I want to stream a movie to my TV using Apple TV, the movies freezes about 40% of the way into the movie. I can plug my laptop directly into the TV and use VLC player and it just works. If I want to listen to music on my network server with Media Monkey, coupled with AirFoil, I have access to my 20,000 songs with no hiccups or delays. Using iTunes, it might work for a song or two and then it fubars.
So, all things being equal, I’ve decided to say ‘Goodbye’ to iTunes until Apple feels like putting out a decent piece of software that can handle large collections of media. I have taken years to convert all of my DVDs and CDs to digitial format because I wanted instant access whenever (and now even wherever thanks to advances from even 5 years ago when I starts to convert my collection), and it was stupid that the iTunes applications wouldn’t let me take advantage of that.
Anyway, I am now about 16 hours into Media Monkey, and while that might be a short time to some, it is more than enough time to make a comparison between Media Monkey and iTunes.
What I like and dislike about iTunes
+ A very clean and simple interface. Much cleaner and simpler than Media Monkey. I do miss that.
+ Music and Video media can be seen and accessed quite easily. With Media Monkey you have to dig around a bit (and I still haven’t found my movies and TV shows visible yet…but it’s only been 16 hours and I was interrupted by an overnight hospital visit)
+ Connection to the iTunes store, especially useful because I have an iPhone and iPad (and this means I can never truly get rid of iTunes unless iCloud changes that for me)
+ iTunes radio and podcast features are actually quite nice. They just work.
– Doesn’t access content through a NAS server properly. Songs take a long time to load, often hiccups, and editing your music (ID3 tags, etc) can take 5 minutes per song or longer. Even if you keep your iTunes library files on your local machine.
– Is a real resource hog. Upon startup it can consume up to 50% of system resources and then continues to take up a lot of resources even after
The NAS access issue is actually a huge huge negative. It overrides anything else positive about iTunes. Many people are moving to NAS server at home nowadays because the technology got cheaper, the broadband acccess better, and quite frankly – many office, productivity, and other applications are bloatware themselves. So something had to give. And for most people, that means keeping the content separate from the local machine. The local machine runs better and the content can be accessed by multiple devices. So Apple should really fix this, even if they want to charge around $20 for a "iTunes Server Edition," I am sure a lot of people would pay for it – I know that I would.
What I like and dislike about Media Monkey (MM)
+ It handles all content (whether local or on a NAS server) quickly and efficiently. No hiccups or slow starts detected so far
+ Tagging seems to work great
+ You get many options for recovering lost album art to make your collection more polished (actually, too many options, but whatever). This is great for me because after converting over 500 CDs to digital format, I long gave up on scanning the album covers. And it seems like MM will help me to make progress on associate album art with my songs.
+ File monitoring detects very easily when anything in the target directory has changed.
+ Seemed to handle importing of podcasts very well. The real test will come when updates are available and that hasn’t been tested yet.
– Library directory could use some improvement. MM doesn’t do a great job of grouping an album together if there are featured artists (as an example, the issue comes up if MM uses Janet Jackson featuring Carly Simon as both the Artist and the Album Artist even though the song belongs to a CD put out by Janet, it will treat them as 2 different albums unless you do a manual correction).
– Interface is not as simple to use in my view. Probably because you can do so much customisation. This isn’t a bad thing as much as you just have to use it for a few hours to get the hang of it.
– I still can’t figure out where my movies and TV shows are. I am one of those who still download seasons using iTunes so this would be helpful to know if I can use Media Monkey or just need to get used to using VLC player or trying through my Sony PS3
– Internet Radio isn’t inherently built-in to MM. You get sent to internet directories where you can choose. Was nice in iTunes to have the listings presented to you.
Overall, I have to say that so far I am glad I made the switch to Media Monkey. Combined with AirFoil, I get my music all over my house just as if I was using iTunes. And of course now I have access again to my 20,000 songs which play without hiccups. While I am happy with Media Monkey, it is also disappointing that Apple doesn’t really give a damn about it’s customers and the way that they are using technology. There is a host of problems and complaints about this issue on various forums and Apple gives no indiciation that it is listening. Maybe your experience is different if you use a Mac or something, but enough of us are having this issue and we can’t all be stupid uneducated morons. The sooner Apple fixes the NAS server reliability/playback issue with iTunes, the sooner their user base will grow as people migrate back to iTunes. And since when did growing your user base become something uninteresting to any company. It seems only to be uninteresting to Apple.