We review the powerful media manager that’s great for organising serious music collections.
MediaMonkey is without doubt one of the most powerful free media players around, but the interface and overwhelming number of options and features may not be accessible enough for some.
That said, MediaMonkey is a) free and b) has more things going for it than several of its non-free commercial counterparts. For a start MediaMonkey can recognise and play just about any file format you ask it to. It’s a world champion of a prize fighter of a tool designed to effortlessly categorise and organise music and audio collections that contain thousands of videos and audio tracks.
Manage 100,000+ music and video files
Even if your if your video and audio files are a mess and scattered across a myriad of folders and hard drives (like my music is) MediaMonkey will be able to automatically tag files, download album art, and even download the nice little extras you might not automatically think about such as song lyrics.
In addition to being able to collect music already on your computer, MediaMonkey will also search for music on any connected drive, device, local network or streaming source. This ability also extends to streaming radio as well.
Download and install
The download for MediaMonkey is a ridiculously tiny 15.8 MB, and installation is a straightforward affair. The first time you use MediaMonkey, it will ask you to ‘configure’ a few things such as allowing it to auto play, scan for media, and also grant permission for it to make file associations. Essentially, click yes on all of them if you want to harness all that MediaMonkey has to offer.
Visually, the default skin that comes preinstalled with MediaMonkey may seem both underwhelming and at the same time confusing, given the wealth of options open to you.
Visually arresting and beautiful to watch?
The default appearance is… functional and utilitarian. On the plus side the menus feel uncluttered and well-spaced out. On the downside, it can feel a little barren, with simple lists of tracks, genres, artists and albums in one corner and media sources in the other. Clicking on each menu heading unlocks a wealth of choices and options that could be confusing for a new user. I urge you to stick with it however, as MediaMonkey is as excellent a piece of media software as you will ever download.
One of the reasons MediaMonkey has such a basic appearance is because it has a really active modding community that have collectively released hundreds of custom and visualisation changes.
I had initially hoped to show you a screenshot of my own media library and the custom visualisation skin I have added to my own version of MediaMonkey, but I’m writing this on my work laptop in a remote cottage in Scotland at the moment and my six-year-old child has taken a seemingly permanent ownership of my phone, given the absolutely dreadful weather outside, so I can’t.
But despite this setback on my part, one of MediaMonkey’s key standout features is the fact that virtually every setting can be tweaked and modified to your liking, and automatic tagging of media comes directly from data obtained from Amazon.
Simple clicking on a category heading allows you remove it and replace it with any other metadata field of your choice, including year of release, genre, artist name, and many more.
MediaMonkey also has some very nice party pieces up its sleeve, including the really handy Party Mode which stops anyone else from changing your playlist and other settings either by mistake or because someone wants to play Justin Bieber.
I also particularly liked the Auto-DJ mode which automatically adds new files to playlists so they never run out.
All this for free? What’s the catch?
There is none, which in this day and age is quite refreshing.
Yes, you can part with some cash if you want to and upgrade to MediaMonkey Gold, and the paid version does have some stuff that isn’t available in the free standard version such as automatic file conversion and perfect lossless audio ripping from CD. It is however your choice, and to be perfectly honest, Gold is really for hardcore purists, in my opinion.
Overall if you love your media, especially your music, then MediaMonkey is one of the best free solutions out there to put all your music in one place and has a virtual barrage of options to play around with.