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Thread: Classical music audio player

  1. #1
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    Default Classical music audio player

    I've been getting so frustrated with iTunes, trying to manage hundreds of my classical music albums in a way that makes intuitive sense. Am sure many have struggled with the challenges of having only one genre ("Classical!") to cover all classical music, problems with organising by composer, struggling to keep works together (really movements are not songs and albums are not works) - well the list goes on. I know i can re-tag, add in my own genres etc, but I'm beginning to wonder if there is a more intuitive classical music audio player out there, that's been designed to cater for the idiosyncrasies of classical music collections, rather than force fitting into the structures of the pop/rock world. Does anyone have a good experience of another media player to share?

    Also I've found my online buying experience at the iTunes and Amazon stores to be frustrating as well. Is there a better place to search and buy classical music?

    All thoughts welcome!

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    I'd be interested in hearing about a player that displays information about classical music better, but I've re-tagged enough music so it produces a reasonable display on my Apple TV, that I don't want to change gears now. I'm pretty much committed to re-tagging everything as I download or rip it.

    I buy my downloads from

    http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/
    http://eclassical.com/
    http://www.theclassicalshop.net/

    because in addition to MP3s, they carry lossless FLAC downloads, which I prefer.

    Also check out

    http://www.classicsonline.com/

    which has a very comprehensive selection of MP3s.

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    Tagging is what controls the sorting... that isn't iTunes, it's the tags in the files. There are other programs, like Plex that have much more graphical interfaces, but if you have trouble with iTunes, you're not going to do much better with Plex.

    The root of the problem is that people insist on tagging their files in non-standard ways and then uploading those non-standard tags to Gracenote. If people followed the established naming convention for classical music, everything would work fine in every player. But there are a lot of people who refuse to learn and follow that, so the tags are sometimes chaotic. Thankfully, that is less than 20% of the tags I run across.

    As for keeping separate files in a work together, that depends on the title of the album. If you want to shuffle play, simply join tracks as you rip from CD.
    Last edited by bigshot; Aug-18-2014 at 08:20.

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    Senior Member Nereffid's Avatar
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    I haven't used it myself, but MusiCHI (http://www.musichi.eu/) might be worth a shot.

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    Creating playlists organized into playlist folders will give you total control of what tracks constitute a single work and how those works are organized.

    For example: you could create a Classical-Romantic > Beethoven > Piano Sonatas > Schnabel folder structure. Then inside the Schnabel folder, you could have a separate playlist for each sonata. The program wouldn't need to understand which tracks should go in that playlist because you would specify that yourself.

    But yes, iTunes comprehensively sucks. Apple has successfully forced me to use it to get music onto my iPhone. But they haven't yet figured out a way to force me to use it as a media player.

    Speaking as a Windows user, they can have my Winamp when they pry it from my cold dead fingers. foobar2000 and JRiver also have their merits. But I'm not sure if any of these offers a significant advantage in the challenges of managing a classical music library.
    Last edited by ribonucleic; Aug-27-2014 at 18:45.

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    iTunes is the best music player for the Mac. I think the reason it sucks on PC has more to do with Windows than Apple.

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    Senior Member ptr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    iTunes is the best music player for the Mac. I think the reason it sucks on PC has more to do with Windows than Apple.
    I'm sorry to say that in this case you're wrong, I've been a Mac user since 1989 and there has been no Mac software since that has sucked as much as iTunes! Currently I'm running JRiver Media Center on both the Mac's and Windows machines in my household and it is generations more intuitive than iTunes.

    I tried "MusiCHI " that Nereffid suggests above for a few days, but it is very French and quite counter intuitive and has very a uninviting "technophile" user interface!

    /ptr
    Je suis Charlie ~ I am a certified OrgaNut! (F.—I.W.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    iTunes is the best music player for the Mac. I think the reason it sucks on PC has more to do with Windows than Apple.
    As recently as a few days ago, I assumed the same. But the most recent episode of the Accidental Tech Podcast had one of the die-hard Apple supporter hosts observing how simply deleting a few podcasts from the software creates one-two-three-four-five second delays.

    To be sure, it must suck even harder on Windows due to having had to be translated from OS X. But even in its native habitat, it sucks plenty.

    And, hey, Apple, if writing Windows software isn't your bag, that's cool. But then maybe you could have refrained from breaking the ability of third-party applications to sync modern iDevices?
    Last edited by ribonucleic; Aug-27-2014 at 23:23.

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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    I have used iTunes on a Windows PC for years to keep my iPods up to date and play music from my iTunes libraries at my computer. It works just fine for that, no issues at all. I use other programs, most of them open source, for other things.


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    I have been using Foobar2000 very happily for about 3 years now. I run it on two Windows 7 PCs and - unable to find anything with comparable functionality - on my PC running Linux Ubuntu, using Wine Windows program loader.

    I did have in-house IT support (my son) to set up the user-interface to my specifications, but there's no maintenance to be done and it's been trouble-free to use. CDs are ripped and converted to FLAC files for storage using EAC. I buy FLAC downloads too, wherever available.

    My usual source of discs and downloads is Presto Classical, though I buy a fair bit second hand too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TurnaboutVox View Post
    I did have in-house IT support (my son) to set up the user-interface to my specifications
    Lacking your son, my attempts to do the same have all failed.

    It's a shame. I would really like to use foobar2000. I admire how lean it runs. But I found the learning curve just too damned steep.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ribonucleic View Post
    Lacking your son, my attempts to do the same have all failed.

    It's a shame. I would really like to use foobar2000. I admire how lean it runs. But I found the learning curve just too damned steep.
    Yes, that is a drawback - it's not very intuitive to set up (like you, I have tried).

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    Quote Originally Posted by ribonucleic View Post
    It's a shame. I would really like to use foobar2000. I admire how lean it runs. But I found the learning curve just too damned steep.
    It's like a Swiss army knife that you don't know where they keep the blades. I'm still finding out things it will do, but they have to be stumbled upon by accident. Someday I'll figure out what the tabs are good for...


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    Any program that can do a wide variety of things requires you to learn how it works. Simple things like playing and searching can be made intuitive, but more complex tasks like building smart playlists and managing tags have a learning curve. My iTunes libraries are organized by type of music and all together have nearly two years of music playing on random shuffle 24/7, all instantly accessible through my phone. iTunes does a great job of handling very large music libraries.
    Last edited by bigshot; Aug-29-2014 at 17:16.

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    I had this same dilemma five or six years ago when I decided to take the mp3 plunge. I'm somewhat tech savy and very **** about how I want my music stored/sorted on itunes. Even after all these years it probably still isn't absolutely perfect, but it works well for me. I basically delete/override the track info and substitute my own info. I use the following columns: Name, time, artist, album, composer, and genre. For example:

    Name......Time.....Artist.....Album.....Composer.. ...Genre
    Liszt: Consolation in F.....3:32.....Vladimir Horowitz......Liszt: Consolation in F.....Liszt, Franz.....Piano Solo
    Liszt: PC #1.1; Allegro maestoso.....5:01.....Freire/Plasson/Dresden Philharmonic.....Liszt: PC #1.....Liszt, Franz.....Concerto (Piano)

    Enerything alphabetizes for me in the correct order.

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