Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The BEST Media Player

I listen to music on my computer constantly. While I'm at home, while I'm at work, and whenever I'm on my laptop. I listen to mp3's, cd's, and streaming radio. Music is an essential part of my computing experience. I've used a few different media players in my day.

I used to use MusicMatch back in the day simply because it ripped to mp3. Eventually it got too big and bulky to use effectively. I moved over to using Winamp and I've pretty much used that exclusively up until around March or so. The reason I liked winamp so much was that it had a small memory footprint, it monitored media folders, and just plain worked like it should. On my Sony Vaio, however, it would routinely crash which, as you can imagine, got real annoying real fast.

I switched over to using the dreaded Windows Media Player since it was already installed and didn't crash. Oddly enough, version 10 isn't all that bad of a media player. It's a little bulky and its shuffle algorithm could use some work, but it monitors media folders and kept all of my mp3's organized pretty well so I kept using it... until it started crashing on me as well. I'm starting to wonder if both WMP and Winamp were crashing because I would have inordinately large playlists. I'm talking 10,000+ songs on one playlist. I rip ALL of my cds to my hard drive so I can swap them onto my mp3 player since I take that everywhere I'm not at a computer.

Anyways, I gave iTunes a try back in the day, but it's so bloated and full of useless functionality that I don't understand how anyone puts up with it. I was starting to wonder what I could use when I stumbled upon the Quintessential Player. Essentially it's a winamp clone, but if you ask me, it's even better for a few reasons, and because of those reasons QCD is now my media player of choice.

QCD has a very small memory imprint, which is always good. It has all of the basic functionality of winamp, except for the fact that it's media folder monitoring is limited to 256 folders. This is the only real drawback, but I'm sure that most people won't have 256 folders that they want monitored. I'm not quite sure as to if this is limiting you to specifying 256 folders to watch or if it is including subfolders of the folders you specify to watch. Either way, I haven't tried it out too much yet as I just drag my music folder into the playlist window when I want to listen to my mp3's.

One thing that I loved about winamp that none of the other media players I used implemented or implemented well was queueing. Sometimes you want to pick out a few songs to listen to in the middle of some random listening. Winamp would let you do that easily. QCD doesn't implement this by default, but you can add in a plug-in that will add this feature.

Neither winamp or WMP will allow you to rip cd's to mp3 at full speed or at all. This is really annoying, but I have resorted to using CDEX for ripping. With a plug-in for QCD you can rip your cd's to mp3... as fast as your drive will spin the disc. Another plus for QCD.

The final feature, which was the deal sealer for me, that QCD has over all the other media players is that it can record streaming radio. That's right, once you install the mp3 ripping plug-in you can record any radio stream you listen to through QCD. Not only does it simply record radio streams, but it will divide up the stream into the individual tracks that are being played. This feature seriously, seriously rocks my face off.

I have a soft spot for techno and trance, especially live DJ mix sessions, but I can only listen to them on my computer since I listen to them via streaming radio. With QCD, I can have it record some mix sessions to mp3 which I can later burn on to a cd that I can pop into my car to listen to. I also use it to record some talk radio programs that are on late at night which I wouldn't be able to stay up and listen to otherwise.

So if you're looking for one heck of a good media player with tons of features (a few that no other media player has), give QCD (the Quintessential Player) a look.

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