Sunday, August 23, 2015

MusicBee Review 2015

With so many software player solutions available, its really difficult to know which player is right for your music player needs. 

Enter MusicBee a powerful free Windows based music player and management platform. MusicBee aims to make music playback and file management super easy. Bringing together a smart mix of form and function MusicBee has produced an intuitive and powerful music platform. 

MusicBee doesn't pull any punches, the software is squarely aimed as an alternative to Mediamonkey, Foobar2000 and maybe even jriver..... does it deliver - lets find out. 

Lets firstly take a quick look at some of MusicBee's key features. 

MusicBee - Grizzlyaudio- File conversion  
- Gap less playback 
- Intuitive interface 
- Rigging and file organisation 
- Equalisation & DSP options 
- Mono Down mix 
- 44.1khz to 192khz playback (16-24bit depth)
- Re-sampling & Up-sampling 
- Bit perfect output 
- Asio & Wasapi output
- Tagging & music management capabilities
- Stereo enhancer for headphones
- Balance control for stereo and headphone users

MusicBee - Grizzlyaudio

MusicBee - Grizzlyaudio
Theres no denying MusicBee has a pretty interface. Its simple and quite intuitive. 

The screen layout is completely customatisable for users. Skin and theme customisation are all easy and possible. 

MusicBee - GrizzlyaudioI must say I really like what is on offer. Natively the offering is great, I really found no need to download additional themes to make the GUI usable. Seriously its super good, and in 10-15mins of tweaking you'll have an interface which is tailored to your preferences. 


Lets put it out there... MusicBee is not an audiophile player.... Software like Mqn will run rings around MusicBee in terms of pure sound quality.... 
But thats not what MusicBee is about. On the flip side MusicBee would run rings around Mqn, playpcmwin, etc for usability, form and function. It horses for courses! 

Listening via my AKG k712 pro's I find MusicBee provides a nice open mid & top end which is more forward the playpcmwin. A nice benefit it provides headphone users is the native equalisation... which is a must for HeadFi listening. 

MusicBee - GrizzlyaudioIt also must be said MusicBee ensures bit perfect output in the form of Wapasi and/or Asio output. 

External audio & video players

Jplay MusicBee Integration GrizzlyaudioFeel like turbo charging MusicBee's audio performance? 

Well you can. 

MusicBee offers users the ability to integrate alternate video and audio players. 

To test this out I installed a free trial of Jplay.  Which is widely recognised as a leader in windows audiophile software transports.  

Once installed, simply select the Jplay Asio driver as your player output in preferences. Musicbee's player is now bypassed in favour of Jplays highly awarded rendering engine. 

So now you have the best of both worlds! Awesome music management and audiophile quality output. 

Artist info 
MusicBee offers a great artist info and song Lyric function.  
MusicBee - Grizzlyaudio
With web look up for song Lyrics, artist and album info and art work, you'll always have this detail at your finger tips. 

Tagging Tools 
It couldn't be more simple to tag albums and music files in MusicBee. 

Music Bee offers an impressive selection of tagging tools and utilities, offering intuitive auto and manual tagging functions.  

You also get a tag filter which enables sorting based on selected criteria. 

MusicBee - GrizzlyaudioThe MusicBee software will look up web listings for album art and artist info which you can either embed into your music files or save into the directories your music is located. 

A duplication search function is also provided, a nifty tool which enables users to remove file and album double ups. 

MusicBee - Grizzlyaudio

Music Management & Synchronisation 

Secure and accurate CD-ripping is also on the cards. Users can manage & build their music collections quick and easily. Aided by file conversion tools users can convert their music files to the following formats, AAC, Flac, MP3, Ogg, Musepak & Tak. 

With respect to music library creation users can import existing libraries from iTunes and Windows Media Player should this be a requirement. 
Most users will however simply point MusicBee to their favourite music directory on their trusty PC and have it actively monitor for new content... 

For those on the move and lets face it that's pretty much everyone these days.... you also have the option of syncing your music to either Android or iOS devices - your music will always be up to date - pretty cool right. 

MusicBee even provides a portable installer which enables you to install a portable version of the MusicBee software for travel..... See this link. 

Playback Interface Modes 

MusicBee offers 3 modes of interface. 


MusicBee - Grizzlyaudio


MusicBee - Grizzlyaudio
MusicBee - Grizzlyaudio

These modes allow users to control the foot print of the MusicBee interface. 

The 3 options provided give users a varying degrees of control, information and artist detail while they listen. 


A few options of control exist for MusicBee. 
MusicBee - Grizzlyaudio - apps
The most obvious is via the laptop. 
MusicBee - Grizzlyaudio - apps
The second is headless operation. 

If you like me would prefer to control things from the palm of your hand, head on over to google play with this link.. What you will find is a free android controller which provides headless operation for the MusicBee software. The app provides full library browsing, song selection, album art viewing, all the options one would expect from a headless controller app.

Summary of functionality... Taken from
MusicBee - Grizzlyaudio - apps
1. Basic track information display (artist, title, album, year of release and artwork).
2. Basic player control. (play, pause, stop, next, previous, volume change, mute, shuffle, repeat)
3. account scrobbling on/off.
4. love/ban.
5. 5 star rating.
6. Playback progress display and control.
7. Lyrics support (Love this!!).
8. Now playing list display, along with the ability to choose a track to play, search for a track to play, remove a track from the now playing list, or reorder the tracks.
9. Library Search support 
10. Option to reduce the volume on incoming call.
11. Lockscreen controls on devices running Android 4.0 or greater
12. Headset controls on devices running Android 4.0 or greater
13. Volume control using the hardware buttons.

To get the app working you will need to head on over to this link, where you will find the plugin for MusicBee to make everything happen. Simply download the self installer. 

Once complete and installed start MusicBee and then open your android app. Go to settings, connection manager, hit scan and select your PC. It's that easy.... 
You now have full headless operation from the palm of your hand. 

Its cool to note both the application and the plugin are open source and distributed under the GPLv3 License. For those with sexy coding fingers you can find the source for the application here, and for the plugin here.  

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