I've always been a fan of MediaMonkey (http://www.MediaMonkey.com), but with it's recent version 3 release it's become the most exciting music player out there. MM has been just another one of a half-dozen or so leading players, but the scripts that its latest version is enabling make it top-of-the-heap.
The merits of music players is a frequent topic around here, and the tastes generally run to the utilitarian. This frequently means minimalist, but I wonder if that's because so much of the feature set in today's apps is eye candy and other junk that introduce complexity and bugs. The scripts that I'd like to tell you about really have use, so I hope they escape that criticism.
What to listen to?
My collection is large, so the biggest problem I've got is deciding what to listen to. There are external services to help you put together playlists (MusicIP is a good one), but I don't know of any that's well-integrated. Some folks have written MM scripts that I'd never have though of, but do a great job in building me a list of music to listen to.
This plugin builds a "best-of" list for an artist, or find tracks having a given tack, or research related artists, all based on actual Last.FM data. For each of these tasks it submits requests, then searches your own database looking for what you've got on that list.
The most basic operation is the "best-of" for an artist. Simply add a Favorite Artist, and it will get the top tracks for that artist from Last.FM:
But you can do other things with the artist. It's in a tree structure, so you can open up its node to see a list of related artists. In this picture I've opened Dream Theater, and within that, continued to drill down into Symphony X. For each of these artists, you can click on the node to see the "best of".
You can also get lists of top tracks having a given tag. Just add a Favorite Tag node, and click on it to retrieve your list. You can also drill into this to see top musicians having that tag, and repeat the process above to see their best songs.
You can read more about Last.FM node and download it here: http://www.mediamonkey.co...rum/viewtopic.php?t=24879
If you don't like to rely on other people's taste, you can derive lists from your own database. A script called MagicNodes (http://www.mediamonkey.co...rum/viewtopic.php?t=19168) allows you define criteria for building a tree of music according to properties in your database. You might specify "Tracks from between 1970-1979 having Rating 4-5 classified as Soft Rock, organized by Artist". The list is navigable, and dynamically built as your collection evolves.
I'm pretty particular about my data, and I've got the lyrics for most of my music thanks to Zortam. However, I do run into occasional holes. When this happens I use the WebNodes script (http://www.mediamonkey.co...rum/viewtopic.php?t=25845).
When a song with missing lyrics comes up, I go to "Search the web". This opens a panel that contains one of various pre-seeded searches. Using the one for "lyrics-songs.com" I've never missed in finding the lyrics. Then just select them with your mouse and click the Lyrics button; they're automatically saved into the tracks ID3 tag.
Seeing what you're hearing
I really don't like visualizations, but I do like to see what I'm hearing. The MonkeyRok script (http://www.mediamonkey.co...rum/viewtopic.php?t=14494) displays some basic info about the track, but also lists the other tracks of the album that it's from, and lists other albums from the same artist. You can click these to add to the "Now Playing" list.
Improving the sound
The quality of sound from a PC isn't the best, between small speakers and occasional 128kb MP3s (before I knew any better). There's a DSP plugin (MM supports the same DSPs that WinAmp does) that seems like magic to me in the way that it improves the sound of the music. I'm sure purists will object that it's then not playing what the artist intended, but to my ears the sound is much more pleasant.
You can find the Sound Solution DSP here: http://www.soundsolution....ound_solution-t966.0.html
I hope these improve your pleasure in music listening as much as they have for me.