Musicmatch Jukebox 10.0 review: Musicmatch Jukebox 10.0

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The Good Radical interface upgrade offers speedier performance and customization; On Demand subscription service nicely integrated into jukebox; remote access to On Demand; share playlists with non-Musicmatch friends; all-in-one player, ripper, encoder, burner, online radio receiver, music manager, MP3 player loader, and download service; secure songs transfer to MP3 players; supports Universal Plug and Play devices; even more customizable; Auto DJ incorporates On Demand tracks.

The Bad Audiocentric jukebox has no support for video or photos; annoying "upgrade to Plus version" offers; some may balk at playlist-centric design.

The Bottom Line This music jukebox/subscription service/store combination does it all, but its playlist-centric interface can cause confusion.

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7.5 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Support 8
Editors' note: We have changed the ratings in this review to reflect recent changes in our ratings scale. Find out more here.

Musicmatch Jukebox 10.0, the latest version of the venerable all-in-one jukebox software just got much better with several improvements to the interface, including deep customization, new features such as Auto DJ, and an overall performance boost. The new version supercedes version 9.0, which was released only five months ago and added subscription service Musicmatch On Demand. Version 10.0 provides tight and user-friendly integration of the growing On Demand world, the 99-cent-per-song Musicmatch Music Store, Musicmatch Radio (formerly Musicmatch MX), and Artist Radio (formerly Artist On Demand), all in a revamped interface that is faster and less buggy than previous versions'.

The radically revamped version 10.0 interface includes a number of View By presets and a customizable view.

Those familiar with version 9.0 will immediately recognize the new interface, which is dark blue by default (seven other color-based skins can be downloaded). The music library can be viewed by album, album art, rating, On Demand tracks, or several other preset views, which are populated in a handy drop-down menu. You can also customize a view using more than 30 ID3 tag criteria; for example, you can create a view that shows the most recent 320kbps WMA tracks burned--the possibilities are endless. Another new addition is the Playlist Manager, which appears on the right-hand side of the interface. Here, you can drag and drop tracks from your library into any playlist--including On Demand tracks if you are a subscriber--and manage your existing playlists with ease. The new interface will also allow you to rename track information from directly within the library view; if you're using the Plus version, you can batch-change the ID3 tag info for multiple tracks with a couple of mouse clicks.

The new Auto DJ feature helps you create precise playlists based on seed artists of your choosing. The application populates the playlist with songs from your library or an online collection of more than 800,000 tracks if you are an On Demand subscriber.

While the Auto DJ Classic feature is still available for those who like to create mixes on the granular level, the new Auto DJ feature is able to create playlists of any size based on any number of "seed" artists. In other words, you can drag and drop artists such as OutKast and Van Morrison into the Auto DJ window, set the number of songs (or a number based on file size, minutes, or hours), set the diversity ratio of like artists, set the source somewhere between the vast On Demand library or your local library, and finally designate the popularity of the music. In our tests using the abovementioned artists, Auto DJ created a playlist in seconds featuring a mix of library and On Demand tracks, including those by Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, and the Roots. Although On Demand requires a monthly subscription fee, the Auto DJ feature is a powerful way to explore the thousands of tracks available without having to do much work. This feature is also an excellent way of configuring 256MB of fresh tunes for your player, although our tests showed playlists slightly exceeding the 256MB threshhold.

Back to the Musicmatch Jukebox basics: Musicmatch On Demand offers users unlimited access to a library of more than 800,000 songs and 40,000 albums for a monthly subscription cost of as low as $7.95 per month (based on an annual fee). The streaming service, along with version 10.0, of the software itself breaks new ground in the level of personalization and customization it gives to the user, as well as in features not available in like services such as Napster 2.0.

By introducing these elements, the PC-only Musicmatch has only added value to its all-in-one player, ripper, encoder, burner, and music manager. While its jukebox features still separate it from the crowd, the addition of the On Demand service should raise Musicmatch's overall charm. Still, even after a major interface makeover, some users may seek the overall simplicity of Apple's iTunes or RealNetworks' RealPlayer 10.5. But neither of these apps can compete when it comes to audiocentric utilities and features.

Drag and drop songs straight into the new Playlist Manager.

As always, Musicmatch comes in two versions: the free, downloadable Basic package and the feature-packed $19.99 Plus version. The Music Store works with both versions, but the Basic program requires you to sit through upgrade ads. Only Plus users get Musicmatch's powerful SuperTagging, a helpful add-on that examines your audio files and fills in the appropriate ID3 tags based on certain characteristics, such as filename. Another reason to spring for Plus is burn speed. While Basic writes at 8X, Plus burns as fast as 48X. New to the jukebox are an improved main screen and set of right-click options, as well as better folder management.

We found navigating through Musicmatch On Demand an enjoyable experience, thanks in part to consistent and standard screens that all link back to recognizable sections. Unlike in versions prior to 9.0, Musicmatch 10.0 won't leave you stranded, as links to artists, albums, and songs--whether they live in the Music Store or in your own library--are logical and useful. You'll find the typical Related Artists links, but Musicmatch lists many more than the average interface. After playing with the service for a bit, you'll notice how personalized a service can get.

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