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MusikCube review: MusikCube

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The Good MusikCube launches in a heartbeat and consumes very few resources yet offers robust features for ripping, playing, organizing, and synchronizing unprotected music.

The Bad The Windows-only MusikCube doesn't support protected music purchased from online music stores; there's no video playback; its Net radio feature is Windows only; no native podcast support.

The Bottom Line MusikCube is an efficient, reliable, all-in-one jukebox program for Windows users who dislike DRM and bloated software.

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8.0 Overall
  • Setup 9
  • Features 10
  • Performance 6
  • Support 7

Power users who find the new music jukebox applications to be too bloated are in for a real treat with MusikCube. Although it doesn't integrate with any music stores, the application offers lightning-fast, powerful performance for users looking for a little more oomph from their music playback software.

After installing MusikCube, importing your music files into its library is easy and intuitive; MP3 files, OGG files, and CDs are supported natively, and you can add playback support for AAC/MP4, FLAC, WAV, and unprotected WMA with free plug-ins. Another plug-in enables you to import existing your M3U and PLS playlists. The included CD Ripper comes preset to import CDs to the OGG format but can also output to MP3 or FLAC. As for any digital music you've purchased from online music services such as iTunes or Rhapsody, MusikCube won't support it; open-source programs can't, by their nature, support current digital rights management systems.

Once you've added your tunes, MusikCube offers a number of ways to find what you're looking for. A general search box in the upper-left pane lets you search for music just as you would within iTunes, with narrowing results being returned for as many letters as you type. You also have the option to search within only the Artist or Album field by clicking within those windows and typing your query (by contrast, iTunes has only general searching). MusikCube also lets you sort by clicking column headers.

The overall layout looks like it was borrowed from iTunes, with a few tweaks.

Although MusikCube was designed to run as efficiently as possible, it includes some playback niceties. New songs fade in automatically, with subsequent transitions cross-faded from one song to the next, and you can configure these fades to your liking or choose to have no fades at all. Whenever a new song starts, a bubble pops up from the taskbar to display track information and disappears after a few seconds. We also appreciated that MusikCube recognized the playback control buttons on our Media Center PC keyboard (for pause, fast-forward, rewind, and stop); those buttons do not work with iTunes, Rhapsody, or Yahoo Music.

The creation of regular playlists is easy and self-explanatory, but you can also create your own dynamic playlists by entering SQL queries that specify criteria (such as artist, album, genre, title, rating, bit rate, times played, last played, time added, track number, and notes/comments) for the songs that will populate the list. MusikCube includes a good example of such queries right within the program, so even if you know nothing about SQL, you'll be able to use it to construct your own dynamic (ever-changing) playlists. Preset dynamic playlists include 50 last played, 50 newest, 10 most played, favorite artist, and favorite album.

Right-clicking one or more songs brings up comprehensive file options, including the ability to delete files from the library or your computer, clean up tags, batch update tags, batch rate, queue for playback, and more. True to its bare-bones nature, the program does not display album cover art.

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