Much of my life revolves around music. Whenever I use my computer, I have music on, and when outside I usually use a portable media player. Unlike most people, I listen to whole albums instead of random songs, and my music collection is organized by bands and their albums.
With Jaangle, formerly named Teen Spirit, I found a free, light and fast piece of software, which satisfies all my needs. Don’t let the simple looks of this player fool you, because Jaangle is an incredible and reliable music player.
If, like me, you’re into music and have lots of (digital) albums stored, I definitely recommend you get your collection organized at all times. To do so, I think that the following three steps are essential:
- Establish a nomenclature routine for files: there are lots of different ways to name your music files. Some people do “01 – Title”, others do “01. Title”. I prefer to use “01 Title”, and whenever I download a new album, I apply this naming scheme for all files.
- If possible, download the album’s cover into the album’s folder and name it “folder.jpg”: by doing this, not only your folder icon will look better (it will automatically include the album’s cover), but it also eases the task for media players to find the album’s cover. As I will detail later, Jaangle has the ability to retrieve covers online.
- Get the tags right: this one requires a bit more work, but you’ll see how it pays out in your collection’s organization. It is a very important task even for your own organization and to get all the right info about the albums. It is also essential for media players to organize different files into the same artist, genre or year. You can do this “by hand” by editing each file’s properties using Windows Explorer. However, there are several pieces of software specific for tag editing, which you can easily find online.
Jaangle is a free music player and organizer developed by ArtificialSpirit, an organization run by Alex Economou, a Greek Chemical Engineer with a MSc in Artificial Intelligence. This project was created as an evolution of TeenSpirit, another music player whose development then led to Jaangle.
While it is not a “mainstream” music player, Jaangle has a faithful set of fans who contribute immensely to its improvement. In the ArtificialSpirit Forum, users debate the state of the program, report bugs, make suggestions, etc. Much of the features added to Jaangle result from suggestions made by those users, which tells the importance of the user’s feedback in Jaangle development.
Jaangle is also capable of playing video in the most common formats, and more with the right directshow filters. However, in this review I am focusing entirely on the music part, as it is the main reason why Jaangle is known and why I use it on a daily-basis. This does not mean, however, that it can’t play video, because it is quite responsive in that field and totally suits basic needs, but it lacks some important features offered by other applications specifically designed for video playback.
Once the installation is complete, Jaangle will ask you to specify the path to the folder containing your music collection. I use the “Music Library” folder provided by Windows 7, but any other folder will do.
From now on, this folder will be the “brain” for your experience with Jaangle, even though there is the possibility of adding multiple collections. Whenever you want to add something to your collection, just add the files or folders to your collection and hit “Update local collections” — Jaangle will automatically search for new files and add them to the right places, according to their tags. The same applies to when you want to remove something from your collection.
Jaangle is a fully customizable player, giving users the ability to “make a player of their own”. By default, the main interface has four sections: the upper-left lists all the artists in a tree view, their genre and the number of the tracks by that artist lying in the collection; the upper-right one lists the musics that correspond to your selection: if you select the artist on the left, you’ll have all the songs on the right. If you open the artist’s tree and select a specific album, you’ll get the songs from that album; the lower-left section shows the current playlist and the lower-right one shows artist, album or song information, depending on what is selected in the upper-left or upper-right section.
The Jaangle interface looks really simple, with something that resembles the MS-DOS style. There are, however, multiple skins available, which change your background and font colours. So, if you’re looking for a player with elaborate skins, Jaangle might not be the best choice. Nevertheless, this visual simplicity also contributes to low memory consumption, in which Jaangle probably beats most of the music players out there.
Since Jaangle also aims to be an “organizer” and “manager”, it has a built-in tagging suite. However, as stated before, I believe that tagging should be done before adding music to the collection.
Jaangle has the ability to, automatically, go online and fetch information about a band, an album or even lyrics. Such information is fetched from Last.fm, Amazon or Google, among others. Jaangle actually has close integration with Last.fm as it has a built-in Last.fm scrobbler.
To activate it just go to “Options”, check the “Last.fm scrobbler” option, click the cog near it, fill the form with the asked info and click “Check”. Since I am a Last.fm user, this feature is quite handy to me as it makes scrobbling really easy and eliminates the need of having to download and run a separate scrobbler.
A quick-connection with a bunch of other services is also available, such as “Discogs”, “Lyrics.Wikia”, “Spotify” or “YouTube”. For example, if you use the “YouTube” service, Jaangle opens a new browser tab with an automatic search for the song you selected.
Another quite interesting and funny feature you can find in Jaangle is that it brings a music quiz game, in which an excerpt of a song is played and you have to identify it, by selecting the correct option. The game’s interface is based on the popular TV show “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire”.
By default, when you minimize Jaangle the window will be minimized to tray and Jaangle will be presented in a “mini-player” mode, which you can move and force to leave it on top of all other windows.
I have tried lots of music players since the taste of music started to exponentially grow inside me. I’ve tried Windows Media Player but couldn’t get used to its organization. I’ve tried Winamp but found it a little bit “outdated”. I’ve tried iTunes but it was kind of heavy and memory consuming. I’ve tried Foobar2000 but had some issues while trying to apply some skins so I gave it up (but, from all the ones I mentioned, it would probably be my first choice).
With Jaangle, I’ve found a user-friendly, light and non memory-consuming music player which satisfies all my needs: it presents my collection in the way I find most suitable, it automatically fetches artists bios and photos, it has great integration with Last.fm, and so on. It is also compatible with multiple audio filetypes such as mp3, wma, cda, ogg, flac, mid, midi, mp4, m4a, and many more.
Most of you are probably used to the music players you use, but I can assure you that Jaangle deserves a shot, specially if you have an old computer running on low RAM.