Mufin, a music recommendation service we looked at a few times in the past, just released a stand-alone music player for Windows that combines some of the most interesting features of Mufin's online service and iTunes plugin into one coherent desktop application. While it looks and acts like a standard music jukebox, Mufin Player's most important new feature is that gives you a new way to manage and sort your music collection based solely on the similarity between songs.
As we have reported before, Mufin uses proprietary algorithms to analyze the musical qualities of every song in your music collection. Mufin will then recommend similar songs based on this data. This does have advantages and disadvantages. Most importantly, this approach to recommendations means that Mufin works for any song, no matter how obscure, but it also means that Mufin is deaf to the cultural context of a song, so that you might get to hear a Christmas song in February, just because the instrumentation and rhythm is similar to another song.
Mozilla's Songbird, is slightly more complex than it really needs to be, but it also gives you access to a set of powerful tools that go beyond the core recommendation service. The desktop player, for example, includes a CD burner and some rudimentary support for managing portable players. Thanks to its integration with AudioID, Mufin can also easily find MP3 id information for tracks in your collection that haven't been tagged with the right information yet.The user interface of the desktop player, which looks a bit like
Sort by Sound
At the center of the Mufin Player, is, of course, Mufin's recommendation engine, which allows you to quickly build playlists based on the music similarities between songs. Once you import a new song (Mufin can import your iTunes library, by the way), Mufin automatically analyzes the musical qualities of that song. Based on this, Mufin will then recommend similar songs from both your own collection, or based on information from Mufin.com, which currently features about 5 million tracks. Sadly, Mufin only allows you to play 30-second clips from songs it recommends from its own site.
The problem for Mufin, of course, is that most users already have a favorite music jukebox. Mufin's recommendation features are extremely interesting, and we recommend that you give it a try, but if you like Mufin's recommendations, then using the iTunes plugin might be more worthwhile for you in the long run.