Audio Video on Windows 10

The quest for the perfect players begins anew!

Greetings from the Couch
Jan 10 · 3 min read

The overview

I’ve been here several times, and experimented with a bunch of different applications. I ended up with Kodi which worked well for video, but was less impressive with audio, and useless for podcasts.

The problem right now

I’m unhappy with Kodi right now because all the metadata scrapers are mucking up episodic TV shows, and mislabelling despite once working well. I don’t know if this is due to arseholes hacking the services, or what, but it’s gotten to the point where it’s simpler to dig out the DVDs than try the UI.

And as I say Kodi is less impressive with music. I find it hard to find things, and again, unless the music is metadata’d up the wazoo, things aren’t found.

VLC is the solution! Except when it’s not

VideoLan VLC is a really good bit of kit with two types of app, the full version downloadable from the VLC website and a Windows 10 native application. It’ll play video and audio files, and you can add podcasts (after a fashion).

So there are three problems, all related to useability.

On a 4k screen and whatever the Surface Pro screen is, VLC standard controls are tiny and getting toward useless for people with pudgy fingertips like me. There are skins of course, but none that I’ve found either look clean enough to use, or have a control zoom in the settings).

VLC standard is also a real pain to use if you have a non-standard location for your music and video. I’ve yet to find a way to point the “video” and “music” folders to a different path.

VLC The Windows App gets tied up in metadata again and loses track of things. The last time I tried using it, it crashed after playing a single track.


What about Groove Music? That looks good and it’s a Microsoft app?

We’re in metadata territory again here. The nice is it seems to have overcome an older issue where new music folders were ignored or marked “unknown”. The current app allows you to make changes to metadata within the application, which works great if the metadata is slightly incorrect; so for example, I have a bunch of Big Finish audio productions which were originally labelled by the actors names. I changed them all to ‘Big Finish’ so I could find them. No, the problem occurs when the track has no metadata. Groove bundles them all into a single “Unknown” folder in the app. You can edit the metadata, BUT you can’t select individual tracks. Any changes are global for all the tracks marked “Unknown”.

There’s other alternatives aren’t there?

Musicbee is another app with promise, but suffers again from metadata-centricity, and the UI is tiny on high res screens.

And finally, the Windows Films & TV app is both metadata centric, and is also curiously clunky. It grabs everything together into horizontally arranged covers, won’t remember anything about where you might have been, and while pretty and touchscreen ready, is actually less useable than VLC.

But please don’t talk to me about iTunes. That’s the app that started this merry-go-round about 10 years ago, and from what I can see, it hasn’t improved.

So what am I really looking for? (AKA The spec)

Really simple:

  • UI that scales with the screen resolution or has skins/themes to make bigger buttons.
  • Metadata editor for when things go awry (Groove Music can do this but it’s not great)
  • Option to just go with folders if I want to (VLC does this in theory)
  • App updates when folder content changes (Kodi does this)

Nice to have:

  • app remembers last track played (Kodi does this)

I’m leaning more towards dedicated apps for each purpose, so one each for music, video, podcasts.

Ok, will leave it there and update as new things are tried…

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Greetings from the Couch

Written by

Really not a neural network enhanced instabot from the nastiest burrows of the darknet. (also do chai reviews on @melbournechai )

Paddle your own Review

Reviewing the shiny things without fear or favour.

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