Since I am now way past the 15,000 track usable limit of iTunes my options for managing and listening to music day to day have had to change. For streaming music to my stereo, at work or on my laptop, I work with SliMP3 which allows me to use my browser or the IR remote with my stereo to control the tracks.
On our desktop computer I have been playing with an interesting player/manager called MP3 Voodoo. By far the most interesting feature is “view by cover” which is like having all of your albums on your desktop. You see everything, sort and select as you might normally expect, but the focus is mainly visual. Of course you need to have the covers saved (as cover.jpg) in each album folder of MP3s that you collect… Seeing the covers is a great way to recall what you have and also explore music you might not have listened to in a while. They can also be reviewed while listening much like you might have an album out on your coffee table as you listen.
SliMP3 is about to support covers which will let you view the cover of albums that are playing, though you will still be limited to choosing what to listen to by the usual text options.
Since covers don’t automatically get pulled in with albums that get ripped (in any app I have tried), the process is unfortunately pretty manual. There are a few apps that can find covers, but they have been less than perfect and actually pull down the occasional incorrect picture, which kills any faith you might have for things to run in large batches. My solution is an espresso of two (or three) and some time to kill. This weekend was very successful for cover retrieval, but I am sure there will be many more filled with tracking down the rest. I think my current album count is over 1800 at the moment… I am sure it will continue to grow!