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MP3jam Review: Convert YouTube Videos to MP3 Downloads

MP3jam 1.1 Reviewed

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating

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MP3jam Logo

MP3jam Logo

Image © MP3jam Ltd.

MP3jam is a music search and download app for Windows that uses music videos as the source for digital audio. Once installed on your computer you can use the program as a streaming music player or download the audio as MP3 files. The publishers of this useful tool, MP3jam Ltd, say that their application doesn't use any illegal sources on the Internet, such as BitTorrent sites or built-in P2P algorithms, and so is legal to use.

Additionally, MP3jam gives you the ability to easily download whole albums as well as single tracks to enhance the speed that your offline music library is built up. This free music app also has other features too, like: multi-threaded download support, a downloads history tab, and social media sharing via Facebook and Twitter.

To find out more about MP3jam and if it's worth installing for your particular needs, read on for the lowdown.

Pros:

  • Streaming audio is free from advertisements.
  • The audio from music videos can be downloaded as MP3 files.
  • No need to use a particular online music service to listen to the latest songs.
  • Built-in player for previewing / streaming.

Cons:

  • Annoying software extras bundled with the installation package -- you'll need to un-tick each one if you don't want them installed on your system.
  • Can't create playlists for streaming content from the cloud or playing your downloads.
  • Limited genre list -- can't search for genres which degrades the app's usefulness as a music discovery tool.
  • Program points to a free unlock code (for album downloads), but is confusingly hidden via a 'Buy' button.

Getting Started With MP3jam

Before You Download: The application can be downloaded free from the MP3jam website and is a freeware program. It runs on Microsoft Windows and is compatible with OS versions: 8, 7, Vista, and XP. In order to run the program, you'll also need the .Net Framework 4.0 Client Profile installed -- this component is usually installed automatically if not already on your system.

Installation: When installing MP3jam, we observed that the installation package also came with some extra software bundled with it. Although developers often slipstream these additional programs in order to keep their software free, you may still find it annoying. The Amazon browser bar and Tuneup Utilities (trial) will need to be carefully de-selected if you don't want them installed on your machine.

Using MP3jam

MP3jam Search Screen

MP3jam main search screen

Image © Mark Harris - Licensed to About.com, Inc.

Interface: The application has a well designed user interface that is not only visually smart, but also intuitive to use. It's a very simple interface enabling you to dive straight in without having to learn your away around. There are two menu tabs near the top of the screen. The first one is used for searching and downloading music, while the second tab gives you a view of your past activity -- ideal for easily locating your downloads. Below these two menu tabs is a large search box to type in your search terms and below this is a small selection of genres to click on.

Finding Music: Most of the time you'll probably find that using the search box is the most convenient way to look for music. MP3jam gives you the option to type in the title of a song, a band / artist's name, or album title. To help you find what you're looking for, the app displays suggestions as you type. This is a nice added feature that saves time on typing and gives you ideas on other artists, songs, etc. that you might not have thought about.

For a quick look at a particular music style, you can also click on one of the genres displayed on-screen. This selection is quite limited and we'd have liked to see a lot more options. Unfortunately, there's no way to search by genre using the search box -- this addition would make MP3jam an even more useful tool for discovering new music. That said, MP3jam still manages to serve up plenty of results using the genres available.

Downloading: one of the most standout features of MP3jam is its download facility. You can choose to either download single songs or whole albums. The app does this by extracting the audio stream from a YouTube video in real-time and creating an MP3 file on your computer. MP3jam does a good job of finding the highest bitrate available for songs. Most downloads are good quality, however this will always depend on what is available on YouTube at the time.

You can also download complete albums using MP3jam. This is a one-click process that is a great time-saver as opposed to manually compiling an album. This function works well and the correct album art is also downloaded too. However, after using the app for a while you may see this feature with a mystifying padlock symbol. Clicking on this brings up a 'Buy' button making you think that this might suddenly be crippleware, and not completely free after all. However, the 'Buy' button actually points to a free unlock code (on MP3jam's website) rather than you having to pay a fee. We would have liked this button to read 'Free Unlock Code' for example rather than 'Buy' as it could deter users from continuing to use MP3jam.

Conclusion

If you're looking for a free desktop application that will transform videos into audio, then MP3jam does an excellent job. You can use the app to either stream free and legal music, or use it as a YouTube to MP3 downloader. The program sports some great features such as a flexible search system, but falls a little short on making it easy for the user to search by genre. Playlists would have also been a nice addition to enable the organization of found music and MP3 downloads.

The sound quality of streams and downloads via MP3jam are generally very good, with MP3s being generated from the highest bitrate available on YouTube. One of the most standout features is being able to download whole albums. This facility works well, but you may see a 'Buy' button appear on future album downloads. This simply points to a free unlock code on MP3jam's website, but could deter some users in using this app.

Overall, MP3jam is a good desktop software program for Windows that gives you a way to listen to songs on YouTube and download them without the visuals.

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