The Filter


[Note: this review was submitted by reader “Littleloupi – The Freewaregenius]

: The Filter is a small ’widget’-style application that works alongside your media player (currently Windows Media Player and iTunes) that works as a music recommendation engine. It can pick up on the mood specified within user inputs such as a number of user-specified songs, artists or music genres, in order to automatically build ’smart’ playlists at the click of a button.

The software can also fill your MP3 player and recommend new music for you.

Have you ever been listening to your iTunes library on shuffle, one moment chilling out to Feist and then having the atmosphere aurally destroyed by Metallica’s “Hit The Lights”? It happens to all of us, but thankfully “The Filter” can save the day by creating instant thematical playlists at the click of a button.

The recommendations algorythm is based on scanning your music library and cross-referencing it with the AllMusic Guide music database as well as your own music playing history. The more complete your music tag information the better it will be able to do this. It will need to scan your library and synchronise your information with an online database, at least initially. You will also need to create an account with the “The Filter” website.

The Filter software is very easy to use; to build a playlist all you need to do is select a few songs that typify your mood (1-3 songs works best) and then hit the ’F’ button to generate a 15 song playlist of similar music. The playlists promise to help you ’rediscover your music collection’, as it includes many songs that you would not choose yourself.

More notes on this software:

  • Media players supported: iTunes, Windows Media Player.
  • The user interface: Minimal black in style, easy to create a playlist, to fill your iPod/MP3 player you will need to pull up a large menu which appears slightly confusing at first.
  • Track and album info: The Filter can display album artwork and artist biographies/reviews which it pulls from the AMG website.
  • Track recommendations: When you play a track the software pops up a useful window which contains artist information and also recommendations of songs, albums and artists that you can buy from either iTunes or Windows Media Player. I’ve found these recommendations to be stronger than the recommendations offered by companies such as iLike and have discovered new bands such as “The Decemberists” and the excellent “New Pornographers” through them.
  • Playlists: The playlists this software creates are very good, perfect for when the shuffle button won’t do and you are too tired to create a custom playlist. The software recognises about 90% of the music in my library, which is quite good considering I listen to a lot of new music.
  • iPod Filling: Arguably the most useful part of the software. The Filter can create instant playlists that can refresh and update an iPod or USB based MP3 player whenever it is connected to your computer. This is perfect for creating playlists that you need to update daily – like a ’commute to work’ playlist.

Overall: this is a very useful application that can save you a lot of time and can help you rediscover the songs in your music library that you had completely forgotten about. The iPod filling aspect of the software is a godsend, especially for people like me who have a small iPod Nano and a very large iTunes library. Unfortunately the software seems to be quite system intensive so I usually create a batch of playlists for the day and then close it, which is a shame because the artist information and recommendations are very good.

Version tested: 2.1

Compatibility: Windows XP, VISTA, Macintosh OS X 10.4, Nokia Series 60. ITunes or Windows Media Player required.
Update: We apologize, but this service no longer exists.