>Music Player Review ’09 edition – First Wave

>About a year and a half ago, I did a music player review, where I went through a lot of the music players in Ubuntu and reviewed them for functionality, etc. One of my finalists from last time, BMPx, has actually gone away, but all the others are still here. This time I want to do a more thorough review, so I am including all the MPD/XMMS2 clients (I will go more in depth on what they are in the future).

In this first wave I only looked at applications under Add and Remove Applications, in the Sound and Video section and they had to say something about being able to play music or audio. From that long list, I checked the following criteria (who fails, follows the criteria):

  1. Does it appear in the menu and actually open (also is it designed for desktop use)?
    Helix Player – crashes!
    Xfmedia – crashes!
    pympd – crashes!
    Elisa – really designed for a TV
    Freevo – really designed for a TV
  2. Can it actually play music?
    Jlgui – Java app that just wouldn’t play music with OpenJDK or Sun Java, or with/without pulseaudio
  3. Can I add items to the playlist/library and play them (from within the interface)?
    (To include MPD in this review, I cheated for them, added 1 single line to MPD config file)
    Abraca – couldn’t get it to add items (it could play items added by other MPD clients thought)
    Bluemindo – added items fine, but they were invisible in the interface
    Esperanza – couldn’t get it to add items (but it could play items added by other XMMS clients)
    Potamus – A very simple client that you need to drag and drop items to. I want at least an add button.
  4. MP3 Support?
    Everyone passed.
  5. FLAC Support?
    Everyone passed.

This leaves me with:
Alsaplayer, Amarok, Aqualung, Ario, Audacious, Banshee, Decibel, Gimmix, Glurp, Gnome Music Player Client, Juk, Kplayer, Listen Music Player, Minirok, Muine, Pygmy, Qmmp, Sonata, Xfmpc, gbemol, gmusicbrowser, gxmms2, Videolan (which I added just for fun), Quod Libet, Exaile, Rhythmbox

Have I missed any, or missing something obvious with the ones I left behind today? Suggestions for future criteria are also wanted.

15 thoughts on “>Music Player Review ’09 edition – First Wave”

  1. >Listen and banshee are my favourites. I dont like the UI of songbird its too ugly and slow. Banshee has video support which is handy. Listen is great because of the features like wikipedia articles of the artist and the songs lyrics. Amarok is great but it uses the Qt tool kit and that looks a little out of place in GNOME.

  2. >Well, neither songbird or atunes is going to "win" my review because one of my hard requirements is to have it a one-click install away. (same with the last review I did).

    I will however put them through the review, anyway :).

  3. >When I used Windows previously, I love Foobar with its tabbed playlist and highly customizable UI.
    When I turned into Ubuntu user, the only music player that -IMO- has similar UI is Exaile, and I have never encountered a single problem so far. ^^

  4. >@Arune – I am going to use that as one of my next criteria, thanks!

    @Sidi – I am using what is stable in Jaunty, which is 0.2.14. I just noticed how old that is. If it gets far enough, one of my "waves" might be to look at the current alpha versions of the programs.

  5. >I'm also using foobar2000 (thank you, wine!) and the reason is that I don't like lying in tags. Let me explain what I mean:

    My music collection is largely anime soundtracks, and for the most part it is vastly more important to me what series or movie the music is from than who is singing or playing or who composed it.

    Pretty much every audio player assumes that all the user cares about is Artist, Album, Track# and Track name which means that for the longest time before I discovered fb2k, I was doing silly things such as putting the name of the anime in the Artist field in order for $audioplayerdujour to display the information I care about in its playlist. But with fb2k I could finally say screw that, costumize the UI to my needs, put _proper_ tags on my files and with its support for APEv2 tags in MP3 files instead of ID3v2, I could even put proper tags on those files as well instead of having to put up with ID3v2's braindead assumptions about what metadata the user needs.

    So my questions are:

    Does it support Musepack (MPC)? Monkey's Audio (APE)? MP3 with APEv2 tags?
    Can playlist entries be costumized beyond just "select pre-defined columns from this list"?
    Does it have full ReplayGain support (track + album gain)?

    And the sad truth is that I don't think anyone will ever make a native Linux audioplayer that does these things because that'd essentially just be a notepad-looking audioplayer (like fb2k) and that's just not a sexy project to work on – like amarok or banshee are.

  6. >@Infenwe

    I don't have your files to test on, but I would take a look at:
    Quod Libet (and it's friend Ex Falso)
    Maybe gmusicplayer as well

    And also if you go into synaptic and search for something you want supported, let's say: Apev2
    Python-mutagen comes up, right click on it, Properties -> Dependencies, switch dropdown box to Dependent Packages.

    This will give you a list of all the packages that use this library, that can let them use Apev2 tags (it doesn't mean they do).

    Hope that helped.

  7. >I'm not sure how you define 'designed for desktop use' so it might be out, but I use cmus (C* Music Player).
    It runs in the console but works great for large collections.
    It's rather vi-ish but even an emacs dude like myself has no problem working it.
    : add /path/to/music
    and it'll index all your tagged music files and it won't move any files around(which I LOVE). Very small system requirements, and very simple UI.

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