Comparing Five Music Players
On modern computers, music players are as standard as word processors and spreadsheets, but how do you choose one? You can take for granted that music players using the same soundcard and speakers will produce roughly the same quality of sound. You also can assume that any music player you try will be able to play any music format that your operating system supports, including, for GNU/Linux, the free Ogg Vorbis format. A modern music player will support various sources as well, ranging from the local collection of tracks on your hard drive to CDs, DVDs, external players and on-line sources, such as Internet radio and podcasts. So, how do you decide?
To suggest an answer, I looked at five of the most popular music players for GNOME and KDE—Amarok, Banshee, Exaile, Rhythmbox and Songbird—using the current versions available in the Debian unstable repository. After comparing them in each of six general usability categories, I ranked them and tallied the results.
Dragging and dropping tracks, desktop notifications and minimizing music players to the notification tray are all standard features these days. The differences in how each music player handles those features are usually minor, although Amarok, like most current KDE apps, provides the most customization for notifications. It also repurposes its middle context pane when you are moving tracks from the media source pane on the left to the playlist on the right by temporarily transforming it into live links that you can drop selections on to get different results.
However, the largest problem for all these music players is how they handle collections of local tracks and podcasts and music stores that easily can number in the thousands these days. Unfortunately, in four out of five cases, the handling of all this information is not well thought out.
The endless displays of tracks, albums, artists and playlists not only make for a cluttered window, but also can leave users with a feeling that they have too much information. At times, what controls actually do can be difficult to discover, as with the filters for Rhythmbox's search filter, which easily can be mistaken as controls for altering the panes displayed in the window. Too often, the space for each column in a pane is so limited and track or album names are so truncated in anything less than a full-screen view, they almost might not be listed at all.
The exception to this rule is Amarok, whose three main panes maximize the display space in the window while using every sort of trick—from expanded trees to hiding music sources not currently in use—to reduce the clutter and information overload. Exaile and Songbird manage some of the clutter in their default views with tabs, but Banshee and Rhythmbox both have a series of permanent panes that feel badly in need of cleanup. You can, of course, greatly improve the layout of all the music players via the View menu by selecting which panes or columns to display, but Amarok remains far ahead in general appearance. If you really want to remove the clutter, you can hide the middle context pane, reducing the information in Amarok to a functional minimum. Another possibility is to undock one or more of Amarok's panes to create a separate floating window that you can refer to only as needed.
Still, all five players do what they can to help users navigate. All can sort lists in ascending and descending order, and all include search filters, although Amarok gives you more control over both sorting and filters. In addition, Amarok and Banshee both offer bookmarks.
After Amarok, the best-designed is Songbird, whose Web structure gives it an instant familiarity. Songbird also features skins, called feathers, and a zoom for changing the size at which information is displayed, but these features, although novel and convenient, are not enough to challenge Amarok seriously.
Banshee, Exaile and Rhythmbox (tie)
-- Bruce Byfield (nanday)
|Making Linux and Android Get Along (It's Not as Hard as It Sounds)||May 16, 2013|
|Drupal Is a Framework: Why Everyone Needs to Understand This||May 15, 2013|
|Home, My Backup Data Center||May 13, 2013|
|Non-Linux FOSS: Seashore||May 10, 2013|
|Trying to Tame the Tablet||May 08, 2013|
|Dart: a New Web Programming Experience||May 07, 2013|
- RSS Feeds
- Making Linux and Android Get Along (It's Not as Hard as It Sounds)
- New Products
- Drupal Is a Framework: Why Everyone Needs to Understand This
- A Topic for Discussion - Open Source Feature-Richness?
- Home, My Backup Data Center
- Validate an E-Mail Address with PHP, the Right Way
- New Products
- Developer Poll
- Trying to Tame the Tablet
- not living upto the mobile revolution
1 hour 6 min ago
- Deceptive Advertising and
1 hour 41 min ago
- Let\'s declare that you have
1 hour 42 min ago
- Alterations in Contest Due
1 hour 43 min ago
- At a numbers mindset, your
1 hour 44 min ago
- Do not get Just Almost any
1 hour 48 min ago
- A fantastic rule-of-thumb to
1 hour 49 min ago
- Keren mastah..
2 hours 47 min ago
- mini tablet compare
4 hours 6 min ago
- Looking Good
7 hours 39 min ago
Enter to Win an Adafruit Prototyping Pi Plate Kit for Raspberry Pi
It's Raspberry Pi month at Linux Journal. Each week in May, Adafruit will be giving away a Pi-related prize to a lucky, randomly drawn LJ reader. Winners will be announced weekly.
Fill out the fields below to enter to win this week's prize-- a Prototyping Pi Plate Kit for Raspberry Pi.
Congratulations to our winners so far:
- 5-8-13, Pi Starter Pack: Jack Davis
- 5-15-13, Pi Model B 512MB RAM: Patrick Dunn
- Next winner announced on 5-21-13!
Free Webinar: Linux Backup and Recovery
Most companies incorporate backup procedures for critical data, which can be restored quickly if a loss occurs. However, fewer companies are prepared for catastrophic system failures, in which they lose all data, the entire operating system, applications, settings, patches and more, reducing their system(s) to “bare metal.” After all, before data can be restored to a system, there must be a system to restore it to.
In this one hour webinar, learn how to enhance your existing backup strategies for better disaster recovery preparedness using Storix System Backup Administrator (SBAdmin), a highly flexible bare-metal recovery solution for UNIX and Linux systems.