Sunday, 11 July 2010

Flood of Media Players

Nothing less than a flood of media players have come to my attention in the last two weeks. In varying states of maturity, each has a new release getting attention.
What's the collective noun for a mixed bag of players? A cacophony of media players...?

MINITUNES is in a development release, from the same developer as desktop YouTube application MiniTube. Setting itself the goal of 'uncluttering' your music experience, it may appear to be lacking features; feature-richness is not the point. There is little by way of play-listing, library management or effects. After a straight-forward scan of your music library - whatever you point it at - you get a simple two-pane selection window, part-gallery, part-play-list, with tab-tops to select by artist, album or folder. It does have a very different and light-weight interface to the big-boys (Banshee, Rhythmbox, Amarok) running on Gstreamer or Xine
back-ends. It is already cross-platform on Mac and coming on Window$ soon.

I have two major issues with MiniTunes.
  • the amount of dependencies you have to install; to satisfy all dependencies I needed to download 85Mb of assorted libraries to support 2.5Mb of player - which I had to compile myself.
  • the complete lack of sound coming out at the end. Despite VLC, Rhythmbox and the other players listed below all playing faultlessly, MiniTunes wont so much as squeak on my test box, with or without the phenon-bakend-xine back-end which isn't listed as a dependency and sometimes doesn't work anyway. Ok it may be a development version and it may be my old hardware in the test box, but even so... Add that to the list, Flavio.
Verdict: Like the interface, shame about the sound - there was none.
(Project home: http://flavio.tordini.org/minitunes)

XNOISE might want to take on the big boys mentioned above and iTunes as well, however it's not in their league. Everything is based around the tracklist built out of your media library. You get a hierarchical tree of meta-tags for the listed media  with effective searching of tags to filter the media list for the tracks you want. You then double-click or drag tracks to the Play Queue; from there, drag-drop to compile, sort and sequence your plays. While it remembers what you played form one session to the next, this is not a savable playlist. The controls, however are very basic. The jog-shuttle is fixed width and not easy to drag through a track to a specific point. There's no fast/slow speed scrolling.

Verdict: Different presentation of your media library doesn't mean better. Where are my playlists to save?
(Project home: http://code.google.com/p/xnoise/)

GEJENGEL is another new kid, a decently-featured media player which performs a smart derivation of album/artist even if your meta-tags aren't set. Light-weight and low on dependencies, you get gapless playback using lookahead for media type, support for various audio outputs (Alsa, Pulseaudio, OpenAL) and plugins for Last.Fm and dbus remote control. The interface is good and clean but playlisting is not as we know it, Jim. Drag-drop to the Play Queue on the right and Gejengel plays, but as it does so, knocks the tracks off the list! You can skip forward in the queue, but not back. You can't save a Play Queue. This is a major, major omission for a media player.

Verdict: Likable, clean interface, but seriously, too quirky. No saved playlist even while you're playing???!!!
(Project home: http://gejengel.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/web/index.html)

QMMP tilts at the Winamp or XMMS players, so if you're familiar with the style of those, you'll like - no, you'll love this. A Qt-written program, it has plenty of features, effects, detachable windows for Equaliser and Playlist, lyrics and cover art, Last.fm scrobbler and use of .wsz skins to customise appearance. It has support for video through MPlayer. Since it's a skinnable Qt program, it looks like nothing else on your Gnome desktop. The downside is everything is tiny, like it's rendering for a desktop twice the size of mine.

Verdict: Best challenger for VLC, RhythmBox and Amarok of this bunch. Possibly the player of choice for Window$ converts and KDE users.
(Project home: http://code.google.com/p/qmmp/RC

2 comments:

  1. DeadBeef is one of the best players for Linux. Sound quality is really amazing. Here you can find the complete info http://deadbeef.sourceforge.net/ . This player lacks features of foobar, but has similar spirit.

    ReplyDelete
  2. ...or refer back to the review in this blog: http://catlingmindswipe.blogspot.com/2010/06/review-deadbeef-audio-player.html.

    It's still my default player on Lubuntu. RC

    ReplyDelete

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