Muine

Along with Banshee, Muine represents the current C# (Mono) offering for audio players in GNOME. Muine is substantially different from Banshee, however, in that Muine attempts to be a very simple, single-column player. A bit like Mesk, but more mature, and with library support tacked on.

Muine can import songs into its SQLite (surprise!) library at first run. There’s no way to view the library as a pane in the main window, but launching the library will give you a simple cell-based view. Muine looks first in the imported folder for album art; failing that, it automatically downloads it from Amazon.

Muine uses gstreamer for its playback engine.

This is another one of those players that fills a niche market—perhaps among C# buffs, or minimal player enthusiasts. I can see the appeal of the stripped-down, single-column look, though I think the library support is clunky at best, and it’s severely lacking in other features that I look for in a music player.

It has only a few plugins and options, allowing for Audioscrobbler support and limited usage tracking. As I said with Mesk, this will only be a good player for you if you have limited demands for an audio player. Don’t expect this to have all the nifty jukebox features that more mature programs have.

Quod Libet

Quod Libet is important not just because it’s a good player, but because it’s the umbrella project for the aforementioned Mutagen, a Python module for tagging used by most of the Python-based GNOME players.

The program itself, Quod Libet, is a somewhat unfortunately-named player based on Python, gstreamer, and SQLite (see for yourself in the Abou screen). It’s been around for several years, progressing at a steady, though not lightning-fast, pace.

It supports typical view preferences, and a somewhat customizable library system, much the same as its peers.

One notable thing about Quod Libet is that it has the most plugins out of any of the players I found: the plugin system is essentially just a layer for simple Python scripts to do Function X. As you can see in the screenshot (though there are many more that aren’t visible), there are plugins for album art, tag conversion, format conversion, program integration, and different export options for playlists and album lists.

Quod Libet does have a number of different views: the “Paned” view looks exactly like Rhythmbox, except it’s not a part of the Now Playing window, but rather a selection screen for tracks to queue up.

In terms of media management, Quod Libet shines. It’s got a pretty great album art downloader, offering a cell-based view of one’s library, and then a popup window showing different album versions and corresponding album art to choose from. The source of the art can be customized, as well, to either search online or look inside the album’s directory for a given filename.

Metadata editing is excellent as well, which is no surprise given what we know about Mutagen. Quod Libet’s built-in editor (as opposed to QL’s sister program, the standalone tagger Ex Falso) reminds me the most of Amarok: simultaneous editing of multiple files, track numbering, and the option to tag based on pathname or filename.

The default player window offers a pane for the current playlist and a screen for queued songs. I don’t find this setup particularly intuitive, but it is easily enough changed: the queue can be minimized and the library brought in as a side pane, making for a more familiar setup. My one complaint is that the metadata display for the library pane isn’t consistent: when order by artist, for instance, the album is still the leading, bolded item in the album’s data cell. Perhaps I’m being overly picky.

One of QL’s touted features is that it allows for playlists made from regular expressions. If you don’t know what that is, chances are you won’t care about it. I don’t. But for the hardcore media manager, that might be a major selling point.

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§1598 · January 18, 2007 · Tags: , , , , , , ·

14 Comments to “GNOME audio player shootout”

  1. Jeff says:

    I can’t seem to make anything based on gstreamer play music in 5.1. Oh well. I really like Amarok and Quod Libet looks pretty cool.

  2. Ben says:

    Multichannel audio in Linux is a pain, period. And gstreamer generally sucks, which is why Amarok doesn’t support it.

  3. Go2Null says:

    Great write-up. Thanks for the reviews. Hope you keep it “live” with updates :-)

  4. Tobias says:

    Just a few corrections about Quod Libet:

    1. It doesn’t use Sqlite but standard Python dicts, which is why its database is a bit sluggish.
    2. You overlooked that the browsers can come standalone and integrated. The main mode is switching the main window between them in the view menu, an additional use is opening one of them standalone to assemble a queue or a playlist.

    and two hints:

    1. An example regex would be: &(#(added

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hoopla, and the rest:

    < 1 week), title = /rhapsod/)
    to listen to all Rhapsodies you got in the last week.
    2. QL is the only player that lets you use your own tags.
    Say, “performer”, say “work”, etc

  6. bdotmall says:

    First of all.. what an excellent write-up. I can’t say how appreciative I am of people who take the time to put together such clean, well-written write-ups on topics that many readers – newbies and experienced users alike – can really benefit from.

    I’ve been a Windows user since 3.0 all the way up to now Vista and I’m just starting to get into Linux, so I’m always “Googling” something and write-ups like these have been invaluable.

    Again.. thanks.

    An open question to the author or anyone else who can answer: my mp3 collection is now pushing over 100GB… which “music manager / media player” is best suited for large collections? I’m not concerned with video, an 99% of my music is in MP3 format. I really love the “sizzle” of “Exaille!” with all the media-rich features such as album art, but having to wait for everything to load can be quite tiresome. Any suggestions?

    Thanks.

  7. Ben says:

    As I mentioned in the writeup, the fastest clients are likely going to be those written in native code (Rhythmbox in C and Amarok in C++) rather than those written in a scripting language. Mono apps fall somewhere in the middle.

    For large collections, though, I assume you mean large metadata databases. Once again, Amarok is the only app that currently supports external databases. Having a MySQL server feeding library data is extra overhead, system-wise, but will also deliver the fastest performance for queries. That being said, since this deals mainly with GNOME players, Quod Libet seems to have a pretty fast and flexible library. Exaile currently has a bug which makes it flaky above a certain library size, but that’s likely a high-priority fix for the next version. For all I know, it’s been fixed already.

  8. random and fake legal partners says:

    Well written article. I cam here from a google for rhythmbox sqlite, in hope of learning how to get out of the SQlite swamp. My current rhythmbox database is 130MB, and contains data on 50k songs. Take that bdotmall ;) Next stop mpd frontend.

  9. Michael M. says:

    Thanks much for this excellent overview. I’ve been using Quod Libet for a while now and am very happy with it, but I like to check up every so often on what other GTK players are out there and what they’re doing.

    FYI, one of my favorite things about Quod Libet is the plug-in that enables one to tag albums from the Musicbrainz.org database. This is a tremendous timesaver for me — no more typing out song titles and so on! I’m not sure which, if any, other players offer this kind of integration. There are stand-alone Musicbrainz taggers for Linux, but I just find it very convenient to tag directly from the audio player.

  10. Ben says:

    I know that Amarok offers MusicBrainz integration, though I must admit that it was never very responsive at all for me. I found it easier to simply masstag manually.

    Quod Libet’s large plugin collection is a major point in its favor, in my estimation. Rather like Firefox, it’s a perfectly fine program made almost indispensable by its community of users/devlopers.

  11. […] found a very nice write-up comparing these here: GNOME audio player shootout. I recommend it for an Ubuntu user wondering which app to use to play their […]

  12. Joe Ally says:

    Being written in python is not really a down point. Sure you get a 0.1 second lag compared to native code, but who cares about that.

    you shouldn’t knock python its so much easier to write in, C++ is like traditional bloody mandarin compared to python, you can’t blame people for programming in python.

  13. Ben says:

    I have nothing against Python. Quite like it, in fact, and I certainly don’t blame people for using it. But there is a difference in speed between a scripting language and compiled native code. And it’s not as minute as you make it seem. And to some people, myself included, speed is important.

  14. Phrodo_00 says:

    Although I’ve switched to quodlibet just now, Rhythmbox is pretty nice too, and doesn’t lack functionality, even less if we talk about the last releases (visualization, crossfading, gapless playing, last.fm radio playing (haven’t found it in anything else), On-line drm-less indie music shoping and free listening, playing queue,sweet awn integration plugin) end the ones to come (fm radio playing and more goodies, as well as features under the skin that would allow adding for example an eq in the future)

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