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I think there are two big questions to be answered:

  1. How much has the GNOME audio player ecosphere changed since my last review?
  2. What is the best player?

Unfortunately, I don’t think that my review is particular illustrative of either.

In terms of the availability of GTK-based audio software, most of the big names are still the same. Banshee wins the achievement award for its rocket launch into both prominence1 and eminent usability.

In the pool, so to speak, there tends to be a shallow end in this software pool where small players using existing frameworks come and go. A quick look at GnomeFiles shows a whole bunch of them, some untouched for years and some in their initial phases, all with varying degrees of usefulness.

I should mentioned again that I’m not covering XMMS2 or MPD at all, both of which are robust systems which comprise ecospheres of their own. Neither have I covered any Java-based clients, because their number is few and because Swing applications, while capable of using or emulating existing GTK widgets, are far from perfect.

If forced to choose the best among the listed players, my personal preference would be Quod Libet, not simply because it has the most robust playlist abilities (and the ability to read and sort by non-standard tags, which is huge in my book), but also because its integrated tagging solution is also the most robust. It’s the most foobar2000-like program you are going to get using desktop-native widgets. However, its current rough edges (especially with the 2.0 rewrite), which are slow to be fixed, count heavily against it. It is, however, seemingly unique among the contenders.

For those without specialized needs or the desire to customize their data as heavily as with Quod Libet, the obvious choice seems (to me) to be Banshee: it’s both accessible and powerful, and it seems the most rapidly- and widely-developed of all the available choices.

  1. It helps that its under the umbrella of Novell, and so is factory-standard (no pun intended) in OpenSuSe[]

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§2709 · December 19, 2008 · Tags: , , , , , , , ·

4 Comments to “GNOME Audio Player Shootout Revisited”

  1. Fips says:

    Fantastic reviews. Can’t say I have much experience of any of these players, largely sticking to Amarok and foobar2000, but I’m tempted to take some for a test drive after reading this.

    Incidentally, the layout is really nicely done, the multi-page breakup works particularly well (though there’s a slippery &m[d]ash; on the 9th page).

  2. Andrew says:

    I know I’m late on commenting (came from google search), but I’d like to add that while with other players adding/saving your favorite internet radio stations is a pain, in Exaile you can just open the downloaded *.pls file and save the streams into a playlist. Does any other player work well (multiple streams per station, pls file importing) with internet radio?

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