When I last reviewed Banshee, it was an immature product; it had performance issues with large libraries, its interface didn’t even offer a library browser of any kind, it generally didn’t have a good developer/user community to keep it going.
I’m happy to report that all that has changed: Banshee went 1.0 earlier this year, following a major architectural rewrite. It’s still written in C# (requires Mono), still uses SQLite as its database (so far as I can tell), and still uses the GStreamer framework for everything1. However, Banshee has made the (misguided?) choice of supporting video playback now, which I suppose makes sense for those who use Banshee to consume internet radio and [video-]podcasting.
The pace of development for Banshee now is downright blistering, having pumped out two major releases (with a maintenance release each) in six months, which works in its favor, since there are still plenty of features I’ve yet to see. Oh, it’s got MTP device and iPod support, internet radio and music store support, playlists, last.fm integration, and the standard repertoire of features. In fact, Banshee is one of the more feature-rich clients available to you, and also the most user-friendly now. Whereas the pre-1.0 version lacked even basic library browsing support, this new version offers a play on the paned concept, with a split vertical pane with artists on the top and albums with album art on the bottom.
Speaking of album art: Banshee is smart enough to prefer locally-stored album art when it’s available, only downloading new art (as seen in the pictures) in the background when necessary. Clicking the thumbnail for the current active track brings a large version of the art to the fore, which is a neat feature. Banshee’s file detail and metadata editing screens have also improved considerably even since v1.2, showing much more information than I remember. They have even taken a stab at supporting the less-common Vorbis tags like
PERFORMER, but it still doesn’t appear to be able to show such information in the library browsing pane—and showing composer instead of artist (something foobar2000 does automatically, hence my existing tag structure) requires enabling an entirely separate column in the playlist.
In Summary: Banshee has made some extraordinarily long strides since I last reviewed it. In fact, I think it’s the most dynamic player I’ll be reviewing today (and shows the best long-term promise). While purists might ding it for being C#, it’s certainly the most well-rounded player, and the best for both basic and slightly more advanced needs.
- pre-1.0, there was a plugin to use the xine engine, but that plugin is unmaintained and no longer works with the current trunk version[↩]