DeaDBeeF (0.4.1)

  • Programming Language: C
  • Engine: FFmpeg
  • Age: 1 year
  • Pros: Slim, fast interface; few features (e.g. tag editing)
  • Cons: Slow, one-man development

It’s not a name that would ever make it a distro darling, but DeaDBeeF’s focus is a credit to its hacker namesake: it’s less a iTunes clones and more a foobar2000 clone, although its capabilities are still mighty slim, it being a new project.

First of all, it’s an extremely light player which uses FFmpeg and plugins, not GStreamer, to play back files. Contributing to its light weight is the fact that is has no concept of libraries at all, placing it in the company of other track-centric players as Muine and the now-defunct Mesk. It’s playlist design, however, is niceā€”the best I’ve seen, in fact. DeaDBeeF has the distinction of being one of a very few GTK+ audio players that allows for grouping of tracks; if you’re new to the concept, it means that rather than having an artist column and album column that repeat for each track, an album is preceded by a header row which applies to the following rows. It’s an elegant way of saving space, though admittedly it’s worthless if your usual music-listening experience is playlist of various artists.

DeaDBeeF sports a built-in tag writer (once again using FFmpeg), though it is marked experimental and with the author’s explicit warning that it may corrupt your data(!). That being said, it’s even got a built-in options screen for tag-writing options (charset and type, etc). Given the extensive use of FFmpeg, I don’t think it’s beyond the pale to hope that it may also someday have a useful transcoding interface like its spiritual Windows cousin, foobar2000.

Most of DeaDBeeF is enhanced by plugins: in theory, it could sport an infinite number of decoders, UI extensions, and perhaps even audio engines. This is good news, since main development appears rather pokey, and DeaDBeeF is still rough around the edges in a lot of ways. Though pretty configurable as-is, it still lacks a lot of features: tag support is limited (it doesn’t know what a Composer is, for instance, or disc number). The lack of library support is a terrible blow against it, since I think it’s fair to say that most users conceptualize their music as a library nowadays, rather than a collection of file-based playlists. I don’t even think DeaDBeeF uses existing playlist formats: its “dbpl” format appears to be some sort of binary blob, rather than an m3u.

For as young a project as it is, DeaDBeeF shows a tremendous amount of potential to be the foobar2000 clone that everybody’s looking for. I can only hope that development doesn’t dwindle and leave it another Mesk or Muine.

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§5650 · August 29, 2010 · Tags: , , , , ·

7 Comments to “GNOME Audio Player Shootout v3.0”

  1. Fips says:

    Feel free to delete this rather unconnected comment, but the one plugin which very much keeps me by foobar2000 is the CUE Playlist Filter. Took me ages to discover, but it keeps a tab on all those folders containing files referenced by .cue files and prevents them being loaded into playlists twice.

  2. anonymous says:

    As a peer music-lover I would suggest you actually give yourself more time to use Guayadeque (now on version 0.8 and about to produce mp3 player support). I can easily agree on icons and that but in my view Guayadeque is in fact the best music player/organizer for Linux. I really think this is not an overstatement. For the last few years I’ve been looking for and trying all the others and have never been satisfied (and very often deeply dissatisfied) with any of them. Once you find YOUR layout (and believe me it is there for you to find) and have your files properly tagged; once you’ve created your dynamic playlists and filters you’ll be hooked into how fast/responsive/flexible/powerful this software is. I won’ t give all the long list of features you have not mentioned (other than support for composer tag) and I’m really assuming that you just don’t gave yourself enough time to discover this program. I’ve never actually used myself either itunes or foobar200 but in the ubuntu thread where most of the support is happening there are plenty of former foobar users which are thrilled to finally have found a worthy substitution.
    Best regards

    • Ben says:

      I believe you that Guayadeque is powerful, and I’m happy that it’s continuing to receive developer love (do you mean v0.2.8?). I will disagree with your implication that my files are somehow improperly tagged, though. I should not have to cater my tagging scheme to a particular program; rather, the program should be intelligent enough to handle my tagging scheme, provided it’s not too esoteric.

      I’ll definitely be checking up on the program periodically—I think it’s one of the most promising players out there.

      • anonymous says:

        I didn’t mean that you don’t have your files properly tagged (how could I know!). I apologize if I seemed to suggest that. I was just stating the obvious: to use effectively this programs (or any other similar) the music files have to be properly tagged.

        But I was also pointing to a really good feature here (not so obvious): Guayadeque supports labels. Labels can be apply at three different levels: artist, album and track and you can apply as many labels as you want (a label can be any thing you want). The implications for sorting/organizing your library, creating filters/playlists etc. are obvious.

        So Guayadeque has a tabbed view (which I find excellent): library, browser, file manager, playlists, lyrics,, jamendo, magnatud, podcast, radios, but these are services it provides; if you don’t use them don’t need to have them there.

        Just out of curiosity: what player/manager do you actually use?

        My main point remain though, I had the feeling that you

      • Ben says:

        I think perhaps I misread your original tagging comment as speaking to my common complaint about the composer tag being a second class citizen, which, now that I reread it, it appears you weren’t.

        As to my current software layout, I use foobar2000 on Windows and (currently) Clementine on Linux.

      • me says:

        I have also tried many players until I found Guayadeque. Of course it’s not perfect, but in my opinion it’s the best linux player.
        And I agree that when you fist open it, it looks awful, but with a bit of simple customization it improves a lot.

        But for me the best thing is how responsive it’s developer is. I’ve seen some bug fixed and feature request implemented in a matter of hours.

        There is also a new official site with forums and soon there will be a wiki and a manual.

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