xnoise (0.1.10)

  • Programming Language: Vala
  • Engine: GStreamer
  • Age: 1 year
  • Pros: Minimal but nice user interface; media library
  • Cons:Poor performance is a dealbreaker; slow development

Though xnoise has been in development for a little over a year now, I only recently heard about it. Given its feature level, I have to suppose that it was less-than-usable for much of its early life. It’s written in Vala, a special language oriented around GNOME’s GObject which is ultimately compiled down to C code. Ostensibly, it should be quite fast, and indeed it’s fairly lightweight—even with a full library it uses about 25MB of memory, and low CPU—but its current library handling code is cripplingly slow. Initial import of a library freezes the UI, which may or may not come back. Even reverting from a search/filter view of the library back to a full list sends the program into a coma from which it may or may not recover.

On the topic of playlists, I should point out that some programs handle foreign characters better than others. The band which I have been using for many of the screenshots so far, Änglagård, very obviously has funky characters in it. Good programs which perform natural sorting can smooth out Ä to A and order appropriate. Lesser programs kick Änglagård to the bottom, sometimes of the A‘s and sometimes of the whole playlist. Worse yet—and this is the category into which xnoise falls—it can simply not add the band to the library. No amount of cajoling will make the xnoise that I tested appreciate poor old Swedish characters. My classical music, which no music browser seems to respect, is once again ingloriously lumped into an “Unknown Artist” entry, which also rather curiously contains every m3u playlist file in my library.

Despite the apparent attention to UI, there are also some strange design choices. xnoise, like most media players, uses a column layout for its playlist. The standard design pattern is to right-click a column header and be presented with column options (add a column, remove a column, etc); xnoise has no such feature, instead tucking additional columns away in an option dialog (and then only having two additional columns to choose from!).

Needless to say, xnoise has some “showstopper” bugs which would prevent me from using it as my main player. Bugs, of course, can be fixed, and I must admit that I otherwise enjoy xnoise’s interface. It appears to borrow heavily from Google’s design methodology, which includes condensing an entire toolbar down into several action/navigation buttons and a single preferences button1. It’s minimal in the same way that Banshee is, without succumbing to some of Banshee’s gaudier features. Though it ultimately comes down to a matter of taste, I prefer the alphabetical tree-view of my library.

xnoise has some good ideas, and shows a lot of promise, but they’ve got some major issues to fix before they can continue working on the polish it needs to rise to the top.

  1. e.g. the 6.x version of Chrome[]

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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, last.fm, 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 http://guayadeque.org/ with forums and soon there will be a wiki and a manual.

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