Quod Libet (2.2.1)

  • Programming Language: Python
  • Engine: GStreamer (optionally xine soon)
  • Age: 6 years
  • Pros: Excellent metadata handling; large plugin library
  • Cons:Potentially confusing; customizable bits aren’t as flexible as needed

Quod Libet has had quite a history in my biannual audio player shootouts. It has always impressed me with its programmer’s approach to music management—i.e. if you want to search for music with regular expressions, this is the player for you. Then it languished for a long time with an inactive developer before getting a major kick in the ass and a slew of active developers. Now at 2.2.1 (and nearing a 2.3 release), Quod Libet is once again one of the most impressive audio players available to GNOME users, even if you don’t realize it.

Quod Libet is (still) the only player I’m aware of that is smart enough to use the “Composer” tag in lieu of “Artist” when the latter isn’t available. That’s because Quod Libet, in the tradition of its former lead developer, focuses on “People” and not simply “Artist”, which is why searching for terms will search a lot more than just the artist and title tags. On the one hand, this is extraordinarily powerful, and largely unmatched in other players, but it can also be a little bewildering for novice users.

From a UI perspective, QL offers several different options. There’s the standard paned browser popularized by Rhythmbox and adopted by most other GTK audio players. There’s also an album view as seen in players like Gejengel. Alternative, there’s a filesystem view, a search-only view of the sort that used to comprise Banshee’s only way of navigating music. It might not have the gloss of Banshee, but it’s both easy and powerful once you get used to the idea.

Quod Libet has a pretty extensive plugin collection, though admittedly most of them are quite old and should probably have been absorbed into the main player. Some are still great utilities, and it’s important to note that utility has been part of QL since its inception: part and parcel of QL is Mutagen, a Python-based tagging library/interface now used by a number of other Python-based players. That means that Quod Libet’s tag editing interface is better than most—not in the “it looks like iTunes” sense that Banshee goes for, but the sort of power usage that begins to rival foobar2000 in its level of utility. A good example is the ability to create tags from filenames or vice-versa, right from the tag edit screen in QL.

Some design choices are strange, such as the requirement to click the current runtime in order to get a time slider. And of course QL is more interested in playing local libraries and minimally in network streaming; there’s no integration at all with music stores or the like, which may be a big turnoff for some. There’s no getting around that Quod Libet is one of the most powerful audio player available to GNOME users, irrespective of other qualities.

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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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