Aqualung (R-1114)

  • Programming Language: C
  • Engine: FFmpeg et al.
  • Age: >= 6 years
  • Pros: Many features; shows the most file information of any player
  • Cons: Poor interface; lackluster library

Aqualung has been around for long time without breaking into the ranks of “popular” media players. That may be due to its legacy UI, from the days when the original XMMS was the de facto audio player in Unix and play-list based listening was the only thing around. Granted, Aqualung does sport a media library feature (a very simply treeview), but everything about it Aqualung still seems oriented around the playlist, which dates it a bit.

The first thing you’ll notice is that while Aqualung is GTK, it doesn’t quite look like the rest of your desktop. That’s because Aqualung has skinning support, likely another holdover from days when people seemed to like that sort of thing. The default skin is relatively inoffensive, but the very first thing I did was turn off skin support so that Aqualung looked and felt like it fit in my setup. One certainly hopes that Aqualung’s developers don’t spend too much time on supporting ugly skins when they could be otherwise moving the player toward its long-awaited 1.0 release.

In my previous comment about XMMS, I summed up most of what there is to say about Aqualung’s user interface: it’s a single playlist view, without even the benefit of columns: the display of tracks is done by concatenating field names with “::”, and doesn’t appear to be customizable in any significant sense (you can reorder items in the options). Tab support allows for multiple playlists at once.

Without a doubt, Aqualung’s most compelling features are less about playback and more about ancillary functions. Aqualung can technically transcode media, but this feature may only be available during import: it certainly wasn’t anywhere where I could easily find it. Aqualung’s tag editor is full featured, and the additional property dialog with type-specific information is unique in world of media players; it is the only player to actually show the Vendor string for FLAC and Ogg files (e.g. “reference libFLAC 1.2.1 20070917”), a feature that I asked for in Quod Libet with no apparent effect.

Most of the screenshots here cover Aqualung’s extensive preferences panel, which is one of its better qualities, and illustrates just how many features it has: CD ripping, mass tagging, converting, extensive output manipulation, and (ugh) skins.

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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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