- 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.