I’m always looking for a good Linux media player because after switching to Ubuntu, I realize how much Winamp spoiled me for the 5+ years I used it. Sure it was a little bloated, but there was almost nothing it didn’t have and I wanted those features. Many Linux media players try too hard to copy iTunes and force you into an media library system that doesn’t apply to everyone.

So here are some quick reviews of media players I’ve tried. It’s biased for Gnome, since that’s what I use as my desktop.

I have a carefully organized, well-tagged mp3 library. I also have another folder where I dump random files and mp3s, so I want to browse both separately. last.fm support and media keys (pause/next/previous buttons on my keyboard) are also a must. Additional features are nice, but those are the only real requirements.

  • Songbird
    A decent interface, although I don’t understand why a media player would need a web browser. Doesn’t let me add files into anything but a single library, and there is no dynamic playlists or a file browser, so I can’t seperate my “good” mp3s from my “bad” mp3s. Plus I think it’s ugly, I wish it integrated with Gnome. Fail.
  • Aqualung
    Interesting concepts, allows multiple libraries. Unfortunately it crashes on me, and it’s difficult to use different libraries. I’d report more on the details but I can no longer get it to start. Plus it’s really ugly. Fail.
  • Audacious
    Almost featureless Winamp clone. It’s just a playlist really. Fail.
  • XMMS/XMMS2
    I remember XMMS being really terrible years ago, but I can’t find it in Ubuntu’s repository. Instead XMMS2 provides an extensive backend, but no decent frontend that I can find. Fail.
  • BMPx
    Interesting interface, but it only allows one library, and no file browser. Library is poor too. Fail.
  • BMP
    An incomplete restart of XMMS, developers moved on to other players and left this one behind. Mostly worthless. Fail.
  • Decibel Audio Player
    Supports all the features I want, and the file browser implementation is probably the most effective out of any I’ve ever seen, but playing mp3s in my library is difficult. I can’t just play them all, or play certain genres only, it could really use dynamic playlists. With some refinement and a few more features it could be great, but it currently it’s unusable. Fail.
  • Listen Music Player
    Impressive interface, has the features I require too. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to play anything. Everything is played through a single main playlist and rather than using the folder/playlist you’re actually using, you can only enqueue selections to the main playlist which is very annoying. It has a bizarre “dynamic” system to cover up for this flaw, which seems to just add random files from your library every so often. Huh? If they removed the main playlist altogether I’d really like it, but it’s apparently no longer in development. Fail.
  • Quod Libet
    Probably my favorite out of all these. It has all the features I want and more but lacks some refinements. It doesn’t assume anything, which allows me to manage my music as I see fit, something I really like, plus it’s the only one to handle all sorts of cool extended metadata. Unfortunately it doesn’t bother to remember enough of its own state when I close it, or do little things like hide all the windows when I hide the main window. The album list is terrible, and the dynamic playlists are actually annoying saved searches. With a couple minor tweaks and changes it would be the best, but it’s not quite there yet, and hasn’t been updated in a while. Half-fail.
  • Rhythmbox
    Very well made and effective. It only allows one library, but it allows multiple folders (you have to enter them manually in gconf-editor beause you can’t do it in Rhythmbox itself) and then seperate them using dynamic playlists. The only thing that really gets me is how slow it is because it insists on scanning every single non-audio file I have. In my “bad” mp3 section there are many non-audio files which are not meant to be scanned, but Rhythmbox scans them anyway, then reports them to me EVERY SINGLE TIME I start it up. It’s not an error, but Rhythmbox says it is anyway, all while trying to break down my hard drive as fast as possible. If they added a file browser, it would be perfectly fine. Half-fail.
  • amaroK
    I can’t stand KDE apps while using Gnome, and it’s very hard for me to overlook. Still, it has some really cool features no other player has. There’s only one library (collection), but it has a file browser. Like a lot of annoying media players there’s one main playlist which everything is enqueued on, but amaroK does it very well though so I suppose I could get used to it. In the end though, it doesn’t support my media keys (can’t set them for some reason) and it’s ugly as sin and difficult to use in Gnome. Fails on Gnome.
  • Banshee
    The current stable version is very ugly, and lacks some things I want, but an upcoming version is actually a lot more capable and has serious potential. Unfortunatly it’s too buggy to use right now. Maybe fail.
  • Exaile
    An amaroK clone for GTK/Gnome. Seems like it’d be perfect, but it ultimately forgot to clone amaroK’s uniqueness. It does have one advantage over amaroK though, you can have multiple “main” playlists open. What really killed it for me is all the annoying bugs, like one where it adds random mp3s to a playlist I have open. RIght now there’s a bug that hides all the entries in an open playlist from me. Fail.
  • Winamp
    Nobody said I couldn’t just use Winamp, right? It’s mostly compatable with wine. Unfortunatly, it doesn’t integrate well with Linux, lacks media key support, and wine forces an annoying border around the main window unless I disable desktop integration, which in turn disables the system tray icon. It’s just not the same on Linux, plus for some reason it’s incredibly slow. Fails on Linux.

Ultimately, my main problem is I use Gnome, since I think I’d be perfectly happy using amaroK, but I dislike KDE’s design choices so I’m unwilling to switch just to get at amaroK. Quod Libet, Decibel, Rhythmbox, and Banshee are all great players, but suffer from fatal flaws which keeps me switching from one player to the next.

Take these reviews lightly, I have very high standards and I just want them to work with the library I have, not the library they would like me to have.

EDIT: It’s been a while since I wrote this and it actually still gets hits, so here’s an addendum. The new version of Banshee kinda let me down with little things, mainly it’s file browser was annoying to use, and it still can’t handle the size of my library. Rhythmbox remained my imperfect but still effective solution. However, Quod Libet 2.1 fixed all the problems I had (except saved searches are still annoying), and has more than a few features I love that no other media player has. In my humble opinion, it’s the best.

I just discovered the theme song to my first game (Ben Lewis’s Metroid Brinstar Theme) was removed from OCReMix because it wasn’t up the the quality of modern remixes. They aren’t wrong, even Ben seemed to think so, but to remove it from the site entirely? Besides being one of the earliest remixes, it even brought one of the better remixers to the site – Disco Dan.

I may never be able to explain why I love this mix so much.

About 5 years ago, (that’s 98, for the mathematically impaired) I picked up this mix while searching on audiogalaxy (back when it was ftp’s only) for various videogame titles. This was about the same time that I found the SMB orchestral arrangement. So I typed in Metroid in the search window and found one result with this title, apparently on the guy’s personal server. It had his e-mail address in the id3. A couple of years later (after the creation of overclocked) I talked to Ben, finally, and he pointed me to this site, which is part of how I got into this site in the first place. But this mix was around at least a couple of years before OCR came into existence.

Anyway, I think it’s the beat and the placement and the patterning that makes me play this one over and over again. It may also be nostalgia, but I really dig the way it’s laid out. Still. After all these years…

DC

The original page is actually gone, but Wayback helped me out. I’m making the complete song available from here for anybody who does want it.

Metroid Brinstar Theme (Ben Lewis Mix) OC ReMix

Totaka's Song

December 13th, 2006

Well this is nifty (via Digg) to a video game nerd like me. One of Nintendo’s composers has inserted a small tune into nearly all the games he’s participated in. I remember it distinctly from Mario Paint (the easiest and earliest place to find it), although I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve heard it elsewhere. Probably Animal Crossing. Basically at someplace in the game, you sit and wait for a long time, and a simple yet memorable tune plays. The hunt is on to find it in other games.

I Know Where It's At, Bitch

November 16th, 2006

I won’t lie. Which is good, cause I never really lied in the first place. I do have video game music, even though I don’t really listen to it. I have a huge punk collection, but when I listen to punk all the time I get tired of it and turn to whatever’s closest.

Anyway, I thought this was actually really funny. Amongst the perfectly generic music in F-Zero GX, the artists have hidden a curse word. It’s really freaking hidden, since it’s in the background of Jack Levin’s theme song and can only be heard if you select Jack Levin in the “Pilot Profiles” section. I don’t know what’s wierder, the fact that I noticed, the fact the I’m actually admitting I listened to the song, the fact that they cursed in a Nintendo game, or the fact that I apparently care enough to post about it. Just ask youself, has Mario ever said “ho”? Would you notice?

Look around, take it in, watch the moves now
Buzzin’ round like a fly-by, a lightbulb
Watchin’ words bounce around to the beat of my drum
Nothin’ said when you are under my thumb

Take a ride in the night sky
Lookin’ good silouette, with my x-ray eyes
Bein’ live and let it slide and watch the sun rise
I know where it’s at

In the light of the sun
There is part of me there
In the middle of it all
(I know where it’s at, bitch)

And in the light of the moon
There is part of us there
In the middle of it all
(I know where it’s at, bitch)

And there you have it. Will any of us ever be the same? Download the song here if your mouse slips and you click on this link.

Guitar Hero 2

November 8th, 2006

One thing’s for sure, it’s way better than the original. Attesting to my l33t-status, I procured a copy around 8 hours ago and I’ve already unlocked all but the final section on Expert. No, I haven’t been playing non-stop either.

Playing is far more fluid, as the guitar equivalent of slurs, or rapidly played notes (that don’t use the same fret buttons) only require a single strum. While playing a tough solo in Guitar Hero 1 you’d need to strum for every note, in Guitar Hero 2 you need only strum once and let your fingers do the work. It’s basically perfect for the way I play the game. I can’t strum very well, but I’ve got dexterity. If you don’t own Guitar Hero 2, you should purchase it as soon as possible.

Andre Michelle is my personal Flash hero, I find I’m always interested in the things he’s doing. Anyway, his steady obsession with making audio on-the-fly from within Flash has come to fruition and it’s just plain cool. He uses mod files with ByteArray and has managed to hack together a capable audio player. I experimented with mod files but favored midi files instead in a downright weird project I had going a while back. People seem to be slowly realizing how much ByteArray is going to change how people do advanced techniques in Flash.

I’m in the midst of an effort to work out some way to decompress files from within Flash with some help from the people at Flashcoders, although it’s going to be tricky. Basically, you have zip (or gzip) files and Flash, they both use the same compression techniques, but a minor difference makes them completely incompatible normally. But I’ll be damned if that stops me.

Virtual Music

August 2nd, 2006

I made a poor attempt at a blog on another site a while back, it failed when I lost several drafts in a row to my twitchy browser-closing finger. Plus it was slow as hell. I’m bringing an article over that I always liked about emulated music, which is music taken directly from a video game in its original format. Ironically I rarely listen to video game music, I just like the fact that I can when I feel like it.

This post covers all these formats and more.

  • NES
  • SNES
  • Genesis
  • Gameboy
  • Gameboy Advance
  • Nintendo 64
  • Playstation
  • Playstation 2
  • why Gamecube and Xbox aren’t on this list