The deal with Linux music players

In reply to this guy, who should really either open up comments or allow trackbacks.

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Congratulations! Different shades for different people. I personally enjoy not having to mess around with file hierarchies, but whatever works for you.

What we really need is a Linux port of foobar2000; the Windows version is extremely customizable and behaves exactly like the user wants it to. I’ve been known to run it in Wine occasionally in lieu of using a native player; it’s just that good.

Blatant plug!
Think about it, internets! A clone of the Foobar2000 interface using XMMS2 written in Python or LUA that is extensible using plugins. Tell me that wouldn’t be amazing.

The real issue I have with Linux music players is that only XMMS and derivative players actually have integrated equalizers. What’s the deal with that? An equilizer is pretty much essential for listening to any music at all on a laptop.

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8 Responses to “The deal with Linux music players”


  1. 1 Zoot September 17, 2008 at 10:09 pm

    Woo hoo! A fellow LeTourneau’ite who has heard of Lua! It would be pretty easy to do using Swig and lua-gtk.

  2. 2 phanboy_iv November 23, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Equalizers and their cousin, the “base boost”, are sloppy and subpar workarounds for lousy sound. You’ll get better and more accurate results with a headphone amp and a decent pair of headphones than you will fiddling with the dynamics of the sound.

  3. 3 James November 23, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I’ve heard this same argument for a lot of things, including people advocating trashing my entire computer and buying a new one when I was trying to install Linux. Forgive me if I ignore you and continue to want a feature standard in virtually every popular Windows (and OS X!) music player on the planet.

    In fact, I have a very decent pair of headphones. I don’t necessarily want to be wearing them 100% of the time.

    Equalizers are still useful. I know a guy who runs soundboards and is involved with a recording studio, and when set up with limited equipment, he has been known to use a software equalizer because it gives him more control over how stuff streaming from iTunes sounds.

    Additionally, my last Toshiba had an automatic software equilizer app built into the Windows drivers, and stuff generally just sounded a ton better with it enabled when using the normal external laptop speakers. Granted, there was only so much it could do, and at certain volume level the tinny external speakers diminished it’s effects dramatically, but the equalizer helped sound quality a ton.

    Having a software equalizer is pretty much essential if you want to play an MP3 for someone (or several people) without having them get your earwax in their ears or want to watch a DVD on a laptop at a volume that people sitting back five feet can hear.

    If you’ve always got access to decent sound equipment, good for you. Not everyone does, and it’s not always practical or feasible to obtain some.

    Sidenote, I’m using Banshee right now. I’m not thrilled with some aspects of it (why the short seek bar? It’s really hard to use), but it *does* have a software equalizer. 😉

  4. 4 phanboy_iv November 25, 2008 at 12:06 am

    Professional equalizers do have uses, of course, but the 10-bar ones you get in virtually all software adds sound artifacts, and are kinda pointless. Equalizers may allow you to artificially boost certain frequency ranges, but the failure point is not lack of an equalizer, it’s bad speakers.

    If you’re really concerned about people around you getting good sound equalizers aren’t the answer. Powered external speakers, maybe. If you want to reduce buzzing and increase loudness, equalizers might help. Most equalized sound isn’t better sound. There is just no way to get good sound out of laptop speakers. Louder sound with less immediately discernable artifacts though very shoddy speakers, yes. But that’s not “better sound”. And probably you don’t care. I’m kinda obsessive about accurate sound. Which is why I’d refuse to allow people to listen to stuff though my laptop speakers.

    And as to Banshee, I stopped using it around the time I switched to Fluxbox, because of all the Gnome dependencies. I’ve been using Quodlibet for a while, and it does the job, and has the most powerful library search around. No equalizer, though.

  5. 5 James November 25, 2008 at 4:26 am

    To my ear, using a software equalizer poorly adds artifacts and using it well can dampen them, but maybe that’s just me.

    Loud sound with less immediately discernible artifacts though very shoddy speakers is, in fact, better sound than loud sound with glaringly obvious artifacts. Better being a relative term and all that jazz.

    I like accurate sound. But techno/rock music and most DVDs don’t exactly demand it the same way Beethoven’s Fifth does. I didn’t say software equalizers were perfect, but having them is preferable to not having anything at all.

    Look, I can’t tote around a decent sound system with me everywhere I go. As I said, it’s not practical to do so. Maybe you lug speakers with you on long, cramped car trips, but I prefer using an equalizer when I need it and having additional legroom.

    I’m not thrilled with Banshee’s Mono dependencies, but my laptop is fast enough that that’s no longer an issue. (Unlike when I had a 300MHz notebook and was addicted to Tomboy Notes. Zim wasn’t around back then, and it’s far too late for me to switch now. Noooo…)

    Banshee’s UI design annoys me a little, but Quodlibet’s just feels like they stopped trying and left the fragments to the user. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing (foobar2000 FTW!), but I could never get it quite the way I wanted it to be.

  6. 6 phanboy_iv November 25, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Headphones in the car, speakers at home. But whatever. Personal preference.

    Banshee’s Mono deps don’t bother me, it’s the Gnome deps I don’t like, and so it was purged in my great “Gut Gnome” cleansing awhile back. Banshee’s UI is definitely better than QL’s, but the recent addition of stuff like video playback and such, coupled with Banshee deciding one day to “reorganize” my carefully structured music library hierarchy, led to it’s purging. Really all I want are dynamic playlists, ratings, shuffle modes, USB Mass Storage player support, album art and Last.fm logging. Quodlibet does all that pretty well. And it has a nice metadata editor. I use abcde for metadata fetch, encoding, and tagging, and that works for me.

  7. 7 James November 25, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    I don’t typically use my laptop in the car. Transportation of equipment is the issue here.

    It occurs to me that there are ligit uses for software equalizers. An area having bad acoustics and indie music which didn’t go through post-production to polish things up (I have quite a lot of that), for example. I looked it up and apparently the proper way to use a software equalizer is to turn down channels in more or less equal proportion to the channels being turned up. This prevents compression due to “more” noise being inserted, or something like that. I dunno. I’ve been doing that on general principle of “it sounds good” for a while without thinking about it. (But yes, I am aware loudness is not what the equalizer was made for. These are practical situations where it is useful for making things loud, however. 😉 )

    There’s nothing wrong with a Gnome dependency or two if the functionality is worth it and the dependencies are correct in the package manager. For example, AbiWord used Gnome for printing functionality for a while. Specifically, it depended on a reasonable few smallish Gnome packages. I distinctly remember some distro attempting to leverage them to pull in the whole of the known Gnome universe at one point several years back, however.

  8. 8 Paul-Sebastian Manole March 17, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    So then… who wants to start writing a port of Foobar2000 to Linux with me? 😀


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