Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Top Music Players

There's a lot of confusion over the best music player for Ubuntu, so I'm going to review 4 of the most common dedicated players. Note that there are also Media Players (VLC, Movie player) that also play music but I won't be focusing on these due the the limited functionality.

Please don't take my work as final when reading this: the programs are no bigger than 20MB to download so you may want to try each out for your self and give me some feedback.

You can read my review on Banshee here: http://ubuntudaily.blogspot.com/2011/03/software-review-banshee.html

First up: Song Bird

Search in the Software Centre: songbird

Song bird has a non-native interface that will stand out from the rest of your applications. I quite like the design and clearly a lot of effort has been put into it: +2 points

Song Bird's theme will jump out at you, but is that a bad thing for showing off your music collection?

When Song Bird is first run you get presented with a license agreement. This is a shame for free software, but if you're OK with it, just continue along. You'll see a useful setup wizard to help you import your music collection and change a few options, so it is easy to get this program working: +1

The interface takes some getting used to but it's not hard to get the hang of. The tabbed system lets you browse around the external features like last.fm so you can contain all your work inside one window: +2 points

Overall score: 5


Search in the Software Centre: guayadeque

No, don't even try saying this name! (I'm just glad this isn't a vlog) Like its title, Guayadeque has some interesting features that are jammed into it's window:

Don't be put off by Guayadeque's crammed window, it packs some useful stuff in there

Guayadeque's interface isn't exactly native to Ubuntu,try changing your theme to a High Contrast one and the window looks pretty awful. Saying that, it still looks appealing in most of the themes: +1 point

The built in tabs provide a lot of functionality, for example, radio, last.fm and lyrics search (which is my favourite). As well as the tabs to navigate, you can filter music in your library by album, artist or genre: +2 points

Finally, I like the cross fading that's build into this program. It really improves the transitions between songs: +1 point

Overall score: 4


Clementine can be downloaded at: http://www.clementine-player.org/

Clementine seems to be optimized for smaller screens and has compact toolbars to save space. However, I feel that it's just too cramped: -1 point

Clementine has a compact layout which turns out to be a big drawback

 Along with the cramped interface comes usability issues, common features that are available in all players can be hard to find in Clementine, making it a pain to use: -1 point

Like Guayadeque, Clementine has cross fading but it also has another exciting feature: Wiimote support. I don't have a Wii remote but you can use one to control playback without having to touch the computer! In a way this makes up for the bad interface because it could be used for home media players where the screen is rarely turned on: +2 points

Overall score: 0

Rhythmbox is already included with Ubuntu 10.10, but you can search if you've already uninstalled it.
Rhythmbox is the default player in Ubuntu 10.10, and you can see why at first glance; it's got a simple layout that's easy to use and it's on par with Banshee for quickly finding tracks: +2 points

Rhythmbox is included with Ubuntu 10.10, but it has some serious issues

This program has some notable bugs, which is why I don't use it anymore. The first is that it randomly crashes from time to time with no warning or reason. I havn't experienced this on any other player: -1 point

The cross fading feature is also glitchy and sometimes plays 2 songs at once. The only way to fix this is to quit Rhythm box and start it up again: 0 points

Overall score: 1 point

In conclusion...

If you like something simple and fun to use, I recommend Banshee, but if you like something with more flair to its design then Song Bird is the one for you.


  1. clementine player a score of 0?? Are you crazy???

  2. Yeah, I'm going to have to agree with Anon 1.

    Clementine has many excellent features: Magnitude, Last.fm Scrobbling AND radio, native notifications, internet radio, Soma.fm, Icecast, Jamendo, song/artist biographies, automatic lyrics, rain sound background, ALL HAIL HYPNOTOAD, and iPod support. And Hell, I'm probably forgetting a few.

    Oh, and that side bar that you thought was "cramped"? It is configurable with four styles, some of which are quite large.

  3. Sorry, I meant "MagnituNe," not "MagnituDe."