Playing video and audio recordings

Continuing difficulty thereof

DJing

See DJing.

Desktop listening

Alternatives? Too many, mostly mediocre Luke Baker reviews media players that work on Linux specifically, and slant does linux/macos and my god there are a lot and if they pooled their efforts I bet some would be awesome. As it is…

iTunes

It syncs to my phone, good. It integrates well into the OS. There endeth the advantages. Whilst it was cutting edge when I first started using it more than 15 years ago, iTunes has stagnated in features and forged ahead with annoyances even as it slides backwards on performance. It is increasingly based on streaming music from the cloud which is nice if you live in Silicon Valley and don’t DJ. Otherwise, you need options. I don’t live in Silicon Valley and fail to not DJ, so I seek other alternatives.

DeaDBeeF

DeaDBeeF (linux/macos/windows) gets good reviews. It is functional and fast without having excessively many features. It supports plugins in C. Probably my favourite. Major shortcoming: There is no writing useful metadata, such as “I love this song”, so it is hard to come back to tracks or mark them for later use in your DJ set or whatever. It does not seem to recognise ratings and playcount metadata from other players either. You can make playlists instead.

Amarok

Amarok, the KDE default player, is not bad, if sporadically updated. Its internal ecology of plugins and extension resembles the overall music player ecosystem, which is to say, it comingles enthusiastic innovation and broken-hearted abandonment. It has scripting based on elderly javascript.

Clementine

Clementine, (macOS/Linux) which is a Qt4 fork of the sporadic Amarok. It seems to work just fine, although it also seemed to be abandonware for a while.

Strawberry

Strawberry is cross-platform and aims to organise a library. It is an active fork Qt5 fork from the inconstant Clementine, which is a Qt4 fork of the sporadic Amarok.

Do I care about which number Qt all these forks use? Not especially. The difference to me as an end user seems small. I’m not a C++ guy so maybe this makes me an idiot.

Rhythmbox

RhythmBox, the GNOME default player, is surprisingly good. It includes plugins such as a file organizer and python extension API. I’d probably want to use beets or quod libet if I really wanted to hack my music player though, rather than using the python API. Nonetheless, it is a solid low-fuss music player that just goes and is available without any special installation.

Swinsian

Swinsian (USD20, macOS) is a simple music player that tries to preserve the good bits of iTunes and not the rest. Consequently, it is a tiny fraction of the size of iTunes.

Beets

beets, the extensible open-source music manager, claims to do music playing now, via the browser

Quod libet

quod libet is a converse of beets; it’s GUI-first but has a sideline in metadata management and extensibility. It includes extensive command line support.

XMMS

XMMS the primordial media player I can vaguely recall using for for X11 in the year 2000, turns out to sort-of still exist, or at least radically altered and rebuilt progeny exist. Will try for nostalgia reasons.

MPD

MPD abstracts away iTunes entirely. It is a protocol supporting distinct music playing backend servers and frontend clients. Reportedly the protocol is in a state of standards logjam but it is probably functional and has a huge mass, an unmaintainable riot really, of clients. It is intrinsically networked so you can do cute things like having a collective iphone party dj app, although that only sounds like a good idea the first time.

Beets supports it via bpd. Luke baker also likes Cantata, which is a friendly frontend.

Nuclear

Nuclear is an open-source streaming client:

There’s no need to use services that limit your freedom and seek to exploit you just to listen to your favourite artists. Nuclear empowers you to listen to what you want, where you want, and how you want, for free. Stream from any free source on the internet. Nuclear supports Youtube and Soundcloud out of the box, with a plugin system allowing for easy addition of more. Nuclear supports scrobbling to last.fm and updating the now- playing status.

plex

Plex a freemium audio app for pretty much every platform can also play things. I am unsure of features.

Tauon

Tauon gets a thumbs up and has such features as actually organising the files music library. Other highlights include

  • Import tracks and create playlists by simple drag and drop.
  • Batch transcode folders of music.
  • Last.fm scrobbling with track love support heart
  • Download cover art function.
  • Edit tags with MusicBrainz Picard (when also installed).
  • Keep track of play counts. Visualise these so you always know which tracks were your favorite.

My experience of it was short and unsatisfactory; Since I produce music my ~/Music folder is full of much detritus, e.g 50,000 drum samples in addition to my actually listenable tracks, so I do not wish to index the whole thing. AFAICT the path ~/Music is hardwired as the default folder in some sense, so Tauon is now stuck indexing 50,000 drum samples. Waiting for that to finish was so tedious that I deleted the app.

Qoobs

foobar2000 is a cult windows player. Do I care about it? not enough to bother at the moment. There is a semi-clone called qoob that runs on non-windows platforms, based on a theoretically hackable and customisable python+QT framework combination. USP: hipster music in the screenshots instead of bland wallpaper pop.

Cassette tapes

Will work after the apocalypse.

Music discovery

Slightly obsessive completist personality? Don’t worry, it afflicts many nerds. How about you channel that twitchy compulsion into something productive: analysing your music collection so that you can be a better DJ, which is the most socially acceptable type of completist obsessiveness there is?

So anyway, my preferred service in the quantifed-self race was last.fm. This catalogues your music listening history and puts it online, often with cute graphs. Hey, at least letting the world know about that is less harmful than other data people collected about you without your consent Unfortunately, development has languished for years, and the client is shitty, enormous, slow, crashes a lot, and fills your syslog up with weird errors. I already have iTunes to do that. Alternatives to the last.fm client for Mac:

Increasingly this product has become irrelevant – one uses Apple music or Spotify or Tidal or whatever.

Mobile devices

🏗; mention Overcast app for iOS.

Media centers

Overengineered

Sonos, et al, for people who find wires too complicated, access to the audio to be too flexible, and a heavy wallet a great burden.

Jellyfin

Jellyfin is a streaming media server that plugs into media centers.

Compact

Raspberry Pi-based home media system hacks, perhaps? volumio is a cheap computer-oriented player in the form of a music-focussed linux distro.

The boss of the project, Michelangelo, is an entertaining and lovely guy and his work deserves a shout out on that basis too.

Volumio is meant to be an headless dap (digital audio player), just connect it to your home stereo system or your DAC.

Then, connect it to your home network and control it just from a browser: Pc, Mac, Android or iOS.

Volumio can take your music from USB, Network Storage, streaming services like Spotify and act as a DLNA Player or Airplay receiver.

Kodi (formerly XMBC) is the media centre at the heart of lots of rasppi media centres. But how to package it up? A million different ways all of which are tedious to compare against each other and differ in ways you’d rather not know anything about! Welcome to the 21st century.

As a rule, the JeOS distributions run their own tweaked packaging systems so you have to do more work to get unsupported software, but less work to get supported software.

  • LibreELEC is a JeOS Kodi host. (seems active)
  • OpenELEC is a JeOS Kodi host. (seems a little slow on updates)
  • OSMC is a Kodi-focussed debian. Creators also make a pre-loaded one-board-computer device, the vero4k.
  • XBian

    Just like Debian, XBian incorporates rolling releases. This means that different from other distributions such as OpenELEC or Raspbmc, XBian doesn’t release fixed images that often.

    In contrast, XBian offers new package updates at least once a week. This means that new improvements and bugfixes are delivered quickly and easily.

    Sounds lofty. Should the ghastly design of their web-page make me nervous about their UX though?