Friday, 17 October 2008

Songbird 0.7.0 Review - Audio Player for Linux

I'll start with a quote from the official Songbird homepage, which goes like 'Songbird promises to be the Firefox of media players'. Although not (yet) as popular in the audio players world as Firefox is in the one of web browsers, Songbird looks and offers an interface which integrates both powerful browsing features and music collection management.

Interface and usability
The first thing that strikes compared to the previous version is the interface, called Gonzo, which is now metal grey instead of black.

As I already said, Songbird provides not only an audio player, but an integrated web browser too, which is based on Mozilla Firefox, and it even provides the well-known about:config configuration variables together with a preferences dialogue which offers the same options as Firefox does.


The default UI font size is too small and according to this discussion I found on, currently there is no fix available for it. For the library and playlists you can use the View -> Zoom In feature, or Ctrl + +, but this won't change the font sizes for the menu and left navigation panel. This should probably be fixed in the next release.

One funny thing is how the developers chose to name the themes, they are called 'feathers' in Songbird, which goes pretty well with the player's name. You can download more skins from the official website using the View -> Feathers -> Get More Feathers... menu.

The nice thing about Songbird is its ability to use tabs for any given task. For example you can have the Songbird add-ons page opened in one tab, lyrics for a song in another, or the music library or a playlist in the third one.

Music management and scanning
Scanning a collection of around 4400 Ogg Vorbis songs took almost 3 minutes on my Core 2 Duo 1.8 GHz, which is quite reasonable I'd say.

Another plus for Songbird is that it takes no time to load the media library after you start it, compared with players like Amarok which will need a few seconds for it, depending on how large your music collection is.

You can only sort the collection by title, time, artist, genre and rating, a little poor in options if you ask me. At least directory and year would be useful too. There is no possibility to re-arrange the order in which they are displayed.

A crash occurred when I was browsing the feathers on the homepage, but the good thing is that Songbird offers a feature to automatically send your feedback regarding any crash to the developers.

I liked this Songbird release better than the last version I tried, but I think it needs some improvements too, like the UI font size or more features regarding the collection management. Having such a powerful integrated web browser may be useful to some, although it can look a little bloated to others. Nevertheless, Songbird is worth a try for any of you who like to fetch music information while listening, get lyrics etc, without opening an additional web browser.


Anonymous said...

You can sort by any of the fields you select to view, including year and file location.

owain123 said...

I love Songbird. The only problem is it seems to be a bit unstable on Linux right now, well for me anyway. If songbird could introduce video playback, and make it an all in one media player, like WMP11, iTunes and Real Player did, except with less restrictions, it would be great.

Dan Craciun said...

Anonymous: where can I select those fields, because I can't find them?

owain123: Yeah, it crashed for me too once and popped up a window to send feedback information regarding it. Maybe you can try Banshee (as far as I know it has video playback too), or use any video player as an audio player too (try SMPlayer or Kaffeine, they both have playlists). I personally like to have just an audio player, separate from the video player.

owain123 said...

i have tried banshee and smplayer, as well as a few others. I just don't really like them compared to the windows an mac alternatives. I think iTunes is tops, as far as media control and everything. Would be nice to see a good open source alternative to it.
These are just a few of the little things stopping me from completely switching to Linux.

Anonymous said...

Amarok is the best. Can't exist without it!

Anonymous said...

Amarok is the best music player for linux bar none. For windaz - can't beat good old winamp.

Anonymous said...

Best cross OS media player - VLC

Anonymous said...

The feature that i MISS the most in Songbird is the ability to burn a playlist to a CD. I do hope they add that feature in a future release.

Right now, I prefer Rhythmbox over Banshee and Amarok.

Anonymous said...

Songbird looks great. It's written in QT or in GTK?

Anonymous said...

what do we have to do to get a fuckin equalizer in linux audio player???
another garbage app