Banshee…good

Music is important to me. I spend all day every day listening to it and much of my free time making it. As such, the choice of media player is pretty important to me. I have tried all sorts – Rhythmbox, XMMS, Songbird, Amarok to name a few. Despite my experiments, I always come running back to Rhythmbox. Why? Well, I am looking for something that is elegant and well designed, simple to use, reliable and does what I need it to do.

Rhythmbox has always provided an elegant, simple and reliable player, but has lacked on the features side. My ideal music player would include the following vital statistics:

  • Be able to play all of my media without drop-outs or huge gaps between songs
  • Provide album art
  • Sync up with my iPod
  • Support Internet radio – I have always wanted to see the excellent StreamTuner integrated into a media player
  • Stream media across the network with DAAP and uPnP where possible
  • Last.fm support
  • Podcast support
  • CD writing
  • Crossfading
  • Preferably be a GNOME application that uses GStreamer

Well, I have now found a replacement for Rhythmbox – the rather excellent Banshee.

Banshee does pretty much all of the above, aside from Crossfading, and it adds to Rhythmbox with decent Internet radio, podcasting, CD writing, iPod syncing and more. What is nice about Banshee is that it is clearly going for a complete feature set but not willing to sell its UI grandmother while getting there. This has always been the thing that has kept me away from Amarok; sure it provides the kitchen sink, but it is just overkill, and the user interface suffers because of it.

I think what has also encouraged my change has been the excellent recent performance work by Aaron that has dramatically improved startup time (no media player should have a frikken splash screen!) and Joe’s Banshee Media Server hacking. It is all looking good for this little media player. Incredible that a man who looks about 12 years old can pull off such an incredible project. :P

…and no, I have not tried sharing Jono’s World Of Metal with it. I wonder if it is possible.

Novell Hack Week

While on the subject of Banshee, I think Novell deserve a hefty chunk of kudos for Novell Hack Week. From what I can tell it has been an excellent week, well run and resulted in some incredible contributions to upstream software. Novell are a very good citizen when it comes to upstream software development, and the week has produced some excellent results. Thanks to everyone who has contributed – I am itching to have a poke with some of the things that have been produced, particularly the Banshee related stuff. Joe is getting a beer at LUGRadio Live 2007 next weekend for his Banshee web frontend, and if Aaron can it along, I will buy him a pepsi or something. :P

  • http://shingo.perfil.someu.net Rui Andrada

    :mrgreen:

    Banshee is very good, but for there is a problem in performance with Banshee for me, I had used Banshee like “second media player” I like to use QuodLibet too, I’m using Quadlibet like “first media player”. I think it’s a good choice too.

    I like your post, great post.

    Peace

  • http://alex.weej.com/ Alex Jones

    That list of criteria fits Rhythmbox exactly… What, in your opinion, is missing?

  • Weeber

    2 I agree with you, the only feature that I dunno if rhythmbox support is the fifth one but the others are supported for sure (Including the iPod support and others mp3players).

    I’ve tried Banshee and Listen and they lack of a decisive (to me) feature and that is being light. Rhythmbox in the other hand is light as hell, doesn’t go over the 17MB limit of RAM (Listen start at 28-30MBs and Banshe ~25).

  • Weeber

    Oh, I forgot, try this new build at GetDeb.net http://www.getdeb.net/release.php?id=1098

  • LT

    When I open up rhythmbox I generally get scared of the ugly-ness that it promotes as simple. (opinion) I want my media player to look good and amarok always looks cool. That doesn’t mean amarok is perfect. In fact far from it, I’ve been trying to find something better. Exaile is a good contender and I may have a look at Banshee. Certainly sparked my attention.

    There’s so many good up and coming music players that are available for linux it’s quiet exiting!

    While on spill-my-beans mode, I loved Jokosher. I’d really like to ditch Audacity (someone say ugly?) for the simple audio converting I do (i.e.: cut bits off/convert to mp3) so I’m keeping my eye on it.

    Installing teh banshee right now on a trial basis :mrgreen:.

  • http://jasonclinton.com Jason D. Clinton

    Every single feature you listed as a criteria is implemented in the last two major versions of Rhythmbox (0.10 and 0.11). And, as a bonus over Banshee, it does it all without a 50mb virtual machine supporting it. Horray!

  • jorge

    Have abock demo the new listview for you at GUADEC, it’s freaking awesome how far banshee has come along.

  • http://www.happyassassin.net Adam Williamson

    I agree with several of the other comments – Banshee is a great project and I respect the work that’s been put into it, but I tried using it for several months and ultimately found it too crashy and too resource intensive to be practical. Rhythmbox has just about every feature Banshee has and manages to be stabler, faster and lighter on resources. So I moved to it, and haven’t looked back. Again, no disrespect to Banshee, though.

  • Jon

    I haven’t used banshee for about nine months. It keep freezing my ipod during a sync, which required a hard reset of the ipod and killing the banshee process to fix. I dropped it and went to rythmnbox. Do you have the problems with syncing in banshee?

  • anonim

    last.fm support still lacks streaming support :/ Other than that it’s great

  • jono

    Unless I am missing something, the Rhythmbox in Feisty does not do all of the above things – notably iPod syncing (it can read but not sync) and Crossfading. Also, the podcast support is not as good, and the Internet radio is pretty simplistic.

    Sure, HEAD may support it, but I am comparing the Rhythmbox and Banshee that is released for my distro, which unsurprisingly is Ubuntu.

  • http://www.scottainsliesutton.net/ Scott

    Jono,

    Having noticed that you’d like to be able to stream your content via your home network, I read an article in Linux Magazine some months ago about an application called Firefly that will allow you to do just that; perhaps it may be worth looking at it.

    Scott

  • Ulrich

    Does it finally use the Gnome keybindings for start/stop? That was a deal breaker for me so far, so I simply stuck with Rhythmbox.

  • erik

    Banshee is a great piece of software and beats Rhythmbox in usability any day. I have even higher hopes for Exaile, but.. Banshee rules for this moment :lol:

  • http://www.happyassassin.net Adam Williamson

    jono, I don’t have an iPod, but I’m pretty sure Rhythmbox can sync with them, you may be missing a necessary library or something. I have a USB mass storage player (a phone) and it can transfer to that very nicely. Try just dragging and dropping stuff to the iPod.

  • http://francis.giannaros.org Francis

    I really only use Amarok, but in my experiment at trying a GNOME desktop with full GTK apps for a week I found banshee pretty bearable. I have no idea why it isn’t default in GNOME for all distros now. F-spot and Banshee were my two favourite GTK apps.

  • erik

    @Adam Williamson: Rhythmbox’s ipod synchronizing support is really worse than Banshee’s. The way the rhythmbox gui works is greatly worse and it uses some other library which has in history made moving files into the ipod fail quite often.

  • http://abock.org Aaron Bockover

    @Jason D. Clinton: JFYI, the overhead of the Mono VM is about 5MB. I know sometimes zeros add themselves to figures in drastic ways.

  • http://abock.org/2007/07/01/rock-on-jono/ Rock on, Jono at Aaron Bockover

    [...] Jono, welcome to our project! [...]

  • leo

    Why do you like Banshee’s podcast support more than Rhythmbox’s? I don’t like the way Banshee lists downloaded podcast episodes with my music files in the Library. When playing my collection of music on random, I don’t want a podcast to come up. This is one of the reasons I went back to Rhythmbox, which keeps podcasts and music separate.

  • ryan

    i keep a smart playlist of everything without the genre “podcast” for my music. however, i do agree that them mixing is problematic at times (particularly since downloaded podcasts sometimes aren’t tagged with “podcast” as their genre…).

  • Mike

    I ‘m using Ubuntu edgy and am able to drag-and-drop music from my rhythmbox library onto my iPod (5th gen). I have had trouble adding songs to my friend’s iPod nano but it didn’t work in Banshee either.

    One really nice feature of Banshee that is missing in Rhythmbox is automatic transcoding of transferred songs.

  • Shane Kelly

    There is a music player, that will suit you jono. It’s written in python and pygtk, and i believe it also uses a gstreamer backend also. It is called Exaile. I have also noticed a performance increase compared to banshee too.

  • http://maxolasersquad.com/ Maxo

    I have been using Rhythmbox pretty much exclusively for the exact same reasons you have listed. My biggest gripe with it is that on my laptop I do get a pretty noticable log in between tracks which makes listening to my Johnn Cash live as Folsom Prison and San Quinten annoying. When I get off work today I’m going to give Banshee a spin based on your suggestion here.

  • Ryan Paul

    I prefer Banshee because I think it has a cleaner interface. Banshee also seems to be evolving faster and moving in a more interesting direction.

    Most of the features you list are also available in Rhythmbox though. Rhythmbox in Gutsy has a crossfade plug-in, for instance. And I’ve found that Rhythmbox’s Internet radio support is better.

  • Raptor

    the problem i have with banshee is that: 1. it doesnt like stuff being dropped on it (e.g. drag n drop a file from the desktop into my playlist). rhythmbox on the other hand wont complain and will simply do its job, even if i just want to listen to a file on a usb stick, with no intention of adding it to my library.

    1. bashee lags a lot with my labrary. sure i have a looot of music files, but come on, filtering should be more responsive. sometimes it lags a lot when tuning into an online radio, something that other players never do.

    2. better integration with playlist files is needed. okay, i can create playlists etc, but i need an easy way of exporting it to an .m3u or .pls file. maybe even copy all the music files referenced in the playlist to a single folder, so i can take it with me on my usb stick (something that lead me to create a little C program to do).

    otherwise, banshee is a top class player and it actually was my player of choice, before going back to rhythmbox (which has improved a lot in 0.11.0).

    if banshee can get these issues sorted (mostly the drag’n'drop issue) it would become my favorite player yet again.

  • http://wolfgang.silbermayr.at silwol

    After reading this article, I took a look on Banshee (version packaged with feisty) after not using it for about 9 months. It really looks cool, but I lack some small things: 1. I can not sort my songs inside a playlist by track number which makes it difficult to listen to albums in the right order. 2. The cd-burning is really great in opposite to the one contained in rhythmbox because I can burn a bunch of songs without having to create an extra playlist for it, but it crashes for me. 3. When I add a song while it is being downloaded, banshee stores the duration that the song had when I added it. If I now burn this song, it is burnt to the cd with the stored length, so if I add songs while they are being downloaded, I have CDs with many half-cut songs.

    Otherwise banshee looks really great, I especially appreciate the LastFM plugin with the suggestions at the bottom and the fact that you can see what the worker thread does because it is shown in the bottom left. If you add songs to Rhythmbox you never know when they are added if it is currently scanning your music directory for new songs.

  • Bill

    If all you have is a hammer than everything looks like a nail.

    HUH?

    The problem here is that Banshee isn’t a great player but because it’s Gnome then it may be the best available player. Even if you use Gnome you should run Amarok (just have available the KDE libs) which is bar-none the best music player in Linux.

    This isn’t a KDE vrs Gnome thing it’s a just what is the absolute best player available.

  • finalbeta

    From that list I think Rhythmbox only doesn’t have Crossfading. But It’s being added as we speak. The Gaps in songs and wrong song times are because of GStreamer, so I’m betting Banshee has the same problems.

    All players are currently lacking, crossfading, smart playlists, playing songs without crashing… ( I have move songs then I have fingers crashing GStreamer in Ubuntu Feisty). Dare I say it, Visualisations.

    Amarok really is the best player we have. Although I have big hopes for Songbird.

  • Brad Griffith

    MUINE! (Sorry)

  • James

    I know several people who were turned off of Banshee because of the extremely slow search engine it uses. With a smaller collection like I have you will not notice this, but get into 1000+ song collections and Banshee begins to hang for considerable amounts of time. Other than that in my opinion Banshee is the best option on Linux currently.

  • James

    I know several people who were turned off of Banshee because of the extremely slow search engine it uses. With a smaller collection like I have you will not notice this, but get into 1000+ song collections and Banshee begins to hang for considerable amounts of time.

  • http://mattl.co.uk/blog/2007/07/10/trying-banshee/ Exploring Freedom – Trying Banshee

    [...] Jono posted about how he had started using Banshee. I generally tend to use Amarok, but it’s a KDE application and not quite as integrated with GNOME as I’d like. [...]

  • http://opensource-notebook.com/ Daniel Aleksandersen

    The problem with Banshe is— It hangs all the time. It resembles iTunes, but does everything that iTunes does good plain wrong.

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