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Audio players, once again…

In my neverending quest for the perfect audio player, I have once again come up empty. Exaile, Rhythmbox, Amarok, Banshee, Listen, Songbird – even Foobar, they all have their faults. So this is just a post about what I actually want. Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll find the perfect player – or build it.

User interface

The user interface should optimally be modular. Foobar2000 is a good model here. As much as possible should be rearrangeable, and the user should be able to choose which Ui components to show rather easily. Failing this, I want a playlist browser, a library browser, and a view of the current playlist. And a search box, which can search either in the library or in the current playlist.

The user interface elements should be clear and user-firendly. A minimum of clicks to accomplish each tasks.

The Library

The library should not be only at one location, but rather be a set of folders the user chooses. The library should index all tags, including language and CD# and multiple genres for each song.

When browsing the library, “The Beatles” should be sorted with the B’s rather than the T’s. I want a simple interface to sort or filter by genre, language, artist, year, album and finally track. Think Amarok but extended; not just genre-artist-track.

Playlists

There should be both regular playlists, the kind I manually add stuff to, and Smart playlists, which are basically saved searches. FontExplorerX has a nice interface for creating smart folders, I’d like to see something similar. Possibly all kinds of context menus for “save current search as smart folder” etc as well.

I’d like to export the playlists themselves as pls or m3u, as well as transfer the contents to a connected device (like mp3 players) according to predefined file system patterns which are remembered between sessions.

Speed & system resources

Starting the player should be lightning-quick. The library population function can run in a separate thread and may be slightly slower, and the library update function needs to be optimized and also run in a separate thread.

The player should, when running, use an absolute minimum of hardware resources.

Playing separate files

It should be possible to play an mp3 without adding it to the library.

Album Art

There should be support for multiple filenames for folders – i.e, the art should be found regardless of filename. Possibly the user could define his own filenames to be detected.

Conclusions

None of the players I’ve tried manage to get full points on all of these. Foobar2000 comes closest by far, but fails in filtering (only genre/artist/track), a slightly less-than-optimal UI (comes from being a windows program, I know) and smart playlists (there’s a plugin but it’s clunky as heck).

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