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Testing Clementine (audio player)

Despite many a test, I have as of yet to find an audio player that beats Foobar2000. Functionality, lightness, customizability, modularity. I’ve more or less abandoned the proprietary Windows platform, only returning to it for Adobe and Autodesks products and for a small handful of games. Foobar2000 is still my weapon of choice for assaulting my ears with music, despite running it through wine.

Now, there are many reasons why this is a bad thing in the long run. First, Foobar2000 is proprietary software – freeware, but closed source. I like avoiding such software if I get the chance. Second, running things through wine always feels a bit dirty, like I’m somehow cheating. These programs weren’t made for the Linux platform, and their developers don’t care about crossplatform functionality.

So I continue looking for alternatives. The latest attempt is Clementine.

I’ll do more or less the same tests as I’ve done previously, and will include the test results of the other players.

1. Indexing my library.

To be fair, I’ve upgraded my processor significantly since I tried these others, but Clementine felt fast. It took less than a minute to index my entire library; 53 seconds.

  • BMPx: 6:09
  • Exaile: 11:58
  • Songbird: Epic fail
  • Foobar2000: 8:10
  • Amarok: 14:50
  • Rhthmbox: 18:40
  • Banshee: Epic fail
  • Quod Libet: 9:00
  • Decibel: 8:17
  • Clementine: 00:56

This puts it firmly in the lead. But, like I said, the systems have been upgraded so these numbers are probably more than a little wonky.

2. Opt-in database/library indexing of every song

Since I’ve been more and more depending on a functional database to keep me going, but still need to play the occasional MP3 without adding it to the database the opt-in thing is pretty important to me. The library function needs to be there, but it also needs to be possible to disable it or at least play files without adding them to it.

  • BMPx: yes
  • Exaile: yes
  • Songbird: no
  • Foobar2000: yes
  • Amarok: yes
  • Rhythmbox: no
  • Banshee: no
  • Quod Libet: In theory…
  • Decibel: yes
  • Clementine: yes

3. Ability to index by multiple genres

I use a lot of multiple genres. For instance, swedish punk songs are marked as “punk” and “svenska” (“svenska” is swedish for “swedish”). That way, in good library browsers, I can choose to listen to all punk or just my swedish punk, and even all music in swedish regardless of genre.

  • BMPx: no
  • Exaile: partial
  • Songbird: partial
  • Foobar2000: yes
  • Amarok: partial
  • Rhythmbox: no
  • Banshee: no
  • Quod Libet: yes
  • Decibel: no
  • Clementine: no

Here’s one of the few areas where Clementine didn’t impress me. Its support for multiple genres is atrocious, more or less like Amarok. And filtering… Let’s just not go there. Filtering is crap.


4. System resources.

The first number is processor usage and the second is RAM, both according to the Gnome System Monitor. I’m using a 3.0ghz hyperthreading CPU and tests were run using a fully indexed library (except, of course, in the case of Songbird) and the same song playing (“Balladen om Olsson” by swedish punk band “23 till”).

  • BMPx: 2-4% 34mb
  • Exaile: 3-6% 154m
  • Songbird: 4-11% 137mb
  • Foobar2000: 4-11 26mb
  • Amarok: 2-4% 40mb
  • Rhythmbox: 2% 37mb
  • Banshee: 1-2% 52mb
  • Quod Libet: 0-2% 67mb
  • Decibel: 1-2% 30mb
  • Clementine: 6%, 85mb

Clementine puts itself squarely in the middle here; not among the most efficient, but not among the real resource-hogs either.
5. Album art

  • BMPx: no
  • Exaile: yes
  • Songbird: perhaps; couldn’t make it work
  • Foobar2000: yes (through addon)
  • Amarok: yes
  • Rhythmbox: yes
  • Banshee: no
  • Quod Libet: yes
  • Decibel: no
  • Clementine: yes

Clementine performs admirably, and includes a pretty neat function for getting the missing album covers. Me like. I hear support for covers included in id3v2 tags is nonsexistant, but I prefer using one file per directory (album) anyway…
6. Smart Folders

I’m not much of a “smart folder” person, but I imagine I could be, if they were done right. As in, intuitive and fast. For those who’ve been living under ricks for the past few years: Smart folders, Smart Playlists or Saved Searches or whatever you call them are a way to have a playlist which, for instance, contains all your hard rock – and which automatically adds or removes items when they are added/removed from the library. You can usually specify a number of rules – for instance, songs in swedish that aren’t punk, or hard rock bands not beginning with a “p”.

  • BMPx: no
  • Exaile: yes
  • Songbird: no
  • Foobar2000: partial
  • Amarok: yes
  • Rhythmbox: yes
  • Banshee:yes
  • Quod Libet: no
  • Decibel: no
  • Clementine: No

7. Support for transferring files to an mp3 player

Sure, I can transfer stuff to my various mp3 players by simply dragging and dropping using Nautilus or other explorer-like software – but I’d like the possibility to do it through my audio player software as well.I own a Nokia n900 phone which I use as an mp3 player, and an iPod Touch which I don’t use as an mp3 player because iTunes is a piece of crap.

  • BMPx: no
  • Exaile: partial
  • Songbird: partial
  • Foobar2000: yes
  • Amarok: yes
  • Rhythmbox: yes
  • Banshee: no
  • Quod Libet: yes
  • Decibel: no
  • Clementine: yes and f**ing excellent

Clementine found both my mobile phone and my iPod Touch, and was able to transfer music from one to the other, as well as from the library. pretty darn impressive. Not so much as a whisper. EXCELLENT set of options for where on my n900’s memory card the files should be put, and how to name them. Syncing with the iPod Touch went excellently. This is the first player ever to actually impress me when it comes to this. The first piece of software which seems to do everything right, and make it seem effortless.

Conclusions

Clementine is possibly the best audio player I’ve tried so far. It only really fails when it comes to multiple genres and filtering. It excels to an extreme degree when it comes to syncing with devices. I think I’ll keep it on my harddrive for now. Try it out for a couple of months, see what happens. Nag the developers for a bit =)

7 Comments

  1. Russell Spicer Russell Spicer September 12, 2010

    Nonsexistent? Something on your mind?

  2. Helge Helge October 8, 2010

    Thanks for that excellent review. Made it easy for me to decide which player I use on Ubuntu – as a Foobar-Replacement. Great Stuff!

    – Helge

  3. valczir valczir November 6, 2010

    I’m liking clementine quite a bit (especially the development version), but I haven’t been able to get it to recognize my n900. Are you doing things in some different way than I am?

    Granted, I’m using gentoo, so there are likely differences in the way it integrates things (i.e. if I want things integrated, I have to do it myself).

    By the way, and this is assuming you’re relatively new to linux (sorry if I’m wrong about that), Clementine is based off of Amarok 1.4 (and is at version 0.5 right now – so its feature set isn’t exactly complete, yet), so if you like it significantly more than you like current-day amarok, you probably know how we amarok 1.4 guys who used that for years and touted it as the best audio player on the planet felt when amarok 1.2 came out.

  4. Krank Krank November 6, 2010

    Dunno if I’m doing anything different. I just plug my n900 in and set it to mass storage mode. Works just like any other USB mp3 player…

    I like the speed of the Clementine database and how well it handles my iPod, but don’t use it for my day-to-day audio playing needs due to the lack of good filtering options. The tree view just doesn’t cut it for me. That’s what I dislike about Amarok, any version, as well. Just about the only thing bloated iTunes did right was, in my opinion, its filtering system. Right now I’m using gmusicbrowser with the gtk2 interface for playing mysic, since it has “better” filtering…

  5. valczir valczir November 6, 2010

    D’oh! I meant amarok 2 at the end, there, not 1.2.

    Also, I’m trying the development (svn) version of clementine, and I’m seeing both smart and dynamic playlists, as well as an “Artist Info” tab with lyrics.

  6. Krank Krank November 6, 2010

    Nice!

    I’m hoping for better filtering (or at least a plugin system that allows me to write one myself)… That might actually get me to use Clementine full time. My preferred way to listen to my music is by either artist or album, or both. I don’t use a lot of playlists, and I don’t like having to search every time I want a specific artist. The way gmusicbrowser and others is set up is perfect (for me); just use a combination of simple filters until the right artist or album/s is visible. I’m monitoring clementine for updates, and I’d be very glad if something like what I prefer when it comes to music browsing would appear.

  7. derek derek May 29, 2011

    I’ve just found out about Clementine. Being a former Linux and KDE user (before they screwed it up with KDE4 and the new Amarok 2… oh well), I had never found an audio player for Windows that really satisfied me. Clementine is everything I loved about the classic Amarok, now on Windows 7. Couldn’t be happier 🙂

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