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The 10 Best Music Players for Linux

Music Player for Linux
1 Clementine With a simple user interface, Clementine is one of the most popular music players for Linux. Based along the lines of Amarok 1.4, it is available on several platforms and comes with a structured and clean user interface.

In the main window, you can find three neatly arranged sections. Songs in a playlist are shown on the right-hand side with the basic details. On the left, there’s a section providing information from third-party sites, showing lyrics, number of times a song has been played, artist biography, etc. The bottom-most section contains playback options for a song.

Clementine allows you to navigate freely within drives and folders, leaving no space for clutter. Moreover, it also has an excellent search option, using different parameters like song name, artist and album name.

Packed with a long list of features such as an equalizer, music streaming ability (from Jazzradio, Spotify, Soundcloud, etc.), remote access using an Android app, playlist in tabs, etc., it manages to do away with the need of a large amount of free RAM space. This music player can convert audio files into multiple formats like Ogg Vorbis, MP4, FLAC, WMA, MP3, etc. and provides options for altering the metadata of a song. With Clementine, you also get to store your music on popular cloud platforms including Google Drive and Onedrive.

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2 Rhythmbox Inspired from iTunes, Rhythmbox, is a clean and simple, pre-installed music application on Ubuntu and is also available on Linux. Though there are not many default customizations that one gets on this player, it does allow creating additional functions and features using third-party plugins.

On the first use, it scans the available music on your system and adds them to its library (just like iTunes), which you can expand or shorten from your local drives, at your convenience. Listening to podcasts from either iTunes or any other user fed URL is also very easy.

The primary window contains the playback options for a song on the top section, with the songs listed out in a large space below it on the right side of the window. On the left-hand side of the window, you can see your playlists, FM channels, etc.

Rhythmbox is widely used in the Gnome Desktop Environment. It allows you to extract the media source (such as a CD, or external audio player), even while listening to it and provides sorting of songs based on their genres (as also on iTunes), which is not commonly seen in other music players. In addition to these features, it can also be used as a DAPP server.

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3 Audacious Audacious is a widely used open source music player on Linux, which is as basic as it can get. It is mapped on GTK+, and uses around 20-25 MB Ram, thus being compatible with old and new systems alike. This ensures minimum CPU usage and does not compromise on speed of your system.

In the main window, you can access the song playback options in the topmost section, with all your songs stacked beneath it. Minimalistic options like play, pause, shuffle and repeat are available, making it very easy to use. The drag and drop feature also comes handy, adding to the overall usability of the application.

Almost all file formats are compatible in the player, which can also be accessed via an inbuilt search. For changing the layout of the player, different themes of Winamp can be used. Certain additional features, like setting up an alarm, or adding lyrics of a song may also be done with the help of third party plugins.

Audacious also comes with a graphical equalizer, which can be used to change the contours of the sound. Linux Audio Developer's Simple Plugin API (LADSPA) plugins are also available for the player, which provide further flexibility and effects in audio.

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4 VLC VLC is a multimedia player, which is open source and freely available for all platforms. It can play not just audio files but video as well and runs almost all file formats. In comparison to its competitors, it lacks certain features of a music player, such as creating playlists, or linking the remote drives on one’s network. Managing your music from within the player could also prove to be a tough task, and it may be best for playing music from your files and folders.

But on the flipside, it is known for its reliability and a simplistic user interface. In terms of audio effects, there is a multitude of tweaks that a user may be able to do using the equalizer, compressor and the spatializer, which comes pre-loaded on the application.

Furthermore, VLC also allows you to add plugins, adding to the versatility of the application. The player would save you from the hassle of selecting two separate applications for audio and video files, and also reduce burden on the system. There are also customizations available for changing the theme of the player. In addition to this, using VLC you can tune into online radios and podcasts and be up-to-date with their every new release.

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5 Amarok Amarok is the default application in KDE for playing music and is widely used by Linux users. The player has an interface that looks unlike any other music player, but is highly customizable by the user and is available in about 45 languages. One gets several sorting functionalities such as tagging, renaming, etc.

There are plugins available for Amarok, which are essentially scripts developed by the community. Users can also stream audio from internet radio stations, music websites and audiobook stores (such as, Librivox, The Echo Nest, Jamendo, etc.). The application supports a variety of audio formats and provides an excellent equalizer.

One distinct feature of Amarok is that it provides Web services integration with sites like Wikipedia search, included within the player itself, which integrates information from the Wikipedia’s database into the player. Amarok also features dynamic playlists, which update themselves.

For example, a playlist belonging to a certain year or artist would update itself, whenever corresponding new songs are added. Another user-friendly feature is of bookmarking, which allows you to resume an audio file or podcast from a marked position. Audio database of iTunes, earlier versions of Amarok and even external media players (such as iPod) can directly be imported into the new version.

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6 Spotify Spotify is an application favored by people on all platforms. When it was launched for the first time, it ushered in a new era in streaming music! The Linux version of the player not only allows you to stream music online but also plays your local audio files and streams radio stations.

The player has a beautifully laid out interface and suggests you music from your friend’s preferences as well. The online service has an unending variety of songs, curated by professionals. You can synchronize your devices with the player, follow a particular genre or an artist, scrob music on and even share music with friends on social media. On the Ubuntu, the music player can also be conjoined in the sound menu.

The player is integrated with a powerful search which shows vast amounts of useful content. One feature hardly to be seen on any other player is of details about music concerts (artists and bands), which can come in handy for many people.

However, a user needs to register and make an account with Spotify before using it. Either an email id can be used or the Facebook account of the user can be linked. Spotify also offers premium services which make the player ad-free and allows you to download any song. Among all the Linux music players, Spotify might as well have the slickest graphics interface.

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7 Cmus Cmus is a minimalistic music player known to be made for the coding savvy people. It requires you to use terminal and keyboard commands to play your audio files of different formats. Developed using C programming, the player is of around 20 MB, hence uses minimum resources and operates at a lightning fast speed.

Since Cmus is an open source application, it runs on both old and new systems without any hassle. The music library in the player is highly organized making sorting easier. Music can be arranged either according to the album name or artist, and there is an option for searching content within the player’s database as well.

Cmus comes with built-in features like gapless playback, replay gain support, live filtering and instant startup among others. The application uses key bindings, which can be altered by the user for a variety of playback options in a song.

Apart from these, third-party plugins for features like lyrics, new themes, etc. can also be used with the player. Cmus may not be a good option for people wanting a graphical interface and not acquainted with terminals, but continues to be the best option among music players with command line interface.

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8 AlsaPlayer AlsaPlayer is a new-age music player for Linux that does an excellent job at running the .PCM or pulse-code modulation files. The player taps excessively into the multithreading capability and was developed keeping the library system and the latest ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) driver in mind, to make full use of them. Upon looking closely you can discover that AlsaPlayer offers some very interesting features that are specific to the Linux-based and UNIX-based players.

The primary aim of the people who developed this music player for Linux was to develop an entirely pluggable framework capable of playing back any kind of media file, most of the focus being on the pulse-code modulation audio data. While its initial launch was only for the Linux system, plenty of support has been added for other types of OS as well (most of them being UNIX variants only) over a period of time.

Please note, AlsaPlayer can be used free of cost and you get the permission to even redistribute and/or modify it if you want, as long as you abide by the GNU General Public License terms. You can download either version 3 license of AlsaPlayer, or any of the later versions depending upon your requirements. Why AlsaPlayer is distributed free of cost is because it helps a great number of professionals throughout the world, but without any warranties.

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9 Lollypop Lollypop is a lightweight music player with a modern and attractive user interface which runs smoothly on Linux. The application is open source and supports OGG , mp3, mp4 and FLAC files. Music Tracks can be sorted using the name of the artist, genre of music or the album cover.

The primary window has playback options for the song on the top, with a list of songs laid down below it in a neat manner. Song metadata can be altered by the user and playlists too can be made easily.

Lollypop allows synchronizing the application with any Android device using MTP. It is also capable of streaming music from websites such as Soundcloud and Spotify. Audio scrobbing feature available on or can be used with ease, which would suggest songs according to the music taste of the user.

The application comes with HiDPI capability which allows the user to remotely access it. One new addition in the player is the party mode, which curates specific playlists to suit the mood. Album covers are automatically searched on internet and updated to the metadata of the song. Searching for lyrics online and information on the artist of the track is also made easy by Lollypop.

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10 DeaDBeef This music player is considered the Linux counterpart of the Foobar2000 available on the Windows platform. One can pick either of the GTK2 or GTK3 build to run and it’s not dependent on Gnome or KDE, thus making it highly popular on the Linux platform.

DeaDBeef is a free and open source software and supports third-party plugins, thus increasing the functionality of the application. Files including APE, FLAC, WAV, Ogg Vorbis, WAV and mp3 are compatible with the player. Users can edit the details of their audio filed, drag and drop files and create multiple playlists and put them in tabs. Command line controls and global hotkeys can also be used to navigate within the application.

The layout in the main window is very simple with the playback options on the topmost section of the window. Beneath the playback bar, there is a list of audio files present in your database. Apart from its low memory consumption, the player shows lyrics of a song and information about the artist on the right-side of the window as well.

There is an equalizer to change the quality of sound along with support for additional DSP plugins. DeaDBeef can stream online radio and also provides tag editor and gapless playback.

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Making the Best Use of Linux Music Players

Everyone likes listening to good music, whether at home or on the move. If you too have a personal collection of digital music files on your laptop or a home desktop, finding a music player that suits your needs may be the best thing you could do for your auditory senses! Using a music player puts you at a convenient spot and allows you to listen and manage the audio files in your system. Currently, there is a plethora of music players available online for the Linux platform, which provide a great deal of flexibility and are reliable at the same time. Most of the popular music players for Linux are free and based on open source.

Being flooded with the huge number of alternatives can put you in a tough spot. However, depending on the use, one can choose from the best Linux music players available in the market. You may pick a player that has a simplistic interface with minimal options and performs the basic function of “playing” your music files. If you like to manage your music files in well-arranged categories and like to have more information about the music that is being played, artist of the song, etc., you can choose an appropriate music player like Amarok or Clementine. There are certain applications like Cmus, which would be perfect for people wanting to use scripts, as it runs on terminal commands. An application like Spotify, on the other hand, can provide you the best of premium curated content and allow you to share your music on social platforms, listen to your friend’s preferences, etc.

Many of the popular music players on Linux are known for their low file size and minimal system usage. Cmus and Audacious, for example, use only around 20-25 MB of RAM, which ensures that your entertainment does not hamper your work. Compact sizing is also helpful in playing music in older systems which might not be as up-to-date in terms of processors, RAM, and other technical specifications. Not only these music players are low on the size aspect, but at the same time provide a host of additional features such as equalizer to tweak the quality of the sound, themes to change the appearance of the music player, third-party plugins to stream music or radio and so on. Linux music players are no less and have equaled out to music player which are available on other platforms such as Windows or Mac.

Explore the sound

Some Linux music players allow the users to enhance their audio listening experience. Usually, on the topmost bar of any music player, you can find a drop down box for either “Settings” or “Edit”. On hovering over the icon, you can find an option for “Preferences” (or similar settings) that would allow you to customize your music playing. Some music player would contain features such as gapless playback, which would remove any kind of silence in the audio files. Such a feature may be helpful for live and classical music files. Similarly, tracks can be crossfaded into each other which would seamlessly connect the two music files and would allow songs to flow one after the other.

Certain music players come with an inbuilt equalizer allowing you to change the tone of your audio. However, if your music player does not provide for such functionalities, you can go ahead with using third-party software which would optimize your listening experience. You can install open source applications like PulseAudio and JACK Audio Connection Kit on Linux which would help you in improving the sound quality on your system by leaps and bounds. These applications provide you an equalizer which is system-wide, enhancing each and every audio that comes out of you Linux device, and consequently would also improve the quality of your music player. Quite possibly your Linux system would have PulseAudio preinstalled, if not, you can use the terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:alex-wv/pulseaudio-equalizer-ppa

After adding it to your Linux system, it can be installed by entering:

sudo apt-get install PulseAudio-equalizer

Once the application gets installed, using the equalizer would be fairly simple. Launch the software which would present you with primary window. There is a 15-band equalizer in PulseAudio by which you can manually rearrange the file audio to a frequency that suits you the most. You can also save a custom frequency and use it in your later sessions. If you are not sure of the exact configuration you would like to go for, there is a list of preset frequencies to choose from. On selecting a frequency, select the “EQ Enabled”, thereafter click on the “Apply Settings” option. Subsequently, any sound from your system, from alarms to audio files that you play from your music player on Linux, would be played on the equalization set by you. You can also select the “Keep Settings” options, post which the equalization would be made permanent for every time you login to your system.

Use of external hardware like a soundcard can be of immense help

If you are an audiophile and want your sound quality to be of the highest quality possible, there are certain other tweaks that you might want to consider. To make the optimum use of your hardware, you can prevent resampling of your music files into a particular output resolution. This can be done by using the ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) feature available in your Linux system. What you would need additionally is a sound card, apart from the one preinstalled on your computer. This sound card would be dedicated exclusively to your songs, giving them maximum resources possible. ALSA would utilize this second sound card for your songs, while PulseAudio would be using the preinstalled sound card for other system sound related purposes.

There’s a dedicated music player called AlsaPlayer available in this regard. It does an amazing job at running the .PCM or pulse-code modulation files. The player taps excessively into the multithreading capability and was developed keeping the library system and the latest ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) driver in mind, to make full use of them (Read more about it in our ranking above).

Using two different sound cards would benefit the user in three different ways. Firstly, an audio stream which is “bit-perfect” can be obtained because of the exclusive use of one part of hardware for music. Secondly, the songs that you play would not be overlapped with any of the system sounds and give you a clear un-tempered music audio. The system sounds would continue to come, but would not dilute your songs. The third benefit of using an external sound card is that it allows you to choose from a host of sound cards available in the market according to your preference. You can also consider which sound card would pair best with your speakers or headphones.

However, there is a catch here. The music player that you are using should have the capacity to channel your audio into the hardware device using the ALSA interface. Only when the music is integrated with the ALSA and the external sound card used, your system would be able to circumvent the automatic resampling and give you a two-streamed output. DeaDBeef, Guayadeque, and GmusicBrowser are some of the best music players for the purpose.

Music library management

If you have a vast library of songs, then managing your music can become a twisted job. For perfectly organizing your music, the first and foremost thing to get correct is the metadata, i.e. information about your audio files relating to name, year of release, album, artist, genre, etc. If the metadata is perfectly aligned, then your music player would be able to synchronize that data and present your library in an arranged manner. However, changing the metadata of each and every song may become a herculean task.

Applications like MusicBrainz Picard and Jaikoz may be helpful in such cases. These are auto-tagging software which would edit the metadata of the song based on the album / song and artist. Once the audio files are pre-tagged, listening to arranged music on your music player would become a joyful experience. This would also be helpful if like listening to music of a particular genre, say Blues or Metal, as your songs would be arranged accordingly. There are some players available online, which would make playlists of your songs depending on genres or release years. Free music players like Rhythmbox and Lollypop, for example, would compile a list of all your Blues songs and play it in a queue, making sure you never lose your vibe!

Go with the right format

Most music players on Linux can play almost all popular format of audio. Still, choosing certain file formats over other can prove beneficial in the long run. This is especially helpful if you convert or rip your files. If you are converting a CD into digital files to be saved on your system, choosing FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) would make sure that the original quality of your audio is retained. Even if the file is compressed, the sound quality of your song would not take a toll.

Converting files into MP3, on the other hand, can lead to a reduction in the quality of sound. MP3 is a “lossy” format which and kicks out frequencies which are not audible to the human ear. Similarly, WAV format is another “lossless” format like FLAC but takes a lot more space when compared to MP3 format. Chances are high that your music player would be able to play a large majority of the file formats.

Due to open source coding in Linux, the community is always readily available to help you out with any issues you might be facing. Most of the popular Linux music players are available online freely for the Linux platform and by using approval-based approaches.

On the whole, popular Linux players offer you the best music listening experience!