5 Linux Music Players You Should Consider Switching To

There are dozens of Linux music players out there, and this makes it difficult to find the best one for our usage. In the past we’ve reviewed some of these players, such as Cantata, Exaile, or even the lesser known ones like Clementine, Nightingale and Quod Libet.

In this article I will be covering more music players for Linux that in some aspects are even better than the ones we’ve already told you about.

Qmmp isn’t the most feature-rich (or stable) Linux music player, but it’s my favorite one, and this is why I put it as number one. I know there are better players, but I somehow just love this one and use it most of the time. It does crash, and there are many files it can’t play, but nevertheless I still love it the most. Go figure!

linux-players-01-qmmp

Qmmp is a Winamp port for Linux. It’s (relatively) lightweight and has a decent feature set. Since I grew up with Winamp and loved its keyboard shortcuts, it was a nice surprise that they are present in the Linux version, too. As for formats, Qmmp plays most of the popular ones such as MPEG1 layer 2/3, Ogg Vorbis and Opus, Native FLAC/Ogg FLAC, Musepack, WavePack, tracker modules (mod, s3m, it, xm, etc.), ADTS AAC, CD Audio, WMA, Monkey’s Audio (and other formats provided by FFmpeg library), PCM WAVE (and other formats provided by libsndfile library), Midi, SID, and Chiptune formats (AY, GBS, GYM, HES, KSS, NSF, NSFE, SAP, SPC, VGM, VGZ, and VTX).

Amarok is the KDE music player, though you certainly can use it with any other desktop environment. It’s one of the oldest music players for Linux. This is probably one of the reasons why it’s a very popular player, though I personally don’t like it that much.

linux-players-02-amarok

Amarok plays a huge array of music formats, but its main advantage is the abundance of plugins. The app comes with a lot of documentation, though it hasn’t been updated recently. Amarok is also famous for its integration with various web services such as Ampache, Jamendo Service, Last.fm, Librivox, MP3tunes, Magnatune, and OPML Podcast Directory.

Now that I have mentioned Amarok and the KDE music player, now let’s move to Rhythmbox, the default Gnome music player. Since it comes with Gnome, you can guess it’s a popular app. It’s not only a music player, but also a music management app. It supports MP3 and OGG, plus about a dozen other file formats, as well as Internet Radio, iPod integration, the playing of audio files, audio CD burning and playback, music sharing, and podcasts. All in all, it’s not a bad player, but this doesn’t mean you will like it the most. Try it and see if this is your player. If you don’t like it, just move on to the next option.

linux-players-03-rhythmbox

Though VLC is best known as a movie player, it’s great as a music player, too, simply because it has the largest collection of codecs. If you can’t play a file with it, it’s unlikely you will be able to open it with any other player. VLC is highly customizable, and there are a lot of extensions for it. It runs on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Unix, iOS, Android, etc.

linux-players-04-vlc

What I personally don’t like about VLC is that it’s quite heavy on resources. Also, for some of the files I’ve used it with, the playback quality was far from stellar. The app would often shut down without any obvious reason while playing a file most of the other players wouldn’t struggle with, but it’s quite possible it’s not so much the player, as the file itself. Even though VLC isn’t among the apps I frequently use, I still wholeheartedly recommend it.

If you fancy command line apps, then Cmus is your Linux music player. You can use it to play Ogg Vorbis, MP3, FLAC, Opus, Musepack, WavPack, WAV, AAC, MP4, audio CD, everything supported by ffmpeg (WMA, APE, MKA, TTA, SHN, etc.) and libmodplug. You can also use it for streaming from Shoutcast or Icecast. It’s not the most feature-rich music player, but it has all the basics and beyond. Its main advantage is that it’s very lightweight, and its memory requirements are really minimal.

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All these music players are great – in one aspect or another. I can’t say there is a best among them – this is largely a matter of personal taste and needs. Most of these apps either come installed by default in the distro or can be easily found in the package manager. Simply open Synaptic, Software Center, or whatever package manager your distro is using, search for them and install them from there. You can also use the command line, or simply double-click the install file you download from their site – the choice is yours.

21 comments

  1. I prefer Decibel Audio Player since it’s lightweight and launches instantaneously. It’s one of the first apps I install in Linux. I hate the bloated music managers that come by default.

  2. Why is it nobody likes Audacious? I think it’s perfect. If there is anything I hate is an over bloated music player that has to go out and find the album art; artist bios; lyrics; etc. I just want it to play the damn song. And please! If I click the X in the corner to get out of the player, automatically stop the music from playing. I hate looking all over the place for a stop button (it’s always in the drop down menu and not easy to get at).

      • You basically can associate any, or almost any, player with a particular file type and it will also play it automatically on double click.

  3. Both qmmp and cmus look good to me. I like that qmmp supports tracker modules (mod, s3m, it, xm, etc) and midi. Currently using Milky Tracker for mod files. Love MilkyTracker because it takes me back to the kind of trackers I use to use in days of yore (look and feel) but the window isn’t resizable – so looks smallish on hi-rez displays.

    CMUS is a nice addition for terminal junkies. Always looking for console-based alternatives to GUI apps. Reminds me a bit of mpxplay (DOS mp3 player) but not nearly as nice looking. I also use to use DAMP (another DOS player). Very simple: “damp filename.mp3” but effective when you’re using a filemanager to select specific songs. Most of the time, I play music this way: ie, “filemanager -> select song”. This is why, I normally use something like smplayer for music.

  4. It’s not that nobody likes Audacious, it’s more like most of us like other players more. As I see from the comments so far, readers also like simpler apps, not the bloated software that does dozens of things but play the file properly and without taking all the comp’s resources.

  5. I prefer using Parole for most of my Linux machines, there are a few that come with RhythmBox, but I don’t like it. Not only is it annoying as William Vasquez says, to hit the close button only to still hear what you’re playing continue. This could be disastrous if you’re in a work setting. It would be better to keep this feature turned OFF and give the user the option of whether or not they want it on. Also for Amarok, its nice….its feature laden….but it’s just clunky in my opinion. I prefer my media players to be out-of-the-way and not obnoxious. As for QMMP and CMUS?….yeah….neither one of those interest me. I do like VLC but have to agree with the author it sometimes can be resource hungry. All in all I prefer just about ANY one of these to the alternatives offered by Windows or Apple!….since these are feature rich applications that I can install countless times on any amount of machines without the financial burden of licensing. Great article!!

  6. Personally I use Clementine as I like the GUI and it makes creating playlists really easy.

  7. I second Clementine, although it has a habit of restarting a playlist when I add files to said playlist and then try to play just the latest addition. I also use VLC a LOT and don’t remember it ever crashing, in Windows or in Linux. If it does that again check your file in other players.

  8. As someone said…It’s very personal.
    So, my personal opinion is that if a music player doesn’t have a plugin for MIDI , it’s incomplete and therefor will NOT be installed on my computers, not now and not ever :-)

  9. I like Quayadeque. Nice easy-to-use interface, fully featured yet very light on system resources.

    • Tomahawk’s concept is interesting – you can get music from so many places. I see it has binaries for many platforms, too.

  10. All of those in the list are bloated and not easy to use, especially for someone not used to such things/new to computers, etc.

    As a few others have stated, Audacious is deceitfully simple yet is powerfull and easy to use.

    Tye first thing I do when installing my distro (doesn’t matter which, as I would do it on any other distro I would/have used) is uninstall amarok (as it seems to be on all distro’s now), xmms, and anything else except Audacious. I’ve gained a little disc space back and don’t have to have anythiing ‘extra’ listed in my menus.

    • What? VLC is not easy to use for someone who’s new to computers? Then how come it’s one of the most popular music players, even on Windows? Given its extreme popularity, at least part of their userbase has to be beginners.

  11. Audacious. Nobody gave a mention to the fact that, by selecting that layout, it transforms to look and act just like the old winamp, just as QMMP can. It is a good player with lots of plugins.

  12. Wow do anyone know how to get that specific VLC interface ?
    I’m on Linux since a few days, and I cant find any music player as powerfull and beautifull and flexible as Windows’ MusicBee.
    Had good memories of Banshee, but it’s sadly discontinued, and the last version wont compile on my Manjaro Distrib :(
    Most promising players seems to be Lollypop and RhythmBox, even if they have less than 10% of MusicBee’s awesomeness.
    So I tryed to get something from that good’old’friend that is VLC after seeing that specific screenshot, but after a few searches, I cant figure out how to get that specific per-album-with-cover-arts view :(
    Does anyone have an idea ?

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