May 18, 2013

One of the big changes for me when I was switching from Windows to Ubuntu was finding a new mp3 player.  I’ve always favored small, lightweight programs rather that the clunky stuff that comes bundled with pre-built computers and Windows (e.g., Windows Media Player).  I used Winamp for about 10 years, and loved it.  I organize my mp3s in individual folders because I have an inherent distrust of logical organization like virtual libraries or databases used by programs like iTunes and RhythmBox, so I wanted something simple like Winamp.  For this reason I was immediately attracted to Audacious (available through the Ubuntu Software Center), which has a Winamp mode that looks and feels a lot like Winamp.

Ultimately I abandoned the Winamp emulation for the standard Audacious skin.  It’s lightweight and easy to use, and you can easily customize what information about the song it shows.  Like Winamp, it has a small optional visualization app that sits in the corner of the program.  One of the key features I require in an music listening device (hardware or software) is EQ.  The main reason I never use any kind of cloud music apps or internet radio is because I can’t stand anything under 192kbps, and I can’t stand not being able to adjust the EQ on a song.  Audacious has a good 10-band equalizer and preamp, with sliders at 31, 63, 125, 250, 500, 1k, 2k, 4k, 8k, and 16kHz.  (If anyone’s curious, my current adjustments are +1, +1, +1, 0, -1, -4, -2, -2, +1, +1.  I listen to a lot of metal, so I tend to smile the EQ on anything I use.)

Audacious also comes with a number of built-in effects, with more available in the plugins section.  The two I use are the Crystalizer (set at the default 1.3), which makes the sound a little crisper, and the Extra Stereo plugin (also at the default 1.3), which increases the L-R panning just a little bit to give the music a bit more breathing room.  While I missed my old Winamp for a while, I’ve come to rely on a number of features the Audacious has that Winamp either doesn’t do or doesn’t do as well.  One I use all the time is the ability to have multiple tabbed playlists, modeled after tabbed web browsing.  And while I don’t have to worry as much about system crashes now that I use Ubuntu, it’s nice that Audacious continually updates its configuration settings, so if the program or even the OS crashes I don’t lose a single setting or unsaved playlist.  I’ve even reinstalled Ubuntu without losing unsaved playlist data.

While Audacious doesn’t have as many features as some of the heavier programs like iTunes or RhythmBox (which I use for organizing my iPod), it’s definitely my favorite program for just listening to music.