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Lightweight mp3 player for OS X. - I know it's wonky and I don't care [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Kake

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Lightweight mp3 player for OS X. [Dec. 31st, 2006|10:13 am]
Kake
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Well, like the title says, really. Can anyone recommend a lightweight mp3 player for OS X? I'd like something that doesn't take up too much memory or CPU, and doesn't insist on importing the files into its own library (thank you, iTunes, I really needed to have two copies of everything) (thank you, mr_tom!).

I do often use mpg123, but (a) it has trouble with some files, and plays them at double speed, (b) it has to sit in a Terminal window and it can sometimes be hard to remember where I put it (I use multiple Terminal windows, all running screen), (c) it can't cope with some versions of ID3 tagging, and (d) it doesn't let me move back and forth in a playlist or track.

(I did find something called Aqueous, but when I tried to run it it complained about not being able to find Classic, or something like that.)
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: mr_tom
2006-12-31 10:35 am (UTC)
doesn't insist on importing the files into its own library

iTunes -> Preferences -> Advanced -> [ ] Copy files to iTunes Music folder...
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[User Picture]From: nou
2006-12-31 10:40 am (UTC)
YAY! Thank you very much!

(Still interested in other recommendations though.)
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From: ewtikins
2006-12-31 10:49 am (UTC)
I don't know of one (only just got my MacBook) but would be very interested to find out.
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[User Picture]From: reddragdiva
2006-12-31 01:32 pm (UTC)
VLC. It's one of the least painful media players I've ever used on a Mac.
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[User Picture]From: redcountess
2006-12-31 05:39 pm (UTC)
Yup, that's what I was going to recommend.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2007-01-01 10:48 am (UTC)
Do you know, I totally hadn't realised VLC could play mp3s! I use it a lot already, but to play videos rather than music. Thank you both for the recommendation!

It does seem to have trouble playing mp3s over the network though; it keeps stopping and restarting — only briefly, but still annoyingly. (iTunes has no problem with the same files and same network load.) I wonder if there's a way to make it buffer more aggressively? Or some other way to solve the problem?
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[User Picture]From: redcountess
2007-01-01 10:54 am (UTC)
I've only tried playing avis over the network on it, but VLC is not good with that either, and ISTR David saying that it's not its strong suit.
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[User Picture]From: reddragdiva
2007-01-03 01:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you can set the audio buffer longer. Default is 300ms. 1500ms works really well.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2007-01-03 03:59 pm (UTC)
So you can. Thank you! It works fine now.

(For anyone else wondering, it's in Preferences -> Input/Codecs -> Access modules -> File.)
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[User Picture]From: blech
2006-12-31 03:51 pm (UTC)

A few suggestions

iTunes really is the ten-ton gorilla in the field, so you're not going to find much with any meaningful market share. Also, I personally use it pretty happily, so these are aren't so much recommendations as pointers.

Cog - "a free open source audio player for OS X (10.4 and above)". Part of a set of three apps with a format converter (handy for those FLACs you want in MP3) and a ID3 tagger. Looks fairly minimal.

Audion - "The ultimate Macintosh MP3 player / encoder". Once the only commercial rival to iTunes, now free (but no longer updated). I found all the skins a bit ugly, but it does play things (and import too).

MP3 Dock - "Play and browse MP3s from Mac OS X Dock" Probably a bit gimmicky, but might work for you.

Whamb - " Digital Audio Player for Mac OS X" Has music sharing over Bonjour - like iTunes - but also has skins.

On a more general point, a couple of years ago I was going to write a post about how MP3 players turned from tiny things into which you dropped a playlist to full-blown library managers. At the time Linux users stuck solidly to the first model (mpg123, xmms) but now all the major players (Amarok, Rhythmbox, etc) are library managers as well, so now it wouldn't so much be a look at a battle as at a historical oddity. I wonder if you can draw parallels off to other media, though? Does video need cataloging, for example?

If you actually like using the command line, find out which of these have an AppleScript interface. For example, iTunes can be told to skip with something like (untested; I'll come back with a fixed comment in a bit)

osascript -e 'tell application "iTunes" to next track'
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[User Picture]From: blech
2006-12-31 03:54 pm (UTC)

Re: A few suggestions

OK, that worked anyway. At least when you get AppleScript right it's easy to do...
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[User Picture]From: wintrmute
2006-12-31 08:47 pm (UTC)

Re: A few suggestions

I still rather like Quod Libet myself, but it does get a bit slow to search sometimes, on a G4 iBook with a 80 Gb library on networked storage.

I just can't get the hang of iTunes though, so..
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[User Picture]From: nou
2007-01-01 11:03 am (UTC)

Re: A few suggestions

Oooh, that AppleScript thing is cool! I'm sure you've told me about this before (AppleScript in general, I mean); I wish I was better at remembering things.

This is going to sound silly, but one of the problems I have with iTunes is finding things that I've just added to its library. I mean, things that someone else has tagged. With “classical” things, the Artist field could contain pretty much anything, so it's not just a case of sorting on Artist and scrolling down to Stravinsky, or whatever. Or if someone makes me a compilation mix and tags the tracks with the information from the original albums, then whatever I sort on, the tracks are going to be scattered all over the place. I know these sound like minor problems that could be dealt with on a case by case basis, but they happen so often that it's getting kind of annoying, to the point where I'll add things to iTunes when I want to listen to them and then delete them from it afterwards to stop the library getting too big for me to search through by eyeball, which sort of misses the point of the app entirely. Is there a way around this, do you know? Can I make it give me a Date Added column to sort on, or something like that?

Also, thank you for the suggestions; I'll check them out today.
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[User Picture]From: fanf
2007-01-01 11:22 am (UTC)

Re: A few suggestions

Right-click on the column titles and tick the "Date Added" item.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2007-01-01 11:31 am (UTC)

Re: A few suggestions

Thank you! That does the job nicely (ctrl-click in my case).
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[User Picture]From: nou
2007-01-01 11:21 am (UTC)

A long ramble which may not be very interesting.

I wonder if you can draw parallels off to other media, though? Does video need cataloging, for example?

Some people at least think that comics need cataloguing — ComicBookLover looks to have been explicitly based on iTunes.

I suppose it depends on what you mean by cataloguing, and what you want from it. I've never found a better solution to mp3 organisation than nested directories in the filesystem, and that's still imperfect. I've mostly solved the top level by dividing things into “not pop” vs. “not classical” (although I have recently added “not not brass” to this, for brass band music and people like Wynton Marsalis, and I'm having trouble working out where Dead Can Dance belong).

“not pop” mostly goes by composer under that, but there are also directories for groups like the Kronos Quartet. It's kind of arbitrary as to whether a single-composer single-group album goes in that group's directory or in the composer's, though — for example, I put Schnittke: Complete String Quartets under Schnittke, because I've vaguely heard of him, and Mugam Sayagi: Music of Franghiz Ali-Zadeh under Kronos Quartet, possibly because of my background-induced bias towards Western music (hm, there is another potential long ramble here, which I will spare you at this time).

“not classical” is usually a bit easier, especially as I like cover versions enough to give them a second-level directory all to themselves.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2007-01-01 11:36 am (UTC)

Re: A long ramble which may not be very interesting.

And after all that I failed to make my actual point, which is that I think I really want something more akin to tags.

As an aside, I find it interesting that a couple of people (at least) have started using livejournal tags to replicate hierarchical classification. I thought tags were a solution to the problem of hierarchical classification.
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From: mzdt
2007-02-05 11:02 am (UTC)

another long ramble which may not be very interesting (or indeed relevant)

nested directories in the filesystem

yes - I've around 200Gb of files now, and have divided them down into directories for each first letter for the artist (originally purely on a name sort, although now all the 'the's have been rehomed where they belong, but real names are still done by first rather than second). Compilations/unclassifiables live in 'various' and classical in 'classical' (which is a lazy catch-all for orchestral instrumentation, 'cos I'm a bit ignorant in such things).

This is partly as I mainly play them not via a computer, but a usb drive that as it's down basic a/v interface [from Maplin] - no intelligence to it, so you can't even shuffle across the whole lot or make playlists - but it's permanently part of the hifi, and is one drive to run/turn off rather than a whole dedicated computer. It's also a backup of the main (again sub) drive they get copied on to, and any sorting is done on.

I can get at them via iTunes for burning etc, but I rarely actually play them on the computer...
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[User Picture]From: nou
2007-02-05 02:42 pm (UTC)

Re: another long ramble which may not be very interesting (or indeed relevant)

classical in 'classical' (which is a lazy catch-all for orchestral instrumentation, 'cos I'm a bit ignorant in such things).

Yes — also I'm really not keen on genres in general. I sort of get around the problem by categorising things as things they're not, rather than as things they are, but it's a hack rather than a solution.
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From: (Anonymous)
2007-05-28 02:00 pm (UTC)

Air Whisper

You shouldn't forget "Air Whisper" which is very lightweight in your list.
http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/15303

But none of all these alternatives to iTunes can seam to play ".m4a" formats which makes them useless for me :'(
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