*Ahem* We will skip the rest of the song, but when prospecting for new music or relishing an existing collection, the Clementine music player provides an outstanding means of managing and playing local and online music in a fun way while requiring minimal system resources.
Clementine is one of those programs that few people probably know about, yet it becomes a winner once people try it out. It is free, cross-platform, and features a tidy, attractive user interface, and it is certainly one of the best available for Linux.
This short overview takes a peek at Clementine 1.2.
“What makes this music player different from another?”
Yes, Clementine features many staples existing in other music players, such as Amarok, Exaile, Banshee, and Rhythmbox. But somehow, Clementine gets things right in one package. While “right” varies among users as much as personal preferences in music, some things stand out in ways that are not as apparent in other music players.
Upon first launching Clementine, the sidebar, located in the lefthand side of the window allows easy selection of the various groups of functions.
Yes, other players, such as Amarok, also include a sidebar, but Clementine’s looks better with its colorful, patterned background that changes color depending upon the current system theme. The sidebar can be configured in five ways: Large, Small, Plain, Tabs on Top, or Icons on Top.
To the right of the sidebar is a panel that displays the music collection or information. It depends upon what has been selected in the sidebar. For example, lyrics and artist info displays if chosen.
Out of the box (or straight out of the download), Clementine is equipped to handle Internet radio, podcasts, streaming servers, and stored music online in addition to local music. A list of online services appears along with easy-to-identify icons. Select a service, such as Magnatune, and the Magnatune library appears. The collection can be organized or searched in a variety of ways to make it easy to find that special tune.
Some services require login, and login settings can be entered in the preferences. There is quite a selection available from the start. For example, Ubuntu One music streaming is supported using an Ubuntu One account.
No matter if the music is stored online or locally, all of it is aggregated into one place to make it seem as if the entire music collection is together. Again, this is not really anything spectacular since this has already been accomplished in other music players, but Clementine does it well.
When playing local music, Clementine analyzes each track of music in the playlist to create a moodbar for each. This is a colorful, visual representation of the dynamics of the music in addition to other factors. Think of a moodbar as a piece of music’s “visual fingerprint” that lets you see inside the tune. Darker sections of the moodbar represent quieter passages of music while lighter sections represent louder parts. The moodbar can even replace the play bar just like Amarok.
Instead of depending solely on time to jump to certain areas of the playing piece, a moodbar allows the user to see the dynamics of sections of audio and jump to those locations. Want to skip to a quieter section of music? Then, click the moodbar on a darker area. For those who seek understanding behind the moodbar algorithm, the detailed paper describing moodbar generation is available from http://cratoo.de/amarok/. (Locate the ismir-crc.pdf file.) It is worth a read for those who enjoy acoustic and computer theory at a higher level.
Moodbars exist in a few Linux players already, but Amarok requires a separate moodbar installation. Clementine has built-in moodbar support. However, it is not visible by default in the playlist window, so to make it appear, right-click any column title in the playlist panel and check Mood. The moodbar will then appear for local files only. Internet radio and streaming audio will not produce a moodbar.
Music mood analysis is usually quick, but to save time, Clementine allows the option of saving moods for faster recall. A separate hidden .mood file is generated for each music file and stored in the same directory as the music. This feature is optional and can be disabled.
The ProjectM visualizer is required, and it provides stunning eyecandy in sync with Clementine’s audio playback.
Audio file metadata tags can be edited directly from within Clementine. Tags can be modified per file or group of files together.
Whether local or online streaming, if album art is available for the current track, it will appear in the Clementine window. For local files with cover art, the music library will show miniature albums in addition to titles and album names.
There is no pure “Browse by album cover feature” in the way some Songbird plugins allowed, but a cheap way is to open the cover manager and double click a cover to fill up a playlist with that album. “Various Artists” must be chosen for this to work.
A single preferences window allows program customization. It is easy to understand and navigate without any clutter. It is divided into three parts: General, User Interface, and Internet Providers. Each section configures exactly what the name conveys.
An interesting feature is the Wiimote support option that allows a Nintendo Wii controller to control the Clementine music player. This is built into Clementine within the need for any plugin. Once configured, just sit back, relax, and use go Wiiiiiiii!
Of course, the computer must already know how to communicate with a Wii controller.
There is also network remote control and the QR code for an Android remote control app.
Now, this is a surprise. A background stream mixes a background sound effect during playback to create certain moods, and there are four available: Rain, All Glory to the Hypnotoad!, Make It So!, and–get ready for this–Kittens!
They are turned off be default, but enabling one, such as Rain, will create an audible thunderstorm in the background. Just what Bach organ music needs…
Clementine seems lightweight for what it does, and it only requires about 272 MB of RAM for the main player. However, System Monitor revealed four addition clementine-tagreader processes consuming 1.1 MB each. This might be the moodbar analysis in action. Not sure.
Is Clementine Better Than Amarok?
This is best left to a matter of personal preference, but both players are worthwhile. Amarok has extra features that Clementine does not have, but Clementine feels more lightweight and does what it needs to do and does it well with no hassle or fuss. Clementine is Clementine, and Amarok is Amarok. There is no need to compare except to help understand what Clementine does since more people seem to be familiar with Amarok.
Everything is clearly laid out in Clementine, so those who have never used a music manager before should easily acclimate to Clementine without reading any documentation.
Clementine is fun!
Everything about this program is simple to use, and never did it crash or behave erratically. It runs perfectly in Linux Mint 15. The native moodbar support is no doubt one of the coolest features to play with, and most importantly, the sound quality is just as good as any other music player on Linux. Crossfading and customized playlist generation settings are possible.
Amarok is the closest media player comparable to Clementine. After all, Clementine was inspired by Amarok 1.4. Clementine might not be as feature rich as Amarok, but it does what counts and does it well. Highly recommended.
Clementine is available in the Ubuntu repository or as a downloadable .deb file from the Clementine web site where a full list of features is available.