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What's the most user-friendly media player software? (must play FL
krabapple
post Dec 7 2009, 18:43
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Here's the sitch. I myself use foobar2K and my friends are all impressed by me using a laptop as a media server.
So now I need to set one up for one of my friends. However, I think f2K is too tweako for him by several orders of magnitude.
He's not a computer oriented guy, his main exposure is using a desktop for email, word processing and such.

He DOES know how to rip his CDs and encode them to properly tagged FLAC files (I configured EAC for him, thougjh I may
switch him to dbPoweramp).

Is there a really easy-to-use alternative to F2k? Like an iTunes that plays flacs? Because I don't want to
have to do constant IT support for his music server after it's set up. Ideally it should

-- play FLAC files
-- be able to scan a drive/folder and update the music library automatically
-- display album art (finding and downloading automatically would be nice too), and basic track information (title, album, artist, date, tracknumber)
-- allow EASY creation of playlists
-- allow tag/filename editing (this is secondary to the other functions)







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zipr
post Dec 7 2009, 18:47
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Mediamonkey?

The latest free version now does folder monitoring, I believe...
http://www.mediamonkey.com/
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Canar
post Dec 7 2009, 19:23
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Really, I don't see why a set-up installation of foobar2000 would not suit that need, other than the "automatically download album art" part. I install it on even my most computer-illiterate friends' computers and they have no problems at all.

foobar2000 is very simple, and takes incredibly little time to produce incredibly efficient and easy results.


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andy_c
post Dec 7 2009, 19:49
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QUOTE (krabapple @ Dec 7 2009, 11:43) *
Is there a really easy-to-use alternative to F2k? Like an iTunes that plays flacs? Because I don't want to
have to do constant IT support for his music server after it's set up. Ideally it should

-- play FLAC files
-- be able to scan a drive/folder and update the music library automatically
-- display album art (finding and downloading automatically would be nice too), and basic track information (title, album, artist, date, tracknumber)
-- allow EASY creation of playlists
-- allow tag/filename editing (this is secondary to the other functions)


Even though I'm a tweako type, I use WinAmp and find the UI to be really good right out of the box. I set it up with the "Big Bento" skin and "XP Noir" color scheme. I use the Steve Monks kernel streaming plugin for bit-perfect output. The playlist features are very flexible, much more than I ever use. There is a really nice youtube tutorial video on WinAmp playlists here. The skin shown is Big Bento with XP Noir colors. It does tag editing I think, but I use MP3Tag for that. One minor annoyance I had was the context menus were "skinned" (not standard Windows context menu appearance) and I couldn't see the highlight bar of the skinned context menus. This was default behavior as of 5.55. The way to get standard Windows context menus is to do: Winamp -> Prefs -> Media Library -> Appearance tab, uncheck "Use skinned menus". See this thread for more info.

This post has been edited by andy_c: Dec 7 2009, 19:52
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FasterThanEver
post Dec 7 2009, 20:06
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> Is there a really easy-to-use alternative to F2k? Like an iTunes that plays flacs?

J. River Media Center is what I use. It has a nice user interface that is somewhat like iTunes.

The user interface can use browser panes like iTunes or cover art (like iTunes.) A user can do the UI tailoring with menu commands - much easier and better documented than Foobar.

The J. River forums provide good information on use. Ask a questyion on the MC 14 forum and you can get advice from experienced and knowledgeable users.

MC 14 is not free. there is a free 30 day trial and there is an audio only free version (Media Jukebox) based on MC 12. (I still use MC 12 on my dedicated audio PC so Media Jukebox is a reasonable alternative.

Bill


Like iTunes and Foobar, it


I've been using J. River Media center for 3 1/2 years now. I recommend it as an easy-to-use secure ripper/tag
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krabapple
post Dec 7 2009, 20:11
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Must add one more criterion -- it has to work in Windows 7.
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krabapple
post Dec 7 2009, 20:14
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QUOTE (Canar @ Dec 7 2009, 13:23) *
Really, I don't see why a set-up installation of foobar2000 would not suit that need, other than the "automatically download album art" part. I install it on even my most computer-illiterate friends' computers and they have no problems at all.

foobar2000 is very simple, and takes incredibly little time to produce incredibly efficient and easy results.



What's your preferred method of creating playlists?

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botface
post Dec 7 2009, 21:03
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Another vote for Winamp. Plays FLAC (and most other formats) straight out of the box, looks nice with default skins etc, etc
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ncrollo
post Dec 7 2009, 21:27
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+1 for mediamonkey, the free version has just enough features and it can do everything winamp can do plus more, considering it uses the installed winamp engine
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Canar
post Dec 7 2009, 21:32
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QUOTE (krabapple @ Dec 7 2009, 14:14) *
What's your preferred method of creating playlists?
Ctrl-N. Drag and drop/copy&paste from album list, facets or explorer. Autoplaylists from album list and facets. What does foobar2000 lack that you're trying to do?


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RonaldDumsfeld
post Dec 7 2009, 21:43
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QUOTE
foobar2000 is very simple, and takes incredibly little time to produce incredibly efficient and easy results.


Illogical playlist creation and the very incredible ease and simplicity with which they can be deleted may not suit the user in question.

VLC is a possible candidate.

Free, unrivalled cross format support (check it out, it's the best), support for APE, ID3 and Vorbis tags, it plays video as well so album art etc is no problem, small desktop footprint and clear simple, scalable UI. Check it out. Looks ideal.

This post has been edited by RonaldDumsfeld: Dec 7 2009, 21:50
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JunkieXL
post Dec 7 2009, 21:46
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I love foobar, but from his post, he is looking for something that is more user friendly.

Foobar requires some reading and installing of plugins and files for performing conversions and the like.

I think he is looking for something with a better GUI and easy menus for changing settings; like iTunes but able to play FLAC instead of their knockoff ALAC.
PS
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Canar
post Dec 7 2009, 22:41
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QUOTE (RonaldDumsfeld @ Dec 7 2009, 15:43) *
Illogical playlist creation and the very incredible ease and simplicity with which they can be deleted may not suit the user in question.
I don't get this complaint at all. I hardly see what's unintuitive about its playlist creation. Furthermore, if they're that critical, you can trivially make backups.

Once it's set up, there's nothing hard about foobar2000 at all. The only hard parts are in the configuration, and even that's only as hard as it has to be.

I do not get at all where foobar2000 is not "user-friendly". I've installed it on so many people's computers it's not even funny, and none of them have ever griped once about it being difficult. Sometimes they don't know how to to X so I set it up or show them, and the problem's solved. Often they remark: "Wow, that's easy!"

This post has been edited by Canar: Dec 7 2009, 22:43


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RonaldDumsfeld
post Dec 7 2009, 23:07
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Don't get me wrong Canar. I think foobar is a wonderful product. Truly marvellous.

You start out with something simple then when it occurs to you to want something extra you go find,install, configure and use it yourself. So not only do you end up with something unique to your own needs which you understand completely but it's an enriching and educational journey along the way. In that respect, considering what you can do with it, you are right. It's simple and elegant. Playlists out of the box? I've seen Spotify so I don't think so.

The OP himself uses foobar but his specific request for his friend on this occasion was something else. I still thing he should check out VLC before trying to convince himself foobar would be best after all. but likesay your mileage may vary, product may contain nuts.
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Cokemonkey11
post Dec 8 2009, 01:00
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+1 for media monkey, tried it again after a year or so break and I'll never go back to WMP.


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krabapple
post Dec 8 2009, 01:45
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QUOTE (Canar @ Dec 7 2009, 16:41) *
QUOTE (RonaldDumsfeld @ Dec 7 2009, 15:43) *
Illogical playlist creation and the very incredible ease and simplicity with which they can be deleted may not suit the user in question.
I don't get this complaint at all. I hardly see what's unintuitive about its playlist creation. Furthermore, if they're that critical, you can trivially make backups.

Once it's set up, there's nothing hard about foobar2000 at all. The only hard parts are in the configuration, and even that's only as hard as it has to be.

I do not get at all where foobar2000 is not "user-friendly". I've installed it on so many people's computers it's not even funny, and none of them have ever griped once about it being difficult. Sometimes they don't know how to to X so I set it up or show them, and the problem's solved. Often they remark: "Wow, that's easy!"


But generally it's easier -- or at least more intuitive or 'discoverable' for a newbie -- on iTunes.

In fact I've installed f2k one one friend's computer, which is why I'm looking for another player for my next one. Showing them how to do X is not as attractive to me as using software that is designed to let newbies figure out how to do X themselves (with a useful help function).

At risk of embarrassing myself, I've been using f2k for several years on a couple of computers, played with code in it , installed components , transcoded stuff, masstagged, etc. But typicaly I listen to music with my whole album list loaded into the playlist, with Shuffle tracks enabled, so I'm not often making playlists. When I do, I'm often confounded. Frankly I've never even heard of 'facets', never used autoplaylist intentionally, don't know what Ctrl-N does (I assume it creates a new playlist?), haven't used 'explorer' I don't think, and have generally found making playlists from album list to be tedious as best and maddening at worst. I especially hate f2k's tendency to want to replace a current displayed playlist with whatever I click (I don't used tabbed playlists). Conversely I've spent 15-30 minutes compiling a playlist in f2k using album list or 'add to playlist' only to have it wiped out by an errant click. I've also been tripped up by not SAVING the playlist sometimes.

Don't get me wrong, I *love* foobar 2000. I know how good it is. I realize my problems with it include my own ignorance and lazy practice and a case of read the frickin' manual (though, oops there isn't one, or at least, not a complete one, and not one with consistently clear instructions) and of course not all of these roadblocks are peculiar to f2k. But compared to my friend I'm a computer guru and a f2k 'power user' and I'm still perplexed regularly. User-friendly, f2k ain't, though to its credit it never claims to be.

This post has been edited by krabapple: Dec 8 2009, 01:45
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greynol
post Dec 8 2009, 03:43
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That sort of sums up my experience with fb2k as well. I've been a Winamp guy from long back and still use the old-style interface. To me playlists are files and I treat them as such.

For me fb2k is a wonderful tool for RG, splitting, joining and decoding mp3; but that's about it. Reading posts like this gives me a headache and is a real turn-off. I'm pretty much used to the tools that I use and chose them because they have the ability to do what I want without having to learn new syntax and lingo.

PS (OT): It isn't just fb2k, I feel the same way about REACT: too complicated to be approachable; especially when I have a system that works just fine for my current needs.

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jayg30
post Dec 8 2009, 09:09
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Not to throw fuel on the fire but I just feel a need to say something after skimming the past few posts.

If the thread starter wants something other than foobar2000, that is fine and there are plenty of options out there (none of which I would personally recommend). But I do feel that it's a real travesty that the person that will actually be USING the product isn't playing a role in the choice. Always being a Tech savvy person (CE/CS degree) I'm familiar with "helping" people make choices and "just setting things up" which always leads to constant calls/IM's/emails/etc. about how to do something. Furthermore I seem to be the go to person across all my friends/family/GF/GF family/etc. for just about everything. My advice is to stop. Tell them no or lie if you have to. You have to let them sink or swim eventually.

Now, onto my real issue with what has been said. The REAL main reason people have a hard time stepping into foobar is that they are just so use to WMP or iTunes or even to some extent winamp. The first time I ever used iTunes I was pulling my hair out. This was before I had ever used foobar. All previous experience with computer media players was with old school winamp around 2000 (Napster days) and a program called GoldWave which was only slightly a player (more of an editor). Eventually I found my way around iTunes, but still to this day I find the interface to be horrible (to put it lightly). For most people though they have used it for so long (most likely to apple/ipod/store conformity) it is just second nature and they don't stop and think/question if there is a better way. People just conform. The only other reason I think it can be intimidating to new users is the context menu IMO contains WAY to much and it's stuff 90%+ of people will NEVER need.

When I first started using foobar, I was enticed by the fancy configurations that you see posted and I decided to dive into the deep end with no knowledge. That was probably the wrong approach. Basically I spent most of my time hitting a road block and having to look for information. It was mostly due to my unfamiliarity of the application and certain keywords. Today, I would say a much better approach is to work with the default installation and avoid the fancy stuff (especially with how nice the new default UI is).

Looking at your requirements foobar hits all of them with only one real extra needed for automatic album art (I'd add the biography plugin that can provide artwork from last.fm. You don't even need Column UI, just follow THIS post).

As for this playlist stuff I'm reading, I just don't get what people are complaining about. There are a lot of different ways you can create playlists in foobar. Lets go through a few:

File -> New Playlist/Load Playlist/Save Playlist
Right Click Song(s) -> Utils -> Save as Playlist
Select Song(s) -> Drag to Playlist Manager (if no pane access View->Playlist Manager)
Right Click anywhere in Playlist Manager -> Create New (or Ctrl+N)
Library Search (if no pane access Library->Search) -> click "..." to Create (auto)playlist (can also drag/drop to playlist manager)

These are just the ways I know/remember. There are no doubt other ways as well. And furthermore, you can create any context menu option you want REALLY easily in the preferences->Display->Context Menu or you could add a custom button anywhere you wanted by right clicking a toolbar->customize buttons->add button. So basically I'm saying if you can't figure out how to create a playlist from your songs, you aren't trying very hard. Personally I find the Search -> Create playlist to be the most powerful and elegant one stop shop way to handle my music. Even more than using facets (which is the genre/artist/album style thing from iTunes I never used) or whatever else. I mean I can search by genres, ratings, artists, albums, etc. easily and create playlists, all without using a mouse or taking my hands off the keyboard.

Now this issue with deleting playlists...another one I don't get. If you delete a playlist (which from my experience is NOT that easy because it seems to me the only place you can actually delete them is playlist manager) foobar doesn't even completely delete it! Just right click in the playlist manager->restore and it will be right there. And as already mentioned, you can save a playlist, which again has multiple ways to access, and put it where ever you see fit.

Finally I will say that foobar is of course not perfect and I do agree that there are certain things I personally would do to make it more familiar on first install. For instance I would at least have the "cursor follows playback" checked which I don't think is by default and can be very annoying. I would have the "library viewer selection playlist" disabled by default because, although it can be an interesting feature that some will find nice, I feel most people will dislike it and it is certainly not familiar when coming from another player. Let them get their feet wet and THAN discover the feature. Don't remember if there is a similar feature for the album list panel, but if so I'd disable it as well. I'd also like to see some change to the "playlist switcher" that can be added to toolbars. For instance I'd personally like to drop the need for a playlist manager pane and incorporate delete/move/rename/create into the switcher simply because I'm a minimalist. And finally I'd make a strong effort to create a universal help for syntax insertion. Like when you type tag syntax (ie. %artist%, %title%, etc.) in a bar it would make attempts to auto complete which would help new users, and even a button on the side to click and bring up a list of all tags you can insert (something like filters in wireshark for those that have used that unrelated app).

As for VLC, I've used it for music before. It's ok at best. The album art for me never worked correctly...EVER. The interface isn't really all that well setup for audio IMO. Things just aren't well organized for audio and if you try it for any extended period of time you will see what I mean. Plus I found certain settings I wanted required changing the menu to advanced mode, which than becomes very large and I would end up having to search google to find where things were...which is what you probably don't want since they'll just call you before they even bother searching online. I wouldn't use it for audio, but it can do the job. For video, I love it.

Sorry for the rambling, but it made me feel better. smile.gif

This post has been edited by jayg30: Dec 8 2009, 09:11
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unekdoud
post Dec 8 2009, 10:25
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I don't see much of a problem with foobar2000 (but you might want to wait until the proper 1.0 release).

About interface clutter: The whole interface is customizable, so make it as minimalist and practical, then export the whole theme. The context menu is customizable(in the beta) and generally the only issue with interface clutter is that people are unwilling to search through every option. Fix it so they don't have to!

About customization: Everybody wants to customize sooner or later, and this is up to personal preference. Also, no two music players are alike, so it is just impossible to have a player that will match your taste exactly. The differences in keyboard shortcuts always bug me, but almost all modern players have customizable shortcuts. foobar has more easily accessible options than many other players. Its interface is not intuitive in some places, but this beats many others who have options all over the place in multiple menus.

About help systems: foobar2000 is a bit lacking in this respect, since its help system is not self-contained (I have to check online to figure out what some options mean). I would suggest explaining the basic options and leaving the rest to this forum. Of course, there are certain little-known interface actions, such as double-clicking the status bar, dragging files onto a new playlist tab, customization of file properties display, custom columns and groups, crossfade options etc. which would be totally unknown to new users. However, I find the level of unpredictability in iTunes, WMP, and MediaMonkey higher than in foobar and Winamp. AIMP is somewhere in the middle, but between these options I think you will find that foobar is the only one which keeps everything less than 5 steps away (except for the album art thingy)

About video players: They are a bonus if music is not all that you want to play. In addition, they have a very compact interface when not playing videos. Other than that, there's not much that can be done (in my opinion, since I have never used VLC for music). Hence if you need to play music, use a music player. foobar2000 plays music.
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Trondis
post Dec 8 2009, 12:24
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I thought Foobar was very difficult to set up and avoided it. But then I found this guide: http://techie-buzz.com/media-tools/how-to-...sic-player.html. I went to http://browse.deviantart.com/customization...ar2000/#order=5, and installed the theme DarkOne v1.6. So now there is nothing difficult about it, and it is better than anything else out there.
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jmcguckin
post Dec 8 2009, 14:55
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QUOTE (jayg30 @ Dec 8 2009, 03:09) *
Sorry for the rambling, but it made me feel better. smile.gif

dude, your entire post sounded exactly like what I would've said... so in that case, I'll just say foobar2000 +1 and leave it at that smile.gif.

really, though, I started using it when I bought my first laptop (IIRC, over 7yrs ago) and needed a simple yet feature-rich application to manage/listen to all my music, and I can't say I've ever felt any qualms about its being the best application for my needs... even now that I've been an OS X user for going on 2yrs, I'm still using foobar2000 via Crossover (which works like a charm, by the way) and have yet to find another application that matches its simplicity/configurability and minimalist out-of-the-box design- not to mention it's the easiest way I've found in OS X to edit tags, add ReplayGain info, and convert to formats other than QuickTime AAC. and go figure- it's a Windows app.

and please- if someone's really that un-savvy with technology that they "accidentally delete a playlist" and as a result decide to give up on an application, I'm one to think that they shouldn't be allowed near a computer... what a weak argument if I ever heard one.


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krabapple
post Dec 8 2009, 17:59
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QUOTE (jmcguckin @ Dec 8 2009, 08:55) *
and please- if someone's really that un-savvy with technology that they "accidentally delete a playlist"


That would be me.

QUOTE
and as a result decide to give up on an application,


And yet I did not give up on foobar2k; quite the opposite. What is wrong with me?

QUOTE
I'm one to think that they shouldn't be allowed near a computer... what a weak argument if I ever heard one.


Ah, I'm seeing the Jimmy Fallon 'IT Helpdesk Guy" sketch from SNL in my head now.






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RonaldDumsfeld
post Dec 8 2009, 18:00
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This thread is amusing. laugh.gif

Bloke writes in to ask if anyone can recommend a music player a bit more straightforward to use and logically closer to current best in class than foobar. The potential user has no interest in customisation. He just wants to use it straight out of the box.

Half the respondents insist he is wrong and insist foobar actually is the most appropriate solution anyway. Often including long and detailed descriptions of techniques they have devised to suit their own personal preferences. It really is the simplest and most logical they argue.

Meanwhile over in the foobar forum itself. A genuine n00b writes in to say he has used iTunes or WinAmp or something similar and recently decided to give foobar a try but is having a little trouble with some of the differences in design philosophy he cannot answer by reference to the existing documentation. 'Could someone please help?'

The irony is of course that some clever clogs inevitably writes back, quick as a flash, that foobar is not meant for casual users and that if he cannot work it out for himself then foobar is obviously not for him and he should try iTunes or WinAmp or whatever instead. Er yeah right kthxbye. crying.gif

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singaiya
post Dec 8 2009, 18:09
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Haha, totally. @krabapple, have you looked at songbird? It looks like an itunes that plays flacs.
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krabapple
post Dec 8 2009, 18:25
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Thanks, but I've decided the easiest path for me is to tell my buddy he has no right to even be using a computer.


KIDDING. Seriously, this thread's suggestions have been very helpful, and no disrespect for f2k was intended by suggesting that it is isn't the MOST user-friendly player app out there. Now if you'll excuse me I have to get back to figuring out what's wrong with my code in my f2k Graphical Browser configuration. wink.gif


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