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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Decibel Audio Player is a real audio player and does not include features that are not meant to be part of an audio player.

decibel-audio-player-logoDecibel Audio Player is a recent entry into the already crowded realm of music players for Linux. A quick glance at GnomeFiles.org shows there are already close to 90 music players listed. Does the world really need another?

Probably not, but that doesn't mean that Decibel Audio Player isn't worth at least a look. But first a couple sentences to define exactly what I'm looking at today. In the past, I've reviewed Exaile, Quodlibet, Rhythmbox, Amarok and other music collection managers. All those kept a library of my songs, organized them for me, could play Internet radio streams and more.

Decibel Audio Player is not one of those. It does as its name implies it would do: it plays audio.

That's it. No bells. No whistles.

In a way, Decibel Audio Player is the perfect example of the Linux "motto" that a program should do only one thing, but do it well. It plays music files; that's all it does.

It doesn't do visualization.
It doesn't support playlists.
It doesn't query Wikipedia.
It doesn't download audio podcasts.
It doesn't stream Internet radio.
It doesn't... it doesn't do a lot of things.
It DOES, however, play music.
And in my short time testing Decibel Audio Player, I found it quite an enjoyable piece of software. Decibel Audio Player is certainly a young program. It's currently only at version 0.03, which means it has a long ways to go before even the author considers it ready for prime time. Heck, at the moment, Decibel Audio Player doesn't even have an icon.
In spite of that, I could almost see myself using Decibel Audio Player, or at least keeping it installed for those times I just want to listen to a song. Almost, but not quite.

Why not? Well... first, let's go over the "good" that Decibel Audio Player brings to the table.
First of all, Decibel Audio Player is a very small program. I'm not quite sure how small, but my download was only a few hundred kilobytes. I already had all the dependencies on my computer from having installed other audio players, but still... it's tiny.

Second, in my experience, Decibel Audio Player is fast. It's fast to start up, it's fast to navigate my music folder on my hard drive, and it's fast to start playing a song or album when I want it to.

decibel
Third, it's easy to look at. The author actually states that as a goal, saying that Decibel Audio Player "aims at being very straightforward to use by means of a very clean and user friendly interface." And in my book, he has succeeded. There are only two aspects to the main window. One is the directory structure, where you navigate to whatever you want played, and the other part is the list of music to be played. That's it.

In all those regards, I think Decibel Audio Player has certainly met its goals. In other aspects, however, I think it still has a little ways to go, but in my book that's understandable, considering the program's initial release (version 0.01) was less than a month ago.

The first of those shortcomings is that at the moment, Decibel Audio Player does not register itself as being able to play my music. It does, of course, but it doesn't announce that it can. Because of this, when I double click on a music file, another program opens. I can attempt to set it as a player, but even so, when I double click a music file and Decibel Audio Player then opens, it doesn't play the music. It would appear that - at least at the moment - the only way to start music playing is by navigating to the music and going from there.
Similarly, the second area Decibel Audio Player could improve is in its preferences. At the moment, the Decibel Audio Player preferences file only remembers the size of the window, position of the window, and the last music you were playing. That's it. It doesn't remember anything else. And it doesn't let me change anything about the program, such as the fact that it insists upon putting up a pop-up notification window, informing me of every song change. That's a "feature" I quickly turn off in every other music player I use, and I would like the option to do so in this one as well.

One thing I would certainly like Decibel Audio Player to remember is the part of my hard drive I had navigated to when I last used it. For instance, in order for me to start playing music, I first have to click a dropdown menu to get Decibel Audio Player to show me my root directory instead of my home directory. Then I have to scroll down to my external hard drive, where I store my music. Once there, I scroll down to my music folder. In a perfect world, Decibel Audio Player would remember that this is where my music is, and return me to this point each time I start up. I can save myself a couple steps (and I've done this), by linking to my music directory from within my home directory, but it would be nice if there was the option for Decibel Audio Player to remember my last settings such as this.

The last area I wish to see improvement in is volume. At the moment, Decibel Audio Player has no volume control. I can obviously adjust my computer's master volume, but it would be nice if I could leave that alone (since adjusting it also affects my system sounds), and let Decibel Audio Player control just the volume of the music I'm listening to.

In spite of everything negative I've had to say about Decibel Audio Player, I think it actually has a future, if it can stay slim and trim like it is currently. Sure, there are all kinds of audio players for Linux out there, and a lot of them are quite small, but I like where Decibel Audio Player is heading, and is definitely a program I'll keep an eye on, even if I don't keep it on my hard drive.

The latest version is 1.08, you can get it from the download page. 

Screenshots.

decibel_main-library
decibel_equalizer
decibel_main-audiocd
decibel_main-file-explorer
decibel_main-playlist
decibel_modules
Adserver                   610x250
 
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