July 16, 2008

Exaile Music Player Review - A Good Choice for the GTK Fans

Exaile is an audio player built in GTK, and although it's not as popular as Banshee, Rhythmbox or Audacious, it's feature-complete and offers a unique concept by using multiple tabs for showing several playlists, each one in its own tab, and other dozens of good features which an audiophile will definitely find useful.

Exaile 0.2.13 playing

The common interface is similar to the interfaces of other GTK players, with the tabs for collection, playlists, radio and file browser to the left, and the playlist itself occupying the space left. The thing I liked best about Exaile is the ability to open multiple playlists in the same time in different tabs (see screenshot below) and even song information will be displayed in a new tab instead of a new window secondary window. You can populate playlists directly by dragging and dropping files from the file browser or search for music using the common syntax.

Exaile opens several playlists and song information in separate tabs

I'll start with a minus here, not necessary related to the features, but usability. The big problem with Exaile is that it becomes extremely slow, unresponsive and practically unusable when used with large collections. For example, searching for a file in my over 3000 tracks collections makes Exaile unresponsive for several seconds, and that's with 1 GB DDRAM2 and Core 2 Duo 1.8 GHz. For this, I can't recommend Exaile to audiophiles who listen to a large quantity of music very often, since it just won't keep up, the speed being very low.

Last.fm song submission

That being said, Exaile has its strong points too. It's true, there is nothing unseen before, but it supports plugins, Last.fm song submission, it can sort the playlist by any information available (like bitrate, location, play count, year and so on), it fetches covers from Amazon (but doesn't offer close results when the exact album was not found). And the beautiful thing is that not only it looks for covers in the song's directory, but you can also specify the names for which to look (default ones are cover.jpg, folder.jpg, .folder.jpg, album.jpg, art.jpg) so I only had to add my cover.png format to the list and voila! It works very well, and you can also use wildcards (tested for * only), so if you put *.png it will fetch any PNG image that it finds first.

File browser - you can drag and drop files to playlist

Scanning 1500 Ogg Vorbis files took around 35 seconds on my Core 2 Duo 1.8 GHz, which is not bad at all. There are players who just hang in there forever even if you feed them with less than 1000 audio files, so Exaile performs OK at this chapter.

Preferences - you can add custom names for local covers

You can burn tracks to audio CDs with the possibility to choose which application to use, edit audio tags, set ratings. Exaile also includes visualizations and equalizer, with pre-defined sets.


Overall, Exaile is a very good alternative to the more popular Banshee or Rhythmbox players. Except for the search slowness, this player is full-featured, includes enough configuration options, has Last.fm song submission, equalizer, multiple playlists available in different tabs. Really nice and useful features which make Exaile definitely a good audio player, at least for the GTK fans.

Official website

Short guide for installing on Debian Lenny


Anonymous said...

And what no one ever mentions about Exaile is that it is slower than a dead dog.

I like Exaile. It's pretty, it's got a decent set of features, it's fairly useful and as far as I remember it supported mediakeys nicely.

But what I've never liked about it is that it is so frickin' slow. It'll make a glacier seem like a sportscar. Click on a song, wait a while, then something happens. Load a playlist, wait a while, then something happens. Etc etc.

I hate Rhythmbox with a vengeance and I try every musicplayer I can. Exaile is the one that came closest to kicking Rhythmbox - except that Rhythmbox flies like an F22 jet-fighter in comparison.

Anonymous said...

Dang, isecore!
I've used exaile full time with a 3000+ song collection on a machine with 512 MB of RAM and I've never experienced a slowdown like the kind you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

You should try the new version of banshee. It's a 1.0.0 release, but it works very well.