Clementine 1.0.1 Review

excellent
key review info
application features
  • Search and play your local music library.
  • (9 more, see all...)

Clementine is a free and open source music player built with one foot in the past and the other in the future. It represents what music players should be and not what they have become in the past years, with the advent of multimedia complete alternatives.

I have a confession to make. Ever since I switched to Ubuntu a few years ago, I tried to get rid of the music players Canonical selects for its operating system, first Rythmbox, then Banshee. I find them cumbersome and with a lot of useless features, no to mention a faulty design.

Maybe it's my conservatory nature, but I believe that the evolution needs to be done in small steps and not by adopting something that on the surface looks pretty, and in reality is just a nice shell for a mediocre software.

I guess that Clementine is the result of such thinking. The software is based on the 1.4 branch of the popular Amarok audio player. The developers of Clementine were upset, like many others, with the way Amarok 2.0 looked like and (probably) with the direction of its development. Therefore, they've created a new software, based on Amarok 1.4, while tring to conserve a way of listening to music that has been proven to work.

Installation

We've installed and tested Clementine on Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot). It is available in the official software repositories so it's easy to install it with Synaptic or Ubuntu Software Center.

The developers, PaweĊ‚ Bara and Arnaud Bienner, also provide separate packages for a lot of other Linux operating systems, such as Debian Squezee and Fedora. A source code archive is also available. It should be easy enough to compile it. Keep in mind that you need administrator rights for that.

cd bin
cmake ..
make
make install


Ubuntu users also benefit from an official PPA so they can have the latest version installed, always. Just add the following commands in a terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:me-davidsansome/clementine
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install clementine

Usage

Clementine has a spartan UI (user interface) and it doesn't bother users with a lot of unneeded visual information, like lots of window panes with radio channels and the library of some online music shop.

As everyone can see in the images below, Clementine is built around the listener and not around the music. This is a concept that eludes a lot of developers today. All the apps that are great and popular, are designed to interact with the user and are not intended to package content for the user.

The main window of Clementine is basically a huge playlist. On the left side there are a few vertical tabs which are used for switching between categories like Library, Files, Internet, Devices, Song Infor and Artist Info.

After importing the songs in the playlist, either locally or from online streaming, users can have access to all sorts of options which I'll describe below.

First of all, most songs have metadata attached to them, information that can be easily edited by accessing the right click menu and selecting Edit Track Information. Based on the metadata information, the player can connect to the MusicBrainz online service and get any missing information for that particular file.

Besides local files, Clementine can access online streams from Spotify, Grooveshark, Last.fm, SomaFM, Magnatune, Jamendo, SKY.fm, Digitally Imported, and Icecast streaming services. Keep in mind that each service has it's own settings, like username, passwords and so on.

Clementine also features an equalizer, a cover manager, a queue manager, and of course visualizations. Besides all these options, another important function is Transcode Music, which will help users to convert certain files for specific devices. Keep in mind though that it will not rip Audio CDs.

The music player also comes with a lot of options, and when I say a lot I mean a bucket-load of them. Users will find tucked away in the preferences menu something for everyone, ranging from networking settings, to song transitions, Wii remote settings (yes, the application can be controlled with a Wii remote), keyboard shortcuts, and anything in between.

It integrates well with the Unity Dash and there's even a Scope plugin that allows users to search directly into the music database of Clementine, from Unity.

The Bad

I always start with the bad aspects in a review. Anyone can see all the good aspects of an application, but the problems are not immediately obvious.

During out testing, the software only outputed two bugs. It crashed once, with no explanation, but this is hardly something worth mentioning, and for a couple of times, Clementine refused to respond to right click. We had to restart the program in order for it to work properly again.

The Good

As I said before, Clementine was installed on an Ubuntu system, more precisely on 11.10. It integrated perfectly with Unity, even replacing Banshee on the top right corner. It's faster and a lot cleaner. The search function is amazing, especially because it works in real time.

Conclusion

Clementine is not mature enough to replace the heavy hitters on the Linux platform, but in a few years I am sure that it will replace most of the existing solutions used today on major Linux distributions.

It's light, easy to use and has all the features a user could wish for, but it needs to be adopted by a lot of people in order to grow.


user interface 5
features 5
ease of use 4
pricing / value 5


final rating 5
Editor's review
excellent
 
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