As I’ve discussed before, I use Firefly Media Server to stream media from my home server to iTunes clients within my network. However, I also have a certain amount of music stored on my local hard drive. For a while now, I’ve been using foobar2000 to manage, index, and listen to music stored on my local hard drive. It has many features such as folder scanning, multiple layouts, and the ability for advanced customization, and for this reason has always proven to be a very robust application. However, I recently decided to try another media player; Songbird Media Player, a media managing application that is based on the Mozilla framework which is the basis of robust products such as Mozilla Firefox and Mozilla Thunderbird.
Upon first launching the application, I was enticed by its very clean and uniform look. In a way, it kind of reminded me of the familiar style of iTunes, however the dark color tones also reminded me of my previous use of WinAmp a while back. Using the program a bit more, I was very impressed to find a wide variety of add-ons available for the program. The add-on system for Songbird is very similar to that of Firefox, as it has a web-based interface that ties in almost seamlessly with the application itself. And I must say, like Firefox, the add-on selection for Songbird is simply amazing. There are add-ons to allow for integrated use of third-party music stores such as “7digital Music”, as well as online radio services such as “Last.fm”.
Add-ons aside, Songbird has a great amount of options and preferences that can be set to allow the user to configure Songbird to his or her liking. This allows the user to configure many aspects of the application, such as the way files are managed and folders are structured, down to the way playback and streaming is handled. I personally like the amount of control Songbird gives the user, as media management and enjoyment is a very personal experience, and users need a program that conforms to their standards and their ways of use.
Performance wise, Songbird uses about fifty megabytes of RAM while idle (this is without any add-ons installed), and uses between sixty and seventy megabytes when playing music. This is in comparison to the twenty to thirty megabytes of RAM that is consumed by foobar2000. Even with the additional RAM consumption, I felt that Songbird was playing local music a bit choppier than it should have, and kind of deflated the entire music listening experience.
All in all, despite the number of add-ons available and the customization options of the program, I feel that Songbird isn’t as stable as a program as I wish it to be, and seeing as how foobar2000 has comparable customization options and user preferences all whilst using fewer system resources, my choice is clear. Don’t get me wrong, Songbird has a killer interface and a boatload of user options, but I just don’t think it is a stable enough program to rely on for one of the most important aspects of my life; music.
If you want to try Songbird for yourself, you can download the cross-platform application from their website, getsongbird.com.