Playing music on my PC is a fine experience. The sound card isn’t exceptional, just an in-the-box, OEM but better than most. I have an Altec FX2401 subwoofer for great bass output and to top things off there’s a software player that’s the best i’ve found on any system, Linux, Mac, Windows, loosely modeled after iTunes but open source software with broader support.
Banshee is the default media player for Ubuntu and for the GNOME desktop environment in openSUSE, two popular Linux distributions. The code is C# and it implements Mono, the Linux/Mac implementation of Microsoft’s .NET Framework. Unlike similar full-featured players (iTunes, WMP), it’s supported on Linux, Mac and Windows (Amarok, the KDE music player, can also make a similar claim, although this requires full installation of the KDE desktop environment). It offers video playback, music library and portable device management, access to the Amazon music store, radio stations and podcasts. It retrieves lyrics and album art and has many community extensions in the open source spirit.
Banshee supports most any portable device, iPhones, Sansas or anything you throw at it, it seems. If it doesn’t, being open source, chances are your device will be added to the list before long. Just add a feature request on the bug tracker.
The interface is well-designed and easy to navigate, with the sources on the left-hand side and a browser on the right. The music library is organized by artists and albums, with searching and sorting by columns easily available:
The Amazon store uses the Web interface within Banshee and allows you to listen to tracks and to purchase and download albums. Unlike the iTunes store, the music is non-DRM, with no restrictions.
Banshee is truly free and open source, and community contributions make it a powerful media player and manager. I haven’t tested the Windows implementation, being a Linux user. If you have, please post remarks here.