Chapter 20. Playing and Managing Your Music with Banshee

Contents

20.1. Listening to Music
20.2. Managing Your Music Library
20.3. Using Banshee with Your Digital Audio Player
20.4. Creating Audio and MP3 CDs
20.5. Sharing Your Music
20.6. Configuring Banshee Preferences

Banshee™ is a GNOME media management and playback application that lets you import CDs, sync your music and video collection to a digital audio player, play music directly from a digital audio player, create playlists with songs from your library, create audio and MP3 CDs from subsets of your library, and subscribe to, download, and listen to your favorite podcasts. Banshee also supports streaming audio through its Internet Radio plug-in.

To open Banshee, click Computer+Banshee Media Player.

The first time you open Banshee, the Musik Library window opens ready to import music and videos, or to add Internet radio stations.

Figure 20.1. Banshee Media Player

Banshee Media Player

20.1. Listening to Music

To listen to music, Banshee needs to know what is available to listen to. You can listen to music in your library, which means that you will need to import music from an external source such as a file, folder, or CD, or you can listen to music directly off a CD. You can also listen to music from Internet radio stations, podcasts, and your digital audio player (see Section 20.3, “Using Banshee with Your Digital Audio Player” for more information).

Banshee also comes with MP3 support. If your music collection consists of both MP3 and Ogg Vorbis files, you do not need to convert any files to a different format. Just open Banshee and start listening.

If the format you are trying to play is not supported by the player's engine, Banshee lets you search for a suitable codec which you can then install with YaST.

20.1.1. Importing Music

Banshee can import music from a file, folder, CD, or an alternate music source (such as a digital audio player).

Figure 20.2. Import Music Library

Import Music Library

  1. In Banshee, click Media+Import Media.

  2. Select an import source.

  3. Click Import Media Source.

20.1.2. Playing Your Music

To play a song, simply select the song in the library and click the play button in the upper left corner. Use the other buttons to pause a song or play the next or previous song. Use the loudspeaker button on the right to adjust the volume. You can also use the items on the Playback menu to repeat or shuffle songs.

Banshee has an integrated CD player. When you insert a music CD, your CD title appears in the left panel. Select the title and click the play button to play your full CD.

20.1.2.1. Notification Area Icon

You can keep Banshee hidden in the notification area when you are not interacting with it by minimizing the Banshee window. You will only see pop-up bubbles identifying the current song when track changes happen.

If you do not want to see the pop-ups, click Edit+Preferences+Extensions+Notification Area Icon+Disable.

20.1.2.2. Music Recommendations

Banshee automatically recommends music that you might like, based on the currently playing song. It finds artists and popular songs that people with similar musical tastes enjoy.

Figure 20.3. Banshee Music Recommendations

Banshee Music Recommendations

If you do not want to receive recommendations, click View, then deselect Show Recommendations.

20.1.3. Ripping Your Music

To rip music from a CD and add it to your library:

  1. Insert a CD into your CD or DVD drive.

    Banshee automatically lists the CD as a source on the left sidebar.

    Ripping Music in Banshee
  2. Select the CD title in the source list on the left, then click Import CD in the upper right corner.

20.1.4. Listening to Internet Radio

You can use Banshee to listen to Internet radio stations and streaming audio. Add your own stations.

20.1.4.1. Listening to an Internet Radio Station

To listen to Internet radio stations, select Radio in the source list on the left, then double-click the station you want to listen to.

Figure 20.4. Internet Radio Stations in Banshee

Internet Radio Stations in Banshee

20.1.4.2. Adding a New Internet Radio Station

  1. Right-click Radio in the source list, then click Add Station.

  2. Enter the stream details in the Add new radio station dialog box, then click Save.

    The new station is added to your list.

20.1.5. Listening to Podcasts

Banshee lets you subscribe, download, and listen to your favorite Podcasts.

20.1.5.1. Subscribing to a Podcast

  1. Click Media+Subscribe to Podcast.

  2. Enter the URL of the podcast you want to subscribe to.

  3. Select from the pull-down menu what happens when new episodes of this podcast are available.

  4. Click Subscribe.

    The new podcast is added to your list.

20.1.5.2. Listening to a Podcast

To listen to a podcast, select Podcasts in the source list, then double-click the podcast you want to listen to.

Figure 20.5. Podcasts in Banshee

Podcasts in Banshee

Right-click Podcast in the source list to update a podcast, subscribe to other podcasts, or find new podcasts.

20.2. Managing Your Music Library

Banshee gives you several ways to organize your music. You can create playlists, and sort and rate songs. You can also view a variety of information about your music collection, including playback statistics (when a song was last played and how many times).

20.2.1. Organizing Your Music

To create a new playlist, click Media+New Playlist (or press Ctrl+N). A new playlist is displayed below Music Library in the left panel. To rename it, right-click the playlist, select Rename and enter the name you want. To fill the new playlist, drag songs from the right-hand side of the window to the relevant playlist entry and drop them, or use the options on the Edit menu to remove or delete songs and rename or delete playlists. You can sort a playlist by clicking the title of the column. Click the column again to reverse the sort. You can also right-click Music Library, then click Sort Playlists.

You can edit the name of the artist, album, and title, as well as the track number and track count. Simply select a song, then click Edit+Edit Track Information (E), or in the main window right-click the song and select Edit Track Information. You can also rate your music, which gives you the ability to play only songs with a certain rating. To rate a song, select the number of stars you want to assign in the Rating field.

Figure 20.6. Track Editor

Track Editor

If you want to set all fields in a group to the same value, select multiple songs in a playlist and click Edit+Edit Track Information. Make the changes you want, then click Sync all field values. You can also use the Back and Forward buttons to cycle through the selected songs.

Click the Properties tab to view detailed information about the selected song, including the bit rate, the sample rate, when a song was last played, when it was imported, how long the song is, and how many times the song has been played.

20.2.2. Creating Smart Playlists

You can create playlists that automatically add and remove songs based on criteria you specify. For example, a smart playlist can contain songs you rated as five stars but that you have not listened to for six months. Another smart playlist can contain all songs published in 2006 that you have labeled with the Classical genre.

Banshee automatically updates all smart playlists when a change is made to your music library. If you import new songs, Banshee checks to see if they match any of your available smart playlists. When applicable, Banshee also updates your smart playlists if you just listened to a song or updated a song's metadata.

20.2.2.1. Creating a Smart Playlist

  1. Activate Music Library in source list on the left side.

  2. In Banshee, click Media+New Smart Playlist.

  3. Specify a name for the smart playlist, then select the criteria for songs in this playlist to match.

    Use the plus and minus symbols to add or remove criteria. To use an already defined smart playlist, click Predefined Smart Playlists, then select the playlist you want.

  4. Click Save. The smart playlist is added to your music library.

20.3. Using Banshee with Your Digital Audio Player

Banshee supports several digital audio players, including Apple* iPods, Creative* Nomads*, Dell* DJs, Nokia* N810, and almost any other generic USB Mass Storage player. Instead of having to use separate applications to get support for your audio devices, Banshee gives you integrated support and lets you copy your music to or from your device, no matter what format the music is in.

20.3.1. Playing Music from your Digital Audio Player

To play music from your digital audio player, simply plug your player into your system. After the system recognizes the device, an icon is displayed in the left panel in Banshee.

Select the icon to display the music on your device in the right panel. Double-click the song you want to listen to.

Figure 20.7. Banshee MP3 Playback from a Nokia N810

Banshee MP3 Playback from a Nokia N810

To view or change device properties, right-click your device, then select Device Properties. From there, you can view various pieces of information. For example, if you have an iPod, you can update the owner's name.

Figure 20.8. Banshee iPod Device Properties

Banshee iPod Device Properties

20.3.2. Adding Music to Your Digital Audio Player

To add tracks to your player, simply drag them from your Music Library to your device.

Banshee transparently supports the transcoding of your songs for any device. You can have your music library in any number of formats (including, but not limited to, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, MP3, and AAC), and it will be transparently transcoded before it is sent to your digital audio player.

To remove tracks, select your device in the list of sources, right-click the song you want to delete, then click Delete from <device_name>.

20.3.3. Copying Music on Your Digital Audio Player to Banshee

Banshee supports the importing of music from a digital audio player to your music library. Simply drag and drop the songs from the digital audio player to your Music Library. You can also import all of the music on your digital audio player by right-clicking your player in the source list and selecting Import.

Figure 20.9. Importing Music from Your Digital Audio Player to Banshee

Importing Music from Your Digital Audio Player to Banshee

20.3.4. Synchronizing Your Library

To keep your digital audio player up to date with your Banshee Library, select your player in the source list, disable Manually manage this device, then click Synchronize in the upper right corner.

Banshee also synchronizes the ratings and cover art in your tracks to your iPod.

20.4. Creating Audio and MP3 CDs

  1. Insert a blank CD into the CD or DVD drive.

  2. Select the songs you want to burn, then click Edit+Write CD.

  3. Click Burn. Brasero starts where you can set additional options. For more information about Brasero, see Chapter 23, Brasero: Burning CDs and DVDs.

    You can track the status of the burn in the bottom left corner of Banshee. A message box appears when the burn is complete.

  4. Click OK.

20.5. Sharing Your Music

You can automatically update your online Scrobbler profile with the music you listen to in Banshee. This lets others see what you are listening to, and gives you access to charts detailing your listening history. If you join groups such as the Banshee Group, you can also see what other people are listening to.

Before you can share your music, you need to enable the Scrobbler plug-in and enable song reporting.

  1. In Banshee, click Tools+Last.fm+Configure.

  2. If you have already registered with Last.fm, click Enable song reporting, then specify your Last.fm username and password.

    If you have not previously registered with Last.fm, click Create an account. This opens the Last.fm website, where you can register. Click Enable song reporting, then specify your Last.fm username and password.

  3. Click Save and Log In. Banshee starts reporting with the next song you play.

    After Scrobbler is configured, use the options on the Tools+Last.fm+Enable Song Reporting menu to enable or disable song reporting, visit your user profile Web page, or visit the Web site of any Scrobbler groups you belong to.

20.6. Configuring Banshee Preferences

  1. Click Edit+Preferences.

    Banshee Preferences dialog box
  2. For example, choose from the General tab:

    Music Library

    Specify a music folder location. This location is used when you import music. Click Copy files to music folder when importing to place a copy of the files you import in your Banshee music folder.

    File System Organization

    Determine folder hierarchy in the music library, and how filenames are displayed.

    Miscellaneous

    Disable features requiring Internet access.

    For example, choose from the Audio CD tab:

    Audio CD Importing

    Determine encoding profiles for CD ripping. Select the output format you want, then click Edit to configure advanced options for that format.

    Use error correction when importing

    The error correction tries to work around problem areas on a disk, such as surface scratches, but can substantially slow down the time it takes to import.

    In the Extensions tab enable or disable features such as Cover Art Fetching or Internet Radio.

  3. Click Close to save your changes.