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Thread: What problem does foobar2000 mobile solve?

  1. #1

    What problem does foobar2000 mobile solve?

    Let me start by saying foobar2000 is my favorite music player for Linux. That's right. I have all my music stashed on a file server I can mount securely from anywhere, and I run FB2K on my desktop with WINE 24/7/365 with months and months of play time accumulated.

    Nothing else will do. Why? Here are some reasons in priority order.

    1. FB2K plays ALL my formats. If there's a format it doesn't play, someone will make a component. I am talking about my SPCs and MODs and PC98 and PSF stuff.
    2. Customizable interface. I don't just mean the display window although being able to set all custom fonts and colors and pane sizes is nice. I mean the practical usability of a media list that can be programmed and hotkeys that can be arbitrarily set for the big four (start/stop, pause, next, previous).
    3. Top notch playback quality. The ability to configure resampling and output sample format to my preference.

    Bottom line is FB2K gives me ALL my music the way I want it, and no other player does. It is the ultimate desktop music player software, beyond compare. The only problems with it are that it's tied to yucky gross Windows and I can't take it with me. So when I hear there's mobile versions in development, I'm very interested.

    Here are the main shortcomings of mobile iTunes.

    1. I can't fit my whole music library on my device. (I can't even fit it on my laptop hard drive). Not without serious compression, which is fine for when I'm exercising and just need to pump some beats, but not when I'm around the house and want to listen to my extensive library of classical albums on FLAC. So I can't synchronize my library automatically, I have to manage individual albums manually which sucks.
    2. iTunes won't play all the formats. They have been historically hostile to anything outside of proprietary formats MP3, AAC, and ALAC. I can't enjoy my video game soundtracks in native format without transcoding to a sampled format, losing quality, inflating my disk footprint even more, complicating library management, and exacerbating problem 1.

    How does foobar2000 mobile solve either of these problems?

    This is what I personally believe should be the future of FB2K. It should be split into a UNIX-friendly server program and a lightweight client program supporting multiple platforms. The server program incorporates the library management and format decoding features of FB2K, managing a single library and serving to a number of clients an audio stream that can be configured appropriately, perhaps dynamically, for network bandwidth. The client program incorporates the interface design philosophy and allows easy access to your music library from your server (laptop or big metal) or even out in public through some kind of matchmaking service or by traditional means.

    The mobile FB2K with locally stored music library doesn't make sense for these reasons:
    1. You can't have your whole library anyway, not without compression / writing out synthesized formats / tedious library management.
    2. Even if you carried all your lossless files on your mobile device, the benefits of FB2K's playback can only be appreciated by a small fraction of people, and certainly not in the noisy environments you'd be listening in while out of reach of wifi networks to connect to your home server for streaming.
    3. Were you planning on porting over all the alternative file decoders that make FB2K so attractive in the first place?
    (4. Furthermore, what assurance do we have that FB2K mobile won't be removed from the store simply because it enables you to play the hated FLAC format?)

    So what do we really gain over iTunes or other players? A superior interface?
    Last edited by silentplummet; February 4th, 2015 at 01:57 PM.

  2. #2

    Re: What problem does foobar2000 mobile solve?

    That's a very esoteric set of assumptions you're making about how or why most people use such a player. I get the distinct impression that you've never used, or possibly even encountered, a portable music player before.

    1) People typically don't need their entire collections on their mobile devices to enjoy their current music selection for a day or week on whatever 8GB or so space they have reserved for music. Yeah, not having the entire 200GB collection on-phone is a shame, but there are always compromises.

    Using compression is also very standard, and is the common case regardless of platform. I doubt lossless would matter anyway for the majority of mobile device users, and why even bother without packing separate DACs + amps in addition to the player?

    I also don't understand how tedious library management can be with the same folders and playlists already used in FB2k? Probably just as easy as telling FB2k to transfer to the device or manually dragging a folder.

    2) Which benefits would only be appreciated by a small fraction of people? Format plugins? DSPs? Customization? Interface customization? Simple things like properly skipping silence? I think many people would appreciate such features that no mobile phone players currently support. The closest thing is Rockbox on some portable players, but it is quite limited in comparison to what a mobile FB2k could accomplish and a pain to install for phones. Most phones are all with iTunes or imitations because that's all there is, and that is why I still carry around an old (c.2003) iRiver H140 that runs Rockbox as it is the closest thing to FB2k I can get.

    Yes, and believe it or not, people can and do enjoy their locally stored music that -- God forbid -- uses lossy compression they can't even hear, in noisy environments (buy a decent pair of noise-blocking headphones), without WiFi. It'll just be great having a nicer player to do it.

    3) Decoders are really a non-issue. Many existing decoder plugins were implemented by the same people who are actively involved in this project, and who will port most of them. Given the processing power of today's mobile devices, I can't imagine FB2K mobile will support fewer than the existing Rockbox firmware already does -- including FLAC, OGG, APE, MPC, MOD, SPC and other video game formats, etc. -- on far inferior, decade-old, portable hardware. I also believe the video game music plugin has already been ported.

    4) Why would the "hated" FLAC prevent any player going to market? It's already been on commercial players, and lossless formats have never prevented a product from going to market. Even the iPod/iPhone supports lossless formats. Few people bothered with FLAC on mobile devices because there is rarely a point for lossless audio on portable players.

    So while a Unix desktop FB2k would be nice, the mobile version definitely has a purpose and need. Superior interface, lots of utility, lots of formats and decoders, interfacing with DACs, developers who are soliciting suggestions -- this is going to be great. I've been waiting for this app to happen for years and is the only Kickstarter I felt compelled to support.

  3. #3

    Re: What problem does foobar2000 mobile solve?

    hopefully foobar2000 mobile will have the ability to make smart playlists, while recognizing *all* of my tags, and track playback statistics. the main thing that I miss on every mobile music app that I've tried is the ability to make a smart playlist that includes my %fav%'s, while discluding tracks that have been recently played. as a bonus, it would also be great if my mobile music app could sync up with my desktop foobar2000 and update tags/statistics.

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