Quicklook at Songbird

So I’ve actually been interested in the Songbird project for a long time. I have installed various versions and have always turned away for different reasons. One of my large problems is I have an extremely large music collection and have found that WinAmp deals with it approximately the best for features that I want versus being free and not too cumbersome. I really just want good searching on a large library and nice smart playlists (dynamic playlists) that support a lot of conditions without too much trouble. Features past that are nice to have but not needed.

The latest version (1.1.1) has a really nice interface and imported my library rather nicely. I was in the middle of listening to a podcast on iTunes on my Mac, so I didn’t play with it too much on my Windows install. So I installed Songbird on my Mac and asked it to grab my iTunes library (which is mostly podcasts I haven’t listened to and a little bit of music). It seemed ok with it though it didn’t grab my podcast subscriptions (which is annoying though not unexpected. So next step was to ask Songbird to subscribe to a podcast. It’s most definitively not the most intuitive thing in the world at this point as it only seems to support RSS or a single location (if I’m wrong, please correct me). It’s not that bad except it doesn’t seem to understand that a lot of podcasts are not something you want to keep. So podcast features could use to still improve.

What really struck me was the resources. So Songbird was just sitting idle now on my Intel Macbook and iTunes was currently playing back an mp3 podcast (mono but reasonable bitrate). Songbird was taking ~100MB of RAM just sitting there while iTunes used ~23MB to play back. Ouch. Even more surprising was that Songbird was taking between 8 and 10 percent of my cpu (again, doing nothing) while iTunes was taking about 4 percent while playing back. Again, ouch.

I don’t want to say Songbird is all bad by any means. It does seem to have a very nice installer and “assistant” for setting things up (like how Quicksilver does which I think is a very good system when done well). I’ll try to post a more detailed review after actually using it for music and maybe some music/web browsing after I do use it. It also is a good multiplatform mediaplayer. I just do believe at least the Mac client could use some more optimizations before I want it to take over for iTunes on my laptop that I like to try to optimize battery live anyway. If you want to play with a new media player, it’s definitely worth a look.