Why I think Banshee is next to useless …

To be honest my flat is a windows-free environment, 2 Macs and (depending on your definition up) to 4 machines running Ubuntu of some flavour (2 are not used regularly but am a hoarder). The reason for this is I am a big fan of linux-esque operating systems, I love being able to use the command line to get things done and with the Linux machines I love tinkering.

One of the Linux machines is Sarah’s, a rescue after a windows virus. Everything was backed up/stored online so to be fair it wasn’t a big hassle just install, copy over old “My Documents” in to the new Home folder and set up her email client. The one thing that was awkward was me (obviously). When we moved into the flat my music collection was eventually in the same country as me and Sarah’s was merged into it. So I went on a mission and went through the entire lot and ripped everything to FLAC, making sure everything was present and correct. This was for archiving and playing through the stereo (I had the space so may as well use a Lossless format for that) so I created MP3s from these for us in our 2 portable players.

This was the root of the problem, for many years I had resisted the use of software to manage my audio players through the years. Then I got an iPod (biggest capacity player on the market), I had already won many fights with iTunes due to having been forced to use it when I moved to Mac (Songbird et al not on the scene yet). However I had not used iTunes to manage a player before, just edited ID3 tags and played tunes on a computer. So when I got the iPod I started managing it from iTunes, and I liked it, not enough to not despise itunes from the bottom of my heart (I should try an alternative really, may do that tonight).

Anyway back to our tunes, Sarah and I don’t see eye to eye on some artists so what we wanted on our players are too very different subsets of the entire collection. The solution? The whole collection would be stored in FLAC on the media PC to play through the stereo so that we could both listen to what we wanted (it also scrobbles to my Last.fm so have to keep an eye on it and remove Sarah’s choices). There would also be a back up of the MP3 versions on that drive but each of us would have a laptop with the MP3s we wanted on our players, mine managed by iTunes and Sarah’s managed by …. Can you see where this is going?

So I chose Banshee for Sarah and I set it up. At first I was a little frustrated but that was not the application’s fault but me being impatient so thought it was all sorted. Now the thing is Sarah doesn’t buy nearly as much music as I do, and doesn’t usually want what I buy, so I rip and transfer to all relevant folders on various machines. So this week for the first time in months (but actually the second time since I’d set up Banshee, more on that later) Sarah wanted new tunes, specifically: PJ Harvey – Let England Shake, Foo Fighters – Wasting Light and Bitter Ruin – Hung, Drawn and Quartered. I duly ripped, transcoded, imported into Banshee and synced her player. Actually this worked brilliantly, hell it had even picked up on some duplicate artists which could be fixed so I let it, “jaysus this is great” I thought.

Cue the next day:
Me: What did you think of the new Foos record? (I’m loving it and was wodnering if she agreed they are backing to rocking out)
Sarah: I don’t think it is on my player.
Me: ??? Let me have a look.

Now I had checked that Banshee had put the files on the player but only through it’s interface but I believed it. So I plugged it in and again had a look through Banshee, yeah still there. Then I looked at the player as an external.Now one quick note Sarah’s player is the 30Gb iAudio X5L, it doesn’t use a database, you navigate through folders so files need to be sensible and we use Artist/Album/TrackNumberTrackName.mp3. So what happened when I looked at the player, Banshee had dumped all the new and fixed MP3s (about ~40 files) into the player’s root!

What is the point of that? This is also when I noticed the reason Sarah didn’t know the tunes off the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack was when I had added them with Banshee they had been dumped there but we hadn’t noticed as Sarah wasn’t pushed and had forgotten I had added them. Then I started digging and found that Banshee will move and mange folders, especially in line with changes to the ID3 tags, just like iTunes. So changed those settings. Guess what? This is only on the machine NOT the player. Then I did even more digging and it appeared that the reason the filenames in the root folder were not the standard I had chosen because Banshee had transcoded my files.

This was the point where I turned off Banshee (to be uninstalled) and wiped Sarah’s player and just re-transferred her collection. She will be going back to manually managing her player, she never wanted the application to manage her player anyway. I may possibly look into Amarok (which I use occasionally on the media PC) but she probably won’t let me play too much, but guess who has a spare large capacity digital audio player (iRiver H140)? This guy! She may need to use that soon too, she is running out of space on the iAudio, so would allow me to have the iRiver ready for her.

So that rambling explanation is why I don’t like Banshee, I don’t need another fight with a media library/player so bye, bye Banshee.

Later days,


  1. Your energy would much be better spent by contributing with the community by filing bugs instead of blaming the software in a huge blog post.

  2. Really? Banshee doesn’t do what I want it to i.e. manage a digital audio player. That is all I want it to do, nothing else, not rip CDs, play music or even scrobble to last.fm, just put new music onto a external device quickly and easily so I can keep two collections synced.

    Why should I get involved in a project when I can use an application which can do this most basic of tasks out of the box?

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