Organize your multimedia with Banshee

Banshee is an open source freeware multimedia manager that will help you organize and centralize your media.

It is loaded with tons of options for sorting, organizing and playing your music and video files, and even has a nifty ‘favorites’ feature that tracks what files you play most often and remembers them for use in shuffles and other playlist options.

There’s never been a shortage of free programs to play multimedia files, and Banshee comes into the game fairly late, but it comes in strong with some great features and a very clean looking interface.

Add to those the fact that it is an open source program, which means that there are levels of customization not available with other kinds of programs, and Banshee makes a good showing. Banshee is multiplatform (Windows, Linux, Mac).

Banshee Screenshot

The interface for Banshee is one of the first things that caught my attention. Anytime you’re using a program that is meant to organize and/or display information on multiple files, the interface can be a boon or a bust. Banshee has what I would call a very ‘clean’ looking interface. There’s no crazy color scheme, no wild patterns for the windows, and the layout of the information on your files flows easily and without eye strain. This might sound like something that could be easily overlooked or taken for granted but the experienced mediaphile will find it to be a definite pro for Banshee.

Banshee Screen 1Banshee Screen 2

The basic layout consists of a Folders menu along the left side, where you can navigate the different locations and media types on your computer, and the right side of the window shows individual files along with cover art and other detailed information. It also features a nice “Fullscreen” option that will let you bring Banshee to the top of other windows and have it fill the screen, even if you’re only playing audio files without video.

Banshee Screen 3 Banshee Screen 4

As an organizational tool, Banshee is very solid and well planned. First off, it allows you to import your media (either audio or video) in a variety of different ways. You can import individual files one by one, entire folders full of files at once, and even scan and sync with portable media players, Amazon mp3s, iTunes music files or other types of eMusic. I tried importing some DRM protected files as well as open media, and neither of them caused any kind of problem or error.

Essentially, no matter what your media files are stored on and no matter where you obtained them, Banshee is ready to sort and play them for you. This is really the biggest draw to use Banshee from my point of view. There are plenty of programs to play your media files, and there’s no shortage of programs that organize them, so it only makes sense to put both into one program. Secondly, Banshee also allows you to connect to sites like Last.fm and interact with your account there. Basically, any songs that you access via Last.fm can be played through Banshee and vice versa. This is a nice addition to the program that expands its usefulness beyond locally stored files.

Banshee Screen 5 Banshee Screen 6

Once you’ve imported your files, sorted them to your heart’s desire and connected to your various online and outside media, Banshee allows you to create and sort playlists of those files. Some programs will only allow one media type in a given playlist but Banshee is one of those superior programs that allows you to mix different file types, sources and locations. Each playlist can be created by hand, adding individual files that you select, or you can create ‘smart’ playlists. These lists are dynamically created by Banshee based on variables that you select. For example, you can create a smart playlist that only contains files from a specific genre of music, or a specific location, even a specific BPM (beats per minute) rate. There are tons of options and variables you can select for creating your smart playlists and once created you still have even more options for sorting and organizing those playlists in whatever way you choose.

In addition to the features mentioned here, Banshee also has most of the more common options like showing album art, tons of options for playback, and five star rating systems. It can help you find and subscribe to podcasts, sync your different devices to a single location, and even offers multiple different shuffle styles. Banshee is a great little program that might just be the media solution you have been looking for. As mentioned, there are tons of programs out there for media management, so Banshee is in good company and while I wouldn’t say Banshee is the best program I have ever seen, it is a solid and viable alternative to the various other programs out there if they don’t fit your needs, desires or preferences. Given the price tag and the fact that it is an open source program (so it can be modified to your heart’s content if you know what you’re doing), Banshee is worth trying out to see if it fits you.

Until next time, my friends.

Download Banshee here


 
 
 
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  • SCBright

    Works fine on my Ubuntu and other Linux distributions.
    I tested it on Windows 7 x64 and I was able to play all the songs on my PC with good quality but was unable to play any movie due to lack of GStreamer codecs (some remnant of Linux?).
    Well, it is in an Alpha stage for Winows and it is very buggy, I uninstalled after testing.
    Thanks for this good post.

  • Robin Kelly

    You forgot to mention that it requires NET framework 3.51, which is a royal PIA.

  • Franp

    Hi, do not forgot to precise if the softwares you review are portable or not.
    In the instance, this one is absolutely not.

  • bruno

    I installed Banshee on my computer running Windows XP SP3. I have quite a higher number of songs on my computer (more than 15000). Here is my experience with the program:
    1/ After installing the application from the WEB site and start Banshee for the first time, I got a popup telling me that I am not running the latest version. Clicking on the button ‘download now’ leads me to an error message saying that the download failed… Going to the webiste, I realized that the proposed upgrade is for a beta release 2.3.4. I would suggest to give the user the option to ignore the beta releases. However, given the instability experienced with my 2.2 release (see below), I decided to proceed… only to realize that there is no 2.3.4 release yet for windows (only 2.2.0 is available at the date of this posting).
    1/ The import was seamless. My songs where managed with iTunes previously, and I spent quite some time to tag them properly and get the album picture. All was properly imported. I kept my songs at their original location, but there is an option (which I did not try) to let Banshee manage directories and file names.
    3/ Things started to get annoying when I tried to play a song. After selecting a song and clicking to play it, nothing happened, the button switches from idle to playing and back to idle in the blink of an eye. Quite disturbing for a media player.
    At this point, I decided to give up. I will wait for the next windows release (2.2.0 is an alpha on windows) before giving it another try.
    From the little I have seen, this is nice program with a nice interface, but it still requires some work before it can become my default media player on windows.

  • Nnyan

    Nice review but I really wish that you would give some idea as to where it ranks (in your opinion) with the best. I for one would not mind checking out the best of the best especially if it’s something I’ve never used before.

  • Jeremy Frills

    This whole organize your files is amazing really! I was going home on a taxi looking at my 8gb iPhone thinking it was ancient compared to the technologies we have now such as Adobe, http//www.dropbox.com, http://www.dropbox.com and https://www.mypdv.com however when you think about the 1gb computer that cost a fortune several years ago, you begin to understand how amazing everything is now!