Amarok: listening to music will never be the same

April 25th, 2007 edited by Tincho

Entry submitted by Grant Thomas. DPOTD needs your help, please contribute !

Amarok is a fully featured music player well integrated into the KDE environment. Amarok uses a database (SQLite, MySQL, PostgreSQL) delivering fast collection access, and a wide array of searching/sorting methods.

Current Feature list: (credited to

  • Quick and simple drag and drop play list creation
  • Super eye-candy interface
  • Multiple back ends supported (xine, NMM and Helix)
  • 10 band equaliser
  • Automatic cover art download using Amazon services
  • The unique and powerful Context Browser
  • Automatic play-statistics generation (iRate style)
  • Full lyrics download
  • Funky visualisations from libvisual and XMMS
  • Streaming from any KIO source
  • Cross-fading
  • Fully configurable translucent OSD for track changes
  • K3B (CD-burning) integration
  • KDE integration
  • Style your Context Browser with custom CSS styles.
  • Save space in your Context Browser with collapsible boxes
  • Show the Context Browser without Amarok open through the Konqueror sidebar!
  • Full support for! Share your music taste with friends on the net
  • Generate dynamic play lists based on suggestions
  • Support for SQLite, MySQL and PostgreSQL databases ensuring fast collection access
  • Support for iPod®, iRiver® and generic UMS mp3 players with the all new media-browser
  • Powerful scripting interface, allowing for easy extension of Amarok
  • Complete DCOP access
  • Translated into more than 35 languages, thanks to the KDE internationalisation team

Amarok can play many audio formats through one of the back end engines. Formats include mp3, ogg, flac, wma, wav, and others. Basically any file format that the selected engine can play, Amarok can use. For more information, see

Amarok includes full support of, which allows users to record each track played in an online community. From, Amarok can bring back similar artists and tracks, as well as other recommended artists / tracks. Amarok also supports play lists, which are play lists of music stored on’s website, allowing a user to share their music taste with the world.

Suggested songs

Amarok also supports the Magnatune album label and online purchase of Magnatune’s albums. Magnatune albums aren’t inflicted with DRM, which allows complete freedom of how a user can listen to their personally purchased music. Follow this link for a little more information about Magnatune.

Amarok is extensible, and already has a growing library of scripts and plug-ins. For your convenience: Scripts available for Download

Amarok also has integrated support with Musicbrainz, allowing a track, for example, with no id3 or other tags, and named generically to be analysed, and identified. The section immediately below will illustrate some support of Musicbrainz

Retrieving the information:
Musicbrainz 1

Applying the information:
Musicbrainz 2

The following screen shots show a small example of how a search may be done.

The following image shows a search done with the simple string ‘america’. Notice how Amarok searches through all fields to search for ‘america’.

search 1

This image shows a search with the string ‘artist:america’. This tells Amarok to search only the artist column for ‘america’.

Search 2

This image shows a search further filtering the results with the search string ‘artist:america title:horse’. Note that searches can be filtered by fields not showing at the time.

search 3

Note that when you filter the play list and Amarok changes songs, it will pick from the filtered list. This can be a boon or a burden depending on what you are doing, just keep this in mind.

Amarok also has quite a few User Interface goodies…

  • Use the mouse wheel over the volume bar in the Amarok window, or the task bar icon to adjust the volume up and down.
  • Use the mouse wheel over the time bar to seek forward / backward
  • The Amarok task bar icon shows the percent complete on the icon. The icon is bright at the beginning, and dark at the end of a track. In between it’s as if it is emptying of a liquid:
  • Right click on the task bar icon to use previous track, play / pause, stop, and next track functions
  • Most functions are able to be mapped through DCOP, allowing for quick, easy keyboard shortcuts
  • Using DCOP, it is possible to use a remote control to manipulate Amarok
  • Notice the context menu on the image below:
    Context clues
    • The “Write ‘Iron Maiden’ for Selected Tracks” button will write the selected field to all tracks currently selected. Below, it will write ‘Iron Maiden’ for the Artist track below where it is blank. This also works on multiple records, so it is easy to make a change to selected songs, or all using (shift+right click) or (ctrl+right click)
    • Also notice the “Edit ‘Artist’ Tag” entry; This will allow you to edit the selected track’s Tag field, and when you are finished editing, it populates the new information in any selected tracks.
  • Amarok will also organise and rename your files based upon tags and a little user input:
    organize 1organize 2

Amarok is available in all recent releases of Debian and Ubuntu

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu |

14 Responses

  1. erkurita Says:

    I use amarok as my main player, mostly because of the way it manages my music collection, the possibility of sorting out your playlist by a search filter (without having your playlist being partially butchered), and more things, including it’s built-in client :D

    5 stars to this one, definitely.

  2. mirshafie Says:

    Don’t forget that you can use the Amarok tray icon for controls aswell!

    · Middle click on the tray icon toggles Play/Pause.
    · Mouse wheel controls volume
    · CTRL + Mouse wheel skips track Forward/Previous.
    · Shift + Mouse wheel seeks in track.
    · Hover over tray icon shows info including position and album cover.

    It’s of course even more convenient to set global keyboard shortcuts for Amarok, from the Settings menu entry.

    There’s also a great feature for tagging. Suppose you’ve got some tracks with the artist tag “Band name, The” and some with “The Band name”. Select multiple playlist entries (preferably all those that you want to change), and right click on one entry that is tagged correctly. You then get an option to write the info of the column to all tracks. Very clever.

  3. Eken Says:

    I use amarok a lot. It is the best player in Linux. But I have still not found any player with better sound quality than Winamp (should be the included player with Audigy2 in Win). The drivers for Audigy2 could be better in win.

    But I don’t think that’s the problem. Playing FLAC files with Amarok sounds very good, but mp3 a lot worse. Of course that is a lossy codec, but compared to winamp, the difference is quite large.

    If amarok can play FLAC in good quality, then it must be the mp3 decoder that are not as good as Winamp. But as I said before. Amarok is the best player for linux, and the only one with better sound quality are winamp when playing mp3.

    I mainly use linux, but have a win installation too just to be able to play with better sound quality when listening on my (more expensive) headphones..

    I just wonder why this problem is not fixed, because I have seen it for a couple of years now. And I can’t be the only one seeing this as an issue???

  4. Grant Thomas Says:

    I haven’t experienced any sound degredation when using mp3 files.

    I have an extensive music collection, with mp3, ogg, and flac files the vast majority.

    Could this bug be limited to your machine I wonder?

  5. trashcat Says:

    it could depend on the engine he’s running, i generally don’t expect much from mp3’s in the first place

    flac ftw

  6. Eken Says:

    I just experienced a quality difference between Winamp / Amarok (wich in my experience are better than both xmms and Beep-media-player) when playing mp3. Especially with bitrates below 224vbr. But I can not hear any difference when playing Flac with Winamp and Amarok wich is the only player in linux i have played flac.

    The bad sound quality in xmms was the reason I didn’t change to linux for a whole year. When I found Amarok I was delighed, because the sound quality was very much better.. But then I bought a new par of headphones and a new preamp to those.. then I could clearly hear the difference. Playing with normal speaker, you won’t hear any difference. And I agree with trashcat, I hope all music was in flac, but that would take a little to much space. Mp3 above 224vbr are usually quite good.

    It could be something on my machine, but I have used a lot of distributions during the years. But I have always had the same Audigy2 card….

  7. Eken Says:

    Maybe I am just whining a bit, because this is truly a luxuary problem. I still use Linux as my main operating system, and I still use Amarok as my main music player. In total it is the best player I have used. But when I want to listen on my headphones, I will reboot and play in winamp.

  8. reed Says:

    Why to people keep recreating new mp3 clients? The result is a whole bunch of half done clients missing the truly useful features.

  9. mirshafie Says:

    Eken, the problem can probably be fixed though. First off, amaroK can use different engines for playback. Xine is default and usually the best but you could try others.

    Then you could try to figure out if you’re using the right sound system. The two main ones are ALSA and OSS. If you’re using KDE you should be able to configure this in KControl.

    Don’t forget to do a websearch for your sound card aswell.

    I hope you’ll be able to fix it.

  10. Music_Lover Says:

    Wow! This Amarok music player is something new that everyone should look forward to. Music makes everyone happy and contented. And it’s good to hear that another company created a way for us music listeners to enjoy listening to our favorite songs!

  11. Steve Graham Says:

    I find it depressing when programmers don’t know what a “database” is for. It’s for analyzing and manipulating data.
    Do I want to analyze my playlist? Do I want, for example, to know how many tracks are exactly 3:03 long? No. All I want is to load a list of files and play them.
    The use of a database in an audio player is a sign of poor fundamental design. Does my iPod have a database in it?

  12. cron Says:

    @ mirshafie:

    thanks A LOT! I was looking for a way to control Amarok without having to see the Player Window.

  13. Felix Hummel Says:

    Simply the best MP3-Player out there if you have more than 10 Albums.
    Two features I’d like to point out:
    - shortcuts; you can control (almost) anything from your keyboard
    - dcop; scripting a GUI application never was easier

  14. William Mayo Says:

    I do feel I have to point out that it’s only going to be fast if you are using one of the real databases (MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc), instead of SQLite. Once you get into the thousands of tracks, SQLite will kill you with the slowness.