Tag Archives: audio

greg: You’re so vain

Everyone named “Greg” out there in the world can now sit up straight and imagine this little program is named in their honor.


I was introduced to greg after yesterday’s note about podcastxdl, and in spite of its lack of color and command-action-target input style, I think I like it better than the latter.

Of course, that screenshot isn’t very interesting, but what you see there is a lot of the way greg works. It maintains a list of podcasts and addresses, and you can wrangle them with fairly straightforward actions.

greg add adds to that list. greg remove drops it off, after you confirm it. greg check sees if anything is updated, and greg sync synchronizes your local folder with what’s available online. Like I said, it’s fairly straightforward.

I don’t see anything offhand that disappoints me about greg. I ran into no errors except when I fed it an invalid link, and it warned me that it wasn’t going to work. And aside from the lack of color and lack of an “interface,” it seems to work perfectly without my empty-headed suggestions.

So there’s greg, which we can add to the meager list of podcast aggregators for the console. Now do you see it? “greg”? “aggregator”? Aha. … 😉


podcastxdl: One-shot downloads for your ears

There are not many podcast tools I can mention, in the years spent spinning through console-based software. In fact, I can think of only about four. But here’s one you can add to your list, if you’re keeping one: PodcastXDL.

2015-04-19-6m47421-podcastxdl 2015-04-19-6m47421-podcastxdl-02

PodcastXDL works in a similar fashion to podget, which you might remember from a looong time ago. Give PodcastXDL a url and a file type, and it should parse through the stream and pull down everything that matches.

It can also spit out links, meaning you can use PodcastXDL to supply links to files, rather than download them. There are also command-line options to start or stop at specific points in a feed, which might be helpful for cropping out older files.

I’ll be honest and say I had a few difficulties working with PodcastXDL, most notably that it didn’t accept my target download directory. If you run into issues with PodcastXDL and nothing seems to be arriving, I would suggest leaving off any -d argument.

Other than that small hiccup, PodcastXDL did what it promised, and I ran into no major issues. It has good color, plenty of options and has seen updates within the past month or so, if you shy away from dated software.

If you need something quick and one-shot for podcast downloads, this could work for you and is better looking than podget was. If you’re looking for something more comprehensive and with more of an interface, stick with podbeuter.

mpfc: Doing everything so right

Once I knew what mpfc stood for, it made perfect sense — it is, after all, a music player for the console.

2015-04-09-lr-0xtbe-mpfc-01 2015-04-09-lr-0xtbe-mpfc-02 2015-04-09-lr-0xtbe-mpfc-03

And a very nicely done music player too, I might add. You can learn how to handle 90 percent of mpfc within the first 15 seconds of starting it, which is a delightful thing.

The opening screen will cue you to use the question mark for help screens at any point in time, and the available keys are listed with their function in a popup window.

mpfc has a playlist-and-browser approach that might remind you of the good old days of cplay. Pressing “B” puts you into a file navigation mode, and highlighting a file is done with the Insert key — much like Midnight Commander.

Once you have selected a file or two, add it to the playlist with the “a” key, or swap out the playlist for your current selections with the “r” key (for “replace”). It’s very intuitive, and very easy to master.

The playback screen has balance controls, volume indicators, an animated progress indicator and a live-update status display for bitrate and so forth. And as you open popups, a tab bar along the bottom shows your “breadcrumb trail,” in case you get yourself lost in layers of windows. 🙄

And as you can see … glorious, glorious color. :mrgreen:

I really can’t find anything bad to say about mpfc; if I had any warnings or advice, they would boil down to a note that mpfc relies on gstreamer for playback, and to remember that your music filetype will require certain support for gstreamer. It’s a slightly different model than what most players use, but I find no fault.

mpfc is in AUR, but not in Debian. The home page is on Google Code, so if you like it and want to preserve it, you probably should export it to Github so it doesn’t disappear when Google Code shuts down in January.

Oh, I almost forgot — a gold star for mpfc, for doing everything so right: ⭐ Enjoy! 🙂

groove-dl: Jumping the shark

I was tempted to skip over groove-dl because my list of stream ripper tools is starting to devolve into a tool-per-service array, and when things become discrete and overly precise, I start to fall toward the same rules that say, “no esoteric codec playback tools.”


I can’t complain too loudly though, because things like gplayer and soma are past titles that were more or less constrained to one site or service, and suddenly chopping off a portion of The List wouldn’t be fair.

But it wouldn’t be a terrible disservice, since most of what I was able to discover about groove-dl is encapsulated in that screenshot. Follow the command with a search string, and groove-dl will return a list of matches and the option to download a song.

Very straightforward, but also very rudimentary. Beyond the first 10 results, there’s no apparent way to continue through search. groove-dl itself doesn’t have any command flags that I could find; in fact, using -h or --help just pushed those strings through as search terms. Entering a blank line just brings groove-dl to a halt. Entering an invalid character causes a python error message. And yet entering a number beyond the list (like 12 or something) starts a download of some unidentified tune that matched your search, but wasn’t shown on screen. Go figure. :\

groove-dl will allow you to pick multiple targets though, and does use a generic but informative download progress bar to follow your selections. I can’t complain about that. And I see that there is a graphical interface, and it may be that there are more functions available to you from that rendition, than in the text-only interface.

But overall, with such a narrow focus and a narrow field of options and wide array of ways to confound it, I think there might be other, better utilities around for pulling tracks from Grooveshark.

groove-dl is in AUR but not Debian. If you try to install it, you’ll also need python-httplib2, which wasn’t included in the PKGBUILD. Happy grooving. 😉

emms: Your one-stop text editor, music player and operating system

I suppose it had to come to this:


It’s emms. It’s emacs, playing music. Because emacs can check your e-mail, run a spreadsheet, chat with your friends, read your newsfeeds and now play your music.

Because it’s emacs, and that’s what it does — everything. 😉

I will not speak ill of emms since it’s doing exactly what it claims it will do. But I will hint that mplayer is running in the background while emms “plays,” which says to me that the heavy lifting is accomplished elsewhere. (I believe it can use other player tools too.)

It does manage playlists and control the actual playback, so I give it credit for that, and doing it from within another application. Given that you can navigate emacs to start with (note for future self: M-x then emms-play-directory 😉 ), it shouldn’t be difficult to handle.

And emms is not terrifically new, and is in both Arch proper and Debian.

It’s interesting that by this point, if you could get all five or six of those other tools working, you’d have an entire “desktop” ecosystem in place, and in ostensibly riding upon one program. And if you can rig your whole machine to run emacs on the kernel, you’re golden.

Like I always say though, I’m not enough of a fan of emacs (or its main competitor, which shall go unnamed) to see this as much more than a nifty gimmick. If you’re already an emacs user, you might be able to slim your list of applications by one or two, if you adopt it. Have fun. 😉

P.S.: Thanks to Greg for pointing it out. 🙂

siggen: Much to see, much to hear

Another brief tool this morning, and not so much because I don’t know how to use it, but more because I’m not sure what I’d use it for. This is siggen:


siggen is, as you might have already deduced, a signal generator, and in layman’s terms that means a sound creator. siggen lets you pick the quality, audio shape, gain, mono or stereo and so forth, and will produce a sound of those dimensions.

Using siggen is very easy; the tab key will cycle you through the fields, arrows increment the values or you can edit them directly. This means you can call on very specific shapes and sound forms, provided of course that your speakers can generate them.

siggen has some command-line flags, but they appear to be mostly settings that are available to you through the interface. So you can use them to set “default” values, if you like.

A few caveats: First, siggen is slightly old, and so it still seeks out /dev/dsp as your sound device. The easiest way I found to corral siggen was through the alsa-oss tool, and simply start both as aoss siggen. Perfectly usable and hearable.

Next, be aware that the settings are applied as soon as you change them. There’s no “apply” button or any sort of delay. So be careful with the gain value, if you’re tinkering with siggen at 6 a.m. on a Sunday. 😯

And like I mentioned, the real bottleneck in using siggen — or any other sound generation tool — is the quality of your speakers. It’s easy to see where hardware is the real limiting factor here, since crappy speakers probably won’t do much to make siggen enjoyable.

Having said all that, and knowing what little I know about signal generation, I’m still searching for a reason to need this tool, aside from oscilloscope calibration. 🙄 It’s none of my business I suppose, since everyone uses a tool in their own way.

One last thing: I usually give points to programs for using color, but this time I’m on the fence. siggen’s color scheme is a bit of an encumbrance to me, but I’ll let it stand as proof that I don’t just hand out gold stars to any colorful interface. 😐

P.S.: In Debian, but apparently not in Arch/AUR.

meterec: A halfhearted endorsement

Next up is meterec, which brands itself as a multitrack audio recorder based on the JACK sound structure.


I must also hold out a rather weak thumbs-up for this one, mostly because I had serious difficulty getting this to work against JACK in both Debian and Arch, but also because audio recording at this level is far beyond my skill set.

I have a very basic understanding of the needs and use of recording enthusiasts, but aside from pressing “play” on a CD player, I don’t have much musical ability.

Which means that the world of audio recording is mostly foreign. I have a stronger understanding of playback (I was once a rabid audiophile) but nothing to clue me in on how to use meterec.

In fact, what you see in the image there is just the Debian version running its interface demo, and I don’t think anything was actually accomplished there. The Arch version was likewise puzzling to me, and again I have bumped up against my time limit for exploring software intricacies.

I like that there is an interface, and from what I can tell by pressing random buttons, it seems well behaved. There are mute, pass-through and looping features all listed in the --help summary, so you shouldn’t need too much prodding if you know what you’re doing with a multitrack session recorder.

I, on the other hand, am just a babe in the woods when it comes to this type of software. And add to that my unfamiliarity with JACK, and my lack of any real musical talent, means it may be a very long time before the intricacies of meterec are clear to me.

Then again, there’s no time like the present. … 😐