The Raspberry Pi 2 is a very good basic video, and music playback device when you have the right media players installed on it, and use the right audio and video file formats like MP4, MKV, MP3, OGG, etc which are hardware accelerated when you use the right player like OMXPlayer or Kodi, so they play more smoothly without using software decoding which can be very slow.
The Raspberry Pi 2 is a good choice for a video and music player computer because it cost only $35. $35 is cheaper than most TV devices like a Blu-Ray Player. It makes no noise since there are no moving cooling fans needed to cool its CPU, and other parts on the Pi 2. The Pi 2 also won’t heat up your room like some computers which generate lots of heat from the CPU, RAM, and video card when turned on, and playing HD video. The Raspberry Pi 2 uses about 4 Watts of power, so you save a little bit of money on electricity by using the Pi 2 to play media files. The Pi 2 has both a HDMI video and audio port, and a composite video and audio port for older speakers, and TVs which do not have HDMI. The Raspberry Pi 2 is also very portable, so you can move it around very easily. You can also turn the Pi 2 into a tablet, or laptop when you buy the right case, and screens for it. The Raspberry Pi 2 also now has 4 USB ports which makes it possible for you to plug-in a USB keyboard, mouse, USB wifi adapter, and still have 1 empty USB port for plugging in a USB hard drive or Flash drive which you can use to access your files stored on an USB external storage drive. The Pi 2 also has an wired Ethernet port, and supports USB Wifi adapters, so you can use your network or the internet to access media files to play on the Pi 2.
The video, and sound playback quality is pretty good on the Raspberry Pi 2 when I use the Pi 2 which is connected to a PC monitor, and desktop PC speakers. The Raspberry Pi 2 is fast enough to play smoothly play 1080P HD video in Raspbian when I use the default OMXPlayer which is a command line video and audio player which comes pre-installed with Raspbian. All I need to do to play a media file with OMXPlayer is type a short omxplayer command line in the Terminal command line program in Raspbian like type
, and press the enter key on your keyboard to play a video file called video.mp4 in your Pi’s Desktop folder. Press the q key on your keyboard to stop playback, and use the left and right arrow to rewind, and fast forward the video, or song. Press p key on your keyboard to pause the video or song.
Desktop Media Player programs for Raspbian
Desktop Video and Audio Media Players
Media players made for the desktop is useful for when you want to either listen to music, or watch a video in a smaller sized window, or listen to audio from an audio file or a video file with audio on a minimize window for a media players while you are doing other tasks like browsing the web, typing, and work. Most media players also use less system resources like RAM, CPU cycles, and storage space compared to a Media Center program or operating system why can use hundreds to thousands of Megabytes of space.
OMXPlayer comes installed with Raspbian by default.
But, if you do not have it, you can install OMXPlayer by typing
sudo apt-get install omxplayer
in the terminal command line program, and press enter to install omxplayer.
OMXPlayer is a very basic video player which does not have a user interface, but it can play MP4, MP3, MKV, and other file types which I tried with it. It also opens files very quickly, and music and video plays very smoothly without any slowdown problems.
OMXPlayer also tells me that my Memory Split is too low if I try playing a HD video file, and I set the memory split to under 64MB in Raspbian’s raspi-config program. I usually set the memory split to 128 MB to play HD videos more smoothly, and so I can occassionally play games like Quake 3 without slowdown problems on Raspbian. I recently set my Memory Split in raspi-config Raspberry Pi 2 to 256MB to see if videos play more smoothly, and 256MB seem to work at making High Resolution video play better on the Pi 2.
I like using OMXPlayer for playing back a single media file because it is fast, and rarely freezes when I use it.
You can add custom commands to your command like –win “0 0 1280 720” to resize a video window to 720P instead of fullscreen.
Playing back video in omxplayer is kind of complicated, but once you learn how to type commands like
in terminal, it is simpler to use it as a media player.
If you are having problems with omxplayer, or any other media player, you may need to update and upgrade Raspbian, and your programs by typing
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
in the command line user interface or Terminal to start updating, and upgrading Raspbian, and its programs with the latest versions which may fix software problems for programs like omxplayer found in older versions of the programs, and Raspbian Linux.
OmxplayerGUI is an omxplayer frontend user-interface program which comes with the Kweb web browser for Raspbian. It can resize, and move videos in real-time with a computer mouse’s cursor. It has a play, pause, stop, rewind, skip, volume, and seekbar buttons built-into the player’s user interface. It can be used to open video, audio, and playlist files with omxplayer. It can also stream online video, and extract video with its built-in tools. Users can also change the aspect ratio of videos, and the max number of lines which a video uses from dropdown menus in OmxplayerGUI.
It is also possible to use OmxplayerGUI to play online video on web browsers when you have YT-DL installed in Raspbian. But, you need to use the bundled Kweb web browser for playing back video and audio files with OmxplayerGUI. After the online video player is playing in OmxplayerGUI, users can close the Kweb web browser, so they have more free RAM, and CPU resources for playing the video and doing other tasks like Word Processing.
OmxplayerGUI is programmed in Python, so it runs fast, and reliably on Raspbian. Almost everything related to media playback can be done with your mouse, and no command lines, or keyboard shortcuts are needed to use OmxplayerGUI to playback media files in Raspbian.
There are user interface programs like TBOPlayer for OMXPlayers which add a user interface to OMXPlayer which makes it easier to use OMXPlayer, and also adds a playlist to OMXPlayer to play multiple files easily, and quickly.
You can learn how to install TBOPlayer, and make a desktop shortcut for TBOPlayer by using Raspbian’s Terminal command line program at https://github.com/KenT2/tboplayer
TBOPlayer is one of the best user interface programs for OMXPlayer because it has a playlist editor where you can add video and audio files,and folders/directories to the Playlist and also save playlists. There is an option to add YouTube playlists to TBOPlayer. In the TBOPlayer Options, it is possible to change the audio output device to HDMI or Local/3.5mm headphone jack, change media playback repeat mode, Download audio and video option for YouTube, Initial directory for tracks, playlist, subtitles, omxplayer options, debug, and generate track information within the TBOPlayer user interface, so you do not need to use the terminal command line program which is more complicated to use.
If you want to resize a video in TBOPlayer because you don’t want to watch full screen video, you own a lower or higher resolution monitor, or the fullscreen version of the video is too blurry because it is a low resolution video, you need to type a command like
–win “0 0 1280 720”
in the option’s text box in TBOPlayer, so the video plays with o margins, and at 1280 by 720 which is 720P video resolution.
TBOPlayer has buttons for adding files and directories to its playlist, and saving playlists. There are also media playback buttons at the bottom of TBOPlayer for play/pause, stop, previous, next, volume up, and volume down. The Title bar, and taskbar button for TBOPlayer displays the song or video which is currently playing. What I like most about TBOPlayer is that it is very lightweight, and loads fast.
You can also setup OMXPlayer to open Files within the desktop from the right click mouse menu when you right click on a media file.
You need to make a omxplayer.desktop file in your Application menu section of Raspbian.
First, you need to open the Terminal command line program in Raspbian, and type
sudo leafpad /usr/share/applications/omxplayer.desktop
and press enter. Leafpad is the pre-installed text editor for Raspbian.
Copy and paste
Exec=omxplayer -o local %f
into leafpad, and save it.
If you use HDMI audio on the Pi, you need to change the Exec= to Exec=omxplayer -o hdmi %f
The HDMI audio version of the .desktop file would look like
Exec=omxplayer -o hdmi %f
You may need to click on the Open With button on the right-click menu on the mouse when you right click a media file, so you can pick OMXPlayer from the Sound and video section. After you picked OMXPlayer from the Open with program, your media file should play automatically in omxplayer in a Terminal command line program, and it would show you information about OMXPlayer, and the media file being played.
The main benefits of using the OMXplayer Open With shortcut on your right click mouse menu is that it is fast, and simple to do, and does not need additional software like Python which is needed to run TBOPlayer because TBOPlayer is made with Python. Just using the terminal and OMXPlayer also is more responsive when hitting the q, p, arrow keys, etc to control OMXPlayer. I notice sometimes when I use OMXPlayer, and TBOPlayer, the keys on the keyboards are less responsive, so it takes longer to quit a video when I hit the q key on the keyboard. Also, when a video blocks the controls of TBOPlayer, so I can’t stop it with the buttons on TBOPlayer when a video is playing in fullscreen.
Epiphany Web Browser is pretty good at playing videos online because videos are hardware accelerated when you use Epiphany to playback video files like MP4, and MKV video files. Epiphany can also be used to playback music files like MP3s. I sometimes use Epiphany to play web video which is saved in .MP4, and other popular web video formats. Using Epiphany is a fast way to stream media files from links which look like http://example.com/video.mp4 because Epiphany can open MP4 files within its web browser without the need for using a plug-in like Flash or Java.
Desktop Music and Audio Players
If you want to play music on a standalone lightweight music player in Raspbian, I recommend LXMusic which is a very lightweight music player. It also supports playlists, and have playback buttons like play, pause, stop, stop, different repeat modes, volume level adjuster, and a seek bar. There is also a filter search feature on LXMusic for searching for music on your playlist to play. The user interface is similar to other music players like Foobar2000, etc, so most users who used a music player software before should find using LXMusic pretty simple. The titlebar and Taskbar button for LXMusic shows what song is currently playing. There are also more advance features in LXMusic like letting you change the buffer memory size for more smooth music playback, and changing the Defaualt ID3 V1 encoding, output device, turning on and off the system tray icon, and continue playback when exiting LXMusic. You can also show and hide the playlist editor in LXMusic View Menu. LXMusic also uses only a few MBs of disk space, so it is great to use on Raspberry Pi computers with smaller SD Memory cards. When LXMusic is running, it uses about 1% CPU, and 18MB of RAM, so it runs very lightly on the Pi 2.
You can install lxmusic by typing
sudo apt-get install lxmusic
in Raspbian Terminal, and pressing the enter key.
XiX Music Player
XiX Music Player is a pretty good music player which you can download from the Pi Store on the Raspberry Pi’s Desktop, or Menu or at http://store.raspberrypi.com/projects/xixmusicplayer_arm . This music player is one of the easiest programs to install on Raspbian because I can use the Pi Store to download and install it without using Raspbian command prompt. XiX has most of the features which I want in a modern music player like Playlists, simple user interface, album artwork, podcast listening and downloading, lyrics, Equalizer, and support for MP3, OGG, M4A & FLAC audio file formats.
Clementine is also a very good full featured music player for Raspbian. You can install Clementine by typing
sudo apt-get install clementine
in Raspbian Terminal program, and pressing enter.
Clementine is a good music player for playing, and searching for your music on your local drives, and also listen to internet streaming music, and radio. It can also play music from your online storage accounts on Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive. Clementine also supports Album artwork, artist biography, lyrics, playlists, music visualizations, and more. It can Transcode music into MP3, Ogg Vorbis, Ogg Speex, FLAC or AAC, Edit tags on MP3 and OGG files, organize your music, Fetch missing tags from MusicBrainz, Discover and download Podcasts, Download missing album cover art from Last.fm and Amazon, Remote control using an Android device, a Wii Remote, MPRIS or the command-line, Copy music to your iPod, iPhone, MTP or mass-storage USB player, and Queue manager.
Open Cubic Player has a texted-based user interface for using to playback audio files. It is incredibly fast, and starts up almost instantly. It also is very lightweitght because the user interface is texted based. Open Cubic Player is the best audio player for users who care most about speed, and performance instead of having a nice visual user interface which runs slower than a text user interface on Open Cubic Player. Open Cubic Player can play many audio formats like MP3, WAV, MIDI, CDA, and more. It has visual features like a spectrum audio analyzer, phase graph, track view, song message, song info, and more.
You install Open Cubic Player by typing in sudo apt-get install opencubicplayer and pressing enter in the command line user interface or Terminal to install it on Raspbian.
VLC Player is a good audio player for the Raspberry Pi. But, VLC is not hardware accelerated, so it can’t play video smoothly unless you find a way to make VLC use the video chip on the Raspberry Pi 2 to play video with hardware acceleration from the video chip. But, it is fast enough for playing music on the Pi. I like VLC simple user interface, and its many nice features like being able to play almost all media file formats without the need to install extra media codecs to play the media file.
To install VLC, you need to type
sudo apt-get install vlc
in the terminal command line program in Raspbian, and press enter.
Kodi and Plex based Media Center Fullscreen Programs and Dedicated Media Player Operating Systems
Kodi, and Plex media centers are good programs for using if you plan on mainly using the Raspberry Pi 2 for fullscreen media consumption where you watch video and picture files in Fullscreen mode on a display like a large TV or Projector, and listen to a large music playlist of audio files where the playlist fills up your entire screen with song titles from your music collection.
The Raspberry Pi is compatible with a lot of Media Center themed operating systems which are only used for media playback. Using a Media Center Operating system like OpenElec, Xbian, Raspbmc, etc is easier than installing individual programs into Raspbian to play video. Media Center software like Kodi can also be used to stream online video, and music from websites like YouTube, Vimeo, Dailymotion, podcasts, and other streaming media sites. Media Center software also has a lot of add-ons to add more features to it like adding more streaming video websites, custom appearance themes, and plug-ins. Media Center software also look nicer on a TV because they use a fullscreen user interface which is easier to control with a remote, gamepad controller, and other controller devices.
Kodi/XBMC is one of the most popular media player center software for the Raspberry Pi. Kodi can be used to play online, and locally stored music, videos, and pictures. You can also stream music and videos from a Kodi media server which is hosted on another computer on your home network. Kodi has a fullscreen media center user interface which is easy to use to playback video and music, and search for media files to play. There are also different themes for Kodi, so you can easily change the look. Kodi also supports add-ons which let you add more features, video and music streams from more websites, and improvements to Kodi by installing add-ons. Kodi is also easier to use with a remote control, and gamepad controller.
You can also install Kodi/XBMC on Raspbian, but I feel it would be easier to use OpenElec, Raspbmc, or Xbain to use Kodi than to install Kodi on Raspbian because you also need to manually setup the keyboard and mouse to work in Kodi on Raspbian Wheezy. You also have to type a lot of command lines to install Kodi in Raspbian.
But, it is easier to install Kodi on Raspbian Jessie. Read my guide on Installing Kodi on Raspbian Jessie for the Raspberry Pi.
You can learn how to install Kodi on Raspbian at https://www.raspberrypi.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=66&t=99866
I recommend using NOOBS on your SDCard to install OpenElec, or Raspbmc, or using a blank SDCard, and a Windows PC to image a copy of Raspbmc, OpenElec, or Xbian onto the SDCard. I like using Raspbmc since it is very fast, and easy to use to run Kodi, and also overclock my Pi 2 from within Kodi’s setting when running Rasbmc. Rasbmc is still downloadable at https://osmc.tv/download/ Unfortunately, Raspbmc is End of Life. OpenElec is a good Kodi operating system, but it is not as easy to overclock your Pi 2 as Raspbmc. But, it works good at running Kodi. Xbian is a small, fast, lightweight Kodi operating system for the Raspberry Pi. Xbian is best if you care most about low system resource usage, speed, and reliability when using Kodi, and you don’t want to overclock your Raspberry Pi’s CPU, RAM, and Videocore to run Kodi, and videos files played in Kodi faster. Xbian can fit on a 2GB SD Card, so you can use a older or cheaper 2GB SD Card to install Xbian, so you don’t need to buy a more expensive 4GB SD card to run Kodi on Xbian. Xbian also is a better choice for Raspberry Pi users who use the slower Raspberry Pi 1 with a 700MHz Single Core CPU, less RAM, and slower RAM and videochip.
RasPlex which is Plex TV Client media player designed for watching videos, listening to music and viewing photos with the Raspberry Pi, and Plex media server. You can learn more about RasPlex at http://www.rasplex.com/ . You use RasPlex for opening media files like video, photo, and music files which are hosted on your Plex. Plex is one of the most popular media center server software for hosting your media files, so you can view them on your mobile, laptop, desktop, and TV devices. You can learn more about Plex at https://plex.tv/ .
There are a lot of good media players for playing video, and music files on the Raspberry Pi. You can use the default Raspbian media player which is omxplayer to play music and video from the terminal command line program. You can also use TBOPlayer to control OMXPlayer from TBOPlayer to make it easier to use. There are also a few music players like LXMusic, XiX Music Player, and Clementine which are good at playing back music on Raspbian. If you want a media center operating system, I recommend Kodi, Raspbmc, OpenElec, and Xbian. RasPlex is also a good choice if you use a Plex media server to store and view media files on your home network.