Project:Sound/Decibel Audio Player Mini-installation Guide

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The information in this article is representative of former times and has been archived. It can be used for reference, but is most likely not appropriate for current usage. Generally, archived articles should not be edited.
No release since 2011 and is no longer in Gentoo ebuild repository.


What's Decibel?

From the homepage: Decibel Audio Player is a GTK+ open-source (GPL license) audio player designed for GNU/Linux, which aims at being very straightforward to use by means of a very clean and user friendly interface. It is especially targeted at Gnome and will follow as closely as possible the Gnome HIG.

Decibel is a nifty, simple little app. It has as much playback functionality as you want it to have. It's not an audio Swiss Army knife; for that, take a look at Banshee, Exaile, or Amarok. It's intended for easy browsing and playing of your music collection. It supports several audio formats and CD playback, and can keep track of several different music library locations. (A nice improvement over other audio applications that track only one library).

Decibel mostly uses Python, gtk+, and gstreamer. It also needs a few Gnome libraries to handle the Gnome keyring for integration. It should still be lightweight even if you don't use Gnome. If you do use Gnome, it will be fully integrated into your desktop.

Decibel has optional additional runtime integration with various Gnome libraries such as gnome-applets, gnome-media, and a few others. More on this later.


First, let's take a look at the available USE flags. Since Decibel uses the modular gstreamer framework, you can choose the kinds of audio formats you want to be able to play. Decibel currently supports WMA (via ffmpeg), mp4 (aac), mp3, mp2, ac3, APE, FLAC, Musepack, WavPack, and Ogg Vorbis.

Here are the USE flags available for the Decibel ebuild:

USE flag Description
aac Enables support for MPEG-4 AAC audio (mp4)
cdda Adds support for CD audio playback and lookups via CDDB
gnome Adds Gnome media keys support, so you can control Decibel using hotkeys
gnome-keyring Uses gnome-keyring to store your and Twitter passwords
libnotify Enables desktop notification on track change. You'll get a customizable popup window.
musepack Enables support for the Musepack audio (mpc)
wavpack Enables support for WavPack audio (wv)

Decibel's ebuild depends on gst-plugins-meta, a metapackage that provides most of the audio codecs. You can add support for the desired codec by activating the appropriate USE flag for gst-plugins-meta:

USE flag Description
a52 Adds support for ac3 playback, a common DVD audio format
ffmpeg Adds support for audio formats that use the ASF container, such as Windows Media Audio (WMA)
flac Adds support for FLAC: Free Lossless Audio Codec
mp3 Adds support for mp3 playback via MAD, a high quality decoder library
mpeg Adds support for mp2 playback
vorbis Adds support for Ogg Vorbis audio (ogg)

You can set your desired USE flags globally in /etc/make.conf, or locally in /etc/portage/package.use. For example, to enable support for everything but Musepack, you could do the following:

CODE Setting USE flags in package.use
# echo "media-plugins/gst-plugins-meta ffmpeg flac mp3 vorbis" >> /etc/portage/package.use
# echo "media-sound/decibel-audio-player -musepack aac cdda gnome-keyring libnotify" >> /etc/portage/package.use"

Once your flags are set, install Decibel:

CODE Installing Decibel
# emerge -avt decibel-audio-player

One thing Decibel doesn't do is edit tags. Its creators believe such functionality is best provided by dedicated tag editing applications. Remember, Decibel focuses on being a real audio player focused on playback. There are plenty of other tagging apps available, such as TagTool.

Decibel has a couple of commandline switches you may want to use. decibel-audio-player --no-glossy-cover removes the shiny effect overlayed on album covers, which can make them hard to see. The -p switch uses the playbin2 GStreamer component to play files. This adds support for ReplayGain and gapless playback. You can view the other commandline switches by running decibel-audio-player --help.


Decibel is new, exciting, and going places, so stay on top of it! Here are a few links to get you started:

  • The Decibel Audio Player homepage. Screenshots, instructions, downloads, and more.
  • Decibel's bug tracker. If you find bugs in the program itself, report them here. The bug tracker is also the best way to make feature requests and stay on top of development.