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Speedy, Simple, Free: Music Player Clementine is Darling

Organize and play back your music collection with thoughtful, multiplatform app Clementine.

A music player that focuses solely on music? It may seem like a novel idea these days, when most music players have become full-fledged audio and video eco-systems. But that's exactly what Clementine is: a simple, free music player that offers a full range of tools to allow you to get the most out of your music collection.

The multi-platform app (also available for Mac and various Linux distributions) was inspired by Amarok, a Linux-based music player, and is designed to offer the same fast performance and easy-to-use interface. And while I've never tested Amarok, I can say that Clementine succeeds on its own. You install the app, point it at your music library and wait while it indexes your files. The process is fast; it indexed my mid-sized collection of tunes in just a couple of minutes.

Once Clementine is running, you'll notice its playlist-centric interface. The main window displays the playlist you're enjoying, while the left-side panels allow you to browse through more songs by artist or album. Clementine's playlist handling is excellent; you can create smart playlists (such as "50 random tracks" or "Never played") and you can build playlists on the fly simply by dragging tracks to the main window.

Clementine also allows you to dig deeper into the artists and their songs. Clicking "Song info" brings up information from Last.fm, such as play statistics and information on the song from that site's wiki. You also get lyrics from lyrics.wikia.com. Clicking "Artist info" brings up a slideshow of artist photos, artist tags, and a list of similar artists.

You can use Clementine to manage music on portable players, too, including iPods and iPhones. In addition, the app lets you can transcode music into MP3, Ogg Vorbis, Ogg Speex, FLAC, or AAC formats. And you can access Internet music from Last.fm, SomaFM, Magnatune, or others.

Clementine doesn't play video, and it doesn't offer access to a built-in music downloading store the way iTunes does. So if you need either of those options, you'll need another app. But by keeping its focus squarely on your music collection, Clementine allows you to enjoy it fully.

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