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There are many kinds of sound formats (WAV, MIDI, MPEG etc.). Below, we list the various formats and the applications that can be used to play them.
MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Device Interface. MIDI
files usually have the extension
This package includes
If you have a GUS,
One little annoying bug (as of version 0.5 on some
hardware) is that the sound breaks at the end. Namely,
instead of ending the sound the way the MIDI file
specifies, it ends by playing the note right before the
last one in a long interval. It hasn't stopped me from
The package does not mention any copyright (at least none that I can find), so I assume it can be freely redistributed and modified. (By a strict interpretation of copyright law, nothing gives one the right to do these things, but I somehow doubt that this was the intention of the author.)
It is a port of the CMU MIDI Toolkit to Linux (though
there was enough added to make this questionable) by Greg
It can be obtained from
The binaries included here are in a.out format (linked
with ancient libraries), and the
You will need a bit of hackery to compile it. Actually,
it's not much of a hackery. All you have to do is to
Some people recommend this experimental program
because of good sound quality (which is very true, it's
much better than
It also has an optional ncurses, SLang, Tcl/Tk or Motif interface.
You need Gravis Ultrasound patch files to use this. Look into the FAQ included with TiMidity for more information.
The author is Tuukka Toivonen (
The latest version of TiMidity can be found at the TiMidity home page. This page also contains a link to a small library of GUS patches.
This is a MIDI player that plays to FM, GUS, and external MIDI. It is supposed to have a faster startup time compared to other MIDI players. It is also able to play Creative Music Files, Microsoft RIFF files, and large MIDI archives from games such as Ultima 7.
It has an X interface and a SVGA interface. It also has
an option for real time playback with tracking all the
notes on each channel and the current playback clock
(included automatically with
You should do something like
if you are going to use the SVGA interface, since it doesn't reset the terminal tty mode properly. The SVGA interface may be removed in the near future.
It was written by Nathan Laredo
It can be obtained from ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/apps/sound/players/playmidi-2.3.tar.gz.
Modules (in computer music) are digital music files, made up of a set of samples and sequencing information, telling the player when to play which sample (instrument) on which track at what pitch, optionally performing an effect, like vibrato for example.
An advantage it has over MIDI is that it can include almost any kind of sound (including human voices). Another is that it sounds just about the same on any platform, because the samples are in the module. A disadvantage it has is that it has a much larger file size compared to MIDI. Another one is that it has no real standard format (the only `real' one is the ProTracker, which many modules aren't quite compatible with). It originated on the Amiga.
The most common format has the extension
This very portable program (it has been ported to many
platforms) plays Soundtracker and Protracker music
modules. It uses 16 bit stereo output, and I consider the
quality to be very good. If you need a simple way to
reduce CPU load use the
This is a giftware program (quoting the author). It is by
Marc Espie (
A version of this with the Makefile already tweaked for Linux can be obtained from ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/apps/sound/players/tracker-4.3-linux.tar.gz.
This is a music module player for the Gravis Ultrasound card. 4/6/8 channel MOD, 8 channel 669, MultiTracker (MTM), UltraTracker (ULT), FastTracker (XM), and ScreamTracker III (S3M) are the supported formats.
It requires a version 3.0 or later sound driver. And a GUS, of course. You may need to modify the kernel to make volume control work the way you want.
This has an X interface. It uses the QT toolkit (needs version 0.99 or greater). Check the QT toolkit homepage for information on QT.
This can be freely distributed. It was originally written
by Hannu Savolainen, and now maintained by Andrew
J. Robinson (
It can be obtained from ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/apps/sound/players/gmod-3.1.tar.gz.
This portable module player plays XM, ULT, STM, S3M, MTM,
MOD and UNI formats. (The UNI format is an internal
format used by MikMod.) It has support for zipped module
files. It uses 16 bit stereo for the sound output. Use
The Unix version can either use ncurses or Tcl/Tk for its interface. It can also be used as a library, not just an independent program.
It was originally written by Jean-Paul Mikkers
This can be found at the MikMod home page.
This is a module player (not to be confused with Adagio's
An X frontend to
This was written by Claudio Matsuoka
This can found at the xmp home page.
This plays 4/6/8 track MOD modules and Scream Tracker 3
modules. It uses 8 bit mono output with a sampling rate
of 22000 Hz by default. You can use the option
It is copyrighted by Daniel Marks and David Jeske
It can be obtained from ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/apps/sound/players/s3mod-v1.09.tar.gz.
This beta program plays MODs (15/31-instrument, up to
32 voices), MTMs, ULTs and S3Ms on the Gravis Ultrasound
card. It can also use packed modules if you have
This requires at least version 3.0 of the sound driver. It won't work with the 2.90-2 or earlier version of the sound driver. The text interface requires ncurses. There is also an X interface included, which uses Tcl/Tk.
It was written by Mikael Nordqvist (
It can be obtained from ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/apps/sound/players/mod-v0.81.tgz.
This is an alpha module player which can play MTM,
S3M, and MOD modules. It is intended to be a module
player for soundcards without a DSP (not to be confused
with what Creative Labs calls a DSP). It has a CPU load
somewhat similar compared to
It has a feature which lets modules loop if they want to.
The number of loops can be limited by the
This was written by Toru Egashira
It can be obtained from ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/apps/sound/players/nspmod-0.1.tar.gz.
This alpha program was designed to play 4-channel modules using the minimum of CPU resources. It was not designed to produce high quality sound. So the only sound output it produces is 22 kHz mono output. Also, the output isn't as clean as it should be, reflecting its alpha status.
It was written by David Groves
It can be obtained from ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/apps/sound/players/yampmod-0.1.tar.gz.
MPEG is a standard specifying the coding of video and the
associated audio for digital storage. MPEG is usually
associated with video, but the audio part of the standard
can be used separately. The audio part of the MPEG standard
defines three layers, layer I, II, and III. Players that
can decode higher layers can also decode lower layers
(e.g. layer III players can play layer II files). Layer I
MPEG audio files usually have the extension
This beta program is an efficient MPEG audio stream player, which has support for layers I, II, and III. It is based on code from many sources. It is able to play in real time streams that are read by HTTP (i.e. one can play an MPEG audio stream directly over the World Wide Web).
The main author is Michael Hipp
The latest version can be obtained from the mpg123 homepage.
This MPEG audio stream player only has support for layer I and layer II streams, and lacks support for layer III streams. It supports 16 bit sound cards on Linux.
It is pretty CPU intensive, taking up to about 55% CPU
time on a 60MHz Pentium. The output is intolerable on a
66MHz 486 because the CPU just can't catch up with the
sound. If this happens to you, try playing only one side
of the audio stream (with the
A slight change in one of the files may be necessary in
order to compile it. Namely, you may need to add the
following line to the beginning of the file
The author is Tobias Bading (
This is an unofficial modification (i.e. not by the
original author) of
The modifications were made by Orlando Andico
This can be obtained from ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/apps/sound/players/maplay-1.3b-Linux.tar.gz.
This is another derivative of
The modifications were made by Timo Jantunen
This can be obtained from ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/apps/sound/players/maplay3.tar.gz.
This beta player is another derivative of
Another feature of
If after compiling it doesn't work (e.g. it segmentation faults), try compiling it again without threading.
This is by Jung Woo-jae (
It can be obtained from splay's home page.
This program is a MPEG audio player with a graphical user
interface. It is based on
It uses the QT toolkit (at least version 1.2 is required). It also uses the LinuxThreads library (the included binary only works with version 0.5).
The author is Joel Lindholm
The latest version can be obtained from ftp://kewl.campus.luth.se/pub/jukebox.
This beta MPEG audio player only has support for MPEG Layer 3 audio streams. It is able to play directly to the soundcard, and it can output to raw PCM or WAV files. This also gives quite a load on the CPU (about 60% on a 133MHz Pentium).
This was written by Tomislav Uzelac
It can be obtained from ftp://ftp.rasip.fer.hr/pub/mpeg/amp-0.7.3.tgz.
This alpha library was written to be a fast implementation of an MPEG audio decoding library to be used by various GUI front-ends. It supports MPEG audio layers I, II, and III. It is capable of random access to bitstreams. A command-line interface is included. A Motif (Lesstif) front-end is also included in the Linux version.
This is by Gilles Boccon-Gibod, Alain Jobart and others. The front-ends to the libary can be freely downloaded. The library itself must be licensed to be used (a source and binary license is available).
The front-ends to the library can be obtained from the XAudio home page.
Layer 3 Shareware Encoder/Decoder
This is actually a converter that converts MPEG Layer 3 audio streams to WAV, AIFF, SND, AIFC, or just raw PCM sample files. The Linux version does not directly output the sound to the soundcard. One has to first convert it to some other format.
However, when you try to play a converted file using
If you have a really fast computer (probably at least a
100Mhz Pentium), then you can try to play MPEG Layer 3
streams directly without having to first convert the audio
file to another format like in the following example (this
example assumes that you're using
The number after
This is shareware copyrighted by Fraunhofer-IIS. A demo version for Linux on x86 systems can be obtained from ftp://ftp.fhg.de/pub/layer3. The demo version only converts layer III audio streams.
This beta software is an MPEG audio stream player
with a graphical interface, similar to
the one used by the Windows program
There is no copyright mentioned anywhere (I assume that it
can be freely used for personal use). It is maintained by
Mikael Alm (
It can be obtained from X11Amp's homepage. Only binaries for Intel Linux and FreeBSD are made available here.
Quote from the
These appear to be very similar to IFF files, but not the same. They are the native sound file format of Windows 3.1. Obviously, Windows 3.1 is of such incredible importance to the computer industry that it just had to have its own sound file format.
These usually have the extension
This program supports playing and recording with the WAV format. It uses locking so that only one sound may be played at a time. Its locking capabilities can also be used separately from its sound playing capabilities.
In addition to a command-line interface, it also has a Motif interface, which can be used with Lesstif.
It was originally written by Andre Fuechsel
It can be obtained from ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/apps/sound/players/wavplay-1.0.tar.gz.
This section lists stuff that play sound formats that don't deserve a separate section (i.e. formats that have only one player available), or players that play more than one format.
This program is actually a converter, that is, it converts
one sound format to another. However, some versions of
Since somewhere in the 1.3.6x kernels, you might have to
make a small change in one file to make it play the sound
directly. Namely, you may have to change line 179 in
But then again, you may not have to do this. But doing this won't break anything.
It is written and copyrighted by many people, and can be used for any purpose.
It can be obtained from ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/apps/sound/convert/Lsox-linux.tar.gz.
A more recent version by Chris Bagwell
This beta program plays raw audio, WAV, and VOC
files. It's also able to record to these files. It uses
a variety of techniques to get the highest speed possible
so that it can run acceptably even on slow machines. One
of these techniques require that the installed programs be
setuid root. The paranoid hoping to use this may want to
use the Debian package by Ian Jackson
The author is David Monro (
It can be obtained from ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/apps/sound/players/bplay-0.96.tar.gz.
This program emulates the Sound Interface Device chip (MOS 6581, commonly called SID) and the Micro Processor Unit (MOS 6510) of the Commodore 64. Therefore it is able to load and execute C64 machine code programs which produce music or sound. In general these are independent fragments of code and data which have been ripped from games and demonstration programs and have been transferred directly from the C64.
It uses a command line interface by default. There are also Tk and QT interfaces available separately from the main package.
It is maintained by Michael Schwendt
It can be obtained from SIDPLAY's home page.
This lets you listen to sound, which is stored in a proprietary format, in real time over the Internet without downloading the whole sound file first. It could be used stand alone, but it is really intended to be used along with a web browser (the explicitly supported ones are Mosaic and Netscape). It cannot be used without X (you wouldn't be able to get it working with Lynx in a text console).
However, there exists a hack which allows one to run the RealAudio player from the text console. It requires the X virtual frame buffer (Xvfb) server to work. This hack can be obtained from ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux/apps/sound/players/traplayer-0.5.tar.gz.
This is by Progressive Networks, Inc. This cannot be redistributed, modified etc. Look at the license for exact details on what you can do. It can be obtained by registering with no cost at the RealAudio home page.
One might think what
This isn't a totally useless use of
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