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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Amarok FLAC Problems -- Gstreamers vs. VLC Backend


So I really like the music player Amarok. It's overall excellent, even if I don't use most of its exotic features.

The majority of my music library is in FLAC format now (and growing, since I'm converting). For at least 2 years the Gstreamers backend has performed abysmally with stop-and-go-glitches in FLAC playback. I always figured they would fix it, since this is a major format and it's a serious obvious glitch. But I'm done waiting. In Amarok, this meant if two FLAC files were in my playlist, there was a 50-75% chance it would have glitched playback.

As far as I can tell, this is NOT an Amarok bug at all. The fault lays 100% in Gstreamers. In (many?) desktop environments, the gstreamers audio backend provides support. We need to replaces this, immediately. So here's the fix.


VLC comes to rescue with an actually functioning sound backend.

1. Install the VLC backend.

In Ubuntu or Debian:
apt-get install phonon-backend-vlc
In Fedora:
yum install phonon-backend-vlc
2. Change backend selection in Phonon: Go to System SettingsMultimedia → Backend
Choose VLC and click Prefer. Your screen should look like:

Note: KDE used to support the Xine backend but this has since been deprecated.
3. Restart KDE, or possibly restart the entire system. I'm not sure if the PulseAudio system requires a full restart.

This will also solve problems with Volume Override that can occur under GStreamers, even if you have disabled it.


Replay Gain doesn't work under VLC backend sadly.

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