Well, it has been a (relatively) long wait, but it looks like it’s finally here, an application like Couch Potato and Sick Beard, but for music! Headphones is a very young project (first commit was posted on May 20, 2011), but is already showing significant promise!
For those that aren’t familiar, Sick Beard and Couch Potato (and now Headphones) are programs that function similarly to a Personal or Digital Video Recorder (PVR/DVR). These programs can be configured to monitor certain shows, movies, or artists (respectively) and will actively search for any relevant and desired content. Once a show, movie, or album is found it will be sent to SABnzbd+ so that it can be downloaded. Once downloaded, Sick Beard, Couch Potato (and soon, Headphones) will take the show, movie, or album and rename it properly, fetch any relevant meta-information (posters, fan art, trailers, lyrics, etc), move it to the proper directory for storage, and then tell XBMC Media Center to update its library with the new content.
From start to finish, using Sick Beard, Couch Potato, (soon, Headphones), SABnzbd+, and XBMC provides for an extremely automated, low maintenance, and polished media center experience. This has been a major focus of the guides at Ainer.org, and Headphones should round out that last missing media type (music).
I have been actively on the lookout for a program to fill this roll for months and while there have been some potential candidates (Audio-Matic, FlexGet), none have really shown themselves to be in the same ease of use realm or of a similar design philosophy as Sick Beard and Couch Potato. Headphones is the first that I’m really excited by and I’m already running it for testing purposes.
Like Sick Beard and Couch Potato, Headphones is a python based project and the installation is going to be very familiar to those already running Sick Beard or Couch Potato. Similarly, Headphones runs great under Ubuntu or Linux Mint (and will also run under any other Operating System that supports python). While Sick Beard utilizes TheTVDB.com and TVRage.com for metadata and scraping, and Couch Potato uses TheMovieDB.org and the IMDb.com, Headphones uses MusicBrainz. MusicBrainz is similar to TheTVDB and TheMovieDB in that it is an open and community resource that relies on the community for contributions.
As Headphones is a very new project, it is still quite rough around the edges and is currently more of a proof-of-concept than a ready-to-use application. With that said, the main developer has clear goals and plans for the application and has been working on it steady since the initial commit not even two months ago. Given enough time, and the growing interest it is already receiving I have little doubt this program could be right up there with Sick Beard and Couch Potato in terms of ease of use, and functionality.
For those that are itching to give it a go, it currently does not support post-processing and is unable to determine what albums are already in your collection. It can determine which artists are in your collection, and can be used to automate searching for new content but it wont rename what is found and wont even track new content (there are only two statuses for media currently, skipped and wanted). In a future release the developer plans to use beets for the post processing.
Apart from the lack of post-processing currently, Headphones refers to iTunes frequently in its webui, though this apparently can be ignored and “music folder” read in its place. If, like me, you prefer free or lossless formats, Headphones currently focuses on MP3s primarily with an option to also search for FLAC files. There is also no mention of Ogg or any other format or quality options (at this time). Also, before anyone asks there is no auto-update (though it is already the most requested feature and is slated for the next release)!
Again, this is a very new program that is not ready for mainstream users by any means. But if you’re more technically inclined, and wish to help in testing or just sate your curiosity by taking it for a spin, it’s definitely worth doing so. I will be running a copy from here on out and look forward to watching this project mature.
Before I close, I wish to thank Mar2zz for referring me on to Headphones. Mar2zz maintains a Dutch language website that writes guides and news similar to Ainer.org (and has based some guides off of ours). For those of you that read Dutch, or that wish to use Google Translate, a link to Mar2zz’s site, Entertainment from the Sofa can always be found under our Featured News & Community Site links on the far right column!