Nightingale: A Faster, Cleaner Cross-Platform Fork of Songbird Music Player

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songbird music playerOver the past few months, I’ve tried so many desktop music players that I’m starting to lose my mind. I love my music and I’m always on the search for the most lightweight, convenient and powerful player out there. So far, I’ve already tried Clementine, Spider, GOM Audio, AIMP3, and a few more. How does Nightingale fare against its fierce competition?

Before answering that, you should know that Nightingale is a fork of the most recent music player I reviewed: Songbird Classic. You’ll find a lot of similarities between the two, but also a number of differences – the most important difference being that Songbird has officially been declared dead. Whether you were looking for a Songbird alternative or a Songbird replacement, Nightingale music player might have what you need.

First Impressions

songbird music player
My first impressions of Nightingale are better than the first impressions I had in the less-than-stellar review I gave to Songbird. Immediately I can feel that Nightingale runs faster and has less bloat. Maybe the developers spent much of their time optimizing code and removing redundancies, but whatever they did I can feel it. Performance is good.

Nightingale isn’t the best in terms of resource consumption. Foobar2000, which happens to be my current music player of choice, uses up around 20MB of RAM when running while Nightingale is up there around 80MB. Granted, Nightingale has my entire music library loaded while Foobar2000 only has a dozen individual playlists, but the difference is there.


nightingale music player

They’ve changed the default skin so that it doesn’t look like an iTunes clone, but you can still clearly see that the general layout is the same. The actual music controls are at the top while the library management is in the center. You can switch between a list view and a filter pane view. Personally, I prefer the latter since it allows for more control.

Along the left, you can select various libraries and playlists that you’ve set up. Along the right, there’s a display pane that will show different types of content depending on whether or not you have any addons that make use of that space. The same is true for the pane running along the bottom of the player.

Of course, you can close any of all of the display panes if you don’t want the interface to feel cluttered. You can see this in the screenshot under the “First Impressions” section above.

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Without any addons, Nightingale music player is pretty barebones. The library management is simple to use and you can set it to watch certain folders on your system, automatically updating your library as those folders change. With the filter pane view, navigating the library is easy, even if you have thousands of songs and hundreds of artists spanning dozens of genres.

nightingale music player

Like Songbird before it, Nightingale has Smart Playlists. These are dynamically generated playlists that will automatically filter your music libraries on the fly and create an ever-changing playlist based on the conditions that you set. There is a ton of flexibility here and once you learn how to utilize them, Smart Playlists will dominate your Nightingale usage.

If you don’t want to use them, that’s fine too. Nightingale supports traditional playlists that are created manually and they work just as well as any other playlist player.

nightingale music player

Nightingale comes with a compact version as well called the Mini Player. The controls are plainly laid out and it’s as minimal as can be – right up my alley. Right click, set Always on Top to true, and you can tuck it away into the corner and forget about it until you need to change the song.


songbird music player

As Nightingale is based on Songbird, it only makes sense that they’d keep the built-in browser. Fortunately, this one runs much more smoothly than Songbird’s browser. In fact, after installing a new skin (which you have to download through the browser), I actually found myself casually browsing the web with Nightingale – something I never would’ve done with Songbird. The experience is not jarring at all. Would I use it as my default browser? Not a chance, but it’s still something to note.

Speaking of skins, Nightingale music player can be modified to look however you wish thanks to the skinning system. Unfortunately, the Nightingale community isn’t very large so you won’t find too many available skins out there, but the ones you do find are quite pretty to look at. Just as in Songbird, Nightingale’s skins are called “feathers”.

Technically, feathers are a part of Nightingale’s addon system, which you can use to extend the program’s functionality with ease. Nightingale suffered for a while because the developers worked hard to maintain compatibility with Songbird addons, but now that Songbird is dead, they have plans to forge ahead with some brand new features in this area.


Nightingale has always been stuck under the shadow of Songbird, but perhaps this is their chance to reinvent themselves. It isn’t the cleanest, most lightweight, or feature-rich music player out there, but it has a lot of the same potential that drove the hype behind the original Songbird. If you aren’t satisfied with any of the big name music players, you ought to give Nightingale a try.

What do you think? Will you be trying Nightingale or will you pass? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

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Comments (18)
  • Bert

    liked the article, downloaded nightingale….an landed in a sea of error messages. can’t play a single file, can’t show metadata, etc., etc. iTunes is a headache – don’t need more headaches

  • Benzgohz

    The only thing I haven’t been able to figure out on Nightingale is how to put playlists and songs into my phone. I could do it with Songbird as it would mount my phone and it would show up on the player in my phone. But yeah, like it that its way lighter than Songbird. If I can’t figure it out I’ll keep songbird just to put stuff into my phone.

  • Reverend Jim

    Songbird was my player of choice for years. Now it’s Nightingale. I love the interface.

    • Joel L

      Awesome! Glad to hear you like Nightingale. It definitely deserves more love than it gets.

  • Heather G

    I liked songbird & wasn’t aware that it was no longer being supported, until now. Thank you for that. I will definitely be trying out this media player. As it does have a familiar look to it. Thanks for your review of it, Joel.

    • Joel Lee

      Yeah, it’s unfortunate what happened to Songbird, but I think it means that Nightingale development will push forward even harder now. You’re welcome and I hope you find it useful!

  • Otto Vanluchene

    I’m using musicbee… the best thing I’ve come across and I have tested many.
    But not this one, will give it a spin.

    • Joel Lee

      I think MusicBee is pretty good. Give Nightingale a try and see which one you like better! You may be surprised. :)

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.