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

Joel Lee 28-06-2013

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 Need A Lightweight Music Player Without Sacrificing Features? Clementine! [Cross-Platform] Sometimes you don’t really know what you want until you’re holding it in your hands. There are not-so-resource-intensive music players out there that are bland and there are monster RAM hogs that provide tons of... Read More , Spider Need An Alternative to Winamp? Try Spider Player [Windows] I’m a big music junkie. If I’m sitting at my computer and there is no music coming out of the speakers, then it actually puts me on edge a bit and I end up unable... Read More , GOM Audio Tired Of Big & Bloated Music Players? Try GOM Audio For Free! Read More , AIMP3 AIMP3: An Excellent Music Library And Player - Lightweight & Free! [Windows] Music players come and go. Yesterday, a particular player might’ve been the #1 music library manager. Tomorrow, a new music player could come out and decimate the current competition. The cycle has always been true... Read More , 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 Play Music Like An Audiophile With Foobar2000 [Windows] Foobar2000 is the desktop music player of choice for audiophiles, tinkerers and anyone looking for a lightweight, efficient program. We have it listed on our page of the best Windows software for a reason, although... Read More , 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.


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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  1. JSENI
    April 9, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I have been trying to use Nightingale for a couple of months now. It seems fine at playing the music coping with a wide range of formats. However, it seems to clutter my library with many copies of the same song and when I try ton delete the extra 15 versions which have appeared, it gets a script failure and stops responding.It was quite slow from the start but is now virtually impossible to use as if I switch from one song to another the script fails and it sits there not responding. It needs the ability to manage the library without loading the same songs again and again. My songs by the way are held on a NAS available for all the computers in my house to access. Perhaps the problem is that Nightingale isn't very good at managing a remote location to hold it's data source.

  2. Bert
    December 13, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    liked the article, downloaded 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

    • Marc
      December 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      Which OS do you use? I have no problems so far.

  3. Benzgohz
    November 19, 2013 at 8:56 am

    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.

  4. Reverend Jim
    November 4, 2013 at 4:25 am

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

    • Joel L
      November 12, 2013 at 2:13 am

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

  5. Heather G
    July 15, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    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
      July 17, 2013 at 3:42 am

      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!

  6. Otto Vanluchene
    July 15, 2013 at 11:55 am

    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
      July 17, 2013 at 3:42 am

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

  7. Diel
    July 10, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    I don't know if I can give up Winamp now. I went back to Winamp as a Songbird refugee lol

  8. Nick P
    July 2, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Clean look, i'm gonna try it. Thanks for share :)

  9. John H
    July 1, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    I'll have to give this a shot. I've never been able to find a player that I much care for. I usually just end up navigating to the files themselves after awhile. Thanks for the post.

  10. kashif faridi
    June 29, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    hmmm...nice extensn !!

  11. Vic Benson
    June 29, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Looks interesting. I think I will give this one a try.

  12. Vic Benson
    June 29, 2013 at 1:01 pm
  13. Chiranthaka Jayakody
    June 29, 2013 at 7:35 am

    A wonderful tool.

  14. Balamurugan R
    June 29, 2013 at 3:50 am

    i like more of the clean interface and selection... may be worth the try...

  15. the0therMike62 .
    June 29, 2013 at 1:21 am

    i was a fan of songbird until it went stale. clementine is a pretty awesome player, my favorite on kde. i'l have to give nightingale a try, i'm always looking to improve my software collection