Exaile as a DJ workstation

Turning This…

Exaile out the box

Exaile, out of the box, is a smart looking multi-platform music player. The Exaile website lists “Simple interface” as its number-one feature, and mentions that it has lots of plugins. Exaile should be the first choice for Swing-dance DJs, and anyone else who wants to build play-lists on the fly.

Into This…

Screenshot from 2015-04-01 21:15:04

Exaile does stuff other music players haven’t even heard of. To get the most out of it you have to enable and configure some of its plugins. Here’s how I set up mine:

Preview device


Got a USB sound-card? Preview tracks you’re adding while your playlist is playing through your main soundcard. Enable the plugin (under Output in Preferences/Plugins) and select your your sound card in its preferences (I like to preview on my laptop’s built-in sound-card while playing live through my USB). Right click on a track and select ‘Preview’ from the pop-up menu.


Don’t interrupt the currently playing track

You know how annoying that is, especially when people are dancing. Turn it off! In preferences under Playback (not a plugin this time) check ‘Disallow playing new tracks when another track is playing’.


BPM Counter

No, I don’t DJ from BPMs. But I like to know what they are.

Right-click on the column headings in the playlist and check BPM. What, no data? OK let’s add some. Enable the BPM Counterbpm plugin (under Utility) and it adds a BPM tap widget to both the main and preview devices. Tap on the number to measure the beats per minute. Or focus the widget and tap on the space bar. The apply BPM button writes the BPM to the track.

Now use Exaile’s smart playlists to group my tracks by speed. Right click on ‘Smart Playlists’ and choose New Smart Playlist. Here’s an example:




I’m on Ubuntu, so I can easily install Amarok’s moodbar from the software centre. Exaile’s moodbar plugin replaces the progress bar with a graphical representation of the music. By default when you enable moodbar you get coloured spectra, like in the Wikipedia article. I haven’t learned to interpret those. I prefer a wave form view: here’s how I configure my plugin options:


I like to see the waveform on the track I’m previewing, so I can see long quiet intros or applause at the end. When I turned on Moodbar and Preview Device I was sad that the moodbar showed up only on the main player. But Exaile is Open Source, right? So, I exercised Freedom One and changed it so Moodbar works on both players, like in my screenshot above. You’ll have to wait for Exaile version 3.4.6 to get this feature.

Split playlist viewmovetoother

Exaile lets you open multiple playlists in tabs. You can drag and drop tracks between them. To make this even easier, you can split the playlist view horizontally. I like to have my current queue at the bottom and drag tracks to it from other playlists open at the top. Right click on the playlist you want to move and select ‘Move to Other View’


I DJ in the dark; I want a dark screen. This isn’t an Exaile featurel, but I’m on Ubuntu so I installed Ambience Dark Red Gnome theme.

Screenshot from 2015-04-01 21:15:04

And more

There’s a bunch more cool stuff in Exaile. Dustin Spicuzza describes the awesome Group Tagger plugin in his own blog. Exaile started out as an Amarok-like player using GTK, but now it differentiates itself from the others with unique features for DJs.