Simple, Fast, and Geeky Console-based Audio Players for Linux

To those of you who are new to Linux, you may not know that you can use the shell terminal to do some fun stuff like play games, watch Star Wars, and even browse the web. You can even blast your favorite music with it, which I will be showing you how.

For now, get rid of that hefty music players with graphical user interface (GUI) and try these simple, fast, and rather geeky console-based audio players:

Music on Console
Music on Console (simply known as MOC) is perhaps the most popular ncurses-based console audio player for Linux. It is very easy to use and it is highly configurable. If you are familiar with Midnight Commander file manager then you will have no problem using MOC since their command structure and window layouts are the same.

MOC supports various file formats such as MP3, OGG Vorbis, FLAC, WAVE, SPEEX, Musepack (MPC), AIFF, AU, WMA, and other less popular formats supported by libsndfile. Support for new formats are currently under development.

Other features of MOC include: simple mixer, customizable color schemes, interface layouts, key bindings, tag parsing, and ALSA, OSS or JACK output support.

cmus (C* Music Player) is another text mode audio player that is designed to be small and fast. It can be easily configured and supports a wide array of audio formats like FLAC, Ogg/Vorbis, MP3, AAC, MP4, and so much more. It also supports output plugins like ALSA, libao, ARTS, and OSS among others.

Commands in cmus are loosely modeled after those of the vi text editor so if you have not used vi before, it may take a little bit of time to get comfortable with cmus. However, its directory browser is really user-friendly and intuitive.

cmus has other important features like dynamic keybindings, and configurable colour schemes.

Made way back in early 1997, mp3blaster is perhaps one of the oldest if not the oldest surviving audio player for UNIX-like operating systems. mp3blaster likes to keep it simple and it is not as full-featured compared to MOC and cmus. It also supports a limited amount of audio formats. Correct me if I’m wrong, only MP3, WAV, and OGG Vorbis are supported. The latest release of mp3blaster is version 3.2.5, and it should be available on most Linux distro repositories.

I know there are other console-based audio players for Linux that I failed to include here, so I hope our smart, loving, and geeky readers can point us to some of them.


  1. MPD + ncmpcpp (:

  2. Those all are "media library" players...
    Media player is *not* WindowsMediaPlayer-alike thing
    it's a program that decodes multimedia files.

    what about simple&practical MPlayer?
    Or even geekier one: aplay

  3. I can't speak for the other players but mocp does not have a library. It's directory based.

    And yes, ncmpc + mpd is great. I do miss mocp sometimes though.

  4. @Anonymous
    Shell is directory-based. Why should anyone bother to learn to use different filesystem browsing commands? :)

  5. mpg123 and ogg123 is more than enough.
    And you dare to say ".sid" is an "other less popular format" ?
    I have MegaBytes of them ;)

  6. Have a look at :

  7. xmms2 is a very good console music player alternative, see